mandarin orange salad

If there’s anything Annenberg desperately needs, it’s a reliable supply of mandarin oranges.  On the wonderful days that the salad/deli bar is stocked, I’ll add them to my meal as a side or in a tasty salad.  This recipe is only a small deviation from my tuna pasta salad, as the simple olive oil-white vinegar vinaigrette also happens to work amazingly well with mandarin oranges.  Who knew?

mandarin orange salad 2

mandarin orange salad 3

A variation of the above salad (different spinach leaves and added red onion slivers)

Mandarin Orange Salad

Ingredients: (serves 1)

2 cups spinach leaves
1/2 cup mandarin oranges, drained
2 tablespoons feta cheese (can be substituted with bleu cheese)
olive oil
a dash of white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
red onion slivers

Combine spinach leaves with mandarin oranges, red onion and cheese in a deep dish platter.  Drizzle olive oil generously over the salad and toss thoroughly.  Add a dash of white vinegar and season with salt and/or pepper to taste. Enjoy!

guacamole fried egg on toast

I’ve been waiting forever for my avocados to ripen.  For the past few days, they’ve been sitting on my countertop in a brown paper bag, just chillin’.  I learned this lesson the hard way — the first time I tried to make myself this dish, the avocado was beyond rock hard and underripe.  Even microwaving and stabbing it repeatedly with a fork made no difference, and I was forced to scrap the entire fruit!  My heart broke a little inside that day.

But this morning, I made myself guacamole (recipe of which is soon to follow) and incorporated it into a light and healthy breakfast.  The best thing about this dish is that it’s not only filling, but also only 450 calories!

Guacamole Fried Egg on Toast

Guacamole Egg Benedict on Toast

Ingredients: (serves 1)

1 slice sourdough bread
1 egg
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons guacamole
1 teaspoon parmesan cheese

Spread olive oil on both sides of sourdough bread slice and heat in small pan, seasoning it accordingly with salt and pepper.  After about a minute, crack one egg beside it in the pan, season it, and continue cooking.  Once the egg is halfway done, scoop it on top of the bread with a spatula and flip the whole thing over for about 10 seconds.  Set aside on plate, top with guacamole and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

braised balsamic chicken with bacon rotini pasta

Today I surprised my family by making a full-course dinner consisting of two dishes: braised balsamic chicken  and a variation of this penne pasta with spinach and bacon.  Having still not finished the blueberry yogurt cookies and apple pie from two days ago, I thought it would be a good idea to transition into cooking “real” food (a.k.a. attempt to cook meat without hideously charring it to bits).

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As it turns out, dinner was a success!  The chicken came out perfectly juicy and the pasta light and crunchy with bacon bits.  As I was clearing away the dishes, my mom jokingly suggested that after tonight’s dinner, she might never have to cook again.  Ha!  Good one.

Braised Balsamic Chicken with Bacon Rotini Pasta

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Braised Balsamic Chicken:

Ingredients: (serves 4)
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into pieces
ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tomatoes, vine or roma, diced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Season chicken breasts with ground black pepper and garlic salt.  Heat olive oil in a medium skillet, and brown the onion and seasoned chicken breasts.  Pour tomatoes and balsamic vinegar over chicken, and season with basil and thyme. Simmer until chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear, about 15 minutes.

Rotini Pasta with Bacon:

Ingredients: (serves 4)
1 (12-oz.) package of rotini pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tomato, vine or roma, diced

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the rotini and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water (so the noodles don’t stick) and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Cook bacon until browned and crisp, and then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes, and cook until heated through.  Transfer pasta to a large serving bowl, and toss with the remaining olive oil, and the bacon and tomato mixture.

roasted tomato caprese grilled cheese with balsamic vinegar glaze

caprese: [kuh-prey-zey, ‐zee]
adjective, prepared with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil leaves and drizzled with olive oil: a caprese salad; caprese sandwiches; pizza caprese.

a.k.a. SAVORY DELICIOUS GOODNESS. I’m talking Panera-Bread-worthy. Oh my god.  A few weeks ago I tried a similar version of this recipe with avocado as a substitute since basil wasn’t lying around, but after a huge shopping spree at Costco today, I had all the ingredients I needed for this godly creation.

…and boy am I pissed I only made two.

Roasted Tomato Caprese Grilled Cheese with Balsamic Vinegar Glaze

grilled cheese tomato caprese 2

Ingredients: (serves 2)

4 slices sourdough bread
2 tomatos (vine or roma), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
3-4 ounces fresh mozzarella
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
12-15 basil leaves

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Place tomatoes on a nonstick baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast the tomatoes for 45-50 minutes.  Meanwhile, add balsamic vinegar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until liquid begins to resemble syrup.  Pour vinegar into a bowl and set aside to sit.

Once tomatoes are finished, brush both sides of each slice of bread with olive oil and place into a large griddle over medium heat.  Add mozzarella cheese to one side, followed by tomatoes, followed by basil leaves, followed by cheese and bread.  Grill until cheese is melted and each side is golden and crispy.

Once the sandwiches are finished, serve immediately and drizzle with balsalmic glaze. Enjoy!

grilled cheese tomato caprese 1

grilled cheese with roasted tomato and avocado

The holiday spirit is well in season this December, bringing with it a host of  delicious home-cooked meals and sugary temptations.  For myself, coming home from Harvard this winter break was initially both a relief and a shock — gone was Annenberg, but so were its endless options and well-stocked salad bar.  You forget how much you eat in college when you are not limited by the size of your refrigerator or tray.

grilled cheese with tomato and avocado 1

Luckily, there are plenty of healthy options for every meal which are available year-round.  Earlier tonight, I introduced my family to an inspired creation, grilled cheese on seeded country bread with roasted tomato and diced avocado. While the original recipe calls for basil leaves, I made the best of my pantry and replaced it with a creamy guacamole-esque spread instead. Mmmm!

Grilled Cheese with Roasted Tomato and Avocado

grilled cheese with tomato and avocado 3

Ingredients: (serves 2)

4 slices whole wheat seeded bread
1 tomato (vine or roma), cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
1 hass avocado
3-4 ounces fresh mozzarella
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (optional)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Place tomatoes on a nonstick baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast the tomatoes for 45-50 minutes.  Meanwhile, pit and peel avocado.  Dice into as small pieces as possible, and place in a bowl.  Add lemon juice and salt, and mash to your desired consistency.

For the optional balsamic vinegar glaze, add vinegar to a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until liquid begins to resemble syrup.  Pour vinegar into a bowl and set aside to sit.

Once tomatoes are finished, brush both sides of each slice of bread with olive oil and place into a large griddle over medium heat.  Add mozzarella cheese to one side, followed by tomatoes, followed by avocado, followed by cheese again.  Grill until cheese is melted and each side is golden and crispy.

Once the sandwiches are finished, serve immediately and drizzle with balsalmic glaze. Enjoy.

Much love and many thanks to my friends and family this winter.  Happy Holidays!

spicy hummus dip

Recipe by Remi Y. ’16

Why settle for plain salad-bar hummus when you can make your own? Paired with homemade toasted pita chips, this delicious dip adds a dash of flavor to any meal.

spicy hummus dip 2

spicy hummus dip

garnished with a spinach leaf because there wasn’t any parsley. win.

Spicy Hummus Dip

Ingredients: (serves 1)

4 tablespoons hummus (from the salad bar)
A generous amount of olive oil
A dash of ground black pepper
A pinch of spicy red pepper seeds
pita bread

Drizzle olive oil over hummus and add ground black pepper and spicy red pepper seeds.  Pop a few pita bread halves on the toaster (the one with the conveyor rack) and bam, instant pita chips.  Dip, taste and enjoy!

tuna pasta salad

I’ve been enjoying this salad on a daily basis now, so I thought I’d introduce to you the recipe behind one of my favorite healthy creations from Annenberg.  The great thing about this salad is that it is wonderfully filling (thanks to the pasta) and the dash of white vinegar adds just the right touch of acidity to this lightly salted mix, which when combined with blue or feta cheese will make your mouth water.  Mmm.

tuna pasta salad

Tuna Pasta Salad

Ingredients: (serves 1)

1 cup cooked rotini pasta, drained (can be substituted with ziti)
2 cups spinach leaves
3 tablespoons flaked tuna
3 tablespoons feta cheese (can be substituted with bleu cheese)
olive oil
a dash of white vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine spinach leaves with pasta, cheese and flaked tuna in a deep dish platter.  Drizzle olive oil generously over the salad and toss thoroughly.  Add a dash of white vinegar and season with salt and/or pepper to taste.  Enjoy!