Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Dressing

Ok, so I have to admit, I made this about 4 months ago and completely forgot to post it because of finals and such, but I am posting it now because it was an absolutely AMAZING recipe.  As many of my friends know, I am not a huge fan of pasta, but I see all kinds of pasta sauces I want to try.  My solution? Spaghetti squash; similar texture to pasta, but rather than loading up my diet with carbs, I’m eating veggies instead! Good deal!

I came across this avocado dressing recipe while roaming the abyss of Pinterest one night and I decided that I HAD to try it, seeing as avocado is one of my all-time favorite foods.  I also decided to add some more texture to this dish by throwing in some seasoned ground beef.  Overall, this dish came out REALLY GOOD! I haven’t had time to make it again, but it is definitely at the top of my list!

Here is the recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Avocado Dressing

with sauce1

For the Squash

Ingredients:

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • Olive Oil
  • Sea Salt (table sale is fine)
  • Italian Seasoning (optional)
  • Cookie sheet

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350º
  2. CAREFULLY cut the squash in half the long way
  3. Place the two halves on a cookie sheet, drizzle with Olive Oil, Salt and seasoning
  4. Do not scoop out the seeds yet, it is a lot easier to do after it has roasted for a bit.
  5. Roast the squash for about an hour, remove from the oven
  6. Use a fork and lightly scrape the top layer from one end to the other, all the seeds should come up with it.
  7. Discard the seeds and top layer. Loosen up the sides and bottom a little bit, return the oven and bake for 20 more minutes
  8. Scrape the squash out into a bowl.

For Ground Beef

  • ½ pound ground beef
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp grill seasoning

Brown meat in pan and add seasonings listed above.  Once meat is cooked, combine with squash.

For Avocado Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized ripe Avocado, pitted
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place the garlic cloves, lemon juice, and olive oil into a food processor. Process until smooth. Now add in the pitted avocado, basil, and salt. Process until smooth and creamy.
  2. Pour sauce on spaghetti squash and meat and toss until fully combined. Serve immediately.

dressing recipe courtesy of http://ohsheglows.com

I loved the combination of the textures in this recipe.  You’ve got the creaminess of the avocado, the slight crunch from the squash, and the amazing meaty goodness of the well-seasoned beef.  All-in-all, a wonderful meal!  I will definitely be using avocado in more dressings in the future!

Enjoy!

Breakfast Pizza

Ok, I know, I haven’t posted in over 6 months! How dare I!  But last semester was long and challenging…but good news, I GRADUATED!!  And now I am officially a grad student.

So then why did I not have oodles and oodles of time to cook over the summer?  Because I worked at a wonderful camp called Birch Trail for 9 weeks.  Yes, it was amazing.  No I did not cook anything while I was there. But it was a great summer!

But onto the important part…the food!  As some of you may know, my all-time favorite meal is breakfast.  I love eggs, bacon, sausage, waffles, pancakes, french toast, hashbrowns…the whole 9 yards.  But I wanted to try something a little different when cooking at home.  I got the inspiration for this breakfast pizza from a restaurant I went to with some of my friends over Labor Day weekend called the Armsby Abbey.  Although I did not end up ordering the breakfast pizza there, I made a mental note that I had to try making something similar when I got back to my apartment.

So without further ado, here is my version of the Breakfast Pizza

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Breakfast Pizza
Ingredients
1 bag prepared whole wheat pizza dough (I got mine from my local gorcery store)
1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
3 thick slices Canadian bacon, cooked, chopped
3 eggs
2 medium tomatoes, diced
green onions, sliced for garnish
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
  2. Divide pizza dough into three sections and roll each section into a ball.  Roll out each portion of dough into a 9-inch circle
  3. Prepare the toppings. Slice the mozzarella, chop the bacon, scallions, and tomatoes.
  4. Place one 9-inch circle of pizza dough on a greased baking sheet and spread the mozzarella in an even layer on the dough. Top with the bacon. Crack an egg in the center of the dough and bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden and the whites of the egg are cooked. Remove pizza from the oven and top with fresh tomatoes and sliced green onions. Repeat with remaining 9-inch dough rounds.
  5. Enjoy (with others, or by yourself…like I did) 😉

Recipe adapted from cherryonmysundae

I promise that I will try to post as much as possible this semester.  Every time I make something I take a picture of it (yes, I’m one of those people), so I might as well put it on my blog too!

I hope this inspires some of you to look at breakfast in a different way! Enjoy!

Korean-inspired Pizza

Well I’m back, and I want to apologize fo my long hiatus.  But as you can imagine, I was on winter break and preoccupied.  This recipe actually comes somewhat from an experience I had while I was traveling to India this past December.  We always take Korean Airlines to India which means that we have a layover in Seoul, South Korea.  During our 3 hour layover there, my dad convinced me to get a kimchi noodle bowl.  It was just about the best thing I have ever put in my mouth.  Don’t get me wrong, I have definitely had kimchi before, but this just reminded me how much I loved it.

Then after coming back from India, I had my wisdom teeth out and was in front of the TV for a week which obviously meant I watched the Food Network.  On one show, a restaurant’s specialty was a Korean pizza.  It then clicked in my head that kimchi would taste delicious on a pizza with a few other ingredients, and I decided to make it as soon as my mouth was healed enough to enjoy it!

So with all that in mind, here is the recipe for Bacon Kimchi Pizza:

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Ingredients
  • 1 ball store-bought pizza dough
  • Organic tomato sauce (about ½ of a 15 oz. can)
  • Freshly grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 2 cups)
  • 1 cup kimchi, coarsely chopped
  • 4 strips crispy cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 3 scallions, root ends trimmed
  • drizzle of sesame oil
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 500°F and place a rack in the lowest possible position. Lightly grease a pizza pan or rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray or olive oil OR if you own a pizza stone, place it in the oven before you turn it on, and let it heat up.
  2. Stretch pizza dough into a round shape large enough to fit your pizza pan or to fit on pizza stone. Use flour or cornmeal to make the dough easily slide from the wooden pizza board to the stone in the oven.
  3. Start by spooning on the tomato sauce. Using the back of the spoon, spread the tomato sauce evenly over the dough. (Less is more when it comes to tomato sauce.) Next, sprinkle cheese then chopped kimchi and crumbled bacon over the pizza. Thinly slice white and light green parts of each scallion and scatter on the pizza. Thinly slice remaining dark green stalks on a bias and reserve.
  4. Transfer pizza to the preheated oven and cook until the crust is golden brown (on a pizza pan about 11 – 13 minutes, on a stone 5-6 minutes). Remove pizza from the oven and let cool for a few moments.
  5. Finish with a sprinkling of sliced scallion greens and a small drizzle of sesame oil. Cut pizza into even slices and serve hot.

Recipe adapted from kitchenkonfidence.com

Hope this encourages some of you to use delicious ingredients in new ways!  It certainly made me think out of the box! Enjoy!

Calling All Vegetarians!

So this past week, I was looking for something new and exciting to make.  I decided on something burger related because I was craving that at the time.  But as I browsed through burger recipes, I came across this little gem.  Although I am usually beef or turkey patty kinda girl, this bean burger caught my attention.  It might be because I grew up in a house with a vegetarian (my dad), or it could be that I am subconsciously moving away from my obsession with meat (don’t worry, I’m still a bacon addict) and onto an interest in just interesting and different recipes.  This recipe is for a parmesan, kale, and white bean burger.  Yes, I have never bought kale in my life, and my mom’s jaw dropped when I told her that I had used kale in a recipe.  But HEY, you gotta try new ingredients sometimes, right?  Anyways, they turned out really well, and I chose to eat them with mixed greens and a horseradish sauce.  To tell you the truth, I have no idea how I came up with the idea of putting horseradish sauce on it, but it worked out quite well, so I was very pleased with the combination.

Well enough talking from me! Here is the recipe for Parmesan, Kale, and White Bean Burgers

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 large leaves kale, stems removed, leaves chopped
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups cooked white beans (or 2, 15 oz. cans rinsed and drained)
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 2 sun-dried tomatoes, diced
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs

DIRECTIONS

In a skillet set over medium heat, cook onion and garlic, in bit of oil, until softened. Add kale, water and spices. Cook until kale is wilted.

Mash beans in a large bowl with a potato masher or the back of a fork. Add kale mixture and remaining ingredients, mashing as you go. Season mixture with salt and pepper.

Divide and form into 6 patties. Cook on the grill or the stove top over medium heat, until both sides are browned and patties are heated through.

Serve over a bed of lettuce and drizzle with horseradish sauce (recipe below)

HORSERADISH SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3-4 tablespoons prepared horseradish

DIRECTIONS

Mix sour cream and horseradish together until blended.

Recipe courtesy of kitchensimplicity.com

This was a recipe that I stepped out on a limb for, and it ended up being really delicious; in the end, a good risk taken.  So go ahead, buy your first (or 100th) head of kale and take the leap of faith.  Enjoy!

Shrimp, Mushroom, and Asparagus Risotto

Rice is a staple food in many cultures and is a very versatile ingredient.  Growing up with an Indian (and jewish) background, we had a lot of rice with our meals.  But surprisingly it wasn’t until college that I actually made rice by myself.  It’s a pretty easy process, and if you have a rice cooker (which I have not yet invested in) it’s even easier.  It’s a great grain to eat with sauces too because it soaks it right up.

Risotto is also a type of rice (Arborio Rice) but unlike many other types of rices, it is much more starchy.  This scared me a little because I wasn’t sure what that mean cooking-wise.  I had only really eaten risotto in restaurants before this, so I was cautious around the idea of making a risotto dish.  But my roommate Liz seemed to know the basic process, so I decided to give this recipe a try.

Here is the recipe for Shrimp, Mushroom, and Asparagus Risotto:

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Ingredients

  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 pound white mushrooms, chopped
  • 10-15 spears of asparagus, chopped
  • 12 oz uncooked shrimp
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • sea salt to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a saucepan, warm the broth over low heat.
  2. Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the mushrooms and asparagus and cook until mushrooms are soft, about 3 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until barely firm.  Remove all contents from pan and set aside.
  3. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to skillet.  Add rice, stirring to coat with oil, about 2 minutes. When the rice has taken on a pale, golden color, pour in wine, stirring constantly until the wine is fully absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth to the rice, and stir until the broth is absorbed. Continue adding broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring continuously, until the liquid is absorbed and the rice is al dente, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. After the rice is done, turn heat to low and add the mushrooms, asparagus ,and shrimp back to the rice.  Cook for about 3 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper, and serve.

This recipe ended up being a lot easier than I anticipated.  It took a little longer than regular rice, but because of the chicken broth, the rice was a lot more flavorful then I expected.  This is now one a go-to recipe for Liz and I because the steps and ingredients are simple and the result is delicious! Enjoy!

It’s Soup Season!

Fall and winter are always the best time to make and eat soup and there are two reasons why.  One, it’s cold out, so a bowl of soup warms you up from the inside out.  Two, it’s cold and flu season, and what better remedy for a sore throat and headache then a piping hot bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup?  As I am in college, I wanted this to not take too long, and I came across this recipe that is very time flexible   Now I have my very own batch of chicken noodle soup that I made all by myself, and on this cold day of November, it’s the perfect comfort food!

Here is the recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup:

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INGREDIENTS:
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
1-3 garlic cloves, to taste
1 1/2 pounds (about 6) chicken thighs, preferably bone-in
1 bay leaf
1-2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 pound noodles
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1-3 teaspoons salt

EQUIPMENT 
6-quart soup pot
Long-handled spoon
Pasta pot

DIRECTIONS

1. Cook the Vegetables: Warm a teaspoon of oil over medium heat in the dutch oven or soup pot. Add the diced onions, celery, and carrots with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables just start to soften, 3-5 minutes. Clear a space in the middle of the pan and add the garlic. Cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds, then stir the garlic into the vegetables.

2. Sear the Chicken: Remove the skin from the chicken thighs, but leave the bone in. (Boneless chicken thighs are also fine in this recipe, but the bones add richness to the broth.) Move the vegetables to the edges of the pan and warm the remaining teaspoon of oil in the middle of the pan. When hot, add the chicken thighs, fitting them into a single layer. It’s ok if they are snug. Cook without moving for about 3 minutes, until the underside is seared golden. Flip the thighs and sear the other side until golden.

3. Add the Broth and Simmer: Add the bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the pot. Pour in one quart of the broth, reserving the remaining quart for later. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes.

4. Shred the Chicken: Move the pot off the heat and transfer the chicken to a plate with a slotted spoon. Use two forks to pull the meat apart into shreds (or chop into cubes). Remove and discard any bones. It’s ok if the meat is still a little pink in the middle at this point.

5. Cook the Pasta: Bring a separate pot of water to a boil for the pasta. When boiling, salt the water generously and add the pasta. Cook until the pasta is barely al dente and the drain. 

6. Finish the Soup: Return the shredded chicken to the soup and bring to a simmer. If the chicken wasn’t quite finished cooking, continue simmering until it has cooked through.  If a thinner broth is desired, add additional chicken broth. Remove the bay leaf, and taste the soup. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat.  Spoon some of the pasta into a bowl and spoon the soup over the pasta and serve.

**REMEMBER** If you add the pasta directly to the soup, it will keep absorbing moisture, which often makes the pasta soggy.  To avoid this, store the pasta separate from the soup and serve it with the soup in individual portions.

Recipe courtesy of theKitchn.com

With a bowl of this homemade soup in hand, all you need is a blanket and a good movie, and you are ready for the fall and winter months! Enjoy!

Cheesy Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts have always been a weird food to me.  When I was younger, it was one of those taboo foods that I just wouldn’t eat.  But as I’ve gotten older and a little more willing to try things out of my comfort zone, I’ve warmed up to the idea of them.  My mom is an amazing cook, so she introduced brussels sprouts into my diet in a variety of different ways.  But I have never actually cooked them myself.  After having brussels sprouts in a few different ways, I realized that they can be overcooked very easily, and when they are overcooked they turn to mush…fast!

When I decided to make brussels sprouts for the first time, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t overcook them.  Obviously I asked my mom for a few tips because she is the expert, but I wanted to figure it out on my own as well.  I chose to use this recipe because, 1: I love cheese, and 2: because I was not ready to eat brussels sprouts plain…yet.  I wanted some type of sauce or other flavor to contrast the flavor and texture of the brussels sprouts.

Here is the recipe for Cheesy Brussels Sprouts:

 

Ingredients:

  • About 1.5 pounds of Brussels sprouts, halved
  • 3-4 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1.5 cups milk
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • black pepper to taste

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 425°F

  1. Clean and trim stems of Brussels sprouts. Cut in half. Place all halves flat-side down on a baking sheet and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper
  2. When the oven is pre-heated, put the brussel sprouts in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the bottoms of the brussels sprouts are browned.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pan, melt butter then add flour and quickly stir with whisk to combine and remove clumps. Turn off heat.
  4. Add milk, salt, cheese, mayo and black pepper. Stir until cheese is melted.
  5. Add Brussels sprouts and combine with cheese mixture. Pour into baking dish and turn down the oven to 350°F.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes or until brussels sprouts are tender but not mushy and cheese sauce is barely bubbling.
  6. If desired, sprinkle extra cheese on top of the brussel sprouts.
  7. Let cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Recipe adapted from Whiteonricecouple.com

I was so impressed with how these turned out.  I realized that whatever I wasn’t cooking I was missing out on.  Now I’m going to try and challenge myself to work with ingredients that I am not necessarily familiar with.  That way I can discover all kinds of new recipes!

Not-Your-Typical Mac and Cheese

I have always loved cheese.  Growing up, cheese and crackers were a regular snack in my family.  Now that I’m in college, I can’t exactly go out and buy all those nicer cheeses because I just don’t have the money, so I try and find other ways to fit it into my eating habits.

Traditional boxed mac and cheese is a college staple.  All you have to do is heat up some water, add it to the pasta, and pour in the cheese powder.  But…CHEESE POWDER?? That is definitely not what I want to be eating.  If I am going to be eating cheese, it should at least be real and not have orange food coloring in it!  So this recipe is my solution.  Yes, it takes a little longer than instant mac and cheese, but it is so worth it.  It has other ingredients like broccoli and chicken that make you feel better about what you are eating too.  You also get REAL cheese in your macaroni, not some fake powdered nonsense.  So get rid of your boxed college food, and get cooking with some real cheese!

Here is the recipe for the Broccoli Sundried Tomato Mac and Cheese

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Serves 4

Ingredients:
8oz large macaroni noodles
3 cups small broccoli florets
2 large chicken breasts (about 1lb), cut into bite-sized pieces
salt & pepper
2 teaspoons oil (I used oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)
6oz Laughing Cow Lite Cheese Wedges (I used Garlic & Herb)
3/4 – 1 cup milk
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Directions:

  1. Cook macaroni noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Add broccoli to the pot 3 minutes before noodles are done cooking, then drain well and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove to a plate and set aside. In the same skillet, add cheese, milk, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper, then stir until cheese is melted, and sauce is thick. Add cooked chicken, noodles, and broccoli to the skillet then stir well to combine. Add more milk if sauce isn’t creamy enough, then serve.

Recipe Courtesy of http://iowagirleats.com/

For this recipe, I thought that Laughing Cow was a great idea because it is creamy, lite, and it is a really good melting cheese.  It also does not cost too much, and to top it off, only 35 calories a wedge! Enjoy!

EXTRA! Here is a little example of the prep process!

Let’s start with the basics…Bread

Bread. we eat it all the time and it is definitely a staple in college.  Although buying it at the supermarket is easy and fast, I have a few reservations when it comes to cheap bread. Why the heck do so many breads contain high fructose corn syrup?!  I was so surprised when I first found this out; I didn’t want to believe it, so I checked the labels myself.  And sure enough, there it was in the ingredients list of a variety of breads at the store, along with some other ingredients that I couldn’t quite pronounce.

It was then that I decided that I should just make my own bread! Then I could decide and know exactly what I was eating.  The only problem was time.  Real bread (with active yeast) takes about 4-5 hours to make (including rising time), and in between classes, practice, and other college life commitments, there was no way that was happening during the week.  But weekends were a different story.  On a normal Saturday I get up really late, go on Facebook, and watch TV.  So I figured if I devoted 4 of those hours to baking bread, it would not be a huge sacrifice….And boy was I right.  That was the best decision I ever made.  Not only did the bread taste WAY better (and fresher) than anything at the store, but it also made the whole apartment smell like a bakery. How can you argue with that?!

Here is the recipe for the scrumptious Honey Wheat bread I made.

Honey Wheat Bread

Honey Wheat Bread

This recipe makes 2 loaves of bread, but since this was my first time making it, and since there is only one loaf pan in the apartment, I made a half recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking) plus additional for topping
  • 1/2 cup warm water (105-115°F)
  • 2 tablespoons active dry yeast (from 3 packages)
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus additional for buttering pans
  • 3 cups stone-ground whole-wheat flour
  • About 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • Vegetable oil for oiling bowl
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Special equipment: 2 (8- by 4-inch) loaf pans

DIRECTIONS

Heat milk in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan over low heat until hot but not boiling, then remove pan from heat and stir in oats. Let stand, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until cooled to warm.

Stir together water, yeast, and 1 teaspoon honey in a small bowl; let stand until foamy, 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t foam, discard and start over with new yeast.) Stir yeast mixture, melted butter, and remaining honey into cooled oatmeal.

Stir together whole-wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups unbleached flour, and salt in a large bowl. Add oat mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a well-floured surface and knead with floured hands, adding just enough of remaining unbleached flour to keep from sticking, until dough is smooth, soft, and elastic, about 10 minutes (dough will be slightly sticky). Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl loosely with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel; let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Lightly butter loaf pans. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times to remove air. Divide dough in half and shape each half into a loaf, then place 1 loaf in each buttered pan, seam side down, tucking ends gently to fit. Cover loaf pans loosely with a kitchen towel and let dough rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly brush tops of loaves with some of egg wash and sprinkle with oats, then bake until bread is golden and loaves sound hollow when tapped on bottom, 35 to 40 minutes. (Remove 1 loaf from pan to test for doneness. Run a knife around edge of pan to loosen.)

Remove bread from pans and transfer to a rack to cool completely, about 1 1/2 hours.

(Recipe courtesy of epicurious.com )

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Don’t be afraid to make something new, or put a little time into your cooking!  After making this bread, I realized that, not only was it cheaper in the long run to just make my own bread, but it was also a great experience.  And now, since I know the basics of bread making, I can make all different kinds!  So get off Facebook, and get in the kitchen and make some bread!  Everyone will be jealous, you’ll see! Enjoy!