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March 30, 2009

Whole Wheat Pasta With Broccoli Pesto

As we all know, a proper diet is really important for optimal performance of all of our bodily functions. What we put into our bodies affects our energy levels, metabolism and even information processing!

This dish is what my sister, Lily, would call “diet-y.” It is made with whole wheat pasta and [everybody’s favorite] broccoli.

Those of you who still haven’t discovered whole wheat pasta must be living under a rock. Whole wheat pasta has a whole lot of protein and fiber, which I’m sure all of our diets could use more of. The body takes a long time to digest fiber and protein and that is why eating proteins and complex carbohydrates keep us full longer.

Broccoli is also rich in fiber, as well as Vitamin C, Calcium and Iron.

Besides being delicious, this dish is also vegetarian.

So, you will need:

About ¾ of a box of any whole wheat short pasta – for example: Fusilli, Penne or Farfalle

1 large head of broccoli

1 large garlic clove

½ cup walnuts

1 tbs. lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

½ cup Parmesan cheese

Salt, pepper

Start by boiling two large pots of water, one for the pasta and one for the broccoli. Season the pasta water with about 1½ tbs. of salt. Season the broccoli water with ½ tbs. of salt. Cook the pasta until it is al dente (Italian for ‘to the teeth’-soft on the outside, with a slight bite on the inside. See box directions.) Set aside.

Cut the broccoli florets off of the stalk and boil for no more than 2 minutes, you don’t want the broccoli to be soft or mushy. Put the cooked broccoli into a food processor and add the garlic, walnuts and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Puree to a fine consistency. While the food processor is still on stream in the olive oil. Once everything is combined move the mixture into a bowl and stir in the cheese. Now combine with the pasta and it’s ready to eat!

March 29, 2009

Mushrooms au Gratin

This French-inspired dish is amazing - cheesy, creamy and satisfying. It will impress the socks off of anyone you make it for. And of course, in my true fashion, it is easy to make.

About 30 Baby Bella mushrooms
1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
¾ cup Gruyere, Fortina or Muenster cheese, shredded (Basically any sharp cheese you like, which will melt easily. But please no Cheddar or American)
1/3 tsp. salt
1/3 tsp. pepper
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
¾ tsp. dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Thinly slice the mushrooms and place them in a baking dish.
Preheat a medium sized sauce pot. Add the butter and flour into the pot and whisk together until a bubbly mixture forms. This mixture is called a roux. Then add the half-and-half and whisk together. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the cheese and whisk until it is a smooth consistency. Turn the heat off and add the garlic. In a separate bowl, mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and thyme.
Pour the cheese sauce over the mushrooms. Then take the breadcrumb mixture and sprinkle over the top. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes. And then dig in!
Mushrooms au Gratin can be served alongside meat or fish, or over mashed potatoes.

March 25, 2009


Thai is one my favorite cuisines. For one, it never lacks in flavor. And I love that a lot of Thai dishes contain a starch, a protein and a vegetable, which makes it easy to enjoy.
Joya is an awesome Thai restaurant in Brooklyn, located at 215 Court Street. The food is delicious and very cheap. The menu consists of many interesting appetizers, a variety of fried rice and noodle dishes, and a myriad of other flavorful entrees. Joya also has a full bar, of which I'm a huge fan.
I recommend the Woon Sen - fried glass noodles with chicken or shrimp and mixed vegetables, which will only set you back $7!

The only downside to this place is that on the weekends they do not take reservations and the wait time can be up to 45 minutes. Other than that, I definitely recommend Joya for a quick Thai lunch or dinner.

Thai Fried Rice

This dish is easy, fast, versatile and delicious. It is also healthier than take-out because there’s less sodium and no MSG.


1 large carrot

1 large bell pepper – any color you like

2 large garlic cloves

2 tbs. sesame oil*

1/3 cup soy sauce

1 egg

2 cups cooked rice, white or brown

½ tsp. curry powder

½ tsp. paprika

A few pinches of cayenne pepper

2 stalks of scallions

Black pepper

For garnish: cilantro, lemon, sesame seeds*

*These can be found in an Asian foods market. If you cannot find these, omit the seeds and use canola oil instead.

Preferably when making fried rice or noodles, you’d use a wok. A wok is a high-sided pan with a round bottom used often in Asian kitchens. A wok can be purchased anywhere cookware is sold, like Sur la table, Crate & Barrel or online, of course. If you don’t want to buy a wok, don’t – just use a high sided skillet.

You will need refrigerated cooked rice for this dish. Day-old rice or leftover rice from take-out is best because it is least likely to stick together, as opposed to using rice that was just cooked.

Start by julienning (cutting into match stick-sized pieces) your vegetables and mincing the garlic. The recipe says carrots and peppers but you can use any vegetables you like – mushrooms, broccoli, peas, carrots, cabbage, etc. Heat the sesame oil in the wok on high heat. Place the vegetables and garlic into the wok, season with salt and cook about 3 minutes. In the meantime beat the egg in a separate bowl. Move the vegetables to one side of the work and pour the egg in with half of the soy sauce. Scramble the egg with the soy sauce until it cooks, about 1 minute. Add the rice, the rest of the soy sauce and the seasonings. Stir everything together and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the scallions and pepper. Plate and garnish and it’s ready to serve!

Banana Bread

Banana Bread is a great comfort food - it makes me feel right at home. This recipe is super easy, I've been making it for years. Anyone who's tried it loved it so hopefully you will too.

1 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup white sugar
4 ripe bananas
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
1/2 chopped walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon) in a large bowl and set aside.
In a food processor combine the sugar and eggs (anytime you use eggs for baking make sure they are at room temperature.) Now for the bananas - some people mush theirs with a fork but I prefer to dice them finely. So, add the diced bananas, vanilla and oil into the processor. Mix everything until it is a homogeneous mixture. Then add the flour mixture by thirds. Mix everything just well enough to combine it. You do not want to overmix the batter because we're looking for an airy texture in the final product, not a brick = )
If you are using walnuts, add them at this point. Just take out the blade and stir them in by hand - we don't want to grind them up.
Now take a loaf or bundt pan and grease it up with butter to prevent a sticky situation. Pour the batter into the pan and bake from 40 min to an hour. A bundt will cook faster than a loaf. To be sure it's done, stick it with a wooden skewer or toothpick and check to see if it comes out clean. When the toothpick comes out clean it means your banana bread is ready.
Remove it from the oven and let it cool for about 15 min before consumption.

March 24, 2009

A Chocolate Moment

Let’s all take a moment to clear our minds, breathe deep and think chocolate. Ah, yes, chocolate is an absolutely divine creation. Chocolate as we know it today is made of cacao beans. Cacao beans are grown in pods, which grown on cacao trees. Hundreds of years ago cacao beans were actually used as currency in Mexico and Central America.

Cacao pod:

There are countless variations of chocolate out there: dark, milk, white, sweet, semi-sweet. There are chocolate cakes, truffles, cookies, ice-cream and even a liquid version, hot chocolate.

Lindt makes a very special chocolate bar – 70% cacao chocolate with a cherry and chili pepper filling. This one is definitely one of my favorites.

The shell is deliciously bittersweet and the filling is sweet, sour and spicy all at the same time.

The flavor is unique and will definitely leave an impression on you. I recommend this to anyone who’s looking to jazz up their chocolate repertoire. If you have trouble finding it in a store, it can be bought online on or

“Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know which one you’re gonna get.”