Monday, February 20, 2012

Spicy Red Bean and Chicken Sausage Jambalaya

Happy (Almost) Mardi Gras!

Junior year of high school I went on a spring break trip to New Orleans to help build houses after Hurricane Katrina. While I managed to try authentic shrimp po-boys, bourbon bread pudding, gumbo, and beignets, I somehow missed jambalaya.

Every Sunday, my roommate and I have dinner with one of our close guy friends. Since we had today off thanks to Presidents Day, we made tonight Sunday dinner night. Always up for a theme, I decided we had to celebrate Mardi Gras being tomorrow with homemade jambalaya. Traditionally, jambalaya has a couple different types of meat, but because I'm not the biggest meat eater, I decided to compromise by using all natural chicken sausage and red beans. While still not a "health meal," my version of jambalaya is lower in fat than most recipes I've seen, yet still has a full punch of spice and flavor.
House of Blues in NOLA: best honey cornbread I've ever had

In my search for a recipe, I learned that there are two kinds of jambalaya: Cajun and Creole. The difference: Cajun recipes have tomatoes in them. I love tomatoes and the flavor they give rice dishes, so it was an easy choice to go with a Cajun base recipe. 

Word of warning: this recipe feeds an army. All three of us were STUFFED, yet there is at least five servings worth of leftovers -- guess I know what I"ll be having for lunch this week ;)

Spicy Red Bean and Chicken Sausage Jambalaya 
Adapted from Eat Good 4 Life

What you need:
  • 2 peppers (I used an orange and a green to add color), diced
  • 1 1/2 carrots, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic 
  • 3 Tbs olive oil 
  • 3 spicy chicken sausages (I used Trader Joe's Italian Style Chicken Sausages, which I HIGHLY recommend!)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes 
  • 3/4 15-oz can red beans, no salt added 
  • 3 Tbs Cajun seasoning 
  • 2 cups brown basmatti rice 
  • 5 cups chicken stalk 
What to Do:
  1. Cut up all the vegetables 
  2. Put olive oil in large saucepan. Slice up the sausages and cook them over high heat in the oil until browned. Remove the sausages from saucepan and place in bowl.
  3. Add diced vegetables and garlic to saucepan. Cook about 5 minutes. Then add diced tomatoes and beans. Cook about another minute. 
  4. Add in rice, Cajun seasoning, and 5 cups of chicken stalk. Bring to a simmer and cover. Being cheap college kids we don't have lids for our saucepans, so I used foil instead and it worked just fine. 
  5. Once rice is cooked (took me about 40 minutes) add the sausage back in. Reduce heat to low and cover until ready to serve. 
This was delicious! But I'm even more excited for tomorrow night's dinner: pancakes. It is Mardi Gras afteral, and there's something so wonderful about eating pancakes for dinner.

Having absolutely nothing to do with Mardi Gras, tomorrow night m roommate and I are going to see Flogging Molly! Getting ready for St. Paddy's day a month early!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Food Coma

Happy Long Weekend!

Started the day off right with oats in a jar:

Today's mix included
Trader Joe's creamy unsalted peanut butter
Irish-style oats
Frozen blueberries

It's after 6pm and I'm still in a food coma from lunch today. While I eat a mostly vegetarian diet, I occasionally give in to my carnivorous side. Most of my friends love their meat, so whenever we do go to restaurants I usually cross my fingers hoping there will be a couple of vegetarian options to chose from. Today however I knew I'd have more than enough options: Veggie Galaxy. My friend D is a pretty strict vegan. I say pretty mainly because he still eats honey, which most strict vegans wont, and when he's sick he's okay taking pills that have gelatin in them. If you live in Boston or Cambridge and haven't checked Veggie Galaxy out yet, you're seriously missing out! To sum up the place it's a vegan diner. Yes, a diner. Just because it's vegan doesn't mean it's all rabbit food. Nope. Somehow the master chiefs figured out how to make foods without animal products just as comforting as their non-vegan originals. Every time I go I swear I'll try something new, but I always end up getting the same thing: black bean veggie burger with roasted pepper puree and tempeh bacon. And don't get me started on their desserts. Buy one of their desserts and I swear that you wont be able to tell it's vegan. I love places like Veggie Galaxy because it shows that you don't have to have meat, eggs, or milk to create something delicious. It's also a great place to bring any friends who want to cut back on their meat but are intimidated. Veggie Galaxy feels like a classic diner -- they don't shove the fact that they're vegan down your throat. In fact, the first time we went, my friend had to ask the server to make sure that everything on the menu actually was vegan. PLEASE GO HERE!

Even though I was stuffed to the brim, my friend talked me into going over to Life Alive (another awesome all-vegetarian place in Central Square) to get a cookie. Now, when he said cookie I expected something slightly crunchy, with a cookie-amount of sugar, and to be on a sugar high for the walk back. Instead, I got a MASSIVE circle of cookie dough pretending to be a cookie. And that sugar high? Nope. Sugar coma. I got back home, fell on my bed, and couldn't get up for over an hour. Be careful with these cookies! They're so good that it's hard to stop, but trust me STOP. Eat one and give the other to a friend. Not only are they pretty high in calories and saturated fat, but they will knock you out. Don't let me scare you though. These cookies are mind-blowing. And since they're vegan you get the joy of cookie dough without the fear of food-borne illness :)The brand is Liz Lovely from Vermont check out her website of sinfully good vegan and gluten-free treats here.

Have a great Saturday :)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Grown-Up Coco Pebbles

 If there was one food that my house always had enough of growing up it was cereal. Raised in a household where cereal was not only a breakfast food but also an excellent option for dinner or late night snack, cereal has a special place in my heart -- and stomach. Almost every night this week I've had a bowl of cereal before going to bed, leading me to realize I'm slowly becoming more and more like my mom. Last time I was home I counted: 23 boxes of cereal. Yup. As I've gotten older, the cereal shelf has become a comforting indicator that I'm home. While I was always more of a Reese's Puffs, Cookie Crisp, and Rice Krispie Treat Cereal (man how I wish they still made that!) fan, I was never a big Coco Pebbles fan. BUT I am a huge groupie for my grown-up version of the sugary classic.

What You Need:
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 cup water
1/2 banana
1/4 packet of Carnation Instant Breakfast (any of the chocolate kinds)

What to Do:
Bring water to a boil then stir in oats
While oats are cooking, slice banana and place slices at the bottom of your breakfast bowl
Once oats reach desired consistancy, stir in cinnamon then pour over banana slices
Mix in Instant Breakfast powder

Happy Long Weekend!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake with a Swirl

 *This post was originally from a blog that my friend and I started a couple months ago. Because we're not positive if we are going to keep that blog up, I figured I'd post some of my older posts from there to here.
My roommate K has a strong personality, which I love and admire about her. She also loves the beauty of food and the art of decorating, so I knew for her birthday a run of the mill traditional cake would not work. Instead, I went off the traditional cake path and made a Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake with an Oreo Crust.

Inspired by Jaclyn's White Chocolate Cheesecake design over at Cooking Classy, I attempted to make pretty heart-looking shapes, but the jam thickened too fast, so my cake had more of a marbled pattern. Although still pretty, I'm determined to one day make a cheesecake that resembles Jaclyn's.

Because I didn't have time to strain fresh raspberries (and I don't have a strainer), I used seedless preserves for the sauce. Below is the recipe, it's pretty much the same as the one on Cooking Classy, but with just a few adjustments here and there. Also, we still don't have a mixer so I had to make the cheesecake using a fork: proof that a perfect cheesecake can be achieved with limited tools :)

Raspberry White Chocolate Cheesecake 
Inspired by Cooking Classy 

  • 1 chocolate cookie pie crust, homemade or store-bought 
  • 1/2 jar seedless raspberry preserves (I ended up using less that 1/2 the jar, it just depends on how much raspberry flavor you want)
  • 12 oz 1/3 reduced fat cream cheese (about 1 1/2 blocks) 
  • Heaping 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 room temperature egg
  • 1 egg white
  • Splash of vanilla extract (a little over 1 teaspoon) 
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice 
  • 1 cup quality white chocolate chips 
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream 
What to Do:
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Make sure oven rack is directly in the middle of the oven. 
  2. Mix together cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. I recommend doing this with a fork for best results 
  3. Once fluffy, about 3-5 minutes depending on your arm strength, mix in egg, egg white, vanilla, and lemon juice until combined. 
  4. Make a double broiler out of a large saucepan and a heat-proof bowl (I used a glass mixing bowl). The bowl should be big enough to not fall into the pot, but small enough to just fit so the bottom of the bowl nearly touches the water in the pot. Fill pot with water and bring to a boil. In the glass bowl, place white chocolate chips and whipping cream. Stir continuously until chips are fully melted and combined with the cream. Remove from heat. 
  5.  In a small saucepan, bring raspberry preserves to a simmer, letting them thin out a bit
  6. Pour the white chocolate cream mixture into the cream cheese mix. Stir to combine. Pour 1/2 batter into prepared crust. Next, spoon some of the raspberry preserves onto the batter and swirl with a knife. Pour the rest of the cheesecake mix onto the crust, completely covering the first layer of raspberry. Lastly, spoon the remaining raspberry preserves on top. For a marbled design, spoon the preserves so as to make dots on the cake. Then take a sharp knife and, using the tip of the knife, swirl the dots to make different designs. 
  7. Place cake in oven and bake for 40-45minutes, or until set. 
  8. Remove from oven and cover the cake with a lid or foil. Place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours. 
I gave the cake to K in the morning on Friday. 24 hours later and this is all that was left. 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I don’t know if it’s the realization that I have less than a year of college left, remembering how the past two Februaries have been major milestones in my life at college, or that I have way too much time to think and reflect now that I’m back to running consistently, but despite having two big exams this week my mind has been stuck in the past.While it's easy to get caught up in all the "what if's" I've been trying to focus on what I did accomplish. Last year I 
 Went to Max Brenner's for the first time
 Made my first layer cake (oreo flavored)
 Rallied in Kenmore Square after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup
 Saw the Stanley Cup being paraded down Boylston
 Went kayaking for the first time on the Charles
Tried PB & Co's Dark Chocolate Dreams. And finished the jar in less than two days. With help.
 Made my first three-layered cake
 Climbed my first 14ner with my dad
 Ran my first 10-K!

 Baked my first cheesecake (post coming soon!)
 Made these totally sick cookies WITHOUT cookie cutters
Successfully played hall soccer in a dress. . .that's an achievement to me

Okay, enough reminiscing. Actual food posts to come soon!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Mixed Berry Peach Pie

Few things are more American than Super Bowl Sunday and pie. Yes, we had chili, wings and dip (alright, hummus) too, but my contribution was a mixed berry peach pie. In addition to being a mix of different fruits, the pie was constructed from a mix of recipes I found obsessively browsing food blogs.

While I think lattice-topped pies are stunning, I don't like the taste. Pies have never really been my thing. Yes there are a couple exceptions, but for the most part give me a cobbler or a crisp over a pie any day. Well, my friends LOVE pie, and since it was supposed to be a day of "guy food" I figured I'd make the type of dessert the guys would prefer.

Instead of a traditional pie, I did a little compromising: a no-roll traditional-tasting pie crust on the bottom and a crumble top.

For the bottom crust I used Joy the Baker's life-saving no-roll crust. I followed her directions exactly, so for the recipe be sure to check it out on her blog here.
Love Joy's idea to grate the frozen butter!

The top crumble I took from Naturally Ella. Again, I did exactly what she told me to do, however I only used about half the recipe, again just not a crust person.

The filling was devised up using countless tips from other bloggers. What I did:
2 cups frozen peaches
3 cups frozen raspberry/blueberry mix
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1 T lemon juice
Splash of vanilla extract

Putting it all together:

Very Mixed Berry Peach Pie

What you need:
1 no-roll crust from Joy the Baker
Filling ingredients (above)
Topping mix from Naturally Ella

What to do:
  1. Make the crust according to Joy's instructions. Place foil around the pie crust and place in freezer for 1 hour
  2. While crust is in the freezer, preheat oven to 375 degrees. In large bowl, mix together filling ingredients and let sit in room temperature until the crust is ready. 
  3. Make topping
  4. Take crust out of the freezer. Spoon the filling into the crust, and then top with as much crumble as you like. 
  5. Place on lower rack in oven and cook for 20minutes. After 20minutes, reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Continue to cook for 40 more minutes, or until berries are bubbling and top is brown. 
  6. Remove from oven and place by open window for 2-3 hours. Place foil over pie until ready to serve