B-B-B-B-Bacon!

Everything is absolutely better with bacon. It’s a fact of life. And when you can combine two of the best foods out there–pizza and bacon–you just simply can’t say no. I practically jumped at the sight of Cooking Light’s BLT pizza in this month’s issue.

BLT pizzaFor this recipe you’ll need:

  • 1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded and cut into thin slices
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 canola mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp. olive oik
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped chives
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated
  • 4 center-cut bacon slices
  • fresh pizza dough
  • 2 oz. part-skim mozzarella
  • arugula (for topping)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange tomatoes on a baking sheet and sprinkle with oregano and pepper. Once dressed, place in oven and bake at 400 for 20 minutes (or until tomatoes loose all their juiciness). When the tomatoes are done, remove from oven and raise the temperature to 500 degrees. Then, combine the garlic, mayo, oil and chives in a bowl and mix to combine. Next, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp. Next, roll out the dough on a baking sheet or pizza pan and pierce with a fork–bake at 500 for 5 minutes. Remove the pizza from the oven and spread the mayo mixture over the dough, leaving enough of a boarder for crust. Then place the roasted tomatoes and crumbled bacon a top the mayo mixture, finally top with cheese and bake for 10 minutes. Once done, remove, slice and enjoy!

The pizza is incredible and you even get an added bonus of having your apartment smell like bacon! You simply can’t go wrong. Be careful because it’s easy to scarf down the whole thing in one sitting! This is a fun dish to make on a Sunday and enjoy family style. I hope you test it out, I would love to hear your thoughts! But until next time, keep eating!

5 Cooking Tricks of the Trade (that I bet you didn’t know!)

I love learning unique tips when it comes to cooking. It’s the simple things that might not seem like a big deal but can literally change the way you’re food tastes. Below are some fabulous and extremely useful tricks of the trade from Cooking Light (I bet some of them will blow your mind):
 
1. Timing of brushing BBQ sauce is absolutely critical–if you slather too early you’ll get a veil of char and if you slather too late you won’t get the savory flavor from just the right amount of char.TIP: Brush sauce on in the last two minutes.
 
2. Preheat your pans before roasting your vegetables. If you heat them before you’ll get less sticking and better browning (particularly with summer veggies).
 
3. Slice onions vertically. Pieces of vertically sliced onion hold their shape better when cooked while horizontal cuts can become a pile of brown mush.
 
4. Wax paper is a no-no for baking, but a yes for when it comes to separating food. The wax holds moisture in and helps keeps your goodies from going stale.
 
5. Don’t store tomatoes in the refrigerator–the cold damages the membranes in tomato cell walls, bruising the flesh and compromising both the taste and texture.
 
Would love to hear of any other unique/quirky tricks that you may know of! But until next time, keep eating!

Adding a Little Fruity Goodness to Summer

One of the best things about summer is the abundance of fresh fruit. Adding fruit to any dish provides a fun twist to lighten it up and to make it more refreshing. With that being said, this Farro, Walnut, and Cherry salad from Cooking Light is exactly the kind of dish I’m talking about. It’s easy and loaded with fresh cherries, a fruit that adds the perfect amount of fruity goodness.
 
ImageFor this salad you’ll need:
  • 5 c. water
  • 1 1/2 c. uncooked farro
  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided
  • 3/4 lb. (about two cups) sweet cherries, pitted and halved (A great excuse to visit a local farmer’s market!)
  • 2/3 c. celery, diced
  • 1/2 c. coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
  • 1/4 c. packed fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. whole-grain Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Bring those 5 cups of water to a boil, adding the farro and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook for about 15 minutes. Once done, drain and cool at room temperature. Next you’ll want to combine the farro, cherries, celery, walnuts, and parsley in a large bowl. Then, combine the lemon juice, mustard, honey, pepper, and remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and stir with a whisk. Gradually add the oil and continue to whisk till all dressing ingredients are mixed. Lastly, pour that bowl of goodness over the farro and cherry mixture and enjoy!

I loved this salad so much I took a huge container of it back on the train with me! It’s a delicious summer dish that easy to make in bulk (can someone say party side dish??) and it pairs fantastically with grilled balsamic chicken or a tender juicy skirt steak. I’m telling you, nothing beats a summer dish with a helping of fruit. You have to test this out, it won’t let you down. But until next time, keep eating!

Chill Out With These Enchiladas

I never get tired of Mexican food. There are so many unique dishes with different flavor profiles making the options endless. If you told me that I could make an awesome Mexican dinner in less than 30 minutes, I would say ‘sign me up.’ Cooking Light told me that with their Chicken Verde Enchiladas, which are made in under 30 minutes, and I did not hesitate one second to rip out the recipe out and buy the ingredients.
 
ImageFor this dish you’ll need:
  • 3/4 cup pre-chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro stems
  • 2 tablespoons sliced pickled jalapeño pepper
  • 5 teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup chopped tomato
  • 3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 ripe peeled avocado, coarsely mashed
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 4 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shaved
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

First, place oven rack in lower third of oven, and preheat broiler to high. Then, combine first 8 ingredients in a medium saucepan, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 4 minutes. Stir in chicken; cook 1 minute or until heated. Remove from heat. Stir in tomato, sour cream, and avocado. Next, stack the tortillas and wrap in damp paper towels. Microwave at HIGH for 45 seconds. Spoon 1 cup chicken mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Spoon 1/3 cup chicken mixture in center of each tortilla; roll up. Arrange tortillas, seam sides down, in baking dish. Top with cheese. Broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts.  For the finishing touch, sprinkle with cilantro leaves.

I could not even let these cool down before digging in. I was hooked. I loved the fresh avocado within the enchiladas–it brought down the spice of the jalapeno and gave the dish a cooling element. The crispy broiled cheese added a gooey as well as a crunch component. Hands down, I would make this recipe again–I’m so excited that I have leftovers for the week. Test it out–I’d love to hear your thoughts/feedback. But until next time, keep eating!

My First Bread Making Experience

This recipe goes out to my Gram–one of the best people there was. Born and raised in Maine, she always made sure every recipe she made had that ‘Maine’ touch. One of those recipes was Anadama bread (from the cookbook Cooking Down East), and my mom and I made it, in honor of her.
ImageWe had both never made bread before so this was quite the experience–and turned out extremely well! One thing I do recommend is to make sure you have time in your day when making bread–it’s not necessarily a hard thing to make but it is time consuming.
 
So here we go–for this bread you’ll need:
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup of molasses 2 T. shortening
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 2-1/4 tsp. dry yeast (or 1 package dry yeast)
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • About 6 cups flour

Start off by mixing the cornmeal and water in a pan and bring to a boil. Cook for just a couple of minutes. Then, add the molasses, salt and shortening and cook together until ingredients are well mixed. next, turn this mixture into a bowl and allow to cool to lukewarm. In the meantime, measure 1/4 cup lukewarm water and dissolve the yeast in that. When the cornmeal mixture is lukewarm add dissolved yeast. Then start adding flour. When mixture makes a stiff dough, turn onto a floured surface and start kneading (feel free to add more flour as needed) and continue kneading until dough is smooth and glossy. Then, place dough in a greased bowl. Cover, and place in a warm spot, allowing the dough to rise until doubled in bulk. Poke down and allow to rise once more. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and let it relax for ten minutes. Make into 2 loaves and place in greased loaf pans. Then, let rise until doubled in bulk. Bake for 10 minutes at 450F, then reduce heat and bake for about 20 minutes at 325 F.

There definitely is a lot of waiting involved, but trust me it’s worth it! It’s really neat to see how the yeast makes the dough rise, especially when it’s placed in the heat. My mom and I were truly impressed with our efforts and could not sample the bread fast enough. It was the most fluffy and dense bread I’ve ever had–I was in heaven. The molasses provided the perfect amount of sweetness to the cornmeal. Now I see why my Gram loved this bread. You must test this out, plus bread making is such a fun experience. But until next time, keep eating!

Simple Summer Chicken

I’m excited to share I found another summer dish I can’t get enough of: Greek-Style Chicken Breasts from Cooking Light’s May issue. It brings together all of the wonderful Mediterranean flavors while being light and refreshing, perfect as the weather gets warmer.
 
ImageFor this dish you’ll need:
  • 4 (6oz.) skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 3/4 c. vertically sliced onion
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 oz. chopped and pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 medium tomato, halved and sliced
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and add to the pan, cooking for 6 minutes on each side. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the oil and swirl to coat. Then add onion and garlic, saute for 4 minutes, then add the olives and tomato. Cook everything for 3 minutes or until the tomato begins to break down. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley oregano and lemon juice. Lastly, top the chicken with the tomato mixture and sprinkle with feta.

Cooking Light serves this dish with herbed gold potatoes but I also found this dish pairs exceptionally well with pasta or quinoa. Adding a grain definitely rounds out the dish–I highly recommend it! The only thing that could make this dish better would be to have a deck or patio I could eat it outside on 🙂 Test this chicken out–it’s quick and absolutely delicious–you won’t be disappointed (I’m ashamed to admit I ate almost the entire pot, it’s THAT good). But until next time, keep eating!

Easy ‘A’ rtichokes

Artichokes are the perfect go-to food. They taste amazing, they’re easy to make, and they have multiple health benefits. Normally, I would steam them but this time, and of course in keeping with the springtime theme, I wanted to try something new.
For this recipe you’ll need:
  • 6 c. water
  • 3 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 18 baby artichokes (about 1 3/4 lbs.)
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, halved
  • 1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 6-inch rosemary sprig
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Preheat your oven to 425. Combine water and 3 tbsp. lemon juice in a bowl. Cut off top 1/2 inch of artichokes, then cut the stems to within 1 inch of base. Peel the stems and remove tough outer leaves so the tender cores are left. Halve and add to water. Next, drain the artichokes and pat dry. Combine artichokes, oil, salt, pepper and garlic in a bowl. Heat an oven-proof skillet over high heat. Add half of the artichoke mixture to the pan and cook for 1 minute. Repeat with the rest of the artichoke mixture. Return everything to the pan, add lemon slices and rosemary, and bake for 20 minutes. Once done, remove rosemary and blackened lemon rinds, and enjoy!

They are SO good. So there you have it–a fool-proof side perfect for the warm weather. Can’t go wrong with that in my book. I paired mine with a tender, juicy flank steak and crispy polenta, but you can have it practically with anything you want. Test it out and let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!

Simply ‘Slurpable’ Ramen

Ivan Ramen Slurp Shop. Enough said. Once you have this ramen you won’t want any other kind. I have become a huge ramen fan and when my mom and I went to their location in Gotham West Market I was in heaven–and not to mention, Gotham West Market is SO cool.
Image We both ordered the Classic Shio Ramen ‘Fully Loaded’– yes, that says fully loaded. It was the best decision. When you order the fully loaded you get: the sea salt, dashi + chicken broth, pork chashu, and rye noodles topped with egg, chashu and tomato. Oh it was good. I love the way the egg soaked up the sauce–it was utterly delicious. I was a little hesitant about the tomato but it turned out to be a delicious surprise. It melted in your mouth. And not to mention, the pork. It was so tender it was difficult to use the chopsticks to pick it up!
 
Needless to say we both ‘slurped’ our way to the bottom of our bowls…and wanting more. We also ordered the Napa Cabbage Salad which was crispy and flavorful. The miso sesame dressing was incredible. Both the napa cabbage salad and the ramen were perfectly complementary.
 
ImageIf you’ve never been, you MUST check it out. It’s ramen worth going back a second time for. And if you have a chance, walk around the market as well. But until next time, keep eating!

Asparagus With Lots of ‘A’ Game

Words cannot describe how excited I am that the weather is finally getting nicer and warmer. Today I thought what better way to ring in spring than with a shaved asparagus salad with Manchego and almonds. I’ve never had shaved asparagus before and I have to say I would make it again (a little time consuming but completely worth it.)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. walnut oil (if you don’t have this you can substitute 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil)
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 8 c. water
  • 2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds, toasted
  • 1 oz. Manchego cheese, shaved (about 1/4 c.)

My favorite part (aside from the eating the salad part) was making the salad. First combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and stir using a whisk. Using a sharp peeler, thinly peel asparagus to equal 3 c. of ribbons. Add asparagus and parsley to the bowl and toss to coat with dressing. Next, combine 8 cups water and white vinegar in a large skillet and bring to a simmer. Break each egg into a custard cup and pour gently into pan. Cook for three minutes or until desired degree of doneness. Remove the eggs from pan using a slotted spoon. Finally, serve, asparagus on plate first, then almonds, next the egg and finally top with cheese.

I unfortunately was under a time crunch and being that I have never poached an egg before I simply fried mine (it still tasted delicious!) but that’s my goal for the weekend. Poach. an. egg. Wish me luck! Definitely try this salad, you won’t regret it! But until next time, keep eating!

A Salad That Packs A Punch

Have you ever had a dish you just can’t get enough of? This Southwestern Steak Salad just about does it for me–bet you didn’t think I was going to salad did you?. I absolutely love steak and unfortunately I don’t eat it as much as I would like (but then again I guess that’s a good thing). What I love about this salad is that the spiciness of the chipotle chiles in adobe pairs so well the steak.

Image

Southwestern Steak SaladFor this dish you’ll need:

For this salad you’ll need:

  • 1 pound skirt steak
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 hearts romaine lettuce (torn)
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 a cucumber
  • tomatoes (grape or fresh Jersey tomatoes work here)
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1-2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, minced
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 c. olive oil

First, cook the steak however you prefer–I cooked mine on the grill but pan-frying it works just as well. In a large bowl, toss together lettuce, avocado, cucumber, tomatoes, salt, salt and pepper. In a small bowl, combine chile, lime juice, honey, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in the olive oil and any juices from the steak (this sounds a little gross but TRUST me this takes the flavor to a whole other level). Finally, pour the dressing over the salad, add steak, and toss once more.

Now I wasn’t kidding when I said this was easy. Easy and utterly delicious. I just bought the ingredients to make this salad this week, and I can’t wait. This salad is certainly enough for dinner and I suggest adding a grilled piece of bread to soak up the amazing dressing. Let me know what you think! But until next time, keep eating!