Author: olivetocook

Upgrade your home for $12.99

Ever notice that beautiful tall green plant that seems to appear everywhere in designer mags? From Houzz to Elle Decor to Lonny Mag, the lovely Fiddle Leaf Fig tree adds instant style to any room.  The best part is that you can add one to your home for only $12.99 care of Ikea.  With a sweet basket, careful pruning, watering, and patience, your fiddle leaf fig can be standing tall in a few years.  Sadly Ikea doesn’t ship this little beauty, so you have to go to an actual Ikea location or visit your local nursery.  You can order one from Amazon.com here.

Chicken Celery Scallion and Cilantro Dumplings

Yummmmm… dumplings.  So comforting, so many flavors and textures.  Most Asian restaurants offer some sort of dumplings, some better than others, but I always feel that New York City has the best offerings.  From Dumpling Man in the East Village to Dim Sum A-Go Go in Chinatown, my mouth just dances from the salty, meaty, crispy goodness.  After reading issues of Lucky Peach and past issues of Bon Appetit, I finally got the bug to make my own.  The process was actually much easier than I thought (once I figured out how to get my dumping ‘crimps’ just right,) it just took some time and patience.  The essential way to get the crimp right is to make sure you don’t use too much filling.  In my case, I had to use pre-made wonton wrappers (trimmed to a circle shape with a biscuit cutter,) I used 1 tsp of filling for each. I started with the filling–made it up mostly with what I had on hand.  I’d encourage you to experiment.  The key is that your …

Whole Wheat Bread

Somehow I found myself with two 5-pound bags of whole wheat flour and not a speck of white flour in sight.  I went on the hunt for wheat bread recipes and sadly discovered most bread recipes contain a mixture of whole wheat and white flour.  Finally I found this super easy and quick recipe with only whole wheat flour and was delighted with the results.  After baked and thoroughly cooled uncovered at room temperature, the bread stayed moist stored in a large Ziploc bag on the counter (NOT in the fridge) and did not mold after a 4+ days (a rarity for homemade breads.) While you might be tempted to laugh at the exact baking time listed in the directions–don’t.  The bread baked perfectly. Turns out that 100% wheat flour recipes can be more challenging as the bread can turn out very dense and almost bitter.  By adding lovely sweetness from molasses and honey, this bread did not turn out bitter at all–rather it tastes homey and healthy.  The sweet-level is just enough, but it’s …

Grilled Zucchini + Lentil Quesadillas

When in the guts of Summer, when temperature highs are in the 90s (or 100s) and humidity is giving you a new hair-do, the real high points for me are AN OUTDOOR GRILL and OUTDOOR FARMERS MARKETS.  This week browsing the New York City Stuyvesant Farmers Market with my friend Sarah, the real stars were pit fruits (peaches, nectarines, plums,) tomatoes, and zucchini.  Nick and I stocked up on all of the above.  Inspired by the gorgeous yellow and green zucchini, I set out to make a vegetarian main course using this versatile vegetable.  Using what I had on hand (tortillas,) I decided to go for quesadillas.  For added protein and fiber, I added lentils.  The end result was so delicious.  You should see this recipe less as a “recipe” and more as a template.  You could easily substitute grilled eggplant or red/green peppers for the zucchini and your favorite cheese will work as long as it melts well.    An important tip: be SURE to cook your veggies first. If you don’t, they’ll put out …

Link Love: Mike Geno on Cheese and Bacon

The New York Times ran an awesome piece on Mike Geno, a Philadelphia-based painter who’s current favorite subject is cheese (and bacon and other gorgeous meats, as well as Tastykake Butterscotch Krimpets)  Many painters have endeavored to paint a still life every day, the painting-a-day phenomenon that has remained popular for several years.  Geno’s painting’s remind me of those… they’re relatively small and inexpensive and many are available for sale on his website: http://mikegeno.com/.  Main difference here is that rather than painting bowls of flowers or random house objects, Geno’s main subject is cheese.  They’re mouth-watering-ly awesome to smile at.  I couldn’t help myself from craving them. Mike Geno

Tartine’s Seeded Whole Grain Bread

I’ve never pretended to be a baker.  For one reason, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.  Second reason is normally baking recipes serve an army: dozens of cookies, three layer cake, etc.  And with 2 people in my household, that’s too much for us.  Making bread, however, is different.  You can easily freeze extra loaves and/or slices.  With recent media featuring recipes from San Francisco’s Tartine and New York’s Jim Lahey, I couldn’t help but be inspired, and I felt that maybe, just maybe, I could try my hand at being a non-sweet, more savory baker. This particular recipe comes from Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP, courtesy of Tartine baker and co-owner Chad Roberston.  I followed the instructions exactly for the poolish pre-ferment (packaged yeast) version–including weighing all measurements.  I did not have linen-lined baskets for the last rise, so I simply lined a few wide, short ceramic bowls with clean kitchen towels–worked just fine.  This bread was so amazingly good.  The crust was crisp and dark and the inside was perfectly moist and chewy.  …

Cacio e Pepe with Fresh Whole Wheat Fettuccine

Fresh pasta is one of my greatest pleasures in life.  So many of us are carb junkies, and pasta is my drug of choice.  As much as I love eating it, I always love making it.  This time around, I kept it simple.  On a recent weeknight, the craving hit hard.  I could have made something fancy, but I’ve been trying to challenge myself to cook with what I have on hand.  Living in the city, it’s so easy to run out for this or go pick up that.  But not this time–I created this dish with only what I had on hand.  I also didn’t want to be a slave to cooking for the night (it WAS a school night.)  Start to finish, this took about 2 hours.  The result was pure comfort.  I didn’t have to grocery shop for anything in this recipe, and with the whole wheat flour mixed in, I didn’t even feel guilty about eating it.  After all, a little butter and cheese never hurt anyone, right? For all of …

Vegetarian Summer Rolls with Brown Sugar Tofu

Summer rolls are one of my favorite, healthy Asian restaurant options.  I usually see them prepared with shrimp, thin rice noodles, cilantro, cucumber, carrot, and lettuce.  I had a package of extra firm tofu in the fridge for a while and decided to experiment with it–thus vegetarian summer rolls were born.  These are incredibly healthy, low in fat, low in carbs, easy to make, and the best part… you can eat a lot of them.  While I really enjoyed my invention (recipe below,) I would encourage you to try any combination you like. Vegetarian Summer Rolls with Brown Sugar Tofu Servings vary based on spring roll wrapper size and how stuffed you like them. Ingredients 1 package extra firm tofu 1 package of spring roll skins or wrappers 1 tbsp. granulated brown sugar 2 cloves garlic, minced and smashed 1 inch of peeled fresh ginger, grated on a microplane grater 1 tbsp. soy sauce 1 tbsp. vegetable oil 1 large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into matchsticks 4 …

Apple and Cinnamon Brown Sugar Yogurt with Granola and Dried Cranberries

When I tell you I eat this all of the time, I mean ALL of the time.  Like 5 times a week.  Every time I eat it, my body thanks me.  It’s easy and delicious to buy packaged yogurt with added sweetened fruit.  I’ve found from tirelessly reading yogurt nutritional labels that for a real protein boost with low sugar, my best bet is Fage 0% plain yogurt.  Mixing plain yogurt in a blender with frozen fruit and honey for a smoothie is delicious at home, but for going to work, it’s not practical.  This recipe is an even better alternative as you get so much more flavor and texture: creamy and tangy yogurt, crunchy granola, sweet sugar, chewy and sour cranberries, and tart and crisp apples.  It’s loaded with protein and fiber–a true power breakfast.  I like to make a batch on Sundays for the week, each day’s worth packed into individual containers so they’re ready to grab in the morning. Apple and Cinnamon Brown Sugar Yogurt with Granola and Dried Cranberries Serves 1 …

Best Lentil Salad Ever

Lentils are the stuff of good health.  Packed with protein and fiber (and many helpful vitamins,) many consider lentils to be a super food.  I love how versatile they can be–and this recipe is a great example of that.  I stumbled on this on a blog called My New Roots.  The spice blend is truly unexpected and extraordinary, and it takes the humble lentil to a new level.  A small warning: between the spices and the red onion, this salad packs some heat, so cut back if you feel you need to.  Nick and I love it just the way it is.  You could easily add lots of goodies to it, including more small-chopped vegetables, crumbly cheese, fresh herbs, or nuts.  I’ve prepared it simply here, without any add-ons except for a few small lettuce and arugula leaves.  I didn’t include two of the spices only because I didn’t have them on hand.  The dressing is still delightful.  I like to keep a bowl of the lentils in the fridge to have on hand to …