Saturday, April 6, 2013
Ciao foodies! We have made it to the middle of Spring and thus begins the season of potluck gatherings that will continue on well into the summer. When I am asked to bring something to a potluck picnic or backyard affair, it can be expected that I am going to bring a pasta salad. This dish is a winner every time; for me and the attendees of the potluck I serve it at. It can be made far in advance for minimal effort and cost…but it is always a hit! It’s tasty and satisfying, whether it is served cold or at room temperature. Furthermore, you can make pasta salad for yourself at home and eat it for lunch, dinner, or as a side for an entire week. The convenience of pasta salad dishes along with the texture and tastes are what really make pasta salads popular for these engagements.
This is “the ‘Johnny Pasta’ Salad”. (My new nick name is Johnny Pasta btw). This pasta salad dish combines farfalle, commonly known as bowtie, pasta together with juicy fresh tomatoes, sweet bell peppers, rich black olives, gourmet marinated artichoke hearts, and tangy feta cheese all dressed in vinaigrette of your choice.
It feeds and pleases while remaining simple and decently healthy. I always make this dish when my friends and family have backyard parties and picnics. However, I’m not oppose to eating it myself all week either! Try this recipe and I am sure you will find many uses for it!
Also, don’t forget that you can create your own pasta salad using the ingredients you like the most. This is “the ‘Johnny Pasta’ Salad” because over the years as I’ve made pasta salads, I find this is the combination of ingredients I like best, but you might like other combos. You don’t really need a recipe. Just follow the basic steps for cooking the pasta you see here and have fun! Hope your friends and family love this one, or whatever creation you come with! Salute!
"The 'Johnny Pasta' Salad"
1 ½ pounds farfalle (bowtie) pasta
2 ½ cups grape or cherry tomatoes halved
2 bell peppers, any colors, chopped or sliced
1 small can sliced black olives, drained or 1 jar of kalamata olives, halved
1 jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained
1 cup fresh basil, chopped
½ cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup salad dressing such as a Lemon Vinaigrette, Newman’s Own Italian, or Cheese Fantastico
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook for 10-12 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly with cold water for 2 minutes. Make sure to shake your colander to get out as much water from the pasta as possible. Add to the serving bowl. Add the tomatoes, peppers, olives, artichoke hearts, basil, parsley & feta cheese. Toss once. Pour in the dressing and toss until well coated. Refrigerate, serve when needed, and enjoy!
Chop your vegetables...
Boiling the pasta!
Drain the pasta, run it under cold water till cooled, toss into your pasta bowl...
Add your vegetables and your cheese...
Toss with your dressing and serve!
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Ciao foodies! Johnny here. Rather than sharing a completely new recipe with you all, I thought I’d introduce a concept which for some may be old hat, but for others might be quite new. The concept revolves around leftovers. Those who know me are aware of my deep fondness for leftovers, and most readers know that I am one of the biggest advocates of cooking meals that can be stretched out over days in order to save time and money. This concept, however, is all about individual leftover ingredients and what you can do with them.
Unfortunately, a lot of people will allow half jars, bags, and tubs of good ingredients to go to waste in the fridge before they get a chance, or rather make a chance, to use them. Many people, my family included, will cook a meal with great ingredients and not use the entirety of those ingredients for that meal. Those left over ingredients are put in the fridge/pantry, and maybe they are picked at, but once the fully cooked meal runs out those leftover ingredients are passed over and more money is spent on more ingredients for a different meal.
My concept is all about shopping in your own fridge and pantry and choosing from the leftover ingredients you have to make a new meal. When you have a good amount of random ingredients stowed away, shopping for more food at the store or getting take out really becomes obsolete. In addition to saving money, from a foodie standpoint, opening up the fridge and working with what you’ve got can be really exciting! Cooking with what’s “just around” gets those creative juices going and gives you the opportunity to really branch out of that comfort zone, which when it comes to cooking can be very difficult to do.
In a nutshell, the introduction of this concept is meant to inspire you to open the fridge, take a gander inside, and if possible, make a new meal without continuing to waste your money and waste ingredients that could have nourished your body and tantalized your taste buds.
Of course, I can’t preach this concept at you without providing some sort of example for the execution of this concept. So, here is the scenario: last weekend I had a good selection of left over ingredients from making whole wheat vegetable and turkey enchiladas which fed my family and I throughout the week. My dad wanted to order takeout, but I looked at the various containers in my fridge and usual staple pantry items and told him that wasting another $25 plus tip on one meal was ridiculous when I had such treasures abound. And then I got to work. Here’s what I did:
I took some leftover vegetables....
And chopped them up.
I took chicken breast tenders I had, cut them in cubes, seasoned them, and cooked them till brown.
I set the chicken aside and cooked the veggies with salt, pepper, and a dash of cayenne until tender.
I added the chicken back in and poured in leftover enchilada sauce. I brought the ragu to a simmer and cooked till reduced, about 15 minutes.
I cooked cornmeal, a normal pantry staple, into a polenta. I added a couple tablespoons of sugar and a bit of honey toward the end to make it sweet in order to balance against the spicy enchilada ragu.
I topped the Chicken Vegetable Enchilada Ragu with parsley (another kitchen staple), leftover avocado slices, and sour cream. I leaned it against the sweet corn polenta to be eaten congruently.
So this was my Chicken Vegetable Enchilada Ragu with Sweet Corn Polenta. And guess what? For $0 this fed another 4 people, could’ve fed 5, and it was a hit! I have requests to recreate this again because it was that good. I only had a general direction with where I was going during cooking, I just knew I wanted to use up what I had, and then this happened! It’s a very rewarding feeling when you make a stellar meal with what was available to you. You get to be creative while saving money and ultimately eat something new and exciting. You might even discover a new dish that becomes a signature dish for you. See all the positives here? This is why I am advocating this concept and encourage you to try!
Sunday, March 10, 2013
Ciao foodies! Johnny here! We are now in March and making that soft transition from Winter to Spring. The weather is getting warmer, but there is still a chill in the air at times. When it comes to food during this time of transition, I like to find the happy medium between the hearty stews, braises, and roasts of the winter and the light and tangy chicken, fish, and veggie dishes of the summer . This Springtime Roasted Asparagus, Garlic, & Pea soup offers that perfect happy medium.
Comprised with the flavors of tender roasted asparagus, sweet roasted garlic, refreshing peas, bright basil, and topped with a disk of tangy goat cheese, this soup manages to provide comfort and warmth against the chill that still clings to the emerging Spring while still managing to remain light and fresh with the flavors of the new season. Furthermore, if every month has it’s own color(s); Orange for October, Red/Green for December, Red/Pink for February; then March must definitely have dibs on a bright Spring Green which this soup certainly is.
This soup is an easy, no stress dinner that you can stretch over 2 to 3 days and is comprised of all very healthy ingredients. I paired this soup with a contrasting red salad when I first served it for a Meatless Monday dinner. The soup and salad complimented each other well, making for a great Meatless Monday supper. The recipe for the salad is below. For the second dinner I served this soup with an open face chicken sausage and tomato sandwich on whole wheat sourdough. Both meals were winners!
If you’re not ready to let go of soups but don’t want to be weighed down in the warming weather, than this Roasted Asparagus, Garlic, & Pea soup is for you!
Springtime Roasted Asparagus, Garlic, & Pea Soup
Yield: 6 servings
1 garlic head
2 bunches medium thick asparagus, ends removed, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup frozen peas
½ cup fresh basil, chopped
6 cups chicken stock
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 teaspoon
1 log goat cheese
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut the garlic head in half horizontally. Drizzle with exposed and cut cloves with 1 teaspoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Wrap in a foil ball and place in the oven for 1 hour. Remove and allow to cool.
Place the asparagus pieces on a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, sprinkle with a ¼ teaspoon or so of both salt and pepper, and toss with your hands until well coated. Place in the oven and roasted until very tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
In a large soup pot, heat the remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the onions and sauté, stirring occasionally until the onions are tender slightly tanned, about 8 minutes. Add the roasted asparagus, the roasted garlic cloves squeezed from the skin, peas, basil, and chicken stock. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring the soup to a simmer, cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 15-20 minutes.
Using an immersion blender puree the soup until very smooth. Season with additional salt and/or pepper to taste. Ladle into bowls float 1 ¼ inch thick disk of goat cheese on each. Serve and enjoy!
Cut the garlic across horizontally, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for an hour...
Remove and let rest. That is what GLORIOUS roasted garlic looks like!
Remove the white ends from your asparagus...
Cut into 1 inch pieces...
Toss on a baking sheet with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and roast...
Sautee the onion until tanned and tender...
Add the roasted asparagus, garlic cloves, peas, basil, and chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, cook covered over low heat for 15-20 minutes...
Puree with an immersion blender until very smooth...
Ladle into bowls...
Serve with the goat cheese disk and your sides!
Yeilds 4 servings
1 cup red onion, chopped
1 cup tomato, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Combine the onion, tomato, bell pepper, and chives in a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the red wine vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Toss with the contents of the salad bowl. Serve and enjoy with that soup!
And just for fun, here is a picture of the Asparagus Soup serving as another dinner the next night!
Sunday, March 3, 2013
Ciao foodies! Johnny here. With beach season fast approaching, many of us are all getting back into that mindset we may have had starting on January 1st that may have dwindled around Valentine’s Day. Lots of people are hopping back on the healthy and fit train, but are frustrated with the challenges of feeding themselves and their families healthy meals that are still tasty and comforting. The truth is, we are all busy and it is nice to have comfort foods when we are feeling stressed.
Well, I’ve got a comfort food main course for you that will aid you in your beach body goals because it is ULTRA healthy too. This is my Turkey & Quinoa Meatloaf with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Feta. I know, it’s a mouthful to say, but then again, so is it to eat!
Honestly, I almost named this recipe “Protein Loaf” because that is really what it is. Originally inspired by Giada De Laurentiis’s recipe for her Turkey Meatloaf with Feta & Sun-dried Tomatoes, I take this flavor packed recipe and replace the standard breadcrumbs with simply cooked quinoa and replace the 2 whole eggs with 1 egg white. The consistency of the cooked quinoa not only does the filler job of the breadcrumbs, but also binds the mixture together with the help of the one egg white. The result is a meatloaf that is perfectly formed, wonderfully moist, and packed with the Mediterranean flavors of bright parsley, tangy feta, and sweet sun-dried tomatoes.
You can make the mix in no time, throw it in the meatloaf pan, pop it in the oven, and you are good to go. This is a great weeknight dinner that you can also stretch to last over an extra day or 2 depending on how many people you are feeding.
Now, obviously to make this recipe, you have to cook the quinoa before you get to making the mix. I’ve found that if I cook a container full of quinoa at the start of the week though, I can find many uses for it. You can add bits of cooked quinoa at a time to salads and soups, heat it up and flavor it as a side, or add it to this mix or other mixes. In fact, the batch of quinoa I cooked to make this Meatloaf recipe went on to replace breadcrumbs in lamb burgers later on in the week. Just another great way to use quinoa as a healthy replacement!
Pair my Turkey & Quinoa Meatloaf with Sun-dried Tomatoes & Feta with roasted vegetables and salad and you will have a tasty, comforting dinner that will only help you to maintain your health goals. Hope you enjoy!
Yield: 6 servings
½ cup cooked & cooled quinoa
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup chopped garlic & herb marinated sun-dried tomatoes
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
1 egg white
2 tablespoons milk
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 pound ground turkey
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 375̊F.
In a large bowl add the quinoa, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, egg white, milk, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Add the turkey. Mix with your hands until all the ingredients are well distributed. Add the feta and mix until well distributed. Be careful not to over mix the meat.
Spray a meatloaf pan/dish with non-stick cooking spray or rub inside with olive oil. Place the meat mixture into the pan/dish and carefully pack. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes so that your slices hold their shape.
Cut slices at desired thickness, garnish with additional parsley, serve and enjoy!
Mix the quinoa, parsley, sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, egg white, milk, salt, pepper, and red pepper....
Add the turkey and mix with your hands...
Add the feta cheese and carefully mix...
Carefully pack into your meatloaf pan...
Bake, rest, and serve! Sorry, I know the lighting is off here.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Ciao foodies! Johnny here with a special post about a new web business “Gram’s Fine Corner” (www.gramsfinecorner.com). Gram’s is an online cookware supplier offering shoppers everything from baking sheets to rice cookers. Gram’s extensive catalogue of products along with the clean and easily navigable design of their website makes Gram’s a company you’d definitely want to give your business to when looking into purchasing new kitchen items for yourself or as a gift.
Gram’s began following Two College Foodies on Twitter and was kind enough to send me a cast iron skillet (something I’ve always wanted) as a gift to eventually be featured in a post. The 8.5 pre-seasoned skillet Gram’s gifted me is of top quality and is something that will last me literally FOREVER. For those of you who don’t know what a cast iron skillet is; it is a heavy and seasoned skillet that is used for a variety of dishes. The heavy metal creates high heat retention and the seasoned surface prevents rusting and creates a truly non-stick skillet while contributing a deep flavor to dishes made in it. Cast iron skillets are great for searing steaks, sautéing fajitas, and making good old fashioned skillet cornbread which is how I christened my lovely gift from Gram’s.
As you may recall, I made a Turkey and Vegetable Chili to warm my family and I up this winter. I felt the perfect pairing to that comforting and spicy chili had to be some freshly baked and sweet cornbread. Cornbread and chili are a true match made in heaven and I couldn’t resist bringing that match onto my own dinner plate, especially with such a fine gift from Gram’s just waiting to be used.
I actually followed the Pioneer Woman’s, Ree Drumond’s recipe for skillet cornbread. This woman is the queen of rustic, Western comfort foods and with me not being an experienced bread maker of any kind, I felt it best to follow instruction from the best. Here is the link to her recipe on FoodNetwork.com all followed by pictures of the process.
Ree Drumond’s Skillet Cornbread: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/skillet-cornbread-recipe/index.html
Mixing the batter...
Melting the butter...
Into the skillet it goes....
Into the oven it goes....
Serving it right on the table!
I used the best recipe for skillet cornbread and the best quality of cast iron skillet courtesy of Gram’s Fine Corner. The result was a perfect comfort food dinner!
I could not be more grateful to Gram’s for giving me such a truly awesome product to incorporate into my cooking. I can’t wait to try more recipes with the cast iron skillet…especially a perfectly seared filet mignon steak!
If you are looking to purchase new cookware for your own kitchen cabinet, or as a gift for someone else, I strongly recommend you check out Gram’s Fine Corner, www.gramsfinecorner.com. You will find great products easily and efficiently, and for excellent prices.
Sunday, February 17, 2013
Ciao foodies, Johnny here! Its review time, but this time is a bit different. Normally when we do restaurant reviews, we go to the restaurant, order, take pictures of the food and setting and ourselves, etc etc. However, Cravings Pizzeria warranted a different kind of review because they are a restaurant with outstanding delivery services which has made them a go to choice for myself and my family when we’re not in the mood to cook, go out, or fetch food to take home.
I might cook Italian, I might like to go sit down at nice Italian restaurants, but sometimes I just want Italian without doing either of those things. So what do I do? I order pizza and/or pasta for delivery. And no offense to some of the pizza pasta delivery chains out there, but they just don’t cut it.
Luckily, my family discovered Cravings Pizzeria which just solves all our problems in these instances. Cravings Pizzeria is a small Italian restaurant located in Huntington Beach offering delivery service to the Huntington Beach, Bolsa Chica, and Sunset Beach areas. Cravings Pizzeria has an extensive menu that goes far beyond pizza, featuring Italian appetizers, salads, paninis, calzones, pasta & gnocchi dishes, lasagna, and even cheesecake & cannoli for dessert!
Quite the extensive menu!
Since our discovery of this Italian savior we’ve tried many of their pizza and pasta dishes, all of which have passed mine and my mother’s Italian seal of approval examination with flying colors.
For our last delivery episode, we ordered their combo pizza featuring pepperoni, Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, mushroom, green bell pepper, and onions all on a perfectly crispy crust along with the house salad which is a simple and fresh side to balance it all out. We also got a big slice of meat lasagna for someone (and by someone I mean 2 people because the slices are huge) to enjoy the next day because we had a coupon which offered us the pizza, lasagna, and salad for…wait for it…$19.99!
Now that's a pizza!
This segues into a very important feature of Cravings Pizzeria; they are incredibly well priced. You can order a top notch quality Italian dinner at Cravings Pizzeria that will probably stretch into dinner for the family for the next night as well. After you’ve ordered from them a few times you find it hard to believe how inexpensive it all is for what you are getting.
Another important attribute of Cravings Pizzeria is that they deliver all this ridiculously well-priced, quality food in record time; or at least to our apartment anyway. Every time we order from them they always say “That’ll be about 30 to 45 minutes”, yet somehow they are there in 15 to 20 minutes. And on top of that, the delivery servers are some of the nicest we have ever encountered. The speed and quality of service along with the affordable prices and grand taste of Cravings Pizzeria make it very, very hard to beat.
Honestly, it takes more energy, time, and money to go out to fetch an Italian dinner, so we often just resort to this Pizzeria and couldn’t be happier with the results each time.
Great dinner for fast, easy, & cheap. (I'll level with y'all, these photos were done in Decemeber hence the plates)
So, we realize that many of our followers may not be within the delivery area of Cravings Pizzeria. However, if you are or if you are visiting someone who is and you can’t decide what to do for a laid back dinner, please consider Cravings Pizzeria as you are bound to be overtly satisfied with their food and service!
Here is Cravings Pizzeria’s website info:
Monday, February 11, 2013
Ciao foodies in Huntington Beach, CA! Johnny here! Like most coastal dwellers, do you love the fresh produce and unique products offered at a weekly farmer’s market? If yes, do you wish there was a farmer’s market accessible to you all days of the week? Well, I’m here to tell you that you are all in luck because Huntington Beach is home to the Huntington Beach Farmer’s Market, open 7 days a week.
Located on Gothard, just off of Edinger, and right by Bella Terra, the Huntington Beach Farmer’s Market is located in an almost pyramid shaped building which from the outside is often mistaken for a flower nursery as there are a great number of potted plants arranged around the building. However, if you venture inside you will find that this is one of the most quaint and wonderful little markets around.
Huntington Beach Farmer’s Market offers a wide arrange of local, fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, and cheeses. However, that’s not even half of the fun! You see, the HB Farmer’s Market is also a Mediterranean market; providing unique products and goods from Italy, Greece, Morocco, Lebanon, and other countries that touch the shores of the Mediterranean. I love this because I can find some of my specialty Italian ingredients here that other stores don’t have. Furthermore, they’ve got such unique products that I can experiment with in my other Mediterranean cooking ventures. They’ve also got premade Mediterranean desserts that are great to grab and go when I don’t want to make dessert and not spend a ton of money on a cake or pie.
Foodie Shoppers Paradise!
Nuts sold by the pound for cheap.
Great meat selection.
International Desserts to go!
AND…they even have a small Mediterranean café in the store that serves amazing dishes like falafel and gyros! It’s a great place to grab a quick lunch or dinner for cheap and easy.
The Little Greek Cafe. Such good falafel!
HB Farmer’s Market also has a good selection of Latin ingredients to cook traditional Mexican and South American dishes.
I also love the fact that HB Farmer’s Market offers a good amount of brand name products like Sabra Hummus, Greek god’s Yogurt, and Bellagio cheese that I can swing by and pick up without having to hassle with the craze of a chain store.
I know this description of what this store offers is enough to get you interested, but let me seal the deal by telling you why HB Farmer’s Market is a real treasure:
- It is cheap. I save soooooo much money every week by getting a great number of my grocery list items here. I also love that when I need just a few ingredients for dinner, I can go there and spend no more than $5 on a few ingredients to pull something together last minute.
- It’s a pleasant shopping experience. HB Farmer’s Market is small and incredibly quiet. There is no fighting to get past people in the aisles. There is no long line at check out. You can get in, move around with ease, and get out fast. On top of saving money by shopping here, you will also save time. Again, $5 and 3 minutes getting a few ingredients for a last minute dinner, its perfection.
- You support the local economy of Huntington Beach by shopping for locally grown ingredients at a local, independent market. Obviously, I love other chain stores, but you really do make a difference by giving a portion of your business to such a place.
If you haven’t discovered the Huntington Beach Farmer’s Market yet, I strongly urge you to venture in and do a little shopping. It will change your grocery shopping routine in the HB area forever by providing you with fresh ingredients for cheap and easy, giving you an education about unique international products, and will take the stress out of last minute grocery shopping!
Here is their address:
15881 Gothard Street
Huntington Beach, CA 92647
Visit them on the web at:
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Ciao my foodie friends! All fall and winter long, I have been encouraging you all to enjoy big bowls of hearty soups and stews that warm the body and soul. I’ve shared with you recipes for soups like tomato and minestrone, but I have yet to provide a recipe for the ultimate winter soup/stew: chili. Well, that is about to change as I now present you with: Spicy Turkey & Vegetable Chili!
Now, when it comes to making chili, I never follow a recipe. In fact, I usually look at several chili recipes and combine elements I like from each of them. That is exactly how this recipe for my Spicy Turkey & Vegetable Chili was burthen.
A chili recipe was suggested to me by my friends over at the No Pressure Cooker which they posted about after adapting from Epicurious. I looked over the recipe and absolutely loved the fact that it was A. In the magical crockpot B. Included a lot of colorful veggies and beans and C. Used ground turkey. However, I didn’t necessarily like the cooking techniques used for the vegetables and was not sure about the spice combination; not that there is anything wrong with spice combination in the original recipe, it’s just not to my and my family’s taste. So, I decided to combine this recipe with Fog City Diner’s recipe for their Black Bean and Sirloin Chili (my usual base recipe).
The end result was in a word SPECTACULAR. It was spicy yet smoky, hearty yet somehow light. I served it with toppings of chopped white onion, cheddar cheese, and of course, sour cream. I paired the chili with the perfect sweet and cool sides of cornbread and a simple green salad. This dinner could not be more warming and comforting on a cold winter day. And on the 3rd day of having this chili as leftovers, my mom tossed it with spaghetti like a meat sauce, which was also divine.
Now, before I get to the chili recipe, let me just go over some of the joys of chili as a way of convincing you to make some!
- Chili is the ultimate relaxation meal for a cook. You do all the cooking in the morning and let the crockpot do the rest. Don’t fuss with standing over the stove trying to get dinner ready at the last minute, let it be done.
- Many chili recipes are super healthy. Chili is can be packed with healthy animal proteins when using lean ground turkey or even lean beef, healthy starches from beans, and lots of antioxidant rich vegetables. A moderate sized bowl with well portioned toppings can be a very nutritious meal.
- Chili is very inexpensive. You can feed 8-10 people for under $30 with most chili recipes. Furthermore, if you aren’t feeding that many people then you can turn chili into lunches and dinners for days after. In other words….
- Chili makes great leftovers. It can be heated up and eaten in its original form, or you can even toss it with pasta or quinoa and turn it into a hearty meat sauce!
In conclusion, chili is one of the best menu choices you can make, and this recipe might be one to try for you!
Spicy Turkey & Vegetable Chili
Yield: 8-10 main course servings
1.5 pounds ground turkey
2 yellow onions, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 Serrano chiles, seeded and chopped
2 anaheim chiles, seeded and chopped
1/3 cup dark chili powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
2 tablespoons masa harina or cornmeal
2 15 oz. cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes, one drained and one with juices
1 cup Guinness beer
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 bay leaves
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt & Pepper
Chopped white onion or scallions
Shredded cheddar cheese
Set your crockpot to the lowest setting.
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the turkey. Using a large wooden spoon, break up the turkey into small pieces and cook until slightly “browned” (it really just becomes white with a hint of tan). Transfer the cooked turkey to the crock pot and pour in ½ the Guinness beer.
Return the same pan to the stove and heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onions, bell peppers, both chiles, and garlic and season with a dash of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, and masa harina or corn meal and coat the vegetables. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. Transfer the contents of the pan to the crock pot.
Add the beans, tomatoes, remaining beer, and chicken stock. Stir in the brown sugar and bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Ladle into bowls, top with desired toppings, and enjoy!
Chop your vegetables....
Cook the turkey into small chunks until lightly tanned, then add to the crockpot with a bit of beer...
Add the vegetables to the same pan and cook until tender....
Add the spices and coat the vegetables with them. Cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes...
Add the vegetables to the crockpot. Add the beans and tomatoes. Add the remaining beer, chicken stock, brown sugar, bay leaves, and salt and pepper....
Cover and cook a minimum of 6 hours...
All cooked down and delicious! Should be a brownish-burgandy color...
Serve with your toppings and sides and rejoice!
Now, while I have you all, I have a big announcement. With Nicole’s and my busy schedules and varying interests, we have decided to move on from Confessions of Two College Foodies and on to other ventures. As of mid March, this site will remain live, but it will no longer be updated with new recipes and content. However, I will be going to start my own food blog “The Kid in the Kitchen”. My own site will launch at the same time that Confessions of Two College Foodies publishes our last post.
We will have more information on these changes very soon. However, in the meantime, we will be continuing forward with Confessions of Two College Foodies full force so stay tuned for more recipes, reviews, and more!
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Hello foodies! Johnny here with a very special post about a wonderful day I spent with another pair of bloggers, Brian and Ashley from “Brian and Ashley’s Hiking Blog”. Brian and Ashley run a truly fantastic hiking blog that provides readers with all the information you could ever want about finding hikes, and going on those hikes, in Southern California and beyond. Seriously, their site provides you with directions, pictures, advice about supplies to bring, what you can expect the weather to be like at certain locations, etc. It’s really a treasure for a hiker in SoCal. Here’s a link: http://abhiking.blogspot.com/
I stumbled across their site by accident awhile back when I was looking for a new hiking trail. Once I explored the site, I knew I wanted to “work” with them in some way. In the blogging world, that means writing about each other and featuring each other in blog posts. Of course, you’ve got to have some sort of interaction in order to do that. So I thought it would be fun to meet up with Brian and Ashley, go on a hike of their choosing, and enjoy a hiker friendly picnic of my making. And that is exactly what we did on January 12, 2013.
With Nicole unavailable to come on the hike, I brought one of my best friends Kayleigh. After packing a healthy, yet hearty picnic, Kayleigh and I met Brian and Ashley mid-morning at the breathtaking Riley Wilderness Park in the Mission Viejo area. After greeting our new friends for the first time, we embarked on this 2-3 hour moderate trail that takes you through an absolutely gorgeous landscape.
Riley Wilderness Park is teaming with wild life; all sorts of birds, foxes, deer, and more. The grass is green, the trees are full, and the look-out points on the trail provide spectacular views of the beautiful southern Californian landscape that we get to call home. On this particular day, the weather was PERFECT! Temperatures hovered at around 60̊F, which was cool enough so that we weren’t sweating despite our physical activity, yet warm enough that we weren’t thinking about ending the hike to be warm. Clouds were non-existent and the air was fresh and clear. It was truly a treat of a hike, one of the best I have ever been on, and I have been on many.
It was also a treat because Brian and Ashley are one of the sweetest, most genuine couples I have had the pleasure of meeting. As we hiked, with Brian and Ashley leading the way, I felt so blessed to have been able to meet such great people through the blogging sphere and feel like I could call them friends not even an hour into our hike. As I realized that Brian and Ashley were, for lack of a better term, awesome, I grew more excited that I was feeding them a picnic because as you all know, I love to feed people if I like them!
At the end of our hike in the early afternoon, we arrived at a set of shaded picnic tables, another great feature of Riley Wilderness Park. Brian and Ashley had chosen this fantastic hike and led the way on it, now it was my turn to give back through food! Here’s what was on the menu:
Italian Stallion Sandwiches: Sweet turkey breast, spicy Capicola ham and Calabrese salami, salty prosciutto, and sharp provolone cheese, topped with peppery arugula lettuce, all between hearty slices of fresh Ciabatta bread spread with a full-bodied pesto mayo. This is the ultimate sandwich to refill with after a long hike.
Roasted Red Pepper Hummus with Vegetables & Endive leaves: Save yourself the trouble with store bought hummus. Serve with fresh celery and sweet carrot sticks, and buttery endive leaves that act as natural scoopers. This is a real feel good side after hiking that doesn’t undo all the work you just did.
Baby Gala Apples: Do I really need to explain these?
Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Granola Bites: Chewy and crunchy all at the same time with the rich flavors of peanut butter, almonds, honey, and dark chocolate. The perfect sweet treat at the end of a hiking and picnic trip.
Unless they are lying to me, Brian, Ashley, and Kayleigh loved the picnic. It really was the perfect meal after a hike as it was satisfying to the tongue and the stomach, but it didn’t weigh you down and make you feel like you undid your hike. It was also easy to wrap and pack everything, majorly important when hiking.
In conclusion, this was one of the best Saturdays I had had in a long time. Beautiful nature, adventure, meeting new friends, and good food. What more could I ask for?!
As everyone continues with their New Year’s resolutions, I encourage you all to maybe replicate a day like the one I have just described, and then replicate it again a month or so after. Being happy and healthy is about living a healthy lifestyle, not about a fad diet and a 6 week bootcamp workout program. When you get out there with friends and have fun while being active, you are physically and emotionally happier; this is going to affect your appearance, but most importantly your spirit.
And you never know who you will meet or who you will become close with! Kayleigh and I now count Brian and Ashley as friends and are planning on hiking with them once a month from now on. I’m eating well, I’m living my active lifestyle, I’m spending time with old friends, and making new friends. And yes, I do consider this #winning.
Find the recipes for the Italian Stallion Sandwiches and Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Granola Bites below!
Italian Stallion Sandwiches
1 large ciabatta loaf
½ cup light mayo
¼ cup store bought or fresh made basil pesto
6 slices provolone cheese
6 slices Calabrese Salami
6 slices Capicola Ham
4-6 thin slices of Prosciutto
6 slices of deli Turkey meat
2-3 cups arugula lettuce or mixed lettuce
Slice the ciabatta loaf in half down the center (like a Subway sandwich). In a small bowl, mix the mayo and pesto. Spread desired amount on the inside of both ciabatta halves. On the bottom half of the loaf, lay down the cheese slices followed by the salami and ham slices. Lay the prosciutto slices horizonatily and completely cover the other meats. Lay down the turkey meat over all the other meats. Cover with lettuce and then place the top half of the loaf on top and press down. Cut into 4 larger sandwiches or 6 medium sized sandwiches. Wrap individually in foil for your hike!
Assemble the sandwich...
Slice, individually wrap, pack, and serve!
Assemble your other picnic foods, pack, and serve!
Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate Granola Bites
Vegetable cooking spray or butter
1 egg white
1/2 cup Peanut Butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup honey
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
2 cups rolled oats
½ cup slivered almonds, toasted
1 large dark chocolate bar rough chopped
Preheat the oven to 350̊F.
Take an 8×8 square baking dish and spray with vegetable spray or grease with a bit of butter. Line with parchment paper or foil and also spray or butter.
In a medium bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg white until frothy like a cappuccino. Stir in the peanut butter, brown sugar, and honey. Add the melted butter, oats, and almonds. Stir to combine then add the dark chocolate pieces.
Spread the evenly in the pan. Bake for 20 minutes until the edges are brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 1 to 2 hours. Break into small bite sized pieces, pack in Tupperware so they don’t break further and enjoy on or at the end of your hike!
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Ciao my friends! Johnny here with another recipe review. I think you guys are really going to like this one: Lemon Chicken Saltimbocca. Now, people are always asking Nicole and I where we get our inspiration from. And though we get quite a bit of inspiration from our families, we also are inspired by various recipes we see on Food Network, read in cook books and magazines, and even see on other blog sites. I actually really like looking through cooking magazines you see at the store for inspiration. This recipe comes from an issue of one of those magazines, Cooking Light, which my roommate brought home one day.
The magazine issue was entirely dedicated to chicken, my favorite protein. I spent a couple hours in a coffee shop reading through the recipes and immediately tried a few. This was one of those recipes that I tried…and loved. This chicken is light as Cooking Light’s name suggests, yet it is incredibly delectable. Chicken wrapped in salty prosciutto cooks to form a crunchy crust around the tender chicken, accompanied by the woodsy warmth of sage and the brightness of lemon. My mom and I tried this and deemed it a for sure keeper recipe. Essentially, it is a far easier version of the Italian classic, Saltimbocca. I’ve made traditional Saltimbocca and this recipe tastes just as good, though it is far, far simpler.
We served this Lemon Chicken Saltimbocca with some soft polenta and a medley of roast vegetables. However, this would pair great with a simple pasta side, potatoes, or any other starch with some vegetables. Really, this recipe is great no matter what it is with or what time of the year it is served, I strongly recommend you try it.
You can view the recipe here at http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/lemony-chicken-saltimbocca-50400000109573/ and can view Cooking Light’s site for more ideas at http://www.cookinglight.com/
Their magazines are available in many grocery stores throughout the country. Enjoy and always remember to be open to new inspiration!