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.

No Bueno

I broke my cardinal rule.

No, it’s not don’t eat potato chips at 10pm.

I was only going to eat 12. Which is one serving. Promise. Stop looking at me.

So what’s the rule? I’ll tell you. My cardinal rule is… don’t eat fused food!! I hate fusion! Ok not hate, but like really dislike.

I like mango. I like habanero. Why do they need to be combined?? And why did I fall for it?

Let me clarify that there are certain things that work – sour cream and onion, magic! Salt and vinegar, genius! But can we just calm down?

Chocolate wine? Dill pickle bagels? Please. PLEASE. Stop.

Anyway these are not great.

Mango?? Nope. Not there. Don’t taste it. Mango is unique. Mango is not just sweet. It’s nuanced and sometimes tart and fibery (it’s a word) and makes you feel Islandy (it’s a word).

Habanero? Ummm maybe a little black pepper or something. Go ahead and give it to your toddler – it’s fine. No heat. There’s almost nothing there. Those fiery Cheetos do more harm (btw love those).

There’s not much more to this post, I’m afraid. Don’t buy these chips. Also I wanted to say crisps because I’ve been watching Bridgerton but I fought the urge.

Tomorrow will be better.

I ate the full serving. If I’m being honest.

#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

Gobbled 2020

Happy Sunday night! I hope you all had a good/weird Thanksgiving. Doesn’t it feel like it was a year ago? Tomorrow it’s back to work. Which isn’t so bad, but it’s not as good as sleeping, let’s be honest.

You know that line from Elf? The one where he says, “smiling is my favorite.” Well for me, sleeping is my favorite. Oh I love it so much. My bed. My pillow. My very unsexy pjs. Love it all.

Two friends of mine both just recently recommended CBD to me. Independently. They just started taking it at night and now they sleep like a baby. Lucky for me, I’ve always been a big baby. No sleep issues here.

I’m always worried when I hear that excessive sleeping is a sign of depression. I mean… what’s excessive? That’s a very broad word. Like when they say, “that’s an excessive amount of wine.” Tomato, tOEmato.

This blog wasn’t supposed to be about sleeping. I digressed.

Anyway, our turkey day was great – I started it by digging into the apple pie, which I had with my morning coffee watching the Macy’s Parade (sad spectacle). I decided since it was 2020 and we need to do literally anything to makes ourselves happy right now, that I could cut right into the store bought pie with no feelings of guilt or weirdness. I was wrong ofcourse. Guilt and weirdness are like my home-base. I end up there whether I like it or not. Pie was still delicious.

The rest of the day was a blur of activity – not as quiet as I thought it would be. But Kera and I squeezed in a walk. We live in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, Bucks County. It’s got the best of all worlds all around it. Philadelphia, New York City, the beach and everything in between. You wanna go to Target, go left. You wanna go to the Delaware Canal, go right. It’s amazing. So we walked. Never in a million years – pre-covid years – could I take a walk on Thanksgiving day. So I guess thanks Covid? It was great.

It was just the four of us that night at dinner but it felt full and complete. I missed our other family, but sitting at a candle lit table with just our little humans was just as good. Food wise? Let’s see – I ran out of turkey for reasons to be explained at another time. The mac and cheese and stuffing both were over cooked and dried out. But my husband crunched his way through dinner and the kids were sweet about it. It’s fine. It wasn’t our last meal.

I hope you had a good day and a good weekend. Now, it’s time to take some CBD, have a piece of pie or give yourself a heavy pour of vino. This holiday is a wrap, but no worries, there’s another one right around the corner.

Goodnight.

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.

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

I like a brothy soup (also the blog is back)

Hello friends. It’s October 2020. Are you there? Do you care? It’s been a minute, but I think I can catch you up quickly.

New Year. Pandemic. Plans dashed. Graduations cancelled. Baking, cooking, puzzle making in full effect. TV watching at an all-time high. Everyone’s healthy. Everyone’s home all the time. Everyone’s happy most of the time. Did I mention everyone’s home all the time?

That’s it! Now we can move forward.

I like a brothy soup. Now I don’t mean that I’m not into creamy soups. I do like a potato leek, and I’m not going to say no to a butternut squash jobby in the fall. But they can’t be a thick paste. That’s not a soup. That’s a puree. By the way – if you like a puree – go for it. But if a soup can’t drip off the spoon…. it’s not for me.

I mention this because we are in the heart of “thick” soup season. Last week I ordered a roasted tomato and basil soup which was basically a sauce for my pasta. It wasn’t bad – but I’m not sure I signed-up to drink a bowl of Ragu.

Soup has a long and sordid history for me. I grew up eating Dals, which were kinda like soups but different. They were a part of every meal – but never the main star. Dals based on lentils, vegetables and even yogurt. Loved them all – but basically they were a vehicle for the rice or the bread. (This may not be true for all people who eat Dal – I’m sure there are very healthy Indians that just eat a bowl of Dal and call it a day. I was not one of those people)

But I loved the idea of American soups – mostly because I couldn’t have any of them because they all started with a meat stock.

The only canned soup we ever had in our house was Campbell’s tomato soup. You add an extra can of water, a healthy dose of pepper and there you have it. Nothing special. But runny. Not saucy.

My mother-in-law Terry, who I adored, loved French Onion Soup – which sounded like the perfect soup for me! Cheese, bread, lots of onions – my top 3 things in life (besides my husband, daughter and son), but alas it’s also chock full of chicken stock. And I know what you’re thinking, make it with vegetable stock. I’ve tried. It’s not that great.

The other soup I’ve pined for is a matzo ball soup. A clear, herby broth with a big ball of carb… that sounds like it could totally be my thing. And I know what you’re thinking again, make it with vegetable stock. I’ve tried. It’s not that great.

And I’m not even going to mention Gazpacho because it’s a chopped salad, not a soup. Stop calling it a soup. Please and thank you.

Aren’t you glad this deep, introspective blog of thoughtful content is back?

Keeping you informed…

This rice almost killed me. I almost died.

We had Indian take-out two nights ago. My favorite. Im an Indian that loves Indian food. I’m an easy profile. One of the best things about getting Indian take-out is leftovers. I’m guaranteed 3 meals from that one order. It’s very practical and frugal of me. I save tens of dollars.

Last night I was on my own for dinner and I decided to use the rice to make Lemon, peanut rice. It’s a very complicated recipe that involves frying up rice with lemon and peanuts. I usually add half a red onion and some small chili peppers too – told you I was an easy profile.

It was a busy day, and I was still working when I finished up the rice and sat down at the computer to write one last email. And then it happened. I felt it. Two kernels of rice lodged themselves in my throat. In some pipe in my throat. I could totally feel them. I could also feel myself going into a massive coughing fit. You know the kind. You can hardly breath. You’re making choking noises so convincingly that people around you are in a panic, but you can’t stop and let them know it’s fine…that you may pee your pants coughing, but it’s not going to end in death. You’re pretty sure.

Even my son took off his gaming headphones and came down to check on me. Or atleast opened his door to ask his sister if everything was ok before going back to what he was doing.

In the words of Ned Ryerson,” it was a doozy!” (name that movie). Those two kernels had their fun.

What’s the lesson here? Don’t email and eat? Stop inhaling my food? Throw food out after 2 days? I dunno. What I do know is that the rice was delicious. Worth death delicious? Nope. So did I eat the rest after my coughing fit? You bet I did.

That’s it. Just sharing. I’m alive. Xoxo

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