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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Most Perfect Guacamole

2 Ripe avocados
Juice of 2 limes
3-4 Garlic cloves, minced
1/2 Medium onion, minced
Handful cilantro leaves. chopped
Cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

I wanted to have some guacamole to go with my grilled chicken quesadillas with portabella and sweet red peppers for dinner. Lucky for me, the grocery store had a "guacamole section" set up with ripe avocados, limes, garlic, tomatoes and...seasoning mix? Sure, I was tempted at first to buy the pre-mix of spices and seasonings, but I'm going to do this right! So this is my no-recipe recipe for guacamole, which turned out perfectly spicy and zesty. Just use your gut, and taste a long the way so it's to your liking.

First, I finely chop the garlic, onions and cilantro and throw in a bowl. I used a Spanish onion, but you can also use red or try shallots if you want to get fancy. I then add about a teaspoon each of cumin and cayenne. You can also add a minced jalapeno or Serrano chili for more heat. I scoop out the avocado into the bowl and start mashing with the lime juice. Season with salt and pepper. If you're like me and put avocados on everything this would also be great on sandwiches, crostinis, or on top of grilled meats. Olé!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Greek Salad Pizza

Greek Salad Pizza
Pizza dough
Pizza sauce (or marinara)
Ricotta cheese
Red onion, sliced thinly
Hot pepper, sliced thinly
Kalamata olives, chopped

In tonight's adventure in pizza toppings, we're going Greek(ish). I have some hot peppers from my parent's garden that remind me of those little ones you get in Greek salads, and I always need a little spice on my pizza. And you can't forget the kalamata olives! I really like to experiment with different cheeses, venturing away from the usual mozzarella. I just have a little feta left over from last night's turkey burgers, so I'm going to pair with dollops of creamy ricotta. All of these flavors are pretty strong, so I'm going to use these toppings sparingly.

Rich was initially suspicious of these combinations, but he loved it! The ricotta really mellows out the tangy and spicy toppings.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Turkey-Feta Burgers with Grilled Nectarine and Arugula Salad

Turkey-Feta Burgers and Grilled Red Onions and Peppers
1 Pound lean ground turkey
1/3 Cup (packed) crumbled feta cheese
1 TSP dried oregano
1/2 TSP salt
1/2 TSP ground black pepper
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1/2 Red onion, peeled, each cut crosswise into thick slices
1 Cubanelle pepper sliced crosswise
Whole wheat hamburger buns

Grilled Nectarine and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Dressing
Package of arugula
2 Nectarines
Salt and Pepper to taste
Balsamic vinegar

We've consumed our fair share of hamburgers and cheeseburgers this summer, but grilling season is far from over! I'm putting a Greek twist on these turkey burgers. One would expect to serve a Greek salad with this, but I'm going to switch it up a bit. I love mixing savory and sweet, so I was smitten with a grilled peach and arugula salad recipe I found. I'm going to use nectarines instead, and pair with a balsamic dressing.

For the burgers combine the turkey, feta and seasonings in a bowl and form into patties. Set aside while grill heats up. Quarter the nectarines and slice the red onion and cubanelle pepper. Throw on hot grill until charred and softened. Set aside and keep warm. Cook turkey patties on the hot grill for about 4 minutes per side. Grill the hamburger buns for a minute or two. Toss arugula with balsamic vinegar and EVOO, top with grilled nectarines and salt and pepper. Assemble burgers with grilled onions and peppers.

And what would a burger be without pickles? So we served up with some hot & sour pickles we picked up at the farmers market last weekend. I recommend you enjoy this dinner al fresco if possible!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Whole Wheat Pancakes with Cinnamon-Peach Compote

Whole What Pancakes
2 Cups whole wheat flour
2 TSP baking powder
1 TSP salt
2 Eggs
2 Cups skim milk
1 TBS oil

Cinnamon-Peach Compote
2 Ripe peaches pitted and diced
1/4 cup sugar
2 TSP cinnamon
1-2 TBS water

There is a farmers market every weekend down the street, but we usually never make it there before it closes at noon. They had some beautiful peaches that I wanted to use for my pancakes. Maple syrup is so boring, so I'm going to make a fruit compote since I've never made one before.

In a medium bowl whisk flour, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, milk and oil and stir until just combined. Dice peaches and put in sauce pan with sugar, cinnamon and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until fruit breaks down and syrup thickens. In the meantime cook the pancakes. When pancakes are ready, top with the warm compote.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Roasted Chickpea Snacks

Roasted Chickpea Snacks
1 Can of chickpeas, drained rinsed and patted dry
Crushed red pepper
Cayenne powder
Garlic powder
Sea salt
Black pepper
Cooking spray

For a lazy Friday night, pre-dinner apps and wine are in order. I had some chickpeas I needed to use, and Rich found a brilliant recipe for roasted chickpeas. I put him in charge of our appetizer, while I cooked dinner.

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Rinse and drain a can of chickpeas, making sure to pat dry with a paper towel. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Toss the chickpeas on the sheet with the spices and roast for 30-40 minutes. We let them dry out for a little longer while the oven was still hot to make them crispier.

This a really easy anytime snack, would be great to serve for a party too!

Spinach Spaghetti with Artichokes Capers and Buttered Breadcrumbs

Spinach Spaghetti with Artichokes Capers and Buttered Breadcrumbs
1 Pound spinach spaghetti
1 Can artichoke hearts, drained and rinsed
1/4 Cup capers, drained
1/4 Cup bread crumbs
1/4 Cup Parmesan cheese
1-2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Tbs Italian seasoning
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 Tbs EVOO
2 Tbs butter
2-3 Tbs reserved pasta water (or more, depending on how thin you want your sauce)

Pasta dishes are the best way to clean out your kitchen cabinets, because they are so versatile. This dish is no exception, and you can substitute with anything fresh or canned you may have left over. Some suggestions are white beans and broccoli or cherry tomatoes and peas, but you can let you imagination run wild. You can also use any kind of pasta, but I like the color of the spinach pasta with the artichokes and capers. The bread crumbs with the cheese and butter make a great "sauce" if you happen to be sauceless.

Add pasta to boiling salted water. mix the bread crumbs (I'm using Panko, but any plain bread crumbs will do) with Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, minced garlic and freshly ground pepper in a small bowl. I quickly sautee artichoke hearts and capers in EVOO. Melt the butter then add the al dente pasta to the skillet with some of the reserved cooking liquid. Stir in the bread crumb mixture until everything is combined. Serve hot with extra Parmesan cheese and a glass of white wine.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Pesto Mac & Cheese With Sausage Sauté

Pesto Mac & Cheese
1 Pound of short pasta (such as fusilli)
Pesto Sauce
Grated mozzarella
Parmesan cheese

Sausage Sauté
1 Package sweet Italian chicken sausage
Red onion, thinly sliced

This is a more grown-up version of mac & cheese with hot dogs. Chicken sausage is a great dinner option, and I always make sure to have some on hand. It cooks up quick, and goes with virtually any pasta dish. Here, it becomes a side dish for my pasta sautéed with onions. Any pesto sauce mixed with good mozzarella cheese, makes a great creamy sauce for the pasta. It kind of reminds me of the Annie's Alfredo Mac & Cheese, but with a more sophisticated flavor. If you have the time to make your own pesto sauce, this dish could become even tastier.

Boil water for the pasta. Thinly slice the sausage and the onions. Heat EVOO in skillet and sauté sausage and onions until brown and caramelized. Grate cheese while boiling the pasta. Once al dente strain and put back in warm pot. Stir in pesto and cheese until combined. Serve with sausage sauté and grated Parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Abate's White Spinach Pie

Abate's White Spinach Pie
Pizza dough
Bag of baby spinach
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Lemon wedges

This dish is an ode to Abate's Restaurant in New Haven. Not a well-known pizza place considering the famous Pepe's Pizza is down the street, but they make the best spinach pie EVER! My mom and I always stop for lunch whenever we're in the vicinity. There's no sauce and they serve it with lemon wedges. Sounds strange, but the lemon brings this pizza to a whole new level. I am going to try my best to recreate this for our pizza night.

Preheat the oven to 425. Quickly saute baby spinach with some salt, pepper and garlic in some olive oil until just wilted. Roll out the dough and coat with a drizzle olive oil and spread the spinach and garlic mixture evenly. Top with thick slices of mozzarella cheese and bake until the crust is brown and the cheese is bubbly. Serve with a little Parmesan cheese and a lemon wedge.

The verdict: It is possible to enjoy one of my favorite dishes, without the long drive!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gingered Beef and Noodles

Gingered Beef and Noodles
1 pound flank steak
1 package rice noodles
canola oil
Garlic, minced
Ginger, minced
Hot sesame oil
Soy sauce
Bean sprouts
Shitake mushrooms, thinly slice
Scallions, thinly sliced

I rarely make beef dishes mostly because they always intimidate me, but after my successful attempt at Korean beef lettuce wraps, I'm ready for more. Men's Health usually has some relatively healthy beef dishes, so I am adopting this noodle dish recipe, using wide rice noodles instead of egg noodles and adding more veggies with the shitake mushrooms.

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water. Slice the steak into thin strips and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a pan, add garlic and ginger and cook for 30 seconds. Cook steak until browned then add mushrooms and sprouts. Toss in noodles with the soy sauce and sesame oil. Top with scallions.

Serve with some sriracha sauce for extra spice. This makes A LOT too, so can make this Sunday night and eat it all week.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Chicken Quesadillas

Black Bean Dip
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs fresh lime juice
1 tsp cumin
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs EVOO
1 jalapeno, diced
Salt and pepper to taste

Spicy Fresh Salsa
5 tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 serrano chili, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
Lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste

While some may consider it a snack, quesadillas also make a great dinner for a casual night. To make this dish special, I am going to make my own salsa and dip. Seems like many other people had the urge to go Tex-Mex that night too, since Whole Foods was out of cilantro! I survived without it, but if you have cilantro on hand, feel free to add to these recipes.

My dad is the salsa pro, he grows his own tomatoes and peppers and cans it every summer. I am going to try my hand at fresh salsa though. Finely chop up the tomatoes and add to a medium bowl. I just used regular tomatoes, but I would recommend plum. Then dice up half a red onion, garlic, serrano and jalapeno peppers and mix in with the tomatoes. You could leave the seeds out if you want the salsa less spicy. I tossed with the juice of one lime and seasoned with salt and pepper. Definitely tastier and fresher than any store-bought jar!

I had a can of black beans, so I wanted to use them for a dip instead of the usually sour cream or guacamole. Bean dip can be pretty bland, but I found this recipe through the Epicurious web site. I drained the black beans and added to the blender with the red onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Add the lime juice, vinegar, EVOO and cumin and blend until smooth. The cumin adds a nice subtle spice and the vinegar gives it some extra tang. It makes a lot, but this dip is great with just chips or crackers!

For the quesadillas, I seasoned thin sliced chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and lime juice and put on the grill with some red peppers. Once the chicken is cooked and the pepper are blistered, I set aside. Heat a pan and place a tortilla to warm one side. Flip over after one minute and add the sliced chicken and peppers and some grated Monterrey jack. Fold in half and cook until cheese is melted.

Serve warm with the salsa and bean dip.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Linguine With Clam Sauce

Linguine With Clam Sauce
1 can white clam sauce
Parmesan cheese
Crushed red pepper

OK, so this isn't a recipe per se, but this came out so good I just had to post! This is a great restaurant-quality pasta dish for when you need to whip up something quick, or if you're entertaining for a crowd. I have always been dubious of canned clam sauces, but the Bar Harbor White Clam Sauce is the best I've had so far. It's a really thick sauce and it's not grainy at all. Highly recommended by the Hungry Yuppies.

While boiling water, I prepare a salad with the left over greens and tomatoes from my frittata dinner. I cook pasta until almost al dente, then drain. Using the same pot I heat the sauce until bubbling. I toss in the pasta until coated, allowing the pasta to cook a bit more until it's perfect. Garlic bread is a must for any pasta night, and I have an excellent loaf of semolina I must use. I always put Rich in charge of garlic bread while I cook, because he's the best at it. I top the pasta with some Parmesan and crushed red pepper for spice. Serve with the salad, garlic bread, and a glass of white whine of course.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Pesto Frittata

Pesto Frittata
6 eggs
Olive oil
Cherry tomatoes
Prepared pesto
Salt and pepper

This heat wave is still going strong, thus the reason why I've been avoiding the kitchen the past few days. I'm going to venture back in tonight, but I want to limit my cooking time. A frittata is a great choice for a super easy meal, and it's not too heavy.

Pre-heat the broiler. Heat up the olive oil over medium heat in a non-stick oven-proof skillet and sauté the garlic, cherry tomatoes and spinach for a couple of minutes until soft. In the meantime, whisk the eggs in a bowl with some salt and pepper and a couple of spoonfuls of prepared pesto. Add the eggs to the skillet and cook until it's almost set. Throw in the broiler for a minute or two until the top starts to brown. Loosen the edges with a rubber spatula and slide onto a plate.

Serve with a simple salad of greens and balsamic dressing and a slice of garlic bread, and you have the perfect dinner for a steamy summer evening!

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The Hungry Yuppies, Annie and Rich, are a young couple from CT who are self-proclaimed foodies. Annie is the chef, and Rich is her willing taste tester. Juggling a full time job in the city wasn't going to get in the way of Annie's love for cooking. It's about eating well whether you have just 30 minutes on a Monday night, or all day on a rainy Sunday.