Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Comfort foods are one of the best medicines around. After a long, hard day at work or a bad breakup you could use some cheering up. I know for myself I always resort to a big hearty bowl of pasta. There is just something about it that momentarily eases the pain. The other day I made tacos for myself  due to my intense craving for some. As I was debating what to cook last night for dinner, I had an idea to combine the taco meat with pasta and add lots of cheese. That is some good looking comfort right there. I added some golden raisins to the taco meat for sweetness, capers for some extra saltiness and diced green chilies for that extra zing.. yum. This dish could easily be made into a vegetarian or vegan version with some seitan and vegan cheese
Cheesy taco bake

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 package ground turkey-seitan crumbles for vegetarian
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash Original Blend
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon diced green chilies (can)
1 tablespoon grated onion
2 teaspoons capers
4 oz. unsalted tomato salt
2 tablespoons taco sauce
1/4 cup golden raisins 
1 box pasta of choice or gluten free pasta
1/2 cup Mexican shredded cheese blend + 1/2 cup shredded pepper jack cheese or 1 cup Daiya pepperjack shreds for vegan
1. Heat non-stick skillet with olive oil and grab another pot to bring water to a boil. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Add turkey to skillet and cook for a couple minutes.
3. Throw in seasonings, chilies and onion. Cook for around 7-9 minutes or until fully brown and cooked through. While cooking, add pasta to boiled water and cook according to package
4. Add capers, raisins, taco and tomato sauce to meat and cook for another 5 minutes.
5. When everything is finished cooking, throw together in casserole dish and add cheese. Mix through and add some extra taco sauce.
6.Place in oven and cook for around 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbling


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Everything about BBQ's win me over. I love the atmosphere, fun activities are always a plus, lounging around shooting the breeze and of course the food. Whenever I think of BBQ's, potato salad pops into my head. I am a huge fan of this starchy side, I could probably inhale a pound of it in one sitting. Unfortunately, this isn't the most figure-friendly part of the meal, but it is just so hard to resist! Since I enjoy it so much, I decided to create my own version and let me tell you.. it is full of flavor and absolutely fantastic. I wasn't really sure which direction I was heading when I started making the side, but I knew I wanted it creamy (obviously). I stuck with the basic mayonnaise but added in some sour cream, onion and dill to give it just the pizzazz it needed. Plus I added some bacon and cheese which you could never go wrong with.
Sour cream and onion potato salad

4 potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups chicken stock-low sodium
2 strips bacon cooked and chopped
1/2 cup light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons fat free sour cream
1 tablespoon grated onion (grate over the mayo and sour cream)
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
2. Place potatoes in a pot and pour stock to cover potatoes. Boil and simmer for around ten minutes.
3.Combine mayo, sour cream, dill and onion in a bowl.
4. When potatoes are finished, throw in freezer for 10 minutes.
5. Chop up bacon and reserve.
6. When potatoes are out of the freezer, combine the dressing. Only mix in around 1/4-1/2 cup, depending how creamy you want it. There will be extra so save it for later use of you could put it out with some chips.
7. Mix in bacon
8. Sprinkle cheese on top.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Last night my brother and I were left to fend for ourselves at dinnertime while our parents were out living it up. My brother wanted something quick and easy so we opted for Thai food. Our family has only ever taken out from one restaurant, but due to recommendations from friends, we decided to try out Lemonleaf Grill. Since my brother isn't a fan of spicy foods, curry and all that good stuff, we made it simple; House fried rice, pad see ew and asparagus with mushrooms. While the dishes were palate friendly, I was longing for more flavor. With the leftover white rice from last night, I cooked up some coconut lime fried rice.. SO GOOD. I wanted to make sure the flavors complimented each other without leaving a bitter taste, so after some research, I scripted my recipe.. and I was not left disappointed!
Veggie-packed coconut lime fried rice
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 teaspoons lime zest
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1/2 small onion-diced
1 Fresno chili pepper-ribs and seeds removed and diced
1 egg
few dashes hot sauce
1/4 cup corn
1 1/2 cups cooked rice
1/3 cup peas
juice 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1. Heat a skillet with coconut oil until melted. Keep the spoon for later use.
2. Add zest of lime and ginger
3. Cook for a few minutes
4. Add chili pepper and onions
5. cook for ten minutes
6. Make an empty hole in the center of the skillet.
7. Crack egg in small cup and mix together with the same tablespoon you used the coconut oil and add hot sauce.
8. Fill the hole with the egg and scramble.
9. Add corn and cook for 2 minutes.
10. Add rice and mix around for a minute, or until everything is evenly distributed.
11. Add peas and follow with soy sauce. Mix around and cook for a few minutes.
12. Add juice of lime and few more dashes hot sauce. Enjoy!

And dinner from last night:

Thursday, July 18, 2013

This heat is driving me crazy. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love summer, more than any other season. If we owned a pool my feelings may be swayed differently towards this heat wave, but nonetheless it's hottttt. Ok on to the more important part-food!
 Mexican is one of those cuisines that is super fun and flavorful, but the price could be overwhelming. Going out to eat with some friends can easily turn into a $30-$45 affair. Yes that's expensive especially for a cheap person like me. However cooking Mexican food could be just as enjoyable, if not more than eating out. Along with choosing which flavors and heat levels to infuse into your dish, the add-ins are the best part.
           My new addiction is tempeh. It is an alternative to meat, gluten free and yummy. It is a great combination with my Mexican favorite- enchiladas. I mean tons of sauce and ooey-gooey cheese-it can't get much better than that. (Ok so I also love Italian food). Since vegetables are my go-to, I figured why not combine them into a meal that is figure-friendly along with being scrumptious.

Tempeh enchiladas-vegetarian


2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup corn kernels (preferably fresh)
1 package frozen spinach-thawed and wrung out
1/2 cup onions-chopped
1 package organic tempeh-cut into strips
1 8oz can low-sodium tomato sauce
1 chipotle in adobo-seeded if desired
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon Mrs. dash seasoning blend
1/2 cup Mexican cheese blend
2 flour tortillas

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Heat olive oil in skillet.
3. Add onions and sauté for 10 minutes
4. Add in corn and cook for another 5 minutes
5. Cook tempeh according to package.
6. Sprinkle garlic powder onto spinach. Add into pan and cook for five minutes.
7. Add tomato sauce, chipotle, cumin and Mrs. Dash seasoning to food processer. Pulse to turn into sauce consistency.
8. Add the vegetable mixture and tempeh into the tortilla and roll it up.
9. Pour the sauce over the tortilla
10. Add cheese and put into oven until cheese melts and bubbles.



Friday, June 28, 2013

There is nothing like reading a book outside while soaking in the sun on a summer's day....Nothing. I mean attempt to do that in the blistery cold weather when December and January roll around, no thank you Sitting by the indoor fireplace roasting marshmallows seems like a much better option. Other than reading outside or swimming in the pool, BBQs and parties are the big event this time of year. And for me, the little appetizers are almost as fun as sipping on a cold margherita or chilled beer.
Yesterday, I created an adorable, tasty starter that is easy to eat with your hand. Yes, hand. No need to grip these babies with both, leaving you room to enjoy a refreshing drink with the other. Behold the zucchini parm coins. These little finger foods are perfect for serving up at any get together. They are simple to make, healthy and full of flavor.
Zucchini Parm coins



 1 zucchini

1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash table blend
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 egg whites
few dashes hot sauce

1 8oz can no salt added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon McCormick's minced onion (dried)
mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Mix together the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, Mrs. Dash Table Blend, Italian seasoning and salt.
3. Cut the zucchini into thin coins.
4. Mix together egg whites and hot sauce
5. Coat in the egg white mixture and cover up the zucchini with the breadcrumbs.
6. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Pop in oven for around 10-12 minutes.
7. For the sauce, mix together the tomato sauce, sugar, Italian seasoning, garlic powder and minced onion.
8. Take out and place a dollop of sauce on each of the zucchinis and cover with cheese.
9. Place back in oven for another 3-4 minutes until melted, starting to bubble.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

We rarely eat fish in the Ross household, well except when my dad cooks up his paella. After witnessing Rachael Ray put together a black cod smothered with curry sauce yesterday on TV, I needed to give it a try. Let's talk about this sauce for a second, it is creamy, savory and fragrant; if you enjoy curry, this is the dish for you. Andddd I developed my own spice blend! I researched the flavor profiles that make up this palatable powder and formulated them into my own mix. It is delicious! I am very proud of it. If you want to whip up this magnificent fish dish, here is the recipe, and if you are wondering about my spice blend.. this is it:
 Curry spice blend
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon seafood seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt.


Monday, June 24, 2013

For me, the key component to great meatballs is the sauce that is soaked into the meat, creating a delicious, tangy coating. Obviously texture is important as you wouldn't want the meatballs to be tough and dry, making the eating experience less than desirable. I have become addicted to Trader Joe's meatless meatballs. No, I am not a vegetarian, but how could you resist meatballs that are deliciously flavored and not dry at all?
When I noticed how much sodium my bottled tomato sauce contained, I realized that I could simplify this by whipping up my own concoction. We had a tiny can of unsalted tomato sauce in the pantry and after pouring that into a bowl, I added some spices to give the sauce that extra punch of flavor it needed. This sauce is sweeter than your average Ragu, but it is delicious!
Low-sodium tomato sauce
1 8 oz can no salt added tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 heaping teaspoon apple jelly
Mix together the ingredients creating a smooth consistency. Heat up in stove and pour over favorite meatballs. Enjoy!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Being sick suckkksss. My appetite is gone, my thirst is right there with it and I have been staring mindlessly at the computer screen for thirty minutes. I hate the aches and pains, soreness of the throat and around the clock sleepiness, not to mention the lack of motivation to move. Plussss I had to cancel my rendezvous tonight in the citay for some great Cuban food. Oh well Matzoh ball soup it is.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hey guys! You should follow me on Twitter- @Foodandlife18. I have actually had this account since the beginning of the year, but started tweeting more regularly in the last few weeks!

Monday, June 10, 2013

I have been on a brownie kick recently, if you haven't noticed from my last post. Today, I decided to make peanut butter and jelly brownies-well, kind of. I started eating sunflower seed butter from Trader Joes, and it is delicious! It is just as creamy as regular peanut butter and the taste is very similar to original PB. I found strawberry jam on sale today in Fairway so I used that in the brownies as well. My attempt at making PB&J brownies didn't go all as planned. Instead of bringing the taste buds back to your childhood days with the classic sandwich, this dessert turned out to taste just like fudgy, gooey deliciousness. Enjoy!
                     Gooey chocolate brownies
1/3 cup brewed coffee
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
1/2 + 1/3 cup organic coconut sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup peanut butter/sunflower seed butter
1 tablespoon jam
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix together coffee, butter and 2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips and microwave for 35-40 seconds. Stir when remove from microwave oven.
3. Melt Peanut butter/sunflower seed butter in pan and mix together with water and vanilla extract.. Mix in jam and add almond milk.
4. In another bowl, mix together sugar, cocoa powder and salt.
5. In a different bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Mix in the chips.
6. Combine all the mixtures (both wet and dry)
7. Pour batter into sprayed baking sheet.
8. Cook for 30 minutes. Let rest before cutting into.
Adapted from Whipped

Friday, June 7, 2013

Being cooped up inside a house on a dreary day has its perks. I got some work done and I baked brownies. However, I still have to clean my room and do some laundry.. meh.
I am really excited about these brownies.. they are fudgy and jam-packed with nutrition. When I saw the recipe from Whipped last night, I knew I wanted to try it with my own spin. You could make these vegan and gluten free, just swap in some rice flour for the oat.
Banana chocolate fudgy brownies:
1/3 cup brewed coffee
1 tablespoon butter (Earth-balance if vegan)
1 ounce of Hershey's chocolate (I used 3 fun-sized candy bars, broken up into tiny pieces)
2/3 cups coconut sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 very ripe banana
1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/3 cup water
1/3 teaspoon banana extract
1 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup chocolate chips-I used butterscotch
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Mix together coffee, butter and Hershey's chocolate and microwave for 35-40 seconds. Stir when remove from microwave oven.
3. Mash banana and mix with water and banana extract. Add almond milk.
4. In another bowl, mix together sugar, cocoa powder and salt.
5. In a different bowl, combine flour and baking soda. Mix in the chips.
6. Combine all the mixtures (both wet and dry)
7. Pour batter into sprayed baking sheet.
8. Cook for 30 minutes. Let rest before cutting into.
Adapted from Whipped.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

So I am beginning to have major Moe's withdrawals. I don't understand why they had to shut down the one that was merely five minutes from my house. Such a shame! I feel as if I am consistently taking out from the same restaurants for lunch, if my laziness beats my willingness to cook. Oh well! I guess I will just have to find other substitutions that will compliment my cravings. In the meantime.. here are some meals I have enjoyed recently.

Spicy California Roll from Trader Joes

Sweet potato roll and spicy yellowtail with apple from Kumo

Attempt at making vegan mac n cheese

Mushroom fettucini from Trader Joes

Chopped salad from Town Bagel

Monday, June 3, 2013

It is no secret I am a habitual snacker. Whenever I have a free second, it seems that I go rummaging through the pantry to satisfy my hunger. No matter how much food we may have in the house, it doesn't seem to be enough for me to call it quits. Luckily, I have come across this healthy snack from Chloe's soft serve that easily makes snacking for me less guilty.
Oven-baked strawberries.
1. Set your oven to 210 degrees.
2. Place strawberries on a baking sheet and set to cook for three hours.
3. After finished cooking, take out and drizzle some honey for added sweetness.
4. The strawberries should be gummy and delicious!

Friday, May 31, 2013

It didn't occur to me how much I enjoy bread until I tried the Roasted Grape & Brie Crostini with Honey and Sea Salt from Ambitious Kitchen. Oh my goodness-it really is heaven in a bite. I used up half my stick of slicing brie in that one sitting. Staring at the TV while munching on the fresh, fluffy bread with melted brie., while the Mets were winning--it  really was a perfect moment.
Anyway, after the bread disappeared from the kitchen, I had a sudden urge for some garlic bread. For the third time this week, I headed over to the grocery store to pick up a fresh loaf
There is nothing likehomemade garlic bread to snack on while dinner is lurking.
Garlic herb cheesy bread:
1/4 loaf Italian bread
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
Mrs. Dash garlic and herb seasoning
parmesan cheese
fresh mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Slather the bread with butter and sprinkle the seasoning to coat the top.
3. Add the parm and mozzarella cheese.
4. Cook in oven for 8 minutes.
5. Enjoy!
This list is a great reminder from when I was younger..Check out 50 Things That Look Just Like Your Childhood.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I haven't had many exciting food adventures recently to report back on. My meals have been pretty mundane and lackluster. I did get to browse through Costco last Saturday and taste all the different samples they were offering but nothing too fancy. Here are some meals/snacks I have had recently.
Pizza from Costco

Pasta with butter,mozzarella and buffalo sauce on the side

Spicy tuna and spicy salmon roll from Kumo

Black licorice and peach rings

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Thank you Ellen for bringing my friends back together.. If only the other three were here. Check out this video of the Friends mini-semi reunion!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

It is no secret I fully enjoy home cooked meals. Unfortunately with both parents working growing up, I rarely had the chance to experience some of the homemade goodness that others eat regularly. However, my friend's parents are quite the chefs and I have eaten numerous meals at their houses.
My friend's mom makes perhaps the best pizza I have ever tasted. It has a kick from the spicy chicken that of course is topped with gooey mozzarella cheese. I tried to re-create the dish.. and I succeeded!

Buffalo wing chicken pizza:
1 package ground chicken
1 teaspoon grill seasoning
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons wing sauce
1/2 ball of fresh mozzarella
thin pizza crust-(Boboli or whichever you prefer)
1. Set a non-stick skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil to medium-high heat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Add the chicken and caramelize for around three minutes. While it is cooking, add the spices (garlic powder, Italian and grill seasoning)
3. Reduce heat to low.
4. Place crust in oven for 5 minutes to crisp up a bit.
5. Break up chicken and mix around in the pan until fully cooked. (around 10 minutes)
6. Add sauce and mix around
7. Place on pizza and top with cheese.
8. Set in oven until cheese starts to bubble (5-7 minutes)
I am obsessed with these-they are organic, real fruit ropes. This snack is made with all natural ingredients starting with organic apple puree and organic apple juice concentrate as its base. Tastes just like candy and each stick equates to one serving of fruit.

Clif Kid did not sponsor this post. All opinions belong to the editor

Monday, May 20, 2013

Uy it's stressful growing up-but in a good way. Facing the real world may be an intimidating task at hand but it brings excitement as well. To relieve some of the tension, I drove over to Fairway to do some shopping. I didn't buy tooo much, but it will suffice!

Yes that tiny golden round fruit is an aprium (apricot and plum)

Just look at the seltzer flavors.. cucumber melon and pomegranate sangria

Those spicy wasabi edamame snackers seriously clear your nasal passages!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Atlantic City never gets old. My friend and I visited there on Thursday for Bacon Week.. yum. The problem? We never ate any bacon-fail. I did however eat some delicious food, plus I got to spend time on the boardwalk in the beaming hot sun.
Lunch: Pastrami sandwich on rye with mustard. My motto: the fattier the better! From A Dam Good Deli in Tropicana
Dinner: Chicken fajitas with a side of mashed potatoes and broccoli (I know, how Mexican of me) from Rainforest Cafe
Of course you can't forget about the spinach and artichoke dip
Breakfast: Monkey bread and stuffed challah french toast from Teplitzky's