Mom’s Greek Salad

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This past month has been one of the most tumultuous months of my life, from a terrifyingly close call at the Boston Marathon to my graduation from *gasp* college. The vast number of uncertainties and changes in my life is daunting. One thing that will always be a constant in my life is this Greek Salad with Hardboiled Eggs and Homemade Croutons.

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Greek Salad with Hardboiled Eggs and Homemade Croutons

Salad

4 cups romaine or butter lettuce

1 bunch scallions, chopped

4 cherry tomatoes, chopped

3 button mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

3 hardboiled eggs, sliced

Black pepper, to taste

Dressing

2 tbs fresh lemon juice

1.5 tbs neutral oil

Croutons

Stale bread, such as ciabatta or French baguette

Olive oil

Sea salt

Garlic powder

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice and cut bread into cubes. Place in a large Ziploc bag and drizzle olive oil over the bread. Close bag and shake croutons. Place bread onto a baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and garlic powder. Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

For Salad, place vegetables in large salad bowl. Spoon feta on top, and then add hardboiled eggs and croutons. Grind black pepper on top. 

In a small dish or salad dressing container, mix lemon juice and oil. Pour over salad.

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Banana Cream Pudding Cookies

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 Unexpected flavors, with the crunch of Nilla wafers, and the added sweetness of white chocolate pieces, these Banana Cream Pudding Cookies took me by surprise– in the best way possible.

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With the help of pudding mix, the cookies stay moist in the center, while still being sturdy. You could try using any type of chocolate chip in these cookies, and if Nilla wafers are not your thing, they can easily be omitted.

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Banana Cream Pudding Cookies

Adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Makes 3 dozen cookies

1 cup butter, unsalted

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1 pkg. banana cream instant pudding (3.4 oz)

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped wafers

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In large bowl, beat butter and sugar together until fluffy. Stir in pudding, eggs, and vanilla.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add this dry mix to the wet mix. Stir until incorporated. Fold in chopped wafers and chocolate chips. 

Drop by the tablespoonful onto sheets. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. Let cool on sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cooling rack.

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Hearty Vegetarian Chili

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Winter is depressing; this chili is not.

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A warm bowl of Hearty Vegetarian Chili is the perfect solution for a winter meal. Besides the chopping of vegetables, this chili comes together in no time. The recipe makes several servings, but let it be known that the leftovers are just as good as the freshly made still-in-the-pot chili. If you can’t find fire roasted diced tomatoes, regular canned diced tomatoes are a fine substitute. If jalapeños aren’t your thing, choose another pepper with less heat (or more!). For a complete meal, top with cilantro and sour cream, or shredded cheese.

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Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Adapted from Betty Crocker

1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped

2 15oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed

2 14.5oz cans fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

1 1/2 cups water

1 tbs chili powder [I used Hot Mexican chili powder]

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup frozen corn

In a stock pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook 5-7 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.

Mix in black beans, tomatoes, water, chili powder, cumin and salt; heat until boiling. Reduce heat and cover. Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in corn and heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 more minutes. 

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Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies with Sea Salt

There is a photo of me at age six, sitting at the kitchen table with my fingers and face covered in chocolate brownie batter. I am also wearing blue fuzzy earmuffs, simply because I liked them. Or maybe I was wearing them so I wouldn’t be able to hear my father telling me to stop eating raw batter. Of course, this raw batter was created from a boxed mix, full of sugars and magical ingredients. After adding a tube of Hershey liquid chocolate and some eggs, brownies appeared.

These Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies with Sea Salt are not from a box. But, for some reason, the Nutella flavor is subtle enough that these treats could be discerned as from-the-box. The crackly crust, with a gooey interior is what makes these brownies so addictive. This is lick-the-bowl worthy batter, with a finished product guaranteed to please.

Chocolate Hazelnut Brownies with Sea Salt

Adapted from Mother Thyme

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup Nutella

Sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix flour and salt. Separately, mix butter with sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Stir in Nutella until well mixed. Stir in flour and salt mixture. Pour batter into a greased 8″x8″ pan. Sprinkle sea salt on top of batter. Bake for 33-36 minutes. Cool pan before cutting into squares.

Small Yield Blueberry Muffins

The end of the summertime means goodbyes to friends, house-rattling thunderstorms, packing boxes, and the best local produce of the year. An impromptu brunch for two people called for a quick, small batch of muffins. Blueberry muffins, that is. 

These muffins are dense, and can be lightened by substituting cake flour for some of the all-purpose flour. While the yield ended up bigger than I expected with one dozen muffins, each and every muffin was devoured by the end of the day.

Small Yield Blueberry Muffins

Adapted from: Chef Mommy

1 1/2 cup AP Flour

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup canola oil

1 egg

1/3 cup + 2 tbsp. milk

1 cup blueberries, washed and dried

For streusel topping:

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup AP flour

1/4 cup butter, cubed

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. In separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Add wet mix to flour mix. Fold in blueberries. 

In small dish, mash together sugar, flour, butter and cinnamon. Sprinkle on muffins.

Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Blueberry Corn Salad

Before I knew much about food, I figured the category “Fruits and Vegetables” should be two categories, “Fruit” and “Vegetables.” But after tasting salads such as arugula and watermelon or even mango salsa, I have realized that fruits and vegetables complement each other. Maybe you are saying “Duh” or maybe you have not ventured into this world of fruit/vegetable hybridity, but nonetheless I can’t wait to continue experimenting. A good rule of thumb is that if the fruit or vegetable grows at the same time of the year, the produce will likely go well together. Think: tomatoes and cucumbers (drizzle with olive oil and vinegar). Simple, but delicious, flavors.

In the case of this Blueberry Corn Salad, evidently blueberries and corn are showcased. The spice of the jalapenos, which stung my hands for twenty-four hours, and the sweetness of corn, plus the tang of blueberries is fantastic. I used a white onion, despite the recipe calling for a red onion. Other than that, I followed this recipe.

Corn Chowder

If you have ever tried to photograph soup, you will know that it is hard to make it look appealing. It usually looks like a bowl of mush, or a bowl of a solid color. No glamour, that’s for sure.

But just because a food may not look great in a photograph doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. 

Here’s a recipe for Corn Chowder, which doesn’t involve cream but instead skim milk. I froze it, stupidly, and the leftovers were not good. So if you try this soup out, plan on either eating it in one sitting, or refrigerating for a few days.

Corn Chowder

2 tbs butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

1 red pepper, seeds removed, diced

3 tbs minced poblano pepper

2 Yukon Gold potatoes

2 cups vegetable broth

2 cups frozen or canned sweet corn

1/3 C All-Purpose flour

3 1/2 C skim milk

1/2 tsp dried thyme

salt and pepper

In a large pot, heat butter at medium heat. Add onion and garlic, cook for 2-3 minutes. Add celery, carrot, peppers, and potatoes. Add vegetable broth and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk flour and milk. Pour into soup pot and stir. Add corn, thyme, salt and pepper. Let soup simmer for 20-30 minutes on stove.

Healthy Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish

I am many miles away from this place…

Going to school in upstate New York means that the fish supply is questionable. I’m not keen on the “fresh” fish that is sold in the supermarket, and there aren’t any boutique fish markets around. True, I could go ice fishing as many residents do, but the cost-benefit of laboring over my protein is not worth it. Obviously fresh, local fish is the best kind both in terms of taste and sustainability, but there are times when this is just not possible to purchase. Cue frozen fish.

Before arriving at school, I stocked up on frozen foods which included halibut steaks and haddock fillets from Whole Foods. Frozen fillets are certainly better than Gordon’s Fish Sticks (although admittedly those are pretty tasty, bringing back many childhood memories).

This recipe, Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish is one that will become a staple in my recipe repertoire. Served with a generous salad and a side of couscous, this meal comes together in no time.

Garlic Breadcrumb Baked Fish

4 white fish fillets or steaks (adjust cooking times for thickness)

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used Italian style)

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In an oiled baking pan, place fish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, mix bread crumbs, garlic, oil, cheese and thyme until a thick paste forms. Pat mixture on fish. Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until fish easily flakes.

 

Green Things, Roasted

The best thing about being back at school, other than my brilliant Creative Writing Workshop, is that I finally have an oven. I am (most certainly) making my way in life: first going from an oven-less kitchen with a less-than-desirable electric stove top, then to an kitchen with an oven and a more desirable electric stove top. Next stop: commercial-grade eight burner gas stove. I kid, but I do dream.

During one of my sweeps of the internet for recipes and food photos, I decided to google: recipes for one person. I was surprised to find that there are very few sites with somewhat appealing recipes for one person. Of course, there is the recipe for a dozen cookies that could easily be mistaken for one serving.

Disappointed and with few ingredients available, I opted for a green, filling, and perfectly-sized meal: couscous and roasted broccoli. Why had I never thought to roast broccoli before? It is by far one of the best ways I have ever eaten broccoli.

Roasted Broccoli

2 florets of broccoli

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp olive olive

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss broccoli with garlic, salt, pepper and olive oil. Place broccoli on baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the broccoli starts to brown and is tender when pierced. Drizzle with lemon juice and serve.