Thursday, August 18, 2011

Orzo Grape Pasta Salad

Happy Thursday, folks! As one of our last summer weekends approaches, and I shed a tear as I write that.... I will be headed out of town to soak up the sun and get out of the grimmy city for a few days! This proves a time-old question we all try to tackle when we leave for a few days: eat out & spend a ton of money? Buy groceries you know you will end up throwing out? Nope... use what you've got! Get creative! And that's just what I did!

This easy pasta salad can be served hot or cold, topped with a piece of grilled chicken or fish, and the ingredients can be swaped out easily! I used fresh red grapes as I had a bag in my fridge that needed to be used up (or the risk of throwing them out was going to run high!). Along with some salty feta cheese, and a can of white kidney beans for added protein. Use whatever bean you like, a fresh/crisp fruit, and voila! Dinner! Enjoy!

(You can tell I like cheese, lots of it.... the sharp bite from the feta with the sweet plump grapes is like a taste explosion in your mouth.).

OH and another tip: a container of whole wheat orzo will NEVER go to waste in your pantry. Do yourself a favor & get some..... seriously.


3/4 cup dry whole wheat orzo
1/4 tbsp olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of your pan generously
crumbled feta cheese
1 cup red grapes, chopped
1 8 oz can white kidney beans (cannellini used here)
salt & pepper
1/2 cup diced red onion
2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar (more or less, to taste)

In a small-medium pan, add the orzo & 2 cups water. bring to a boil and cook 8-10 minutes or until al dente (you can eat it without it tasting like mush, or uncooked pasta... somewhere in the middle). Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, heat up your olive oil. Add the diced red onions and sautee 2-3 minutes or until they begin transluscent. Lower the heat & add the kidney beans. Sautee for another 2-3 minutes then add the grapes, orzo, and mix carefully so as not to break the grapes or beans. Drain the orzo, and add to the hot skillet. Toss with red wine vinegar, salt & pepper. Throw it on a plate an add as much feta as you like! MMMM!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sangria Popsicles. Oh yeah, I went there.

Lately, as summer continues, I've been discovering all sorts of recipes online for various popsicles. Awesome, they all look great- except there's one problem.... I didn't have a popsicle kit! No old sticks laying around or those cute little dixie cups every mom keeps in the bathroom cabinet. And let's face it, why was I going to search for the popsicle kits when you can just buy a popsicle at a local bodega when you feel like it?

Well tonight after my usual pit stop at the gym (that just happens to be located right next to the best Whole Foods in town) I made an effort to pop in to the store for a bottle of water. And what did I find right in the front aisle as I walked in? Ding, ding, you guessed it... a homemade popsicle kit!! For only $13!!!!!! Call me crazy, but the possibilities suddenly seemed endless (maybe it was the fact that I was standing in the best grocery store around with any ingredient I could imagine of using).

Without thinking, I grabbed a box and a bottle of water and ran to the check out aisle. Awesome, sweet, couldn't wait to get home and make something!!! 20 minutes later, I realized.... what the hell, I didn't get any ingredients to make anything!!! Great, way to go.

Upon arriving home, I opened up my freezer to find two bags of frozen berries (something EVERYONE should keep in their freezer, you really can use these in anything! smoothies, defrost and put in cereal, yogurt, etc), then found some oranges in the fridge that were nearing expiration, and a bottle of rose wine (every New Yorker has a bottle of wine in their apt, no matter what's up)..... And yes, before you ask, wine does freeze. Boom, the idea for the frozen Sangria popsicle was born. Sangria is nothing but fruit & alcohol---- freeze it into a popsicle!! I mean, what's better than sangria waiting for you when you get home? Not much, really.

Seriously, buy a popsicle kit. You can add yogurt, milk, fruit, anything that will freeze, test it out! Your fave smoothie can now be waiting for you in the freezer when you get home from the gym for that perfect healthy pick me up! Breakfast in a hurry? Done. I say this again, buy a popsicle kit. I promise you, I will be posting more recipes as my imagination grows... but for now, alcohol will do. It is Friday after all. Enjoy!

1 bag 8oz frozen raspberries
1 bottle rose wine (the cheap white zin, you know you like it, don't hide it)
1 cup diet ginger ale
juice of 1 orange
2 tbsp sugar (I have a notorious sweet tooth, if you don't, this step isn't needed)

Blend all ingredients until completely smooth (and strain if you don't like the raspberry seeds), pour into the popsicle molds, freeze for 3-4 hours MIN.... tip: when you want to eat them, run it under hot water for a few seconds, this will help squeeze it out of the mold easily.  Voila! Homemade popsicles!!!!

Monday, August 8, 2011

It's a cupcake... it's a muffin.... nope, it's MEATLOAF!!!

It seems that lately the only utensil getting serious usage in my kitchen has been my muffin/cupcake tin. So why not make a dinner out of it?!

As Sunday night rolled around, and another 90+ humid day, I really had no energy to walk the amazingly long 5 blocks to the grocery store to make a labor intensive meal. I glanced around my fridge, and found some ground turkey that was screaming "bake me!" With the only other ingredients I had on hand, I created these lovely little individual meatloaf tarts, spicy and perfectly paired with some fresh mango slices for some sweetness. Use whatever salsa you have on hand as a ketchup substitute, stale bread instead of bread crumbs... and you've got yourself a pretty healthy dinner! Portion control already taken care of... and fresh fruit to top it off!!! Play around with the ingredients, you can't go wrong with this one using whatever you have in your kitchen....

1 lb ground white turkey (beef or chicken, whatever you prefer)
3 tbsp of your favorite salsa (I used Utz's Peach Salsa- SO DELISH! And let's face it, was the only one I had in my fridge at the time)
1 egg
1/2 cup bread crumbs (crumble up some stale bread if you don't have bread crumbs in your pantry, but if you don't, I suggest buying some, it always come in hand!)
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
salt & pepper to taste
Fresh mango slices for garnish - however many you like!

Preheat oven to 375*F. Spray your cupcake/muffin tin with some non stick cooking spray (even if it's non-stick, this will only help later on when trying to fork it out of the tin). Another tip: when making meatloaf, make sure all of your ingredients are at room temp. This helps the flavors to mix easier, bakes smoother, and not to mention isn't as grosse on your hands when you smoosh it all together in a bowl!
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with your hands until thoroughly combined. Spoon into the cupcake tin to the top (remember, these don't rise like cupcakes or muffins, so fill 'em up good!). Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Serve with some fresh mango slices, or whatever summer fruit you have on hand. The spicy/sweet combo is perfect for a summer night. Let's not forget to add, these little individual portions make great party dishes, and look so cute you can't wait to eat them all up!!! Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blueberry muffins take the cake.

What's better to fuel you up for an action packed 3-day weekend than a buttery, cinnamon-y, blueberry muffin? Not much, I say. My grocery store (and many farmer's markets this time of year) are bursting with big fat juicy blueberries... and I can think of nothing better to do with them than throw 'em into a batter and bake 'em up. This recipe is so easy, I promise you will have 90% of all these ingredients in your pantry already. The common misconception with muffins is that they're hard to make, and require a boxed mix. Nope, and hell no. These are easier, and more delicious, than any box mix that;s been sitting on the grocery shelf for too long. Replace the batter with strawberries, apples, or hell even mangoes to create your own twist on an amaze-balls muffin (yupp, I said it). The cinnamon-ginger topping really finishes this off perfectly, and will make you excited to wake up in the morning and try one :) Happy Almost Weekend, everyone!

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1 cup sugar
1 cup blueberries (fresh, NOT frozen)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar (light or dark, all on preference)
1/3 cup all purpose flour

In a bowl, sift the flour, baking powder & salt. Set aside. In another small bowl, add the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and whisk thoroughly. Incorporate into the dry mix and combine. Fold in the blueberries at the end so you don't smoosh them. Spoon into lined muffin/cupcake tray. Now, make the topping....
In a small bowl, combine the cubed sugar, cinnamon, ginger, sugar, and flour. Mix it with your hands to make it easiest (especially if the butter isn't fully at room temp yet). Crumble as much as you want on top of each muffin before baking (it bakes up and out, so top it on!)... bake at 400 for 22-25 minutes. Go to bed, wake up, pour a cup of coffee, and eat these puppies up!!! Great to make for weekend visitors!!