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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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!

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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.

White Turkey Chili

Christmas is in one week!  Can you believe???

Did I just send you into a cold sweat?  Sorry.  Didn’t mean to, honest!  Thankfully, my OCD, which is usually my demise, comes in handy this time of year– my presents bought, wrapped, and stacked for two weeks now.  But don’t worry, it’s not all bubbles and butterflies in Jenni’s kingdom:  I still have about 4 dozen deadlines for work (hence no blogging for, oh, 13 days now?) entwined with 18,000 meetings that are somehow scheduled simultaneously, and around coworkers dealing with the same dilemmas.  And maybe it’s just my perception, but it seems like everyone has been totally on edge lately.  Perhaps it’s the cray cray weather, or maybe it’s just this time of year that brings out the ho-ho-horrible in people.  I don’t know, but I don’t like it.  Hard pass on that. Continue reading

Chicken Butternut Squash Quinoa Soup

TWO MORE WEEKS UNTIL MY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!

I’ve been playing around a lot with what’s important, and what used to be important to me that I’ve loosened the reigns a bit over the years.  Being an uber-nerd, I actually sat down and started to categorize this stuff.  Although I am still working on these lists (and probably will still grapple with this for a while), here’s what I came up with:  (1) the must haves, (2) the nice to haves (but not worth killing yourself over or beating yourself up over), and (3) wishes and wants, but nothing to struggle for… aka the “let it gos.

I’m going to devote today’s session to the Let It Gos.  Again, this is a list-in-process, but here are a few that I have written down:
  •  Needing the perfect body – life is too short to obsess over it.  I don’t have time to work out every day any more, I don’t feel joy in following a crazy strict diet and punishing myself if I veer off to have a cookie.
  • Comparing myself to other gals – I feel like this goes with not feeling like I need to look perfect, but I don’t find myself comparing the way I look to other girls anymore.  I’m not sure if it was all of a sudden or over time, but I no longer hate the VS models when they bombard my commercials.  I no longer want to push the 22-year-old perfect 10 in front of moving traffic.  More power to them.  Mostly…
  •  What others think of me/impressing everyone – I have come to the realization that I am awesome, and give zero farts about what anyone else has to say about that.  See, I just said farts on my blog, twice now.  How do I feel about that?  All smiles.
  •  Not eating in front of others – this was another one that I, like a lot of chicks, needed to get the eff over.  Everyone eats.  No one looks good doing it.  We are all slobs, embrace it.
  • Not admitting just how much tv I actually watch – I live alone, so my TV is basically my roommate.  It’s always on, basically to fill the silence void.  Why do people look down on TV watchers?  The “idiot tube?”  Snobs.
  • Not really doing things for yourself – I’m almost 30, I’ve been living alone pretty much since I was 20, and am just now getting a grip on what this really, truly means.  Doing things because you enjoy them, because you want to improve your life, because you need to relax more (or less?  I don’t know your life) is not an easy task.  We so often have ulterior motives, like landing a mate, getting a promotion, being better than that skinny 22-year-old.  Is it actually for you?  If not, maybe you need to let it go.

And now let’s talk about some food so we can get the Frozen song out of our heads.

Not only is this time of year great because of my birthday, but it is also soup weather!  Which means I get to bust out the slow cooker on the weekend for a lazy meal that will last me pretty much all week.  This was a super easy, crazy delicious set-it-and-forget it meal that instantly earned its way into my regular rotation.  Low fat, low cal, high protein, filling, and delicious?  I’ll take seconds, please!

Enjoy!

Materials:

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • two forks
  • measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium (about 2 c) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 c quinoa
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 1 can tomatoes (any kind) with juice
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • rosemary to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

  1. Place chicken on the bottom of the pot of a slow cooker.FullSizeRender
  2. Place all other ingredients into the slow cooker.IMG_6088
  3. Cook for at least 3 hours on HIGH or at least 5 hours on LOW. (I recommend slow and low!)FullSizeRender
  4. Take out chicken and shred using two forks.  FullSizeRenderPlace back into soup until ready to eat.
  5. Serve with parmesan cheese.
  6. Enjoy!  FullSizeRender

Chicken Butternut Squash Quinoa Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Materials:

  • cutting board
  • knife
  • two forks
  • measuring cups and spoons

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 medium (about 2 c) butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 c quinoa
  • 1 c chicken stock
  • 1 can tomatoes (any kind) with juice
  • 1 T garlic, minced
  • rosemary to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (optional)
  • parmesan cheese for serving

Directions:

  1. Place chicken on the bottom of the pot of a slow cooker.
  2. Place all other ingredients into the slow cooker.
  3. Cook for at least 3 hours on HIGH or at least 5 hours on LOW.
  4. Take out chicken and shred using two forks.  Place back into soup until ready to eat.
  5. Serve with parmesan cheese.
  6. Enjoy!