Valentine’s Day

Forget the pink and red.

Today has been all about green.

Pasta e fagoli con pesto e rucola

Translation: Pasta with cannelini beans and pesto with arugula

It was delicious, but honestly, it’s been a rough day.

I really wanted gelato.  Not far from my house is a gelateria… why not?

Happy Valentine’s Day to all!

Pasta alla Puttanesca

I’ve probably mentioned this before but I’ve never been a big fan of pasta.

It just was never that exciting.  UNLucky for me, I’m spending the next few months in the land of pasta.

But as the saying goes… When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

So I’m trying, and here’s my experiment.  Pasta alla Puttanesca, which I guess literally means “whore style pasta.” It’s not a Roman recipe originally, and I like to think I’m not a whore, but why not give it a shot.  While I’ve never been a big fan of pasta, I’ve always loved sauce (or “gravy” as they call it on The Sopranos) and more importantly I love olives.

I have no idea if this recipe is anywhere nearing authentic, but I read the basic ingredients of Pasta alla Puttanesca, took a quick trip to the grocery store and came up with this:

To be honest, it was delicious. And to be even more honest, I didn’t measure these things.  So these are estimates of how much I used.  If you give it a try, add stuff and keep tasting and adding more until you like the flavor.  After all, who cares about authenticity if it doesn’t taste good to you? (At least in your own home)

Puttanesca (ish) Sauce

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced (apparently the original version doesn’t include onions)
2 gloves of garlic, minced
2 cups tomato puree
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp dried basil
1 cup sliced olives
3 tbsp capers
salt and pepper to taste
1 handful of fresh italian parsley, chopped

Heat oil in a large pot, add onions and cook until translucent.  Add garlic and cook an additional minute.  Add tomato puree, tomato paste, basil, olives, capers, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes, then stir in parsley.  Simmer for another 15 minutes or so, really the longer you simmer it the better.  If your sauce is too thick, add a bit of water.

Serve over pasta and enjoy!

And enjoy I did, standing at my window, admiring the view

Off to Florence for the weekend!  Be back with pictures!

Spaghetti alla puttanesca

Discovering Indoor Exercise and Roasted Vegetables

As much as I hate to admit this, being at my parent’s house was driving me crazy.  For some reason, being there makes me the most sedentary person on the planet.

Example: I watched every episode (5 1/2 season) of How I Met Your Mother in the nearly 3 weeks I was home.  Hilarious show! But that’s wayyyy too much TV.

The truth is, I feel better when I’m more active.  I like walking places and working out.  It just makes me feel better about myself.

So now that I’m in Ithaca, I’m trying to find ways to feel better about myself and my health… despite this:

I won’t lie.  The weather here can be terrible.  I walked to meet up with some friends and my toes were numb even though I was wearing tights, thick socks and snow boots.

But to keep myself moving, I present to you, my home gym:

Real state of the art, right?

Lately I’ve taken to doing circuits while watching episodes of last season’s The Biggest Loser.

Circuit 1: 25 Step ups
Circuit 2: 20 crunches
Circuit 3: 25 jumping jacks
Circuit 4: 20 bicycle crunches
Circuit 5: 25 bunny hops (back and forth over my computer charger)
Repeat

Not the most exciting work out ever but definitely better than sitting and doing nothing.  I’ve also recently discovered ExerciseTV online!

I made another discovery.  It’ll revolutionize lunch (or dinner… for me, at least).  Okay so I didn’t really discover it.  Rather, it’s new to me.

Roasted Broccoli

Who knew it could be so delicious.

What you need:

  • Broccoli, Carrots, Onions, etc.
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • baking sheet
  • oven preheated to 400F

Combine broccoli, other vegetables, olive oil, balsamic vinergar, salt and pepper.  Put it all on a baking sheet like such:

Roast at 400F for about 25 minutes.

Makes a wonderful side dish.  I’m so pleased!  Last night I went and bought more broccoli just so I could have it again.

Definitely recommend it if you haven’t tried it.

Off to try to get some work done, or at least move myself a bit.  Have a wonderful day!

Remix to…

…Ignition

Well, maybe not. More like Remix to Curried Kale with Lentils and Mango.

Somehow that doesn’t sound as good as Remix to Ignition.  I’m going to stick to my day job… err that is searching for one…

Anyway, I remade curried kale with lentils and mango.  I made a few changes, I only used 1 tsp of olive oil, omitted the shallot and used 1 tbsp of red wine vinegar instead of lemon.  Everything else stayed pretty much the same.

Pretty delicious.

Take that R. Kelly… or something…

Speaking of day jobs.  I’m off to work on some job applications.  Wish me luck!

Layers of Lunch

Yesterday, I had a meltdown. I cried in the hallway on campus and in the computer lab for probably at least an hour… maybe two.

This had something to do with it.

But really that was only the tiniest part of it.

Today was a better day.  I went to the gym.  I made split pea soup and layered it with sauteed kale.

Then I shared it with a friend.

Why not bring your friend lunch in a peanut butter jar?  Especially if she sat with you through a meltdown.

Then I went to class.  Got a little frustrated.  Went to Wegman’s to buy baking supplies.

Tomorrow will be even better.

Mango Pico de Gallo

Friends, it’s hot.

I can’t deal.

This weekend is supposed to be in the 60s but honestly, that cool weather can’t get here fast enough.  Consequently, there’s noooooo way I’m turning on an oven, heck even the stove is getting lonely!

So what do you do when you really want to make something but it’s too damn hot?

Make something that doesn’t require an oven or a lot of cooking time. I have a suggestion…

Mango Pico de Gallo

1 cup mango, diced
1 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
2-3 tomatoes, diced
juice of 2 limes
1-2 tbsp (or more) fresh chopped cilantro
salt to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  Toss together and serve with chips, tortillas, fish, rice, beans, sauteed greens, salads, etc.

Super easy, right?

I also have another suggestion: BBQ Tofu with Mango Pico de Gallo

Press, slice and marinate some tofu in your BBQ sauce of choice.  Using a handy George Foreman grill (or a pan or a BBQ), grill the tofu. On a plate, place one slice of grilled BBQ tofu, top it with some sharp cheddar cheese, top that with another slice of grilled BBQ tofu, then layer on some of the Mango Pico de Gallo.

Aaaamazing!  Sweet, smokey, spicy, salty, citrusy all in one delicious little package!

Perfect for a hot summer day!  You should probably enjoy this outside with friends and a cold beer.

Any other way would probably just be blasphemous.

Go make it now!

Goya Stuffed Tomatoes

So I’ve been pretty bad about blogging this week.  I think it’s the combination of the heat, the start of classes, new part time job and my strange desire to do absolutely nothing at the end of most days.

I wish I could say my time away from this blog has been super exciting but sadly it hasn’t been.  I’ve been sort of underwhelmed with most things, cooking and blogging included.  But today I’ve decided to be my usual chipper self again.

I’m done being underwhelmed.

So a few days ago, I finally made something new today with fun ingredients.  Last week, I got a shipment of Goya products from Foodbuzz’s Tastemaker’s program.  It was perfect  because I didn’t feel like making something super complicated, but I’m not one to compromise on taste.  Consequently…

Stuffed Tomatoes

1 package Goya Yellow Rice, cooked according to instructions*
1 tbsp Goya olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 bell pepper
1 garlic clove
1 can of Goya Black Beans, or about 1.5 cups cooked beans
1 cup greens, chopped
A few large tomatoes
1 oz shredded cheese (optional)

Cook the rice according to the package instructions.  Actually don’t do that!  The package said to simmer the rice for 25 mins but mine was done after about 12!  It definitely would have burned if I had left it on for 25 mins.  Once rice is cooked, set aside.

In a pot, heat olive oil.  Add onions and peppers and cook for a few minutes until onions are translucent.  Add garlic, beans and greens.  Continue to cook for a few minutes, until the greens have wilted. Mix in the cooked rice.  Then you have a delicious tomato filling or just a tasty, versatile side dish on its own!

Should you have a ton of tomatoes from your garden or CSA like I did and actually want  stuffed tomatoes not just a delicious rice dish, core the tomatoes by cutting off the top and removing the center with a spoon.  Preheat your oven to 375F. Fill tomatoes with rice filling.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake for about 20 minutes. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Pretty delicious.  I’m definitely a fan of this yellow rice! Thanks for letting me try it out Goya!  I’m also excited to try out the Adobo Seasoning.  (P.S. You can get some Goya coupons on their website!)

Well off to do some reading and hit the gym!  Have a happy day!

Polenta Eggplant “Lasagna”

Saturday was a serious cooking day.

Every year my department puts on a pancake breakfast for incoming Master’s students (second years are invited as well).  Naturally when the Biscotti Queen asked me to help, I couldn’t say no.  As a result, we calculated that I made about 300 pancakes (maybe more?).  Starting to think I should quit planning and work in food service.  Ha!

Then later in the day there were vegetables that needed to be used.  So I tried to pack as many vegetables into one dish as possible.  The result:

Polenta Eggplant “Lasagna”

1 medium eggplant
1/4 cup salt
1 tbsp olive oil
3 small onions, chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 large tomatoes
1/2 jar of your favorite pasta sauce
1 3/4 cup corn meal (polenta)
7 cups water
1 tbsp onion powder
1/2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
10 oz ricotta cheese (I used fat free)
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes.  Place in a large bowl, coat with 1/4 cup salt, let stand 15-20 minutes. Don’t worry your eggplant won’t be salty.

In the meantime, chop onions, bell peppers and one tomato.  Heat oil in a large pot and add onions.  While those cook for a few minutes, thoroughly rinse the eggplant and lightly pat dry.  Once onions are translucent, add the eggplant, bell peppers and garlic.  Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Add one roughly chopped tomato and cook for an additional 2 minutes.  Add pasta sauce and simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes.

Once your sauce is ready, turn off the heat and start making the polenta.  Combine cornmeal, water, onion powder, garlic powder and salt in a pot.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.  Once it starts to boil keep stirring for 5-10 minutes until your polenta thickens and starts to come off the pot.

Then preheat the oven to 375F and assemble your lasagna.  First spread 1/3 of the polenta into a deep baking dish (I didn’t have a really deep baking dish so I used a 9×13 baking dish and a souffle dish), next layer on half the sauce, then spread with half the ricotta cheese and repeat.  Lastly, top with the last third of polenta.   Top with a fresh sliced tomato and sprinkle with a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes and place under the broiler for a few minutes to get a crispy top.  Let sit for 20 minutes before serving.

Enjoyed with

new apartment mate (one of two), Anna.

And a glass of wine

Normally, I’m not a fan of white wine, but this was pretty great.  Maybe not the best pairing with this dish, but fantastic on its own!  Definitely recommended!

Off to catch up on Mad Men! Have a great night!

Indian Feast!

I’m back!  I went to Florida for a few days to visit some friends, cousins and an aunt!  Fun all around!  Beach, lots of food and family!  It was a nice break from the internet and taking pictures of food, but I’m ready for more blog fun!

Before I left last week, the Biscotti Queen and her fella came over to help me eat some vegetables before my trip.  Here’s another little known fact about the Biscotti Queen: in India, the little boy she lived with called her the Chapati Queen.  I had to put that nickname to the test.

What is chapati?  Everytime you go to an Indian restaurant, you probably order naan or roti, right?  Chapati is a similar flatbread, cooked on a skillet.  Only a few simple ingredients: whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt and water.

Mix 1 cup whole wheat flour and 1 cup of all purpose with a 1/2 tsp salt.  Add 3/4 cup water, knead until smooth.  Divide into 10-12 balls and roll into thin circles.

Cook on an ungreased, hot skillet for about 30 seconds each side.  You can also toast it on the stove like such

Then brush with butter and sprinkle with salt.  Mmm sooo good!

Serve it with something tasty like Baingan Bharta and Fennel Rice for a quick and easy Indian inspired meal!

Baingan Bharta

from Manjula’s Kitchen

1 medium eggplant
2 tomatoes
1 jalapeno or green chili
1 bell pepper (I used a strange yellow variety)
1 tsp ground ginger (or 1/2 tbsp fresh chopped)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric (I completely forgot to add this and it still tasted good)
1/2 tsp cayenne
salt to taste (or about a tsp)
1/4 tsp garam masala
1 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Microwave the eggplant 8-10 minutes, until tender.  Allow to cool then peel and dice.  Set aside.

In a blender, blend together the tomatoes, jalapeno (or green chili) and ginger.  Set aside.

Heat oil in deep pan or pot.  Once oil is hot, add diced bell pepper and sautee for 2 minutes.  Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Next, add cumin and coriander to oil and stir.  Add in the blended tomato mixture, add tumeric and cayenne.  Add eggplant and bring to a boil.  Using a wooden spoon, mash the eggplant along the side of the pot for about 10 minutes.  By the end you should have a lumpy mash.  Lastly, stir in garam masala and cilantro.

Serve with Chapati and Fennel Rice with Raisins!

Eating with your hands is recommended!  After our delicious feast, Biscotti Queen and boy were pooped.  Aren’t they adorable?

BUT that didn’t stop us I from finishing up something we’d been wanting to make for a looong time!  Stay tuned for that!

Empire Farm Days

Today was the beginning of Empire Farm Days, basically a big New York State (Empire State) farm fair!

I didn’t talk too much about my internship because of the semi-sensitive nature of my work.  But now that it’s over, I’ll share a little bit about it without disclosing too much.  My internship was with the Cornell Farmworker Program and we had a table in the Cornell Cooperative Extension barn/shed/tent.

My partner in crime, Xochitl, and I drove to Seneca Falls bright and early this morning to set up our table.

We provide information for migrant farmworkers in the state, as well as information on farmworker economic and community contributions.  Interesting stuff.

We got there a little early so we walked around to see what Empire Farm Days had to offer.

I thought this was really interesting because while a know a fair amount about food security and food systems, I know very little about actual farming.

There was a ton of information about new technology, sustainability, techniques.   Pretty interesting for a self proclaimed “city girl” like myself.  I like getting to learn different lifestyles and experience new things.  Honestly, that’s one of the reasons I chose Cornell for grad school.  I could have stayed in LA or gone to NYC, but I wouldn’t have learned fun new things about agriculture and rural life!  When else would I get to spend 2 years living in the middle of nowhere!?

Obviously, the most exciting part for me were the animals.

Goats

Horses

and Cows!

The cows were in the Beef Producer’s tent.  You know what that means…

Overall it was interesting, especially as someone who doesn’t eat meat.  I think I’ve said it before but I don’t think eating meat is wrong.  My concern is with animal treatment, environmental issues and overall health and overconsumption issues.  I know this sounds weird but I was pretty glad there was a live cow next to this Beef: It’s What’s For Dinner poster.  It’s important to know where your food comes from.  At the risk of offending card carrying PETA members, I will say petting a few cows didn’t stop me from thinking the BBQ stand not far away smell amazing!

Aside from livestock, there were tractors everywhere…

I got to see what tractor ROPS (Roll Over Protection Structures) look like in real life!  I’d only heard about them through my internship when we talked about on the job safety.  Safety first!

Concentration is essential.

Xochitl knows all about tractor safety.

After a few hours, we headed home.  I was pooped!  After a nap, I made a simple, meat-free dinner.

Sun-dried tomato waffle topped with some kale sauteed in pesto.  The waffle was as delicious as the first time I made it.  If you still haven’t tried it, I suggest you do so soon!

Also, if you’re in the Upstate/Western NY area I suggest you take a little trip to Seneca Falls to check out Empire Farm Days.  Even just from a foodie perspective, there were a ton of interesting things (a lot of which I didn’t photograph)!

Off to watch Modern Family and pack for my trip to Florida on Thursday!  Have a lovely night!