Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Appetizers: I'm putting out, but how much?

Appetizers don't need to be complicated. The cheese board I prepared has drunken goat cheese, Boursin cheese, gluten-free crackers, sliced honey crisp apples with a little bit of rosemary for just a pop of color. 

I normally decide how many appetizers I will be serving based on the number of guests I am having. One of the consequences of growing up in a large family is that I have a disproportionate understanding of how much food is actually needed for a group of adults who are not seven ravenous brothers. For example, I had a group of friends over one night for dinner and I was making my grandmother's raviolis.. unsupervised. 

I was a little nervous about how they would come out so I decided to make a back up dinner incase they didn't hold together, seems practical no? Two full sheets of lasagna, and a successful entré into the ravioli world later, my friend Jake was walking out with a full sheet of lasagna to take home. 

This made me establish some portion rules for myself. 

Appetizers: estimate that the longer they're waiting, the more they'll eat but start with about 5-7 bites per guest, per hour for individual hors d'oeuvres. 
Again, you need to be flexible based on what you're serving, so if you're serving chips and dip and you're expecting 6-7 people it's worth it to buy the second bag of chips because they're easier to snack on.  For a group of ten people I usually have three appetizer options. 

Dinner: if it's just the boys coming over for our sibling dinners [#FeedingtheFrat] then I estimate one and a half pieces of protein per person. You can get more technical and say with a more general guest list you should have 6-8 oz of protein per guest, but I just usually eyeball it. 
For the accompanying side dishes, i.e. vegetables, grains, and starches it depends on who you're eating with. Our family tends to try to avoid starchy carbs, so I try to serve more vegetables, usually about a "palm's worth" of cooked veggies per person. 

Desserts: Don't go crazy. While everyone loves dessert, unless there is something that you know is going to be fought after and hoarded (Grandma's zeppoles or my Apple Cake) you typically won't need a back up unless it is a celebration/holiday of some kind.

Alcohol/Beverages: whatever drink you're serving, a good guideline for a beverage estimate is two drinks, per guest, per hour. 

Even with these guidelines, you know your guests best. 
Always round-up your food estimates, if you're not sure. It's better to have leftovers for lunch than to not have enough food but if at anytime you feel like you're running the risk of not having enough- order a pizza. 

Pizza solves everything. 

Some of my favorite go-to Appetizer recipes: 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Snapshot: Cape Cod

Despite the "June-uary" weather we've been suffering through this year, Memorial Day Weekend proved to be absolutely stunning. Take a quick peek! 

I had a borderline unhealthy obsession with this tree. 

Provincetown's iconic Lobster Pot: 

Every bus should be like this bus. 

Seems fair... 

He gets it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Bagel" Salad with a Lemon Dill Vinaigrette

During yesterday’s snow storm I was going a little stir crazy.
Ok, maybe more than a bit crazy, but then my friend suggested we do a late day Soul Cycle class as the snow was abating which turned out to be a majorly delicious life decision. 

There is something wonderful about leaving a Soul class completely exhausted, drenched but grinning, and feeling like you can do anything.
Endorphins = Everything. 

 I got home and was hungry but not starving. Then after about fifteen minutes I started craving a bagel, which really means I needed some thing savory. 
I didn’t feel like completely erasing all my hard work, so,  I decided to throw together a “bagel salad.” 

A Bagel salad is essentially everything I like on my bagel... minus the cream cheese... and the bagel.  I know it sounds like I'm gypping myself but I promise you it's the perfect substitute. 
Quick, salty, refreshing, and not too heavy this salad completely hits the spot.

Vinaigrette Recipe
Your acid to fat ratio for this dressing is 1/4 acid (lemon juice) to 3/4 fat (olive oil).

Lemon juice (1/2 a lemon)
 Olive oil 
1/4 tsp dill 
1/4 tsp crushed garlic 
1/2 tsp honey 

Whisk the ingredients together vigorously. Reserve on the side. 
This recipe really just needs a touch of dressing and you will definitely have more dressing than you need. Reserve the rest of the dressing for later and use it on your salads throughout the week. 

Salad Base

1 cucumber 
1 oz smoked salmon 
1 radish cut thinly 
1/2 tsp chopped chives 
1/4 tsp black sesame seeds 

Peel the cucumber and remove its seeds. Slice the cucumber into long strips lengthwise before chopping into bite sized pieces. Do the same to the smoked salmon.
Thoroughly wash and then thinly slice the radish. 

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. 

Drizzle some dressing on the side of your bowl, mix into the rest of the ingredients. Start with a small amount of dressing and build to your taste. The idea is that the ingredients are coated but not sopping in the vinaigrette. 

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Roasted Chicken Breast with Mardi Gras Veggies: Fat Tuesday, Skinny Eats

Belated Happy Mardi Gras! 

Several of my friends use this period after Mardi Gras as a de facto diet, "giving up" many of the delicious indulgences in an effort to be summer ready. I am equally guilty of this and thus have been trying to clean up my act and my diet at the same time.

One of my absolute favorite dishes my grandmother makes is her roasted red peppers, which she usually serves with her extra thin fried chicken cutlets. 
Just of the thought of them has my tummy grumbling. 

[Crazily enough the store didn't have red peppers so I used the green ones. They definitely were less sweet than my grandmother's and so in the future I highly recommend sticking with the red.]

I wanted to see if I could replicate my grandmother's peppers and serve them with a leaner choice of protein. I had some of the boys over for dinner, as well as one of their beautiful girlfriends who brought the most delicious pastries and one of the most competitive games of Jenga... we had a blast!

Grandma's cutlets while delicious pieces of perfection are not exactly diet friendly. 
As an alternative I roasted chicken breasts in chicken stock with parsley at 325 for about an hour. Halfway through I rotated the chicken on top to keep all of the chicken moist.

Thoroughly wash your peppers and remove any labels or stickers. Place your peppers on a baking sheet.

Since the peppers are going to be broiled, thus exposed to an open flame, make sure there is no paper on the peppers.

Set your oven to broil, rotate the peppers until all the skin is charred.

Check to make sure all sides of the pepper are charred. 
This one needed a little more time.

Once all the peppers are thoroughly charred, place all the peppers in a paper bag and allow them to cool. 

Once cooled, tear open the bag. 
I found that the bag absorbs a lot of the moisture during the cooling process and for the sake of easy clean up I always leave the "paper bag dumpling" in a bowl. 

The skin should peel off easily, use a knife to remove any stubborn skin, the seeds and the top of the peppers. 

Slice the peppers into slivers, and add to a large mixing bowl with garlic, salt, and olive oil. 
Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature until you are ready to serve. 

For the seven peppers I roasted, I used 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1/2 cup of olive oil and 2 cloves of garlic. 

I also served the several other vegetable sides with the chicken. 

Roasted Eggplant with cubed butternut squash, and onions. 

Fresh tomato salad.

Sautéed dandelion greens with eggplant and spicy red pepper. 

The boys came to dinner armed with flowers and wine. 
I have the sweetest brothers in the world. 

My favorites from one of my favorites.

We also had one brother join us via Facetime. 
His perfect attendance record remains technically intact. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Sibling Dinner: Coconut Beef Noodle 'Stewp'

For last night's sibling dinner I made a curry coconut beef noodle "stewp."
Not quite a stew, not quite a soup. 

Before preparing the broth, mix the meat in the following marinade and allow it to sit for at least half an hour.

Beef with Marinade: 
- 3 lbs. stew meat
- 2 tbsp. cilantro
- Lime juice (1 lime)
- 1 tbsp. chopped garlic
- 1 tbsp. lemongrass paste 
- Generous amount of salt

Mix thoroughly and reserve on the side at room temperature while you prepare the broth.
Don't skimp on the salt during this step-
the salt helps to tenderize the beef.

Because I was pretty generous with the salt during this step, I didn't add any additional salt to the broth. So be sure to use your discretion when seasoning later.

- Equal parts bone broth and coconut milk. 
(In my case that was 32 oz. of each)
- 2 cups of diced onions 
- 2 cups julienned carrots/spiralized carrots [you can use the carrot noodles that they sell in Whole Foods as an alternative]
- 3 tbsp. curry powder 
- 2 tsp. cilantro
- 2 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
- 3 drops fish sauce
- 2 tsp. safflower oil 

At the very last moment you will need:
- Thin rice noodles 

Caramelize the onions in the oil before adding the rest of the ingredients. Add the rest of the broth's ingredients.

Allow the broth to come to a simmer while you sear the beef in a separate pan.
Add the meat to the broth. 

Cook at a simmer over medium-low heat for one hour. 

Right before serving add the rice noodles (they only need about 3 minutes to cook). 

I served the "stewp" with several garnishes so the boys could customize each bowl according to their  taste. 

Bean sprouts 
Napa cabbage with soy sauce and eggs
Avocado slices