Category Archives: Recipes

Make Ahead Greek Pita

I don’t claim to be any type of gym rat. Running on a treadmill just doesn’t turn me on the way eating chips in front of the TV with a beer after work does, you get me? But in the interest of keeping my heart healthy and my saddle bags under control and yada yada yada, I bit the bullet and joined the gym. The problem? Going to the gym after work leaves little to no time for cooking delicious dinners, unless I want to eat at 9pm. And I don’t.

This recipe is perfect if you’re like me, and want to take a maximum of 20 minutes to prepare dinner on a week night. It’s even MORE perfect for a Monday night when you have oodles of time on Sunday to get everything prepared. You can make the sauce ahead of time, cut up and marinade the chicken ahead of time, even chop the vegetables ahead of time. Then when it comes time to assemble dinner, you only have to toss the chicken in a skillet, cook it, and serve. Gym-sweaty to dinner-ready in no time at all.

On the menu:
Greek chicken pita
Serves 2 – 3

Tzatziki:
NOTE: this is WAY more tzatziki than you’ll need for this particular dish, so if you want to halve it, you totally can.
8 oz. plain yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 Tbsp chopped dill
2 cloves garlic, peeled

Add all ingredients to a food processor. Pulse until blended. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving, or for best results, overnight.

Marinade for chicken:
6 oz. plain yogurt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
2 medium sized chicken breasts, cubed

Add yogurt, olive oil, oregano, salt, and pepper in a bowl and mix well. Add cubed chicken and stir until chicken is coated. Let sit at least 2 hours, or for best results, overnight.

Preparation and assembly:
2 Tbsp olive oil
Marinated chicken (see above)
2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

Heat olive oil and garlic cloves over medium heat in a non-stick skillet. Wipe excess marinade from chicken, and add chicken to pan. Cook until chicken cubes are cooked through, around 10 minutes.

Add to a warm pita with freshly chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, and thinly sliced red onions. Top with tzatziki. You can also throw all of this in a bowl without the pita, top with tzatziki and eat it as a salad over lettuce.

Disclaimer: the pita in the picture is actually Indian naan… still freaking delicious.

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Easy App


I’m gonna confess something to you guys: if ever I’m having people over for a meal or drinks or whatever, I will often scan my cupboards first to find out what I have to get rid of and then plan my menu around that. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not serving old deli meat and baking soda, but if I have asiago cheese that I don’t know what to do with, or half a can of cashews that need to be eaten, I’m using ’em.

Case in point: last weekend’s easy starter.

On the menu:
Crostini with blue cheese, honey, and toasted almonds
Serves 4

1 baguette, sliced into 1-inch thick rounds
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
3 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Place almonds in a skillet and heat over medium heat. Constantly shake the almonds over the heat until they are fragrant. Remove from heat.

Place baguette slices on a cookie sheet in one single layer. Sprinkle blue cheese on toast, drizzle honey, and top with almonds. Place cookie sheet under a pre-heated broiler for 3 minutes.

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Spring Risotto


It’s no secret to those devoted Food E. readers that I love risotto. It’s easy to prepare for company, it’s impressive to present, and it’s one single dish to make sure is ready by meal time instead of two or three separate dishes that you have to coordinate. Also, most people love it. This past weekend The BF and I had some friends over for dinner and I prepared this risotto with a small arugula salad with cucumbers to start. The original recipe calls for calamari and if you have a grill or a grill pan, I’d definitely suggest trying it. I went with calamari’s good friend, shrimp.

On the menu:
Spring pea and lemon risotto with shrimp
Serves 4 

6 cups chicken stock
5 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium leek, white and light green parts only, sliced thin
1 tsp of fresh lemon juice, plus zest of one lemon
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup frozen peas
2 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 pound fresh shrimp, de-veined and tails removed, patted dry and lightly sprinkled with garlic salt and flour

Heat chicken stock over medium-high heat until it simmers, lower heat and leave the stock on a low simmer.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and sautee leeks until softened but not brown, about 7-8 minutes.  Remove leeks from the pot and set aside on a plate. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add rice. Stir rice for one minute until fully coated with oil.

Add white wine to the rice and stir until liquid is almost completely absorbed, around 3 minutes. Add one cup of stock and occasionally stir. Keep adding stock cup by cup until one cup remains, around 20 minutes*. Add lemon juice, zest, leeks, peas, and last cup of stock to the rice and stir until incorporated.

When you add the last cup of stock, heat remaining two tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and place shrimp in the pan. While the shrimp are cooking: add cheese and butter to the risotto and stir. Turn the heat off of the risotto. Flip the shrimp in the skillet after 3 minutes, cook for another 3 minutes on the other side.

Plate the risotto and place shrimp on top. Garnish with extra grated parmesan cheese if desired.

*Note: the best way to test your risotto for doneness is to taste it. Grains should be just barely hard in the center when you turn off the heat to complete the cooking process.

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Flop

Guys, I did it again. Messed up a recipe. This is twice in two weeks, I want you to know. The first flop was when I thought I could make risotto without chicken stock. It was pretty disgusting. Not only did it taste bitter and weird, it came out a sick milky-purple color from the red wine I thought I’d try and use to flavor it up. This last mess up was bright green: usually attractive in a pesto, gross and bitter (once again) from lack of salty flavor. The risotto debacle was the result of me trying to “make do and mend” with items I already had in my house. The pesto travesty came from a shoddy recipe (or from someone who REALLY loves the taste of watered down arugula juice*).

The (lovely and patient) BF tried to force down both dishes, but in the end I think his response was, “I don’t know if I can eat any more of this…” I feel like I have some serious mac-n-cheese-ing to do to compensate for these lost meals.

In any case, the shrimp in that above dish were INCREDIBLE so I’m including the recipe here. Totally worth trying with a regular pesto recipe or your standard tomato sauce.

On the menu:
Garlic fried shrimp
Serves 2

1 lb. raw shrimp, deveined and tails removed
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, mix together garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Make sure shrimp are rinsed clean and patted completely dry. Sprinkle seasoning over the shrimp. Place shrimp in a plastic Ziploc bag, add flour, and shake to coat. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Shake excess flour off of shrimp and place in the hot skillet. Cook on each side for around 3 – 4 minutes, or until they are no longer gray and translucent.

Add to pasta and sauce and grate cheese over the top.

*In case you’re interested, the sauce in question was arugula pesto: 6 oz. of arugula, 1 garlic glove, 1/3 cup of asiago cheese, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1/3 cup heavy cream, all blended together.

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Pork Loin with Pear and Ginger Chutney

Pork Loin served over mashed potatoes

A long, long time ago I bought a pork loin. Okay, not THAT long ago, but for the purposes of creating a dramatic atmosphere without the benefit of music, let’s just say it was a long, long time ago.

Ahem.

Anyway, I had grand plans for this pork loin. Then I kept seeing recipes with instructions like “marinate for 3 hours” or “slow cook” or “cook in oven for 2 1/2 hours.” I just… well, I just don’t have that kind of time. So I threw it in the freezer and thought, “Another day.”

Then I got broke. $6-in-my-checking-account kind of broke. Nothing like poverty to make a girl resourceful. So with that giant hunk of pork in my freezer (get your minds out of the gutter, you dirt bags) and a jar of homemade pear and ginger chutney in my cupboard, I decided this was the weekend to finally tackle the pig.

On the menu:
Pork loin with pear and ginger chutney
Serves 2, Adapted from Epicurious.com

1.25 – 1.5 lb pork loin
1 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
1 cup pear and ginger chutney*
2 Tbsp dried thyme
3 Tbsp olive oil

In a small bowl, mix together the white wine, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, garlic, chutney, and thyme. Place pork in a shallow bowl and cover with the wine mixture. Use a spoon to distribute the mixture all over the pork so it is well covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I put mine in a Pyrex dish and put the lid on it) and let it sit at room temperature for an hour, or in the refrigerator for 3 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a large oven-proof skillet on medium/high heat. Brown your marinated meat on each side, 2 minutes each side. Pour wine marinade over the pork and place the whole skillet in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, or until the pork registers around 140 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Place pork on the cutting board and cover with a foil tent. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing into rounds and serving. Pour pan juices over the pork once plated.

*You can use any kind of chutney you want. Apple and pear work best with pork, and this particular chutney was a KNOCKOUT. The BF kept saying, “It’s so… soft.” And it really was ridiculously tender. This dish takes almost zero culinary knowledge and is a great recipe to make for someone special on a date night. It looks super fancy, tastes incredible, and will get you major props.

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Chocolate Therapy


Ever have one of those days? You know what I mean. THOSE days. When anyone who crosses your path is gonna get an earful whether they asked for it or not? That was Saturday. I blame the phases of the moon.

In any case, here’s a recipe for one of those days. This recipe is surprisingly healthy, compared to store bought muffins. If you’re craving something sweet, these definitely fit the bill without completely desecrating your diet.

On the menu:
Chocolate muffins
Makes 24 muffins

2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1 apple, shredded
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a different bowl, beat together the eggs, sour cream, water, milk, apple, and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.

Line each cup of the muffin tin with a paper liner. Fill each cup 2/3 of the way full with batter. Bake 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit in the tin for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

*Note: this recipe originally had vegetable oil instead of an apple, but I find most recipes use oil to make cakes moist. Apples will do the same thing with none of the fat! You can also use 1/2 cup apple sauce. The only downside to this substitution is that the cake might stick to the liner… but that’s what your teeth are for.

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Pucker Up


I have a confession to make: every once in awhile, I totally flub a recipe. I muck it up. Ruined from start to finish. Saturday night as I was tending to The (sickly) BF, I got the urge to bake cookies. “Chocolate chip?!” he asked eagerly. “No chocolate chips,” I told him. “That’s okay, I like the batter even without the chips! The vanilla, the brown sugar…” And that gave me an idea. Brown sugar cookies. I searched for a recipe, found an easy one, and went to work. The problem? Frozen butter. ‘No matter!’ thought I. ‘I will nuke it!’ Wrong. Oh, so wrong. What I got was a melty bowl of the most delicious smelling batter you’ve ever smelt. Yes. Smelt. But when I went to bake them, what did I get? Crispy, crunchy, flat, greasy disks that had the consistency of peanut brittle with burnt edges. Do you have any idea how disappointing it is to have your whole apartment smelling of delicious buttery brown sugar and nothing to show for it? Nothing in your belly to satisfy that tantalizing scent? Okay, so we ate some of those greasy, sugary disks anyway. WE PRACTICALLY HAD TO.

Which brings me to the next piece of the story. Lemon cookies. I’ve had this recipe chilling in my “recipes” folder in Gmail for some time, and figured I would follow the recipe to the T, let the butter soften, measure each ingredient accurately, and give the recipe the respect it deserved. And what happened? Imagine that. Incredible cookies.

On the menu:
Lemon Crinkle Cookies
Makes around 3 dozen cookies
Adapted from WhipperBerry.com

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and granulated sugar together until blended. Add egg, vanilla, lemon juice, and zest and blend until totally combined. Add salt, baking soda, and flour and mix with a spoon until combined.

Put powdered sugar in a shallow bowl. Scoop up batter by heaping teaspoons, roll into a ball, and roll in powdered sugar until lightly coated. Place on baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart and bake for 12 – 14 minutes, or until the bottom edges are brown and the tops look matte (not shiny). Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rake to cool completely.

Note: Because I am always interested in whether or not a cookie comes out chewy or crispy, these are the chewiest of the chewy! Soft in the center, crisp at the edges. In other words, perfection.

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