Sweet and Hot Sesame Cucumbers

FullSizeRender (7)

I mean, I should just give up.

Actually, I have thought about giving up blogging several times.  It takes a lot, A LOT, of time, energy, planning… all things that I have very little of.  And I don’t like to do things half-way; if I’m not automatically great at something, I like to quit while I’m ahead.  Or behind.

At any rate, I really don’t want to quit. I’d rather give excuses. I have a few good ones for my major blogging deficiencies that have been eating all of my time:

  • I’ve been taking a dance class,
  • I’ve been traveling for work,
  • I started tutoring at this AMAZING volunteer after-school program, and
  • I. MOVED. AGAIN.

Yes. I moved again. You know what? Continue reading

Gluten Free(ish) Chicken Soup

FullSizeRender (1)

My name is Jenni B, and I have issues.

I mean, I come home after a dogged day at work, and my brain is screaming type, woman!  Type to your clamoring fans!  And my body just can’t move off the couch.  It’s not you.  It’s me.  Honest.

And it’s worse than just blogging:  I haven’t been to the gym since Nam.  I thought that going to a hella ‘xpensive fitness/spa/luxurious experience would get myself in gear, but all I can seem to do is Nexflix and chill.  In my head, I’ve run a 10k.  If only my brain could go to spinning (which I haven’t been in 4 months).

And it’s worse than not writing or working out.  I now have a stress-induced ulcer.  Or, ulcah, as my fellow Bostonians would say.  So I have that going for me, which is pretty nice.  So most of my evenings of late have been married to Hulu and/or Netflix out of necessity.

I am trying, my loves.  I’m trying.  In the meantime, I have been severely limited to what I can eat that won’t send me into a tizzy with heartburn, indigestion, and general ulcer-related goodness.  The best recipe that I’ve stumbled across has been this soup:  it’s a spin-off from chicken noodle soup (I’m trying to watch my carbs since I’m not burning many calories these days), but just as wholesome and hearty.  I wanted to post this today in honor of my gluten-free gal pal’s birthday!  I am not sure if it’s completely gluten free because of the spices I used, but let’s go with yes:)  Enjoy!

Materials:

  • slow cooker
  • cutting board
  • two forks
  • measuring cup and spoons

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 2 T cumin
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 T garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • lime juice for serving (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place chicken along the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Cover chicken with spices, then pour in stock.IMG_7144
  3. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or on LOW for 6 hours.FullSizeRender (6)
  4. Take out chicken and place onto a cutting board.  Shred with two forks pulling opposite directions.IMG_7148
  5. Place chicken back into broth.FullSizeRender (5)
  6. Add corn and white beans and stir.FullSizeRender (4)FullSizeRender (3)
  7. Serve with a splash of lime juice.  Enjoy!FullSizeRender (1)

Gluten Free(ish) Chicken Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 5 min plus 3-6 hours
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Materials:

FullSizeRender (2)

  • slow cooker
  • cutting board
  • two forks
  • measuring cup and spoons

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 chicken breasts
  • 2 c chicken stock
  • 2 T cumin
  • 1 T oregano
  • 1 T garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • lime juice for serving (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place chicken along the bottom of the slow cooker.
  2. Cover chicken with spices, then pour in stock.
  3. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours or on LOW for 6 hours.
  4. Take out chicken and place onto a cutting board.  Shred with two forks pulling opposite directions.
  5. Place chicken back into broth.
  6. Add corn and white beans and stir.
  7. Serve with a splash of lime juice.  Enjoy!

Chinese Beef with Broccoli

SubstandardFullSizeRender

Well, my bracket is #(*$(*%$.  Anyone else’s?  Full disclosure, I had Syracuse going down after their second game, and am now going down for it.  All of my ‘Cuse friends are hardcore-shaming me for “not believing,” but come on.  Really?  Did we REALLY see this coming?!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool and all, but I never fill out my brackets due to personal ties.  I grew up in Syracuse (for the most part), and I’m awesome, but that doesn’t exactly equate to the basketball team going all the way.  I went to Tennessee, and L-O-V-E the Vols, but they are horrific on the court.  I made my peace with that long ago.  I am super competitive, and when it comes to winning a bracket or showing that I am a true fan, I’m going with the teams that have the better track records.

That being said, thanks a lot, Kansas.

So, since the big weekend’s coming up, there’s a good chance we are going to either eat out or order in.  One of my all-time favorite to-go meals is Chinese beef with broccoli.  It’s so flavorful and filling, and it’s not fried, so I don’t feel too icky; however, it’s still pan-seared in a ton of oil, so it’s not exactly health-conscious.  My solution:  make your own!  I made this when I was craving some take-out, and it did not disappoint. Make sure you use a decent cut of beef, so your dish will be tender.  Enjoy with a side of brown rice.  Your fortune:  You will not feel bloated and sluggish. Continue reading

3-Ingredient Easy Roasted Cauliflower

FullSizeRender[1]

Oh, hey.  It’s just about Easter time?  What the what?  I am all out of sorts.  I still have shamrock shakes from St. Patty’s Day in my freezer.  Seriously, is ANYONE a fan of Eater in freakin’ March?  This is ridiculous.  Why does it hop around like that?  (Get it, hop?)  Other holidays are either a set date (like Valentine’s Day), or the first ____ of a month (like Mother’s Day).  This Easter business is a crap-shoot, and I’m over it.  No one even gets Good Friday off anymore, so why even do this in the cold?

Don’t worry, I have a solution:  let’s move Easter to the summer, when we can enjoy the egg hunt without our winter coats.  The calendar may say spring, but it just snowed this week, so who’s with me?

Also, with Easter in March, we are still (well, I am anyway) trying to work off all of the weight we packed on from indulging over the winter holidays.  Desserts, libations, and hibernating (via Netflix) magically make my clothes tighter, and the last thing I want to do is chow down on a spongy, fatty roasted pig and potatoes.

If you’re in my boat, or if you’re cooking for someone who is carb-conscious, you GOTTA try this super-simple recipe:  roasted cauliflower.  3 ingredients, a few minutes, and you’re done.  It’s healthy, tasty, and won’t weigh you down.  And, if we can move this holiday to the summer, it’s good year-round!  Enjoy🙂

 


Materials:

  • cutting board and knife
  •  1 gallon-sized Ziploc bag
  • non-stick pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T olive oil
  • optional:  salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut cauliflower into bite-sized florets.IMG_7082[1]
  3. Place cauliflower, garlic, and oil into Ziploc bag.  Shake to mix well.IMG_7085[1]
  4. Pour bag contents onto a nonstick pan.FullSizeRender_2[1]
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and tender.IMG_7087[1]
  6. Enjoy!FullSizeRender_1[1]

 


 

Easy Roasted Cauliflower

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 25 min
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

FullSizeRender[1]

Materials:

  • cutting board and knife
  •  1 gallon-sized Ziploc bag
  • non-stick pan

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 2 T olive oil
  • optional:  salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Cut cauliflower into bite-sized florets.
  3. Place cauliflower, garlic, and oil into Ziploc bag.  Shake to mix well.
  4. Pour bag contents onto a nonstick pan.
  5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden-brown and tender.
  6. Enjoy!

Oven-Fried Green Beans with Chipotle Aioli

FullSizeRender (2)

A while back, I spent the weekend in northern VT with my SO, who is finishing his degree in the coldest place on the planet.  I mean, it’s beautiful, and it’s a great school, etc etc etc, but there’s Miami, Hawaii, Cali… what’s wrong with those?  All joking aside, it’s a lovely time, mainly because we pig out.  That’s really all I do on the weekend, but we do it like we are trying to win a prize.  This particular weekend, we went to a spectacular dive to shoot pool, and of course needed to order every appetizer they have on the menu.

And that’s when they entered my life:  Green Bean Fries.

Come on.

I’ve had (and made) fries of all sorts:  carrot, sweet potato, you name it.  But beans?  As fries?  Seriously?  I was skeptical.  And wrong.  These things are so addictive!  Dangerous.  Don’t think that you deserve a pat on the back for choosing green beans on the menu:  these battered-and-deep-fried bunches of goodness are death.  The best part had to be the dipping sauce:  they had this chipotle mayo that was so heavy and spicy and oh oh oh my mouth is literally watering right now.

So, being a formerly extremely heavy gal, I had to figure out how to harness their superpower for good.  I give you: the oven-fried green beans.  Their only breading is parm cheese, so if you’re carb-contious you’re still safe.  And the sauce?  Yup, I got that for you too.  My boo gave it a “hey, when are you making that sauce again?” approval, so you know it’s a win.  Enjoy!


 

Materials:

  •  2 mixing bowls (one can be small)
  • fork
  • non-stick pan
  • cooking spray

Ingredients:

For the green beans:

  • fresh green beans (I didn’t measure… I just grab about 2-3 handfuls)
  • 1 egg
  • minced garlic
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the chipotle aioli:

  • 3T mayo (I use olive oil-based)
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 1T smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and snap the ends off the green beans.  Pat dry.IMG_6939
  3. In a bowl, mix egg, garlic, salt, and pepper with a fork (like you’re making scrambled eggs).IMG_6942
  4. Dip green beans in egg mixture, shaking off the excess egg.  Place in a non-stick pan (be sure to spray it first).IMG_6943
  5. Coat beans with Parmesan cheese.IMG_6944
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.FullSizeRender
  7. While the beans are baking, mix the mayo, lemon juice, and paprika in a small bowl; IMG_7012set aside.IMG_7013
  8. Serve beans hot with the aioli.  Enjoy!FullSizeRender (1)

 

Oven-Fried Green Beans with Chipotle Aioli

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 15 min
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

FullSizeRender (2)

Materials:

  •  2 mixing bowls (one can be small)
  • fork
  • non-stick pan
  • cooking spray

Ingredients:

For the green beans:

  • fresh green beans (I didn’t measure… I just grab about 2-3 handfuls)
  • 1 egg
  • minced garlic
  • Parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the chipotle aioli:

  • 3T mayo (I use olive oil-based)
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1/2 to 1T smoked paprika

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Wash and snap the ends off the green beans.  Pat dry.
  3. In a bowl, mix egg, garlic, salt, and pepper with a fork (like you’re making scrambled eggs).
  4. Dip green beans in egg mixture, shaking off the excess egg.  Place in a non-stick pan (be sure to spray it first).
  5. Coat beans with Parmesan cheese.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until crisp and golden brown.
  7. While the beans are baking, mix the mayo, lemon juice, and paprika in a small bowl; set aside.
  8. Serve beans hot with the aioli.  Enjoy!

Apple Cinnamon Roll Rose Tarts

If you live in a city like Boston, brunching is basically a sport.  Finding a solid go-to place w excellent selections, reasonable prices, hangover-curing coffee, AND being able to get a seat in under an hour for you and your pals is not for the weary.  It’s not just for the #basics anymore:  try to get a table at any 4-star or higher Yelp-rated eatery on a weekend, and you will see a good sampling of the city’s men and women feasting away.

I have found a few places in the Boston/Cambridge area that are my go-tos, such as The Friendly Toast, The Trophy Room, Back Bay Social Club, and Masa, but there’s is never a guarantee that we can get a table before we whither away.  So, as much as I love love love going out to eat, has it ever occurred to us to host a brunch?

With my studio apartment, I can only host my cat, and she’s a jerk.  Currently we aren’t speaking, so I don’t think I’ll be asking her how she takes her coffee or mimosa.  But when I do move to a bigger apartment (which is currently in the works, more to come!), I fully plan to rangle the weekend crew over and relax over food at my table.  No wait, no worries.  No cats.

To start preparing for these home-brunches, I have begun experimenting with some munchies.  my favorite so far is this Apple Cinnamon Roll Rose Tart.  It’s beautiful, delicious, and your guests will go ga-ga over the smell of cinnamon rolls.  Enjoy!


 

Materials:

  • medium pot
  • measuring cup
  • cutting board and knife
  • muffin tin
  • cooking spray

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of cinnamon rolls
  • 1 apple
  • 1 c water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Core and cut the apple in half, then thinly slice.  Aim for uniform sizes (you can discard ends).
  3. Add water to pot and bring to a boil.
  4. Cook apple slices in the water until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove from water and drain.  Allow to cool enough to handle.
  6. Remove cinnamon rolls from packaging.FullSizeRender_1
  7. Open one of the rolls into a long strip.
  8. Line dough with apple slices horizontally.FullSizeRender_2
  9. Carefully roll the dough and apple slices back, creating a rose-shape.  FullSizeRender_3FullSizeRender_4FullSizeRender_5
  10. Place rose into a lightly-greased muffin tin.
  11. Repeat with the rest of the dough.FullSizeRender_6
  12. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until rolls are golden-brown.FullSizeRender_7
  13. Enjoy with powdered sugar, or packaged icing.

 

Apple Cinnamon Roll Rose Tarts

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Materials:

  • medium pot
  • measuring cup
  • cutting board and knife
  • muffin tin
  • cooking spray

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of cinnamon rolls
  • 1 apple
  • 1 c water

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Core and cut the apple in half, then thinly slice.  Aim for uniform sizes (you can discard ends).
  3. Add water to pot and bring to a boil.
  4. Cook apple slices in the water until soft, about 5-7 minutes.
  5. Remove from water and drain.  Allow to cool enough to handle.
  6. Remove cinnamon rolls from packaging.
  7. Open one of the rolls into a long strip.
  8. Line dough with apple slices horizontally.
  9. Carefully roll the dough and apple slices back, creating a rose-shape.
  10. Place rose into a lightly-greased muffin tin.
  11. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
  12. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until rolls are golden-brown.
  13. Enjoy with powdered sugar, or packaged icing.

Invisalign- An Ending

Get the tissues ready.  This is the last Invisalign blog entry I’m going to write for the foreseeable future.

At long last, after a circus-like struggle, I finally got my retainers.  I decided (well, come to think of it, I wasn’t given a choice) on the Vivera plastic retainers by Invisalign:

IMG_6970

They are not nearly as bad as a lot of people complain about.  Yes, they are more stiff than the weekly aligners, but don’t I want them to be?  They are also more smooth around the edges, which my tongue very much appreciates!

Although he contradicted himself a few times, my orthodontist gave me a schedule to wean myself off of ’round-the-clock retainer wearing, and I wanted to share it because I like it:  every week, reduce daily wear by 2 hours.  When you get to 8 hours, just wear it at night:  eventually, just wear a few nights a week.  Right now the retainer is tight and this feels impossible, but I am hopeful!

So, as I reflect on my overall experience, I ask myself if it was worth it: worth the cost, worth the constant annoyances with a completely incompetent ortho office, worth my tongue and gums cut on plastic?  Over all yes.  I’ve been self-conscious about my smile my entire life, and although it’s not perfect now, I’m no longer ashamed of it (I will say, though, that the psychology of it all is still there… I still cover my mouth a lot).  My biggest gripe is that NONE of my back teeth (you know, the ones I chew with?) touch, no matter how hard i try.  But, since my orthodontist is moving to New Jersey and gave me no plan for future work, I guess it’s a lot of soft foods in my future.  Smoothies are the new steak now anyway, right?