Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Are You Kidding Me?

I watch my trash TV alone, uninterrupted with an air of indifference, an unflinching focus and a HUGE chunk of cynicism.

And a bottle of red and a plate of snacky poofs or a delicious cookie. As if you needed to ask?!?!

So that is why I was gleeful, stunned and a bit giddy when a recipe I rocked out from a cookbook by Teresa Giudice of Jersey Housewives fame was wonderfully tasty.

Yous guys. Seriously.

It was astoundingly fantastic. Or, if we're speaking in Jersey speak: It was freaking awwwwwe-some.

And, here I thought all Teresa was good for was botching the English language, gussying herself up in a totally tacky Jers wardrobe and holding lifelong grudges over sprinkle cookies.

I guess the awesomeness of her recipes should not be surprising. Because cattiness and jealousy aside, it seems that the broads on the Jersey sector of the Real Housewives franchise know a thing or 1,000 about the ways around the kitchen. If I had to dine in with any of these Bravo be-yotches, it would be with the Jersey girls. And of course if I was headed out on the town, dahling, it would be with the Bev Hills snobby snobs in a schi-schi restaurant or better yet, Lisa Vanderpump's closet, preferably with a view of the shoes, jewels and bags. (My name is Susan and I am an accessories whore ... and I need to read a good book. And maybe trash TV should be my sacrifice next year at Lent....Yeah, ok.)

Anyways, Teresa's Zucchini Spaghetti Salad from her Skinny Italian cookbook is a wonderful starter or side dish. It really lets the zucchini shine. So make this when the zucchs are in season, which is now, now, now in my lovely Garden State. Yay! It is light and refreshing and packed with flavor, all good things you should look for in a salad. Basically, you take an ordinary carrot peeler and peel the zucchini into thin strips. Don't go into the seedy part, because that will make the salad turn to mush. About a half hour before serving, toss with the lemon vinaigrette. As the strips marinate, they become wiggly and twirly like spaghetti glistening in the lemon juicy goodness. Love it! This would be great to serve on a night you're grilling since it involves zero cooking time.

And since this is my blog, I will now take a moment to boast: My 2-and-a-half-year-old son asked for MORE ZUCCHINI three times during dinner. In the words of Teresa, "Are you freakin' kidding me?"

More Ipad.

More Thomas.

More Apple Jacks.

These requests make sense to moi. But on this glorious night at din din, he ate zucchini, tilapia AND basmati rice.

"OK. Now, you're REALLY bragging," my sister Monica informed me via phone call after lamenting about her sons' current meal plan of McDonald's and pizza. (She's moving back to Hammonton in two days, so her cupboard is bare, people!!!!)

If it's any consolation, Monica, the odds are 90-10 that your No. 1 nephew won't want to touch any of the above-mentioned good eats the next time they are served. And, I'm pretty sure at our next family din he'll want to tap into my emergency stash of disgusting Perdue chicken nuggets, because he did declare last week: "Mommy. I love them... with ketchup. Ketchup. To dip. Yummy."


Zucchini "Spaghetti" Salad
From "Skinny Italian"
By Teresa Giudice

3 large zucchini (about 1 1/3 pounds) scrubbed well, ends trimmed
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Using a mandoline, plastic V-slicer or spiral slicer, cut the zucchini into long, thin julienne strips. Do not use the seedy center of the zucchini as it can be too soft and will ruin the look and texture of the strips.

Whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add the zucchini and basil and toss well. Let stand at room temperature for a few minutes so the zucchini can soak up the dressing and soften slightly.

Using a fork with long tines, twirl each portion of zucchini onto the fork so it looks like a little bird's nest and transfer to a plate.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Sticks Stack Up

Stick-form vegetables dipped in egg and coated in bread crumb and cheese?

Why yes, your little one will eat these delishly awesome zucchini fingers.

Or maybe he'll throw them dart-style at your ruffled brow. Or sneak them to the dog.

But give them a whirl all of  you fabulous mommas and poppas out there. What do you have to lose besides patience, self respect and the will to have a calm and peaceful dinner?

I've realized when feeding my 2-year-old King of the Castle that what he was loving yesterday during Bubble Guppies is not what he may be feeling tomorrow during that never-ending Thomas and Friends marathon.

At least it's not Dora, people. That screech-mouth is on the banned-TV list in this house. I need to maintain my sanity during non-wine-drinking hours.

The recipe for Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks comes from a really dope cooking blog called Closet Cooking.  This is the type of blog I run in my dreams - the ones uninterrupted by insomnia, a screaming toddler, a snoring husband and a really weak bladder.

I rocked out my zucchini sticks when The Husband was away on work or at work, which let's be honest - same thing. I had made a fab pot of marinara with some gorgeous basil, so I thought let's give these zucchini fingers a go during nap time.  They use panko bread crumbs. If you don't have them in your pantry, snap to it momma, and get some!! This is a great dish to serve as an appie, especially if there are vegetarians roaming around your world. I set them up and then baked them about an hour later

Evan ate three sticks. He actually requested more after his first one. Yay! He was probably hypnotized by my marinara. Or the whole dipping aspect of it all.

Whatevs. What do I care? He ate it.

For my marinara recipe, click here.

And for the zucchini sticks, please see below:

Parmesan Crusted Baked Zucchini Sticks
From Closet Cooking
By Kevin Lynch

  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano (parmesan), grated
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 pound zucchini, sliced into sticks and patted dry
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • Mix the bread crumbs, parmigiano reggiano and oregano in a bowl.

  • Season the zucchini with salt and pepper.

  • Dip the zucchini in the egg and then dredge in the bread crumb mixture.

  • Place the zucchini on a baking sheet in a single layer with the skin side down.

  • Bake in a preheated 425F oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pining Over Pins

Pinterest boggles my brain.

As if a small business owner/devoted wifey/domestic goddess/mom of toddler needs even MORE distraction in her life. I mean, prioritizing is of utmost importance when dealing with my diversions: Mad Men and Real Housewives take the top spots, natch. (All class, The Jersey Girl is. ALL CLASS.)

At first, I didn't quite get it, this Pinterest craze. Honestly, I still really don't. The bazillions of images are pretty and fabulous and boy, a girl sure can dream. Each pin leads you to more pins, delusions and hopeless unrealities. From remodeling to organizing to styling an outfit to buying more and more and more. It never ends.

But, ask yourself, fellow Pinners out there: Are you REALLY going to rock that dress like Jessica Alba in the 10 stalkerish images you posted on your Celebrity Style board? Are 50 different ways to DIY glitter nails really going to make or break you? And will your kitchen cupboards ever be THAT organized or that big or that awesome?

I think we all know the answer here, and yet, I probably pinned 20 different pins in the past 20 minutes just because. Admit it. Pinterest is insanely addictive and more often than not a massive waste of time. And that is that. I love it.

Recipe hoarders really fascinate me. Because honestly, when I'm piddling away my few and far between spare moments on Pinterest I wonder how in the world do people have the hours in their week to cook all of these recipes and make all of these crafts. Where have I gone wrong in time management?

 The Jersey Girl is crafty in manners of slyness, but not in terms of actually making objects out of twine and yarn and such. Drinking a bottle of wine is WAY more relaxing.

But I digress, dear readers. I'm about to give myself MAJOR props, because I did it! I made a Pinterest recipe with my own two hands. Yay!! I wasn't just wasting away my 2-year-old's nap time on the Internets by pinning meaningless pins, ie - inspirational quotes said by famous dead people in pretty fonts and 30 variations of opera-length pearl necklaces. No, no. I DID so much more.

Funnily, the recipe I made isn't the most food-pornish in terms of looks, but in tastiness, it is making the magic happen: Cilantro Lime Dressing from simplefoodhealthylife.com. This dressing was fabulous in so many ways. The brightness of the cilantro, the tang of the yogurt and garlic, the punchiness of lime juice and vinegar combine for a close-to-perfect dressing for any Mexican-inspired meal.

That night, we gave fish tacos a whirl. Evan ate three bites! Yay. We did jazz up the tacos, which featured grilled tilapia, with the dressing, but I thought the salad I made really shined. I combined quartered medium-sized tomatoes, red onion and queso fresco - a whole milk Mexican cheese, and then topped it all with a couple tablespoons of the cilantro lime dressing. The recipe below makes a huge portion. It will last you for a few recipes. In addition to fish tacos and salads, I think the dressing would taste fabulous over chicken and shrimp.

Cilantro Lime Dressing worked great over 
quartered tomatoes, red onion and queso fresco.

Cilantro Lime Dressing
From simplefoodhealthylife.com

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup Chobani 0% plain yogurt
1 Tbsp. lime juice
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. white vinegar
1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 tsp. sea salt

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Continue to add olive oil 1 Tbsp. at a time as necessary to create a smooth finish.