My Favorite Recipes

I know you've seen that collection of most popular recipes on my sidebar. They are all great recipes, but they are not truly the best. The same few recipes continue to be the most viewed because they are easy to access, therefore getting the most hits. So in honor of my 1 year anniversary of the birth of this blog, I want to do this little segment on my favorite recipes from my archive. I often will go back to recipes so that I can re-make them. I probably use this blog to cook from as much as (or more than) anyone else does.

1. Possibly my favorite recipe actually came from the creative brain of my boyfriend, Tom. I'm not sure if I could ever go back to Manwich.

Homemade Sloppy Joes

2. Ok, this recipe is a contender with the Sloppy Joes. Because it involves bacon.

Chicken Wrapped in Bacon

3. This one has changed how I will make burgers forever. Onion juice is a magical ingredient.

Onion Burgers with Avocado Dressing

4. Another one credited to Tom--I use this recipe all the time when I'm especially broke or not feeling creative.

Easy Pasta Alfredo

5. When the veggies in the garden are ready, I am going to make this all the time. This one has even been published.


6. I have finally found the cole slaw recipe that is no-fail perfection.

Cole Slaw

7. I haven't made this one a second time yet, but I really really want to.

Five Layer Dip

8. Stir fry is a gift from God for poor college students. I don't like the stir fry in the dining commons, but when it's homemade you can make it any way you like.

Sweet and Sour Stir Fry

9. My cousin Jessi's recipe for guacamole is THE BEST.

Jessi's Guac

10. Aaaand for dessert we have these mini cherry cheesecakes.

Cherry Cheesecake Tarts

Garlic Avocado BLT

The reason that the title of this recipe begins with the word "garlic", is because when Tom and I made these sandwiches, we put way too much garlic. We had one of those colossal garlic heads where one clove was equal to about three normal cloves, and we used two of them. I love garlic, but I admit it had a bit of a bite. But nothing that prevented these from being the best BLT I've ever made.

1 sesame seed bagel
2 slices tomato
4 slices maple bacon
1 large leaf Romano heart lettuce
1 slice American cheese
1/2 avocado
1 tsp lemon juice
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup onion, chopped
2 tbsp mayonnaise

To make the garlic avocado spread, mix together the avocado, lemon juice, garlic, onion, mayo and salt and pepper to taste. Cook the bacon in the manner you like it. Toast the bagel. Spread the mixture onto the bagel and add the bacon, lettuce, tomato and cheese. Enjoy!

Simple Sangria

As soon as the weather begins to get nice, I start craving summery food and drink. I start making copious amounts of pasta salad and grill outside every chance I get. Yesterday I spent over an hour outside, soaking up sun (I burnt a bit) and reading. After all the sweating, I wanted something refreshing. I have always wanted to make sangria, so I suggested it to Tom and we whipped it up with what was in his fridge.

3 cups of red wine
1 whole orange
1 whole apple
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lemon lime soda or club soda
2 tbsp sugar

Cut half of the orange into thin rounds. Squeeze the other half to make fresh orange juice. Then add the wine, lemon juice, other orange juice, soda and sugar and stir. Add the fresh fruit and crush a bit with a spoon to get more of the juices out. Let sit for a few hours for best results.

If you have any other fruits laying around, throw them in. The more fruit, the more flavor. Now that I've tried this once, I want to make it again trying different types of wines and juices.

Looking for a dish to bring to your Cinco de Mayo party? Pair this sangria or some Mexican beer with my crowd pleasing Five Layer Dip.

Strawberry Glazed Chicken Breasts

It is beginning to be that awkward time of year, when you aren't quite sure if you should put away your warm clothes for good or not. I am also discovering that this is the awkward time when you realize that all the food I have bought over the past year needs to either get eaten or thrown out by move out time. I'm leaving this apartment (good riddance) in a few weeks, so new recipes need to come out of terrible ingredient choices.

Today I was looking at this collection of recipes on a Word document that my dad sent me. He told me he hasn't tried this one yet. I'm really glad I found it, because it was delicious and I already had the ingredients (sort of).

1 cup chicken broth
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I only had apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup strawberry jam
2 tbsp cooking oil
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 clove minced garlic
salt and pepper

In a small bowl, whisk together the broth, mustard, vinegar, and jam. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper, then in a skillet over medium-high heat, cook the chicken breasts in oil for about 3 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from the skillet, and pour in the broth mix to deglaze the pan, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic. Return the chicken to the pan, cover and cook for about 5 more minutes, until it is cooked through. Once the chicken is done, set aside and wrap in tin foil. Bring the liquid to a boil for about 3 minutes, until the mixture has reduced to a thick glaze. Pour over the chicken and serve with rice. 

Chicken with Prosciutto

My cousin Jessi, the one with the famous guacamole recipe, sent me a couple of new recipes to try out. I finally got around to her simple chicken breast and prosciutto dish, which sounded delicious, and came out even better than I imagined. The recipe only calls for a couple of ingredients so it's great to make when you don't have a lot on hand.

2 thin sliced chicken cutlets
4 thin slices prosciutto
1 tbsp pesto sauce
1 tsp garlic, chopped
ground pepper

makes 2 servings

Roll up the individual pieces of prosciutto and place 2 on one half of each chicken cutlet. Spread pesto on prosciutto. Fold over the other half of the chicken and use toothpicks to hold in place. Sprinkle pepper and oregano generously on the outside of the chicken. Cook in oil and garlic over medium to medium-high head until the chicken is no longer pink inside. Remove toothpicks and enjoy!

As you can see, I didn't have thinly cut chicken, so it's not as pretty or as easy to cook as I would have liked. The recipe called for fresh basil, which I did not have. But I did have some of my dad's homemade pesto sauce in the freezer, so I substituted and think that it gave an even better flavor than the basil alone would have. It also called for thyme, which my spice self seems to be lacking. I poked around on the internet and looked at other chicken and prosciutto recipes, and oregano seemed common in many other ones. 

Open Faced Spinach Breakfast Sandwich

I almost feel silly posting this as a recipe, because it requires no technique or measurements, just a bit of creativeness and a skillet.

This is a great substitution for the egg-themed breakfast that seems to occur a little too often when there isn't much else in the house. I used chopped frozen spinach and it was pretty good, but of course I'm sure that fresh spinach would be much better. I just sauteed the spinach with some oil and garlic, then fried an egg over easy and placed it on top of a piece of toast. Just sprinkle with ground pepper and your meal is complete. This isn't too filling, but it makes a good mini breakfast or post-workout snack.

Deals and Steals

No, I am not going to give you a lesson on couponing. (Though if you want to learn, I suggest Deals and Steals is actually the name of a grocery store. I just returned from my first visit there, and I had to blog about it as soon as I got home. If you are anywhere near the Northampton, MA area, you need to take a trip to this place.

My internship boss recommended this place to me, but I didn't realize how incredibly cheap this plethora of organic food could be. I am interested in eating healthy and organically, but thought that stuff was for people with money. I live off of frozen meals and endless amounts of pasta dishes. Rice cakes and organic stuff are for the rich. I now realize my misconstrued assumptions.

Here is a link to their website for location information. I guess they have a clothing store as well, but I didn't end up checking that out today.

Literally, this grocery trip was cheaper than Stop and Shop and I got much better food; I was able to get things I wanted rather than the basics that I needed.

My total? $11.92.

I couldn't believe it when I got to the register. If you aren't convinced yet, just take a look at what I made off with.
  • Annie's Cheeseburger Macaroni - $0.99
  • 20 mini tortillas - $0.99
  • Power Bar Harvest Energy - $0.50
  • Caramel rice cakes - $0.99
  • 365 brand Peach Snack Bowls (pk of 4) - $1.99
  • "Darn Good" Chili Mix - $1.99
  • Mr. & Mrs. T brand strawberry daiqueri mix - $0.99
  • Alfredo risotto - $0.99
  • 2 cans chicken broth - $1.99
This place has a large selection of teas, you can even mix and match your own. They have a hair care/cosmetics section as well as a lot of gluten-free products. If you like bizarre foods there is plenty of that as well. And they carry Jones soda and other popular organic drinks at a reduced price.

It is definitely worth the trip even if you don't live too close to Northampton. I suggested that my mom stop by  the next time she is out this direction. She used to shop at Whole Foods a lot but I think it just became too expensive. 

I'm so excited to be eating better and for a lower price! I still can't get over the fact that shopping for organic food has become cheaper than eating crap. Like even cheaper than the JBC I bought on the way there.  

Alfredo Like You've Never Seen It Before

Nothing beats a good alfredo sauce. When you are cooking at home, however; it can often be difficult to get it to the perfect creamy-ness. And if you are being spontaneous and don't just have heavy cream on hand, a real alfredo sauce can seem a little out of reach.

Fortunately, there is a little known solution to all these problems.

An egg. Who would have thought of so simple an ingredient to make a perfectly creamy dish? You won't believe it until you try it for yourself.

I am giving my boyfriend total credit for this recipe. I went over his house one day after he had been watching the Food Network and he came up this dish. He said he had seen a segment on a restaurant that finished making your plate in front of you--in this case it was this alfredo dinner and they cracked the egg at your table. There was no recipe he followed, I just helped him do a makeshift alfredo and he added the egg. It was better than any other alfredo sauces I had tried before.

1/2 lb angel hair pasta
1/4 stick butter
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp flour
1/2 cup shredded cheese (Tom prefers mozzarella, while I prefer Parmesan for a more classic flavor)
1 tbsp garlic
1 egg
salt pepper

makes 2 servings

Boil the pasta until cooked. Meanwhile, in a pan over med-low heat, melt the butter (or oil if you wish) and add the garlic. Once the garlic has begun to cook, add the milk, flour, salt and pepper and stir. When your pasta is just about ready, add the cheese and stir constantly. Drain the pasta and then add it to the pan, still stirring. Finally, once the pasta and sauce are mixed well, crack an egg over the dish. Stir until the egg is completely combined and then your dish is ready to serve.

Sweet and Sour Stir Fry

The other day I just decided that I wanted to make stir fry. I wanted to really tough it out and make my own sauce too (aka save money). One of my favorite dishes when I order Chinese food is the sweet and sour chicken. I found a list of different stir fry sauces at AllRecipes and adapted the sweet and sour sauce. My favorite part of this dish was that it tastes a whole lot like good Chinese takeout without the stomachache afterwards and guess what? It's actually good for you!

16 oz package frozen vegetables (oriental style)
2 chicken breasts
2 cups white rice
1 tsp garlic

1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp soy sauce (I actually just used two of those little packets they give with takeout)
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp corn starch

Cut the chicken into 1 inch squares and cook with dashes of ground pepper (I cooked mine on the stove top), along with the garlic. Meanwhile, cook the white rice according to directions on the package. When the chicken is mostly cooked, add the frozen vegetables and cook covered for 5-8 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together all ingredients of the sauce. Stir the rice and the sauce into the pan with the cooked chicken and vegetables and cook for a few more minutes.

This is such a cheap meal! Rice and frozen veggies are ridiculously cheap. And plus, it tastes great.

Green Pasta Salad

Itching for the summer?

So am I, which is why I came up with this recipe for pasta salad. Although it always tastes better by a pool/at a BBQ/in the sun/with a cold beer/while wearing shorts, it will bring a little bit of sunshine to these cold winter days.

The recipe mostly came from my own head, aside from scanning through some different pasta salad recipes that I could find to see which parts I'd like to use for mine. I call this green pasta salad because those were the only colored veggies I used.

1/2 lb pasta
8oz frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped spinach
1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 avocado, sliced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/8 tsp parsley
1/8 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste

Makes about 4 servings

Boil the pasta according to directions on package. This pasta salad would work best with a shaped pasta rather than a vermicelli or fettuccine type. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables by defrosting, cutting, etc. Add the sugar and spices to the veggies and mix. Once the pasta is drained and cooled, add the vegetables to the pasta. Then add the mayonnaise and the vinegar and mix well. Refrigerate until serving.

This recipe is very versatile. Next time I make this, I might just omit the spinach because it didn't do a whole lot that I could taste, it was just something in my freezer to give it more bulk. You could also use a bit less mayo and I think it would still taste relatively the same. My roommate said she really likes it! I hope you enjoy your taste of summer as much as I did. 

Not Quite Nutter Butters

So honestly, I forgot I made these cookies a couple of weekends ago. I was getting over being sick and still in that weird fog. I remembered that I made some Ramen recipe that failed, but figured that was it and didn't have any new recipes to upload. Silly me.

Well, I made these knock off Nutter Butters. My throat was all sore so they went down pretty rough, and with all the struggles I had I concluded they weren't very good. But I think my problem was that I was eating them warm, hence expecting them to be soft and gooey. Generally I like my cookies that way, but once you've refrigerated these cookies they are excellent all crunchy-like.

Tom liked them despite his sore throat as well, and his mom even went back for seconds even though she barely eats sweets. So, hopefully you kept reading my rambling and realized I've concluded that this is a great recipe, because otherwise it would just seem silly for me to put up a bad recipe. (Don't worry, I delete those off my hard drive.)

I had to modify this recipe a bit, but I originally found it here.

1 stick butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup instant oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/4 all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

1/2 stick butter
4 tbsp powdered sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt a half stick of butter in a medium skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low and add the oats to the pan. Stir in the vanilla extract. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly so the oats do not burn. Your oats should be slightly toasted. In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, baking soda and salt together. Set aside. In a mixer, cream the other half stick of butter. Slowly mix in the sugars, and then the peanut butter. Add the flour mixture and set the mixer on slow until the batter becomes the consistency of dough. Add more flour if necessary. Roll the dough into 1 inch balls and place on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten each cookie with the back of a fork. Bake the cookies for 15-20 minutes. While the cookies are in the oven, prepare the filling. In a mixer combine   the butter and salt until the butter is creamy. Add the peanut butter and sugar and combine. Once the cookies have cooled, assemble two cookies with the filling in between. (Or if you in your sick haze make the cookies way too thick, you can just spread the filling on top of each cookie.)

5 Layer Dip

Better late than never, here is the dip I made for the Superbowl. I gave whatever sickness I had to Tom so I spent the whole weekend at his house being his nurse. 

This recipe comes from a friend's cousin who I met once but specifically remembered what she put in her dip because it was that good. I would give her credit but I don't even remember her name. I brought this to a Superbowl party and my friends seemed to enjoy it. (Well, the ones without food allergies. My friends are somewhat a mess when it comes to that department.) We ended up getting bored with the game since none of us really like football and the Patriots weren't playing so we didn't have a team to even root for. Our Superbowl party ended up becoming a You're Cut Off party. (Boy, do I love that show. There is something mesmerizing about the dumbest, most spoiled women on the planet.)

I don't really have measurements for this recipe. I just sort of used however much looked good. 

2 chicken breasts
1/2 onion
guacamole (Homemade; we used 2 avocados, lemon juice and garlic. But if you want to get fancy you can try my real guac recipe here.)
sour cream
colby-jack cheese, shredded 
cilantro or scallions (optional)

First, caramelize the onions in a small saucepan. In a separate pan, cook the chicken breasts thoroughly, sprinkling it with ground pepper as it cooks. This will be your bottom layer. I used a pie plate to put the dip in.

Next, add a layer of salsa. I used medium salsa; my guacamole was a little garlic-y so I thought the hotness wasn't too overbearing.

On top of the salsa goes the guacamole. You can use a pre-made guacamole or quickly whip up your own. Usually guacamole is basically avocado, garlic and lime juice. 

The next layer is sour cream. If you are watching your waist, use a low-fat sour cream. 

The final layer is the colby-jack cheese. Be generous. Everyone loves cheese. 

I topped my dip with cilantro. I meant to use scallions, or green onions, but I forgot the name. I said something about small green things that are on top of Taco Bell's Mexican pizzas to my dad and the first spice that came to mind was cilantro, so that's what we picked up. It wasn't bad, but I think scallions would have been a nice touch.

Finally, when you are ready to eat your dip, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook for about 5 minutes until the cheese is melty. Serve with tortilla chips.

My 21st Birthday Weekend

Better late than never, a week after this all happened, I'm finally blogging about it. I have been sick for a majority of the week so using brain power was at the bottom of my list. 

So anyway, here is what I woke up to the morning of, Thursday the 27th. My lovely roommate Nicole had the whole living room decorated with streamers and balloons for when I woke up all groggy at 8am. (Please ignore the mess that is our apartment.)

Then I went about the rest of my day with class, getting my license renewed and all that fun stuff. (My license photo came out awesome, and on the first try! RMVs have definitely upgraded their cameras since I was 16.)

When I returned home Tom picked me up and took me out to one of our favorite restaurants, Judie's (where we went on our first date). Here I ordered my first big girl drink with dinner. A Bahama Mama. I'd heard the name before but never had really given much thought to it or known what was in it. I saw pineapple juice on the description on the menu and I was in. My favorite part was that it came with a slice of lemon, orange and lime. Boy was that thing strong. But delicious. But strong. I was tipsy by 6:00 in the evening. 

After we left the restaurant, Tom took me to my first liquor store purchase. We spoke with the cashier about how it was my birthday and he handed me the money so I could pay for it like parents do with little kids. I really did feel like a little kid, all grown up in this beautiful store. It had never occurred to me that alcohol went on sale, and that realization was a glorious thing.

We stopped at the grocery store and bought the ingredients for mojitos. I had been talking about mojitos for months. Here's our (yay finally) recipe:
1 shot white rum 
1/2 lime
2 tsp sugar
5 mint leaves
1 cup club soda

First you squeeze the lime juice into a glass and drop in your mint leaves. Then using a pestle, grind up the mint leaves as much as possible. Add the sugar, then grind it all together again. Fill the glass with ice and then add the rum and soda. 
Just couldn't help myself with these pretty mint leaves.
That night, I went to a bar and got denied my 2 forms of identification at a snooty bar in town. Tom, my friend and I ended up at a hipster bar called the Moan and Dove that only served beer and luckily for me, hard cider. It was not the wild 21st birthday that everyone talks about, but I still had a nice time. 

Day 2 was the night where I got to hang out with all my friends, the majority of whom are still underage. We went to a club called Diva's that is 18+ and there I had my first Sex on the Beach. Growing up this was the first drink name I ever knew, and it is probably similar for most everyone else. We would giggle at the thought of such a dirty drink name. I never knew what was in it, but I googled it after and discovered it's really easy to make. I'm going to make it at home sometime, and I will of course share the recipe. Unfortunately, no pictures of that one, since the trusty boyfriend had my camera and the drink was gone before we could even think about a photo shoot. 

I did, however, take a picture of my pre-drinking meal. This is also my favorite sick meal. Pasta with peas and butter. Never fails.

Finally, on Sunday night my family came out to Amherst and took Tom and I out to dinner. We went to my all time favorite restaurant, Bertucci's. Funny that my favorite restaurant happens to be a chain. Anyway, there were about five mixed drinks on the menu and I knew immediately which one I had to have. The Tiramisu Martini. Yes, it is just as good as it sounds, possibly better. The next time you eat at Berucci's I highly recommend it. 
I think it was better than a real tiramisu, which I had for dessert afterwards.

Long Weekend

This weekend has been a long one, beginning on Thursday with my 21st birthday, and continuing until today. I have so much to blog about but it's just about bed time for me. Here are some sneak peak photos to hold you over until I can really sit down and recall my adventures!

I have a question for you

Do you ever have dreams where you think up something brilliant? You tell yourself that you need to remember it for the morning because it was extremely important. Then you wake up and either you've forgotten it or it is a really silly idea in a waking state. That happens to me all the time.

This time I remembered, and when I did remember I didn't think it was that awful of an idea. I don't know what caused me to think of this, but it's really got me thinking now.

My blog title would sound so much better if it was merely "Too Poor for Groceries".

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe it's stupid. That's why I need your help. Give me your input.

I'm also worried that some people might be attached to the name and not want to have to remember the change when searching for it on Facebook or something. But for Twitter, well 2poor4groceries is already the name.

Please comment or vote to the right!

Sweet and Savory Open Faced Breakfast Sandwich

I don't get it. I went grocery shopping a week ago, and bought about $40 worth of stuff. For me. One person. And somehow most of it already appears to be gone. I can NOT afford to spend that much a week on myself for food! I'm going to go broke. Granted, most of it was a gift card, so I can't really complain yet.
Recipes like these are what comes from not wanting pasta for the thousandth day in a row. No matter how  many different delicious ways there are to make pasta, it just gets tiring after a while. I can only handle it a few times a week.

1 slice cinnamon raisin bread
1 egg
1 slice American cheese
maple syrup
ground pepper

Toast bread to preferred darkness. Meanwhile, cook egg over easy. Once one side of the egg has cooked, flip it and place the slice of cheese on top so that it melts while the egg finishes cooking. Top with maple syrup and pepper.                  

This might sound like a weird combo. It was actually quite delicious. It reminds me of something Dunkin Donuts once had, with maple syrup filled waffles hugging a breakfast sandwich, or something like that. I never tried it, but I figured the sweet and the savory had to be good together, and well, it is.

Avocado on Toast

When I was young, I used to watch my mom spread this yucky green stuff on her toast. I couldn't imagine that it could taste good, it was just so gooey and the color of boogers. 

I think honestly I was not a fan of avocado until this year. It just never appealed to me. But then when I realized that with a bit of alteration these bland avocados could nearly be guacamole without all the frills. 

I was inspired by this delicious looking post to put my avocado on toast just like my mom. I'm always so sick of toast or yogurt or whatever lame snacks we have on hand. So I decided to mix it up a little bit. 

Eating an avocado is all about improvisation. My favorite way is eating it raw and sprinkling a little lemon juice and garlic powder. This is also good on toast as well. A Cozy Kitchen suggested adding red pepper flakes, which gives it more of the spicy guacamole feel, and it was delicious. 

You can also do a stripped down guac, with just avocado, lemon juice, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and jalapeƱo, omitting any of these ingredients that aren't on hand. You can use it as dip or you can be like me, and just eat it with a spoon. 

Avocados can sometimes be rather expensive. But like any food they go on sale. Catch them when they are cheap and you will appreciate them even more.  

Creamy Spinach Pasta

I had a very similar recipe to this one that I posted on my blog a while ago. But I do not think either should replace the other. Even though this one does taste infinitely more yummy, my older recipe was a good out-of-the-fridge/no grocery shopping involved type of quick version of alfredo sauce. This recipe also involves a lot more butter and heavy cream, so I am going to take a guess that the old one is healthier.

Once again with the ruining of your New Years' diets with another dish you will not want to pass up. I apologize.

Tom and I did a variation of a recipe we found online. All I knew that day was that I really wanted to eat spinach, and Tom decided in what way we would eat it. He really does know how to pick the most unhealthy but most incredible meals.

1/2 lb pasta (we used penne)
1 stick butter (you can definitely use oil if you'd prefer to rescue the thighs)
1/2 lb frozen spinach
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp minced garlic
1/8 tsp Italian seasoning

In a pan, on medium heat, melt half the stick of butter. Then add the onion and garlic and cook until the onions are caramelized. Heat the spinach in the pan until it is no longer frozen, along with the other half of the butter. Stir in heavy cream on low heat. Slowly add the cheese, stirring constantly so that it does not clump together. Meanwhile, boil the pasta. After draining the cooked pasta, place it in the pan with the sauce and stir together. Serve with more Parmesan cheese and some crushed red pepper on top.

Deviled Eggs

I think I've only eaten deviled eggs once in my life, at least from what I can remember. I wanted to like them, but I just didn't. 

Yesterday I hard boiled some eggs not sure how I was going to eat them. I eventually decided to try making my own deviled eggs, because knowing the ingredients that went into it just seemed like it would make everything better.

And it did. 

I looked at the basic ingredients that are used for deviled eggs and picked out the ones I liked and came up with this recipe:

3 eggs
1/2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/2 tbsp sweet pickle relish
1 tsp lemon juice
dash of cayenne pepper

Medium boil the eggs so that the yolks are not completely hard. Crack the shells and peel away, then slice each egg in half the long way. Remove yolks from eggs and place in a separate bowl. Mix together the yolks, relish, mayo and lemon juice until combined. Add the mixture to the egg whites where the yolk used to be and top with a dash of cayenne pepper.

The traditional way of making deviled eggs is with paprika on top, but I thought I'd give it a little more spice with the cayenne pepper and it really was a nice finishing touch. It appears Tom really has been rubbing off on me, because he makes all of his food really spicy.

Spiced Coffee

One of the many perks of being home for winter break is that my dad usually leaves me a Mason jar of coffee for whatever time my breakfast may occur (usually around noon). It's great. This morning, though, I wanted to try something new. I'm generally a black (with sugar) coffee drinker, and I've been getting sick of the same old coffee every morning. I found a couple spiced coffee recipes and made it my own way.

1 cup brewed coffee
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
dash of nutmeg and cinnamon
whipped cream (optional)

Pour the vanilla extract, nutmeg and cinnamon in the bottom of a coffee mug, and stir until blended. Make sure you are truly using a dash, because I put a little too much nutmeg and for a while it was all I could taste. Pour in your coffee and desired amount of milk, and stir. Microwave for about 2 minutes or until your coffee is hot. Stir again before topping with whipped cream.

I'm sure this would be great as an iced coffee too. Maybe tomorrow I'll take a look at this mystery that blogs have been calling "Mexican coffee".

Mozzarella Sticks

While everyone is writing healthier blog posts because everyone is still trying to stick to their New Year's Resolutions, I'm here to ruin your diet with this great recipe for mozzarella sticks. If you really are trying to stick to your new diet, don't look at this blog post.

I love how if you look closely in the background, you can see my brother reaching for one and Tom pulling the string of cheese.
I found this recipe from a fellow blogger, Coconut & Lime. As soon as I saw the post I knew I had to make these. I was surprised that I didn't need a deep fryer or anything too fancy. Just some string cheese and bread crumbs. I used my mom's marinara sauce recipe for the dipping sauce.

1 package mozzarella low-moisture string cheese sticks
2 eggs
2 cups bread crumbs
1/2 tsp dried oregano, parsley and basil
1/ 2 tsp garlic and onion powder

Beat the eggs in a small bowl. Take the string cheese out of the individual wrappings and cut them in half. On a plate, mix the bread crumbs with the spices. (I didn't use as much spice as recommended because the bread crumbs were Italian style. The addition of the garlic and the onion powder is a nice addition though.) Dip the string cheese in the egg, then roll around in the bread crumbs to coat. Then dip it in the egg again and then again in the bread crumbs so that you get a thick outer breading. Arrange on a plate, cover with foil and then refrigerate for about an hour, or until the sticks are very cold.

Then in a large pan, heat about 3-4 inches of vegetable oil until boiling. Drop the mozzarella sticks into the hot oil and cook for about 2 minutes, until the outsides are golden brown. Let cool and serve with marinara sauce.

You can save the oil you use to deep fry and refrigerate for use the next time you deep fry (like making french fries or potato chips), that way you don't need to waste so much oil. These sticks are best when served hot. It's a lot easier than I thought it would be; next time I have a party I would like to make these again!

Chicken Supreme

Today I sat down to a nice home-cooked dinner (ah the joys of being on break!) and was surprised at how great this very plain looking chicken tasted.

It really is the perfect meal for poor kids like me. All you need is the chicken, some sour cream, packaged stuffing, and some spices. My dad said he got this recipe from a former co-worker of his. 

4 boneless chicken breasts or pieces
1 cup sour cream (for all those working on their New Year's resolutions, get a low-fat brand and you've got a  lower calorie meal)
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 stick butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp celery salt
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper and salt

makes about 6 servings

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Stir together sour cream, sauce, lemon juice, and spices. On a separate plate, dump out the stuffing (you don't need to use exactly 2 cups, just use whatever amount will cover your chicken). Crumble up the stuffing into smaller pieces. Dip the chicken into the sour cream mixture and then roll it in the stuffing so it is completely covered in crumbs. Place in a baking dish and bake for one hour. 

My dad's suggestion: Out of stuffing? He says you could probably easily use some toasted bread and crumble it up. 

P.S. I don't get paid to endorse certain brands or anything. The reason I have links sometimes is because if I link it to Amazon and someone buys it from the link, I get part of the profit! 

My First Shot At Aioli

(First off, sorry for such a long post with no pictures. My camera cable is MIA.)

What is aioli, you may ask? Before last semester I had no idea either. Then it came to me. The most glorious sandwich the campus can offer.

It was like a treasure trove amidst a tiny cafe with soggy caeser wraps and hockey-puck hamburgers. It was like it called out to me. It reached out its sandwich hand and said, "Come along, on this beautiful journey. You need not eat anything else for the rest of the semester." And I followed its guidance. I ate this sandwich every chance I could. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I would trot off to Herder Cafe and salivate as I pictured the glory. Sometimes they did not have my sandwich. But I think they learned. I ate it twice a week for three months and never once was tired of it.

What is this magic, you ask? Well, for those of you who go to UMass, I'm not giving away my precious secret. Just kidding, I'll tell you, but there better be some of them waiting for me next semester. This sandwich is from French Meadow Cafe, which is located in the Campus Center, but Herder Cafe also carried them. You can sometimes find this sandwich in the refrigerated section of Blue Wall.

It's name:  BLT Croissant with Turkey and Garlic Aioli.

Bacon and flaky croissants and the most beautiful taste in the world, all rolled into one.

I'm sorry if you do not attend UMass and you are hating me because you want this sandwich now. I'm also sorry if you are thinking to yourself, why am I reading all of this nonsense. Give me a recipe already. All you need to do is scroll down until you see it. I'm not forcing anyone to listen to my babbling.

But seriously. This sandwich changed my life. And it's the one thing I miss from UMass right now during this winter break. So I decided today I was going to try and make aioli.

Honestly it did not come out nearly as good as I hoped. I followed the recipe from Epicurious exactly. I looked at other recipes and they are all mostly the same. I kind of hated my first finger dip into my creation. But after a couple adjustments and putting it onto a sandwich, it was relatively good. Not as good as French Meadow, but I think they cheat. I have a feeling they just mix garlic and mayonnaise, because theirs was white and mine was yellow. But hey, it was still good. It tastes a lot different on a sandwich than trying it by itself.

2 cloves of garlic (I used 4 small ones, and then added another normal sized one, which I think took it too far)
1 egg yolk
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil (it called for EVOO, but it was way too tangy for my liking)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp mayonnaise (optional)

Makes about 1/2 cup of aioli

Mince and mash the garlic into a paste. If you are not using a garlic mincer, use a large knife and if you've never done this before, check out this Youtube tutorial. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, lemon and mustard. Then add the oil, constantly whisking and only a few drops at a time so that it becomes emulsified. (Remember that science experiment from elementary school where you put oil and water in a glass and they separate? You don't want that to happen here.) Then whisk in the garlic and add salt and pepper to taste. I thought it needed something else, so I added the mayo and it took a little of the bite off. Use as a spread on a sandwich of your choice.

Another ramble:
Do you know how to get an egg yolk separated from the whites? I learned from some romantic comedy that was my favorite on ABCFamily when I was younger. I have always been excited to use my knowledge. It's cold, but kind of fun. You hold the egg in your hand and let the whites slip through your fingers as you transfer from hand to hand until it's only a yolk. Thank you anonymous movie. (Anyone else remember it? It was about a hockey player and he marries this girl at the end and A Thousand Miles plays...)