Tag Archives: Tomatoes

One Meal Becomes Another

I’m not gonna lie to you, folks. Sometimes I make dishes that suck. I’m still not incredibly skilled in seasoning, unless it’s a no-brainer like lemon and rosemary, or tomato and basil. So when I threw together the contents of my fridge in the form of pasta, cherry tomatoes, cooked spinach, and olive oil with a little salt and pepper, it was… bland. Real bland. And when I eyed the leftovers the following day, I wondered what to do. And then it hit me: frittata.

Seriously, mixing leftovers with eggs and cheese and baking it in the oven is the answer to all my leftovers. Random veg in the crisper? Eggs, cheese, bake. Bland pasta? Eggs, cheese, bake. Half a roasted chicken breast and some fried potatoes? Eggs, cheese, bake. Chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting? Eggs, cheese, bake. SIKE. Who has leftover cupcakes?

On the menu:
Macaroni frittata with tomatoes, spinach, and parmesan

What you’ll need:
Leftovers – really, anything that is already cooked or can be eaten raw (i.e. fruits and veg) will work in this dish. Don’t be throwing raw chicken in there.
Cheese – I used parmesan because to me, tomatoes and spinach says “salty Italian” but maybe you have some cheddar, some swiss, a little block of goat cheese. Throw it in.
Veg – as I mentioned, I had cherry tomatoes and cooked spinach already in the failed pasta dish so I just mixed it in with eggs and a little milk, but maybe you have a chunk of red onion or some slices of yellow pepper, a handful of raw broccoli or half a zucchini. Whatever you need to get rid of.

I also added a little oregano to my concoction, poured it in a skillet, baked it all up for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven, and had a deeeelicious dinner. Try it. You’ll like it!

[In other news, this dish is PERFECT and so easy for a brunch: cut it pie-style into slices and serve with mimosas, donut muffins, and a fruit salad]

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A Fish of a Different Color

Lately I’ve been feeling a little… chunky. Not like sophomore year of college where I literally had to buy a new pair of pants whilst working at the mall because the pair I was wearing was cutting off my circulation, but… chunky. It’s bathing suit season, you know? Time to lay off the extra mayo and pancake appetizers at brunch. Forget I just indulged in all-you-can-eat gnocchi. It never happened.

It is in the spirit of lighter options that I experimented with tuna and planned a weekday lunch for myself that won’t lead to high cholesterol at the young age of twenty-COUGH.

On the menu:
Mediterranean tuna salad
Serves 2

1 can of albacore tuna in water (or 1/2 cup tuna steak, roughly chopped)
2 cups whole wheat pasta, cooked according to directions on box (I used elbow macaroni, but you can use any little chunky pasta)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red pepper, chopped
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh mozzarella, chopped into 1/4 inch cubes
2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp fresh lemon zest
Salt and pepper to taste

PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THESE DIRECTIONS THEY ARE VERY VERY COMPLICATED: Toss pasta with olive oil. Add tuna. Add fruit. Add cheese. Add zest. Add salt and pepper. Toss. Eat. Feel healthy. Be happy.

I like this in a bowl with a fork, but you could easily put this on some toasted Italian bread, or melted between two pieces of flat bread with the chunks of mozzarella binding it together. But, as I mentioned, I’m trying to fit into last year’s summer wardrobe and extraneous bread ain’t gonna help me there.

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Brunch in BillyBurg

Country Ham Biscuit

This was a weekend chock-full of amazing eats. So for the next three days, I’m going to regale you with stories of what I ate in a two day span. Prepare yourself. It’s a lot of food for one small lady, but I ate so I could report back to YOU. Seriously, you should be thanking me. And sending donations for a gym membership.

Egg 135 N. 5th Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY. Egg is a tiny white-walled hallway of a restaurant with a focus on Southern-style dishes. My lovely friend Sasha has been raving about this inexpensive brunch spot for months (“the biscuits! my GOD, the biscuits!”) so her sojourn into town from DC was a perfect excuse to make the trek to this neighborhood I otherwise steer clear of. Too much ironic-disheveled-Salvation-Army makes me itchy.

On the menu:
Eggs Rothko (easy-cooked egg in a slice of brioche, topped with cheddar, served with broiled tomatoes and kale)
Country Ham Biscuit (thick cut ham, fig jam, and cheddar on a country biscuit, served with grits)
Mimosas
French press coffee (NOTE: Egg serves each table its own French press; how swank is that?)

Eggs Rothko

Verdict: Hipsters, be damned, I am going back to EGG! Oh, the beauty of salty, thick-sliced ham paired with sweet fig jam and salty melted cheddar. I feel I have to discuss the filling and THEN the biscuit because they are magic alone and perfection together. Some might tell you I peeled away the top of the biscuit to save for later and eat slowly at the end of the meal with fresh raspberry preserves… but those people would be liars.

The wait at Egg will run you at least a half hour if you go during typical brunch hours, but it is worth the wait, my friends. Sasha did not tell a lie: the biscuits are to die for. Everything tasted like it was straight out of your Kentucky grandma’s kitchen: farm fresh, made on premises, and prepared with love. More than once my fellow diners and I cried out, “Man, that is SOAKED in butter!” But y’all know that’s just fine with me.

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Italian 101

A lot of times, all I want for dinner is something simple, something that will take me 20 minutes and minimal ingredients, and something that will fill me up and leave me happy. So here is a simple tomato sauce recipe that takes almost zero effort and can be used in everything from lasagna to chicken parm. And if you’re cooking for one, you can make the full batch and freeze what you don’t use for the next time you want something quick and easy. Way better than takeout and way more satisfying than a jar of Prego.

On the menu:
Parmesan chicken with tomato sauce over pasta

Sauce:
Makes 3 cups
1 Tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh basil, 1/4 chopped and 1/4 chiffonade for garnish
1 tsp red pepper flakes
28 oz crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste

Add olive oil, minced garlic, chopped onion, and chopped basil to a cold pot. Turn the heat to medium and stir until the ingredients in the pot are fragrant, about 10 minutes. Once the aromatics are fragrant, add the tomatoes and turn the heat down to low. Cook the sauce for around 5 minutes, taste, and add salt to taste. Let sauce simmer for another 15 minutes.

Chicken:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp olive oil

Pound chicken breasts so that they are each around 1 inch thick. Mix together panko bread crumbs and grated parmesan. Dredge chicken in flour, shake off excess. Dredge in egg, and then in parmesan/panko mixture. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add chicken and cook on each side over medium heat, for around 8 minutes on each side or until cooked through.

Make pasta according to directions on the box. Plate pasta and chicken and pour sauce over the top. Grate more parmesan over the top and add chiffonade basil.

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Becca Does Tilapia: Part Deux

As I mentioned before, sometimes being a single lady means eating the same meal over and over and over again until all of the ingredients are gone. So if you have a couple leftover tilapia filets in your freezer, as Becca and I did, you make it work. And if it is warm enough to eat outside, you grill.

On the menu:
Grilled tilapia with pico de gallo
Roasted broccoli with lemon
Corn chips! (optional… obviously)
Serves 2

Tilapia
2 tilapia filets*
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Brush filets with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill on a gas grill (or a grill pan if weather, sadly, does not permit) over medium heat for 6 minutes on each side. If your filets are thicker than 1/2 an inch, you may need an extra 2 minutes on each side.

*You can substitute any mild white fish for tilapia here

Pico de gallo (this recipe will leave you with extra, perfect for eggs the next morning or as an accompaniment to late night chip-dipping… ain’t no shame)
4 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 small white onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (more or less depending on taste)
1-2 jalepenos, chopped (more or less depending on taste)
2 Tbsp lime juice, or the juice from half a lime
salt to taste

Mix together all ingredients. Let sit for at least 2 hours before serving. Plate tilapia filets and spoon pico de gallo over the top.

NOTE: Can we talk about how healthy this meal is for a second? There isn’t a drop of heavy cream OR butter in it, and only 2 tiny little tablespoons of oil. Don’t worry. I ate a Little Debbie Oatmeal Cream Pie for dessert to negate all the vitamins and nutrients I obtained during the main course. Nutritional balance is the priority of my life.

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And they call it buona notte…

One of the reasons I love to cook is because I love to eat. And so does my family. The main topic of conversation at breakfast is what’s for lunch, and by the time two o’clock in the afternoon rolls around, all we can talk about is where we’ll go for dinner. So when my mother suggested that I cook the family dinner this weekend, I was flattered and nervous all at once. Let’s just say no one holds back their true feelings when it comes to the quality of a meal.

It was in this vein that I chose an Italian classic, crossed my fingers, closed my eyes, and hoped for the best.

On the menu:
Chicken cacciatore
Roasted broccoli with lemon
Serves 4

Chicken:
1 whole chicken, cut into roughly 12 pieces
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 whole garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup lemon juice (or the juice from one lemon)
3 sprigs rosemary
1 tsp red pepper flakes (or more if you like your chicken with a kick)
1 cup dried mixed mushrooms (porcini, oyster, shiitake)*
3 cups dry white wine (2 cups to soak mushrooms**, 1 cup for cooking chicken)
1 cup water
3 cups chopped tomatoes with juice

*Your local grocery store should have dried mushrooms in prepackaged pouches
**Half an hour before you start cooking, put the dried mushrooms in a bowl and pour 2 cups of white wine over them to soak, soften, and marinate the mushrooms. Before you add the mushrooms as directed below, drain them and discard the used wine

Preheat oven to 350. Toss the chicken in a bowl with salt, pepper, garlic, and a little of the olive oil.
Put the rest of the olive oil in a large skillet and heat until very hot (the oil HAS to be hot to crisp the skin of the chicken). Once the oil is hot, add the chicken and garlic to the pan, and sear for 3-4 minutes on each side (if the garlic starts to burn, place it on top of the chicken).
Pour the lemon juice over the chicken and add the rosemary, turning down the heat to medium.
Add the red pepper and the remaining cup of white wine to deglaze the skillet.
Once the wine has reduced by half (around 10 minutes), add the marinated mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes.
Remove the chicken and set aside. Taste the mushrooms and add salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with juice and the 1 cup of water. Taste again and season with salt and pepper.
Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes. Taste again and season with salt and pepper.
Return chicken to skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.
Put whole skillet in oven and bake for another 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked throught. If your chicken pieces are huge, they may need a couple extra minutes in the oven.

Broccoli:
1 large head of broccoli
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice (or the juice from one lemon)
salt and pepper

Turn oven to 450. Cut broccoli into individual stalks. Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking sheet so there is space between the stalks. Bake at 450 for 5 minutes. Remove broccoli, toss with lemon juice and a liberal amount of fresh ground pepper. Return to baking sheet and bake for another 8 minutes.

Here are pictures of Wednesday’s carrot cake. WOW this came out well. The cake is dense and spicy, with the perfect complement of smooth, cheesy frosting. The decoration was a total flop, so I’m pretending that it never happened and giving you a picture of the inside instead. Way prettier, I promise.

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