homemade chipotle chicken burrito bowl

Greetings from New York!

Since June 3rd, I’ve been spending this summer in lower Manhattan, where I’m interning from June through August at Betterment, an tech startup in the financial services industry.  Although I’ve always appreciated Boston’s cozy feel, I’ve fallen head over heels in love with the city and all of its beautiful chaos.

classic Times Square at night

Times Square at night. Obligatory first picture of New York.

The company is located at the intersection of Little Italy and Chinatown, just a few blocks northeast of Lafayette, where I’m living this summer in an NYU apartment-style dorm.  Food and souvenir vendors populate the alleyways, and I’ve taken a particular liking to this one Asian lady at the corner of Lafayette and Canal who sells strawberries for $1.50 a carton.  $1.50 a carton! 

The beautiful view from Central Park

Although I’ve yet to explore even the most basic of attractions of New York (I keep putting off going to the Met and MoMA…) I spend much of my weekends exploring Manhattan’s many restaurants, skyscrapers, shopping districts, and parks.

Liege waffles with strawberries, belgian chocolate and whipped cream from the wafles and dinges truck outside Central Park. HEAVEN.

Liege waffles with strawberries, belgian chocolate and whipped cream from the wafles and dinges truck outside Central Park. HEAVEN.

Sunset on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Such a beautiful view on my daily runs!

Sunset on the Brooklyn Bridge. Such a beautiful view on my daily runs!

On top of the world at the Empire State Building!

On top of the world at the Empire State Building! Let’s be real: I totally blasted “Empire State of Mind” in the car the afternoon I first moved in.

But anyways, to get to the real motivation behind this post: food!  Living in my own apartment-style dorm suite also means I also have access to my own kitchen, which is pretty sick.

[picture of my awesome fridge of delicious food coming soon]

Although I’ve been pretty good with cooking my own meals and eating healthy so far, the other night I ran flat out of ideas for what to make for dinner.  I had half a tomato, a quarter of an onion, a bag of rice, some leftover sliced cheese, frozen chicken breast and an avocado lying around.

For awhile, I considered ordering from Chipotle, and then it hit me: why order from Chipotle when I could just make my own?

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Homemade Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl

Ingredients: (serves 1+)

2 tablespoons guacamole – raw ingredients below
1 cup basmati rice
1 chicken breast
1 clove garlic, minced
mozzarella cheese
1/4 onion, diced
1/2 tomato, diced
2 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
lemon/lime juice
salt and pepper
optional: tabasco sauce

Cilantro Lime Rice:  Sautee one cup of basmati long-grain rice in a saucepan in one tablespoon of oil until almost translucent.  Add 2 cups of water and bring to a boil, then simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes until all is cooked through.  Turn off the heat and let it “steam” covered for 15-20 more minutes, then transfer to a bowl and toss with salt, cilantro and lemon/lime juice as you please.

Grilled Chicken:  Marinate one boneless chicken breast in lemon juice and rub generously with salt, pepper, and cajun spice.  Heat up a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan, and add the minced garlic.  Transfer the chicken to the pan when the garlic is barely yellow (wait too long, and it’ll come out charred and bitter!) and flip frequently.  Remove from heat when cooked through but still tender.  Cut into thin, mouth-watering strips.

Guacamole:  Mash one medium to large avocado in a bowl with 1/2 clove garlic.  Add lemon juice and salt, and stir in half a diced tomato, a quarter diced onion and cilantro to taste.  Vegetable proportions may vary, but be careful not to let any one vegetable dominate the taste of the guacamole!  One time I added too much onion to my guac, and I ended up with onion breath for the rest of the night.  Gross. (and TMI, sorry)

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blueberry banana sorbet

Let me begin by saying that this was one of the easiest treats I have ever made.

Total prep time took about 5 minutes, not including the time the sorbet spent in the freezer.  Recipes which are this delicious, healthy AND easy to make should be illegal. (Okay, maybe not.  But that’s like the trifecta of the perfect food!)

Blueberry Banana Sorbet

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Ingredients: (serves 2)

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 ripe bananas, sliced
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Blend ingredients in a food processor until mixture is smooth.  Store in a plastic container in the freezer for about 2 hours, then take out to stir the half-frozen mixture thoroughly and freeze again.  Let thaw for about 5 minutes prior to serving. Enjoy!

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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

fruit parfait

My midnight snack.

Unfortunately, Annenberg has fresh berries about 1% of the time (seriously, why is fresh fruit not a daily thing? Apples and bananas don’t count), so I indulged myself this evening with homemade fruit parfait!

fruit parfait

Fruit Parfait

Ingredients: (serves 2)

2 cups vanilla yogurt (Greek works especially well)
1 banana
1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
4 tablespoons granola or wheat germ

Slice bananas and strawberries into small pieces.  Layer fruit with yogurt and granola.  Enjoy!

fruit parfait 4

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!