Chewy Lemon Cookies

This has been one strange week, folks.  It’s the first week of classes, which always lends to some strangeness.  I really enjoy classes because it forces 30 or something students to be together in a classroom, which allows one to observe many odd quirks that would otherwise be missed.  For example, yesterday before my Laws of War class, I saw someone put on deodorant while still in their seat .  I should note that he leaned forward in an attempt to minimize attention, but still, you’re putting deodorant on in class.  I’m judging you.

The best story, though, has to come from my shuttle ride home from school earlier this week.  I use a backpack for school because after schlepping around 800 pound books for months last year I finally broke down and bought one, despite the fact that it ruins literally all of my outfits.  It’s just impossible to look fashionable when you have a massive backpack on.  Try it.  You will fail.

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Anyway, back to the story.

I was wearing this outfit with a tank top that left my bra straps exposed.  By the way, it was definitely not a trashy outfit.  I don’t think I even own clothes that could be categorized as trashy.  Anyhoo, for some reason the bra straps have this little hook thing-ey and it  caught repeatedly on my backpack strap all day.  Well, I get on the shuttle and go to swing my backpack onto my lap when I sit down.  Of course, the hook grabs onto the backpack strap and I’m caught hovering over the seat as I attempt to disentangle it.  The guy next to me, seeing my struggle, gallantly offered to help.  I meekly nodded and he held the strap while I removed the hook ON MY BRA from the strap.

Only shit like this would happen to me.  Seriously.

To make a long story short, my bra’s hook was successfully removed from the backpack and I spent the entire shuttle ride avoiding any conversation or eye contact with the guy next to me.

The best way to recover from strange (and slightly mortifying) happenstances like the one detailed above is cookies.

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Really, I don’t know any better coping mechanism that copious amounts of butter and sugar.  These lemon cookies are great because they don’t require a mixer.  I actually have two mixers, and avoid using them whenever I can.   I just hate the extra mess and I always ended up getting creamed butter EVERYWHERE.  That stuff is a you-know-what to clean up.  So, the melted butter part of these cookies is pretty great.  And they taste good, too!

Chewy Lemon Cookies

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Ingredients:

2 cups, 2tbs flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 stick butter, melted and cooled

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 egg, 1 yolk

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325.

In a bowl mix together the flour, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.  In another bowl mix together the two sugars and butter until combined.  Mix in the eggs.  Next, add the lemon juice, zest and vanilla extract, and mix until smooth.  Mix in the dry ingredients, using hands if necessary to get everything incorporated.

Scoop about a tablespoon of dough on prepared baking sheets, leaving space between the cookies. These spread, so make sure you have enough room between them (1-2 inches).  Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the centers are firm and edges slightly browned.  

Source:  How Sweet Eats

By the way, this is what my kitchen table looks like every time I try to take “beauty shots” for this blog.

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I think it’s about time I got myself a cheapie photography table.

Simple Chicken Salad

This recipe is so easy that I’m almost embarrassed to put it here.  But, I know that some law students read this, and we all could use some embarrassingly easy recipes now and then.  The key to this recipe is a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken.  Just pick one up at the grocery store, and the chicken salad is about 75% done.

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I’d recommend making this ahead if you can and letting it marinate a bit in the refrigerator.  That extra 20-30 minutes really lets the flavors meld and it tastes better.  The refrigerator time also helps if you tried to make it when your chicken was still warm.  I might have done that.  If you’re using a nice chilled bird, though, and you’re not into waiting that 20-30 minutes, you could eat it immediately.  I’ll just be silently judging you.

I made this for my roommate and I, and while she ate it as a sandwich, the real way to go is to eat the salad alongside Wheat Thins.  Scooping it up with the Wheat Thins makes it tasty and interactive.  Plus, it’s Wheat Thins!  You can’t do better than them.  They’re salty perfection.

Or, I might just like Wheat Thins more than the average person.

Simple Chicken Salad

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Ingredients:

3 cups of chicken, cubed (from a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken)

1 cup grapes, halved

2 stalks celery, chopped

1/4 cup slivered almonds

1/2 cup mayonnaise 

1 tbsp lemon juice

salt/pepper

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients.  Add more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve alongside crackers, in a sandwich, or just on its own.

Pan-seared Brussels Sprouts with Lemon

I started working out again yesterday after my usual several month hiatus and, oh my word, my body doesn’t know what to do with itself.  I did pilates, which in itself isn’t that taxing, but all the ab work has my torso revolting.  I forgot the awfulness known as the series of five for abs.  It’s pure torture.

I have to say, though, the resulting endorphins are pretty great.  After I finished my workout I dove back into my Administrative Law reading and didn’t feel like flinging my book across the room.  Progress, folks.

You might be wondering what sparked my sudden interest in fitness.  It’s a two part answer.  First, I spent most of the day preparing for my first week of class, and was at the point where if I had to read another case I might have ended up in a criminal law case book.  Second, due to my pre-school-stress-levels, I huffed down no less than three cookies with lunch, which usually wouldn’t faze me but I also had two the day before and the day before, and I’d rather not create a stuff-your-face-with-sugar pattern.  That’s reserved for finals time.

Whenever fitness squeezes its way back into my life, I find myself eating cleaner.  I think it’s the mentality that if I busted my ass earlier on the treadmill or mat, I shouldn’t mess it up with something like Meatheads.  Not that I don’t eat Meatheads.  As everyone knows down here, that burger joint and I have a very good relationship.  I’d even say we’re exclusive.  For the typical day-to-day meal, though, I like to eat healthier.

You all are going to think I’m joking, but my favorite healthy food is brussels sprouts.  I don’t care what people say, brussels sprouts are delicious.  I think all the hate comes from not preparing them properly.  You can’t just boil brussels sprouts.  That’s boring and does nothing for them.  In fact, I’d say that for most vegetables.  Go beyond boiling.  Your taste buds will thank you.

I got this recipe from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop website way back in my freshman year at Loyola when it was only a weekly email that was sent to its handful of subscribers.  Most of the recipes on there are a little too health freak for me, but this one caught my interest and has held it for five years.  When I make brussels sprouts, this is the only way I will make them.  Cooked brussels sprouts are sauteed in olive oil and then garnished with a touch of sea salt and lemon.  It’s a simple preparation that lets the true (and pleasant!) taste of brussels sprouts come through.

If you’re a b-sprout fan, and even if you’re not, please give this recipe a try.  You might just find your new favorite vegetable!

Pan-seared Brussels Sprouts with Lemon

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Ingredients

1 lemon

1 tsp sea salt

brussels sprouts (how ever many come in a package)

1 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add the brussels sprouts and cook until a knife slides easily through their centers, roughly 8 minutes. Remove the brussels sprouts and let cool before slicing in half.  

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil.  Add the brussels sprouts, cut side down, and cook until browned, 3-4 minutes. Flip them over and repeat on the other side.  Remove to a serving plate and sprinkle with sea salt and lemon juice.

Source: Goop

Grilled Pork Chops with Cinnamon-Apple Chutney

Being back at school has made me appreciate home cooked meals.   I’ve become accustomed to being fed.  Not literally, of course, I’m not that coddled, but I have gotten used to meals being made for me.  Now I need to plan, and shop, and at some time before 6:00 actually go into my kitchen and cook.

For the most part, except for the rare weekday night where I want nothing to do with my kitchen (on weekends, the kitchen and I are always on good terms), I really don’t mind cooking.  It’s just this first week or so where I’m getting back in the swing of things.  I swear I had to teach myself how to grocery shop again.  I went earlier this week to pick up the basics, and when I got home saw that what I considered “the basics” was comprised largely of breakfast items, Wheat Thins, and Italian Ice.

I can tell it’s going to be a slow start to this school year, mentally speaking.

I made another grocery store run (I baked some cookies for a school event) and along with the butter and chocolate chips threw in some food that could moonlight as an actual meal.  This dinner came from that grocery store run.  I saw they had some pork chops on sale and I planned to use them to make my usual herb-crusted pork chops.  As the day went on, though, I wanted something different, so I did what I usually do when searching for recipe inspiration.  I Google-ed “pork chops” and then found a recipe that I completely changed when I  didn’t have half the ingredients in the apartment.

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The original recipe was a spiced pork chop with apple chutney.  What I ended up with was a simple grilled pork chop with a warm cinnamon-apple chutney.  Think of your classic pork chop and apple sauce, and then make it 800x better.  Voila!  You officially have this dinner.  I could not get over how amazing the cinnamon-apple chutney turned out.  I planned on saving half for the next night’s dinner, but it was so delicious that I ate the entire thing.

This meal is also great because it comes together in about 30 minutes.  So, let’s recap.  It’s delicious.  It’s speedy.  And, you didn’t read this before, but it’s healthy.  If you need any more reasons to make this meal, well, then you are much pickier with your meals than I am and I really don’t know what else to tell you.  Just make this.  The end.

Grilled Pork Chops with Cinnamon-Apple Chutney

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Ingredients:

4 pork chops

salt/pepper

3 apples, cored and cubed

1 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp cider vinegar

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 tbsp butter

Directions:

Melt the butter in a sautee pan and add the cubed apples.  Cook until the apple is lightly browned, roughly 4 minutes.  Add the cinnamon, cranberries, cider vinegar and a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil and simmer for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the grill pan.  Season the pork with salt and pepper on each side, and then add the pork to the grill pan.  Grill for 4 minutes one each side, or until the meat is cooked through.

To serve, spoon the apple chutney on top of each pork chop.  Serve with a vegetable or green salad.

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Source:  My brain with a little help from Cooking Light.

 

Pet Peeve Wednesday: Taxis

I take a decent amount of cabs in the city, and have encountered a whole host of characters as taxi drivers.  Some of them have been perfectly nice.  They’re polite and chatty.   One even asked me for advice about his wayward teenage daughter, and I like to think I advised him well.  For all the good taxi drivers, though, there is an equal number of questionable ones.  It is to these drivers I dedicate this post.

1) Yes, please honk at me while you pull to a stop.  That was completely necessary.  God forbid that you just pull to a stop.  My woman brain might not be able to process what that means.

2)  I don’t understand why taxi drivers think it’s okay to pass other cars by going into oncoming traffic.  This is not cool, guys.  Seriously.  I like being alive, and every time you pull into oncoming traffic I feel like that being alive thing is going to end.  Also, I’m pretty sure that’s illegal.

3)  Why do most taxi drivers have ALL their windows open during the summer??  Do they not realize that my hair does not respond well to wind?

4)  My favorite thing is when a taxi driver gets lost driving me somewhere and starts asking me for directions.  First off, I have no idea.  I don’t understand streets, which is why I’m paying for an overpriced ride.  Second, shouldn’t the taxi driver know this?  I do have to note, however, that this particular taxi driver who got lost did stop the meter when he realized he didn’t know where he was.  So, props to you taxi driver.

5)  I know that it must be really boring for taxi drivers, but I hate how most of them talk on the phone while they drive around customers.  It’s not the fact that they’re on the phone.  That doesn’t bother me.  What I don’t like is that most of them aren’t speaking English, so I can’t tell what they’re talking about.  Too many viewings of Criminal Minds has me moderately concerned in each taxi ride that I’m going to be kidnapped and sold into human trafficking.  The odds of that are probably fairly slim, but still.  It could happen.

6)  Speaking of kidnapping and human trafficking, creepy cab drivers are the worst.  I was in a cab once where the driver peered at me in the rearview mirror and said, “Do you remember me?  You’ve been in my cab before.”  I was never so happy to get out of a car.

What’s peeving you off today?

Grilled Sirloin Steak with Pepper and Caper Salsa

With the end of summer fast approaching, I’ve come to a conclusion.  I haven’t been cooking.  Or baking.  Or doing anything in the kitchen that requires more than opening the freezer and pulling out a Dreamsicle.  I haven’t even baked for events.  Usually I always make something for Fourth of July, but this year I went to my party with only a bottle of wine.  It was a low moment for me.

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There’s something about the summer that has just taken away my desire to cook.  I think it’s that on the days I work I come home and the last thing I want to do is turn on the stove.  Then on my days off, either my mom cooks or I have leftovers from the previous day.  There isn’t a need to cook, and because of that I simply haven’t.   Which, might I say, has made a food blog a little tricky.

Luckily, I have my old blog that I can pull recipes from during these cooking dry spells.  This recipe is one that I made last year and absolutely loved.  This post is as much for me as all of you, because I have to admit that I completely forgot I made this until I went through my old blog looking for something to share.  I’m glad I rediscovered it, because if memory serves me correctly it was a pretty tasty dinner.

A quickly seared sirloin steak is paired with a bright and acidic pepper salsa.  Using jarred roasted peppers, this meal comes together in twenty minutes.  Can’t complain about that!

Grilled Sirloin Steak with Pepper and Caper Salsa

Ingredients:

4 sirloin steaks
1 jar roasted red peppers, drained
1 jar roasted yellow peppers, drained
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp fresh parsley
1/4 cup capers
salt/pepper

Directions:

Whisk together the olive oil, balsamic, capers and parsley.  Add the peppers and stir to combine.  Set aside.

Heat a grill pan on the stovetop.  Season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper.  Grill the steaks 4-6 minutes on each side for medium rare.  Let cool for 5 minutes.  Thinly slice the steak and top with pepper.

Lady Wisdom: Amy Poehler

I always like finding inspirational ladies to give me a little boost when I’m not feeling my bright and shiny self.  One of my go-to ladies for inspiration is Amy Poehler.  I loved her on SNL and love her even more on Parks & Recreation.  She’s funny, smart, sassy, and is now being featured on my blog.  Here’s some Poehler wisdom for your morning.  And afternoon.  And hey, let’s go crazy, even for your evening.

For those tearful moments no girl can avoid.

For those moments when you feel like a pile of doo-doo

    

For those moments you do something really, really stupid.  With witnesses.

                            

And for all those other moments.

  

Thanks for the wisdom, Amy.