Big Girl Dinner #1

This post is long overdue, but I had the pleasure of hosting a few friends over at my apartment for dinner a few weeks ago…which meant lots of cooking! This was my first time throwing a dinner party on my own – I definitely underestimated how much time cooking would take and scrapped ambitious plans to bake a dessert, but hey, it was worth it.

Roasted Chickpea Salad with Feta

Modifications ~ Seasoned chickpeas with paprika and basil in addition salt / pepper, sauteed onions instead of using them raw, used balsamic instead of red wine vinegar, added walnuts, used “mixed greens” instead of arugula, didn’t use mint

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Simple Spinach

Heat up a pan with olive oil, and once hot, add minced garlic (as much or little as you’d like with the amount of spinach you use). Cook the spinach thoroughly, and continue to drizzle with olive oil, curry powder, red chili, and salt.

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Pesto Spaghetti with Zucchini

First step is the homemade pesto – so much easier than I thought it would be and, let’s be honest, to die for. You can never have enough pesto. I decided to make Parsley-Walnut Pesto since parsley was pretty cheap at the grocery store, but there’s a lot of different leaf – nut combos that work.  Make sure you add enough oil (and water!) to make blending easy! I learned the hard way by settling for some kind of puree first, then making my pasta, then realizing I needed more pesto, and then revisiting the blender one more time only to realize that I could have made this pesto in 2 minutes instead of 20 if I had used more water…

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(Fry the zucchini until it turns golden-brown)

And voila, we have a tasty home-cooked meal!

 

Holy Crêpe…Or Should I Say “FRENCHiladas?”

This past weekend, R and I decided to have some fun and make crêpes! It of course helped that she’s a killer cook and Parisian, but the recipe actually turned out to be much easier that I thought it would be.

We followed the general gist of this recipe for the batter and let it sit in the fridge for 40 minutes before making the crêpes. Once you’ve heated the pan and spread some butter, take a scoop of the batter and pour on to the pan, quickly making sure to twist the pan right and left to ensure the batter covers the whole pan. You’ll notice that the edges will start to lift upwards after a minute or two, and then you can flip the crêpe. Once it’s fully cooked, lift out of the pan and make the next one!

If you want to add savory fillings to your crêpes, I suggest a spinach and cheese combo (I know this probably doesn’t come as a surprise). When you’ve flipped over the crêpe, add some shredded mozzarella (goat cheese works too) and spinach to the middle, and fold over the crêpe in half before lifting out of the pan. Sweet fillings are great too – add melted chocolate chips, sliced bananas, strawberries, whipped cream, nutella, apple, cranberries…you get the picture…

If you have extra crêpes, you can store them in the fridge and reheat later on with your fillings – the taste stays great for days! Special thanks to R and her Mama for the expert guidance 🙂

Savory fillings pictured below:

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What do Nosy Peppers do? Get Jalapeno Business!

Except this post isn’t about jalapenos, sorry folks. It was just too cute not to share.

I am however bringing back a stuffed peppers recipe I used last year during the holidays. Perhaps you can also draw inspiration from this Buzzfeed Post: 19 Savory Stuffed Veggies to Make Before Summer Ends? 🙂

You can follow this recipe here for baking instructions. My simple filling consisted of couscous, grated carrots, onions, garlic, olive oil, curry powder, red chilies, and salt / pepper. In the future, I’d also consider adding feta, zucchini, squash, and cooked chickpeas. Aside from the great taste, I think stuffed vegetables also present the perfect picture ops…

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Every Pizza is a Personal Pizza if You Try Hard and Believe in Yourself

#TBT to the fabulous day when Grace and I made a vegetable pesto “gourmet” pizza. We were shopping at Trader Joe’s for ingredients and looking at the pizza dough options; I guess you can say we both wanted to appear healthy on the outside, so we picked up the whole wheat dough and were well on our way when we had one of those moments. We stopped walking, looked at each other, and started cracking up as we went back to swap the whole wheat dough for garlic herb – what we had both really wanted. The garlic herb dough was easily one of the best decisions we could have made, as it matched well with the pesto base we chose and was unbelievably delicious.

This Vegetable Pesto Pizza is a fun cooking adventure and not too difficult to make! First, chop up tomatoes, red bell peppers, and onions (broccoli, zucchini, mushrooms, and / or arugula would work well too). Sautee the onions and spinach lightly in olive oil so that the onions are browned and the spinach cooked.

Next, spray a baking pan with non-stick spray and start rolling out your dough on another flat surface. Make sure to use enough flour to avoid sticking. This part might take a while, but roll out the dough enough so that it conforms to the shape of the pan and is as thick or thin as you would prefer.

After your oven is heated, put the dough in for about half the recommended baking time. Take it out and then spread the pesto sauce evenly and generously across the entire crust. Layer the vegetables and mozzarella cheese (can also use ricotta, goat, feta) as you’d like and place back in the oven to finish baking.* Voila, you’ve got a killer pizza!

*You can also spread the sauce and layer the cheese / vegetables on the dough before putting in the oven to bake.

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Avocado / Tomato / Feta Bruschetta

Ever since I bought too many avocados for our own good, I’ve naturally been on an avocado kick. We’re finally down to only two avocados in our fridge (started with…10?) thanks to this awesome bruschetta and some other recipes I’ll be posting here in the next few days.

Ingredients: Baguette (I used 4 multi-grain bread slices), Chopped Tomatoes (About 1.5 tomatoes is enough), Avocado (One avocado was good for 4 slices of bread), Feta Cheese, Minced Garlic (4 cloves), Olive Oil, Salt / Pepper

I so  wanted to make my own garlic butter (it’s really easy, just blend minced garlic and butter), but naturally, we ran out of butter at the last minute. As sad as I was, I decided our no-butter situation was probably for the best (I guess there’s enough fat in avocados anyway) and instead sauteed the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until soft. I then brushed olive oil on each slice of bread, topped with the sauteed garlic + salt / pepper and toasted for a few minutes at fairly low heat until crunchy.

Now for the fun part. I chopped up the tomatoes and avocados and started layering them on each toasted bread slice. Avocados first, then tomatoes, topped with crumbled feta, drizzled with olive oil, and some more salt + pepper. Seriously, it is so much fun.

Carefully toast each slice for another few minutes so the feta (if you can’t already tell, feta is hands down my favorite cheese) starts to melt, and voila, you’re all set! The nice thing about this bruschetta is that you can easily adjust the seasonings and add more oil / salt / pepper if needed. Enjoy 🙂

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Spinach & Cheese Combo 1: Spanakopita

If you know me well, you know that spinach and cheese are two of my most favorite food items, and they’re even better together than apart sometimes.

Spanakopita is a spinach / cheese lover’s heaven. The flaky texture of the outer filo (also spelled “phyllo,” a thin unleavened dough used in Middle Eastern cuisine) allows one to fully indulge in the warm, soft spinach / cheese filling. I often find that the taste of inner fillings gets masked by the bread on the outside, but that’s definitely not the case with spanakopita.

I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to make this dish. We used filo dough from Trader Joe’s (it usually comes in a rectangular box kind of like aluminum foil) and first prepared the filling. Eyeball how much spinach you’ll need (if you always have extra, it’s a tasty snack on it’s own), and sautee the spinach in olive oil with salt until cooked. Make sure you get rid of as much water as possible. Add in crumbled feta cheese to the cooked spinach and mix thoroughly. How much cheese you want to use is dependent on your personal taste!

Once your filling is ready, oil a rectangular baking pan lightly so that the dough doesn’t stick. Peel off a layer of the dough (this is probably the most difficult part) and place on the sheet. Try your best to minimize tears in the dough, but if it breaks in some places, don’t worry and just try to layer the dough as much as possible. Once you’ve got the first layer down, oil the edges and center (this time to make sure that the two layers of filo will stick together). Take another layer of filo and place on top of the oiled first layer. We stopped at two layers, but you could add more if you’d like.

Layer the filling evenly across the dough, and line two more layers of filo on top like you did before using enough oil between layers. All you’ve got to do next is place in the oven at the temperature / time requirements that are given on your box of filo (usually 40-45 mins at 375 degrees) and you’ve got a delicious eat!

[Credits to my dad for showing me the ropes]

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