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...)