Quick and cheap: egg salad BLT

Hi friends, how’s life? Did you watch the Boston Marathon? I’m always so proud that this amazing race is in my city. And since I live very close to the finish line, I always get a little emotional seeing all the runners. I know how close they are to this incredible accomplishment and I’m so so excited for them!

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Anyways, the marathon was the highlight of my week so far but the rest of the week as always revolved around food.  Since I do a lot of recipe testing for my express lunch time lessons, I wanted to share one of my favorite quick and cheap recipes that’s perfect for lunch or a casual dinner – an egg salad BLT. This recipe was originally featured in Best of Cooking Light and it was love at first bite. I adore how light yet creamy the egg salad is, and the addition of lemon zest really brightens it up. Also, I’ve used nonfat Greek yogurt in place of sour cream on many occasions and it works wonderfully.

Side note: Martha Stewart’s method for hard-boiled eggs creates perfect eggs every time.

The best part? The contrast between creamy eggs, juicy tomatoes and crispy, salty, smoky bacon. Oh yes! :)

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What are your favorite quick and cheap recipes? Please share with all of us in the comments!

 

 

 

Fideos with ham, shrimp and clams

Since the first day Adam and I became a couple, we committed to seeing each other as much as possible despite the fact that at the time, I was living in New York and he was living in Boston (we met in college and were friends for 5 years prior). We took weekly turns on the bus to/from New York/Boston to spend the weekends together (and I’m proud to say in nearly a year, we only missed 2 weekends because of work and school related travel!). For any of you that have been in long distance relationships, you know how hard it is to be apart during the week. Of course that also made the weekends that much more special. We took advantage of every minute together. It was like honeymooning every single week Smile

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Between Boston and New York, New York was decisively the cooler of the two, and I made sure to show Adam the best the city had to offer. We spent our days eating and drinking all over New York, enjoying perfectly pressed sandwiches oozing with goat cheese and plump tomatoes; feasting on ice cream, cookies and pastries while exploring new neighborhoods (ok the pastries part was all me Winking smile); and finishing our nights with indulgent dinners and cocktails at fancy restaurants. It is then that dining out became the core of our relationship. Good food really does bring people together (oh yeah, and love).

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Eventually I developed an interest in cooking, but our love for eating out never died – it remains to be our favorite past time. Unfortunately due to my lack of income at the moment, our eating out budget has been cut significantly (it has been the hardest part of our transition). To “ease the pain,” I’ve been trying to recreate memorable meals out at home. Open-mouthed smile

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This dish of fideos with ham, shrimp and clams (recipe here; I halved it and it still made about 8 servings!) was inspired by a dish I had in a (surprise, surprise!) New York restaurant, Casa Mono (<—Mario Batali’s Spanish tapas restaurant in Union Square). It was my first time trying fideos which are thin noodles, replacing rice in this paella-like dish (yes, I know paella actually refers to the pan – not the dish – but in my mind rice, seafood and meats all cooked together with safron and Spanish spices = paella, regardless of the vessel they are cooked in). We were so blown away by Casa Mono’s fideos with chorizo and clams – we ordered round 2!

When Kerstin, Shannon and I decided to make a Spanish inspired feast, instead of going out to eat, I was eager to try my hands at a fideos dish myself… and I have to say it came out absolutely perfect – as good, if not better, than the fideos dish at Casa Mono!! Side note: Kerstin made manchego stuffed meatballs and fantastic potatoes and Shannon made some crazy brown rice milk cupcakes with almond cream cheese frosting, and her boyfriends supplied some home brewed beer and hard cider – oh yeah, we ate well that night!).

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This dish is a little time consuming but it’s mostly inactive time. You can also make the ham hock broth ahead of time, and then the whole thing will come together leisurely in about 45 minutes. Easy peasy. It was my first time cooking with ham shanks/hocks (I found them in the frozen section at Whole Foods) – they lend an incredible smokiness to the whole dish since the noodles and seafood are cooked in the broth they produce. Oh and I also couldn’t find “fideos” so I bought angel hair pasta and broke it up into smaller pieces – it worked like a charm! This dish was hearty, smoky, briny (from the olives and clams) and buttery (from the shrimp) – I thought it was an incredibly impressive dish that is just perfect for company. Pair it with a simple salad or make a few other tapas, and your guests will be happy. I promise Open-mouthed smile

Have you ever had fideos? Do you like recreating meals out at home?

PS – If you haven’t yet, don’t forget to enter my giveaway!

Homemade gifts: peanut butter oatmeal jar cookies

Hola! How’s life, blog friends? I know I’ve been blogging less frequently lately but life has been too hectic (yes, even without a full time job). So I come today with amazing cookies to make your life a little sweeter. Can you taste them through the screen?

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No? Ok, then you should definitely make them. These babies were incredible!!

What, you’re still trying to keep cookies out of your house as part of your New Years resolution to lose a few pounds? I have 2 things to say about that.

1. Are there really people out there that still remember their New Year’s resolutions on January 30? I’m serious. Are there? I can’t seem to remember mine. Sad truth.

2. If you make these cookies, you can taste 1 or 2… and then gift them. Trust me – the recipient will very happy. Very very happy. And making your friends even better friends this year is a really good thing to add to your resolutions.

See? Win-win Open-mouthed smile

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A few weeks ago it was my friend Katy’s birthday and I was trying to figure out the perfect gift for her. She’s a doctor so the girl is pretty much living in the hospital. I wanted to give her something that would relax her on some especially exhausting day. Since my mind always goes to food, I thought that maybe baking cookies would be a nice activity for such a day (truth be told, on days like that I prefer to mindlessly shove cookies into my mouth until I pass out. Slowing down and actually baking some is a way better approach. I think Katy agreed!). Katy rarely has time to go grocery shopping so I thought a cookie mix would be a good compromise – homemade cookies, homemade taste – a lot less measuring and planning necessary. Again, win-win.

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So I researched and researched. And I found this guide to oatmeal peanut butter jar cookies. They looked perfect!

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Of course I wanted to bake a test batch and also to give some to Katy together with the mix so she wouldn’t need to work for her cookies right away. Smile

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[Side note: I tried baking them on an ungreased cookie sheet and on a silpat. The results were identical!]

They came out even better than expected!! They were soft and a little gooey on the inside, yet hearty with the addition of oat). And of course the mini peanut butter cups (from Trade Joe’s) made these guys extra special. Everything is better with chocolate! Red heart

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I made another batch of the mix for Katy…

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… and completed the gift with a peanut butter jar (since you have to add pb to the mix), a cookie scoop, and some pretty tags. Honestly, I couldn’t be more proud of myself. The gift turned out SO CUTE!!

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Don’t wait for the holidays to shower your friends with homemade gifts. Or to eat cookies.

Are you into DIY gifts? I’d love to hear some new ideas… I’m really digging them these days Smile

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