Tag Archives: Lunch

Spicy Pecan Chicken Strips

Spicy Pecan Chicken Strips
I won’t go into detail on this, but have you ever researched what’s inside a chicken nugget? I’ll give you this: it’s not cute. It’s barely even chicken.

But who doesn’t love a nice dunkable, battered chicken strip? It’s American comfort food at its best and it is beyond easy to make. So skip the McDonald’s and try them at home. This particular recipe is SPICY so you can easily cut down on the cayenne to make it family friendly if you like.

On the menu:
Spicy Pecan Chicken Strips
Makes 2 – 3 servings

2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup pecan halves or pieces
1/4 cup bread crumbs*
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cumin

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, blend pecans, bread crumbs, and spices until you have a coarse mixture.

Cut chicken into strips, approximately 1 1/2 inches wide by 1 inch tall (they don’t have to be perfect but uniform size means uniform cooking). Dredge each piece of chicken in egg mixture and then in pecan spice mixture. Shake off excess and place on baking sheet.

Bake chicken strips for 30 minutes. Flip the pieces and bake for another 5 – 7 minutes or until each piece is cooked through and the breading is crispy. Serve with honey mustard dipping sauce.

*Note: I never, ever have breadcrumbs on hand. There’s something about buying a tub of crumbs of bread that just seems wrong to me. What I did in this instance is toast up a piece of white bread until it was very crispy, tear it up with my hands, and then toss the pieces into the food processor with the pecans and spices. Voila. Bread crumbs.

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Greek Pasta Salad

I love looking around for new recipes. Especially in the summer months when I’m not necessarily going to want to spend too much time in a boiling hot kitchen slaving away over an oven.

One recipe I stumbled across on the AllRecipes website was a Greek style pasta salad. Obviously I’d heard of Greek salad on its own, but it had never occurred to me to add pasta into the equation. I’m glad I tried this one though. Not only is it healthy (so long as you go easy on the oil you dress it in), but it’s also delicious and practical for a picnic or barbecue, you know if you’re saving your next trip to a restaurant like 100 Hoxton in London or Fig & Olive in New York for another time.

Ingredients:

150g penne or fusilli pasta

4 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 cloves garlic

2 teaspoons dried oregano

salt and pepper

160ml extra-virgin olive oil

10 cherry tomatoes

1 small red onion

1 green pepper

1 red pepper

1/2 cucumber

70g sliced black olives

125g crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

Pull out a large saucepan and fill it with lightly salted water. Bring to the boil and stir in your pasta of choice (penne and fussili work best). Cook the pasta for about 11 minutes, stirring occasionally. Test the pasta with a fork. If it slips through the pasta easily and isn’t chewy, it’s cooked.

Rinse out the pasta with cold water and drain it well with a colander over the sink. Whisk the vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, pepper, salt and olive oil together and set aside.

Chop the onion, green and red peppers, slice the cucumber and black olives, and halve the cherry tomatoes on a chopping board, and combine the pasta and vegetable ingredients together in a large bowl. Then crumble the feta cheese on top.

Finally pour the vinaigrette over the pasta and mix the whole thing together thoroughly, making sure the entire dish has a proper coating. Cover it over and allow to chill for about 3 hours before serving.

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Mexican Meatball Soup

Mexican meatball soup from LaurenFoodE
Last week I spent a full day on the couch due to a wicked case of the tummy aches. Ironically, the Food Network has never appealed to me more. I watched a full day of cooking shows and was actually quite inspired (Little known fact about me: I’m not a fan of cooking shows… I find them quite boring. Give me Kardashians any day.).

In a particularly lackluster episode of Mexican Made Easy, there was a little shining gem of inspiration: Mexican meatball soup. The perky host is one of those people with no trace of a Mexican accent until they’re pronouncing Mexican words and then they’re fresh off the boat from Tijuana. “We’re going to start this taco dish with a TORRRR-TTTEEEEYAAAA!”

Anyway. This soup looked flavorful, easy, and perfect for dinner on a day like yesterday where it finally felt like winter in New York (oh hello there snot-freezing winds, how I’ve missed you). I grilled up some fresh bread and cheddar for grilled cheese and voila: dinner.

On the menu:
Mexican meatball soup
Makes 8 servings
Adapted from Mexican Made Easy

1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
1 lb. ground beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/3 cup long grain rice (uncooked)
2 Tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
8 cups vegetable stock
2 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp Mexican oregano (or regular oregano if it’s all you have)
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced into 1-inch cubes
1 Yukon gold potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Cook onion for around 5 minutes, or just until the onion starts to cook but before it turns translucent. Let cool for at least 5 minutes.

In a medium sized bowl, combine (by hand) the onion, ground beef, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, rice*, salt, and cilantro until completely combined. Roll into 1-inch balls, wetting your hands with a little water if the ingredients start to stick to your fingers. The mixture should make around 25 meatballs.

In the same large stockpot you cooked the onions in, add vegetable stock, tomato paste, potato, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, add the meatballs, zucchini, and parsnip. Reduce to a simmer and let cook for around 20 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through. Add salt and pepper as needed.

*Note: I know what you’re thinking, raw rice in the meatballs? But it does cook through completely and it is delicious! Promise.

 

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Steak Salad with Blue Cheese and Tomatoes

Steak salad by LaurenFoodE
This dinner seems like a no-brainer but I needed to see it on another blog to make me think, “Oh yeah… that’s different!” It is so easy, relatively cheap, and takes all of 15 minutes to prepare. You’re welcome.

On the menu:
Steak salad with blue cheese and tomatoes
Serves 2

1 lb. flank steak
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup blue cheese, crumbled
6 cups arugula (or however much you want – this is the bed for the salad)

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan until the oil shimmers. Cook steak on each side for 4 – 5 minutes. Once cooked, move steak off the heat and cover with a foil tent. Let meat rest for at least 15 minutes. Slice steak with a sharp knife into slices, cutting against the grain of the meat.

Plate the arugula and top with sliced steak, tomatoes, and blue cheese.

Dressing:
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp honey
1/4 cup olive oil

Whisk together all ingredients and pour over salad.

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Bacon, Spinach and Chicken Stew


One of the (many) pitfalls of being unemployed is that now the weather is cold and gloomy and I have even less motivation to leave the apartment than I did before (which is truly frightening). One of the fantastic things about being unemployed is the colossal amount of time I have on my hands to dream up and cook delicious things. I’m like Jerry Seinfeld. It all evens out.

I’ve been dying to make soup lately and this was easy and used up lots of things I already had in my house. You could use this recipe if you still have leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, or bookmark it for Christmas leftovers.

On the menu:
Bacon, Spinach and Chicken Stew
Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe from The Kitchn

1 large chicken breast, cooked and shredded
4 strips of bacon, diced into thin slices
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz. baby spinach
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
4 – 5 cups chicken stock
Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano

Heat a large stock pot over medium-high heat and add bacon. Cook until most of the fat is rendered and the bacon is almost crisp. Add garlic and stir, cooking for 1 minute. Add baby spinach and stir until completely coated in bacon fat. Sprinkle spinach with salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder. Cook for 5 – 7 minutes or until spinach is wilted down. Add cooked chicken and stir to coat in fat. Cook for 5 minutes until mixture is completely heated through. Add chicken stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 – 20 minutes at a simmer.

Serve in big soup bowl and sprinkle grated cheese over the top.

Note: The sandwich in that picture is a delectable prosciutto with melted mozzarella and balsamic marinated cherry tomatoes on challah rolls. And yes… it was as good as it looks.

Last Note (promise): I don’t know why this is a stew and not a soup, but to me it’s a stew because there’s more stuff than broth. You feel me? Ok good.

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Roasted Cauliflower Salad


This is a salad that I tasted for the first time at one of my favorite restaurants in New York, Otto. My only hang up is that the original calls for olives, which I loathe. When I made this I left the olives out but you could easily chop up and add 16 Kalamata olives during the last step to make it a truly authentic Mediterranean dish.

On the menu:
Roasted cauliflower salad
Serves 4 as a side

1 large head of cauliflower (around 3 lbs)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 Tbsp capers
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
Salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with foil.

Clean stem and leaves off of the head of cauliflower. Chop cauliflower into bite sized pieces with flat sides (this just makes roasting and caramelizing easier). Rinse in a colander and shake off as much excess water as possible.

Toss cauliflower in a large bowl with olive oil and black pepper. Spread in one layer on the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip cauliflower with tongs and roast for another 10 – 20 minutes until your pieces are golden brown and softened.

Spread cauliflower on a plate in one layer so that it cools down a bit.

In a large bowl, add capers, lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and a healthy pinch of salt. Add cauliflower and toss to coat. (This is where you would add your chopped olives if you wanted)

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Pumpkin Ginger Soup

‘Tis the season to cook with pumpkin. You’ve been bombarded by orange at the farmer’s market, inundated with pumpkin recipes from your daily email recipe newsletters, and overwhelmed by Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts commercials featuring pumpkin flavored everything. I would say it’s cliche, but really… it’s just delicious. Below is an incredibly easy recipe that yields a flavorful soup that would serve as a lovely first course to any fall meal, or as a hearty lunch with crusty bread on the side. Don’t hold back, friends… give in to the power of pumpkin.

On the menu:
Pumpkin Ginger Soup
Serves 4
Adapted from this recipe at Yumm.com

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 white onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp ginger, finely grated (or use 1 Tbsp ginger powder)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 15-oz. cans of pumpkin puree
3 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp Sriracha (or similar hot sauce)

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 8 – 10 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, cook for another 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper, pumpkin, stock, cream, and hot sauce. Stir until combined and turn down heat until the soup is simmering. Simmer for 25 minutes, occasionally stirring. Use an immersion blender to blend* in the pot, or pour soup into a standing blender and blend until completely pureed. Replace soup in the pot and heat until hot and ready to serve. Top with crunchy pumpkin seeds if desired.

*Note: you don’t necessarily have to blend this soup, but I found the crunchy onions distracting so I ended up blending the entire pot after I ate one bowl. It was much creamier and much more flavorful after all. If you don’t want to go through the hassle of dirtying your blender, though, it’ll still be delicious without the blending.

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Vegan Chickpea Chili Over Rice


I have a new project that I’m working on that I’m SO excited about but can’t talk about quite yet (don’t worry, mom, I told you already). In the meantime, I can tell you it involves this: delicious food. And that’s all you really care about anyway, isn’t it?

This chili should come with a warning: contains colon cleansers. Get my drift? Don’t eat more than one heaping bowl if you’re like, going on a date or something and you prefer not to asphyxiate said date with vicious flatulence.

Do you guys read other food blogs that talk about flatulence? No? Well then I win!

On the menu:
Vegan chickpea chili over rice
Serves 5

2 cups jasmine rice
4 cups water
Salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp chili powder (chipotle chili powder if you can find it)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Fresh ground black pepper
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 15-oz. can kidney beans, drained

In a medium pot over medium heat, add the olive oil, the chopped onion, and the red pepper and sautee until the vegetables soften, around 10 – 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes, the cumin, and the chili powder and stir to combine. Let simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

While the tomatoes are simmering, make the rice according to the package.

Season tomatoes with salt and pepper. Add chickpeas and kidney beans and cook over low/medium heat until beans are heated through, around 15 – 18 minutes. Put rice in bowls and serve chili over the top.

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A Taste of Jamaica

Unless you live under a rock you’ve probably been watching the Olympics, or have at least heard about them on the news. There are only a handful of events I can sit through and enjoy (equestrian? yawwwwwwn) but I get seriously rowdy during track and field. How thrilling is it to watch the fastest men alive tear across a track and then not even breathe hard afterward? It inspires me to get my butt up off the couch…. and over to the kitchen for another slice of cake.

Guys, I’m not really an athlete, ok?

In watching Usain Bolt dominate every other competitor in the arena, I had a craving for Jamaican food. And only in New York can you think to yourself suddenly, “Man, I’d like some Jamaican food” and then walk 15 minutes to get some.

Well… you can probably do that in Jamaica, too. But… you get my drift.

Brown Stew Chicken with beans and rice and coleslaw

Jerk Pan 48th St. and Park Avenue, New York, NY. Jerk Pan is a food truck located in midtown Manhattan, just outside the JP Morgan-Chase building. It’s kind of amazing to see a run down old truck with five Jamaican men inside, slinging hot street food while 20 corporate yuppies stand in a line waiting for lunch to be served. But isn’t that New York? I think it is.

On the menu:
Brown Stew Chicken with rice and beans and coleslaw

Verdict: Hellooooo lunchtime! Did it take me 20 minutes in 90 degree heat to walk here? Yes. Was it entirely worth it? Yes. I only ate 1/4 of the food on a bench near where the truck is parked because it was pretty messy and I only had one measly napkin. But when I got back to my office? I really wanted to have it again for lunch the next day so I restrained myself as best I could but wow, wow, wow this was delicious. The coleslaw (which is basically just cabbage with corn, green beans, and carrots mixed in) is served hot. Have you ever had hot coleslaw? Well, try it. It is absolutely perfect. Tangy and crunchy, and not too shabby paired with the fall-off-the-bone chicken (covered in sweet and tangy brown sauce) and the chewy and mild rice and beans. The best part? The whole thing only cost me $8. That’s the price of a sad salad from Cosi for all you mathematicians out there. I also sampled the jerk chicken (I was afraid to order it myself in case it was super spicy) which was also tender and flavorful with a kick of spice and worth getting the next time. What I REALLY wanted to order was the jerk goat but the friend I lunched with quickly replied, “Goat… from a truck… in New York?” Good point.

This is my favorite clip of Usain Bolt and it has nothing to do with running:

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Sesame Crusted Tuna

This meal is my idea of a pleasant surprise, meaning I had set aside an hour to cook dinner on Sunday and SURPRISE it took me 15 minutes. Also in my list of pleasant surprises: finding out my new sky-high heels are actually comfortable, and realizing I did not, in fact, drink all the wine in the house when I’m dying for a glass at 11am 5pm on a Saturday.

On the menu:
Sesame crusted tuna over arugula with ginger soy dressing
Serves 2

2 tuna steaks (around 1/2 pound each)
4 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 bunch of arugula (this is the bed if greens for your tuna so use as much as you like)

Dressing:
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp powdered ginger (or 1/4 tsp fresh ginger root, minced)
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp water

With a paper towel, pat tuna steaks dry of any residual moisture. In a flat, shallow dish, pour sesame seeds in an even layer. Add salt and combine. Dredge tuna steaks in the sesame seeds so the steaks are coated on both broad sides AND the edges. In a medium sized skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sear each steak for around 60 seconds on each side, including the edges (use tongs for this part). Remove from heat and let sit for 1 to 2 minutes before serving (yes, the inside will be raw and no, you won’t get sick from it).

Whisk all ingredients for dressing in a small bowl. Heat in microwave for 1 minute so the honey melts a bit. Whisk again. Plate arugula over 2 plates, pour half the dressing over the greens, plate the tuna on top of the greens, and then top with remaining dressing.

NOTE: This recipe takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, a tiny bit longer if you’re slow in mincing the ingredients for the dressing. The clean up is minimal, the presentation is impressive, and the leftovers (should you have any…) are divine. Eat it cold so you’re not the smelly office girl.

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