Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tropical Guacamole

I think that I could eat guacamole all day, every day.  With every trip to the store, I come back with a bag of avocados.  Of course, I tell myself that I will do something creative with the avocado, maybe throw them into a fancy salad or a warm sandwich.  Despite my best intentions the avocados always seem to end up as guacamole.

So with the endless guacamole and corn chips working their way into my diet, I feel that my diet lacks diversity. And then I found this recipe in a magazine, a version of guacamole with fruit in it--perfect for summer picnics and BBQs!  This tropical guacamole is a perfect mix of sweet and sour.  All of the elements work so well together creating a lighter, calorie friendly version of guacamole.  It may even be better than eating regular guacamole--well almost.


1 avocado, chopped into cubes
1 mango, chopped into cubes
1/2 cup of pineapple chunks, chopped into small strips
1/2 medium red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
1 tablespoon of freshly chopped cilantro
1 lime
A pinch of salt

Put all of the ingredients into a bowl and spray with the juice of one lime.  Mix to combine.



Friday, June 24, 2011

No Calorie Friday: Carrot Cake

After the end of a long week and anticipating another long one ahead, I was craving something sweet.  The only problem is that baking doesn't allow for small portions and although I share what I make with my boyfriend it still means that I end up eating half of a high calorie dish.  While I would consider making up for the increased calorie intake with extra exercise- meaning running through Central Park- there is just not enough time in the day to negate the dessert calories.

As a solution to this problem, I remembered a story told by my mom. She was complaining that her coworkers were bringing in too many cookies, cakes, and doughnuts on Fridays. In response to her complaint, her coworker told them not to worry about all the desserts because calories don't count on Fridays.

And so, with this idea in mind, I introduce No Calorie Fridays!  A day for indulging and making whatever desserts my heart desires. I hope that you enjoy these days and find some inspiration in the recipes.

My first dessert is carrot cake.  I recently bought a lot of carrots and so the idea of carrot cake jumped into my head.  I used a recipe from the food network and modified it a little by adding pineapple chunks to the cake.  I wanted to make it sweet while using slightly less sugar and to also make the cake moist.  The result is perfect.  A soft moist cake with just enough cream cheese frosting to balance it.  I want to eat slice after slice.

Unsalted butter for the pan
2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour
6 medium carrots, grated
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
3/4 cups plain yogurt
3/4 cups vegetable oil

Cream Cheese Frosting
12 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups of powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 

2. Butter a springboard cake dish.

3. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a large bowl.

4. Add in the carrots and mix until they are covered in flour.

5. In another bowl mix the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.  Then slowly add in the vegetable oil and mix until combined.
6. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture and stir until just combined.

7. Pour into the cake dish and  bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool.  When it is cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.

9. When the cake is cooled, cut it into two equal parts.

Cream cheese frosting

10. Use an electric mixer to combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla.

11.  Slowly mix in the sugar.

12. Spread the cream cheese in between the two cake pieces and frost the rest of the cake.



Friday, June 17, 2011

Raw Kale Salad

In the aforementioned epic shopping and eating weekend, Alyssa, Nisha, and I took a quick lunch break to gather out energy for the day.  During our lunch, we tried a kale salad and it was really good.  This was the first time that I had tried kale before.

Later, while doing some grocery shopping during the week, I came across kale in the grocery store and decided it was worth a try.  Kale has a very cabbage like taste and texture, only the leaves are not as soft when eaten raw.  At first, I thought that discovering kale might be like when I discovered brussel sprouts and then could not stop eating them because it is nice to find a new, healthy vegetable to add to meals.

I decided to make a kale salad, trying to pull from the only kale salad that I had tried before. I looked up some recipes and found this and this recipe. I adapted them a little bit, depending on the ingredients that I had on hand.

There are several conclusions that I came to after making the salad. First, it took a long time for me to separate the edible leaves from the much harder stems. I am not sure if I was just having a slow day, so it is something that I will have to try again. Second, the kale is really tough at first but softened nicely after being left over night. I would recommend letting it sit for several hours before eating. Third, in the kale salad that I tried the kale was much softer. Possibly the kale was steamed for several minutes before preparing the salad. This is also something that I will have to try next time I buy kale.

Otherwise I am happy with the results of my first raw kale salad. Because the leaves soften with time, it is perfect for eating for a few days after the initial preparation.

Raw Kale Salad
to be adjusted to taste

1 10-oz bag of raw kale
1/4 cup of roasted walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Cut the kale leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Chop the kale leaves.

2. In a large mixing bowl mix the kale leaves, walnuts, onion, oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and cheese. Adjust all the ingredients to taste.

3. Refrigerate for several hours until the leaves softened, then serve.



Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mussels in a Light Tomato Sauce

My inspiration for today's blog post came from a recent trip into New York with my sister and friends (a source of inspiration for Rona as well). We went to a great little tapas restaurant, had [1 too many] pitchers of sangria, watched some fรบtbol and ate amazing food. One of the dishes we ordered was "Mejillones" and I devoured them, sparing none. It's hard to hide evidence of your mussel binge when you have to leave the shells on your plate. It was pretty clear I ate 3/4 of the dish. What can I say, I'm a huge fan. 

So due to my love affair with mussels, I decided to make some of my own for the first time ever, exciting!

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 pounds mussels, cleaned and debearded (for a how-to guide to cleaning mussels, click here)
2 tbsp butter
2 cans tomato sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 tbsp capers
1/2 cup scallions, chopped
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp thyme 
1/2 tsp rosemary 

*all of these measurements should be adjusted to taste


1. Melt butter in a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Add oil to the melted butter and heat. Cook garlic, shallots, and capers in the heated mixture and cook until the shallots are translucent. 

2. Mix in the tomato sauce, red pepper flakes, pepper, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and basil, stirring constantly. Once the sauce is evenly mixed, cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. 

3. Add mussels to the pan and cover tightly. Raise heat to medium-high until all the mussels have opened, approximately 15 minutes. Transfer mussels to a serving bowl and garnish with chopped scallions. Serve with crunchy bread for dipping. 

For my first time making mussels, I'd say it was a huge success. And compared to most other seafood, mussels are relatively cheap at only $4.99 for 2lbs. Not too shabby. 

Sidenote: This will be my last blog post for about 2 months; in the mean time, Rona will be holding down the fort with her culinary masterpieces. I am going to spend the next 8 weeks in Middlebury College intensively studying Russian, which is exciting but here's the big wah wah: I will have no kitchen! Back to dining hall living for me. But I have no doubt in my mind Rona will do a wonderful job bringing creative recipes and mouth watering pictures your way!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Chicken stuffed with couscous

I am not sure if other people relate to me but I find many chicken recipes boring.  I know it is a leaner meat and healthy to eat but I tend not to cook with it that often. Maybe one day I will master my favorite Thai and Indian dishes (like chicken tikka good, I want some just thinking about it) but until then chicken is not always my first choice.

I also find it tricky to cook.  When frying or baking chicken the meat tends to dry out and just doesn't stay juicy enough for me. When we were younger, Alyssa and I would often heat up individual portions of stuffed chicken from the freezer: either chicken kiev or chicken cordon bleu. So as I was thinking about some new and exciting way to cook chicken, I decided to try to make stuffed chicken with couscous. I found a recipe online that called for baking the chicken. To prevent the chicken from drying out during this step, I decided to add some liquid to the baking dish. I added some wine that I had already opened, lemon juice, and olive oil, not measuring just by feel. Also, I think that covering the tray with aluminum foil would help to keep the meat soft.

Stuffed Chicken
makes 2 portions

1 cup couscous
1 3/4 cups of vegetable broth
1 small white onion, chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup of frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese
Fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Heat the oil in a small pot and add the couscous. Brown the couscous for about 3 minutes.

2. Add the vegetable broth and cover the pot. Cook over low heat until the couscous is fluffy, for about 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, in a frying pan, heat olive oil and add onion, garlic, and corn. Cook for about 5 minutes until the onion gets soft.

4. When everything is cooked, combine the couscous with vegetables, feta cheese, and parsley.

5. Separate 1/2 cup of couscous for stuffing the chicken, reserve the rest for serving on the side.

2 chicken breasts
Salt, Pepper, and Paprika to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
White wine

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

2. Cut a slit in the chicken length-wise without puncturing the other side.

3. Stuff the chicken with about 1/4 cup of couscous mixture.

4. In a frying pan, heat the olive oil. Brown the chicken on both sides.

5. Sprinkle each side with salt, pepper, and paprika.

6. Move the chicken to a baking pan and add some wine, lemon juice, and olive oil to the pan.

7. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until fully cooked.

Serve with couscous.



Thursday, June 9, 2011

Black Bean Avocado Salad

Now that summer is in full swing, as in 100° full swing, I've already had time to enjoy some of my favorite summer time activities: beach days, barbecues, and warm summer nights. During Memorial Day weekend, Rona came home from NYC for a family barbecue, in which my dad grilled what looked like an entire butcher shop. He likes his meat. So to balance out the excess of beef and chicken on our table, Rona and I decided to make this delicious salad for a perfect summer taste and as a healthy side dish. It was quick and easy to prepare and is a great compliment to a hearty meal. 

Ingredients (serves 6-8)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
mangoes, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 avocado, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/2 cups shredded lettuce
About half of a small yellow onion, diced
3 large tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons lime juice, or to taste
Salt & pepper to taste 


1) In a large mixing bowl, combine black beans, lettuce, onion, and tomato. Toss by hand. Next add the avocado and mango and toss gently (these things get soggy so do this by hand.) 

2) Add the lime juice, salt and pepper and toss gently once again.

3) When the ingredients are evenly mixed, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. 

Next on the agenda...a recipe from my new Mediterranean cook book. I'm thinking paella!


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lentil Chili

After an epic weekend, running around New York City, with my sister and fellow bloggers Nisha and Vida, I was in a bit of a food coma. While the weekend was originally planned to be spent shopping, it turned into a weekend all about food. The places we visited gave me some new ideas for dishes to try in the near future. Still, after the weekend, I definitely wanted to stay in and cook something for myself that was a little bit lighter. And lentil chili is what I decided on.

Lentil Chili
adapted from Whole Foods

5 cups of vegetable broth
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, chopped (optional if you want to make the chili more spicy)
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 package of chili powder
1 1/2 cups of brown lentil
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 6-oz can tomato paste
1 teaspoon salt
Chopped cilantro

1. In a large pot, heat olive oil on low heat and add the onion, pepper, and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion becomes soft.

2. Add the vegetable broth, lentil, tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook for 35-40 minutes, until most of the water evaporates and the lentils become soft.

3. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.