Category Archives: Grains and Rice

summer dining: greek style mixed grill kebobs and pine nut orzo salad

It is hard to believe that it’s June already, and summer is just around the corner! Summer has always been my favorite season for a multitude of reasons: my birthday, no school, picnics, barbecues, swimming in outdoor pools, running and biking along the Hudson, lightweight colorful dresses, fresh and simple outdoor meals, farmers market trips, the list goes on!

Today I am going to share with you a delicious meal that is a perfect excuse to dust off your grill and outdoor dining set and invite some friends over for an al fresco dinner!

greek style mixed grill kebobs and pine nut orzo salad

Sourced from Rachael Ray, Serves 4

Ingredients for kebobs:

  • 4 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 4 sprigs fresh oregano, leaves stripped and finely chopped
  • 6 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped and finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green olive tapenade
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 lemons, juiced and 1 zested
  • 1/3 plus 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 pounds firm white flesh fish, halibut or swordfish, cut into 12 (2-inch) chunks (I used shrimp instead)
  • 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 12 (2-inch) chunks
  • Black pepper
Ingredients for orzo salad:
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 cup feta cheese crumbles
  • 8 Greek hot peppers, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, for garnish
  • 2 tomatoes, diced, for garnish
  • 1/2 cucumber, diced, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat grill pan or outdoor grill to medium high. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water to prevent burning.

Place a pot of water on the stove and bring to a boil for the pasta salad. When the water boils, salt it and cook the pasta to al dente.

While the pasta cooks, in a small bowl combine the garlic, oregano, rosemary, tapenade, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon lemon zest and the juice of 1 lemon with about 1/3 cup olive oil. 

Place the fish and chicken in separate shallow dishes or bowls and season with salt and pepper then divide the dressing between the bowls and coat the fish and chicken evenly.

Skewer the fish and chicken on metal or soaked wooden skewers.

Grill the chicken 10 to 12 minutes until firm and juices run clear, and the fish for about 6 to 8 minutes, turning the kabobs frequently.

Drain orzo and combine with pine nuts, onions, parsley, feta crumbles, the juice of 1 lemon, about 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Serve the orzo salad with 3 pieces each of chicken and fish along side. Garnish plates with a couple of hot peppers, olives, tomatoes and cucumbers on each plate.

I didn’t get a picture of a finished plate because it was so delicious that we dug in immediately, but you should be able to get an idea from the pictures I took while cooking that this was an absolutely delectable meal. The shrimp/chicken were packed with flavor from the tapenade, fresh herbs, spices and lemon juice, and the orzo salad was so light and fresh from the cucumbers, feta, tomatoes and had a nice crunch from the pine nuts. That salad alone would make an excellent addition to any picnic.

Bon appetit!

thai night: coconut-curry mussels and peanut rice noodle salad

When I was home over winter break my mom asked me to help her make a nice gluten free meal for our cousins who were coming over for dinner (one of them has celiac).

Pretty table setting

Cheese plate

We looked at food blogs and magazines for inspiration before finally landing on an article in Food Network Magazine which provided us with the recipes for this delicious dinner.

I really love mussels, and almost always order them if they’re on the menu at a restaurant, but I don’t make them at home very often for no reason at all. In fact, I am going to start making them more often because they are inexpensive, incredibly quick and easy to make, and impressive to boot!

The peanut noodle salad is also very yummy. The rice noodles aren’t too filling, the peanut sauce is savory and a little salty, and the veggies give a nice crunch. It’s also a nice compliment to the spicy mussels.

Coconut-Curry Mussels

Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 2 stalks lemongrass
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 medium red onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 6 tablespoons chopped peeled ginger
  • 1/4 cup green curry paste (use less if you don’t want it very spicy)
  • 2 15-ounce cans coconut milk
  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 6 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 4 limes, halved
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Crusty bread, for serving (optional but DO IT)

Directions:

Trim the lemongrass, leaving 6 inches at the root end; discard the tops. Smash the stalks with the flat side of a knife and cut into 1-inch pieces.

Mise en place: all ingredients prepped and ready to go!

Heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in each of 2 large pots over medium-high heat. Add 1 sliced onion to each and cook, stirring, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add half each of the garlic, lemongrass, ginger and curry paste to each pot and cook, stirring, until golden, about 2 minutes.

Add 1 can coconut milk, 2 tablespoons fish sauce and 1/4 cup water to each pot and bring to a simmer. Divide the mussels between the pots; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mussels open, about 8 minutes. (Discard any that do not open.) Add the juice of 2 limes to each pot, then add the lime halves. Stir 1/2 cup cilantro into each. Serve with bread, if desired.

Peanut Rice Noodle Salad

Courtesy of Food Network Magazine

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces rice vermicelli noodles
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce (use tamari if you need it to be GF)
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced scallions
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

Directions:

Put the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Let the noodles soak until tender, about 10 minutes; drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Whisk the lime juice, soy sauce, peanut butter, brown sugar and vegetable oil in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour the dressing over the noodles. Add the bell pepper, scallions, basil, cilantro and mint and toss to combine. Season with salt and sprinkle with the peanuts.

Final product!

even Zara had a good time :)

Bon appetit!

 

 

citrus salad, herbed quinoa and baked tilapia

I love to watch the food network while i’m running on the treadmill at the gym because i get absorbed in the show and before I know it, I’ve run for 30 minutes! Sometimes I get lucky and find inspiration for dinner. These recipes came from an episode of Giada that focused on light & healthy cooking. I made them for my housemates and they were a huge hit! The citrus salad has become a mainstay. Enjoy!

Caramelized Onion, Fennel and Grapefruit Salad

From Giada on the Food Network

Caramelized onions, fennel and grapefruit-what could be bad? This salad is light and refreshing, a nice fusion of sweet, crunchy and tart. It would be a great addition to a summer picnic.

From the Food Network

Ingredients

Caramelized onions:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Dressing:

Salad:

  • 2 pink grapefruits
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced or torn into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 scallions, finely sliced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

Directions:

For the caramelized onions: In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are deep golden brown, about 20 minutes. Set aside to cool, about 10 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until blended. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

For the salad: Peel and trim the ends from each grapefruit. Using a paring knife, cut along the membrane on both sides of each segment. Free the segments and add them to a large salad bowl. Add the lettuce, fennel, cucumber, scallions, and thyme.

Pour the dressing over the salad and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Arrange the caramelized onions on top and serve.

Herbed Quinoa

From Giada on the Food Network

Quinoa is a superfood and I try to incorporate it into my diet as often as possible. The fresh herbs add a wonderful fragrance and freshness, which really dresses up the quinoa. This is a great high protein side dish.

Ingredients:

Quinoa:

  • 2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

For the quinoa: In a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Pour the dressing over the quinoa and toss until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve.

Baked Tilapia

Tilapia is a great inexpensive white fish that takes on whatever flavor you want to give it. We always have fillets in the freezer at my house which come in handy when i don’t have much time to prepare dinner. This fish is lemony and a little spicy and is ready in minutes!

Ingredients

  • 4 tilapia fillets (6 ounces each)
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted (margarine or butter substitutes work too)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika

Directions

  • Place tilapia in an ungreased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish. In a small bowl, combine the butter, lemon juice, garlic powder and salt; pour over the fillets. Sprinkle with capers, oregano and paprika.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

These three recipes come together to make a light and delicious dinner that is equally impressive and easy!

pasta puttanesca

Hi friends,

I have a ton of new posts coming up for you as I have been cooking up a storm lately! Classes ended last Thursday, and what better way to procrastinate studying for finals then to cook? I have already had two 6 person dinner parties and countless late night dessert sessions. This is the Australian version of finals week and I like it.

Today I am sharing my delicious homemade puttanesca tomato sauce with you. I love that you can basically just throw anything you have in the fridge into the pan and come out with a hearty homemade sauce in about the time it takes to cook the pasta. The ingredients I show should only be a guide, as you can really use any vegetables you have/want. I paired it with whole wheat pasta because I like the healthy nutty flavor, but you can use any pasta you have in your pantry.

Puttanesca Sauce

Note: This recipe makes enough for 2 people, but you can easily double it if you are serving more, or if you want to freeze some for later.

Ingredients:
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, diced
1 zucchini, diced
10 mushrooms, chopped
handful of artichoke hearts (canned or marinated), chopped
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
handful of kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can whole peeled tomatoes with juices, loosely chopped
Pinch cayenne pepper, and S/P

Directions:
Saute garlic and onion until they start to brown. Add zucchini and mushrooms until cooked through and wilting. Then add artichoke hearts, capers and olives and stir everything together. Add tomato paste, and stir to combine. Finally, add the canned tomatoes, breaking up the whole tomatoes with your hand or a knife. Add the cayenne pepper and seasonings, and let simmer for 10 minutes, or until your pasta is ready.

I served this with my favorite roasted asparagus and a glass of red wine.

Bon Appetit.

Cheers,
E

Shabbat Dinner Party

Last Friday I hosted a Shabbat dinner for 15 of my closest friends. Through a friend at Cornell I found out about this program called Birthright Israel NEXT, which is for alumni of Birthright Israel. One of their programs is called Birthright NEXT Shabbat, which allows alumni of Birthright to host Shabbat dinners that are paid for by their generous donors. This was obviously a dream come true for me as I was able to cook an elaborate dinner for 15 of my friends at no cost to me, which would have been very expensive otherwise. The cool thing about the program is that they give you no rules or restrictions-this was Shabbat my way. I chose the menu, hand picked the wines, and was even able to buy tablecloths and other decorations to make it special. Thankfully my sister was able to come visit me for the weekend and made a wonderful sous chef/kitchen helper extraordinaire. I spent a while thinking about what I wanted to make and looking at all of my favorite food blogs for inspiration. I knew I had a few dietary restrictions to accommodate: vegetarian, gluten free and kosher, which made it a little trickier as well. In the end I decided on curry mustard chicken, mustard roasted potatoes, oven roasted vegetables, turmeric Israeli couscous with caramelized onions and cherry tomatoes, roasted tomatoes and cipollini onions, quinoa salad, and chocolate soufflé cupcakes with mint crème for dessert. I knew this was ambitious, seeing as I had never thrown a dinner party all by myself before, but I was up for the challenge.

Mara and I spent the night before cutting vegetables and prepping the rest of the ingredients so that we could have everything ready to go for Friday.

The final recipe selection

Intense food shopping experience

Roasted Vegetables
-bunch of carrots, cut into sticks
-parsnips, cut into sticks
-beets, quartered
-butternut squash, cut into pieces
-acorn squash, cut into wedges

Preheat oven to 400˚ and line baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. On one of them put the beets (It’s best to cook them separately so they don’t stain everything pink). On another put the squash, carrots, and parsnips. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and toss so that everything is thinly coated. Add some freshly ground pepper and salt and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until tender when stuck with a fork. The different vegetables may vary in cooking times so be sure to check frequently. Also reach in and shake everything around every 5-10 minutes.

Mara peeling carrots and parsnips

beets!

Prepped vegetables

peeling and cutting beets and staining my hands in the process

Roasted Tomatoes and Cipollini Onions

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1 pound cipollini onions
1 pound small Roma or large cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
Coarse salt
Few fresh basil leaves, slivered

Preheat oven to 375°F. Boil a small pot of water and blanche the cipollini for 10 seconds, then plunging them into cold water. Use a paring knife to make a small slit in each, and slide them out of their skins and outer layer.

Spread peeled onions and tomatoes in a roasting pan. Drizzle with olive oil and a few good pinches of coarse salt. Toss everything together until well-coated and roast in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, reaching in every 15 minutes with a spatula to roll the tomatoes and onions around to ensure all sides get blistered. Sprinkle the dish with the basil and eat at once.

Mustard Roasted Potatoes

Recipe from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 10 servings

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/2 cup whole grain Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick or 1/2 ounce) butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
3 pounds 1- to 1 1/2-inch-diameter mixed unpeeled red-skinned and white-skinned potatoes, cut into 3/4-inch-wide wedges

Position 1 rack in top third of oven and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425°F. Spray 2 large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray. Whisk mustard, olive oil, butter, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, lemon peel, and salt in large bowl to blend. Add potatoes; sprinkle generously with freshly ground black pepper and toss to coat. Divide potatoes between prepared baking sheets, leaving any excess mustard mixture behind in bowl. Spread potatoes in single layer. Roast potatoes 20 minutes. Reverse baking sheets and roast until potatoes are crusty outside and tender inside, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes longer. Transfer potatoes to serving bowl.

Spice mix

whole grain dijon mustard

coating the potatoes in the mustard mixture

Curried Honey Mustard Chicken

Adapted from All Recipes.com and Nancy Dorfman-Tandlich

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup butter, melted or ¼ cup olive oil
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon-style prepared mustard
1-2 tablespoons curry powder
1 pinch ground cayenne pepper
teaspoon of salt

In a medium bowl combine the oil or melted butter/margarine, honey, mustard curry powder and cayenne powder and salt. Mix well. Place chicken breasts in a 9×13 inch baking dish and pour honey/mustard mixture over chicken. Cover and place in refrigerator. Marinate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Preheat oven to 375˚. Bake for 15 minutes covered and then uncovered until cooked through.

Marinating Chicken

Israeli Couscous with Turmeric, Caramelized Onions, and Tomatoes

(I think this was my favorite dish of the night!)

Adapted from this food blog

8 oz. Israeli Couscous
3 cups chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large yellow onions (Spanish or sweet), halved and sliced
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Bring chicken broth with garlic cloves to a boil. Once boiling, add couscous and cook until al dente (mine cooked for approximately 5 minutes.) The couscous absorbed all of the chicken broth so there was no need to drain.

Meanwhile, caramelize the onions.  Heat the olive oil in a large, wide skillet over medium-high heat, then add the onions and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Saute, tossing occasionally with tongs, for about 15 minutes.  Sprinkle in the brown sugar, balsamic, turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon more salt, and continue cooking, and giving a stir or two, over this assertive heat for 5 more minutes.  Then reduce the heat to low and cook, tossing frequently, for 10 minutes longer, or until very soft, glisteny, and sweet.

Stir in the cooked couscous, top with the tomatoes, and serve warm, or at room temperature.

Chocolate Souffle Cupcakes with Mint Creme

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used bittersweet)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon espresso or instant coffee powder
3 large eggs, separated
6 tablespoons  sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3 ounces heavy whipping cream
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

Make cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 9 standard-size (3-ounce) muffin cups with paper liners. Stir chocolate, butter and espresso powder together in heavy medium saucepan over low heat mostly melted, then remove from the heat and whisk until it is fully melted and smooth. (I like to put the butter underneath the chocolate in the pan, so that it protects the chocolate from the direct heat.) Cool to lukewarm, stirring occasionally.

Using electric mixer (a hand mixer, rather than a stand mixer, actually works best here because the volumes are so small) beat egg yolks and 3 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl until mixture is very thick and pale, about 2 minutes. Briefly beat lukewarm chocolate mixture, then vanilla extract, into yolk mixture. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites in another medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and all of the salt, beating until medium-firm peaks form. Fold whites into chocolate mixture in 3 additions. Divide batter among prepared cups, filling each three-fourths of the way.

Bake cakes until tops are puffed and dry to the touch (some may crack) and a tester inserted into the centers comes out with some moist crumbs attached, about 15 to 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a cooling rack, where the cupcakes will almost immediately start to fall. It will be all the better to put your mint cream on them.

Beat cream and peppermint extract with electric beaters until soft peaks form. Remove cupcakes from pan, arrange on a platter. Fill each sunken top with a healthy dollop of  mint cream. Top with shaved dark chocolate, if you’re feeling fancy. You won’t be able to stop at just one.

DELICIOUS

Okay! So there you have all of the recipes and pictures I took while prepping. Now here are some pictures from the actual dinner:

Jenna and I saying the blessing over the candles

Nathan saying the blessing over the challah

a plate of my hard work

The whole group!

In the end, all of the hard work was well worth it. The food was delicious and my friends had such a good time. It was one of my favorite nights at school so far and a memory I will never forget. Thanks to Birthright Israel Next, to my sister for all her help and to all of my friends for making this Shabbat so special!