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Fast Food

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you guys, i made this for dinner the other night (as documented on instagram above), and it was so spectacularly easy that i forgot to take pictures of my progress. essentially, i have a before picture, and an after picture, and that’s about it. but that’s okay, because as i said, it’s pretty much the easiest recipe EVER, so there’s not that much to document. i found the recipe here, and adapted it a bit to suit my kitchen needs.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb rigatoni pasta
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 2 cups spaghetti sauce (i used trader joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 ounces mozzarella ( i got mine at trader joe’s)
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 3-5 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 pre-cooked chicken breast (i had some breaded chicken left over that i chopped up)

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook pasta according to package in a large pot of water with salt. Once pasta is fully cooked, drain and drizzle with olive oil.
  3. In a large pan warm spaghetti sauce over medium heat. One the sauce is heated, add in heavy cream and parmesan cheese. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. Once cheese is melted pour sauce over noodles.
  4. Cut grape tomatoes in half and mozzarella in 1/2 inch cubes. Then combine the mozzarella (save about 1/4 cup) and tomatoes with the pasta. Add your chopped up chicken (shrimp would also be yummy!) Pour into a 9×9 baking dish. Top with remaining cheese.
  5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until golden brown.
  6. Top with fresh basil. Enjoy!

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you know that phrase “stressed is desserts” spelled backwards? well, sometimes i think stressed is carbs, spelled…i don’t know how. basically, what i’m trying to say is that as much as i love sweets (hello, blog name), there comes a time in a girl’s life (or day) when she just wants to eat carbs.

enter, a big bowl o’ pasta. i ask you, is there anything carbs can’t cure? a pot of penne can sop up a lot of tears, and we all know pasta cooks in salt water. yesterday was a long day, and even though it included a mini cupcake from crumbs, i still came home wanting nothing more than to cuddle up on the couch with some spaghetti and watch my DVR-ed episode of SVU. of course, the fact that SVU wasn’t new this week was a major let down, but i made do with nashville. can’t win ’em all!

i did, however, luck out with this super easy pasta recipe that’s sopped in garlic and freshened up by lemon zest and italian flat leaf parsley. i found it here, and i’d highly recommend it. this thing is YUMMY. major kudos to the chef. i didn’t measure as closely as the original recipe and so i’ve rewritten it slightly below. i’d recommend this dish for long days, when you want something delicious but don’t feel like slaving over the stove, or when you’re having company over, and you want to look like you’re an amazing italian chef who just happened to end up in new york (if you go this route, might i suggest an italian accent to go with)? no, but really. make this. it’s easy. and so, so good. Image

 The Recipe: Lemon Pasta with Parsley and Parmesan

 You’ll need:

 * 3/4 lb spaghetti ( I used the Trader Joe’s brand)

* 5 garlic cloves, minced

* 1/4 cup olive oil

* 2 tablespoons butter

* 1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

* the zest of 2 large lemons

* the juice of one large lemon (about 1/3 cup)

* salt and pepper to taste

* a whole lot of pram

 To make:

First things first: cook spaghetti as directed in a large pot of salted water. While pasta is cooking, prep your other ingredients (yes, it’s that easy).

First, heat olive oil and butter on low in a small saucepan. Don’t turn it on high, your butter will burn. Mince your garlic, and add it to your olive oil/butter mixture and turn the heat up slightly. Cook until tender and fragrant (your kitchen will smell amazing right about now), about 3-5 minutes. While it’s cooking, zest and juice your lemons.

Drain pasta and place into a large serving bowl. Dump garlic and olive oil mixture atop of pasta and stir to incorporate evenly. Inhale. Exhale, and toss pasta with parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice. Resist the urge to take a bite right now. Season liberally with salt and pepper, and toss with freshly grated parmesan.

 Now, you can take a bite. Go ahead. See? I told you so. It’s good. Just try not to eat the whole thing (but I won’t blame you if you can’t help it).

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i can’t help it. anytime i think nachos, i think bad jokes. it’s like the two are inextricably connected in my brain. crazy. speaking of crazy, you want to hear something crazy? crazy is that my roommate “doesn’t really like snacks.” as in, she’s not a grazer. she doesn’t open the fridge and stand there thinking, “i need a lil’ somethin’ somethin’.” EVER. this blows my mind. i am a huge snacker. i overpack my lunch every day just in case i need a string cheese at 3PM or some popcorn at 4. at night, i crunch rainbow-colored NERDS on my couch while i watch house hunters, and sometimes, i stuff my face with trader joe’s cheesy popcorn. hi my name is sarah and i can’t live without snacks.

so it’s totally baffling to me that a person could say something like, “i don’t really snack.” SAY WHAAA, GIRL? but you know what, you guys? i made her snack last night. yes indeedy i did. and it was all thanks to the magical power of these nachos – which, by the way, take less than five minutes to throw together and require NO MEASURING CUPS OR SPOON AT ALL. easiest “recipe” ever.

The Recipe

(all measurements are approximate – but here’s what i’d estimate i used)

1 cup shredded mexican cheese (mine is from TJ’s)

1 can black beans (mine are from TJ’s)

about 3/4 cup of pico de gallo (the roughly chopped kind, not the tostitos kind you buy in a glass container at the supermarket)

1/2 cup of corn (i used fresh off the cob, but frozen would do)

sour cream, for dipping.

chips, of course.

ready for the hard part? spread your chips out on a plate. then sprinkle with cheese. you want the cheese to be the bottom layer so that it melts straight onto the chips. YUM CHEESE. next sprinkle your beans and corn on, then top with salsa, and if you’re a cheese-a-holic like i am, MORE CHEESE. now, microwave for a minute or two.

GIRL, you have just made some seriously kickass nachos.

optional other add ons, if you’ve got ’em: chopped cilantro (I HAD THIS WHY DID I NOT USE IT?!), chopped avocado/guacamole, a sprinkle of fresh lime juice, chopped chicken or beef. nachos are like a garbage can that tastes really good. you can put ANYTHING on there, and as long as you add cheese and melt that ish, you’re guaranteed a party in your mouth.

Imageon days when it’s ninety million degrees out, there’s little that can possess me to turn on my oven and start cooking. which is why yesterday, when it was at least 90 but the humidity made it feel more like 100, i whipped up an easy version of a salad i learned from my mom, and threw it into a taco. it’s basically some black beans, some corn, some salsa, and some cilantro. and that’s it! can you say EASY? i can.

i’m generally a bit wary of taking recipes from my mom, mostly because she’s kind of a health freak and i’m kind of, well, not. i prefer baking s’mores brownies over eating weight watchers “brownies” (let’s face it, they’re not the real thing). growing up, my house was full of things like rice puffs (cereal) and fruit leathers (snacks) and carrot sticks and apple slices and maybe a slice or two of cheese. we didn’t buy frosted flakes, or captain crunch, or fruit roll ups or shark bites (all things i desperately wanted). here’s the thing: when you’re in elementary school and everyone else is either buying lunch or taking out a PB&J at the table, and you’ve got a series of stacking tupperware containers filled with leftover chicken breast and maybe some brown rice, all you want is to fit in. when everyone else is eating shock tarts at snack time and you’ve got a fruit leather, all you want is to fit in. to the point where you’ll sneak away after piano lessons to the local convenience store and spend the entirety of your $20 allowance on junk food so you can eat it alongside your fellow students in school, and also in your bed at night when you’re feeling bad about yourself and you know a king size package of reese’s cups will make all your problems go away.

i don’t assert that my parents stringent healthiness (which, by the way, eased up as i got older) was what made me turn to junk food – on the contrary, i think most of it was that i was unhappy, and i ate to feed my sadness – but i do think i wanted junk food more simply because i was deprived of it. everyone else got oreos, i got fig newtons (which, to this day, i still believe are disgusting and should be banned from the cookie aisle), and at a time in my life when i desperately wanted to be thin and pretty and cool and popular and instead was chubby and mousy and un-athletic and unpopular, having health food next to all my friend’s “cool” snacks just made things worse. 

that being said, as i’ve gotten older and my self-esteem has developed a bit more (god, you could not pay me to go back to middle school – or elementary school for that matter), my relationship with food has gotten much healthier, and in turn, i’ve come to really enjoy healthy food. which, in my opinion, this recipe is. so long as you don’t eat ten tacos. everything in moderation, folks. 

The Recipe

1 can black beans 

1 cup frozen corn (though fresh corn would be even better)

1 cup chunky salsa (i get mine at trader joe’s)

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

corn tortillas (i get mine at trader joe’s)

shredded mexican cheese

to make, combine corn, beans, salsa and cilantro in a bowl. put a scoop of corn mixture on each tortilla, top with shredded cheese and garnish with a sprig of cilantro. for extra oomph, add some sauteed taco meat. 

 

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if you’ve ever spent a drunken night in new york city’s east village, chances are you’ve ended the evening at one of two places: pommes frites, or ray’s candy store. both are east village/new york institutions, purveyors of all things greasy and good. at both places, you order a large serving of fries and choose from a bevy of sauces, from chipotle mayo to sesame peanut to honey mustard and beyond. there’s some deliriously beautiful about standing in line at ray’s or pomme frites, your legs jittery from dancing, your hair caked to your neck with dried sweat, the scent of your deodorant creeping up to your nose, your head and your heart giddy with the fact that you live here in this beautiful crazy city and you’re out there soaking it up with every cell of your being. of course, there’s also something deliriously beautiful about stuffing your slightly tipsy face with fries and assorted sauces, of plopping yourself down on the nearest bench or stoop or one of pomme frites’ picnic-esque tables and sitting in silence as you eat, only the sounds of teeth coming down on crispy fries to keep you company. 

i’m partial to ray’s, because it’s an institution that’s been around forever, because it’s simple and sweet and a hole in the wall, and i love me a hole in the wall – but to be sure, pomme frites has more sauce options. but you know what? i can also make my own french fries, in my tiny but cozy kitchen, with the oil splattering the tiles on the back of my oven and dotting the floor with grease. and then i can make some of the amazing sauces (many of which are the same as the ones you can get at pomme frites) that i found over on saveur. YUM A LICIOUS.