Diet tips…Vol.1

First have a healthy, balanced dinner.

Then walk to the kitchen, pass a pizza pie your 17 year old with a metabolic rate of a cheetah ordered as a snack and keep walking.

Loop around, go back into the kitchen once he’s done and spy the box.

Because being wasteful is bad, decide to not throw out the leftover slice. But since you’re also literally trying to walk your ass off, only cut off a small piece. Go back to watching tv.

Loop around. And again.

And again.

Calories consumed in small pieces don’t count. It’s a law.

When finished delete your 17 year olds door dash account to show him who’s boss and project your anger and guilt.

Here’s the tale visually

Vol. 2 coming soon… how to eat a donut in 29 bites.

TikTok’d

Every night, I leave my husband downstairs to watch the news and head upstairs to bed. But I’m not really going to sleep. I’m going upstairs to be alone and dive deep into my TikTok hole. And I love it.

Have you done it? Isn’t it great? Synchronized dancing? Quick cooking recipes? This is the place for me. I’m sure my algorithm is totally different than yours – sometimes people tell me about some crazy video they saw, not me. My TikTok videos are a mash up of what they think a 10 year girl and her grandmother would like to see. It’s all cleaning hacks and babies dancing.

No matter what your algorithm- the one thing on everyone’s channel is the famous TikTok Feta Pasta! It’s all the rage. It all started in 2018 when a Finnish blogger posted this recipe. It didn’t catch on until this year when another Finnish blogger reposted – and all of Finland went mad over it. They ran out of feta cheese! They ran out. I mean, aren’t you glad we live in America? We may run out of toilet paper, but not cheese. Never cheese. Or wine.

Anyway – back to it.

Soon the recipe was all over TikTok. Every other video was someone making it. And because I’m easily influenced, I had to make it too.

The premise is so simple: Toss a block of feta, tomatoes and a bunch of olive oil together in a pan and throw it in the oven until softened, before mixing it all together with pasta and fresh basil (I subbed dried oregano because I didn’t have basil). I also added in garlic… well because garlic.

In the oven it goes – 375 degrees for 45 min or so. Couldn’t be easier.

Once out you mash it all together and combine with your pasta.

And… drum roll please…

It was ok. It was meh.

It was fine. I ate it. Mine came out a bit dry, so I ended up adding a dash of heavy cream. That helped. I also added a good bit of salt and pepper. That helped. And then crushed red pepper. Again it helped.

I’m really glad I added the garlic. Maybe I used the wrong feta? Maybe the Finnish feta is creamier?

Or maybe these TikTokers have never had good pasta. Or they’ve never combined pasta with cheese. Even Snoop Dog’s Mac and Cheese is better than this – I’ve tried it!

Whatever the case, I didn’t feel the euphoric high they seem to get from this dish.

I really wanted to love it. I wanted to be a cool kid. As always – not so much.

#fail

This is not a sign of things to come. In no way does this frame the rest of this year. This is just a little blip. 2021 will still be full of positive outcomes and good intentions. That’s what I’ve been repeating to myself for the last few hours.

This post was supposed to be called FRYday. Cute right? It’s Friday… I was going to post a fried appetizer recipe. I had a plan.

To make things even more interesting the recipe was an original. Totally my invention…well kind of. Years ago Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond fame had a very short lived show on Food Network. I watched every episode. It was the mash-up of my two favorite things – food tv and sitcoms. One of the episodes was on a leek dip. I’d never made leeks before and it looked delicious. I started making it for holidays and book clubs and gatherings. It was a hit! I mean I liked it.

Anyway back to my fail.

Today is the new year. I wanted to make something special. Something celebratory. I’ve also been a bit obsessed with frying things lately. No, I don’t have an air fryer. Yes, I know you love yours and I should get it too. But I’m not going to. So anyhoo, do you fry shit? Like in actual oil? It’s hard. I’m telling you it’s not easy.

I’ve also been thinking about wonton wrappers. Is that weird?

So I decided to take the leek dip recipe and combine with a cream cheese wonton recipe. Leeks, goat cheese, cream cheese and dill. Delicious right?

Ok here’s how it started…

Leeks, goat cheese, cream cheese, dill, butter and wonton wrappers
Leeks are dirty. Chop and soak in water
Dry them and wring out any water
Sauté the leeks in about a tablespoon of butter

So far so good right?

Once done you’ll combine with the cheeses and dill (it’s dill heavy)

Basically now you’ve almost made the dip. The only thing I didn’t add is the cream.

This is when things started going downhill. Now you heat the oil.

Heat about 2 cups of the oil in a small pot

Why a small pot? I dunno. I’m scared of hot oil and it makes me feel better if it’s in a small pot. My mother and my aunts would laugh at this sad display. They use a wok like large pot with atleast a full bottle of oil. DANGER!!!

Now on to the wontons. I don’t know if I got the right ones. They said vegan. Are all wontons vegan? I’m pretty sure I didn’t go to the right place to find them. They were next to the kimchi so I assumed all was well. Who knows.

I started the construction.

(I forgot to tell you that you also need an egg wash. Just one egg and 2 tablespoons of wager)

Still looking ok…. but wait for it… wait for it….

Ummm what the hell is that? Ok, new plan. New shape.

Ok that’s better. But big. I wanted them smaller. One bite size.

Then I started failing… err… I mean frying.

Then I tried another shape. This is before I gave up and started eating cookies.

Look at those sad little babies. Unloved. Misshaped. Cooked unevenly. Sigh….

Btw – these are the best ones. There were 50 others that I couldn’t/didn’t even photograph to save my dignity.

I packed up the rest of the filling which I’ll freeze and use as it was meant to be. I’m sorry Patricia Heaton. I should have stuck to the plan.

Well, nothing like spending 3 hours on 5 appetizers. Good times.

Frying food. It’s not for amateurs. First lesson of the year.

Happy New Year all! Xoxo

Biscotti blues

Last week I made my first biscotti. I followed a Cook’s Illustrated recipe because it used melted butter. I’m all about the melted butter recipes these days – mostly because I never plan ahead and get butter to room temperature in time to bake. And when you melt the butter, and happen to forget to check it, it turns even better! It becomes brown butter. Deep, nutty flavored magic. Laziness pays off here – don’t tell my kids. The recipe also used classic flavors like citrus and almond, how bad could it be? That night we were meeting some friends for dinner so I boxed my new creations and proudly presented them. This is the text I got later that night…

Umm what?? 4 out of 10?? Now, to be fair I asked for an honest, critical review since it was my first time making them. But when I said honest I didn’t mean honest…geez. Ok fine, I’ll never use citrus again. I wish citrus was dead. But even with no zest I’d only get a 6 out 10! Still a fail! A fail!

So I did what any normal person would do – I read 1,000 biscotti recipes and reviews and planned my revenge. Revenge for what you ask? All he did was tell the truth. So I guess revenge for honesty. That’ll teach him.

So today was round 2.

I adapted my recipe using both the Cook’s recipe with King Arthur’s American Vanilla Biscotti recipe. But I didn’t leave it to that – nope – I messed with it further with my very own twist. That’s right bitches. I browned the butter. Boom.

Ok here’s the bastardized version… I’m making two versions from one dough. Classic Almond and chocolate chip.

  • 1 stick of salted butter (this is the kind we have. If you have unsalted use that and add 1/2 teaspoon of salt to the dry mix)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of AP flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sliced toasted almonds (you can use whole and just chop up)
  • Preheat oven to 350

Brown that stick of butter on medium heat. This is what it’ll look like when ready.

Remove from heat add the sugar right into the brown butter

Add the vanilla and almond extracts (are these not the cutest measuring spoons ever?? Thank you Marcela!)

It’ll look nice and smooth and bonus – it helps to cool down the butter so you can add the eggs right in. But buyer beware, once the egg goes in stir stir stir! It’s still a warm mix and you don’t want scrambled egg biscotti!

Combine the flour and baking powder with your buttery mix and you’ll get a very wet dough. You’ll now doubt the dough and think you’ve made a mistake. You haven’t. Leave it alone for 10 min. Which is exactly the time you need to toast your almonds!

I did them at 300 degrees and checked them every other minute. Why? Because I’m a notorious nut burner. I’ve burned almost every level ever toasted. From pine to peanut – burnt them all.

This is the color you want. Not any darker.

Go back to your dough, which should be manageable but still sticky. Cut in half and add the chips and almonds.

Bake for 25 minutes

My loaves are wider than I wanted – but so are my thighs – nothing’s perfect.

For the second bake reduce the temperature to 325

I cut my logs in half because they were too big. I like a two bite biscotti. If you’re ok with a gigantic one – don’t cut it in half.

This time they go in for 30 min. But after 15, it’s important to not only turn the pan, but also flip each biscotti – which is a pain in the ass but worth it!

And viola! Here are two different ways I wanted to end this post. I couldn’t pick so included both.

Ending 1) Now box them up and give them to everyone but the dude who told you the truth… just kidding just kidding.

Ending 2) So here they are – revenge biscotti! Like regular biscotti but baked with bitterness and anger. Just kidding. Just kidding.

East Should Not Meet West!

STOP THE MADNESS! Somewhere I think Sophia Loren is turning in her grave.

I know, I know – lots of things wrong with that statement. First of all, Sofia Loren isn’t dead. But you know she would be horrified. Second of all, stop the madness!

Turmeric is good. Agreed. Not arguing that. Before all the “woke” people in the world found it, my parents were pushing it like they were herbal pimps. It played a huge part in my life – just ask the drawer full of stained Tupperware in mom’s house.

But why… WHY…do we have to go off the deep end??

Pasta with turmeric?? Who is this for? Are there pasta lovers that refuse to eat foods that normally have turmeric?? They can’t just have chicken tikka masala once a month like normal people? What’s next? Pasta with adobo? Pasta with sumac?

Please. Stop mixing shit up. Leave something alone…I’m begging you! You know what I expect from my box of 99 cent Ronzoni? Literally nothing. I expect no nutrients. I expect mostly empty carb calories. It’s fine. Leave. It. Alone. Go ruin something else.

Toasty soup for a toasty day

It’s not exactly sweater weather this weekend. It’s been warm and sunny and beautiful in PA. But way back on Tuesday – when it was chilly, I bought some butternut squash in hopes of making a soup. I googled a couple of recipes for a chilled soup but decided to do my usual. It’s so easy and so good.

Start by roasting the squash with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. Maybe 15 minutes considering I scorched mine.

Once the butternut squash is done sauté a small onion until translucent and add some ginger if you have it. I’ve now reverted to buying chopped garlic and ginger. I know fresh is better. I don’t care. I blame 2020.

Once the onions are done, add the squash.

You can snack on the bits that burnt to the pan and act like you meant to do that.

Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and bring to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, reduce heat to low and blend.

Add a little heat (you know I can’t help myself)

Now add a little honey for sweetness. Look at my cute little honey jar. My husband’s beloved aunt made them. She’s so stinking talented. Every time we go to visit her I wander in her studio and somehow beg my way to several pieces. I’m shameless. One day everyone will be able to order from Kathy Gray Clay (if I can help it).

Ok back to the recipe… add about a 1/3 cup of heavy cream. I bought light by mistake but it’s fine. Either one works. I bet even coconut cream would work.

And viola! Serve in your beautiful Kathy Gray Clay bowls and you’re ready for a rocking Sunday night.

Pasta not so fagioli

Hello friends. So I feel like in the past I’ve shared a ton of meat/poultry based recipes, and there’s nothing wrong with that, except for the teeny weeny fact that I don’t actually eat any of them. I’m a total vegetarian (Not vegan. Never vegan). But since I married a carnivore and then gave birth to little carni’s – most of what I make is non-veg (like the Desi’s call it).

But I do cook for myself too and I think going forward I’ll share that more. Although it might get boring. I’m not exactly making culinary delights for myself because, well, I’m pretty easy to please.

During Covid I was trying to make more Indian food, and I even tried some Thai recipes. But can we be honest about ethnic recipes? They’re a giant pain in ass. Ok not all of them. I guess making nachos is easy if you count that as ethnic (I don’t but you might). The recipes that I grew up eating are not exactly… speedy. I mean I’m starting with dried beans for gods sake.

Here’s another reason I tend not to cook too many Indian recipes. My kitchen is outdated. Sounds like an excuse right? I already see judging fingers typing a text to me about dirt huts in India with an open fire, etc. Take it easy. Let me explain why a dirt hut and open fire would be easier than cooking this in my kitchen…

I have no ventilation. None. I have an el fako vent thing on top of my microwave. Allegedly it “purifies” what it sucks up before releasing it right back into the room. Guess what? That’s a bunch of BS and it does nothing. And because our kitchen big and wide – the entire house basically smells like whatever I’m cooking. I love the smell of garlic and ginger… when I’m cooking and eating. I don’t love it while I’m trying to fall asleep or watching Netflix. It’s like lightening a vindaloo candle in the house. I’m not into it. Shoot me.

All that said, I do promise to share more Indian food. Just not today. Today I’m sharing Bon Appetit’s Chickpea Pasta, which is more like a soup because it’s made with a tomato broth (and you now know how I feel about a good broth). This is so easy and good.

I’m sorry for this long long preamble. There’s nothing more annoying than having to get through all this crap to get to the recipe. I didn’t plan on it. I just haven’t talked to you in so long so I’ve got shit to say, you know? For instance, I love rosemary. The herb. I hardly ever get to cook with it, which is why this recipe was even more appealing to me. It packs a rosemary punch. Hope you try it and like it!

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 half small onion, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • ¼ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained, rinsed
  • 1 cup whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 6 oz. orecchiette or other short pasta
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped parsley
  • 3 Tbsp. finely grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Easy peasy ingredients
Olive oil, onions and garlic go first
Chickpeas drained and crushed red pepper go in once onions are translucent
After about 5 min, add in an entire stalk of rosemary and crush some of the chickpeas
Can of tomatoes goes in next – crushed by hand. Cook on medium for 10 min. Add 4 cups water
Add pasta – I used Campanella so the chickpeas would have a place to bury themselves into
Pasta will cook directly in broth in about 10 min and everything will reduce down
Once finished I added more red pepper… because, well, I’m me

It’s so good. Some notes:

  • Use a whole onion. I hate recipes that say 1/2 an onion. Use the whole thing
  • I have been using tubed garlic in the past few months… I think it’s fine but if you’re offended, use the real stuff
  • Salt as you go! Forgot to say that
  • I didn’t have any parsley so I skipped it
  • I did add fresh parm before serving and drizzled it with good olive oil
  • I skipped the black pepper in lieu of more red. Do what your heart tells you to

Pasta Non Pronto

I spent the day yesterday covered in flour (semolina and all purpose), and I was thrilled! A few weeks ago, at a neighborhood party, I found out that two of my lovely neighbors, Larry and Marcela, knew how to make pasta from scratch. I started asking a lot of questions and then blurted out,” would you teach me?” They agreed and our day of “not ready” pasta or pasta non pronto came together.

We did what any normal, food obsessed people would do. We had a meeting to talk through what we would make. The types of pasta, the sauces, the wine…. oh there would be wine!

There would be 3 different pasta courses. Ravioli, spaghetti, and fettuccine. The ravioli would be stuffed with pumpkin and served with a butter sage sauce. The spaghetti would be served cacio e pepe, which translates to “cheese and pepper” and the fettuccine would have a fra diavolo sauce – which means “among the devil”, it’s a spicy sauce with seafood. To break up the courses we’d start with salad, then some homemade meatballs as apps and then 3 courses of pasta. This is the anti-Keto dinner people. If you’re afraid of carbs… don’t come a knocking.

But before we feasted – we cooked! Oh boy did we cook… here’s a look at my favorite day this year! Words wouldn’t do it justice, so here’s the photos…

Humble beginnings
That filling was so good we could have just eaten it with a spoon and we might have.
Have you ever seen anything prettier?
Little pockets of perfection
My two fabulous teachers.
A pecan, sage, garlic butter sauce to die for, and the lovely chef who made it!

And now… we eat!

We ate the spaghetti cacio e pepe before I could take a pic… but it existed. And it was amazing.

This is my happy pasta face….

If you can, find some generous, loving people who want to spend a Sunday cooking pasta with you..that’s my happy face.

Ps. My 16 year old son opted out of the fresh pasta and requested this type of pasta for his dinner. Kraft pasta pronto 🙂

Baby’s got back… and ribs

I’m still stressed. This means I’m still cooking. Except this time I’m testing out a recipe for a bbq we are hosting this weekend (Ironically I’m not stressed about this at all, although I should be since we have ordered, cleaned, bought nothing for it). Anyway, if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a life long vegetarian it’s that bbqs mean meat. Usually even the veggie burger is cooked in a nice layer of beef fat left over on the grill. So this time – instead of a vegan veggie friendly recipe… I’m working on ribs. Baby back ribs.

Nothing reduces stress like smelling pork for 4 hours… I read that on a pillow.

I followed about 4 different recipes that I mashed up.

Basically you take a rack of baby back ribs… make sure your babies have some fat to them. This isn’t a time for lean mean pork ribs.

A dry rub needs to go on overnight (or two). You can mix any of the following: salt, onion powder, garlic powder, a packaged mix – like I did. BUT the key is this… add a cup of brown sugar to whatever mix you end up with. I also added a dash of cayenne to shake shit up.

Once marinated – bring to room temperature. Fully. I’m talking 2 hours outside on the counter hanging out. Do it.

Preheat your oven to 250 and add a cup of chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of any vinegar you have to the pan. I used white wine vinegar. These two things help the cooking/tenderizing process – according to Alton Brown circa 1997. Here’s the rub I used if you’re curious.

Cover tightly and leave it alone in your heated oven for 2.27 hours (I only tested this with one rack of ribs so 3 hours was too long and 2 seemed too short. 2.27 seemed right).

This is what it will look like. Mine came apart when I tried to lift it. A good sign.

Don’t get rid of the juices on the bottom. Strain and add to your favorite bbq sauce. My family loves this one. I haven’t found anything veggie to put bbq sauce on so I have no idea if it’s really good or if my family just has simple tastes – both could also be true.

Smother on the sauce and grill on high. Shouldn’t take long.

Baste, grill, repeat.

Cut them up like porky, sticky lollipops and you’re done!

Stress gone. Meat delivered.

Cooking-ish

It’s been a stressful few weeks…months… ok maybe year. Lots of work stuff. Lots of home stuff. I try to keep calm. We aren’t dealing with life or death at work, but sometimes we are at home. Sometimes when I am completely overwhelmed I’ll add one more thing to my day – which sounds crazy – but the one more thing is something I love to do.

I’ll make plans with friends during a busy week or run out for a quick dinner with my husband. Sometimes that one thing is just going to sleep, which isn’t bad either. But sometimes I’ll cook.

This past weekend I went home to see my family and celebrate all June and July Birthdays and Father’s Day, we’re efficient like that.

Even though my birthday was in May – I still scored a few gifts… one of my favorites was from my little bitty sister. She did done good.

I’ve been following this food writer all year, watching her videos on Bon App (that’s what the cool kids call it). I know what you’re thinking, an Indian cookbook? Not very original of me – but who said I was original? I like Mindy Kaling too (no I don’t think I look like her, and she doesn’t look like my sister or my cousin either and thank you).

Priya Krishna, the author/cook grew up with a mash-up of Indian/American food. This was very different than how I grew up. We ate food no one recognized, flavors that were nowhere to be found in restaurants – turmeric and okra and daikon. It was the 80s. Even chips and salsa hadn’t taken off yet. Plus I just wanted to be normal. I didn’t want my house smelling of garlic and onion all the time – ironically now this is my favorite part of going home, smelling all the cooking.

What was I talking about? Oh yes, I’m stressed and I need a distraction.

Some things about this book. It’s illustrated by Maria Qamar, a Desi (which means of Indian decent) pop artist out of Canada. She published a book a few years ago called, Trust No Aunty. I found out about her because my daughter loved her (this is the way I find out about a lot of cool stuff). Online she’s also known as @hatecopy. Check her out.

I love getting a new cookbook. I read it like a book book – know what I mean?

I knew the first recipe I’d try right away. It had all my favorite things. Poblanos! Serranos! White beans substituting cheese (damn you lactose)… here’s the recipe

I immediately added cilantro to this mix because… you know… cilantro. I also didn’t have fresh garlic so I used garlic in a tube… which is fresh-ish.

Funny side story – when I checked out at the grocery store with my stuff, the cashier, a nice young dude, said to me,” uhh just so you know, these aren’t jalapeños they are Serrano’s which are way spicer.” I was so impressed! I love people who give a shit. I told him how cool that comment was asked if he liked to cook, he said,” nah there’s just a lot of people who come back yelling that they got the wrong pepper.”

Yelling? About the wrong pepper? There’s so many questions I have for the pepper yeller. How was the wrong pepper choice the store’s fault? Is there really that big a difference? And lastly, ARE YOU INSANE??

Anyway, back to the recipe.

So here’s how it goes…

If you want to do it right, put the oil in first and once heated toast the cumin seeds in it first until fragrant before adding the onions. If you want to be like me… put everything in together while talking on the phone with a friend. Then add coriander and let it get nice and translucent.

  • While the onions get cooked I chopped the Serrano – not attractively but I got the job done.

  • Back to the onions… which got well-done by mistake because I ignored them while hacking away at the peppers.
  • Now…take the beans and mash them up.
  • Once mashed chunky, add the onions, the “fresh” garlic, the Serrano’s, lime and salt.
  • Again… don’t be like me. I sliced the poblanos in half so they looked like green alligators.
  • This is adorable but not the right way to stuff a pepper like this. I should have only cut half of it. Oh well. You live and learn. Except I didn’t learn and cut the others the same way.
    So I shoved the stuffing in and put them on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Here’s all my poblano alligator heads ready to go in.
  • Now go and wash your hands carefully because you’ve touched Serrano’s and poblanos. Wait about 45 min and bam!
  • Lol! Ok. So my peppers weren’t exactly stuffed. It was more like a roasted pepper with a mashed bean cake on the side but it was delicious! More importantly I did something not work for 2 hours of my day.
  • Mission accomplished.
  • ps… this is what they were supposed to look like. I debated posting this and saying I did it but of all the things to lie about, is this what I want to choose? Ofcourse not. Then I’d be no better than those wackos yelling in Shoprite that they were sold the wrong pepper. No thank you. I’ll save my lie for something else, like my weight or the success of my children or something… like a normal person.
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