‘Pouzi Pizza

12 Jul


My love for watermelon runs deep- MamaKef has been known to stare into a fridge with three full melons and lament that there won’t be enough for the whole weekend once I get home. So ChampagneOnlyKef knew exactly what she was doing when she rolled up to the 4th of July ‘Ganza with an innovative watermelon dessert.

This ‘pouzi pizza (watermelon=karpouzi in Greek) is delicious and full of dairy decadence. I love the combo of sweet ricotta cheese and mint, and the cold watermelon base makes you forget you’re eating a Heart Attack flavored dessert. Many thanks to ChampagneOnlyKef for bringing this guy into the repertoire!

‘Pouzi Pizza

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c ricotta
  • 1/4 c cream cheese
  • 1 TBS honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Watermelon
  • Berries, for garnish
  • Fresh mint, for garnish

Assembly

  1. Slice watermelon longitudinally.
  2. Mix together cheeses, honey, and vanilla until well combined. Spread over watermelon rounds.
  3. Cut covered rounds into “slices.” Garnish with mint and berries. Chill before serving.

Things I Love that Are Fast and Mostly Healthy

6 Jul

With limited time for cooking these days, it would be easy to fall into the fast food crap trap. But, I’m not about that life. Here are some things I have been leaning on that are quick, mostly healthy, and widely available on the go.

Capello’s pasta

What to do when there’s less than two minutes to get lunch ready in the morning? Dump this grain-free pasta in boiling water and wait 90 seconds. Voila! I love this almond-based take on an old complex carb standby–nothing like a protein source that also feels like a treat.

Starbucks protein boxes (sans bread for gf, sans pb for sf)

On Tuesdays, I leave the house at 6, go to yoga, go to work, go to clinical, and then sit at Starbucks for 2 hours while I skype into class. I would need to carry the whole grocery store in my car to cover all those meals–instead, I rely on these little Bento box to get me through class before I can go home and eat something healthy. One egg, a few slices of cheese, some grapes, and half an apple (sliced) is juuuust enough to keep me from killing someone out of hunger. If you’re less “free” than me, you can also enjoy a little peanut butter pita.

Beyond Meat Vietnamese lemongrass “chicken” bowl

Speaking of things I’m generally not that into but have been using to make it through life (#survivalmode), this vegetarian frozen lunch is beyond delish. This probably stretches the outer boundaries of “mostly healthy”– who knows what chemical ish-storm people used to make this fake meat ditty so yummy–but once I am a nurse practitioner and have time on my hands to worry about health again, I will prescribe myself something really good to fix whatever 11th toe grows out of me after a year of eating these once a week. In the meantime, they taste worth it:)

Vietnamese Lemongrass With Beyond Chicken®

Amy’s Palak Paneer

While we’re talking frozen sodium, I try to fool myself into think I’m doing myself a favor by pairing a frozen meal with copious amounts of leafy greens. Among my very favorite lunches are Amy’s Palak Paneer or Amy’s Tamale Verde + a whole bin of spinach. HEAVEN. At least that 11th toe will be filled with iron-rich blood.

Indian Palak Paneer

Lara Bars

These guys are an old favorite– nothing beats ’em! My first love will always be cherry pie, but right now apple pie and I are having a pretty torid romp in the hay.

What are your favorite tricks to get through hectic times?

A Skillet Sensation Throwback: Shakshuka

28 Jun

My life in shambles continues, so much so that I’m just a recipe-recycling fiend. No time for trying new things these days, sadly. Today we’re taking it back to a one-pan phenom of yesteryear: shakshuka. I fell in love with this Mediterranean dish many moons ago, and its made a big resurgence in my weekly rotation now that I am booked for about 27 hours a day.

Per usual, I couldn’t be bothered to take a good picture the first time I posted this,  so I’m going to supplement today’s years-old recipe with highlights from my weekend in the most wonderful place in the world: New York’s Hudson Valley. Scroll to the bottom for the awesome tomato-based recipe with perfectly-poached eggs if that’s what you came for. In case you’re wondering what this dish might look like, here’s Google Image’s top result:

Great, on to the weekend!

JetSet and KimmieKef are doing some tri-ing this year, so they’ve been lean, mean, biking machines. They found this fun ride (NOT a race) and I happily got on board. But first, I had to spend some time at the pool:

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But don’t be too jealous–I was working, I swear!

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Anyway, we set off the next morning ready for a 55-mile bike ride. It’s worth noting that this marks the first appearance of DonQuixoteKef, el ingenioso caballero al mismo.

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The course was beautiful, well marked, and even took JetSet and I on a trip down Memory Lane– the site of the 8th Grade Field Trip!

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Everything was peaches and cream until I hit something with my wheel and got a puncture flat, which I was totally prepared to fix, until I wasn’t.

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Long story short, I thought I was going to have to get towed in my the SAG wagon, but then Ride Assistance saved me, and I was back on the road. The good news about this whole detour is that JetSet FINALLY got to treat this like a race, not a ride. Eventually, we all made it back to the finish line

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And headed straight to NBNY. There, we ate more than our fair share of Greek food. At first, it was civilized:

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…but of course things devolved quickly

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In fairness to him, that saganaki juice WAS really good. Lest you think our antics went unnoticed, we were labeled accordingly on our check:

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A hands-held jump in the pool and the fastest drive to Manhattan ever, and we were back, though some of us took it WAY back with an ill-fitting high school polo short not even fit for a ShopRite trip and, um, no shoes.

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So there you have it, friends. Such a fun weekend with some of my favorite people.

On to the recipe:

Shakshuka

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 jalapeno,  finely chopped
  • 1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1.5 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 15-ounce can FIREROASTED crushed tomatoes, juices and all (this will make or break your sauce– spend the extra 30 cents for fireroasted!)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Assembly

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. On the stovetop, heat oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and add onion, garlic and jalapenos. Saute, stirring often, until tender and fragrant, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add the chickpeas, paprika and cumin and cook for 2 more minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and their juices and bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 15 minutes, until sauce thickens a bit.
  3. Sprinkle feta over the mixture and crack eggs one at a time on top. Transfer the skillet to the preheated oven and bake until whites are just set but yolks are still runny, about 7 minutes. Top with herbs and serve.

Skillet Sensation #2: Lemon Almond Cake

15 Jun

A one-bowl treat cooked in a pan? The New York Times gets crazier and crazier by the day. I’d cook on my hands if Mark Bittman said it would result in a better meal on my table, but he really goes off the deep end in the video associated with this recipe when he resists calling this a tart, and suggests instead that we call this an almond fritatta. I’m not quite ready to go there. The lemon is refreshing, it’s not too sweet but not savory either, and it has a bunch of protein from the eggs and the almonds…so I’ll just go ahead and call it a recovery cake, then. Eat that, Bittman.

I made mine without the powdered sugar, so it didn’t look so hot– here’s the beautiful work of the NYT to show you what yours could look like if you’re as good at life as they are:

Capture

 

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • ½ to ¾sugar (I used 1/2 c of coconut palm sugar)
  • pinch of salt
  • ½ground almonds
  • ½cream
  • ½sliced almonds, more for garnish
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 2 TBS butter
  • powdered sugar, for garnish

Assembly

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine eggs, sugar, salt, ground almonds, cream, sliced almonds, lemon zest and juice.
  2. Melt butter in an 8-inch ovenproof skillet over low heat; when foam has subsided, add almond mixture to pan, tilting pan to distribute batter evenly. Continue to cook tart on stovetop until edges just begin to set, then put pan in oven and finish cooking, about 10 to 15 minutes more.
  3. When tart is done, put it in broiler for about a minute or until just golden on top. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and sliced almonds. Serve.

The First in a Series of Skillet Sensations

8 Jun

Monday night brought another quarter of semi-hellacious NP school to a close, which I am seriously thankful for. Life has left me with a battery life WELL under 20% recently… time to head into the kitchen to recharge. My next few posts will feature some one-dish wonders that you can whip up even if you’ve already mentally checked out.

There’s nothing like some mindless cooking to put some space between me and the whatever’s stressing me out, so for my first trick, I turn to an old favorite: the frittata. These guys are a great tool to have at your disposal- you can put almost anything in them and they’re done in ~30 minutes start to finish. I particularly like to make these on the last day before a grocery shop, just to use up whatever bits of this and that are left in my fridge.

I struggle with the photography portion of this blog even under the best of circumstances, so you can imagine the poor quality of my shots right after a tough final… I’m just gonna need y’all to use your imagination on this one.

And giggle at this, which is what comes up when one googles “funny frittata:”

The internet has no chill.

Sweet Potato, Mushroom, and Leek Frittata

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb sweet potato, cubed

  • 1/2 leek (or onions/scallions/whatever you’ve got)

  • 6 oz mushrooms of your choice

  • 6 eggs, whipped

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 2 TBS ginger

  • 1 TBS coriander
  • 1-2 TBS olive oil
  • cilantro for garnish (optional)

Assembly

1.Preheat oven to 400F. Heat the oil in a small (~8 inch) ovensafe  pan over med-high heat. Throw in the spices, leeks and sweet potato. Cook until sweet potatoes are almost tender (~5 minutes), then add mushrooms. Keep cooking until sweet potatoes are tender and mushrooms are juicy. Remove from heat.

2. Beat eggs in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Pour into pan–it’s okay if everything isn’t 100% submerged (and if you feel like there isn’t enough egg, go right ahead and whip another one up to add). Cook in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until center is set. Garnish with cilantro and enjoy.

22 May

Chrissy grandmaYesterday, this world lost one of the greats: my sassy, vivacious, tough-as-nails Grandma Rita.

Her love of dogs, gambling, and gossip (though she maintained she was merely “sharing information”) are well documented, but my most cherished memories of her will be how much she supported my writing–she read every word I ever published in The Hoya, bought every copy of Newsweek in Sugar Notch the summer I worked there (even when I didn’t have a byline), and always laughed at the jokes no one else found funny on this little blog. Even after I became a nurse and writing was no longer in my career path, there was almost never a phone call that went by without her reminding me, “You are a tremendous writer, you know,” and then, a crescendoing giggle, “And funny as hell.”

She was also the first person outside of the immediate family to meet MrKef, and I’ll always be grateful for how immediately and warmly she embraced him as part of the family. They bonded over paczkis and poodles, and he was an admitted and unabashed favorite of hers.

Here we are on our sort-of-secret first wedding day with her, because I couldn’t imagine getting married without her:

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And while I could go on and on about her, I’ll leave you with this absolutely-typical email she once wrote me, after she saw on the Facebook that I had gone to a shooting range, subject line: Annie Oakley:

chrissy—-so pleased that you have taken up the fine art of target shooting.  I told Jeannie and she was thrilled–she and I in our younger years were on rifle teams we competed every sunday.  Jeannie was a sharpshooter and all the guys wanted her on their team.  she never missed a target…….. she was one lady not to tangle with.  It is a great way to spend a day/////  hope all is well with you….the puppy is teething and driving this ole lady nuts.  To date he has eaten/chewed my new boots , the electric wire on my fan,one of Rose!s throw blankets last night he was very quiet, I was thrilled, after awhile I checked him he had my cell phone, chewed all the leather from the case top and bottom===we checked he did not make any calls.  Have a great day.  Love you                       rita and ryley

Two Books to Blow Your Hair Back

18 May

ng

There is no way to talk about this book that will do it justice– just go read it. It was recommended by pretty much everyone in the book world (NYT Best Seller, Amazon’s 2014 Book of the Year, Darling of Oprah’s Book Club), and none of them were wrong. I loved this book so much I walked to and from the grocery store instead of driving just so I could read it while I walked.

The novel follows a family as they deal with the sudden loss of their teenage daughter, Lydia. They’re a biracial family (a dad who’s Chinese American and a mom who’s white) in nowhere Ohio in the 1970s, and Lydia’s death opens the wounds long-since incised on their relationships. Honestly, there’s no point in saying anymore– the strength of this book is not in its plot but in how carefully Ng guides us through the history of a family via one very specific period. It’s definitely one of the most enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time.

consequence

Last time I wrote about what I was reading, I was about half way through Consequence: A Memoir by Eric Fair. When I told people I was reading it, no one was surprised–my general literary interests are (in this particular order): identity politics, oppression, and stories about those who complicate oppressive identity politics. So the account of how egregious human rights abuses like Abu Ghraib became common place in Iraq and Afghanistan is pretty much a no-brainer on my bookshelf.

But this book should be required reading for everyone, even if oppressive systems ain’t your bag. I wrote last about how much I admire the way Eric Fair does not exclude himself when providing examples of cowardice, corner cutting, and callous disregard for human life and dignity. As I finished the book, I also came to respect his outright refusal to make a work of torture porn–there are no prolonged waterboarding scenes, no full pages of gory details. Instead, there are plain statements of fact that serve as an illustration of how in the hell we got here: forged resumes, faked credentials, and private corporations more than willing to look the other way in order to cash in on their lucrative government contracts. It’s an indictment of the military industrial complex and an endorsement of the military, a call to action and a plea for de-escalation. It asks as many questions as it answers, and complicates what we know with the simple statement of how much the American public does not know.

Next up: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas. It’s DC Greek Easter and then finals so it may be awhile… let me know if you’ve read it, too!

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