balsamic glazed tomato and feta chicken roulade

Roulade.

It’s a very fancy name for a deceptively easy meal. It’s like a chicken roll-up, which makes me think of Fruit Roll-Ups. But it’s healthier and more delicious.

No, really. I made these for the number one junk food lover I know and he was a huge fan. Seriously!

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The steps can essentially be boiled down to this:

Slice chicken. Season. Make filling. Roll. Bake. Reduce balsamic. Throw it all together.

But because I’m nicer than that, I’ll give you a little more information.

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balsamic glazed tomato and feta chicken roulades

1. Slice three chicken breasts in half, length-wise. Rub with olive oil. Season each side with dried basil, oregano, salt and pepper.

2. Open a can (12 oz) of diced tomatoes into a pan. Cook over medium heat until the liquid is reduced by half. Midway through, add in half of a Vidalia onion, sliced. Cook until the onion is translucent.

3. Let cool slightly. Mix in a handful of crumbled feta cheese.

4. Place a few spoonfuls of the tomato mixture on each chicken breast half. Starting at one end, carefully roll each breast half up, securing with a toothpick through the middle.

5. Place all chicken rolls on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

6. While baking, gradually reduce about 1/4 a cup of balsamic vinegar.

7. When the chicken is ready – should be slightly golden on top – remove and plate by glazing the top of each piece of chicken with the reduced balsamic.

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summer salad

World, don’t get me wrong. I love me a good, decadent baked product.

peaches

I die for carbs and a freshly grilled burger? Point me in that direction. Now. But there’s something to be said for fresh fruits and vegetables, and not just because my body starts craving them like candy when I’ve done something like eat a bag of Cape Cod potato chips for dinner (hypothetical, of course).

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The best part about summer, aside from the cute fashion and the ability to head to the beach, is how many fruits and veggies are in season! Throwing together summer salads is one of my favorite fast and easy seasonal meals, and hopefully I’ll be able to share a couple of my best combinations over the next few months.

corn

Look, I’m not reinventing the wheel here. I’m not even making some fancy dressing to boast about. I’m grabbing what looks good in the grocery store, tossing it all together and patting myself on the back for not resorting to instant pasta for dinner. Again.

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So try this – or throw together another combination and let me know what your favorite “summer salad” is! And aren’t they great? Better than a cupcake!*

pear

*just kidding.

Pear, peach and corn salad

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1. Slice a peach any way you want. Thin or thick. Get crazy!

2. Add a thinly sliced tomato to the mix

3. Add some corn – I used about 1/4 of a cup, but do it up!

4. Plus lettuce. Toss.

5. Slice a pear and arrange it around the top of your salad. Or, if you’re not taking pictures like an annoying blogger, just toss it all in there.

6. Whisk together some balsamic vinegar, olive oil and dried parsley (just a pinch.) Pour over the top.

7. Sprinkle some cheese of your liking – I used feta – and enjoy. Happy summer!

caramelized onion & goat cheese quesadilla

This is easy, simple and delicious. It can all be made in one pan (which is a bonus for lazy cleaners like me, who hate doing dishes), and it’s a fast meal that, with some veggies, a salad or some yogurt, makes a simple, healthy lunch.

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Ingredients:

1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons goat cheese

Handful of romaine lettuce or spinach

Sugar

Salt

Salsa

1 whole wheat tortilla

 

Directions

Slice the onion. Heat the oil in a medium pan, add the onion, a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Caramelize the onion slices until golden brown, stirring occasionally.

Spread half of the tortilla with the goat cheese. Add the onion.

Throw the handful of lettuce into the still-hot pan and cook until just wilted. Put on top of the onion.

Spread salsa over the veggies. Fold the tortilla in half and return to the pan, cooking each side until just crisp (about a minute/side).

Slice in half and enjoy!

parmesan quinoa and edamame

I know.
You guys, I know.

I stopped posting again. This has happened before, and each time I come back with the excuse that I have right now: I’m sorry. I’m really busy. But now I’m back!

I’m happy to announce that I have my first postgraduate job (!), that I’m beginning the soul-sucking processes known as taking finals and apartment hunting (anyone know anyone looking for a roommate/renting in the District? holla!) and that I’ve been cooking. A lot.

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Just, you know, not blogging.

But I have recipes coming your way! DIY dry rubs for chicken and yogurt sauces for veggies and really, really sinful candy-cookie-cheesecake bars! I promise.

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Today’s recipe, even if you’re a quinoa hater (hi, Dad) is delicious. It’s an easy and filling lunch or dinner, savory and healthy. It’s got veggies and protein, and it’s the best of all worlds.

DSCF7259It feels sort of weird to transition back into regularly scheduled programming, but I’m not sure how else to go about this except to say that Boston is a damn fine city and now the entire world knows that.

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Anyway.

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Parmesan quinoa and edamame! 

Cook 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1/2 cup edamame together (follow instructions for both. I just cook them in the same pot because I’m lazy.)

Remove, drain. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and mix. Add grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. I literally sprinkled, stirred, tasted and went from there.

Scramble, or fry, an egg. Serve together. Optional: sliced avocado with salt and pepper.

roasted strawberry buttermilk cake//swimsuit season is coming

It’s coming.

Can you feel it? Do you dread and welcome it as much as I do?

Swimsuit season.

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Also known as the season of sun, shorts, breezy tops and floaty dresses. I mean, I love it. But it’s also hard to embrace when you’re not feeling at your 100 percent best. Which I haven’t been.

I’ve just been feeling slow lately. Some days, it feels like my head is encased in a fog all day- that no amount of coffee will fix. And I feel sluggish and unhealthy, despite my frequent gym trips.

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Sometimes, the baking and eating out and pizza and pasta and candy catches up to you. Funny how that works.

So I’m instituting a healthy eating challenge for myself, as an effort to re-set my system and feel confident as swimsuit season approaches, bringing with it graduation and pictures that will Be Around Forever.

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I’m limiting myself to one day a week for sweets (so don’t worry, I’ll still be baking). I’m drinking more water, emphasizing lean protein, focusing on fruits and vegetables. And perhaps most daunting? I’m cutting out carbs – gasp – after lunchtime.

This is going to be hard. But hopefully, it’ll help me embrace other dinner and cooking options without falling back on pasta. Or pizza. Or burritos. You get the drill.

I’m not a nutritionist or a dietician. I’m not a professional. This is what works for me, but it’s probably not right for everyone.

Anyway, on my last night of carbs after noon, I went big. You have to. I started with a huge bowl of pasta and one of my favorite sauces: pepper-caper tomato sauce, which is as easy as it sounds (Add peppers and capers to tomato sauce, stir.)

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Then I moved onto the big guns, as you can see from the above photos.

Roasted. Strawberry. Buttermilk. Cake.

It’s light. Sweet. Warm. Comforting.

It made me sigh as I considered the no-carb challenge I’m taking on.

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Recipe below, adapted from Joy the Baker.

Stick around for the no-carb adventures, won’t you? Should be fun.

Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk Cake

Strawberries:

16-ounces medium strawberries, hulled

4 tablespoons maple syrup

2 tablespoon olive oil

pinch of salt

3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Place a rack in the center of the oven, to 375 degrees.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut each strawberry in half and place in a mixing bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, and salt and toss the mixture with the berries.

Roast for 10-15 minutes. Put the berries in a bowl, toss with balsamic vinegar, set aside.

Cake:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar (you’re going to use these two different amounts at different times)

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

1 teaspoon vanilla

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter or spray a pyrex dish, set aside.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and butter. Then add vanilla.

Combine the two, mix until fully incorporated. Then add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup of milk (not buttermilk). Mix.

Pour into dish and scatter the roasted strawberries on top. Sprinkle generously with sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Allow cake to cool to room temperature before slicing to serve, top with powdered sugar.

pumpkin basil parmesan pasta

Continuing on the healthy but doesn’t taste it comfort food kick, I turned recently to pasta. Whole wheat pasta, but still full of carbs and the potential to cure any kind of blues.

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It was sort of actually born of me finally cleaning my room in the way that made me discover a leftover can of pumpkin puree that never got turned into pie (so sad) and was about to expire.

So I made it into a sauce. And added basil. And cheese.

Sauce doesn't look so good while you're making it.

Sauce doesn’t look so good while you’re making it.

It was warm and delicious and perfect for the kind of D.C. day where the wind feels like it’s actually blowing you across the street. That happens!

the finished product

the finished product

Pumpkin Basil Parmesan Past, adapted from this recipe

3 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs butter
2 crushed cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons dried basil
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup pasta water (reserved)
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, Parmesan to taste

Cook 4 handfuls of whole wheat pasta

1. Saute garlic and basil in olive oil and butter in a pan over medium-high heat.
2. Add pumpkin and pasta water.
3. Whisk together until combined.
4. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
5. Pour sauce over drained pasta and stir to combine.
6. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and mix

 

quinoa as comfort food

Sometimes, you’ll be presented with a dilemma.

Actually, if life as a 20-something is even remotely the way Girls depicts, you’ll be presented with a lot of dilemmas. But the kind of dilemma is the one I’m talking about where you may have recently consumed so much junk food that you feel the need to get on a mini health kick.

And then you get slammed with a bad day. The kind that calls for eating an entire box of mac and cheese – which, if you’re going to do that, I’d at least go for the Whole Foods white shells. In the purple box. Go big.

DSCF7195 Your body screams veggies (^) but your heart screams chocolate. And carbs.

Fear not. This quinoa skillet recipe is all that and more. It’s technically healthy- grains and veggies can’t ever go wrong. But the cheese you mix in makes it this warm, gooey, delicious dinner that feels just. like. comfort. food.

I mean, if you need to eat this with a pile of cookies next to you and a Criminal Minds marathon that focuses on Derek Morgan, I say go for it.

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The best part about this recipe is how adaptable is is based on what you had in the fridge. The veggies I used were tomatoes, onion, broccoli and frozen corn.

Couldn’t have been easier.

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Original recipe here.