Thursday, April 30, 2009


You may have noticed me using copious amounts of mint in all my cooking lately. That is because I bought a HUGE package for the broccoli stem relish a few days ago, and have been experimenting with fun and exciting ways to use it up before it goes bad. This is so not a difficult challenge for me. I love mint!

We begin with mint-marinated-mahi-mahi (m-m-m-m).


I marinated the fish (as usual, about 4 oz- I buy the 1 pound frozen pack at Trader Joe’s and parcel it out into 4 servings and then just thaw them one at a time) in oil, lemon juice, mint, orange zest, minced garlic, and a little bit of jalapeno for half an hour or so, then sprinkled with salt and pepper and broiled on one side, flipped, put on more salt and pepper and the rest of the marinade, and broiled on the other side, for about 8 minutes total.

At the same time, I broiled some MARVELOUS mushrooms!

At home we have a tapas cookbook that has a super fabulous mushroom recipe where you just take mushrooms, brush them with olive oil and broil them, and top them with a mixture of parsley, garlic, and olive oil. I have no olive oil brush, and I subbed mint for the parsley, but I just broiled them along with the fish and then when I took out the pan to flip the fish I also dabbed the herb mixture on top. It worked BEAUTIFULLY!


Mushrooms get SO MEATY AND SEXY when you broil them. They release this liquid that’s like the elixir of the gods.


Finally, plain old brown rice on the side, made slightly more exciting by the fact that I cooked it in veggie broth.

And my final mint use, another delicious glass of mint lemonade. Just as delicious and refreshing as yesterday!


sandwich heaven

Real rough commute today, hahaha.


I woke up early enough that I had time to walk to work, and I thought, why not? It’s a gorgeous day, and I get to exercise and save T fare!

This picture is from Commonwealth Avenue approaching the Boston Common, where the gazillionaires live.


And this is the common itself. Yes it’s where the tourists go, but it is genuinely beautiful.

Now, my lunch was the most exciting sandwich experience I’ve had in… I can’t even remember how long.

For the past four months, I have worked around the corner from world famous Flour Bakery. And today was the first time I ever went there. Yes, I know, that is ludicrous. But WOW was it worth the wait!

My friend Becky and I could not make up our minds which sandwiches we wanted, so we decided to get two and split them. After sipping our drinks (homemade raspberry seltzer for her, iced lemon ginger tea for me) and waiting on our sandwiches (cause WOW Flour is packed!), and sitting on a bench in the sun (thus the denim in the pictures) we got ourselves…


They say: roast chicken, avocado and jicama

I say: Since when was chicken this exciting?! Oh em GEE! The chicken had this kicky spice rub, and the avocado was this rich, luscious puree, and the JICAMA! I am a HUGE FAN of jicama (Becky had never had it before, so I was thrilled to teach her about it!) and this was an exceptional use of it- they had marinated it or something in something sweet, so it picked up this awesome flavor and was a GREAT foil to all the flavors in the sandwich. Their bread is also FANTASTIC. This sandwich was straight up (the other was toasted) and I really appreciated the chewy, pleasant crumb.



They say: applewood-smoked bacon, lettuce, and tomato

I say: The buildup to this sandwich was HUGE. Every time I mentioned Flour at work, people would say a single word (er… phrase?) in a reverential tone: “B.L.T.”

The  sandwich went beyond my WILDEST expectations. I never really thought I was a BLT person, but just…

Imagine the best bacon you’ve ever had. Thick. Crunchy. Meaty. Everything wonderful about bacon, taken to the furthest degree.

Then the tomatoes. Firm. Sweet. I think they must’ve been grilled or roasted, because they were so flavorful!

The lettuce. Arugula was in the mix, I don’t know if there were other greens as well. Peppery. Fresh.

More of the heavenly bread, grilled so it was crispy.

And, finally… mayo! Apparently, I don’t hate mayo! It didn’t occur for me to order the sandwich without mayo and if I had… it wouldn’t have been as good! I scraped off the HUGE hunks but there was definitely still some coating the bread and fillings and… it was WONDERFUL! It was silky and smooth in texture, rich and savory and just a little tangy in flavor…

This was basically one of the best sandwiches I have ever eaten in my entire life. Honestly, I never ever want to get a BLT from anywhere else ever again. Why bother?

After having a last fun chat with Becky (I worked in the cubicle next to her, so we got pretty tight by the end), and a chance to digest a BIT (although I ate that sandwich more than 5 hours ago and am JUST starting to feel the first, FAINT twinges of hunger) I wanted to treat for dessert because she treated for lunch.

So we split a chocolate and hazelnut cookie.


Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm! Chocolate and hazelnut need to just get married and live happily every after and never be apart.

I ate this taking a last look at my office neighborhood. Aw.



In the dining hall, my friend had what she called a “default dinner”: when there was nothing appealing being served on the night’s menu (which was often), she’d have a hot dog and fries. Hahaha, and she weighed about 90 pounds. Oh, metabolisms.

Anyway, this is what I would call my “default” breakfast. It’s tasty, nutritionally balanced, and low on guesswork. I had it almost every day the week I didn’t have my camera cord.


Cup of tea. Multigrain Cheerios with milk. A banana, half in the cereal, the other half quartered and smeared with a bit of peanut butter (when I took the pic, I was waiting for the peanut butter to soften to smearable, because I keep it in the fridge!)

Now I am off to my last day of work, and, I think, an exciting lunch!

Finally, a giveaway!

Life Love violin

is giving away exciting peanut butter and bars!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

in awe

So I got an AMAZING job perk tonight in the form of free orchestra level seat tickets to the Alvin Ailey dance company!

Wow. Just… wow. The human body is absolutely dazzling. And the music! The first part of the program was all Otis Redding, and then there was a really intense piece about apartheid, and the end was a performance of Alvin Ailey’s most famous piece, Revelations, which is rooted in the music sung by slaves and… just… WOW. Wow.

Anyway, I was very well fueled for the performance! Hahahahaha.

The return of faux-lafel! This was just as filling and satisfying as last time. Lentils do something magic for satiety for me.


I cooked up about 1/4 cup lentils in 3/4 or so cup of water for 45 minutes, then mashed them with cumin, garlic powder, a wee drizzle of olive oil, and for thickening the closest thing I had to breadcrumbs… crushed saltines! It actually worked pretty well! Served on a TJ’s apocryphal pita.

Topped with tzaziki- 2 T. plain yogurt, diced cucumber, salted and squeezed with a paper towel, chopped mint, lemon juice, lotsa pepper.

And with sweet potato “fries”! Baked at 400 on one side for 13 min, then they were taking too long and I had to leave for the performance, so I cranked the heat to 450 and did them for another 13 on the other side. Then I wrapped them in a foil packet while I broiled the fauxlafel (4 minutes on each side!) and they were perfectly done- soft, more like boardwalk fries, but delish!


To drink, YUMMY LEMONADE! 1/3 a cup or so lemon juice, 3 sugar packets, lotsa mint, lotsa cold water. Adjust seasonings to your taste. YUM!

two parter

Lunch was in two (tasty!) parts.

I was hungry after my anthro presentation (schoolwork makes you hungry, I don’t care if it’s not aerobic exercise PER SE), so I hit up the Jamba Juice in the student union and got a mango mantra.


It’s one of the “all fruit” kinds with mango, strawberries, orange pineapple juice… think that’s it? It was quite tasty. I drank it on BU beach (this blog gives such an inaccurate portrayal of BU. We are an URBAN CAMPUS! Most of BU is UGLY CONCRETE). I just hunt for patches of green.

Lunch part two I’ve been planning for awhile. Taco salad!


Tofu marinaded in avocado caesar; chips made of pita baked at 400 with just cooking spray, sprinkled with chili powder; the last of the Mexican blend cheese (about 2 tbsp), black beans, diced tomato, and leftover roasted green peppers.



I was pleased with how it looked arranged all nicely, but tossed all together it looks really yummy too!

For my work snack, I had lowfat cottage cheese topped with a little bit of TJ’s cran apple butter (SUCH a tasty combination!)

In general, I get my dairy fat free, because I just prefer the taste of skim milk, nonfat yogurt, etc. The exceptions are good cheese (like, anything that’s not Kraft shredded, hahaha), and cottage cheese. I think nonfat cottage cheese tastes like acid. Ick.


farewell oatmeal

Today’s breakfast was noteworthy only because it is the LAST OF MY OATMEAL!


This carton has lasted me months and months, after a ridiculously low initial investment. Oatmeal is so amazing for the college student, or just your general penny pincher.

My friends and I had a pretty epic conversation about it over spring break- all the money you save with oatmeal, all the things you can have with oatmeal (my guy friend does something involving Swiss cheese… weird, but actually I’m willing to believe it’s tasty). And it’s so nutritious!

But I am moving home in less than two weeks, and it is not wise to buy a new carton of oatmeal. Even I cannot eat that much in a week and a half, hahaha. I’m actually also running low on cereal, but again, it’d be unwise to get a new box. Basically, my breakfasts are gonna start getting weird.

Here is today’s:


With three dried apricots, half milk half water, cinnamon, and slivered almonds.

Fare thee well, oatmeal.

Oh well. Soon I’ll be home and have STOVETOP OATS!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

tres bien

My picnic was pretty awesome. Lying by the river, feeling the nice breeze and listening to the waves and watching the sailboats and soaking up the sun. Ahhh. I’m probably even more sunburnt now, despite the sunblock, but I figure I’m getting Vitamin D along with, in all likelihood, future melanoma.

I took some pics from the esplanade, if anyone wants to see Boston in the springtime. It really is the most lovely time of year here. It lasts for about three days. Miserable and cold from September to late April, three days of Spring, and muggy til the next September. Repeat!

Also, here’s the food related one: my afternoon snacksie, posing by the water


A large iced skim sugar free hazelnut latte. I have to say it was meh (the barista was new, and it was just really bitter) which is too bad, because it was my free one! I had my tenth stamp at Espresso Royale! That being said, Espresso Royale still makes really really good coffee.

Onto dinner!

I was wanting to be in Paris (well obviously, I am always wanting to be in Paris because it is one of the greatest places on Earth, but I was especially wanting to be this evening). When I think French food, I think crusty bread and dark leafy greens. The greens I had, and I made them in a mustard vinaigrette, a la the Parisian cafe (just olive oil, dijon mustard, and lemon juice). The crusty bread I bought at the student union (the checkout lady looked horrified that that was all I was buying- I assured her it was just to supplement my dinner).

Now for protein. I have eggs. My brain went eggs+french= OOH QUICHE! But making quiche for one is just a stupid, ridiculous undertaking. So I thought, “how bout baked eggs? I bet it’d work in my muffin tin! A little internet perusal led to this, which I used for the technique, and a (delicious!) recipe was born.

Baked Mini-Quiches with Tomato and Caramelized Onions

2 eggs

a bit of butter

thinly sliced onion (1/6 of an onion or so?)

a few tomato slices

a splash of milk

a bit of cheese (I used like 1/2 tbsp of shredded cheese- only because I’m running low. More cheese would probably mean more flavor. I didn’t taste it much in this application)

salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roast your tomatoes.


In the meantime, melt your bit of butter on medium low heat, and caramelize your onions. This took me about 10 minutes. If I were less impatient, I would’ve done even lower heat and cooked them even longer, but I was actually REALLY hungry for dinner, so I was impatient.


Also, beat up your eggs with the cheese, salt, and pepper.

Once the tomatoes and onions are to your liking, layer them in greased muffin cups (put water in the muffin cups you aren’t using so they don’t scorch).

First the tomatoes


Then the onions


Last the egg mixture.


Bake at 400 for about 12 minutes, or until golden to your liking.

Here is my finished product:


These were absolutely WONDERFUL! Caramelized onions are MAGIC! They are so sweet and delicious! The tomato also got very sweet when roasted, and the eggs and cheese gave the dish a nice richness. It was very very light and summery, perfect for a day where the heat exceeded 90 degrees (!), but left me feeling full and satisfied.

They’re also kind of genius for when you don’t have any food in the house, because I personally almost always have eggs and onions. Plus, more or less any vegetable goes with eggs- this would’ve been super tasty with spinach, mushrooms, peppers… kind of the sky is the limit. Plus, of course, bacon or ham or any of the traditional quiche meats.


Accompanied by the aforementioned green salad and crusty bread.


The zing of the mustard and lemon in the dressing and the slight bitterness of the greens complemented the sweet, rich eggs quite nicely. And the chewy bread pulled everything together nicely, flavor-wise and nutritionally!

My only complaint about this dish was that it was a ROYAL PAIN to clean the muffin tins, and they were NONSTICK and OILED WITH COOKING SPRAY! I guess next time I’ll just slather them in butter :D


Aw, I miss Yogi Bear.


Breakfast was PB and banana oats. Kind of an odd choice for such a warm day, but delish!

For lunch, I roasted up some mango chicken sausage, mushrooms, and green peppers (half those peppers are going to be taco salad later!)


And made a transit ready pita sammich, with just a bit of mustard DSCF0746

An orange on the side, and voila, a picnic! I am off to the Esplanade, the most beeyootiful part of Boston this time of year. I bought SUNBLOCK, since I got good and roasted over the weekend, yikes!

For a beverage, a homemade mint Arnold Palmer!


I steeped some sugar, a black tea bag and mint stems in some hot water, then cooled it off. Mixed with a whoooole buncha lemon juice, more mint leaves, and ice. Arnold Palmer!

Monday, April 27, 2009

so much color, so much flavor

My dinner was so good. I love this episode of Coupling (any britcom fans out there?) where Susan is in another room and going “OH YEAH, YEAH!” and Steve looks alarmed/excited and she goes “I am SUCH a great cook!”

That is me, basically. Good food makes me excitable.

Let’s rewind to earlier today.

today breakfast

Breakfast was the other half of a fruit cup I got last night (honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple and grapes) supplemented with half a banana, oats with 1/2 milk 1/2 water, cinnamon, and some slivered almonds, and mango black tea. Mmm!

Lunch was cool and refreshing, because we have had CRAZY GORGEOUS WEATHER here in Boston!

today lunch

Pasta salad made with penne, a packet of tuna, chopped up carrots, cucs, green peppers, and red onion, and a simple dressing of dijon mustard, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and pepper.

Then I went to the gym but just didn’t feel like working out in there (when the weather’s this nice, I tend to feel like a hamster on a wheel when I work out at the gym) so I went for a really nice walk around town and according to ended up inadvertently walking like 4 and a half miles, hahaha. Distance becomes very relative when you don’t have a car and live in Boston.

I ended up stopping in at my fave bakery (funny how every time I go for a walk I always end up buying food). I got some treats for tomorrow night, when I’m having some people over to celebrate our horrible seminar being over, hahaha!

Then I came home and had the dizzying thrill of the package with my camera cord arriving. Along with it, from my mom:


A card and Hershey’s kisses. So cute!

For a snacksie, I had some trail mix, and a rather clever invention, in my humble opinion. I really like iced chai lattes, and the weather was ideal, and I wanted to make it at home because I wanted to use up my milk. SO I took the staple off the teabag and tied the string of it to the handle of my glass measuring cup, then poured in a cup of milk and just a drizzle of honey (I tend to find chai lattes too sweet, plus the teabag I used, which was YUMMY, was already vanilla flavored chai, Bigelow brand I believe). Then I nuked it for like 5 minutes total on half power to steep the tea into the milk, then poured it over ice. Worked pretty well! Here is my apparatus:


And then dinner.

First, I made broccoli stem relish, courtesy of the wonderful Jacques Pepin. If you get a chance, pick up Fast Food My Way. It is one of my absolute FAVORITE cookbooks. Everything in it is so simple, based just on fresh ingredients simply prepared. That is always the best cooking. Take a simple ingredient, honor the integrity of its flavors with some seasoning, and bam. Great food.

I especially love this recipe because it takes the stems from broccoli, which usually just get thrown away, and honors their assets (crunch! woodsiness!) and makes something delicious out of it! And actually I’ve raved about this recipe to several foodie acquaintances before and had them tell me that the stems are their favorite part of broccoli. There’s definitely a lot of flavor there. So, the broc:


You pare any nasty bits off the stems, kind of julienne them, and then toss them with salt and let them sit for 30 min to an hour, and then drain them (I just wiped them off with a paper towel, because I was using a smaller volume than the recipe called for and it didn’t strain that well). Then you add chopped garlic, chopped jalapeno, fresh mint, sugar sesame oil, vinegar (you’re supposed to use balsamic, but all I had was red wine), chili oil (all I had was chili paste) and I could’ve sworn the original recipe called for soy sauce but apparently it didn’t! But I had already added it when I went to consult.

This is SO vibrant and flavorful and fresh and crunchy! The mint definitely makes the recipe, although I now have a TON of mint and need to come up with some creative uses for it.

Along with the relish, I had some Trader Joe’s mango chicken sausage (love that stuff!). I tried to peel off the “natural sheep casing”, cause ew. I probably didn’t get all of it but I tried. Then I just sliced it and baked it at 400.


I also made miso glazed sweet potatoes!


Oh. Em. Gee. These were ROCKIN! Like the author of the recipe, I loooooooooooooooooooooooove the sweet potatoes at Teaism, this restaurant in D.C. I was totally craving them, plus I need to get on using up my sweet potatoes, because I’m moving home in less than two weeks! This was so fortuitous.

The flavor was lusciously sweet, tangy, salty, and just a little creamy. And the texture of the sweet potatoes was PERFECT! I am such a bad chopper that my vegetable chunks always end up different sizes, but I added them to the boiling water in phases and it worked.


Just look at that luscious combination of colors! And this is really well balanced, nutritionally!

And the FLAVORS! The sausage was sweet and smoky, the relish was spicy and tangy, and the sweet potatoes were far too complex to even sum up!

back from the dead!

Well not really, but having no camera cord is NO JOKE!

This is going to be an epic post!

Where to start, where to start… let’s keep the “back from the dead” theme and start with Easter!

When you are Greek, Easter is IT.

pascha table

This is actually only part of the table. All the lamb is further down on the left. And it totally excludes the MULTITUDE of desserts!

pascha eggs

I love the blood red eggs. Every year you have a contest by smashing each others’ eggs into one another, and seeing which one breaks. Whoever has the last, triumphant egg supposedly gets good luck for a year. My uncle has it down to an ART. His egg selection is a long, complicated process.

pascha plate

This is my plate, but is NO MEANS a reflection of everything I ate on Easter. I have to say it was absolutely wonderful to just relax and eat delicious homemade food and just remember what hospitality and holidays are all about: being with the people you love, enjoying their company, enjoying the food and the abundance and the happiness around you.

This particular selection is spanikopita (my aunt Kathy’s is the BEST!), beet greens, orzo, roasted potatoes, lamb that I made! (it was a new recipe: you rubbed the lamb with salt, pepper, olive oil and ghee mixture, garlic, grated onion, harissa- which is Middle Eastern chili paste, cumin, paprika, and tons of parsley and cilantro. Then you roast it, and for the last part of the roasting time you pour a broth you make by steeping saffron and hot water into the pan to kind of infuse the lamb. It was the BOMB DIGGITY!), Greek salad, and little appetizers- pita bread with taramasalata (fish roe whipped up with lotsa lemon juice and goodness- it’s FAB!) and baba ghanouj that my cousin made basically just throwing everything in her kitchen in, which was awesome, and hummus. Oooh and BEETS! Like most families, my family is divided between beet haters and lovers (I am a reformed hater turned lover) and man oh man those beets were great.

Again, that plate is maybe, MAYBE 1/3 of what I actually ate. It was wonderful :D

And then there was dessert :D Koulouraikia, the traditional Eastern cookie- its claim to fame is its shape, which is rolled up. My uncle’s in laws brought key lime pie and strawberry pie which were untraditional but THE BEST KEY LIME AND STRAWBERRY PIES I HAVE EVER TASTED. I actually had no official serving of the baklava I made but ate so many “crumbs” from the pan that I probably had the equivalent of five pieces :D

Now onto this week. The week following Easter in the Orthodox tradition is known as Bright Week. The end of fasting! Yay! I lovingly call it “carnivore week”.

steak tips

Sirloin tips… are AWESOME! They are so user friendly! I always make my steak either charred or raw, but these broiled beautifully, and with the marinade ended up so tender and lovely!

I used this recipe and followed it to the T (except that I halved it to make 2 4-oz servings). I highly recommend the marinade.

The first, hot and served with roasted turnips and asparagus. YUM! Look how perfect and medium rare that is! I am in shock that I pulled that off!

steak tips n veg

The second, cold, on top a salad of mixed greens, asparagus, cucs, baby bella mushrooms, and lemon dressing, with a Trader Joe’s apocryphal pita on the side.

steak salad

I’ve also had a good amount of turkey sandwiches. This one was with mustard on spelt bread, with the last of the black bean soup and an apple on the side.

turkey sammich 1

This one was on a whole wheat English muffin with chunky pesto and an apple on the side (I’m sure I had something else with this- probably yogurt, knowing me?)

turkey sammich 2

I have also had a good amount of barbecue, because come this time of year BU has a lot of fun free cookouts (well “free”. I mean, I pay so much tuition I should really go to every single cookout and eat like fifty hot dogs but obviously that would not be healthy). I’ve enjoyed two separate barbecues, one of which I used to supplement my lunch and had about 2/3 of a hot dog, the other of which I went to STARVING after a workout and had this weird nosh-y lunch of half a HUGE hamburger bun and kind of kebabs I made by ripping up a hamburger patty and like 1/2 to 2/3 of a veggie burger patty, along with lots of mustard and tomato and red onion. God that was an awesome, messy lunch.

I also made my friend (she’s a big protein person, so I always have to make her meat or beans!) some seriously awesome Caribbean-ish rice and beans with mango chicken sausage (which you’ll be seeing again, imminently), tons of green onion, tomato, and green pepper, with some salsa on the side. Didn’t get a picture. My camera had no space, *SOB*. God I’ve missed my memory card.

This next dish wasn’t carnivorous, because I had my vegetarian friend over for dinner. She’s Orthodox, too, so for Lent she does indeed go totally vegan the way you’re supposed to, so I wanted to make her something cheesy and awesome.

The result was inspired by this. I give you pumpkin- goat cheese pasta with kale!

pumpkin pasta

We had this with great big huge luscious artichokes, just steamed with mayo. And I had the awesome leftovers the next day.

I don’t totally remember how I tweaked the recipe, because it was awhile ago (I made it, froze it, and thawed it in the oven so the goat cheese got all melty, mmm), but basically I just used skim milk as my liquid, replaced the mushrooms in the original with chopped up kale, and subbed goat cheese for Parmesan. WOW it was tasty. Something crazy magical happens when the kale soaks up the pumpkin flavor, and the sweetness of the pumpkin and the tang of the goat cheese and the slight bitterness of the kale interact in a really cool way.

To end on a sweet note (I’ll post today’s eats later, I might as well break up this epic post a LITTLE!), as a seriously wonderful Easter treat, my mom, when she was on a business trip in San Diego, got us SEE’S CANDY!

I was raised in Spokane, WA, on the West Coast. The West Coast is a glorious region where you can go to a See’s candy store, which first of all has the happiest employees ever and free chocolate samples, and also has fresh handmade chocolates that you can’t get in the unsatisfactory preselected boxes that you can mail order on the East Coast. Sees candy in my opinion is the best candy you can get in America. Everything is fresh and natural and they only use the best ingredients.

My grandmother’s father was a confectioner who made his own candy, and she was a chocolate connoisseur (wow, I love that Windows Live Writer has spell check! Did not have a clue how to spell that!) and she said Sees was the best. She also, incidentally, said Hersheys puts paraffin in their chocolates , and you can tell by the flavor.

The most recent candy I enjoyed was the Polar Bear Paw, white chocolate with caramel and peanuts. YUM! I still have a few left, so you’ll be seeing more of them as I lovingly detail their consumption.