Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kitchen organization: Tea Bags... everywhere!

I have been getting the organization bug for a while now. I used to see features on home websites, magazines, and pinterest about organization and pass them over, thinking in my head "boooorrring." But now, I have been reading blogs like I heart organizing and dreaming of home without clutter. What would my mother say? I was the kid that never cleaned my room growing up (imagine messy beyond belief - can't see the floor kind of thing) with adamant stubbornness. I'm definitely neater and more house-hygiene-conscious than I was as a kid, but since spring started, I've been trying to turn over a new cleaning/organization leaf.

Recently, I had this epiphany - Why do my boxes of tea bags need to be all over the place? I mean, I literally have tea bags in three different spots in my kitchen because I have no organization system for them. Most are shoved in the bottom of a cabinet piled on top of each other. Three others are on my counter. Then, I have a white ceramic canister full of other miscellaneous teas. Who knows how many varieties of tea are actually in my kitchen, but I really would like them to be in one central location, neatly and efficiently arranged.

I am not alone in this. When I googled 'tea bag organization', I came across several forums where users shared my dilemma. One person had 40+ boxes piled on top of their counter. Some people used ziploc bags with the type of tea written on the front and placed it in a container. This would be great for teas that are just in canisters with no bags labeling what they are. However, I just don't imagine this method working for me. So onward I went to scour the internet...

Monday, April 30, 2012

Sriracha Honey-Garlic Wings

If you haven't tried Sriracha yet, well... why not? If you're a true foodie you've probably been hearing about this for a while, maybe you've tried it, maybe you put it on everything you eat/own, or maybe you've been waiting for an awesome recipe like this to get on board. Sriracha is a hot chili sauce identified by its iconic rooster on the front and green cap; you'll most likely find in your local grocer's international aisle (in the Asian food section). It was created by a Vietnamese man after he moved to California, and it has quite the following. In fact, there is a Sriracha cook book (with a blog that also features funny posts from other Sriracha enthusiasts). I feel like I'm a little late getting on board the Sriracha train, but since I bought our first bottle of Sriracha hot chili sauce about a month ago, I've witnessed my husband put it on his breakfast, lunch, and dinner (in the same day).

The thought that has come to many foodies that have tried Sriracha - what if I made hot wings out of this delicious sauce? I don't know how I would describe the flavor of Sriracha - it's much better than hot sauce as it doesn't have that vinegar-y taste, it's thicker, it's slightly sweet, and it's just really delicious. This recipe cuts down on the heat with some honey and other ingredients for a sweet and spicy and garlicky wing. It's got a good amount of heat so adjust accordingly if hot hot wings aren't your thing.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

I would categorize the creation of this recipe as total kitchen experimentation. I had some Italian bread that was a day or two away from being thrown out if it wasn't used up so I baked it and threw some ingredients together to create this yummy, tangy pesto to top it off with. I used store-bought pesto to create this recipe but you're welcome to make your favorite classic pesto recipe to use. This is super quick and super easy to make. This recipe only makes a small amount so double, triple, or quadruple it if you're serving it at a party.

What you need
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp pesto
3 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes (from jar packed in oil)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
Mini food processor

What you do
Combine all ingredients in a mini food processor and puree. Serve in small dish or bowl. Spread on Italian bread or use in a pasta dish.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Quick & Easy Weeknights: Margherita Pizza

I love to meal plan. It means I only grocery shop once every 3 weeks, I spend less, and I have quick meals planned for those nights you don't feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen. This recipe is adapted from a cooking light recipe, uses refrigerated pizza dough, and fresh ingredients. 

Quick Margherita Pizza (Adapted from Cooking Light)
What you need
1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, halved
5 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 3/4 pound)
1 cup (4 ounces) mozzarella cheese, sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Baking Sheet
Rolling pin
Pizza cutter

What you do
Preheat oven to 400° F. Unroll crust dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; roll out to the edges of baking sheet using floured roller. Bake at 400° for 8 minutes.

Remove crust from oven, and brush with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Rub crust with cut sides of garlic. Arrange tomato slices on crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border; top with mozzarella slices. Bake at 400° for 12 minutes or until cheese melts and crust is golden.

Sprinkle pizza evenly with sliced basil, salt, and pepper. Cut and serve.

Wine Pairing: Make it an Italian night with Barbera - a red wine with some acidity to cut the fattiness of the mozzarella cheese.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Wine Time: Reds under $15

Serious Eats came out with a top 15 budget red wine list earlier this week that has me itching to go to the Wine store. I don't believe I've tried any of the wines on this list and I'm curious if I can find any of them locally. I rarely spend more than $15 on a bottle of wine unless it's a gift or I know I love it, so I'll keep this one bookmarked.


Ah, I really wish that was my job.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Creamy Lemon Sauce

This meal is perfect for a weeknight when you don't feel like spending a lot of time on dinner after a long day. I'm no Rachael Ray, but I do believe this would take even an amateur chef less than 30 minutes to prepare. Tear open a bag of salad, put out some dressing, and you're golden. I made this with panzanella salad and really enjoyed the lightness and simplicity of this meal. You could also easily make the same meal with cod or halibut; tilapia just happened to be on sale this week and I'm a low-budget chef whenever possible. Sauvignon Blanc is the way to go for wine, as it won't overpower the delicateness of the fish.

What you need
6 Tilapia fillets
1/3 c. light mayonnaise
2 T. lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 T. dried parsley
2 tsp garlic salt
2 tsp cracked black pepper
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs

What you do
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange tilapia on a baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine mayo, lemon juice, and dijon mustard. In another small bowl, combine parsley, garlic salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese, and panko.

Spread mayo thinly on the top of each tilapia. Top with panko topping. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until fish flakes. Then broil for no more than 1-2 minutes to lightly brown the topping. Enjoy!

Wine pairing: Opt for a Sauvignon Blanc, which won't overpower the delicate taste of this meal.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Spring Pasta Salad with Asparagus & Prosciutto

Spring is in full swing in the Northeast. Flowers everywhere, the leaves are back on the trees, birds are singing! Ah, I love it, and it means summer isn't far off. Spring also means asparagus is in season. This recipe has a light and tangy flavor. It uses minimal dressing compared to my other pasta salads. Instead of penne or rotini, I've opted for small orzo pasta to soak up the flavors of the sun-dried tomato, lemon, and other great tastes. The prosciutto adds some extra protein, but if you're a vegetarian, you can leave it out.

Spring Pasta Salad with Asparagus & Prosciutto
What you need
1 lb orzo pasta
10-12 oz asparagus, ends cut off and sliced into thirds
3 oz prosciutto, sliced
1/2 cucumber, quarted and thinly sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c. matchstick carrots, roughly chopped
1/4 c. diced red onion
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped
1/2 of 14 oz can artichoke hearts (drained & rinsed), chopped
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

3 T. Lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 c. vinegar (white wine, red wine, or balsamic all work well depending on your mood)
1/4 c. olive oil
Italian seasoning, to taste
2 T. fresh chopped basil
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

What you do
Boil pasta according to package directions while you prepare your other ingredients. Drain and rinse pasta with cold water when done.

Steam or boil asparagus for 2 minutes then place in cold water bath. Combine pasta, prosciutto, and all other veggies in a large mixing bowl.

Prepare and combine all ingredients for dressing. Pour over pasta and stir to coat. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight before serving.

Wine pairing: A light Pinot Noir if you're in the mood for red. Or, if you prefer a white go for a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.
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