Showing posts with label vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetarian. Show all posts

Thursday, January 8, 2015

taco tuesday - orale mexican kitchen in jersey city

taco tuesday.  it's like it's too silly of a name to actually do it... except... when you REALLY like tacos, and you REALLY like the tacos at a restaurant just blocks from home, and you REALLY like a good deal.....  YOU DO IT.

hung and i stayed in jersey city for christmas in 2013.  christmas eve happened to be taco tuesday at orale, so it was the obvious choice for a little date before christmas after ice skating at newport skates.  the tacos are half off, guys.  i think it makes them even tastier knowing that they are half off.

we had such a great time that we decided to make it a tradition:
"taco tuesday on the tuesday before christmas"

some people open one present on christmas eve, some people go to church, some people always go to grandma's house.  our tradition is that we eat tacos.  weird? maybe. fun? definitely!  the rule is that if christmas falls on a tuesday, we're making tacos for christmas dinner.

...but tacos at orale in downtown jersey city just hit the spot though.  this year hung ordered the peking duck tacos, and i ordered my normal vegetarian ones (even though i'm not a vegetarian, they are my favorite!!)  i got there late, but hung had already made friends with the bartender, and had a few drinks down, when i got there.  he already ordered the esquites (like a hot corn and cheese salsa) and the baked cauliflower (who knew that grapefruit and cauliflower could pair well together!?)

beyond the stoop at orale mexican kitchen, jersey city

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

masquerade soiree with e.tittlemouse and co.

the idea of a masquerade party seemed so distant to me.  my only two visions of it were scenes from breakfast at tiffany's and from gossip girl (who DOESN'T remember that episode where lil J gets smooched by nate for looking like serena?!).  i was so excited to go to this party with e.tittlemouse, because it was going to be my first one!

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it's rare for us to show up to an event like this empty-handed, so we (ahem, hung) decided to make meatballs! nowadays we can't make hardly anything without making a vegetarian version (if the dish isn't vegetarian already).  he's been using this recipe from smitten kitchen (modified with beef and baked on 450F for 20 minutes) for the real meatballs, and this recipe from serious eats for the vegetarian ones.  the recipe for the vegetarian ones is supposed to be for veggie burgers, but this is practically the same thing, right? since the veggie ones don't really have to be cooked (well, sort of, the egg I suppose has to be cooked through), he just tossed them in the oven with the real meatballs, just on a different pan. the cook time and temperature isn't SO important for the veggie ones. 

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i couldn't let hung get ALL of the attention though.  after a failed attempt at creating a "super simple nutella stuffed baked wontons" i decided to go with a tried and true recipe for chocolate banana bread  (i'm ACTUALLY starting to use the recipes on my pinterest !!).  but for this event, we needed bite-sized everything, so i turned them into chocolate banana mini muffins!  i suppose all 3 dishes were a hit, considering everything was gone exept for one last mini muffin that got splashed in vodka (oops! party foul).

see more party photos after the jump!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

january date

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since the day union republic opened in our neighborhood 9 weeks ago, mr p had his mind set on going there for our january date .  i got a little worried when halfway through the month we had not picked a day to go.

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"hey babe, we should pick a day to go on our date."
"why not Friday?"
"ok sure!" 
....then we agreed to show a friend of a friend around town friday night.
"oops, ok we'll go saturday then."
...then we remembered our friend from ohio was visiting for the weekend. 
"shit. let's try to go the next sunday so we won't double-book."
"well, unless we go after he leaves on sunday, there aren't any sundays left in january." 
"wanna go tonight?"
"let's do it!"

ok ok ok... so it didn't exactly go as planned, but that didn't stop us from having a good time last thursday! we were instantly happy the moment we walked in those big glass doors.  it was so cold outside i think if i had walked a step farther my ears would have frozen off! gosh it was so cold out there.  perfect for a warm bowl of soup, i say!

we weren't sure if union republic was a byob place, so we thought we would sneak in a bottle of wine in my bag. if it, indeed, was a byob, we were well-stocked.  we walked inside and i immediately went to use the ladies' room, and when i came back there were two wine glasses on the table ready to be filled! score....

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(greeted with an unexpected dose of baba ganoush and hummus)

while i really was in the mood for some good hearty, silky, brothy ramen, i knew that's what mr p was going to get, and there were so many other things to try on the menu for us BOTH to get ramen! we shared a "ramen burger" for an appetizer (i could have eaten 5 of them, as they were topped with my favorite pickled onions, but it was totally not was i had expected), and i ended up getting the ratatouille (the place practically encompasses all ethnic foods in one restaurant)

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though the veggies in the ratatouille were tasty, the flavor combination was so much better when i snagged a bite with some of the walnut pesto. i kept telling our waiter i NEED to make the walnut pesto at home! i could seriously put that stuff on just about anything!

mr p's ramen hit the spot too.  i think the noodles are the best i've had in the fancy, non-instant kind of ramen.  some people go for the perfect broth, some people go for the perfect noodles and goodies.  i go for good noodles and goodies, and this one certainly topped my tastebuds for the noodles and soft-boiled egg part.  why is that such a good thing for union republic? you can buy the noodles!! they come in a package, sort of like instant ramen, with sauce packets to make the broth, but the noodles are fresh! and for just $5 it would be worth it to at least try it one day!

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union republic wasn't just an eatery, though.  with a grocery section, a "bar" area where you can grab a seat and watch the cooks do their magic, a lounge area, and a byob policy, this place can truly be the ultimate hang-out spot.

...and hang out, we did! we still had half of our bottle of wine to go, and a set of interview questions to answer (remember yesterday's post ??), so our waiter talked us into getting the banana bread chocolate bread pudding.  yes, that's right, chocolate bread pudding made out of pieces of banana bread (don't worry, our minds were blown too).  it's no secret i have an obsession with the lemon bars at thirty acres (see this post and this post for proof), and this dessert is giving those lemon bars a run for their money for my favorite sweet treat.  i'm usually not one for desserts, but this bread pudding might have to be a must-have every time we go.  i might even just order an appetizer and the bread pudding so i make sure to save room!  as of last thursday, the desserts weren't on the menu. so in case your waiter forgets to mention the bread pudding, you better ask!!!!

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(ahhh chocolate overload!  a chocolate overload that i'll eat again, and again, and again, and....)

now it's your time to venture a few blocks further from grove street down newark ave and experience union republic for yourself.  your tastebuds (and your wallet!) will thank you.


p.s. high five to jersey city for snagging yet another great restaurant!! keep 'em coming!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

tool time

(no, not THAT tool time...)
i'm going to start a little mini-series on kitchen tools.  some of these you might use everyday and think "yep, that's totally something that everyone should have" , and some you might think "hmm, i always thought that was unnecessary because _____"
either way, i want it to be enlightening :)
the first tool i'm going to highlight is an egg slicer .
here's why:
1. how many times have you gone to slice an egg and the yolk falls out halfway through, leaving you slicing egg-white rings while you've got a big chunk of yolk on the cutting board? unless that's what you were going for, an egg slicer can solve that problem for you! and you've only got a tiny little thing to clean up afterwards, rather than a knife and a cutting board (and pick up the pieces of yolk that may have fallen on the floor... because that's totally what happens when i try to slice an egg with a knife)
2. it does in one clean slice, taking much less time. this week was the first week i had sort of a salad-making station in the fridge for my lunches. all the ingredients were already chopped and in individual containers, all i needed to do was toss some of each into a container and go (no more chopping in the morning, making myself late to work because it took longer than i thought) if my eggs are already hard-boiled, i just had to grab one and slice it with the egg-slicer (seriously 2 seconds) and toss it in. such a quick (and SUPER cheap!) way to add some protein to my salad!
are you convinced yet? here's the one that i bought for mr p for our anniversary:
this is a pretty fancy one, at $16.95, with 2 different slicers on it, for ovals or wedges.  i've never tried others, but this one is pretty awesome. very easy to clean, and feels nice because it's heavy.  you could test out cheaper ones here, here, or here.
besides just putting egg slices on salads, sometimes it's nice to make an egg sammich with hard-boiled eggs instead of fried eggs (and healthier too!)'s our favorite egg sammich:
Egg & Asparagus Sammich with Lemon-Dill Mayo
(inspiration from )
-slice a soft baguette in half for 2 sides of the sammich
(or lay out 2 slices of regular 'ole sliced sammich bread)
-spread lemon-dill mayo on each side
(as simple as stirring together mayo, lemon zest & lemon juice, and chopped dill)
- thinly slice red onions and put on sammich
- slice grilled asparagus long-ways and put on sammich
-slice hard-boiled eggs wiith egg slicer and put on sammich
-bon appetit!
now, go get an egg slicer, and start eating those eggs! and tell me if you like the sammich!
unless you're vegan, then you're just missing out :P j/k i heart vegans (and vegan food) too.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

simple crunchy granola

that's pretty much all you need for this wonderful recipe.
(however it's MUCH MUCH better if you have a few other key ingredients)

it's granola!  it seems so simple, yet when i want some, it's easiest just to pick up a package of nature valley bars that are grab-n-go instead of making it.  but in reality, granola is OH so easy to make at home!  ...and the nice thing about it, is that you know everything that goes into it (is it just me, or does it really bug you too when an ingredients list says "natural flavorings"? wtf does that even mean !?) plus, it's good with just a few ingredients, or if you want to put 20 things in it, go for it!

this recipe is as simple as:
measure it
(or don't, eyeballing is totally fine)
mix it
bake it
bask in the irresistible smell that will fill your home
(who doesn't want that!? this would totally beat out the "bake cookies before showing a house" trick)

simple crunchy granola
(inspiration from Sara Kate at )

must-have ingredients:
4 cups of rolled oats (regular kind, not quick oats)
1/2 cup of olive oil (plus 1/4 cup for every 4 cups of add'l dry ingredients)
1/3 cup of brown sugar (plus 1/4 cup for every 4 cups of add'l dry ingredients)
1 tsp salt (plus 1/4 tsp for every 4 cups of add'l dry ingredients)

optional (but totally worth it) ingredients:
coconut oil (substitute half of olive oil for coconut oil)
coconut flakes (add to dry ingredients before baking, you decide the quantity!)
nuts (add to dry ingredients before baking, you decide the quantity!)
almond or vanilla extract (add to wet ingredients before baking)
cinnamon (add to dry ingredients before baking)
egg whites (add to wet ingredients before baking, 1/2 cup of whites per 4 cups of oats)
dried fruit (toss in after baking, you decide the quantity!)
chocolate chips (toss in after baking, you decide the quantity!)
wheat germ (add to  dry  ingredients before baking)

- mix dry ingredients in a large bowl
- whisk together wet ingredients in another bowl
- pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix together
- pour mixture onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (or two, depending on how thick or chunky you want your granola)
- spread out the mixture evenly on the sheet
- bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes, stir the mixture and spread out on sheet again, bake for another 15-20 minutes
- let cool completely before transferring to storage container (it will still be wet when it comes out, but will get crunchy when it cools down completely)

don't freak out.   that "optional" list of ingredients is lengthy, i know, but they aren't ALL necessary.  we made ours this weekend by adding the following:
- coconut oil
- walnuts
- cinnamon
- egg whites
- wheat germ

...and that was all just because we already had them in the pantry and didn't have to go buy anything. next time i'm banking on coconut flakes being the irresistible addition. the cheap kind that's been sweetened (because toasted sweetened coconut is to... die... for....) but maybe i'll get adventurous and try adding cayenne powder or something!! my mom makes this spicy, chocolate-drizzled chex mix stuff at christmas time that is SO good, and that same kick of spice seems like it would so perfectly in this recipe...  sweet and spicy are a perfect match sometimes!

the possibilities are endless, but at least you have a good base, and some idea for options to spice it up (pun intended :P) so, get creative with it!  then tell me about it.  what's your favorite thing to add to YOUR granola!?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

makin my JAM

mr p wanted me to help him do something in the kitchen the same night was making strawberry rhubarb jam. i was right in the middle of a "very important step" in the jam-making process, when he beckoned for me.

"baaabe. i'm makin my jaaaam"
(was my reply in my most ghetto voice i could immitate)

it's a good thing i didn't let him interrupt me, because this stuff turned out perfect .

my jam is nothing more than fresh rhubarb, fresh strawberries, sugar, and lemon zest.  with this recipe, there's really no reason for commercial pectin from a box, unless you want it to be more like a jelly than a jam.

some recipes will have you mix and let sit in the fridge overnight, strain the juices, put the solids with the jucies again, etc. etc. etc.  if you want a jam like you would buy it in the store, just buy it in the store! if you want something more rustic, keep reading!!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

surprise! mac-n-cheese

what's better than coming home to your significant other getting you flowers?


too bad i already went out with my friend for dinner and drinks before this (doesn't mean i didn't snag a bite or two!!)

mr p went out after work too, but he was tired of eating chicken sammiches for lunch AND dinner, so when i come home at 9:15, he's in the middle of boiling the pasta and making the bechamel (flour/milk mixture) with the shredded cheese sitting to the side.

multitasking at it's best!

trust me, kraft mac-n-cheese just doesn't cut it after you've had the good stuff!! ....ok ok i'll let you take velveeta shells and cheese before kraft any day, but if you have time to whip up the real stuff, just do it!

we happened to have 4 different kinds of cheese just WAITING to get used up (thanks, BJ's for luring us into buying giant blocks of cheese every time we go to your store)

unfortunately, mr p didn't think that cinnamon/cranberry cheddar would go well in mac-n-cheese (though i was up for an adventure!!)  

but we did have colby-jack, and two other we-know-what-they-taste-like-but-can't-remember-their-names cheeses that have been lingering in the fridge for a while, so best to use it in a dish like this!!  (pretty much any cheese would do though... as long as it can dissolve into the bechamel!)

(with tomatoes, onions, shallots, chives, and truffle oil!)

1 tbsp butter
1 box penne pasta (cooked to al dente according to instructions)
2 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion (diced)
1 shallot (diced)
1/2 tsp salt (plus more to taste)
2 tsp garlic powder
3 cups milk
2 tbsp flour
4 cups freshly grated cheese (any kind! we used 3 different kinds, all about the same texture of colby-jack)
chives, finely chopped (optional, to taste)
2 roma tomatoes, diced (optional, to taste)
panko bread crumbs (to sprinkle on top)
black truffle oil (or truffle-infused oil, optional)

heat large dutch oven on stove over medium high heat.  add butter, and allow to melt.  add garlic, shallot, onions, and salt, and cook until onions are translucent (few minutes). add milk and garlic powder, then add flour and whisk until flour no longer has chunks, and bechamel is smooth. add cheese and whisk until cheese has completely melted into the sauce. add the al dente pasta and thoroughly combine (with whisk or wooden spoon). add chives and tomatoes, and stir again.  taste for saltiness.  depending on what kind of cheese you use, you may or may not need to add additional salt.  generously sprinkle top of mixture with panko, then lightly drizzle with truffle oil (or serve into small glass pyrex dishes like we did!!  lunches are good to go for a LONG time!!)
bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until tops of top penne pieces start to become brown.

homemade mac-n-cheese.
(didn't think you'd ever do THAT did ya? thank me by making it yourself and telling me how it goes!!) 

then, hit the gym, because you WILL eat too much, and you WILL feel stuffed, because you DID eat too much, and you REALLY want to take a nap instead.

finished the night watching cartoon batman.
(well, HE watched, while i perused the internet :P)

thanks, mr p! you're the best, as always :D

until next time,

p.s. my apologies for the LACK of photo quality! mr p was going so fast when i got home i had to grab the first thing i could find!  which meant my iphone, which takes HORRIBLE pictures in our kitchen light.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

vegetarian.. AGAIN??

(though, mr p didn't even realize we were having yet ANOTHER meat-less meal until i thanked him for not complaining that we were eating two different vegetarian meals in a row)

monday's dinner consisted of throwing together a quick stir-fry, using up leftover rice from last week.  it was SO good, took only a few minutes to make, and consisted of just broccoli, mango, and a homemade peanut sauce (recipe coming in the near future i promise!! first we have to make it one more time keeping track of all the things mr p decides to put in it!! haha)

tuesday night we had quinoa-stuffed peppers!  though it was a new recipe using quinoa instead of rice, stuffed peppers is definitely one of my favorite meals.  it's delicious AND balanced, with veggies, beans, and protein-rich whole grains.  after learning about all the crazy-awesome health benefits of quinoa (including being gluten-free), we've been trying to use it more in cooking, usually in instances where we would normally use white or brown rice (plus we found out that BJ's sells it in 2-lb bags for $5!! $2.50/lb is ridiculously cheap for this stuff!!)

we found this recipe on pinterest from One Lovely Life, but of course made some mods (because i think mr p is completely incapable of following a recipe word for word... which is totally not a bad thing though, because everything always turns out full of flavor and delicious!! ...unless of course its a baking recipe, then we're BOTH too scared we will mess it up if we change the recipe!!)

you can find the recipe for mexican stuffed peppers with quinoa and black beans here, but read on for our modifications and suggestions:

1. ortega taco sauce instead of red enchilada sauce
(might be the same thing? not sure, but taco sauce so good i could drink it, so we used that instead)

2. add 2 tsp cumin to quinoa/onion/salt mixture before boiling
(for some extra mexican-ish-ness)

3. added fresh sweet corn cut off the cob to the bowl before stuffing peppers
(just because we had it and needed to use it before it went bad.. added a nice hint of sweetness!)

4. add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder to bowl before stuffing peppers
(we thought it needed some more pizazz when we tasted the mixture)

5. serve it on top of a dollop of guac
(again, simply because we had it already! but definitely a good add for the bits that fall out of the pepper while eating... mix up all the "leftovers" and scoop up with some scoops!!)

6. top with pickled (jarred) jalapenos or olives
(i used jalapenos, and mr p used olives. not sure about the olives, but the pickled jalapenos gave a nice hint of spice and tanginess)

i'm on day 3 of eating these things, and i'm still looking forward to eating my lunch, they were that good!