Sunday, September 29, 2013

Lemon and Garlic Angel Hair Pasta

Simple is sometimes the best way to go when preparing a meal after a long day of studying.And, pasta doesn't need a lot of sauce to make it special.  In fact, there are few things as simple and delicious as one of cooking's best combinations:  Lemon Garlic and Parsley and Pasta.  That's it!

It's a perfect meal when the grocery budget is running low or the pantry is empty.  Add a few slices of the Fundamental Garlic Bread recipe I posted several weeks ago with a side salad and you have got yourself a satisfying meal in less than 20 minutes...really!

Of course, this meal is even better if you add shrimp to complete this meal into one of Jon's favorite dinners, breakfast and lunch meals--that recipe is coming up in the next few weeks.

If you want to make today's post vegan, cut out the butter and parmesan cheese.  Just make sure you have vegan-friendly pasta!

(Original recipe from Williams and Sonoma's FreshFoodFast / Pasta Cookbook)

Large 12" Non-stick skillet
5 quart saucepan, for boiling water and cooking pasta
Wooden spoon
Grater or zester

1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tbls butter
5 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup lemon juice
Zest from one lemon (use the grater's FINE side)
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup parsley, chopped

Fresh parmesan cheese, grated

1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
Red pepper flakes

1. Wash Your Hands.
2. Prepare your garlic, zest, lemon juice and chop the parsley.

3. Heat the olive oil over MEDIUM heat in your skillet.

4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant about 1-2 minutes. Do not let burn
5. Add zest, juice, salt and pepper to taste.  And red pepper flakes here if you are into that sorta thing

6. For extra richness, whisk in a tablespoon butter. Set aside.

7. Bring water to a boil, add pasta, and cook according to package. Drain the pasta.

8. Add parsley and approximately 2/3 of the drained pasta to the skillet and toss first.

9. Too much pasta dries up the sauce.  Use leftover pasta water to add moisture if needed.

10. Plate and sprinkle with parmesan.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fifteen Seconds

One of the most important ways to save money in life (as well as alot of wasted time in doctor's offices, buying medicines, paying co-pays, missing work or class, or simply missing out) is to stay healthy.  You see this phrase as part of every single recipe I post:  WASH YOUR HANDS, because this is one of the most effective, and certainly cheapest, ways to prevent yourself and others from getting sick.

Remember these simple facts:
(Adapted from the HandWashing Initiative pamphlet)

1. 80% of all infectious diseases are transmitted by touch.
2. Fingernails harbor the most micro-organisms.  Please stop picking your nose!
3. 15 seconds of soap and water is all you need to reduce bacteria, BUT
4. 30 seconds will reduce skin bacteria 10 times more than 15 seconds
5. Chicago had 83% (the best) hand-washing compliance after using the toilet.  New York had 49% (the worst) compliance.
6. Hand washing is especially important during cold and flu season in addition to getting vaccinated.   It also prevents the spread of serious diseases such as hepatitis A and meningitis.
7. You don't want influenza.
8. You don't want meningitis.
9. Your personal toilet throne at home is NOT cleaner, germless, safer--wash your hands!
10. Oh yeah, you don't want diarrhea, either!

Proper Technique:
1. Wet your hands with warm running water.
2. Add soap and rub your hands together until you have a soapy lather.
3. Wash front and back and in-between, especially under your finger nails
4. Rinse hands under running water.
5. Dry hands with a clean towel.  Pat dry to avoid excessive chapping.
6. Use moisturizer during the day.

Type of Soap?
Any soap.
Just Do It.



Krispy Kraze

Really don't need to say much about learning this skill. Anyone--college or no college--should know how to make Rice Krispy Treats, right?  Once you have the base recipe down, there are no limits to the number of variations you can make--Chocolate-Cherry, Lemon-White Chocolate, Trail Mix--if you can dream it, try it out.  (Cooking Light's most recent magazine edition features several variations on this treat)

The two recipes that I have decided to feature from this Krispy Kraze are: Candy Corn Krispies and Chocolate-Cocoa Krispies, just in time for halloween.

9" x 13" Pyrex / Glass Dish, greased
PAM Spray
Large Mixing Bowl
Rubber Spatula


a. Candy Corn Krispies
4 Tbls butter
10 oz marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies
1/2 cup Candy Corn
1/3 cup M & M's

b. Chocolate-Cocoa Krispies
4 Tbls butter
10 oz marshmallows
3 cups regular Rice Krispies
3 cups Cocoa Rice Krispies
2/3 cups dark chocolate chips

1. Wash Your Hands
2. Prepare the pyrex dish.
3. Place the butter in the middle of the marshmallows in a large bowl.

4. Microwave the butter-marshmallow mix on HIGH for 2-3 minutes.

5. Remove and stir.  The butter will still look semi-formed at this point.
6. Microwave again until the marshmallows  begin to puff up.

7. Remove and stir.  Add a dash of vanilla if you want.

8. Add the entire amount of krispies.  Fold the krispies into the marshmallows. It should look like spider webs.  That tells you that the ratio of krispies to marshmallows is correct.  Very sticky here.

9. Press the mixture into the prepared pyrex dish.  (I spray PAM on my hand to avoid sticking)
10. Sprinkle your chosen flavor combo on top and gently press into mixture.

11. Cover and place in fridge to chill x 10 minutes before cutting.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ultimate Pumpkin Bars

Nothing says comfort like coming home to the smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin.  And nothing tastes like the Ultimate Pumpkin Bars--warm, moist, and covered in cream-cheese frosting.
No need to talk a lot about this dessert. 

However, when it comes to desserts, I am trying to post recipes that don't require special equipment.  Because, that's the problem with desserts and baking--some things you will either need to invest in purchasing or do without.  I will try to list alternative options if other pieces of equipment can substitute.  In the following recipe, a sifter and mixer would be ideal, but if not, use a whisk and upper arm strength.
(Adapted from The Breadman's Wife blog recipe)

9" x 13" Pyrex Dish, greased
Large Mixing Bowl (for wet ingredients)
Medium Bowl (for dry ingredients)

2 cups flour
2 tsps baking powder
2 tsps cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1 tsp of baking soda
4 eggs
1 and 2/3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can (15oz) pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup softened butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp milk

1. Wash your hands.
2. Preheat oven to 350F degrees.
3. Grease your pyrex dish and have butter and cream cheese already at room temperature.

4. In the medium bowl, whisk (or sift) dry ingredients together: flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, salt.

5. In the large bowl, use a fork (or a mixer) to combine eggs and sugar until smooth.

6. Add oil and pumpkin and stir until smooth, light and fluffy.

7. Add the dry ingredients in three parts to the wet ingredients and stir until smoothly.

8. Pour everything into the pyrex dish.

9. Bake at 350F degrees for 25-30 minutes until knife or toothpick comes out clean.

10. While that bakes, make the frosting:
--Once softened, combine the cream cheese and butter until smooth.
--Add the sugar and milk and beat (or with a mixer) with your upper arm and a fork until smooth and creamy.
13. Once cake is baked and cool, spread the cream-cheese frosting evenly over top.

14. Clean up short and sweet.  Enjoy your bars and eat them too.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Burger Alternative Greek

Stumbled upon this idea at work when a new place opened up called 'Hash' on N. Western in Chicago, IL right around the corner from our office.  Simple, different, tasty menu, including a variation of this one.  So, I figured why not?  We have the building blocks from previous blogs.  Time to practice some of those skills.  The Burger Alternative--Greek Chicken Sandwich.  It's better for you, less fat, big taste, and fun to make with a bunch of friends around the table.  Who doesn't like a 'make-it-yourself' meal?

Remember the Bandilicious Chicken Marinade. You will simply add fresh or dried oregano to the base marinade, and use thinner chicken breasts for quicker cooking.  This will be a cinch if you get the chicken marinating before you head to class.  Pick up the condiments on your way home.  Make the quick mayo-tzatziki spread.  Call your friends.  Sear the chicken. Put it all out on the table.

Skill Level:  Freshman Level, but several steps and planning involved.  Must be able to organize thoughts and actions.
Cost:  $15 / 4-6 servings

Non-stick skillet
Meat Mallet / Tenderizer, if pounding chicken
Marinating dish or tupperware (large enough to hold all chicken breasts)

3-4 large chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4" thickness and marinating
2 Tbls fresh oregano, chopped

1 cup Greek Plain Yoghurt
2 Tbls mayonnaise
1/3 cup shredded cucumber
Salt and pepper
1 tsp Lemon juice

Feta Cheese, crumbled
Red Onion, thinly sliced
Cucumber, thinly sliced
Tomato, thinly sliced
Capers, optional
Vinagrette, optional

Sesame Buns, toasted with butter


Step A:  Make The Marinade & Pound The Chicken
--review blog Bandilicious Chicken Marinade
--add 2 Tbls of fresh oregano to marinade (or 2 tsp dried oregano)

--pound chicken to 1/4" thickness or slice large chicken breasts CAREFULLY in half lengthwise

--marinate for several hours

--let meat come to room temperature and pat dry before searing or grilling

Step B:  Make Tzatziki Mayo
--combine greek yoghurt, mayo, and cucumbers
--set aside

Step C:  Prep Condiments and Set The Table
--Slice and  plate all of the veggies

--toast and butter the buns

Step D:  Sear The Chicken
--if grilling or using a non-stick skillet, make sure the pan is 'HOT' with a little oil
--sear 1/4" chicken breasts 3-4 minutes on each side.
--leave the chicken alone while you are searing.  It should release from the skillet easily if properly seared.

Step E:  Assemble everything. Make good conversation.  Listen well.
--repeat again next week.