Busy Girl Breakfast

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Breakfast has never been my forte. It’s embarrassing to admit but I have never really mastered the perfect scrambled eggs. Even bacon is never as good as my mom makes it, and my omelets
end up looking like a pile of ingredients all mixed togerher.  Maybe it’s a skill I should try and work on, but to be honest I’ve never been a big breakfast eater. I go through phases where I can’t walk out the door unless I have a big bowl of cereal, a smoothie, or a bagel. At the moment I get by on coffee for breakfast… by the time 11 am rolls by I am absolutely ravenous– a ticking time bomb.  

Now, there are some occasions when whipping up a large breakfast is an absolute must. Maybe you’re having company for the weekend or maybe you’re just feeling an extra breakfast-y sort of morning. The perfect solution is a breakfast casserole. I know what you’re thinking. Casseroles seems so Brady Bunch and passé don’t they? I think it’s just the name– CASSEROLE. Sounds gross…I bet you if someone changed the name they would become en vogue again.  

Anyway, this dish is disturbingly easy to make. Seriously anyone can do it. The best part is it can be made up to 24 hours in advance, allowing you to get plenty of stress-free beauty rest. Guests will literally think you slaved all morning in the kitchen, especially with the unexpected flavor from the onion rolls and chives. You can sashay into the kitchen one hour before guests arrive, and while it cooks work on more important things…like making Bloody Mary’s and mimosas.     

Ingredients

  • 6 Onion Rolls ($4)
  • 1 C Cheddar cheese, grated ($2)
  • 8 oz cream cheese ($1.50)
  • 1 1/2 stick butter ($1.50)
  • 10 eggs ($3)
  • 1 tsp chives, chopped ($.25)
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper 

Total: $12.25

Instructions

Butter a 9×13 dish

Tear onion rolls, place in bottom of dish. Top with cheddar then dot with cream cheese

Cut butter and place pats all over top of dish. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over top. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.   

Bake at 325 for 45 minutes. Remove foil, increase temp to 350 and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve!

Quinoa Fried Rice

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It’s not my best quality, but I have a hard time talking about quinoa with a straight face. Sure, I have been eating it for over five years, but when an ingredient is everywhere, when it is treated as if it were the answer to all food questions — like what is a low carb alternative to rice —  I can’t help but want to rebel against it. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN- WA), the ancient not-quite-a-grain cultivated by the Incas, took a seat at the cool kid’s table after virtual obscurity in the States. Vegetarians and foodies alike rave about its high-protein content and versatility in the kitchen.

Despite my yearning for a food rebellion, I can’t help admit that quinoa really is quite fabulous. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, “blank canvas food” is the best. Sure, on its own it bland and boring, but with the proper technique and ingredients you can transform it into something beyond great. I’m obsessed with my sweet and sour chicken. It’s one of those recipes that tastes like cheat food but is deceivingly healthy and low-carb. This recipe is the perfect partner in crime. 1 serving of both will only cost you about 450 cals. #winning

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa ($2.50)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • ¼ small onion, chopped ($.50)
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped ($.20)
  • 3 scallions, chopped ($.10)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced ($.20)
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced ($.20)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil ($.10)
  • 2 eggs ($.75)
  • ½ cup frozen peas ($.50)
  • Sauce:
  • 1 ½ tablespoons teriyaki sauce ($.25)
  • 2 ½ tablespoons soy sauce ($.20)
  • ¾ teaspoon sesame oil ($.20)

Total: $5.90

  1. Bring quinoa and water in a medium saucepan, and then reduce to a simmer
  2. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until quinoa is fluffy and cooked through. Remove from heat and let set for five minutes or so. Fluff with a fork.
  3. Mix teriyaki, soy sauce, and sesame oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. Heat ½ tablespoon olive oil in a large sauté pan over a high heat. Add onion and carrot, cook about two minutes. Add 2 scallions, garlic and ginger to the pan. Cook another two minutes. Add in the rest of the olive oil and the quinoa. Stir-fry about two minutes. Add sauce and stir-fry until incorporated, about two minutes. Make a well in the center of the quinoa pour eggs in, scramble. Add in peas, then toss everything together until the peas are warmed through, add remaining scallion and serve.

Mini Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake

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If you don’t like peanut because due to allergies or a mental illness then this recipe isn’t for you, man. It’s chock full of peanut buttery goodness and the perfect amount of milk chocolate– simply divine.

When you think of perfect food combinations, what comes to mind? Peas and carrots, meat and potatoes, wine and cheese . All of these are significant flavor profiles that we understand, growing up here in America. But what about the best combination of all —chocolate and peanut butter? Not only is this the best of flavor concoction known to man, but it’s the mix I never stray from at Pinkberry.

I really don’t buy the whole romantic idea of chocolate finding peanut butter by a chance, clumsy collision between a dude with a chocolate bar and a lady sashaying with a spoon and a jar of Jif. That was just a cheesy commercial! In fact, most accounts of history award the founding of this famous combination to Harry Reese, who began working for Milton Hershey’s Pennsylvania chocolate factory in 1917. Talk about a flavor fusion that endured! Mr. Harry Reese invented the peanut butter cup, the one and only REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup!

I was a bit weary of mixing peanut butter and cream cheese, the core ingredient of cheesecake. If you’re anything like me, the thought of cream cheese and peanut butter intentionally mixed probably gives you a bit of pause… I don’t know cheese plus sweetened peanuts? That can’t be right! Well, I was wrong. They are a perfect match. The tangy/saltiness of the cream cheese help the peanut butter hit all the right notes.

Oh, and just a random site note– don’t you hate it when recipes don’t call out brand names? For goodness sakes a “chocolate sandwich cookie” is an OREO. A ” chocolate peanut butter candy” is a REESE’S PEANUT BUTTER CUP. Phew, glad I got that off my chest.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • ·         1 cup crushed Oreos ($1.25)
  • ·         2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted ($.10)

Cheesecake:

  • ·         2 8-oz packages cream cheese, softened ($2.50)
  • ·         1/2 cup creamy peanut butter ($1.00)
  • ·         1 tbsp all-purpose flour ($.03)
  • ·         1/4 cup half & half ($.20)
  • ·         2 eggs ($.40)
  • ·         2/3 cup sugar ($.10)
  • ·         1 tsp vanilla extract ($.05)

Chocolate Ganache Topping:

  • ·         1 cup chocolate chips ($1.00)
  • ·         1/2 cup heavy cream ($1.00)
  • ·         1 cup mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, chopped ($2.00)

Total: $8.28

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Combine the Oreos and melted butter with a spoon. Place muffin liners into each cup and add about 1-2 teaspoons of the crumbled graham crackers to the bottom of each cup. Bake for 5 minutes.
  2. While the crust is baking, prepare the cheesecake batter. In a bowl combine the 2 packages of softened cream cheese with the peanut butter and sugar. Mix well. Add the flour, half & half, and vanilla extract and mix until just combined. Finally, add the eggs and stir until incorporated.
  3. After the Oreo crusts have been removed from the oven, lower the temperature to 350. Spoon the cheesecake batter into the muffin tin. Fill the cups almost to the top. Bake for about 15 minutes in the preheated oven. To test, gently shake the pan. The center should barely jiggle when done.
  4. Turn off the oven and allow the cheesecakes to slowly cool (this will help prevent the cheesecakes from cracking). Open the oven door a few inches to allow the heat to escape. Once the cheesecakes are near room temperature, place them into the refrigerator to cool for at least 2 hours.
  5. Once the cheesecakes are cool, prepare the ganache. Add water to a large pot and bring to a simmer. Place a heatproof glass bowl over the pot and add the chocolate and heavy cream. Slowly stir with a spoon until the chocolate has melted, careful not to incorporate too much air. Once melted, remove from heat.
  6. Spoon 1 tsp of chocolate ganache over the cheesecakes. Sprinkle with chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups.

 

 

Mediterranean Brussels Sprouts

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If you hate Brussels Sprouts then I’m going to try and change your mind. As I mentioned in a previous post, Brussels Sprouts really got the worst PR of any veggie out there. They were always characterized as mushy, stinky green orbs that children all over the globe vehemently rejected. I too rejected the poor little guys until I was enlightened a few years ago at a trendy restaurant somewhere above the Mason Dixon line. Lately I’ve been seeing these guys fried into oblivion and smothered with some sort of shallot/ olive oil/ bacon/ salt mixture. While that sounds tasty I wanted to try something a little different that wouldn’t cost me more calories than a double cheeseburger.

I love mediterranean food, especially small plates and tapas where you can indulge in several little bites, all jam packed with flavor. This recipe incorprates the perfect balance of sweetness, bitterness and irresistible crunch. The combination of sweet figs and tart greek yogurt brings these sprouts head and shoulders above your childhood nightmare. I’m thinking these would be awesome for a tapas dinner party of sorts– hummus, lamb meatballs, zucchini fritters and of course plenty of wine. Sounds good right? Maybe I’ll have one just because! Friends, standby.  

Ingredients

  • 1 lb brussel sprouts, stalks removed and cut in half ($2.50)
  • 1 tbs olive oil ($.10)
  • 1/2 tsp sherry vinegar ($.05)
  • 4 tbs lightly toasted walnuts, chopped ($.25)
  • 5 tbs sliced red seedless grapes ($.25)
  • 3/4 C light plain Greek yogurt ($.75)
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 tbs minced mint ($.20)
  • 1/2 c fig jam ($1.50)
  • 1/4 c water

Total: $5.60

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 500

2. Toss sprouts with 1 tbs olive oil and place cut side down on baking pan. Roast 17 minutes or until crispy and cooked through

3. While sprouts are cooking blend fig jam and 1/4 c water in blender until smooth. Cook over medium heat in saucepan until reduced in half

4. Mix together yogurt, mint and salt. Set aside

5. When sprouts are finished, splash with sherry vinegar and mix until well combined

6. Put sprouts on serving dish and sprinkle on toasted walnuts and grapes. Using a fork, alternate equal drizzles of fig mixture and yogurt mixture. Be careful not to add too much as you can serve additional sauce on the side. Season with more salt to taste, if needed,

Butternut Squash Soup

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It’s freaking COLD in DC right now. I don’t know what the heck happened but all of the sudden I feel like I live the North Pole. It went from 72 degrees last week to a low of 26 today. Not okay. The only cure for living in this frozen tundra is eating a big bowl of hot soup. It’s also the middle of fall, so of course anything involving pumpkin, squash, or any other gourd is a must.

My second favorite squash (Spaghetti is first) is Butternut. Why is it so good? It’s tastiness is one thing, but I think its actually very good for you. To be honest I’m not sure why it’s good for you but I think maybe its packed with Beta Carotene. Soooo… eye healthy maybe? Whatever. I will be completely honest with you and tell you I didn’t make up this recipe completely on my own. It’s actually a tweaked recipe from the Ritz Carlton. I know, ironic for a budget recipe blog but I did this for only seven bucks– and that’s with all organic ingredients!

Ingredients
  • 1 large Butternut Squash ($2.00)
  • 1 small yellow onion ($1.00)
  • 3 stalks celery ($.50)
  • 7 baby carrots, sliced thinly ($.20)
  • 1 Garlic Clove ($.10)
  • 1.5 cups chicken stock ($1.50)
  • 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg ($.10)
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Clove ($.05)
  • 1/2 tsp. Brown Sugar ($.05
  • 1 cup heavy cream ($1.00)
  • 1/2 cup half & half ($.50)
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Total: $7.00

Instructions
  1. Slice squash in half and remove seeds
  2. Rub clove, nutmeg and 1 tbd olive oil on squash halves
  3. Microwave (cut side down) in casserole dish for 6 minutes
  4. While squash is cooking, heat pan and sauté onions, celery, carrot, and garlic for 5 minutes
  5. Add chicken stock to sautéed vegetables
  6. Add butternut squash to stock mixture once it is removed from microwave
  7. Cook for 30 minutes on low
  8. Add cream and brown sugar
  9. Bring to a boil
  10. Blend to a smooth puree in blender
  11. Return to heat. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if needed

Baked Buffalo Wings

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Well, first off let me say that I’m deeply sorry for my month-long hiatus. In case you’re wondering why I fell off the face of the earth, my own little world has been completely turned upside down. Between traveling to the Far East (work, not pleasure), a quick, unexpected move, and taking on another job– lets just say I’ve been a bit preoccupied. Things are starting to reach some level of normalcy, so I’m back in the kitchen and ready to cook. I even have a new and improved kitchen!  Photo below…please excuse the mess. We are still unpacking.

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So, in honor of football season and stress eating, I thought I’d try my hand at buffalo wings tonight. I am a very picky wing eater. I think ever since I discovered that most restaurants use frozen, year-old chicken wings packed with hormones and other unnatural substances I’ve been a bit turned off by this classic American fare. Not to be a wing snob, but they need to be fresh, light(ish) and free of fat and chemicals for me to enjoy them.

Ok, I will make an exception. I’m probably one of five girls that actually enjoys going to Hooters. Not for the hooters themselves, but for the wings. I highly doubt that Hooters uses farm fresh organic chicken wings, but I’m willing to make an exception.

Funny story- when I was in Japan last month (home of the world’s most Michelin Star restaurants), I was DYING for buffalo wings. I know that sounds crazy, but come talk to me after eating sushi for a week straight. If you’re ever in Tokyo, you have to check out the Hooters in Ginza. Not only was I the only female in the restaurant, but the food is actually better than what we get stateside and the waitresses are hilarious. They totally play in to the stereotypes and I love it. Not to go off on a tangent, but I think anyone that sees Hooters as being “degrading to women” should take a flying leap. It’s a business. It’s successful. And oh by the way, nobody is FORCED to work there. Most importantly their wings and curly fries rock.

The next best thing to Hooters is to make wings yourself. Tonight I wasn’t in the mood for deep-fried anything, so I decided to bake these suckers. The trick is to coat them in plenty of flour and spice to ensure a nice crisp texture. The result? Fantastic.

Ingredients

  • 10 Chicken pieces (drumsticks and wings) ($5.00)
  • 3/4 C flour ($.50)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($.05)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder ($.05)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c butter ($.25)
  • 1/2 c hot sauce (I use Texas Pete) ($.50)

Total: $6.35

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick spray.

Combine flour, cayenne, garlic powder and salt. Rinse and pat dry chicken wings. In large bag, shake and coat wings with flour mixture. Place wings in refrigerator (on cookie sheet) for 45 minutes.

Whisk 1/4 c melted butter and 1/4 c hot sauce. Dredge chilled wings in buffalo sauce then bake for 40 minutes, flipping them halfway through.

Combine leftover (melted) butter and hot sauce. Once wings are done, drizzle more hot sauce on them. Serve with celery stick and ranch or bleu cheese dressing.

So anyway,

Butternut Squash and Kale Quesadillas

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It’s almost fall. Can you believe it!? Where on earth has 2013 gone? I’m very sad about saying farewell to rosé wine, white jeans and tank tops, but am so looking forward to the delicious delicacies of the season. I can almost taste Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. In celebration of the slight change in temperature, I thought I would offer a transitional recipe combining some of my favorite ingredients: cheese, kale and butternut squash.

Everyone who follows this blog is aware of my kale obsession. I didn’t jump on the kale bandwagon two years ago when some Iron Chef decided to make it popular. I’ve been eating the stuff since college. Besides being cheap and easy to cook its also incredibly good for you. Packed with nutrients, it’s rich in vitamins C and K as well as beta carotene. Kale also contains a chemical called sulforaphane, which has potent anti-cancer properties.

Let’s talk about squash. If you don’t like butternut squash, or any squash for that matter, then I think you are crazy. Butternut and Spaghetti are my favorite varieties, but I’d rank B-nut as number one. If it exists, I think I could eat a Gerber baby food jar of butternut squash, I’m not kidding. Is that weird? No but seriously, I think butternut squash contains some sort of dopamine-elevating drug similar to chocolate.

Finally, there’s cheese. I don’t even know where to begin. So I’ll just stop here…some things are just better left unsaid.

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 1/2 whole Butternut Squash, seeded, peeled, chopped ($2.50)
  • 1 tbs olive oil ($.10)
  • 2 tbs butter ($.10)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Chili Powder ($.05)
  • 1 bunch Kale leaves, torn ($2.00)
  • 8 flour tortillas ($2.00)
  • 1 tbs Butter For Frying
  • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese ($2.50)
  • Sour Cream For Serving ($.50)

Total: $9.75

Instructions

Heat 1 tbs butter and oil. Add B-nut squash and season with chili powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes, or until squash is deep golden brown and tender. Remove and set aside.

Melt 1tbs butter over medium-high heat and add in the kale. Toss and cook it for 4 minutes. Add in the cooked squash and gently toss together. Set aside.

In a separate skillet, melt additional butter and lightly brown 1 quesadilla. Add a layer of cheese topped with a layer of the squash/kale mixture, topped with a second tortilla.

Brown the quesadilla on both sides, adding more butter to the pan if needed to ensure the proper crunch and golden color.

When the cheese is melted, remove each quesadilla from the skillet and cut it into four wedges.

You will end up with four quesadillas. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.