Friday, May 21, 2010

bottom's up: Mexicola

A loooooong crazy week it has been, and I am ever so relieved that Friday has finally come! I have a fantastic weekend of music and mayhem ahead of me, so what better way to kick off this awesome weekend than with a fitting cocktail? I present to you the simpliest alcoholic beverage I've ever made: Mexicola.

I'm not a big drinker so, I never have a ton of spirits or mixers on hand when I'm in the mood for a drink-- and this is the perfect solution for such situations. A little tequila, a lime, some ice and a bottle of your favorite cola is all you need. 2 minutes later, you're ready for your own personal Happy Hour. Great by itself, with your favorite chips 'n dip, or accompanying grilled summer feasts. Naturally fitting for pre-gaming concerts, too.


{recipe from the Cocktail Bible}

Serves: 1

  • 2 measures white tequila (I used about 1/2 a shot glass full)
  • 1 measure freshly-squeezed lime juice (from roughly 1/2 a lime)
  • cola of your choice
  • lime slice, to garnish (optional)
Fill half a tall chilled glass with ice. Pour the tequila and lime juice over ice, top off with cola. Stir gently and garnish with lime slice if desired.

Staying dry tonight? Leave out the tequila for a refreshing mocktail. Also feel free to swap the lime for lemon, for an equally delicious but slightly unexpected drink.

Have a GREAT weekend! x

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

viva terra summer lust

I am generally not one for [non-Etsy] wish lists of Things-that-I-want-but-don't-need from online retailers. Viva Terra has been the one exception for me, as I've been pining for their beautiful eco-conscious wares for several years now. Some of their products are a little on the pricey side... which is exactly why you wait for sales like these to pounce on long sought-after items. Because if its eco-friendly AND on sale, it is completely justifiable. Right. ;)

Here are a handful of things I've been lusting over. Bright or beachy, all of them are geared for summertime, and make me long for the picnics and barbecues that celebrate the season.



I can't get over that ingenious stacked lunch box. Not only is it practical but, its totally adorable and available in *both* of my favorite colors! It will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine!

Monday, May 10, 2010

week night pasta for one

Cooking for one can be tricky. On nights when J is working late and I'm left to dine solo for the evening, I generally turn to something quick, easy, and inexpensive... which, normally leaves very little option for healthy or imaginitive (mac & cheese, anyone?) Last week, I found myself in this position but -with some leftovers, 2 store-bought ingredients, and a little creativity- I had a simple, tasty vegetarian dinner for one that didn't come out of a box. And it was still done in 20 minutes. Amazing, right? I thought so, too.

We tried chicken Milanese with arugula salad earlier last week with great results but, had some leftover greens and red onion... which made me think of this Real Simple dish I had stuffed in my recipe files ages ago. I also had that too-much-for-one-but-not-enough-for-two portion of gemelli leftover from a pasta salad of weeks passed; some handy chicken broth to sub for the wine and -$5 at Super Wal*Mart later- a small soft wedge of Brie and a carton of earthy creminis. It was meant to be.

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit it but, this was the first time I had *ever* cooked mushrooms or tried Brie cheese, and only the second time preparing arugula! I was rewarded for stepping out of my food comfort zone, though. The savory sauteed creminis and onions, peppery arugula and tangy Brie tossed with perfectly al dente gemelli was a delicious alternative to my stand-by boxed Annie's (I still love you though, Bernie!)

Gemelli with Brie, Arugula & Mushrooms

{adapted from Real Simple}

Serves: 1


  • 1 heaping cup of dry gemelli, or other shaped pasta (penne, rotini, farfalle, ziti, etc.)
  • 1/4 cup reserved pasta cooking water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-3 button or cremini, or 1 portobello mushroom, stems removed and caps cut into bite-sized wedges
  • 1/4 of a small red onion, sliced
  • 4 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth (or dry white wine)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 ounce of Brie, cut into small pieces
  • handful of fresh arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. *Remember* to reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and red onion, and cook 2-3 minutes tossing occassionally, until the mushrooms begin to release their juices. Add the broth (or wine), season with salt and pepper, and cook until the mushrooms begin to brown and the liquid reduces, about 5-6 minutes.

3. Mix the Brie pieces with the warm pasta so that they start to melt. Pour the reserved cooking liquid over the Brie to facilitate melting, and toss together until the cheese is completely melted and the pasta is coated (if your Brie is being stubborn, place the pot over a still-warm or low heat burner, mixing constantly, until it is fully melted). Stir in the sauteed mushroom-onion mixture. Add the fresh arugula, toss and serve.

Cooking for the fam? Check out the original recipe (serves 4).

Just a little FYI for you first-time fungus cooks like myself: button, cremini and portobello mushrooms are all the exact SAME species of mushroom, they're just picked at different points in their development. All are lovely and suited for this dish, though the smaller varieties (button and cremini) are the easiest to chop into perfectly bite-sized slices.

Do you have a favorite just-for-one recipe in your arsenal?

Share it with me in the comments! x 

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

at long last: sweet spring bounty

While it has -technically- been spring here in New England for the last month and a half, we have finally started experiencing that warm, sunny weather in more recent weeks... which means, we're just now getting a taste of all that wonderful spring produce that many of you in warmer climates have been enjoying for the past month. I was pleasantly surprised to find artichokes! and asparagus! and rhubarb! as I shopped for groceries last weekend, and it was a welcome sight. To celebrate, I made good use of some of this late spring bounty (and a strawberry sale!) with a nostalgic sweet spring salad.

Strawberries with spinach? Yes. An odd combination, I know. I remember trying this salad for the first time as a tween and being utterly horrified at first... and utterly wowed at the fact that leafy greens and juicy fruit make such a wonderful pair. The sweet poppy dressing marries these two ingredients so nicely, and really makes this a stand-out salad. It makes a fresh and interesting side dish for any warm-weather meal, and can hold its own as a light-but-delicious lunch.

Strawberry-Spinach Salad
with Sweet Poppy Dressing

{adapted from AllRecipes}

Serves: 4


For the salad:
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach, rinsed, dried & torn into bite-size pieces (I just used baby spinach)
  • 1 quart of fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup almonds, toasted and chopped or slivered
For the dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion
  • 2 strips of cooked bacon, crumbled/finely chopped (optional)
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients until combined. Cover and chill for one hour.

2. In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and toasted almonds. Drizzle dressing over salad, and toss to coat. (It was recommended in the original recipe that the dressed salad be chilled for 10 minutes before serving but, I found this step unneccessary... and kinda gross.)

I'm thinking that adding some grilled chicken - perhaps glazed with a bit of that fantastic poppy dressing - would make an amazing summertime dinner with this salad. Further experimentation is needed. x