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Easy Artichokes

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My newest obsession is artichokes.  I had a shishito peppers obsession during the summer (which I was supposed to post about, buuuuuuut life happened).  However, more recently, I've been all about the artichokes.  Interestingly enough, I never had an artichoke until about a year ago.  I mean, I've had artichoke hearts in salads and in dips and all that jazz.  But I hadn't had a whole artichoke before - and now I'm hooked.

One of my favorite places in Hoboken, Grand Vin, serves this with a mayonnaise and balsamic dip and I love it.  I decided I wanted to try making the artichokes at home, but with a butter dip.  This is primarily because I do not love mayonnaise and I refuse to keep any in my apartment.  As my mother feels exactly the opposite of this, she is horrified and proceeds to buy mayonnaise whenever she visits.

This makes a great snack or appetizer.  I'll also keep it real and just admit that I have eaten an entire artichoke in place of dinner.  True Life: I am a Food Blogger with a Questionable Diet.

I could have taken more pics of the artichoke prep process, but seriously, it was so so easy.  I know there are quite a few steps listed below but the hardest part was trying to keep the weight on top of the artichokes as they boiled so that they remained submerged. 

So can we just make artichokes 24/7 from now on?  Yes? K. Thanks bye!

 

Easy Artichokes
makes 2 artichokes

Print Recipe

  • 2 artichokes (artichokes with more closed petals tend to be tastier)
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

1) In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Make sure the amount of water used will cover 2 artichokes.

2) Use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut off the tips of each of the artichoke leaves.  This can help when handling the artichokes.

3) Use a serrated knife to slice 3/4 - 1 inch off the top of the artichoke.

4) Pull off any small stray petals at the base of the artichoke.  You can choose to cut the stem of the artichoke off, or you can keep it.  Your preference!  However, the stem tends to be a more bitter part of the artichoke.

5) Rinse the artichoke under running water, pulling apart the leaves gently so that the water can get rid of any stray debris.

6) To the boiling water, add salt to taste.  Cut the lemon into quarters.  Add two of the lemon quarters to the pot of boiling water.  Also add in the bay leaves.

7) Place the artichokes into the boiling water.  Use a lid for a smaller pot or a smaller plate to keep the artichokes weighed down in the water.

8) Boil for 25-45 minutes, or until the lower leaves can pull off the artichoke easily.

9) Remove the artichokes and allow them to drain upside down on a plate or cutting board for a few minutes.

10) In the meantime, melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave.  Stir in the garlic.  Using the remaining two lemon quarters, squeeze in as little or as much lemon juice as desired.  Stir to combine everything.

11) Serve the artichokes hot or warm, with the melted butter mix on the side.

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Zucchini Bake

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I want to say that I'm sorry.  But that wouldn't be quite true.  I'm sort of sorry I'm inundating you with zucchini recipes, but they're just soooooo good!  OK, this might be my last one for a while.  Or maybe not.  Don't hold it against me...

This week, the Autumn season has officially landed in NJ/NY.  I had to bring out a jacket for the first time in a while, and I'm not really happy about it.  I also wore my boots for the first time yesterday and it was bittersweet.  Typically Autumn is my favorite season, but for some reason this year, I'm just not ready.  I need at least one more week of warm weather and al fresco dining.  Please?  Until the heat returns, I'm pulling out my favorite scarves and sweatshirts to start the "layering up" process.

Here's something I really enjoy about Fall - football season!  Today is the first official Sunday Funday and I am ready!  Clear the schedule and let's do this.  I'm heading over to my local Steelers bar, and win or lose, it's going to be good to catch up with everyone and cheer on the team.  I'm also working on setting up my annual trip to Pittsburgh to watch the Steelers play and could not be more excited.  Last year we broke tradition and traveled to Miami to watch the boys play there, but this year we are back in home territory in the 'burg.

Speaking of Miami, my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who will be impacted by Hurricane Irma down south.  My family was lucky in the Bahamas and was not severely impacted by the storm.  I'm sending out positive thoughts for anyone who may be down in Florida and the surrounding areas and will be affected by Irma.  Stay safe everyone!

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Zucchini Bake

Print Recipe

  • 1-8 ounce can refrigerated crescent rolls
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cups chopped zucchini (~4 small or 2 large zucchinis)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoons Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • dash of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 8 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

1) Press the crescent roll dough into an 8x8 pan which has been coated in cooking spray.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2) In a medium pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the chopped onion and zucchini.  Saute the vegetables in the pan for about 5 minutes.

3) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, add the eggs and whisk in spices, including the salt and pepper, until everything is incorporated.

4) Scoop up a small amount of the onion and zucchini mixture and stir it into the eggs to temper them.  Slowly pour in the remaining onion and zucchini mixture into the bowl with the eggs.  Stir to incorporate.

5) Fold in the shredded mozzarella cheese.

6) Pour the mixture into the croissant crust.  Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, so it can set.  Serve warm immediately.

--recipe very slightly adapted from Lemon Tree Dwelling

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Mexican Grilled Corn Zucchini Salad

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I absolutely love Mexican grilled corn, which is also called Elote.  Since we're near the end of summer, corn and zucchini are absolutely everywhere.  I can't go grocery shopping without seeing them and somehow being suckered into buying more.  For strange reasons, I tend to go to grocery stores 2-3 times a week because I need different things from different places.  Food blogger life.  What this all boils down to is that I have an overabundance of produce chez moi and it needs to be used up as soon as possible!

Here's the thing, though.  I don't always want to bite into corn on the cob and make my hands and face super messy.  So...enter this salad situation.  Yum!  There is nothing quite like satisfying your food cravings without being covered head to toe in corn juice.


Mexican Grilled Corn Zucchini Salad
makes 2 - 4 servings

Print Recipe

  • 2 ears fresh corn, cleaned
  • 1 large zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
  • olive oil, 1-2 teaspoons
  • 2 green onions, trimmed and sliced into thin rounds
  • 1/3 cup finely minced fresh basil, or to taste
  • 3 ounces Greek yogurt
  • 2-3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • about 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled

1) Wrap the ears of corn separately in pieces of foil.  Place directly on the stove over high heat.  You will hear some crackling noises as the corn grills in the foil packets.  This is normal.  Use tongs to rotate the ears every 1-2 minutes.  Allow the corn to cook for 8-10 minutes, or longer if desired.

2) Allow the corn to cool slightly, then place on a cutting board with the tip down.  Use a sharp knife to cut the kernels off the cob.  Set aside in a large bowl.

3) Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the zucchini pieces and allow to grill on one side.  Once browned, 1- 2 minutes, flip the zucchini to the other side and allow to cook as well.  Remove the zucchini from the pan and set aside.  You may need to grill the zucchini in two batches so you don't crowd the pan.

4) Place the grilled zucchini rounds on the cutting board and slice into quarters.  Place these in the large bowl with the corn kernels.

5) Add the green onions and basil to the bowl as well.  Set aside.

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6) In a medium bowl, combine the Greek yogurt, lime juice, agave or honey, salt and pepper.  Whisk the ingredients until smooth. Taste and add more or the lime juice, honey, salt, or pepper as desired.

7) Stir the Greek yogurt sauce over the corn and zucchini mixture.  Stir to evenly incorporate everything.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired.

8) Add the crumbled goat cheese to the mixture.  Gently fold the cheese into the salad.  Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve chilled.

-- recipe slightly adapted from Averie Cooks

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Porter Collins: A Review

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Last weekend, I sidled over to Porter Collins, which is a newer restaurant that opened in uptown Hoboken a few months ago.  They are a part of the Pino Hospitality group, which is also responsible for Anthony David's and Bin14, which are acclaimed Hoboken restaurants.  To set the scene, Porter Collins offers a bottomless weekend brunch from 11am - 3pm.  This is accompanied by an all-you-can-eat buffet, as well as a few chef specials which are delivered directly from the kitchen.

My friend and I arrived at 12pm for a Sunday brunch last weekend.  The outside of the building is slightly industrial but definitely has a modern flair to it.  Psssst - do you see that Happy Hour sign outside?  There is a 1/2 price Happy Hour every day from 5-7pm when you order food from the bar.  One day when I am able to leave work early, I'll take advantage of this for sure!

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Upon entering, you're greeted by greenery (not pictured - there are a number of larger plants behind the hostess station) and a bar area.  There are a few high top tables as well, if you're inclined to eat there.  In the back of this section, Porter Collins also has an area that can be used for private events such as birthday parties or wedding receptions.  There is a full bar as well as the ability to set up DJ equipment for all your music needs.

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Alright, let's get down to the brunch!  The brunch is held in yet another room at Porter Collins.  This one has really cute beachy details.  They are actually looking to add even more beachy decor soon, but for now, I still think it looks amazing.  Can we just appreciate this mural for a second?

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So. Every Saturday and Sunday, from 11am - 3pm, you can hook yourself up with an all-you-can-eat-and-drink situation.  The food is buffet style and the drink options are Bloody Mary's, Mimosas, and Bellinis.  The chef's specials are included in the brunch price of $35 per person.  When we were there, some of the chef's specials were omelettes, eggs benedict, and banana pancakes!

Below are some pictures to really give you the experience --

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If you need a pick-me-up, as we ALL do on weekend mornings, there is a full service coffee bar that you can take advantage of.  Porter Collins offers both cold-brewed iced coffee as well as regular hot coffee, but if you need a shot that will be $5 please.

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Here's a glimpse at our first plates of food.  Yup.  First plates...

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And although this is not a part of the brunch, we just had to try the frose to close out this brunch!  Let it be known that it was excellent.

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OK, so I've got your recap of everything below.  There's also a regular menu snuck in there in case you are not interested in the brunch (what!?) or can't make it there on the weekends.  Personally, I can't wait to go back to try out more of the brunch items and the chef specials.  The summer menu also offers amazing options, so I'll need to book another table as soon as possible!

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*Disclaimer - I was provided with the brunch in exchange for my opinion.  All opinions above are my own.

Chicken Egg Roll in a Bowl

I just got back from Canada (ok, like a week ago, but that's the same right?) and it was so much fun!  I haven't been to Canada in a number of years when I was there before for my cousin's college graduation.  This time it was just me and a friend.  We did all the things, including visiting the Toronto Islands, eating in Kensington Market, and trekking over to Niagara Falls.

Something we made sure to do while we were there was to check out the Asian food.  Apparently Toronto is supposed to have really good Asian food.  As we were eating everything in sight already, I only ordered a vermicelli noodle dish (which I quickly ate ALL of) and it was so so delicious.  Basically, I've just been craving Asian food flavors again.

One dish that I love to eat but hate to order is egg rolls.  I love very specific fried foods, such as fried chicken.  However, most other fried foods aren't really appealing to me.  I've determined that I love the filling of egg rolls but I'm just not in love with the fried outer shell.  Enter the Chicken Egg Roll in a Bowl.  I saw this recipe posted online and I was completely obsessed with making this as-soon-as-humanly-possible!  So here we are...

 

Chicken Egg Roll in a Bowl
makes 4-6 servings

Print Recipe

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken, turkey or pork (I used chicken)
  • 1 small to medium onion, diced
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 16 ounces bagged coleslaw mix (shredded green cabbage and carrots)
  • 1/2 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced for garnish, optional
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds for garnish, optional
  • extra soy sauce for serving, optional

1) Pour the oils into a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the chicken and cook until done all the way through, making sure to crumble the chicken into smaller pieces.  It should take about 4-5 minutes to cook.

2) Toss in the onions and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the onions are softened.

3) Add in the garlic and ground ginger.  Stir together and cook for about 1 minute.

4) Pour in the coleslaw mix.  Add the soy sauce and black pepper as well.  Stir the mixture gently, making sure that the chicken mixture combines evenly with the coleslaw.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until the cabbage wilts the desired amount.

5) Before serving, sprinkle with sliced green onions and sesame seeds, if using.  Place the extra soy sauce on the side if desired.

--recipe very slightly adapted from Averie Cooks

Cherry Mango Red Wine Smoothie

It's time to be basic this summer.  Everyone is out here buying and making frosé (frozen rosé) and I must admit that I feel left out.  I don't typically drink rosé since it tends to be too sugary for me and gives me a headache almost immediately.  Sad panda.  (Side note - I just tried a rosé gelato today and I didn't get a pesky headache!  Which means I'm pretty sure I'll be eating it everyday until October.)

At any rate, I decided I would make my own version of a boozy frozen drink, using my current favorite beverage - red wine!  I decided I wanted to use frozen mangoes (because I like them) and frozen cherries (because they are delicious) in my smoothie.  Not only will this give our drink a pretty color, but I'm also obsessed obsessed obsessed with cherries.  More specifically, I'm obsessed with cherry flavors and not the actual fruit.  (Fun fact - I tried to eat one of the frozen cherries as-is and could.not.do.it. It's a texture thing for me.)

Throw mangoes, cherries, yogurt, and red wine into the blender and we're doing fine.  I was able to detect a slight hint of the red wine in the drink, which is really all I need.  This was so tasty that I'm hell bent on drinking this several times a week until the end of time.  I'm not exaggerating.


Cherry Mango Red Wine Smoothie
makes 1 smoothie

Print Recipe

  • 1 cup frozen mango, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen cherries, diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1-2 teaspoons Greek yogurt

1) Add all ingredients to a small blender and blend together until it reaches the desired consistency.  Enjoy!

Peach Ginger Mint Popsicles

We are in the thick of summer.  The 90 degree weather that we've been having for the past few days tells me so.  I'm not complaining.  I'm not a fan of super hot temps, but I'm definitely more partial to heat than I am to the cold.  So let's just live our lives and whip up some refreshing popsicles to get us through this.

I went through a white nectarine phase a few years ago.  It lasted for a while.  White nectarines are my jam, since they can be crunchy like apples, but they have a peach flavor.  My biggest gripe with peaches is their texture, so I was basically able to eliminate the one thing I didn't like with these fruits.  Anyhow, for this recipe I would recommend using actual peaches, as they're softer and will be easier to blend.  The ginger in this recipe is a shining star as well.  I love a hint of fresh ginger in the summer.  So refreshing!  Also, I just can't stop with the mint.  Don't make me!

I managed to refrain from adding booze to these popsicles (I was oh so close to doing so!), but I won't be mad one little bit if you find yourself pouring in a little bit of spirits.  Live your life to the fullest.

 

Peach Ginger Mint Popsicles
makes 6 popsicles

Print Recipe

  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 (2-inch thick) slice of fresh ginger, peeled
  • Four large peaches, peeled and quartered
  • 1/4 + 2 tablespoons cup lime juice
  • handful of fresh mint leaves

1) In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring the sugar, corn syrup, salt and water to a boil.  Stir constantly until the sugar dissolves in the pan, about 2 minutes. 

2) Add the ginger to the pan and stir the mixture for 1 more minute.

3) Remove from heat and allow the syrup to stand in the sauce pan for 10 minutes.

4) Next, add the peaches, simple syrup, and lime juice to a large bowl.  Use a handheld blender to puree the mixture.  Depending on how ripe your peaches are, it may take a bit of time to break down the fruit.

5) Pour the mixture into the popsicle molds and add the sticks.  Freeze the pops until completely frozen, about 8 hours.

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu

I have a new obsession.  You may have heard of it.  It's called biking.

When I was in NOLA, my friends and I signed up for a bike tour and it was honestly the highlight of my time there. (Side note: If you are also heading to NOLA, I highly recommend Flambeaux Bicycle Tours.  Take a tour with Eric!)  I came back to Hoboken and immediately signed up to use our city-wide shared bike program.  I've been meaning to do it for the past two years but of course I needed an extra push in the right direction.

With my newfound wheels of freedom, I decided to take a leisurely ride to my neighborhood ShopRite to pick up a roast and a few other items.  Am I the only one who loves grocery shopping?  As I first started getting into cooking, I would head to ShopRite to find ingredients and it was there that I really grew to love picking out produce and stocking up on pantry items.  Yes, this might seem weird to a few of you, but I KNOW some of you get me.  And since I was so accustomed to the large selection in my big-box grocery store, shopping in smaller places nowadays just doesn't give me the exact same feeling of excitement.  I just love ShopRite so much!

OK, before things get weird (aren't they already weird though?), let's just stop there.  Suffice it to say that I am excited to be in full-on biking mode for the summer and I'm looking for any opportunity to take a bike ride through Hoboken.  Guess that means you'll be seeing even more posts about ShopRite in the future!
 

Slow Cooker Beef Ragu
makes 6-8 servings

Print Recipe

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 6 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves (or 3 teaspoons dried)
  • 4 lbs beef chuck roast, halved
  • kosher salt and ground pepper, to taste

1) Add the onion, garlic, tomato paste, and oregano into your slow cooker.

2) Season the beef with as much salt and pepper as desired.  Add the meat to the slow cooker as well.

3) Pour in 2 cups of water, cover and cook on low for 9 hours (or high for 4 1/2 hours).

4) Once done, use tongs or forks to shred the meat.

5) Serve warm on top of rice, mashed potatoes, polenta/grits, etc.

--recipe slightly adapted from Real Food By Dad

Corn & Pepper Pizza

Yup, I have yet another pizza for you guys.  I can't stop.  I'm going through a heavy carb-loading moment, soooo you're on the receiving end of this part of my life.  I've also just come back from a fabulous trip to New Orleans and I haven't quite figured out how to detox from all the rich food.  I'm thinking about it, but even on my trip back to NJ, the airplane RAN OUT OF SALADS before I could order one.  How rude.  Guess what the only other food option was...buffalo mac and cheese.  Really? Really?

Make no mistake, this is not a salad that I'm presenting to you today.  It does have vegetables though, so it's a step in the right direction.

Plus, we have to take advantage of fresh corn when we can.  Summer is here!  To give this pizza a bit of a kick, I added a few blistered hot peppers, but you could always substitute green peppers if the heat is not really your thing.
 

Corn & Pepper Pizza
makes 8"-10" pizza

Print Recipe

  • 1 package prepared pizza dough, brought to room temperature
  • 3 long green peppers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • kosher salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 ounces goat cheese
  • 1/4 shallot, diced
  • 1 cup roasted corn kernels, fresh or frozen

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Set aside.

2) In a small saucepan over medium or high heat, add the peppers and 1/2 teaspoon olive oil.

3) Use a pair of tongs to turn the peppers so they blister evenly on all sides.  Sprinkle with kosher salt, then remove from the pan and dice finely.

4) Stretch the pizza dough over the prepared baking sheet until it forms an 8"-10" circle.

5) Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil over the dough and add the garlic.  Spread both evenly over the dough.

6) Sprinkle the mozzarella and goat cheeses on top, followed by the shallots, peppers, and the corn.

7) Bake the pizza for 15-20 minutes, depending on how crisp you like your pizza.

8) Once out of the oven, allow the pizza to cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Mango Lassi

It's a beautiful day outside!  Yet here I am sitting at my computer, sipping on a mango lassi.  Casual.

I finally broke down and purchased one of those personal-sized blenders.  I've been hemming and hawing for a while (i.e. over a year) since I have limited counter space and I hate to see a lot of food gadgets sitting around.  I was finally pushed over the edge by seeing frozen mango being stocked at Trader Joe's.  For some reason, this was my breaking point.  I went home and immediately researched blenders on Amazon and picked one up.

Once the blender was in my grubby little hands, I set out to make a mango lassi because...why not?  Why else did I purchase all the frozen mango from TJ's?  This drink is cool and refreshing and exactly what I need throughout this summer.  I went a bit rogue and added a few mint leaves into the blender as well, and I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.

If you're not a fan of the ratios in my recipe below, fear not!  You can tweak this recipe so so so easily to make it your own.  Don't like Greek yogurt?  Nix it.  Do you want more mango in your drink? Add it.  You're the boss of you!

 

Mango Lassi
makes 1 smoothie - recipe can be multiplied to make several

Print Recipe

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen mango
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3/4 cup milk (can be soy, whole, skim, almond...etc...)
  • handful of mint leaves, optional

1) Add mango, yogurt, and milk to the blender.  Blend until all ingredients are incorporated.

2) If using the mint leaves, add them at this point.  Blend the lassi for several seconds to distribute the mint leaves into the drink.

3) Pour the lassi into a glass and serve immediately.