Roasted Vegetable Pitas with Chipotle Cream

I’m going to this convention called C2E2 next weekend, and one of the celebrity guests that will be there is RJ Mitte from Breaking Bad.  I went back and forth over whether I was going to go to his panel, because I still haven’t finished the show and I know they will talk about the ending.  The friend that I am going with and I conferred on the panel, and we both agreed that we should go.  So…that means I haven until next Saturday to finish Breaking Bad.

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It’s actually good this happened, because I am the worst person when it comes to actually finishing shows.  I get super into one.  Badger all of my friends with stories about how how amazing it is and how they should all drop whatever they’re doing and immediately watch it.  And then I don’t finish the show.  For some I’m okay with that (namely Dexter, because I heard the ending was laughably awful) but all the positive feedback from the Breaking Bad finale makes me feel like it’s something I should watch.

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I feel like this meal sort of goes with Breaking Bad because it’s somewhat Tex-Mex, which allows me go go out on a far, far limb and say it’s 100% what the Whites would eat for dinner.  I mean, there’s no proof that they didn’t eat roasted vegetable pitas with chipotle cream.

I originally found this recipe in my Giada Feel Good Eats cookbook, and then promptly went ahead and changed most, if not all, of the ingredients.  I didn’t feel like buying a butternut squash.  Red peppers were too expensive.  My grocery store didn’t have whole wheat pitas OR zucchini.  Magically, it still all came together is definitely one of my favorite things I’ve made recently.

Roasted Vegetable Pitas with Chipotle Cream

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Ingredients:

2 summer squash, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 tsp oregano

1 1/2 tsp cumin

3 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 chili pepper, de-seeded and minced finely

1 tbsp fresh lime juice

2 pitas sliced horizontally (you end up with 4 pieces)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix together the vegetables, spices, oil, and beans.  Spread evenly on a prepared baking sheet, and bake for 20-25 minutes.

On another baking sheet, bake the pitas until crisp, 5-7 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix together the minced chili pepper, yogurt, and lime juice.

To assemble, spread a dollop of the yogurt mixture on a pita and then add the roasted vegetables on top.

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Source:  Loosely adapted from Giada’s Feel Good Foods

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Cool Ranch Doritos Chicken Fingers

I’ve been spending a lot of time at my school’s health clinic, getting all the tests and vaccines required for my summer externship.  I’ll be working at a hospital, which apparently means I get to spend a whole lot of time in other hospitals beforehand.  Yesterday I went in for a TB test, vaccination, and blood test.  That’s three different needles, folks, in the span of about ten minutes.  I’m not squeamish, but even I was a little worked up over all of that.  I must have looked faint after the vaccination because the nurse insisted I drink an apple juice box.

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For the record, the nurse was right.  I felt a lot better after the juice box.

With all of my running around with school and the never-ending-list of clinical tests I have to get completed, I’ve been totally slacking in the kitchen department.  I ordered Chinese food on Saturday and literally ate it for five meals in a row, not counting breakfast.  Luckily, I have some recipes saved from last week.  This one is so good that it actually brought my roommate back home from the library for dinner.  That’s a pretty big deal, guys.

So, here’s the deal.  You take some chicken.  You coat it with some buttermilk.  You add some crushed cool ranch Doritos, and, BAM, you’ve got yourself a meal!  This would be amazing with some roasted broccoli or sweet potato rounds.  A salad also works pretty fab, too!

Cool Ranch Doritos Chicken Fingers

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Ingredients:

2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts, cut into strips

2 cups buttermilk

1 (12 0z) bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, crushed

1 cup flour

Directions:

Cover the chicken breasts with the buttermilk and let marinate for at least 2-3 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Combine the flour and crushed Doritos.  Lift the chicken out of the buttermilk, shaking off any extra.  Coat in the Doritos mixture.  Bake on a prepared baking dish for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.

Serve immediately with ranch dressing.

Source:  Cookies and Cups

Citrus Kale Salad with Blueberries & Pumpkin Seeds

I tried out for my school’s trial team last week, and it reminded me so much of my speech days during high school.  For all four years of high school I competed with my school’s speech team.  That meant I was at the school every Saturday at 6:00 in the morning wearing a suit, panty hose, and way too much eyeliner.

It’s sort of strange when I think back on those years.  Tournaments were held at high schools, and you’d have hundreds of high schoolers walking around in suits and performing speeches for judges.  There were three rounds per tournament, and then one final round for each event.

I have a lot of fond memories from those years.  There was that one time I passed out during a round (due to sickness, not nerves!) and that state tournament when I asked someone out with a napkin-wrapped cookie, my phone number scrawled on the napkin.  There were all the times my teammates and I made fun of other teams for talking to walls at tournaments (we were never allowed to do that, for good reason) and all the moments spent holed up together before postings, all of us hoping and praying we’d see our names.

Anyhoo, enough reminiscing, I owe you all a recipe!  I’ve been trying to eat more kale lately and making big salads is my favorite way to eat it outside of kale chips.  I just have a lot of love for kale chips.  This salad is wonderful because it is packed to the brim with nutrients.  You have your kale, and then blueberries, avocado, and pumpkin seeds.  Then there’s a light and refreshing citrus dressing.  It’s perfection in a bowl!

Citrus Kale Salad with Blueberries & Pumpkin Seeds

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Ingredients

1 bunch kale

2 tbsp olive oil, torn into bite size pieces

3/4 tsp sea salt

zest and juice of 1 lemon

zest and juice of 1 orange

1 tsp honey

1/2 avocado, diced

1 cup blueberries

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

Directions

Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the salt to the kale.  Massage until the kale begins to wilt, a few minutes.

In a bowl, whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the orange and lemon juice and zest, honey and a dash of salt.

Add the avocado, blueberries and pumpkin seeds.  Toss in the dressing and serve!

Source: Mind, Body, Green

Pasta e Fagioli

Like most of your Facebook pages mine is filled with advertisements.  Usually I just ignore them, because despite them being targeted they tend to miss the mark.  Just because I write does not mean I want to take writing classes.  Just because I spend an embarrassingly large amount of time looking at picture of my Facebook friends’ babies does not mean that I, myself, am having a baby.  Nor am I engaged or interested in bold pattern furniture.  BUT, on occasion, Facebook’s ads are spot on.

A few days ago there was an advertisement for fandom tea samplers from Adagio Teas.  I clicked on it because (a) I do love tea, and (b) I will click on just about anything that has the word fandom in it.  They also used a Doctor Who tea tin photo.  Facebook had me all figured out with that ad.  Anyhoo, I clicked over and found a whole page of teas based on fandoms.  When I saw ones based on Harry Potter potions, I had to buy them!

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I’ve only tried one of the teas, and I am absolutely obsessed.  The only sad thing is that the teas are only 1 ounces each, so you don’t get a lot of each individual tea.  But, it is a great way to sample them so you know which (if any) you want to get in a full size!  I had the Felix Felicis tea today, and I gotta say, I’m feeling lucky!

One thing that I love about tea is its warmth.  When I drink a cup, I just feel all warm and cozy inside.  Soup is the same thing for me.  It’s comfort in a bowl.  While I do canned soups on occasion, I prefer to make my own.  I like to make a big pot on Sunday and then eat it for dinner throughout the week.

I always liked pasta e fagioli soup, but then this recipe made is 100x better by adding bacon. Word of wise – when you’re trying to make a dish better, just add bacon.  It’s always the right answer.  This soup also comes together pretty quickly, which is nice when you’re trying to finish your readings, blog, and cook all at the same time!

Pasta e Fagioli

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Ingredients:

4 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 large fresh rosemary sprig

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon of oil

1 tablespoon of butter

1 cup chopped onion

3 ounces of pancetta or bacon, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

5 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth

2 cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

3/4 cup elbow macaroni

black pepper

1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Take the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf and wrap it in a piece of cheesecloth, tying it with kitchen twine.  In a large soup pan, heat the olive oil and butter.  Add the onion pancetta/bacon, and garlic, and sauté until the onion is softened, around 3 minutes.  Add the broth, beans, and herbs sachet.  Cover the pot and bring the soup to a boil.  Simmer on medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes.  Discard the sachet.

Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture (from the soup) until smooth and return it to the soup pan.  Cover and bring the soup to a boil again.  Add the macaroni, cover, and boil, stirring occasionally.  Cook until the macaroni is tender, around 8 minutes.  Season the soup with pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the parmesan.

Source:  Giada’s Family Dinners

Why You Should All Watch Arrow

I recently started watching Arrow, and I am completely obsessed with both the show and the excessive number of scenes that are probably meant to show the main guy, Oliver Queen, staying in shape, but I read as gratuitous opportunities to show Oliver Queen sans shirts doing pullups.  Or these things.

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My dream Arrow episode is just 40 some minutes of Oliver Queen working out.  I don’t need a plot line.  Just give me Oliver shirtless doing a bunch of random workout moves and I’m a happy girl.  I’ll also settle for an episode that is just 40 some minutes of Oliver and his bodyguard/partner Diggles working out.  Because Diggles is equally well built.

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There are a lot of gratuitous shirtless men in this post.  I feel like I should have added a rating up top or something.  Anyway, as much as I love the Oliver Queen training scenes.  And fight scenes.  And, let’s be real, any scene where he is either in a suit or is shirtless – WHICH IS BASICALLY ALL THE SCENES – there is one minor problem.  And that problem is that the actor who plays Oliver kind.of.sort.of  sounds like Dawson Leery, and it causes me to have terrible Dawson’s Creek flashbacks.

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I should note that I love Dawson’s Creek.  I just really, really, really hate Dawson.  They should have renamed that show Pacey’s Creek.  Because otherwise its namesake is a milquetoast do-gooder who thinks that an oversized beige sweater is appropriate first date attire.

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No, Dawson.  No, it won’t.  By the way, thank you internet for letting me google “Dawson Leery beige sweater” and finding the exact screen cap that I wanted.  The internet knows what’s up.

Anyway, the point of this post is basically to make you watch Arrow.  And potentially make me rewatch Dawson’s Creek.  For those of you wanting a synopsis of the show beyond just there-are-lots-of-shirtless-men, it’s about a millionaire playboy who gets stranded on a deserted island after his boat crashes.  The island ends up being incredibly dangerous, and Oliver survives there for five tumultuous years before finally being rescued.  The show depicts both flashbacks of the time on the island and Oliver becoming a vigilante back home.  It also depicts an enormous number of of workout sequences.  To which all the female fans say, THANK YOU.

There’s lots more I could write about the plot, but I don’t want to spoil any big reveals!  And, for my Doctor Who readers, BOTH John Barrowman and Alex Kingston are in it!!!

Irish Soda Bread

I really should have posted this recipe on St. Patrick’s Day, but I was too excited about the Veronica Mars movie.  And besides, I’m not actually Irish, so I didn’t feel an overwhelming need to spam you all with green desserts.  I’m sure you had enough of that throughout the rest of the interwebs.  While St. Patricks Day is way behind us, this bread still holds up!

On a entirely different note, as I mentioned in my Friday Faves post before, I watched Forks Over Knives recently and it made me really think differently about the foods I’m putting into my body.  Naturally, just one day after watching the movie I drove to McDonalds to have my last Shamrock Shake of the season.  I rationalized it because (1) It was St. Patricks day, which practically gives you a free pass to eat all of the artificially green foods, and (2) I thought of it as my last hurrah before trying to eat cleaner.  I felt pretty good about it all until I showed up at school with it and one of my friends greeted me with, “You know those have over 80 ingredients in them.”

Basically, I’m going to die and when they do an autopsy of me my blood will be shamrock-shake-green.  I probably should have just thrown it out then, but I come from a strong stock of non-food-wasters, so I slurped the entire thing down and then felt bad about my life choices.

Do you know what I don’t feel bad about?  Like, at all?  Making this Irish soda bread.  Yes, I got flour all over my counter.  And the loaf was way too big for a single person.  But, it was delicious, and making and eating delicious food is something I will never regret.  Oh yeah, and this recipe is also another from my Harry Potter cookbook.

Yep, no regrets here.

Irish Soda Bread

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Ingredients:

4 cups flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp of salt

3 tbsp sugar

1/2 stick butter

1 large egg, beaten

1 1/2 cups buttermilk

1 cup raisins

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and grease and flour a 9-inch round baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar.  Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour mixture.  It helps to cut the butter into slices for this.  When the butter is completely rubbed in the mixture will still be very flour-ey, but there will be no big bits of butter.

Fold in the eggs and buttermilk until a dough forms.  Lastly, fold in the raisins.  Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead just until the dough comes together.  Form a round with the dough and dust the top with a little extra flour.  Score the top with an an x and place in the prepared baking dish.

Bake for 15 minutes, and then reduce the oven to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes.

Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Source:  The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook

Chickpea Strawberry Mango Salad

I love writing this blog.  When I started, I was completely infatuated with the idea that I had a place all of my own to write, and that people would actually (some day) read it.  It seemed like such a foreign concept at the beginning, which is funny because this is not even close to the first time I’ve shared my writing.

I’ve written fanfiction for almost ten years.  For those of you – probably most of you – who don’t know what fanfiction is, it’s writing stories based on established works.  It’s usually with TV shows, and the basic premise is “What if?”  I like to take actual storylines from shows and tweak them a bit to have them go in a different direction.  Other people make a completely original story with the characters, sometimes putting them in environments foreign to the original show.  I can’t even tell you the number of period pieces I’ve read based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Some of them are good.  Some of them…not so much.

For a long time, I shied away from telling people I wrote because I was afraid of what they would think or say.  Fanfiction can seem pretty strange – and to put it frankly, even weird – for people who haven’t read or written it.  I could just imagine the conversations.

Random person:  You make up stories about TV shows?

Me:  Yeah.  It’s actually really cool.  It’s – 

Random person:  Okay…yeah…I have to go now…

The funny thing about all of this is that as I’ve started to tell people and share my writing, I’ve only received positive feedback.  The thing is, I’m really passionate about writing in all its forms, and I think when you’re passionate about something people can’t help but respect it.  They may not understand it or have any inclination to do it themselves, but they accept it.  Because we’re all passionate about something, and we can recognize that passion in other people.

It seems silly to write this post without including my penname, so if any of you are interested in seeing what this crazy fanfiction thing is all about, you can find my stories at Fanfiction.net under the penname Spykid18.

I feel the need to qualify that name by telling you all that I chose it way back in high school when I was going through a MAJOR Alias phase.  Spykid was the title of an InStyle article about Jennifer Garner and I just thought it was the greatest penname ever.  Those thoughts have changed a bit over the years, but I just don’t have the heart to change it!

Anyhoo, I’ve written for a large number of fandoms, so odds are you’ll find at least one that you like.  I’ve written for:  Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bones, Criminal Minds, Gilmore Girls, Gossip Girl, Greys Anatomy, Doctor Who, Iron Man, Spider Man, Glee, True Blood, Ugly Betty…and probably a few more that I can’t think of right now!

I should put here that I in no way expect you all to run over there and read my stuff.  It’s just that I really love writing those stories, and as its something so close to my heart I wanted to share it with you all!

And…on to the food…the point of a food blog.  This salad doesn’t really need explaining because when you look at the ingredients you just know it’s going to be good.  It’s the perfect bright salad, while the pumpkin roasted chickpeas add an unexpected warmth.  I tupperware-ed a few of these salads for lunches, and I honestly couldn’t wait to eat them each day.  It’s that good!

Chickpea Strawberry Mango Salad

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Ingredients

For the salad:

8 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

2 cups strawberries, sliced

1 mango, peeled and chopped

1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup mint, chopped

For the pumpkin roasted chickpeas:

1 14 0z can chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry

2 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp canola oil

1 tsp cider vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1/4 tsp nutmeg

For the cinnamon viniagrette:

1 tsp dijon mustard

3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

3 tbs lemon juice

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

For the chickpeas:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, mix together all of the ingredients.  Spread the chickpeas out onto a baking sheet in a single layer.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Let cool completely.

For the cinnamon viniagrette:

Whisk together all ingredients except for the olive oil.  Add the oil in a slow stream, whisking until the dressing emulsifies.

For the salad:

Combine all the ingredients.  Add the dressing and toss.  Serve immediately.

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Source:  Peas and Thank You