October 23, 2013
by tastybelly

Date Shakes

Ok y’all.  I know I have been AWOL lately.  Sorry.  However I have a super good reason, in that I have gotten the best new job doing something I love for a company I come just short of worshipping.  Somehow I managed to fall into a job planning events and other client activities for Kate Spade, WHOOOOOOOOO!  Now I have to spend my days hanging out with a brand I love and coming up with ways to share it with lots of other people.  Stay tuned for more on this front.

camp mighty

While learning how to do my new job I also flew off to Palm Springs for a weekend at Camp Mighty with a bunch of super amazing ladies, and a few brave gentlemen.  Among our activities we talked about the amazing things we want to do, encouraged each other in the activities they want to do, hung out by the pool, went to a space themed party, hung out by the pool some more, AND discovered a Palm Springs delicacy.

photodate shake

Please pardon the picture quality, I only had my phone with me at camp

Palm Springs is known for its date crop, due to the dry, desert air, also due to the dry, desert air someone decided to whirl the dates into a delicious milk shake to be consumed with your feet in the pool.  The combination of dates, milk, and ice cream creates a mildly sweet and nutty which I was not expecting but certainly enjoyed.  While this is something that can be recreated fairly easily I do think that some foods should only be consumed in context.  So I will just have to go back to Palm Springs to have another someday.

Do you have a food you love that you only eat in a certain place?


October 8, 2013
by tastybelly

Get your pasta on

Before we get started just let me make it SUPER clear that I love me some pasta.  I love it tossed with some butter and parmesan, I love it covered in a thick meaty sauce, I love it layered between things and baked till bubbly and tender.  But sometimes you need to swap something in place of the pasta, both for health reasons and just to mix up flavors a little bit.



Or this delicious combination of fresh figs, mascarpone, and peas!

My friend Jen recently introduced me to using a julienne tool to turn a zucchini into “noodles”.  This is a great, and super easy, way to add some veggies to your regular pasta if cooking for someone who proclaims they do not like veggies.  The other night I had two zucchinis in the fridge on the verge of going bad so I decided to make them as the pasta themselves.  After julienneing up the zucchini I tossed two whole garlic cloves into a pan with about 1/4 cup of oil and added 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes.  I cooked all of that over medium heat until the garlic cloves had browned, then pulled them out (and ate them, ovbs) then added the zucchini and tossed to coat it in the sauce.  Then I tossed in 1/4 cup of parmesan and served it up with a quick grind of fresh pepper.  The zucchini was crunch and sweet while the olive oil and cheese made it decadent.


In another case of using up veggies before they go bad happened last weekend, after scoring the last of the heirloom tomatoes of the season (le sad) and some delightful green beans for which I had no idea what to do with them.  The only thing I wanted to do with the tomatoes was slow roast them and then roll around in their juicy, rich goodness, which sadly was not an option.  Instead I roasted them following Smitten Kitchen’s method then I cut the green beans into bite sized pieces and steamed them and tossed the beans and tomatoes together.  After a quick topping of parmesan, which I use in recipes in place of salt most of the time, the dish was ready to be served.


Do you guys have any tricks for swapping out pasta or rice?

October 3, 2013
by tastybelly

Oktoberfest for all!

Last weekend kicked off Oktoberfest, and while there are lots of places you can celebrate in the US most of them end up with me getting super annoyed with folks who started drinking while I was still making sweet, sweet love to a cup of coffee, so this year I decided to get my Oktoberfest on at home.  Now the advantage to celebrating this way is that you can drink really excellent beer and do so in your stretch pants!

Since Oktoberfest doesn’t end until October 6th you have plenty of time to get your sauerkraut on with a few simple recipes.  I started with preparing my bratwurst in the traditional manner (read boiled).  The brats got tossed into a pot and then covered with beer (I used a hefeweizen), and boiled them until they were cooked through.  Then they got tossed onto a grill pan until they had some lovely grill marks on all sides.  Now you can toss them back into the beer to hang out till you are ready to eat them, we just ate them on some delicious pretzel rolls (thank you Trader Joe’s), with whole grain mustard (for me), and sauerkraut (for the hubs).

DSC_0009 DSC_0005

To go with the brats I wanted to make kaese spaetzel, which are 1) amazing and 2) the German version of mac and cheese.  Kaesa spaetzel were also the meal that kept me from falling asleep on the table at the restaurant the first night in Munich after flying in from DC and getting tucked right into a few liters of beer.  You can make your own spaetzel, its not terribly hard (and you do NOT need a spaetzel maker, just substitute in a potato ricer or a strainer with large holes to make the noodles uniform).  I was lazy and got a bag of them from Whole Foods.  To make kaese spaetzel just do the following; 1) boil the spaetzel and drain them when they are 2 minutes under cooked, 2) toss the spaetzel with a cup of grated cheese (whatever you have laying about) and a cup of chicken stock, 3) layer more cheese over the top, 4) bake at 350 for 15 minutes.


To go with the meal you want some super delicious beer that you would only normally share with people you really like.  The hubs and I were introduced to Berliner Weiss, a cloudy, sour, wheat beer while in San Diego in August and it is delicious.  It has the clean finish of a wheat beer with a great sour kick that goes perfectly with the slight sweetness of brats.  A hefeweizen would also work really well, you want something light to go with this meal.


Please ignore the clean towels in the background 🙂

October 1, 2013
by tastybelly

Spanish chicken and cider

In 2010 when the hubs, who was still the boyfriend, and I went to Spain with a group of friends we were told by a friend who had studies abroad in Madrid that we needed to have roast chicken with cider at Casa Mingo.  So we obeyed, like you do.  After a trek across the city, including a very long walk in which we may have gotten lost a few times we found it and it could not have been more perfect.  The restaurant itself is filled with long tables with strangers sitting next to each other enjoying roast chicken, fries, and cider.  The chicken itself was a very simple roast chicken, done on a rotisserie where the fat drips down it and keeps the meat moist, while the dry cider tasted of fresh apples giving the meal a sweetness without a sugary kick.



borrowed from Simon Dance at www.blog.housetrip.com

Flash forward 3 years and once again I invited people over for dinner with no idea what I was going to make, until I realized I had a chicken in the freezer that was begging to be cooked, and after seeing a dozen ads for the new cidre from Stella Artois I had a revelation and decided to throw a Spanish dinner party! Now I don’t have a rotisserie (sad face) so I made my standard roast chicken recipe, but swapped some dry cider in for the usual white wine.  I am rather particular about my cider, as I find so many of them to be too sweet, but I had heard good things about Stella’s new cidre (this is not a promoted post at all, I paid good American dollars at Giant for the four-pack).  It is slightly crisper then most ciders that I have tried, much more like an English cider, so I decided it was perfect! DSC_0028

I also did not have any fries so I decided to roast sweet potatoes and green beans with the chicken, cause green beans are like fries but healthier (right???).  Should you want to make my absolutely foolproof chicken just do the following; pre-heat the over to 425, then dry off your chicken (never wash it).  Then you want to rub butter between the skin and the meat, I used some leftover basil/ginger compound butter.  Next rub the outside of the chicken with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, and pierce two lemons and pop them into the chicken cavity (technical name).  Then your chicken is ready to go, breast-side down, into a dutch oven and into the oven oven for 20 minutes.  While its roasting cut potatoes into cubes (regular or sweet work just fine), then toss them with enough olive oil to coat them, you don’t need much other flavor as the potatoes will go under the chicken and absorb the flavors from the chicken. DSC_0026 After 20 minutes; pull the chicken out, turn the oven down to 350, carefully flip it over, add 1 cup of cider (or white wine), and put the potatoes under the chicken.  Then put the chicken back in the oven until a thermometer reaches 165.  Estimate about 20 minutes per pound (including the 20 minutes it cooked at 425). IMG_0701Once the chicken was done, I took it out of the dutch oven and let it rest on a cutting board.  Then I added the green beans to the potatoes and cooking liquid, covered the dish and baked it for another 10 minutes so the green beans were cooked but still crisp.  You can also not do this, but instead after pulling the chicken out, crank the oven back up to 425 and throw the potatoes back in to crisp them up. IMG_0705

 And here is a gratuitous picture of the world’s cutest chicken carver

Serve your chicken with the juice from the bottom of the pan, the veggies, and a glass of whatever liquid you used to cook the chicken in.

September 26, 2013
by tastybelly

An Italian classic, with mushrooms

I know I have written here about the use of marinara sauce as a way to use up veggie in the fridge before they go bad, but as I discovered the other night that is not the only Italian sauce you can use as a vehicle to prevent veggie waste.  I had purchased mushrooms to use in the fried rice the hubs made the other night, but he decided we had enough veggies and didn’t use them, so I needed to come up with another way to use them before they went bad.


Enter Pasta with Cacio e Pepe  which is a very simple pan sauce of butter, pepper, and cheese.  I started the sauce off by sautéing said leftover mushrooms in a little more butter, then when it was time to start the sauce, I added the originally called for amount of butter and made the sauce according to the recipe.  It literally could not have been easier, making this a great recipe for a crazy weeknight.  Plus the use of ALL the cheese means that anyone who doesn’t like this recipe is someone we don’t like, so they wouldn’t have been invited to dinner anyway.


I paired the pasta with a simple kale salad, with a sprinkle of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice, and dinner was done.  Leaving lots of time for updating all our devices with iOS 7 and watch House of Cards.


September 24, 2013
by tastybelly

Quick, easy, and delish

I am a sick person.  I truly love making big elaborate meals that require multiple steps, multiple pots and pans, and take hours to prep all of the steps from scratch.  Sadly I cannot cook that way every day.  On Tuesdays I have dance until 9:30, which means I walk in the door around 10:15 and good grief am I hungry when I do.  The hubs beats me home by about an hour and a half, after being at work and at school all day, so he is tired and hungry as well.  Generally he makes some sort of kitchen sink meals for us, using either mac and cheese or random veggie as a base.


This week, since we had been out of town the weekend before, the contents of our fridge consisted of eggs, leftover Chinese delivery rice.  Clearly the only dinner option was to make some fried rice for dinner.  A while back I had stumbled across a recipe in People Magazine for Hugh Jackman’s fried rice, and if it’s good enough for Wolverine it’s good enough for us.


I did decide to add some more veggies to bulk up the rice a bit, and to combat the sheer amount of red meat we ate at the wedding last weekend, the veggies (red pepper, mushrooms, and peas) were just added to the oil, garlic, and ginger.


The recipe is so simple but so yummy, and really could be made with whatever you happen to have kicking around your fridge and even frozen veggies if that’s what you have.

September 19, 2013
by tastybelly

How to eat your veggies: Sicilian eggplant

So I am going to try a series over the next few months highlighting different veggies, some you (and I) probably have not heard of and as we get more into winter some that we have all heard of but may not know the best way to eat.


First off is the humble Sicilian eggplant.  Which I had never heard of until I came across one at a Jersey farm stand last weekend.  They are shaped more like a tomato and have a much thinner skin then the regular eggplants.  Once I got it home and started thinking about what to make the only thing I really wanted was an eggplant parm situation using some delicious heirloom tomatoes that I bought (and accidentally left in my market bag).  I wanted to approximate the flavor of tomato sauce while still leaving everything in slices so I could stack it all at the end.


I took the eggplant and the tomatoes and cut them into evenish slices so that I had 8 of each.  The tomatoes then went on a cookie sheet with a sprinkle of salt at 300 degrees for 50 minutes.  Since the tomatoes were being cooked so simply, since really they need so little flavor this time of year, I needed to add the normal flavors that I put in my tomato sauce into the eggplant.  I sauteed sliced garlic and onions in olive oil with some crushed red pepper (about 1Tish), and once that was hot I added four slices of eggplant and cooked them for about two minutes, flipped them, and added another 2 tablespoons of oil to make sure that each piece got oiled nicely.  From there  I added 1/4 cup of red wine to the skillet, covered it, and let them cook for about five minutes.  Keep an eye on your eggplant as the cooking time will depend on how thick it is cut.  That set of eggplant then got transferred to a plate and popped into the oven to stay warm while I did the second batch.


While the tomatoes finished roasting and the eggplant rendered itself all silky I sliced my mozzarella (you can use shredded put using balls and slicing them is really so much tastier).


Once everything was done I layered it all together, eggplant, tomato, mozzarella, eggplant, tomato, mozzarella.  I layered it in the skillet and then popped the lid back on for about 5 minutes (with the heat off) so the flavors could all combine and the cheese could melt nicely.


While it sounds complicated it really wasn’t once you got everything sliced and going it was super simple.

September 17, 2013
by tastybelly

A Turkish Dinner Party

The other day I was bored (read procrastinating) at work and I started Googling Moroccan recipes, twenty minutes later I decided that for the dinner party we were throwing on Saturday I just HAD to go Moroccan.

While I had already mastered the chicken tagine, I decided to make it again as a) its crazy easy, and b) I had all of the ingredients I needed.  I did decide to add golden raisins to the boiling chicken stock when I made the couscous.  Which was super tasty and a really easy way to make the couscous fancy.

I had thought about also making a chicken pastilla, which is one of my most favorite Moroccan dishes with the layers of chicken and phyllo and almonds, topped with powered sugar.  However on Saturday we had a ton going on and the thought of making it was stressing me out.  So I skipped it.

Instead I made a collection of small moroccan salads, which were all fresh and delicious.  I started with a quick tomato salad as I had heirloom cherry tomatoes going bad in the fridge.  I cut them into quarters and discarded the seeds.  Then I tossed with the juice of one lemon and a little salt and pepper.


I then made another cold salad of 6 sliced Persian cucumbers which were tossed with; 4 tablespoons of sugar, 4 tablespoons of vinegar, 4 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of thyme and marjoram.

I then did two hot salads, one with carrots and one with eggplant.  While I tweaked the recipes for the tomato and cucumbers salads (mostly because I lacked a few ingredients for each) , I was able to follow recipes for the other two perfectly.  Both were super delicious and could be made along side any dish to make it a little fancier.

While I spent a lot of time chopping veggies none of these recipes took very much time, and you could absolutely prep ahead of time and then throw it all together and look like a total domestic goddess (which is generally how I like people to see me!)


September 12, 2013
by tastybelly

Kale is your friend

So I have already shared with you the recipe for the world’s yummiest kale, have you made it?  If not go do it, its ok I’ll wait and drink my delicious coffee till you come back.

Now let us discuss raw kale and its place in your life.  Now until recently I thought that raw kale was total bs, it tasted like chewing on leaves.  Then both Joe Yonan AND my friend Jen introduced me to the idea of massaging your kale before you eat it.  Now I know it sounds strange, but it totally makes it delicious.  You can either massage the kale raw or you can toss a little olive oil on it and massage it in.  I recommend this method because the oil gives it a really good flavor and it breaks the kale down just a little bit more then a dry massage method (which if you have ever had massages you know you need some sort of oil to keep everything moving).  The other upside to using oil is that then you already have some on the kale and it makes it crazy easy to dress the salad once you are ready.  Massage the kale and then let it sit for at least a half hour and up to a few hours before serving it.


Now I am a purist when it comes to my salad dressing, I don’t like heavy dressing but rather prefer something light and simple.  More often then not I use olive oil, lemon juice, and some parmesan (which I generally use in place of salt in most recipes).  I also make a lot of dijon vinaigrettes, because I am always looking for a new way to get mustard into my mouth.


With a kale salad you want to keep it on the light side, but add a lot of delicious veggies to amp up the flavor.  Right now you should add tomatoes to absolutely everything before they go out of season.  You could also toss some delicious berries on the salad, blueberries and raspberries are awesome right now (and would go really nicely with the above mentioned dijon vinaigrette), I also bet that you could get tiny humans to eat a salad if it has fruit on it.  Fresh corn and cucumbers would also be really yummy, I would toss them with a spicier dressing to set off the flavors nicely.  I once learned a trick of using some sriracha as a dressing, just be super careful not to use too much.

DSC_0058What are you putting on your salads in these remaining days of summer?


September 6, 2013
by tastybelly
1 Comment

Snack Dinner

First off.  I can’t take credit for this idea, Maggie Mason of Mighty Girl  often does this with her son Hank.  I just made it a little more grown up.

Now for those who don’t know snack dinner is where you combine a number of small food stuffs together to make a full and delicious meal, it’s pretty much tapas but super easy in that you don’t have to cook much or really do anything other then lay it all out and devour.

The idea struck me on Tuesday night as I was wandering the produce section of Whole Foods trying to decide what to make for dinner.  All I really wanted was to eat the whole brick of aged English cheddar that was in my fridge, however I realized that it wasn’t a complete meal.  And the hubs was going to want more food then that.  So I started adding things to my cart till I had a more or less complete meal.


From the seafood section I grabbed a container of pre-cooked shrimp which I served with homemade cocktail sauce (1/4 cup of curry ketchup plus horseradish to taste, I pretty much do a 1:1 ration but we like spicy).

Then I took a few cucumber and julienned them and tossed them with 1/8 cup of red wine vinegar and 1/8 cup of olive oil, plus a sprinkle of celery salt.

From the antipasta bar at Whole Foods I grabbed marinated mushrooms (for me) and olives (for the hubs).

A sliced up whole wheat baguette was the perfect vehicle for the cheddar, plus soaking up what was left of the red wine vinaigrette from.  I added some fresh apricots to the cheese platter, mostly because I love how they smell and these were so fresh and played off the creamy and tangy cheese perfectly.

Last but not least I grabbed two big cookies for dessert.

While it was the easiest meal to put make it was delicious and the combination of salty, sweet, savory, and spicy made it satisfying and delicious.

What would you serve in a snack dinner?