Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk

Hello wonderful!

IMG_5620I decided to challenge myself in a way I never have in the kitchen before: I decided to bake a chicken. A whole chicken.

My typical experience cooking chicken involving baking pre-sliced chicken breast in the oven or on a skillet, but once I read Serena’s Best Roast Chicken Ever recipe I knew I had to give this a shot. If you have not checked out her blog Domesticate Me I highly recommend that you do; Serena has some great food ideas and some serious skills!

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Okay, back to the chicken. I knew based on the recipe reviews that this dish was good, but I did not know just how DELICIOUS it was going to be! Incredibly flavorful and a very versatile entrée that can go with a number of side dishes. I decided to eat the chicken along with some steamed broccoli and brown rice, and I ladled the sauce that the chicken cooks in over everything and it was a great decision.

Oh, and I have the mention that the aroma coming out of the oven when the chicken is baking is phenomenal. Your whole home will smell of baking chicken. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors want to join you for dinner!

A note on the baking process: since I do not own a Dutch oven, I used a large saucepan and covered the chicken with a double-layer of aluminum foil. Worked like a charm!

You can find the recipe here.

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Chicken Tortellini Soup

My friends, what’s better that chicken noodle soup?

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Swapping out the noodles for cheese-filled pasta goodness. Allow me to introduce to you chicken tortellini soup.

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Soup has always been my comfort food. When I was younger, I would heat up a can of chicken broth, throw some canned garbanzo beans in it, and call it a soup. While I still use those two ingredients in the soups I make now, I would like to believe I got a little more sophisticated with my soup recipes.

Chicken Tortellini Soup (makes 4-6 servings)

Ingredients:IMG_5299

  • 1 white onion
  • 5 celery stalks
  • 5 medium carrot sticks
  • 2 cups cooked chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups kale
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 package cheese tortellini
  • 3-4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan. Add minced garlic.
  2. Dice onions, and slice carrots and celery and add these three ingredients to the saucepan. Stir occasionally for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Strain liquid out of the canned corn and kidney beans. Rinse both corn and kidney beans in a colander. Add to saucepan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add entire can of stewed tomatoes and all of the chicken broth to the saucepan. Add chopped kale. Cover saucepan and allow soup to cook for 4 minutes. Taste, then add salt and pepper to taste (I added about 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper).
  5. Add chopped chicken and tortellini. Heat soup until tortellini is cooked (about 6-8 minutes). Soup should be bubbling softly.
  6. Label soup into bowls. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Thai-Inspired Shrimp Noodle Bowl

When asked where I get ideas for recipes, I usually say Foodgawker. It is probably the most-used app on my cell phone (sorry, Facebook) and it makes me want to cook all the time. Which is understandable because all of the chefs featured on the website are crazy-talented and super creative. Hence, the perfect inspiration.

Though there is another website I frequent often, one that is not necessarily known for its food recipes but IS known for chomping up ample amounts of free time worldwide: I’m talking about Buzzfeed.

I did not realize Buzzfeed has a Food section until a couple of weeks ago, but now that I know it exists my internet surfing has gravitated towards it, clicking on articles such as “How You Eat On Instagram Vs. How You Eat In Real Life” and “23 Easy and Inexpensive Meals You Can Make With Pita Bread” until I forget what time it is and that I should have been in bed hours before.

The article that I received this inspiration from happened to be “25 Dinners That Are Basically Impossible to Mess Up“, and the dish that made it to the dinner table was the Asian Noodle Bowl from Minimalist Baker. The recipe really is extremely simple, and completely versatile. For example, the original recipe calls for tofu but we decided to grill some shrimp. We also added some sliced red and yellow bell peppers for the extra kick of color, and cucumber just because.

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When we dug into our Asian Noodle Bowls for dinner, my fiancé and I went silent. We quietly devoured our bowls, not speaking until we went in for seconds. And when we did speak we both said something along the lines of “Wow this stuff is unbelievably good“. It’s the combination of crunchy vegetables, warm noodles, and that peanut ginger dressing! Ah, so yummy, and such a quick and healthy homemade meal.

Don’t wait another day. Make the Asian Noodle Bowl tonight!

To get the recipe, click here.

 

 

Big news: I got engaged and my fiancé can cook!

Apologies for taking (yikes!) a month away from writing, but I promise I have a good excuse.

As the title of this post entails, I have some VERY exciting news to share with all of you: my boyfriend of 5 years proposed! Feel free to scroll down if you do not want the engagement details, but if you wanna know how he did it, please read on.

My fiancé has been telling me for the past couple of months that he wanted to do a carriage ride through Central Park before we move out of NYC and move in together. He told me that afterward we could go have a nice dinner in one of the Central Park restaurants. I happen to love dressing up and going out for a nice, long dinner, so I took very little convincing. In fact, I think I jumped up and down with excitement because the plan sounded so romantic. I had no idea that was just the beginning. While on our carriage ride, my fiancé asked if we could stop by Bethesda Fountain (in the middle of Central Park). Still oblivious to what was going on, I happily jumped out of the carriage and strolled towards the fountain. Upon arriving at the fountain, my fiancé gave me a penny and told me to close my eyes and make a wish. I was happy to oblige, and still had no idea what was going on…until I opened my eyes. There, on one knee, was my now-fiancé holding a ring box, asking me to spend the rest of my life with him. There was no hesitation; with tears of joy pouring down my face, I said yes (I don’t even remember if I let him finish his proposal!).

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Here I am, still oblivious to what’s going on

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The proposal

The area surrounding the fountain exploded with applause and cheering. I felt like I had won the Super Bowl! It was then that I realized that there was someone snapping photos of us, and that a guitarist sitting at the fountain’s edge was playing a familiar song…a song that my fiancé and I consider our song. I was such a magical moment, better than any fairy tale or movie scene, and I will cherish that moment for the rest of my life. The next week was a whirlwind of celebration and moving in together, and after weeks of eating out for every single meal we finally got to make dinner at our new place. As if my fiancé weren’t amazing enough, he showed that he can cook too! In all of our years of dating, we have cooked together only a handful of times, and I had never really let him take the reins and cook something all by himself. Well, let me tell you, that is going to change!

Start reading here if you wanna go straight to the food-talk…IMG_4843 For the first dinner in our new place, my fiancé made Chipotle Shrimp Tacos. I love this dish for many reasons: (1) I think soft tacos are one of the best foods in the world, (2) seafood (shrimp especially) is delicious, and (3) you can add heaping mounds of avocado or guacamole to it. Not only is the dish crazy-delicious and flavorful, it is packed with wholesome ingredients (the only things not made from scratch are the chipotle sauce and the tortillas). Shrimp is also a good source of lean protein, and the avocado salsa contributes all sorts of health benefits. This is a dish you can feel good about eating. So go ahead and showcase your culinary skills! And fair warning: you will definitely be asked to make this again.

Chipotle Shrimp Tacos  (Serves 2) Ingredients

  • IMG_484625 shrimp, fresh or thawed, deveined
  • Chipotle sauce (or seasoning)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 avocado
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 4-6 flour or corn tortillas

Directions

  1. In a bowl, mix shrimp with the Chipotle sauce, set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, add the diced avocado, diced tomatoes, diced onion, lime, cilantro, and minced garlic. Fold ingredients together to avoid mushing up the avocado too much. Add salt and pepper to taste, set aside.
  3. Warm a skillet and add olive oil. Cook shrimp for 2 minutes on each side, then remove from heat.
  4. For perfect tortillas: stack tortillas on a microwave-safe plate and drape a damp paper towel over them. Microwave for 30 seconds, or until warm,
  5. On your now perfectly warmed tortilla, layer avocado salsa and shrimp. Squeeze fresh lime juice on top. Serve with beans and rice for a complete meal.

Salmon and Avocado Tower

Something I really like about studying nutrition is that when asked to pick a paper topic, I get to write about something I am obsessed with. (My name is Nicole and I have an infatuation with food). This proves to be a double-edged sword. On the positive side, I get to write about something that truly interests me, and I can call eating a form of “research”. On the “not-too-positive” side, I tend to get a little carried away with the literature searching, which leads to too much reading and not enough writing. This is not a bad thing for the paper itself, but it does make me work down to the wire tweaking edits, which can lead to stress…and stress baking and stress eating.

My avocado paper is a great example of this conflict. I was so excited to write about the heart-health benefits of avocado, that I spent an absurd number of hours researching avocado studies and exploring the California Avocados website. I also made and consumed enough guacamole for 3 people…which is only mildly ridiculous (according to dietary surveys, average consumption is one half of an avocado[1]).

Anyways, after submitting my paper I obviously wanted to eat avocado to celebrate, so I whipped up this little tower of tastiness:

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This could be breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a snack. The eggs are a health source of protein, the avocado and salmon give you a dose of healthy fats, and the cream cheese just tastes good.

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This is essentially and Eggs Benedict adaptation-without the fattening (albeit delicious) hollandaise sauce. Truthfully, between the creamy avocado and cream cheese, and the poached egg on top, it is so rich I did not even miss the hollandaise. You should also definitely make this dish for its aesthetic appeal. Fancy brunch, anyone?

My next paper topic is explores the effects of caffeine. Watch out Starbucks, I’m coming for you.

Salmon & Avocado Tower (makes one)

Ingredients:IMG_4188

  • 1 slice of toast
  • 1 Tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 3 Tbsp canned salmon
  • 1 egg

Directions:

  1. Poach an egg or prepare an over-easy egg on a skillet.
  2. Spread cream cheese on the slice of toast. Spread avocado on toast and top with canned salmon.
  3. Top the tower off with your prepared egg.

References:

1. Fulgoni VL, Dreher M, Davenport AJ. Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Nutr J. 2013 Jan 2; 12:1.

Damper-A Delicious Australian Creation

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When I was introduced to the damper recipe I was instantly intrigued:

  • Me: The ingredients make it seem like a biscuit or a scone
  • Recipe Sharer: Yeah it essentially is. And it goes with everything. I’ll send you the recipe directions.
  • Me: Does a mental fist pump. Thank you, that would be great!

According to Wikipedia,  Damper is actually an Australian soda bread and an iconic Australian dish. But to me the recipe sounded like a plain scone. And the truth of the matter is that scones are delectable. And Australia is a wonderful place. So I could only assume that this recipe was going to be wonderfully delectable. I immediately shared the recipe with my friend Shannon and we committed to making damper the next day. We have already made it twice in the last 5 days.

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The great thing about a knockout biscuit/scone recipe is that they are a very versatile pastry item. We kept ours original and simply slathered butter and jam onto them. But I can already imagine the possibilities: mixing fruit/chocolate/nuts into the dough, making bomb breakfast sandwiches using damper as the bread, serving them alongside dinner…believe me I could go on.

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Another plus about making damper as opposed to other scone or biscuit recipes it that it is relatively low in butter and sugar. It’s not completely exempt of those two items, but we have to take our victories, however small they may be. So without further ado, I give you Damper-the best biscuits with the weirdest name.

Australian Damper (Makes 1 large loaf, or 6 large biscuits)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1-1.5 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 Tablespoons chilled butter
  • 1 cup milk or half and half

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper or cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl add flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Blend dry ingredients together with a fork.
  3. Slice chilled butter and add to the dry ingredients, blending butter in until the mix resembles coarse crumbs. (I used my hands for this part and “massaged” the butter in)
  4. Pour measured milk or half and half into the bowl and mix together until dough just comes together.
  5. To place damper on a baking sheet: (1) Form 1 large loaf with the dough or (2) Use a spoon to “drop” dough onto the baking pan. Do not flatten the dough.
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
  7. Serve with butter, jam, honey, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Enjoy!

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.