Tasked to Bring

Passover in itself isn’t really an exciting holiday. I mean, sure the soup is great – but its not high on the list of things to look forward to I’m sure.

This year I was asked to bring the hard boiled eggs for the seder, which can be a stressful request. What if I don’t do a good job and they all peel awfully and I’m left with a bowl of hardboiled yolks? There’s no way to know if you did a terrible job until its too late really, so that only makes things worse. At least with cooking I can sort of season as I go, and figure out how to fix most issues ahead of presentation.  But eggs – nope.

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I did some hefty research. Yes on how to boil eggs. [Yes, I’ve boiled eggs before that came out fine.]

Hot start. That’s the secret apparently, according to a few blog posts I came across and the eggs that were so incredibly perfect.

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Lets be real, have you ever seen a bowl of entirely perfect hard boiled eggs?

The theory I was led to believe previously, was that the older the egg, the better it would peel. But these eggs were purchased on Thursday, and boiled on Friday. Now I know that supermarket eggs are specifically fresh, but these weren’t lingering in my fridge for a week or so prior to boiling.

My normal go to method, is to put the eggs in a pot of water, bring to a boil and let simmer until my little egg timer says they’re cooked enough.  But its the hot start that might be the trick here. Out of sheer dread, I cooked 18 eggs in total via two different but similar methods.

9 eggs were carefully placed into a pot of already boiling water and allowed to simmer, covered, for 11 minutes.

The other 9 eggs were placed into a steamer insert in a pot of boiling water, covered, for 11 minutes.

There were only two that didn’t peel with ease, and I think they came from the pot of boiling water [not the steamer].

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There was no green line, the middle was almost creamy, and the whites were all fully boiled. I’m only writing this post with so much detail so that I can fully remember how to boil perfect eggs in the future.

Turkey Feta Meatballs

Before going away for more than a day or so, there is always the challenge to clean out the refrigerator.  Mister and I are going down to South Carolina to visit his parents [snowbirds, not permanent residents] and to celebrate his upcoming birthday – which means its time to clear out the remnants of meals past and planned.

For dinner last night I googled a few ingredients from the fridge to see what I could muster and turkey meatballs came up and sounded like a nice change of pace. I didn’t have any spinach on hand, and wasn’t about to add anything to the stockpile, so I made up my own recipe.

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • half cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • two whole eggs
  • zest of one whole lemon
  • juice of half lemon
  • about 1/2 to 1 cup of feta cheese crumbles
  • Penzy’s Greek seasoning

Mix. Ball. Bake on a foil lined tray sprayed with non -stick cooking spray.

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While these were baking at about 400 degrees for 20 ish minutes – I put together some pasta salad.  Leftover pasta, cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, diced pepper, the other half of that lemon juiced, balsamic vinegar dressing that was nearly empty, the rest of the feta cheese.

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I’ll be honesty – I’m pretty hooked on these meatballs. Like I might’ve eaten a handful more before packing them up. Will definitely be making these for lunches in the future, since it was super easy and I feel like a pretty healthy options [maybe minus the feta and add some spinach].

 

Meal Prep

It was a deep rut.

Christmas, New Years, Snow Storm. Flannel pajamas, baggy sweaters, cheese, wine. Christmas cookies, french toast, more cheese.

How to break the deliciously cozy cycle when New York has been colder than Alaska lately?

ACV.

Apple cider vinegar. Its a little routine that I can never stick with too consistently (despite my best efforts), but its a great way to jump start a little nutrition and pry yourself away from caramels and Camembert.

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8 oz of cold water, squeeze half a lemon, 1 – 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar.

Drink this before you start breakfast, while you’re getting ready in the morning. Before coffee, before brushed teeth, before the stretchy pants get too comfortable.

It may be psychological, total placebo affect – but for me personally, it curbs my sweet tooth and allows me to hit the reset button my nutritional intake.

While I sipped my ACV, I cooked a big batch of food for the coming week to allow myself to really trudge through the winter apocalypse with some vitamins and hopefully a few less pounds in the stomach area.

Weekend Catch Up

I know that my posting comes in waves; there are daily posts that dwindle to nothing for a month and then I’ll reappear.  I’m sure this is no way to garner an audience, but life happens.

I headed up to Albany after work on Friday, and Mister and I were both equally tired and hungry by the time it got dark out.  We agreed on take out from Rain on Lark Street, after having stopped in for a drink last week and agreeing the food smelled and looked promising.

We picked up our takeout, and ate it on the couch with our sweatpants on; which is the best way to eat any and all takeout.

This stuff was really good.  It wasn’t nearly as greasy as typical Chinese takeout, and didn’t leave us feeling like bloated, sweaty monsters.  There was flavor, texture, and quality to our order, and we would definitely order again.  The only thing I didn’t like, was their won ton soup.  Interestingly enough, the menu we were looking at online for ordering listed it only as “Shanghai style won ton soup.” The menu on their website lists it as “shrimp and pork won ton.” This additional shrimp information makes a world of difference; when I bit into the dumplings, the filling was almost sausage like in its consistency.  Lumpy and almost gristly, it was unappealing.  Knowing now that it was shrimp mixed with pork explains it enough, but I wouldn’t order again.

Saturday morning, Mister and I had our second wedding related planning appointment.  After a year of being engaged, we set a wedding date and booked a venue.  On Saturday, we also confirmed our photographer.  Since our wedding date isn’t until June of 2017, we’ve got plenty of time to worry about the small things, and I’m making sure to check off the big ticket items as soon as I can.

Sunday, was when the fun went into full swing.  We started the day off with a workout at Flight Trampoline Park, which I can’t recommend enough.  Want to work up a sweat, while laughing for about an hour? They have instructor led fitness classes Saturday and Sundays, where you get to jump around barefoot.

Following that class, I got to the serious business of meal prepping.

I like cooking, and I like eating.  But with my living/work situation I can’t always find the time to do both well.  So I’ve gotten in the habit of cooking up a storm for myself and Mister over the weekend, to last throughout the week.

This Sunday, I cooked up:

3 containers of lean ground beef, riced cauliflower, and mushrooms

3 containers of shredded buffalo chicken salad and broccoli slaw

3 beef burrito bowls with rice, beans, and veggies

4 plain baked/shredded chicken breasts.

1 dozen hard boiled eggs

This, combined with some leftovers, cut up veggies, and my office stockpile of oatmeal will get us both on a good start for the breakfast and lunches for the week.  Some will be eaten for dinner depending on our schedule, and I’m sure we’ll grab a sandwich or something else to add to the mix when necessary.  But my point is, this took about an hour of grocery shopping and an hour or two of cooking while watching TV.

With the wedding coming up, I’m trying to keep myself more accountable on watching the bank account and my dress size; so making sure we eat healthy meals on a budget is important.

Weekend Indulgence

As I said a few times now, I’m usually in Albany on the weekends visiting Mister.  This makes every weekend a sort of mini-holiday.  For a while, this wasn’t so great for my wallet or waistline, but over time we’ve refined this vacation attitude to be a subdued indulgence.

We consistently find at least one activity or destination to get us out of the house, and give the weekend some structure.  (Mister and I aren’t great at sitting around in the house, which is part of why I’m in like with him for sure)

On Saturday, we did the Schenectady Wing Walk, which was a lot more fun than I was anticipating to be honest.  I was originally skeptical of the participating restaurants, and didn’t really think much of Schenectady as a destination beyond pastries, Proctors, and Perecca’s.

For anyone unfamiliar with the Wing Walk: for $10 you get a ballot, and one chicken wing at each of the participating restaurants.  There were 18 restaurants, and most gladly obliged in giving more than one wing if you asked politely.  When we started at 12 noon, there were no lines but by around 1:30/2pm, the lines started growing at each stop.  It had a fun, scavenger-hunt type vibe to the affair and I appreciated the opportunity to try some places that have been on my list.  Some were great (Bier Abbey, Cafe Nola, Mexican Radio, Taj Mahal Restaurant), some were really bad (Thai Thai Bistro, Aperitivo, The Grog Shoppe)  I get it, its hard to have hot, crispy, and flavorful wings for a crowd stretched over a few hours; but some were rubbery and without flavor, or in the case of Aperitivo, it was a “pork wing”, which I didn’t even realize until after I had bitten into it (don’t like surprise pork).  Total cost for the event for the two of us, $20.

We did stop at Cafe Italia for coffee and a cannoli, to break up the wing exhaustion, $6.

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Sunday, we had recovered from too many wings and indulged in some Manory’s for brunch.  I love sitting at the counter here, but be warned that your clothes might take on an eau de fryer if you stay for more than a cup of coffee.

I got the Power House Quesadilla (or something intimidatingly named like that, can’t really remember and the menu isn’t online).  Their pancakes always look/sound so insanely good, but remember that waistline people.  I’ve got dresses to fit into.

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When this showed up I almost forgot I had ordered what looked like the “sensible option.”  It was described as 3 egg whites, one yolk, ham, swiss cheese, peppers, onions, mushrooms grilled in a quesadilla.  Oh man.  This was seriously so good.  I ate half before calling it quits and taking the rest home (which I ate for dinner).  For two coffees, and two of the bigger entrees, we spent about $35 at Manorys.  You can easily get breakfast for two for $20 or under if you’re sticking to a budget.

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This tasted great reheated later, which I was actually surprised by.  I put each section in a hot pan, let it crisp for a moment before putting a lid over it to let everything reheat.  Then , when the cheese looked sufficiently melty, I removed the lid and flipped it over for some further crisping.

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Sunday night, I’ve made it a habit to prepare something to last both myself and Mister for the week.  For Mister I made slow cooker stroganoff, for myself I made a bean free, bison and butternut squash chili.  Everything was set and on the stove by 5pm, which was later than I would have liked, but c’est la vie.

This morning, I packed up my cooler tote (great investment) with four quarts of chili, and some other food and snack items, to be kept in the office for the week.  On Friday, the empty containers go back in the tote to be refilled on Sunday.  Routines are great.

Healthy Hearts

Valentine’s Day is a holiday of chocolate, decadence, and indulgences. But romance doesn’t have to make you feel sluggish.

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This morning I sliced red potatoes into hearts. Tossed in olive oil and Mrs. Dash salt free garlic mix, baked at 350° for roughly 30 mins.

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Crispy, satisfying little crunchy bites.

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Eggs scrambled with some honey-maple ham and red peppers. Sliced strawberry hearts.

I’ve got red, sweet, salty, crunchy, and hearts. What more does Valentine’s Day breakfast need?

It Didn’t Work

Sometimes it doesn’t work. There are whole websites dedicated to the failure of Pinterest acclaimed websites. Slow Cooker Nutella French Toast Casserole just sounded so promising.

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It was a waste of challah. And three days later we’re still trying to get the slow cooker clean.

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It was so wet. I know, I know; its a crock pot, that’s how it cooks things. But this was like really wet. Like underdone scrambled eggs. And the flavor was lost in this weirdly wet, concoction.

I actually tossed some in a pan to dry it out, and ate all the edges. But it just wasn’t toast. And it certainly wasn’t french.

Dinner for Breakfast

I love breakfast. I even eat breakfast for dinner more often than I should admit. It’s without a doubt my favorite meal.

Yesterday, however, I had dinner for breakfast. And I don’t regret it.

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The night before I made chicken Parmesan with spaghetti, and some grilled, marinated eggplant and zucchini (the veggies came frozen from Trader Joes).
In the morning, that dinner still sounded good.

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I poured leftover marinara sauce into a sauté pan, and cracked two eggs directly into the bubbling liquid. Covered to steam for a few minutes.

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Once the whites were set, and the yolks still semi-soft, the whole pan was poured over spaghetti. And then all smushed together in a very un photogenic way. Seriously good breakfast.

Conceptualize

Kale sauteed with garlic and fresh lemon juice.

Artichokes dipped in warm butter.

Spicy, stir fried beef cooked just a little past rare.

There are some flavors, ideas, recipes, bites that just pop into my brain. I can’t shake them. They appear, usually out of nowhere and I start my grocery list. Oddly, most items I’ve never even tried before. I’m sure a specialist somewhere would tell me to quit reading cook books and food blogs and leave my poor subconscious alone.

This week I wanted to bake shredded potatoes into eggs. I’ve never done this. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had this. Its so simple, logical, yet unchartered- for -me territory.

I grabbed a hefty bag of frozen hashbrown potatoes from Trader Joes. These were browned and added to a casserole dish of browned chicken breakfast sausage removed from casing, baby spinach, and eggs beaten with cottage cheese. Baked at about 350 degrees for roughly 30 minutes.

It was great. Will be reheated throughout the week. A hefty breakfast in seconds. Topped with cheese, maybe some sriracha for the groggy mornings.

Do you ever crave something you’ve never eaten? Or suddenly strike inspiration to cook one specific recipe for no reason at all?
I’ve landed on pot roast, artichokes, kale, and a handful of other things; having either never made them, never tasted them (or both) and had a strong desire to cook them specific ways.

Like is a mystery, but cooking makes it fun.

Jake Moon Brunch

After registering for the Troy Turkey Trot, I decided to try and run more; at least attempt some form of training for what will be my third 5k this year.

This mornings run taught me the importance of sweat wicking material, and left me very, very hungry. I consulted a few Yelp reviews and a handful of blogs, settling on Jake Moon in Clarksville, about a 25 minute drive from Center Square.

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It’s a small building, just on the verge of feeling like the middle of nowhere. Walking in I knew I was to love brunch. A banjo player sat in the entrance, the music creating a rousing friendliness without overwhelming the noise level. Between the lively music and the small lights around the ceiling, the room was warm; the feeling you get walking into the dining room for thanksgiving.

We had a hard time deciding what to get, every description on the menu made me hungrier. I settled on the Montana Sausage Gravy, made with their house made sausage. It had such a depth of savory flavors, I could have easily eaten a bowl of that alone. The biscuits, over easy eggs, and perfectly crisped potatoes were just a bonus.

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Mister got the Eggs Benedict Trio, which was eggs Benedict as you would expect, with three eggs stacks (what would be the proper term there..?) one each with bacon, candian bacon, and their fantastic sausage.

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We could have stopped there. Easily.

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But fresh sticky buns had just come out of the oven. So one bun to share with a hot chocolate on the side.

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This was actually the only hiccup of brunch, maybe we should have stopped before we hit such a glutinous level. While the bun itself was fine enough, the sticky topping was burnt.

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That bitter, almost sour flavor of burnt sugar coated the entire bun. The overall meal and service was so great, that I would easily give this a second chance. We might even try again next weekend.

We tried to run errands after brunch, which was short lived before we both succumbed to an afternoon nap. Perfect Sunday in my book.