No More Meat… for a week

Sometimes school takes a lot out of you. So much so that you get to the end of the week and you realize you have eaten out for lunch and dinner nearly every day. Whoops. Me and the bf are definitely feeling the effects of too much bad food this week. Although we get in a good amount of exercise, we know its time to chill out on the crap its for awhile.

This coming we plan to try something new in our diet to help us stay in check. We are going vegetarian! I don’t think this will actually be too hard for us, especially since the bf always jokes that I’m vegetarian anyways, haha. We aren’t going to be strict about this or too intense, we just want to incorporate more fruits and veggies into our diet and get excited about some new foods.

So, here is what’s on the menu and what you can look forward to on the blog!

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  • Cold Noodles with Peanut Sauce
  • Lightly breaded eggplant parmesan
  • Bean burgers with lettuce, tomato, and onions
  • Salads with homemade dijon mustard dressing
  • Lightened macaroni and cheese

Ok, so macaroni and cheese doesn’t sound to healthy, but paired with a hearty salad and lightened up, it will definitely be better then what we have been eating!

If you have any good vegetarian recipes I would love to hear some ideas as we are new at this!

Garlic Chicken Stew

First of all, this is not garlic chicken stew. This is amazing garlic, cinnamon, chicken heaven. Seriously. We have chicken a lot a lot (it’s the cheapest meat), and I am always bummed to have it but tonight… I felt like I was eating like a queen. Not to mention that your kitchen will smell so christmas-y heaveny that you will fidget and fuss until the chicken is done cooking, place it on a plate and not care that you burn your mouth to smithereens as you shovel it in. Seriously.

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Not only is this recipe delicious, it is so so so so so easy. So easy. And did I mention how very vey delicious it smells? I think I may cook this again once, twice (maybe every night) this week! Ok here we go… (this is adapted from How to Cook Everything)

Ingredients

2 tablespoons oil

Chicken pieces from a whole chicken (I used four thigh pieces”)

salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 heads of garlic (the cloves taken off, not peeled)

3/4 cup dry white wine, water, or chicken stock

Loaf of crusty bread.

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1. Start heating the oil in a pan and place the chicken in skin side down and heat until it becomes loose about 5-10min and Sprinkle with saltandpepper. Then turn and rotate browning all sides for another 5-10min.

2. Remove from the pan and spoon out all of the fat except 2 tablespoons.

3. Add to the pan the cinnamon and garlic and 1/2 cup of the liquid you choose (I used chicken stock) and more saltanpepper. Place the chicken back in, bring to a boil and adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently but steadily.

4. Cover and cook for 30min, then check and add the remaining liquid if the pan is dry. (I adjusted at 20min). Cover and cook for another 25-30min until the garlic and chicken is tender.

5. You can serve this with crusty bread, which would be great, but also with rice which I think would be delicious.

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Enjoy!

1. I know the above picture looks like a mess, but those are little garlicky delicious nuggets that can be put to good use. I ate them with the chicken (make sure you take the skins off), but some might find that to be too much garlic. You can take these and spread them on your crusty bread for a great flavor.

2. Keep an eye on your chicken, you don’t want it to try out. Always make sure there is liquid in the pan.

3. If you are concerned about the fat/grease in this dish, you can take the skins off first, or you can cook it with them on and then take the skins off before you eat them like I did. The skins will give the chicken more flavor and help to keep moisture in so the chicken stays tender.

Cooking Conundrum Friday… Lasagna

I couldn’t think of a cooking conundrum all day. I know I should have tons of how do I do this? What is that? How can I change that? But for some reason nothing was coming up. Then the ultimate cooking conundrum… what should I make for dinner? This is especially hard when you didn’t plan out your week meals and you have meat thawing but nothing that you are really craving.

I looked through my cookbooks and came up short for something to make with ground beef. Wasn’t really feeling hamburgers, didn’t want spaghetti, and I didn’t have ingredients nor the weather for chili or soup. Then, we saw a commercial for lasagna and the ideas started flowing.

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The key to cooking with a bunch of random ingredients is to take a traditional recipe and change it around, and to use what you have on hand. For instance, with ground beef you can make burgers, meatloaf, meatballs, tacos, burritos all with a few simple ingredients… ground beef, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs and spices. Even if you only have ground beef, you can use your spices and bread/tortillas to make all of these. Another tip is if you don’t have one ingredient, say for my lasagna I didn’t have the noodles, you could instead use any other noodles you have on hand and layer it the same way. The best tip is to look at all your ingredients and decide what is a recipe that comes closest to implementing those ingredients, and then make a change.

So now lasagna, luckily I had these ingredients on hand, I mostly just added this all together.

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Ingredients

Lasagna noodles or some other noodles

Cheese any kind

(I used mild cheddar, sharp cheddar, and parmesan cheese)

Spinach

Marinara

Tomatoes

Ground beef

salt and pepper

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Start water and salt to boil in a pot. (the salt will help the pasta flavor come out and will help the water boil). When it begins to boil place the pasta in for 8-10min.

2. While that is boiling start to heat up the ground beef, salt and pepper. If you want you can add whatever other spices you want… basil, oregano, cayenne for heat.

3. When those are done this is the easiest part. You want to layer the ingredients in a pan as follows:

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  • Pasta
  • Sauce
  • Veggies and meat
  • Cheese
  • Repeat, you want to end on cheese

4. Place in the oven for 15-20 or until the cheese on top is melty and browning.

Enjoy!

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Tips and tricks:

1. So for this you could use any vegetables on hand onions, peppers, asparagus, broccoli, try anything. For the cheese if you only have one kind use it, if you only have parmesan load it up! Noodles, you can really use any noodles for this cook them and then layer them the same way or mix it all together.

2. You could also try a white lasagna if you have ricotta cheese. Look for a recipe and try it.

3. Ground beef: you can try this with chicken instead, or you can skip it. Vegetarian lasagna is just as good.

4. You can serve this with a nice healthy salad and some wine!

I hope this was helpful. I know I used to be, and still am sometimes, one of those people who looks in the fridge and sees nothing. Just remember, you don’t need all of the ingredients in a recipe to make it great. Try some new things and leave out some. You never know, your version might be so much better than the original.

If you have any questions, or you want to play a game, you can post the ingredients in your fridge and I will tell you the best recipe I can think of!

Meatball Subs

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In an earlier post about chicken parmesan I “hinted” that I don’t like spaghetti and, I don’t ha. Whenever I tell people this I always get the same response/questions. First surprise “Really!?!?” Then the questions: “Do you like any pasta?” Yes. “Is it the spaghetti or the marinara?” I think its mostly the marinara, but its also the combination, I don’t really like the pasta spaghetti. “So, do you like marinara on anything else like lasagna or breadsticks or pizza?” I do like lasagna, I like breadsticks, but not really with marinara and I LOVE pizza, but hate pizza with too much sauce. I will also eat baked ziti, which is essentially spaghetti with different noodles and lots of cheese.

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So, where am I going with this? Meatball subs. I used to not like meatball subs, of course because of the marinara, until I made my own and could adjust the amount of marinara vs cheese ratio! If you go to a sub place there tends to be more marinara less meat and the bread gets soggy and its just a mess. Me and the boyfriend really wanted meatball subs tonight, so we got all the fixings and made ourselves some delicious subs.

This recipe is adapted from the How to Cook Everything The Basics By Mark Bittman

Ingredients

1 tblspoon olive oil

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (preferably homemade)

1/2 cup milk

2 pounds ground beef

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 onion chopped

half a green bell pepper chopped

salt and pepper

Marinara Sauce

Parmesan or other cheese

French bread loaf sliced into sandwich size pieces

1. Heat oven to 350 and grease a sheet pan with oil. Begin soaking the bread crumbs in the milk for 5 min.

2. Add the meat, egg, parmesan, parsley, garlic, onion, bell pepper, bread crumbs, salt and pepper in a bowl and fold until everything comes together in the bowl.

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3. Shape the mixture into balls about 2-inch in diameter. Place them on the pan.

4. Bake the meatballs for 25-35 min or until they are cooked through.

5. Heat marinara in a pot and add the meatballs.

6. Place the meatballs into the bread and top with parmesan cheese.

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Enjoy!

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Tips and tricks:

1. You can also use this recipe to make meatloaf. Instead of the 3 stage you would turn the meat mixture onto the sheet and gently form it into a round dome log. Bake for 45-60min. Brush occasionally with the pan juices.

2. If you can you should try your hand at making your own marinara sauce!

3. Add these meatballs to spaghetti or any other dish.

4. You can use leftover meatballs for a pasta dish, chopped into a salad (if they don’t have dressing on them), or make another meatball sub tomorrow!

Hope you guys had a good weekend and will have a great Monday! Here is a picture from 4th of July!

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Oysters and Blueberry-Peach Crostata

I spent the fourth out on Cape Cod with family watching the fireworks and drinking ice cold beers. It was great! While I was there I tried my first ever oyster and of course I went to Connie’s bakery and got myself a blueberry peach crostata for the ferry ride home.

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I have always wanted to try oysters, something about the way people eat them always makes them look so delicious and I have always wanted to see what they were all about. The boyfriend, my aunt and I each got one fresh (yes, raw) oyster and got to dress them up the way we liked. My aunt chose a hot sauce, the boyfriend doused his in lemon and tartar sauce(this was his first oyster too), and I chose to go with just lemon. I will say that the oyster was pretty good, it was salty and lemony. The boyfriend also liked it. He said it was very interesting, and I would have to agree. Something I will definitely try again. Funny side note, I saved the shells haha.

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The peach and blueberry crostata was just delightful! I always go in thinking I will try something new, but I just can’t get enough. The pastry is light and just slightly crunchy with a sweet sugary-buttery tastes, and the peaches and blueberries are so fresh with a little sweet/tart taste. Then Connie dusts it with powdered sugar. I want another. Some day I will learn to make my own, but for now the best is just Connie’s.

Happy Friday!

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Stuffed Mushrooms

I promised you mushrooms and I finally made them. This recipe is just in time for a great July 4th appetizer. And, if you are running around July 4th morning wondering what you are going to take to that bar-b-que, THIS is the recipe you should turn to. If you want to learn some more about about mushrooms you can check out this post. Mushrooms have a great texture and earthy flavor, and the filling in this is salty, crunchy and the parsley gives it a bright flavor.

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Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil

1 pound button mushrooms

1 egg

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup chopped parsley

1 tablespoon minced garlic

salt and pepper

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1. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and coat the bottom of a sheet pan with some of the olive oil.

2. Wash the mushrooms under cold water. Remove the stems and put the bottoms aside for now. Be gentle while removing the stems as to not rip the mushroom.

3. Chop the mushrooms and add them to a bowl with the egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, parsley and minced garlic. Stir to combine.

4. Add the salt and pepper and then add the rest of the oil and fluff it.

5. Stuff each of the mushroom bottoms with the mixture and place each one on the sheet pan. Place the sheet pan in the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the stuffing is browned.

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Enjoy!

Tips and tricks:

1. I used less parsley and added some spinach. You can add different ingredients too. You can try bacon, kale, another type of cheese, onion, or anything else you want.

2. You can serve this alongside Summer Brats, or with a hamburger and homemade mayo!

I hope you have a great 4th of July!

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