Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Italian Wedding Soup - Joanne's Savory Summary

This soup was a great ending to a fabulous weekend. The moves Jen and I were showcasing on Friday night at Jess's wedding will be legendary (or they should be).  The weather was gorgeous and the wedding was fun, elegant and memorable.  Since the amazing weather lasted all weekend long, David and I spent as much time as possible outside simply sitting on a blanket on our front lawn.  With Monday came the rain and, more appropriately, the soup. 

Since summer is just around the corner I decided to use all ground pork instead of any ground beef.  However, what I eliminated in
fat I definitely did not lose in flavor.  I also didn't use fresh parsley because I have an abundance of dried parsley.  I had over a dozen meatballs so I was a little concerned about them cooking through in the boiling broth.  To hedge my bet, I baked them in the oven at 350 degrees for only 6 minutes.  Then I put them in the boiling chicken broth with the escarole for 8 minutes. 


The egg/parmesan mixture was an unexpected bonus.  I didn't know how this would turn out at first glance.  I was surprised to see how easy it was to add it to the soup and just how much flavor it added as well.

I would definitely make this soup again.  I even have leftovers for tomorrow's and Wednesday's lunch.  Fortunately, it's light enough for me to enjoy with bikini season right about the corner.

Italian Wedding Soup- Jen's Savory Summary

Maggie a few years ago
As many of you know, I am a big fan of soup.  My soup eating days are coming to close this year with summer approaching, so I was so happy that Joanne featured a soup this week.  I love Italian wedding soup, the little meatballs and the super flavorful broth, yum!!  Also, I learned this weekend that this is my little niece Maggie's favorite soup.  That little girl and I have so many things in common!!  One other big surprise with this recipe was how darn easy it was.  I made it last night since we were gone until late on Sunday evening.  

All the ingredients 
I did not want to cook last night at all.  I was dreading cooking because I was so tired and had a mountain of homework to tackle.  However, surprise, this was super easy.  So easy that I even just bought the ingredients yesterday as well.  A few problems with my recipe.  One, no beef.  The selection at my local food store was looking dodgy so I stuck with a solo pork meatball.  Two, no escarole.  There probably was escarole in my grocery store but I don't know what it looks like.  Also, Foodies (that's the name of my grocery store) does not like it when you ask where something is, so I quietly grabbed a bag of spinach and thought what the hell it should work.

Meatballs ready for their bath
The meatballs were so easy to make.  The one weird part was the grated onion.  I have never grated an onion and grating an onion is basically asking for puffy teared stained face.  It was like juicing an onion and the juice was spraying everywhere.  I was a freaking mess, sniffy faced, tear stained cheeks, but I was able to grate that onion.  The soup assembly was even easier.  Simply, boil broth.   I was a bit nervous just having a low sodium broth for the soup.  I really thought it was going to lack flavor.  However, once you added the meatballs, spinach, and the egg mixture it was so flavorful   I also added some small pasta, orzo, to the soup to beef it up.  

I hope everyone enjoyed this soup as much as I did, I certainly have enough leftovers to enjoy this soup for the rest of soup season!

Finished Soup! 
Happy Cooking!
Jen


Monday, April 29, 2013

Early Anniversary Trip

Jess on her wedding day
Happy Monday everyone!  This weekend was our stepsister Jess's wedding and we all had an absolute blast.  It was great to get everyone back together again and dance up a storm.   Joanne and I totally ran that dance floor and my legs are still sore as proof.  It was one of those weddings you were sad to see end and we were actually pleading with the DJ to play one last song which he did.  The last song was also an amazing choice. Instead of going with the typical "Last Dance" every wedding closes with, the whole party rocked out to the Electric Slide.  This one dance had me thinking of my aunt's wedding in the early 90s when all we did was line dance. 

Interior of Torrisi

After the wedding, Jason and I went up to New York City for an early anniversary celebration. We had originally planned on going to Per Se in hopes of recreating our wedding meal, but unfortunately someone else had booked a wedding at Per Se for the night and rented out the entire restaurant. So, we decided to try Torrisi, a new age Italian restaurant in Little Italy.  It's a very tiny restaurant, itty bitty with maybe seven tables. 

Getting a reservation was quite a feat, but we did it.  We landed a prime table at 7:45PM on Saturday night.  When we first went in we sat at the window bar and who walks in but my Top Chef girl crush, Gail Simmons.  I totally nerded out, did a double take a yelled "I know you!".  After I gushed about how big of a fan I was and told her she was beautiful, I quietly went back to my table.  

You would think my rockstar evening would be over than, but no.  I started chatting with the older couple next to us while Jason was in the bathroom because I can't not chat for even a minute.  It turns out the lady sitting next to me with the extreme restaurant knowledge was the COO/CFO of the James Beard Foundation.  My jaw dropped.  I was in food heaven, especially when she told me to come to the James Beard house for a private dinner.  By the way, the food was pretty amazing too...  

Our menu at Torrisi

One year later
Sunday morning, we had to trek up to our wedding location.  We were staying in SoHo and we were married on the Upper West Side.  So, we ran the reservoir and down to the bow bridge, where we were married.  We took an obligatory picture.  I have a dream of recreating our wedding picture every year. Maybe next year it won't be as sweaty.....  



Our Wedding Photo 5.19.12

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake

To piggyback off of Jen's post on Tuesday, I thought I would share my oh so fun cake tasting and cake flavors at our wedding in November.  I think I can safely speak for David when I say the food and cake tasting was by far his favorite part.  We spent about 4 hours pouring over appetizers, entrees and, finally, cake with my parents. 


I knew I wanted a classic Swiss dot pattern with flowers on the different levels.  My caterer offered two different bakeries and after tasting both and choice was clear.  We ended up going with Cakes and Candies by Mary Ellen for her wide variety of flavors.  We settled on three tiers - one tier of pumpkin spice (this was a fall wedding), one tier of pink champagne and finally one tier of classic pound.  Although I didn't end up eating any cake (I don't know a single bride who does), it got rave reviews.  Also, it was surprisingly huge!  Definitely a focal point on the balcony overlooking our dance floor.   

I also surprised David with a groom's cake of a soccer ball with a Liverpool scarf, his favorite Premier League team.  I also went with a classic pound for this.  While I'm not sure how it tasted (I am assuming great), it was more for the sentimental value of doing something special just for him. 



I can't wait until the wedding today and of course the cake!

Joanne


Italian Wedding Soup


The whole gang!
Wedding season is upon us.  From now until the late fall, we will have many weddings, wedding showers, bachelor/bachelorette parties etc. etc. etc.  In fact, this Friday, our stepsister Jessica gets married!!  We are all so excited to not only see her marry her college sweetheart, Matt, but also to be reunited with each other!  Katie, Jen and I will all be together at last!  The excitement is overwhelming to say the least. 

In honor of the upcoming nuptials, I thought we would cook some homemade Italian Wedding Soup.  Being about 0% Italian, we are going to emphasize the wedding aspect of this recipe.

Here's to wedding season!
Joanne

Italian Wedding Soup
Ingredients
Picture of Italian Wedding Soup Recipe
Meatballs:
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 slice fresh white bread, crust trimmed, bread torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
  • 8 ounces ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • Freshly ground black pepper
Soup:
  • 12 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 pound curly endive, coarsely chopped (1 pound of escarole would be a good substitution)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

To make the meatballs: Stir the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the cheese, beef and pork. Using 1 1/2 teaspoons for each, shape the meat mixture into 1-inch-diameter meatballs. Place on a baking sheet.

To make the soup: Bring the broth to a boil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and curly endive and simmer until the meatballs are cooked through and the curly endive is tender, about 8 minutes. Whisk the eggs and cheese in a medium bowl to blend. Stir the soup in a circular motion. Gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the moving broth, stirring gently with a fork to form thin stands of egg, about 1 minute. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. Finish soup with parmesan cheese if desired.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Who cares! It's cake!

So Many Cakes!

I'm a big fan of Jim Gaffigan.  Not sure if most of you are familiar with him.  He does an entire routine all about cake.  His one line: cake is a powerful thing.  I totally agree.  It does bring people together and excites people about the event they are at.  This weekend my stepsister is getting married and, don't get me wrong, I'm so excited about them starting their life together.  However, I've also been thinking about the cake all week.  What type of cake is it going to be?  Maybe a traditional almond cake with light fluffy icing?  Is it going to be the new popular cake in the world, red velvet with same tangy cream cheese icing?  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Per Se Cake
At my wedding, which stretched over two weekends, yes two weekends, we had two kinds of cake.  At the wedding in New York at Per Se, we asked the pastry chef to make us a special cake.  I know what you're thinking.  You asked the pastry chef to make you something?  It sounds crazy, especially after they presented us a giant book of all their different flavors, but I was needy and had my dream cake in mind.  It was a nutella and peanut butter cake.  No surprise the top tier didn't make it to our freezer.  We actually ate half of the top that night in our hotel room and the rest the week leading up to our reception.


Distrito Cake
At the reception party a week later, we had a decadent pound cake with yummy sweet butter cream icing.  Joanne designed the look of this cake to go with the funky look of my reception hall, Distrito.  There is a long back story behind this cake starting with them forgetting to make it and ending with Katie feeding the whole bottom tier to her friends on the car ride home.  The reception was a time to let everyone's hair down and believe me we did and had some amazing cake to go along with it.

So to all of you approaching wedding season as I am, enjoy the ceremony and dream of the cake!


Happy Eating!
Jen

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I Feel Like I Got Hit by a Mack Truck


http://www.easttown.com/_files/images/wine.jpg
Hello, old friend

Oh wait... that's because I did.  No cause for alarm but I was in a minor car accident yesterday.  The minor part being I walked away without nary a scratch.  The unfortunate part was my poor car was hit by and then got caught on a Mack truck which crunched in the side and ripped off the bumper.  And this was all before 9am.  So needless to say when presented with the choice of making baked beans that evening or drowning my sorrows (namely 'oh crap your car is a mess, it was 'legally' your fault and you owe your big fat deductible') in wine, I chose the wine. 

On a lighter note, the phrase 'I feel like I got hit by a Mack truck' holds no weight with me anymore.  In fact, anyone who uses it will automatically be assumed to be in great health. 

So barring any more drama, I will be fully participating in this week's Sunday Supper.  It is my week to pick and I already have an awesome recipe ready to go!

Joanne

Baked Beans- Jen's Savory Summary

You don't need this
secret for good beans!
Hi Everyone out there!  This past Sunday was a bit hectic for Jason and I.  Not only are we in crunch time to get in shape for a vacation coming up, but finals are also around the corner.  Our Sunday started making Joanne's protein pancakes (so delicious!) and a three hour trip to the gym.  I could barely move after.  Next, my afternoon was spent sitting the library writing a paper for my finance class.  Not finished by the way and due at 7:40PM.  One would say I'm quite a procrastinator.  Anyway, I was very thankful this recipe only took about an hour to cook, thank you canned beans.  However, I did have a pork shoulder slow roasting all day to have with it.  


All the ingredients
I assembled all my ingredients when I got back from the library, and boy was that a lot of ingredients.  It was a pretty basic recipe, cook up some bacon, eat some bacon straight out of the pan, add onions, soften, add the rest.  I don't know about you but I cannot resist freshly cooked bacon, extra crispy.  I have the burn marks on my fingertips from eating it right out the pan.  Also, I didn't discard any bacon fat, its such a sin.  I let the bacon grease go to amp up the porky goodness. 


Finished Beans! 
My beans simmered with the lid off for about an hour.  In hindsight, I should of put the lid on a half an hour in so that they didn't over reduce.  Never the less, they were still delicious.  This is one of the few Sunday's where I don't have any leftovers to speak of.  I think this recipe would be easily adaptable for a weeknight side dish since it can be completed in 15 minutes if you want.  Hope you all enjoyed as much as we did!


Happy Cooking!
Jen

  

Monday, April 22, 2013

I Left My Heart in San Francisco

Jen and I both felt we needed a brief break from the blogging world in light of the events last week.  Friday was a scary day for many people, including Jen and Jason, who were part of the day-long lockdown.  Fortunately, it came to an end and Boston showed the world just how strong they are.  In the hopes of returning to some normalcy, I say onto the food...

http://newleaderscouncil.org/sanfrancisco/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/1.jpgAbout four times a year I get to travel to San Francisco for business.  In fact, I leave tomorrow for a quick out and back trip to the west coast.  While I am not dissing the other lovely travel destinations I normally go to (shout out to Atlanta), I consider this cross country trek a treat.  I especially don't mind the 6 hour flight because of the amazing food my work colleagues and I eat everytime we are out there.  It's definitely one of those business travel perks that makes a week away from David a little more bearable. 

BoudinBakery
While we've visited many restaurants on our trips out there and are already scouring the internet for the next great meal, one of my favorite spots was a San Francisco tourist destination, Boudin Bakery.  Before my visit, sourdough bread wasn't even on my favorite foods list and I love bread.  I figured I would get the sourdough bread bowl with the traditional clam chowder and let me just say it did not disappoint.  The scenery at the wharf was beautiful, the San Francisco air was crisp and the soup warmed me right up.  So although, it is a business trip this week I am looking forward to getting some great meals. 

I've included a link to a recipe for sourdough bread but no promises.  I think this may be one of those things you'll have to experience first hand!

Wish me safe travels!
Joanne

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Baked Beans- The Magical Fruit!

Our Mom,
 the famous baked bean maker
This is the first weekend where you can actually feel spring in air up here in Boston.   BBQ's are being dusted off and getting ready for the family BBQ.  Jason and I are actually planning on going to our friend's roof deck this Sunday for some grilling and I thought this Sunday Supper I'd feature a crowd pleasing side dish, which can also be used as a meal as well.   Baked Beans!   Baked beans were quite popular in the Sharp family growing up.   My mom had this huge and very heavy white Le Creuset dutch oven that she would make these magical baked beans for every family get together.   I don't know all the magic but I did sneak some peeks of her doctoring them up with lots of brown sugar, ketchup, and other magic ingredients. 

Joanne, Katie, and I many years ago
I have tried two times previously to make homemade baked beans and only one time have I been successful.   The first time I used dried beans.  If you've never used dried beans before I would highly suggest not using them.   They are some mysterious characters, with the required overnight soaking and don't salt them.  They end up hard.   When I used dried beans, my baked beans were very crunchy, not something you imagine as a baked bean.   That is why this recipe uses canned beans...less mystery with these.  

Good luck everyone with this weeks Sunday Supper!  Hope you can bring this to your family BBQ or serve it as a meal on it's on!

Sweet and Smokey Baked Beans
adapted from Food Network Kitchens

Ingredients
4 strips thick sliced bacon, cut into 1/4 inch slivers (remove this if you want to make a veggie version)
2 medium onions, finely chopped (roughly 2 cups_
2 cloves garlic, mined
2 (15 ounce) cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed (this removes excess salt)
1/3 cup molasses
1/4 cup BBQ sauce
5 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon prepared mustard (I use whole grain)
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 tablespoon liquid smoke (optional, adds a good smokey flavor) 
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions
In a heavy (preferably white Le Creuset dutch oven), cook bacon over medium heat to render fat, about 5 minutes.  Discard all by 2 tablespoons fat 

Add onion, garlic and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the beans, molasses, BBQ sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustards, vinegar, and liquid smoke.  Simmer the beans, uncovered, until rich and thickly flavored, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon.  The longer you simmer the beans the more developed the flavor will be.   Adjust seasonings to taste.  



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Boardwalk Eats

http://exp.cdn-hotels.com/hotels/1000000/50000/40800/40760/40760_32_b.jpgTonight I am lucky enough to get a little midweek get-away with David's friends at a wine tasting in Atlantic City.  It starts at 4:00 so as an even better perk, I get to take a half day on a Wednesday.  Considering the past work week I've been having, this is a much needed reprieve from the craziness.  Since Atlantic City is famous for its boardwalk, I thought I would pass along a recipe to an enduring boardwalk treat, Monkey Bread.  While my personal favorite is still Johnson's caramel popcorn and Jen's go-to is the polish water ice, Monkey Bread is still a fan favorite of almost anyone who's had it.

I hope you are all having a great hump day and wish me luck on the black jack tables!
Joanne

Monkey Bread
DSC_0050From: The Pioneer Woman Cooks

Ingredients
Brown Sugar - 1/2cup
2 sticks of butter
Bundt Cake Pan
Cinnamon - 2-3 teaspoons
3 cans of Buttermilk Biscuits

Sugar - 1 cup

Directions
Preheat oven to 350.  Open up all three cans of biscuits and cut each biscuit into quarters.  Combine the 1 cup of regular sugar with 2-3 teaspoons of cinnamon.  Dump these into a 1 gallon zip bag and shake to mix evenly.  Drop all of the biscuit quarters into the cinnamon-sugar mix.  Once all the biscuit quarters are in the bag, seal it and give it a vigorous shake.  Spread these nuggets out evenly in your bundt pan.  Melt the two sticks of butter together with 1/2cup of brown sugar. This can be light or dark brown sugar.  Stir together over a medium-high heat until mixed.   Once the brown sugar butter has become one color, you can pour it over the biscuits. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30-40 minutes until the crust is a deep brown on top.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Today We Think of Boston


In light of the tragic and horrific events that took place at the Boston Marathon, we have decided to forego our normal recipe review.  We are very happy to report that both Jen and Jason are safe and well.  Although life must eventually go on after such an unthinkable event, today we've decided to simply be sad and mournful for those who lost their lives and for those whose lives are forever changed.  Today, Boston, a city so loved by Jen, Jason and many others, we think of you and stand united behind you. 




Monday, April 15, 2013

Marathon Monday


Boston Marathon Finish Line
I don't know about you, but whenever I hear the term marathon, I first think of a never ending block of episodes of my favorite TV shows.  Who wouldn't love to have a nice afternoon zoning out in front of the boob tube with some Golden Girls.  Well in Massachusetts today is a big holiday.  I know most of your are thinking oh, tax day, not really what I would think of as a holiday, but today is Marathon Monday, or if you want the official name, Patriots' Day.  

Us at the finish line of
the Broad Street Run 
Marathon Monday is the day of the Boston Marathon.  The city is almost electrified all day but, since I don't have off, the only electricity I felt was the detour on the way to work since I live near the finish line.  I do not consider myself a runner...not by any stretch of the imagination. Sure, I've done many 5K races.  I've even dabbled in a few triathlons   However, my theory when it comes to running is 'it's starting to hurt. I'll just stop now'.  Joanne and Katie on the other hand are running obsessed.  Only these two crazy girls would take a nice relaxing five mile run.  YES, five miles.  Sure, so relaxing.  Every year these girls do the Broad Street Run, a very popular race in the Philadelphia area.  When I lived in the area I would go down and cheer them on, amazed in their ability to finish it.  Every year I always get the 'Jen you should sign up for the race with us!'.  Well, sisters, I've set a goal. I will doing the Broad Street Run next year.  Maybe it's all this Marathon Monday electricity I'm feeling from the inside of my cubicle.  But, I'm starting to get a running itch.  

I think I should start training now....

Happy Running Marathoners!
Jen


Friday, April 12, 2013

Broccoli Rabe

At the recommendation of the New York Times (and, really, who am I to disagree), broccoli rabe was suggested as a great side dish to our parmesan crusted lamb.  The bitterness and garlic bite will be a nice compliment to the tender lamb.  I've also never made broccoli rabe so this is truly a weekend of firsts.  Whenever I've had it though, I've always remembered its distinct flavor and taste.  I'm not sure if this is a bad or good thing since it has been quite some time since I've eaten it.  Guess we will find out this Sunday!

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-a4PqJ8P-e0I/UBGJV993_HI/AAAAAAAAAaA/HUju91vKLkY/s1600/sopinteresting.jpgSpeaking of firsts, this week has also been a big one.  David and I welcomed our very first niece who has stolen our hearts already and is truly the most beautiful baby (I may be biased).  I am already bombarding my sister-in-law for picture requests everyday and cannot wait to see her again!  Also, on the firsts front, I am hosting my very first demonstration tomorrow given by my other sister-in-law (I am surrounded by sisters.  Definitely a very lucky girl).  She is bringing the products and I am taking care of the food and drinks.  Since this week has been so hectic, I've naturally been trolling pinterest looking for fun yet simple appetizer recipes.  If I come across anything super fun I will be sure to pass it along.  Also, here is a link to our boards (here and here).  Fair warning: Jen is way more Pinterest-ing than me by sheer volume alone. 

Happy Weekend!
Joanne

Broccoli Rabe
Picture of Sauteed Broccoli Rabe Recipeby: Giada

Ingredients
4 bunches (12 to 16 ounces each) broccoli rabe (rapini), stems trimmed
1/4 cup olive oil
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup raisins
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

Directions
Working in batches, cook the broccoli rabe in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp tender, about 2 to 3 minutes per bunch. Transfer the broccoli rabe to a large bowl of ice water to cool. Reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the cooled broccoli rabe and set aside.

Heat the oil in a heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and saute until the garlic is golden, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the broccoli rabe and toss to coat. Add the reserved cooking water, the raisins, and cook until the broccoli rabe is heated through and the stems are tender, about 4 minutes. Season with salt, to taste. Toss the mixture with toasted pine nuts, serve immediately.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Parmesan Crusted Lamb Chops


NYT Photo Credit
Since we didn't have lamb on Easter (lamb recipes were all over the place for that holiday), I thought we would give it a whirl a few weeks after.  And since it's never been featured here, I figured even better to start now.  The only time I ever really eat lamb is when I am eating Indian food.  There is something about the curry and the spices covering the lamb that make it my hands down favorite protein choice when having Indian. 

Admittedly, I have never prepared lamb myself.  With this inexperience in mind, I've chosen a fairly easy recipe that was featured in the New York Times.  We will be using lamb chops for this recipe but if this particular meat makes you squeamish feel free to substitute a delicious pork chop.  I will also be making this on the grill since this bout of warm weather we are having makes cooking inside seem like a sin. 

Also, to offer a more economical solution, it is recommended that you buy a rack of lamb and then cut them into individual chops yourself.  Just be sure to confirm they are 'Frenched' (no tongue kissing required), which is a particular cut of a lamb rack. 

Tomorrow, we will be featuring a delicious side dish, broccoli rabe, which, at the NYT's suggestion, will give the meal a garlicky bite.  I hope you enjoy Parmesan Crusted Lamb Chops!

Happy Spring!
Joanne

Parmesean Crusted Lamb Chops
    
    NYT Photo Credit
    
  • One rack of lamb (for portion size NYT recommends 2 chops for a normal appetite and as many as 3-4 for bigger appetites)
  • Olive oil
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Bread crumbs (Panko may work great for this)
  • Rosemary
  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat your grill to medium/high heat (or grill pan for the oven).  Place lamb on a working surface and lightly brush with olive oil.  Combine bread crumbs, rosemary, salt, pepper and cheese in a large bowl.  Dip each lamb chop into mixture and shake off the excess.  Sear each side of the lamb for 2-3 minutes.  3 minutes for a more cooked through chop.  I tend to lightly coat my grill with a nonstick spray to avoid any sticking. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Don't mess with me Chip, I'm all hopped up on coffee!

I'll get up and do my homework soon..
I very much appreciate a good strong cup of coffee.  I, at one point, may of definitely been addicted to coffee (yes, I know that statement makes no sense). Well, in recent months I have given up coffee for the somewhat healthier alternative of tea, but I can still look back fondly on my addiction.
I would say coffee is the reason I survived junior year of college.  It all started on the fateful day when my classmate brought me a cup of coffee.  It was Dunkin, not the best, but it packs a punch.  I drank it black and I hated the taste, but, damn, did it charge me up.  I was ready to go for an all nighter of kinetics homework.  Without that, I would of been fast asleep on my homework waking up with a giant drool stain and paper plastered to my face.

With traveling all around, I've learned to appreciate good coffee.  And yes, I don't really consider Dunkin good coffee since it varies so much from place to place.  At one local place it can taste delicious while the one down the road definitely tastes like dish water.  I also love cappuccinos...the frothier the better.  Also, if they can make a cute little pattern in the foam I am amazed.  I sit back and look at the perfectly crafted heart or leaf, then I devour it in one sip.  I'm not a sit back and let it cool person... I'm looking at you, Joanne, who drinks the same coffee all day and even ice cold.  I like it hot, scald your mouth hot.

I don't want to be
 that sad girl in the
background on Friday
Well, an interesting part of my job is visiting different trade shows.  Last week brought me to a water quality show...I know, exciting.  This upcoming week I get to venture to the specialty coffee association trade show.  There will be hundreds of coffee makers, growers, etc..  Not a good thing to attend when I'm just off my addiction.  However, I think I will allow myself a cheat day to enjoy the java of the world.  A major side affect will be that caffeine surge which I have missed.  I will be so FIRED UP! Stay tuned for my recap of the show on Monday!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Chopped Chinese Chicken Salad- Jen's Savory Summary

Sash say- shan tay
Hello everyone, I am so ecstatic about spring finally starting up here in Boston.  Yesterday was my first official day to use my sunroof.  So I was cruising down the pike and Ru Paul Supermodel came on (woooorrrkkkk).  All in all a perfect day today.  Let
me start by saying this is the largest salad I've ever made.  It was HUGE.  Thank god I had guests over so that I could unload some salad on them.  Also, this weekend I brought back the Korean short ribs...sooo good.  Anyway, the ingredients for this were so simple and easy to find.  I went to Whole Foods and bought all of it with no problems.  Also, I opted to add a little carrot to mine to spice up the color even more.  

That's alot of salad
So let's start with the chicken, I was disappointed - not going to lie.  I marinated those tenders for an hour and there was no flavor.  Also, the texture was a bit rubbery.  Definitely not for me.  Next time I'd grill them on my nifty grill pan.  Next, came the chopping and there was a lot of chopping.  I also skinned my cucumbers and took all the seeds out.  I find it makes the salad less watery.  I definitely recommend this.  Lastly, the dressing...so good!  I was a bit taken a back by the lack of vinegar, however, the soy sauce packed a punch.  Also, the addition of the peanut butter reminded me a bit of the peanut sauce you get with satay. All in all, this was quite a delicious little salad to add to my diet arsenal. 
Finished Salad! 

Chopped Chinese Chicken Salad - Joanne's Savory Summary

Since Sunday was the nicest day we've had in a long long time, I opted to make the salad Monday night.  Instead we decided to spend Sunday morning with our best friends, Pat and Nicole, and their beautiful daughter Ella going to brunch and then to the park.  Plus, after I looked over the recipe, I figured it was easy night to do after a full workday. 

I bought all of my ingredients at Wegman's, including mistakenly picking up radicchio instead of red cabbage.  It still worked well with the recipe despite being different from what was specifically called for.  I decided to use almond butter instead of peanut butter as well.  This, however, was more of conscious choice since I prefer to eat almond butter and didn't really want to bring peanut butter into the house. 

I have to be honest.  I was disappointed with the chicken.  I expected more flavor.
Instead I could have easily topped my salad with plain grilled chicken and not known the difference.  What the chicken lacked in flavor was absolutely made up for with the amazing dressing.  I didn't follow the letter of the recipe but instead kept adding the three ingredients until I got a perfect blend.  I ended up going heavier on the almond butter than suggested but the result was a nutty flavor with a salty bite.  Finally, although the recipe called for limes, I didn't see them anywhere in the instructions.  And after making the complete meal, I'm not sure where they would have ended up anyway.   

Once tossed with the chicken and salad, the plain chicken became instantly better.  In fact, next time to save time, I may make this recipe without the extra prep on the chicken.  The dressing does more than enough to coat the chicken.  Overall I thought this was a delicious meal and incorporated a lot of healthy ingredients in an unusual way.

Happy eating!
Joanne