Category Archives: recipe

Tuna steak and cupcakes, but not tuna steak cupcakes

Rain was pouring down in the city off and on all day. I had the pleasure of getting stuck in a downpour on my way back from lunch. I didn’t have an umbrella, but I did have a cardigan. I ended up wrapping it around my head Fiddler on the Roof style and running back to work.

Rocking the babushka.

After work, the rain let up, so naturally it was time to take Hadley to the dog park.

Chris's sister took this picture on her last visit, but this is his typical dog park look.

Then, I made my way to Pilates. My Pilates instructor told me that it seems like I’m getting a lot stronger and that I’m keeping my legs straighter during the exercises. Success! I felt pretty dizzy during class, though, but I’m pretty sure its because I have to exercise without wearing my glasses. Once I put them on after the workout, I was fine. How do other glasses wearers deal with this issues? Unfortunately contacts aren’t an option for me.

I was super hungry after Pilates. Guess what I made for dinner …

Ceasar salad! But not just any ceasar salad, I made tuna steak ceasar salad. A friend recently convinced me that tuna steak is super easy to make. It turns out she was right. I bought two frozen tuna steaks from TJ’s, set them out to thaw while I was at Pilates, rubbed them with salt and pepper, and then cooked them in a frying pan for 3 minutes on each side. I added one steak to my ceasar salad. Instant fancy ceasar salad! Tomorrow, I’ll enjoy the second steak in a sandwich.

Tuna steak makes my salad seem fancy.

Learning how to make tuna steaks was a good lesson for me. Even if something seems hard to do in the kitchen at least check it out. It may be a lot easier than it seems.  I always was afraid to try cooking tuna steak, because it seemed difficult to cook it just right. Now I’m thinking about taking on homemade pasta this weekend, but we’ll see.

I spent the rest of my night watching HGTV. Kelley recently introduced me to this channel, and I’m hooked. Even though Chris and I are still ions away from buying, it’s fun to watch other people find their dream homes.

I winded down the evening making a batch of cupcakes to bring into the office tomorrow.

They all couldn’t fit into the container, so Chris and I were forced to eat one each. Such is life.

Want one?

What is your TV guilty pleasure?

A healthy spin on Spinach Dip

I love week nights where I’m productive after work. Last night was one of those nights. When I got home, I took Hadley for a long walk. My knees and body in general was a little sore from my morning run, but taking a walk really loosened me up. I felt much better by the end of it.

After our walk, I dropped Hadley off, picked up my library returns, and headed off for some new finds. In addition to picking up Sloane Crosley’s How Did You Get This Number?, I also nabbed some CD’s. I just discovered that my library has a great CD collection last week, and its fun to explore all these new musical options.

Yes, that's Fiddler on the Roof.

When I got home, I started on dinner. Chris and Evan were both joining me, so I decided to try out a new recipe. I modified a recipe found here to make a healthy dip. I love dips and one of my favorite is spinach-cheese dip. It’s creamy, warm, and delicious. It’s also pretty fattening. This recipe is a great alternative as it’s much healthier and you can decide to skimp on or skip the cheese all together. Plus, its a great way to get lots of veggies and protein into a meal.

Spinach and White Bean Dip

Ingredients: 2 TBS olive oil, 10 oz. frozen spinach, 1 can of white beans, 1.5 TBS lemon juice, loads of garlic powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper, 1/4 cup mozz. cheese (optional).

I sauteed the frozen spinach in a frying pan with 1 TSP of olive oil. When the spinach was wilted and no longer frozen, I added a heavy handed amount of garlic powder. Then I allowed time for the spinach to cool a little. Next I added the remaining olive oil, other ingredients, and the spinach into my food processor.

Full to the brim.

I processed the ingredients on the chop function until it became a smooth mixture. I stopped blending a few times to mix it around with a fork. I threw it in a bowl, heated it up in the microwave (its much better warm), and served with lentil chips. We all loved it!

I love dips.

We dipped dinner paired with Cupcake Vineyards red wine, while watching How to Train Your Dragon. I recommend adding the movie to your Netfix list – it’s a cute, fun, easy watch.

The dragon looked a lot like a cat.

Easy Pan Pizza

Last Sunday, I stocked up on goodies at Trader Joe’s. When I was on the ginormous line that ran throughout the entire store (but moved blessedly  quickly), I grabbed some 99 cent pizza dough. I’ve been thinking about making pizza since my last two pizza creations, and this seemed like opportunity knocking.

Pan Pizza

Ingredients: 1 bag of TJ’s pizza dough, 1/2 onion, 10 mushrooms, enough mozzerella cheese and tomato sauce to cover the pie, salt, pepper, and oregano to taste. You will also need a frying pan. Mine was 12 inches in diameter.

Set out the dough and allow it to sit in the bag for 20 minutes. Use the time to prep your veggies. I threw my onions and mushrooms into the food processor. I’m still getting used to it, so they were a little more chopped than I had desired, but still tasty. When the dough is  ready, spray your pan with non stick spray. Evenly spread out the dough in the pan. Leave some extra dough around the end to roll over to create a crust. Top with sauce, cheese, and your desired toppings and seasonings. Preheat oven to 450. Bake in oven for 10 mintues. The pizza will not be all the way cooked through at this time, (because of the pan), but it should be cooked enough for you to remove it with a spatula and place on the oven racks alone to cook longer. Cook until bottom is browned. Timing will vary depending on thickness of crust. Allow to cool, add some extra parmi, and enjoy! Just like Pizza Uno (only not greasy disguisting).

The before shot.

The ready to come out of the pan shot.

The finished product shot.

 FYI: If you’re careless like me, and happen to be more focused on not burning your pizza instead of your arm, and thus, burn your arm, mustard makes a great cooling agent. It really soothes the burned skin. No clue why, it just does.

Fancy mustard, fancy burn.

Finally Some Homemade Hummus

I’m currently sitting here trying not to stress about the fact that NYC has a tornado warning. I’ve no clue about tornados, so I’m hoping the storm just passes us by. To distract my nervous thoughts, let’s take about hummus.  Homemade hummus to be exact. It’s something that has been on my 99 Before 30 list and can finally be crossed off! Check out my updated list.

Now I know homemade hummus is nothing new in the blog world. But it’s new to me. And maybe, it’s new to some of my readers. Or maybe you’ve read about it, but haven’t had a chance to try it out for yourself. So here’s my take on homemade hummus.

First off, its worth it. If you have a food processor (or maybe a blender?), try it out. Fresh hummus is one of the best things in the world to me, and the ability to personalize it is even more exciting. So here we go:

Homemade Hummus

Ingredients: 1 can of chickpeas, 2 TBS tahini, 1/4 cup juice from chickpea can, 1/2 tsp lemon juice, heavy sprinkling of garlic powder, pinch of crushed red pepper and cumin. Optional use of oil up to 1/4 cup.

Open up the can of chickpeas. When you drain out the water, measure out 1/4 cup to use later. Peel the chickpeas. Yes, this takes some time, but it’s worth it for that creamier consistency. Put on some tunes like I did and turn it into a chickpea shooting into the food processor game. See if your dog wants to play and eat the fallen chickpeas that didn’t make it into the food processor.

Most of them made it into the food processor.

Yum, chickpea shells.

 Add two tablespoons of tahini into the food processor. I’ve read that tahini can be hard to find and expensive. I picked up a container for $2.50 at Trader Joe’s. You got to love TJ’s. Some recipe suggest to use more, but I found this to be a good amount.

 

Add in chickpea juice that you set aside.

This looks less than lovely.

 Add your seasonings. Go heavy on the garlic and moderate on the crushed red pepper and cumin.

Hit the chop function on your food processor and blend until creamy. I let my go for approximately 1.5 – 2 mintues. The recipe I used suggested adding up to 1/4 cup of oil that you drizzle in as the rest is processing. I forgot to do this (great chef, yes), but when I realized later, I choose to not add any. It tasted delicious sans olive oil and it only made it that much healthier (though, yes olive oil is good fat).

I set it out, but forgot it all the same.

 The verdict? Homemade hummus is yummy! I suggest making it a day before you intend to eat it. It was good that night, but it was super special the next day. And the day after that. The flavors seem to need some time to come together, and when they do, it’s magic. I’ll finish up this batch tomorrow and then probably make a new one right away. 

Delicious!

Lots of Squash

I have a love affair going on with Spaghetti Squash. It’s low in calories, crunchy, can be prepared lots of different ways, and is easy to cook. In my mind, that’s a big win. Tuesday, I made Spaghetti Squash, and have been reaping the profits since. I’ve enjoyed it both on its own and mixed with multigrain pasta for dinner Tuesday night and lunch yesterday and today.

Cutting the thing is the hardest part. Take that squash.

Now take out all the pulp ...

Ready to go into the oven at 350 for about 45 minutes.

Take it out, let it cool, scope it out, and dress it up. Mine has marinara sauce, onions, peppers, chickpeas, mozz, and spices.

Enjoy it on its own or mixed with some pasta. Serve in whimiscal bowl.

Last night, Chris came home from work in time for dinner with lots of leftovers from a meeting. We put aside the Spaghetti Squash for the night and dug into some awesome Indian food:

We now have A LOT of Basmati rice.

We also got to spend an entire night together, which was awesome. You know what will be even more awesome? Spending 9 whole days together uninterrupted on our cruise! 15 days and counting …

Leftover Inspiration

Cooking is made even easier when you have some leftovers to throw into the mix. Last night, I had two leftovers that needed eating: ahi tuna and white rice. Adding leftovers to my cooking both motivates me to cook (can’t let that food go bad!) and gives me inspiration what to cook (what to do with rice and tuna?). Some people treat leftovers as whole meals, I tend to use them as ingredients.

Last night, I was craving lots of veggies. That’s when I allowed my creative side to take over, and did one of my “throw everything into a bowl” bowls. They tend to come out delicious.

I sliced up most every veggie we had in the fridge – green pepper, yellow squash, yellow onion, broccoli, and asparagus and sautéed it up. I crumbled in some tofu to add some extra protein. Then I remembered I had recently picked up this beauty at the local health food store:

Source

Don’t mind the name – it’s vegetarian. It’s just suggested to go on chicken. I really suggest trying out this sauce. It has a lot of flavor and is only mildly spicy. Also a little bit seems to go along way in the flavor department. I added a 1/4 cup to my veggie/tofu mess and then seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, curry powder, ginger, and turmeric. I got a little spice heavy, but seasoning is a fun way to put a no-calorie twist on a meal. Plus it makes the apartment smell really good.

I enjoyed my veggies over the leftover rice and added the few left over ahi tuna pieces to the bowl just to top it off. I made so many veggies, that my leftovers made leftovers! I got to spice up my usually boring lunch today by bringing leftover veggies and tofu to work. I paired them with a tortilla and it was a yummy combination.

Do you cook with your leftovers or just eat them separately?

Lunchtime Excitement Needed

I admit it, I’m in a lunch rut. Frankly, I’m surprised that I made it this long bringing my lunch most days to work before getting entirely bored with everything I could think to bring. Today I have a can of lentil soup, meh.

Source

So, blogworld, what should a veggie like me bring for lunch? Things I regularly bring include: soup, chick patties sandwiches, PB & J or PB and banana on Arnold’s Sandwich thins, salads, yogurt and cereal. So basically, if I don’t get some creativity mixed into my lunch routine soon, I will be in jeopardy of skipping my homemade lunch and spending money and calories on buying lunch.

I’m looking for quick easy suggestions of food that I can easily commute to work with in my lunch bag. We have a microwave in our office, so I can easily heat up precooked food. Also, I like to keep my lunches light and healthy – I like heavier dinners but light lunches. Suggest away!

How Not to Bake Cake Balls (in photos)

I keep hearing about Cake Balls. My friend Kelley told me they are going to be the new cupcakes. Well I love cupcakes. And I love the idea that Cake Balls are small, so you can have one, be satisfied, and be done. In theory of course. Pretty much the only thing I didn’t like about the idea of Cake Balls were the name. Yes, because I’m a 13 year old at heart.

I rarely bake sweets anymore – I used to all the time last year and then I would eat them and then I gained weight – but Chris’s two best friends were scheduled to arrive from TN last night. What better way to welcome them to the Northeast than with Cake Balls (don’t even think that’s what she said)?

I used this recipe and all was going well for a while:

1. Choose a boxed cake mix. Bake cake according to directions on the box.

I didn't mean to buy Sugar Free, but since I was mixing it with sugar-filled frosting and dipping in chocolate I figured it would be fine.

2. Crumble cake in large bowl as soon as it comes out of the oven. Watch to not burn yourself!

It felt a little wrong to crumble the cake, but it was fun.

3. Pick the frosting of your choice.

I recently realized how much I like vanilla frosting.

4. Mix in 1/2 to the entire jar of frosting. I used the whole darn thing.

Where things get messy.

5. Put the bowl covered in the freezer for at least three hours. I think that this may have been one of my mistakes, as I only left it in for two. It would probably be best to just leave it in overnight to be extra firm. Also, try not to eat to much “Spooey” when waiting for the cake-frosting mess to set.

Spooey = Pretzels dipped in Frosting. Anyone else call it this?

6. When firm, take out mixture and scoop out balls using a melon scooper. Here the mess really starts. I didn’t have a melon scooper so I just made balls with my hands. I made the balls way too large.

These are not melon ball sized.

7. Melt bakers chocolate in the microwave in a glass bowl. The recipe I used called for 3 oz. This was totally wrong. I probably needed 12 oz for the amount of balls the recipe produced.

I don’t have a picture, but just imagine what melted chocolate looks like.

8. Here the recipe calls for dipping the Cake Balls in the chocolate using either a fork or toothpick. I thought a toothpick would be nice, because then you could eat them off them later. Use the fork. The Cake Ball will not stay on the toothpick. Also, because I didn’t have enough chocolate the Cake Balls could only be dipped partially in chocolate or drizzled.

What a mess.

7. Put in fridge to harden. Do not give into your dog who thinks eating the Cake Balls would be a splendid idea.

Just one, please?

In the end my finish product was suppose to look like this:
But intstead, mine look like this:
And yes, I was up past midnight ruining these babies. I think I should leave baking complicated treats to someone else and stick with cooking.

All that hard work for that? I'm exhausted!

Veggiversary: Mexican Fiesta Rice Bowl

Veggiversary week continues! For lunch yesterday, I visited my college-favorite Au Bon Pain, or as we called it, ABP. I practically lived on ABP tomato basil bisque in college. Sadly they didn’t have that particular soup, so I went with Tuscan White Bean soup. I was disappointed – the beans were super soft and the soup had little flavor. ABP how could you fail me?

Why do you disappoint me?

After work, I returned to the treadmill. I haven’t run in nearly two weeks because of being sick and then wanting to give my body some extra time to recover. I left my IPod at work, so I had to run without it. This may easily be the hardest thing ever for me to do. Does anyone else have that problem? What do you think about when you are running? I tried to focus my mind on other things, but instead I kept focusing on how much harder running two miles was after my two week siesta. I ended up getting through it by playing with the speed every minute, but it was hard. I finished my gym sess with some foam rolling, so that I can keep up with the running.

When I came back from the gym, Chris surprised me by being home from work. He’s been working 24/7 lately, because of a case he is on, so it was a great surprise. It was made only better by the beautiful tulips he brought home for me. Isn’t he a good one?

For dinner, I was inspired by a throw-together meal I saw on this blog: a rice bowl. I used to make rice bowls all the time, but haven’t made one in a while. I love most any meal that includes rice, so I was happy to remember how much I like these. I still have lots of Mexican food ingredients in my apartment, so I went for a Mexican themed bowl.

Paired with TJ 3 Buck Chuck? Perfect.

Mexican Fiesta Rice Bowl

1 cup White rice

1/4 White onion

1/4 Green pepper

1/2 cup Refried beans

1/4 Mexican blend shredded cheese

1 dollop Sour cream

Taco sauce to taste

Boil the rice. I am a complete failure at making rice, so I stuck with the boil in the bag kind. Measure out your portion, and top with all the other ingredients, except the sour cream. Mix together. Heat in microwave for one – two minutes. Add sour cream. Scoop up with a tortilla, if desired. Enjoy!

Veggiversary Week: Mexican Pizza

For lunch yesterday, I repeated Monday’s meal of a chick salad sandwich on a toasted English muffin. Once again, yum.

Same thing, still good.

For dinner, I was craving pizza something fierce and decided to get creative in the kitchen. I didn’t have pizza sauce nor did I have a pizza crust. I did have taco sauce and a large tortilla. Thus, Mexican pizza was born:

Before going into the oven.

Mexican Pizza

1 Large Tortilla Shell (I used a version that came in at only 110 calories!)

Enough Mexican blend shredded cheese to lightly cover entire tortilla

1/4 Green pepper

1/4 White onion

2 TBS Black olives

Taco Sauce

Light Sour Cream

Lie the tortilla shell out flat. Sprinkle on a light layer of cheese. Don’t put cheese on the outermost part of the shell to create a crust. Slice green pepper and onion and layer on tortilla. Add olives. Drizzle taco sauce to taste. Bake at 350 degrees for ten minutes. Allow to cool. Add dollop of Light Sour Cream. Slice and enjoy!

Out of the oven and ready to be devoured.

It came out wonderful and was a super tasty. I was afraid it would crumble when I sliced it with a pizza cutter, but it stayed together. Since the tortilla was huge, I got to feel that I was eating an entire pizza without the guilt of eating an entire pizza. I’ll be making this again!