When I procrastinate, I bake cookies

I like to think of this behavior as “smart procrastination.” It all started in high school: I wouldn’t want to start working on my essay/studying/problem set…so I would make a batch of brownies for the family. By the time it was in the oven 15 minutes later I was finally ready to sit down and do schoolwork. It was the perfect way for me to center myself, and who doesn’t like a great study snack?

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I made these cookies this weekend to get myself psyched to study (which actually wasn’t that hard; it’s easy to study when you love what you’re learning!). Bite size and made with mini chocolate chips, they were the perfect snack to munch on while reading for class. I even cut the sugar in the recipe by reducing brown sugar by a third of a cup. I was reading for nutrition class, after all.

Whether you’re putting off a task or making a treat because you deserve it, these cookies are sure to please.

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies (Makes 2 dozen small cookies)

Ingredients:IMG_3659

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cornstarch (optional-but adds a nice texture to the cookie)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions

  1. In a bowl, blend butter, sugars, vanilla extract, and salt. This process is best done with a stand mixer or a hand mixer. Unless you want a really good arm workout. Mix until light and fluffy (which for me using a hand mixer took about 5 minutes).
  2. Add egg and continue mixing for another minute. Add dry ingredients slowly, so you do not have an explosion of flour all over your kitchen like I did. Mix in chocolate chips.
  3. I highly recommend this optional step: chill the dough. It really makes all the difference. Your cookies will come out chewy on the inside and firm on the outside once baked (essentially they will be perfect). Patience is a virtue: chill the dough for at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat your over to 350 degrees. Place 2 tablespoon-sized mounds of cookie dough onto cookie sheets prepped with cooking spray or parchment paper. Bake cookies until golden, about 10-15 minutes. Cool cookies on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before trying to move them (or, in my case, eat them). Cookies store well in container for 3 days.
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My “New York Style” Salad

Oh my. I am becoming a New Yorker.

So picture this: my fridge is essentially empty.

Empty, you say? Like, missing real, fresh food? Sadly, yes.

This predicament is both amusing and saddening. Amusing in that I still cannot believe I find myself taking up behaviors I used to think as exclusively for the native “New Yorker” (I could have never guessed a suburbia-raised girl like me could become a successful city dweller). Despite my new-found urban identity, I am bummed by my fridge because I like to believe that I always prepare and eat home-cooked meals using fresh ingredients. After all, that is how it started when I first came to New York City. Then, slowly I might add, I started buying more “snack-like” foods. Apples and peanut butter, mixed nuts, cans of beans, hummus…you get the idea. Next, I started eating out or traveling every single weekend. Couple that with the night a week I might eat out and suddenly buying a ton of produce and racing to eat it before it went bad became too much. Living alone is stressful on your diet, people!

Anyways, my meals have depended on gauging that “just right” amount of fresh food to buy every week. A couple of apples here, some spinach and baby carrots there…just enough to get me through 4.5 days of meals. And lately most of my protein has come from non-meat sources during the week. Thank goodness I have eggs, beans, and peanut butter (but not together because that would be gross). My love for these items–and their long shelf life–help me from avoiding a nutrient deficiency and keep my energy up.

Another dependable protein item: sliced lunch meat. Although it isn’t as wholesome as cooking chicken in the oven or broiling a steak, for someone with only a couple of meals to prep at home, it’s a great go-to for something filling. Slicing lunch meat further (a.k.a. chopping the lunch meat into coarse pieces) allows it to be tossed into an omelet, thrown into soup, or-as in this instance-sprinkled on salad.

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This recipe was all too simple and the ingredients are solid, nutritional standbys. I buy the ingredients for this salad on a Monday and it will get me through exactly four days worth of lunches. Is it all I have for lunch? No. Is it a better option for lunch that ordering Chinese takeout? Yes. Just pack this salad along with some snackie-snacks (yes I got all cute and called them snackie-snacks). Suddenly, weekday eating for the single-living city-dweller became easy, delicious, and healthy. And now I am craving a bagel…oh, New York.

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Salami & Spinach Salad (makes 4 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups spinach (1 bag)
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 package salami
  • Olive oil and Vinegar
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Rinse spinach and remove stems. Chop tomato, salami, and avocado. Toss together with 1 tablespoon each olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

The Fruit Stand Man Does it Again

This is a shout-out to my good ol’ fruit stand man.

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Something I have always loved about New York is that you can buy some produce right on the street. It’s reasonable, convenient, and varies by season (and there are always bananas… at 4 for $1…somehow I find myself always buying bananas).

So, fruit stands and are awesome and my fruit stand man is the best. He really knows his stuff. If I want a pineapple, he’ll ask me when I am planning on cutting it up and eating it so that he doesn’t chose one that’ll rot on me. That’s quality. And it’s why I will go out of my way to buy fruit from his stand as opposed to any other.

A couple of days ago my ever-dependable fruit stand man was selling me some baby carrots and told me I could get 2 bags worth for a $2 (as opposed to the 1 bag for $1.25). It’s not like it was a killer deal, but I figured they’re baby carrots! They’re healthy! I will totally eat them all no problem!

False.

Veggie-lover that I am, it was a LOT of carrots. And something needed to be done. So I decided to make something, and lo and behold I have made the most delicious and nutritious soup ever: Curried Kale and Carrot Soup.

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This soup is SO good for you! It is packed with carrots and kale (obvious nutritional heavyweights). I also avoided cream completely and utilized chicken broth. And the ginger and curry add some real depth to the flavor of this simple dish. It made a wonderful lunch and I cannot speak of its success enough. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did!

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Curried Kale and Carrot Soup (makes 6 servings)

Ingredients

  • 4 cups carrots
  • 2 cups kale
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp grated ginger
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • yogurt, optional

Directions

  1. In a pot, melt coconut oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion and cook until soft.
  2. Pour carrots and kale into the pot and let them warm for a minute or two.
  3. Add ginger, broth, and curry. Bring to a boil, and then let the mixture simmer until the carrots are soft.
  4. Pour into blender and add cilantro. Blend until smooth. Can pour soup through a sieve for a thinner consistency, or serve as is!
  5. Note: tastes great with a dollop of yogurt and some extra cilantro on top!

Naked Chicken Parmesan

Happy Labor Day everyone!

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With Labor Day weekend comes the realization that summer is going to end. As much as I like to say that summer is my favorite season, I must admit that I absolutely adore fall. For one, I love school-supply shopping (When I was younger I looked forward to my annual trip to Staples, where I could stock up on Lisa Frank folders and Jelly Roll pens). Second, there is something so trendy and cute about fall attire. My boots, vests, and scarves start begging to be worn around early September despite the fact it’s still 80-something degrees outside. And lastly (and probably the most important), is that with fall comes the enjoyment of fall food. Apples, pumpkins, and spices abound during this upcoming season. I, for one, cannot wait to start making and enjoying some delicious and nutritious comfort food dishes-dishes that warm your tummy and your heart.

All this thinking about comfort food has certainly made me crave it, and it is with that in mind that I bring you Naked Chicken Parmesan.

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This grilled chicken is too naked. It needs some cheese to spice things up!

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Now that looks better. All the flavor without the breading!

 

Chicken parmesan is one of those delicious Italian dishes that has a great potential to be healthy. The only thing holding chicken parm back is the thick breading and frying process that makes the dish tastes so darn good. Delicious: yes. Good for your waistline: no. Luckily, I have found a way to get the great taste of chicken parmesan by undressing it a bit, hence the word “naked” in the title.

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Removing the breading from the chicken parmesan recipe actually made the flavors of the dish better in my opinion! The tomato sauce and cheese are much more prominent in the flavor profile when there isn’t any oily crumbs to battle with. Plus, think of all the nutrients you’re getting from the dish: the lean protein from the chicken, the lycopene from the tomato, and the low-cal calcium kick from the Parmesan cheese. As long as you don’t go overboard on any store-bought tomato sauce (notorious for containing hidden sugar) and Parmesan (Parmesan only 20 calories per tablespoon, but that doesn’t mean you should engulf 1 cup of Parmesan), you’re looking at a mighty healthy meal.

And now a disclaimer: I used store-bought tomato sauce due to lack of free time but I seriously recommend making a homemade pasta sauce. I highly recommend this one by Jodi at What’s Cooking Good Looking. Serve this chicken with a salad and consider your fall comfort dish good to go!

Naked Chicken Parmesan (serves 1)

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken breast, uncooked
  • 1-1.5 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 Tablespoons tomato sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 2-3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Heat a skillet over medium heat. On a plate, rub your chicken breast with the olive oil (feel free to really massage it in) and sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Place your chicken on the skillet and let it cook for about 10 minutes (until it is golden brown on both sides). Remove chicken from the skillet once cooked and place it on a (NEW) plate. Do not use the plate the raw chicken was on…that one should be washed with hot water and soap before it is used again. Next, top your chicken with the tomato sauce and the Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.