Sweet and Hot Sesame Cucumbers

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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

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Gluten Free(ish) Chicken Soup

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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
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Materials:

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  • 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

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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

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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
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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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

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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
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

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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!

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Courtesy of Cookinglight.com

When I was a little whipper-snapper, all I wanted was a doll that looked like me.  I know what you’re thinking:  a toy-maker could never capture my beauty.  An impossible mission.

Joking aside, I wasn’t all that into the whole Barbie thing, mainly because the gal was a tall, skinny, blue-eyed blonde, and I was, well, pretty much the exact opposite of that:

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Where was I going?  Not sure.  But I was going to be fabulous.

Studies show that girls desire to play with dolls that most mirror themselves, and I was no exeption:  I wanted an olive-skinned, short, dark and curly-haired doll, preferably one with high ambitions and little patience. My poor mother’s best solution was a Native American doll, thinking that the hair and skin would be a closer match than Barbie.

Now, Barbie has launched a new campaign with a wider range of dolls:  there are tall, curvy, and the original skinny B’s with a variety of styles.  But…. what about us average gals?  I know Matel cannot please everyone, but how about a brunette with green eyes, and normal height and weight?  Maybe they thought the most popular combination of female attributes was too obvious…

Anyway, given the way my weight fluctuates the search for the doll in my image is futile.  If they can come up with a doll that is constantly stressed at work, eats like a linebacker, then guilt’s herself into losing the weight a few times a year, I’m game.

Here’s a binge-worthy recipe for you!  I got this recipe from Cooking Light, and it was a HUGE hit at my Superbowl gathering.  I served it slightly warm, with sliced french bread.  Enjoy!


 

Materials:

  • mixing bowl
  • aluminum foil
  • small pot with lid
  • food processor
  • measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
  • 1 c water
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 can of white beans, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c lime juice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Remove paper coating from garlic.
  3. Cover garlic with olive oil. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil, and roast for about 12 minutes.
  4. While garlic is roasting, place sun-dried tomatoes and water in a small pot.  Boil until tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain.FullSizeRender (5)
  5. Remove garlic head from the oven, carefully popping out the cloves from the shells.FullSizeRender (4)
  6. In a food processor, combine all ingredients.  FullSizeRender (3)
  7. Pulse until well-combined.  It should have the consistency of hummus.FullSizeRender (2)
  8. Serve warm with bread.  Enjoy!FullSizeRender (1)

 

Sun-dried Tomato and Roasted Garlic Dip

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Materials:

  • mixing bowl
  • aluminum foil
  • small pot with lid
  • food processor
  • measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of sun-dried tomatoes, not packed in oil
  • 1 c water
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 can of white beans, drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c lime juice (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Remove paper coating from garlic.
  3. Cover garlic with olive oil. Wrap garlic in aluminum foil, and roast for about 12 minutes.
  4. While garlic is roasting, place sun-dried tomatoes and water in a small pot.  Boil until tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain.
  5. Remove garlic head from the oven, carefully popping out the cloves from the shells.
  6. In a food processor, combine all ingredients.
  7.  Pulse until well-combined.  It should have the consistency of hummus.
  8. Serve warm with bread.  Enjoy!

Parmesan Squash Ribbons

It’s times like this when I wonder why. WHY. Why am I living up north?  I mean seriously, who am I kidding with this bitter-cold misery?

But I like the seasons, I say.  We all say to justify this crazy thing called winter.  Let me tell you something.  I don’t ski or snowboard Snow-shoeing is out of the question and ice-skating is not for me.  I would be all up in the curling business if they brought that to Boston, but alas, we aren’t with it yet.

Do you want to know what my winter sport is?  It’s bundling up with layers upon layers until every inch of skin is covered thrice over, finding the shortest distance to my destination, and making it there without slipping on ice.  I could go pro.

I say all of this, but it’s not all dismal.  Winter is beautiful, and better yet, it’s a chance to cook hot foods 🙂  Soups, stews, boils, bakes… I love it all.  One of my favorite new cooking ventures that warmed my insides both physically and emotionally ironically featured a an out-of-season star:  the summer squash.  Okay, before you rain hate for me buying out of season, let me be clear:  I don’t care.  I buy what I want.  You should too.

So, this dish.  Oh, this dish.  Full disclosure, I ate the entire pot, by myself.  It was that good.  AND, so easy AND FUN to make, that I am actually excited to make it again 🙂  Enjoy, and stay warm!FullSizeRender_1


 

Materials:

  • mixing bowl
  • veggie peeler (horizontal)
  • knife and cutting board
  • large pot
  • spoon

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • two large summer squash
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • minced garlic to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop onion and set aside.
  2. Heat a small amount of oil (about a tablespoon) in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Place onion into pot, stirring occasionally. IMG_6750
  4. While onion is cooking, create thin ribbons out of your squash by peeling long strands the  length of your squash.  You may need to rotate around your squash.IMG_6748FullSizeRender_2
  5. Place ribbons and garlic into pot and stir.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until squash is tender.  NOTE:  ADD WATER TO POT IF NEEDED (about 1/4 c).IMG_6751
  6. Remove from heat.  Add parmesan cheese, alt and pepper to taste and stir.IMG_6752
  7. Serve with parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!IMG_6754

 


 

Parmesan Squash Ribbons

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Materials:

  • mixing bowl
  • veggie peeler (horizontal)
  • knife and cutting board
  • large pot
  • spoon

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • two large summer squash
  • 1/4 c Parmesan cheese
  • minced garlic to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Chop onion and set aside.
  2. Heat a small amount of oil (about a tablespoon) in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  3. Place onion into pot, stirring occasionally.
  4. While onion is cooking, create thin ribbons out of your squash by peeling long strands the  length of your squash.  You may need to rotate around your squash.
  5. Place ribbons and garlic into pot and stir.  Cook for about 5 minutes, or until squash is tender.  NOTE:  ADD WATER TO POT IF NEEDED (about 1/4 c).
  6. Remove from heat.  Add parmesan cheese, alt and pepper to taste and stir.