Baked Mozzarella Sticks with Butternut Squash Marinara © Spice or Die

Baked Mozzarella Sticks with Butternut Squash Marinara

String Cheese for G-Strings

The weather’s getting warmer and you want to fill your tummy without working on that muffin top.  If stripper aerobics classes don’t put the sparkle in your crystal heels, you might want to shave off some calories another way.

When I first saw the shockingly seductive pics of baked treats using wonton and eggroll wrappers on Pinterest, I was skeptical.  Could some cooking spray and a quick trip in the oven beget lacy, crunchy appetizer happiness?  I ran the first test on my classic crab rangoon recipe and was literally floored – each light and crispy bite was greaseless and guilt-free.  Plus, my kitchen wasn’t covered with a sheen of oil from manning a deep fryer. Continue reading

White Bean Bruschetta © Spice or Die

White Bean Bruschetta with Rosemary and Lemon

Your Cans Totally Rock

Let me teach you guys a magic trick.  How’d you like to learn how to take some old cans in your pantry and elevate the contents to heavenly bites of goodness?  This white bean bruschetta is downright dirty in its simplicity – crack open a can of white beans, toss with a fresh vinaigrette of lemon, rosemary and garlic, and slather the deliciousness on toasted crostini. Continue reading

Last Minute Oscar Party

Last Minute Oscar Party Action

Time got the best of me this year, and damned if I live for a party, it seems that my schedule has me working for the weekend where I’ll work some more.  Eddie Money is shaking his head at me right now. So what’s a girl to do?  Call it quits, tune out, and plan to join in on the festivities?  Hell.to.the.no.  I’m going to attack every last starstruck moment out of this life of mine like Joan Crawford with a wire hanger.  And I’ll look damn good doing it, even if it means haute couture pajamas as the dress code.

When my panties are in a bunch and I need culinary majesty fast, I usually turn to the glory that is the crostini.  There is something so delightful about a portable snack – just a little bite of something assembled with care and made from bright, fresh ingredients. I find that of the things that I make for friends, bruschetta and crostini seem to go the quickest – people appreciate a bit of goodness. The toppings are just as important as the vehicles – crusty breads, crisp crackers, buttered toasts sprinkled with sea salt, even a potato or plantain chip all make for great bases for a crunchy bite. Continue reading

Grilled Coconut Chicken Banh Mi © Spice or Die

Grilled Coconut Chicken Banh Mi

Shake Your Coconuts

Recipes for a Cure
This saucy dish is part of a collection of recipes written to benefit the National MS Society. In 2008, my sister Lexi (then 21 years old) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We formed a team of friends and family called MS is BS (Mind Strong is Body Strong), and each year we raise thousands of dollars for MS research. This recipe was written in tribute to a generous donation towards my $1500 fundraising minimum for the 2013 Capital Challenge Walk, a two-day 50K walk through Maryland, Virginia and DC. Learn more about team MS is BS on our website at http://msisbs.org.

My favorite moments in the kitchen are the ones where the kitchen island is covered in cutting boards, ingredients and wine glasses, with friends assembled to laugh through the creation of a dish.  If I had to recreate a desert island scenario with a top five list of partners in crime to cook with for life, my darling Neda would make the list every single time.  Old skool dance moves – check.  Dilligent drink refilling – check.  Not-for-work jokes bordering on the inappropriate – check, check, CHECK.  It’s evident that she’s spent a lot of time in the kitchen with bossy relatives, because she is considerate and helpful as a sous chef and chronically runs to wash the dishes (even when I scream at her not to…) Sure, there was that one time where she dumped the butter for the pretzels into the baking soda bath as opposed to setting it aside for later.   But she repaid me with an ass-shake and some belly laughs.  My love for her is endless.

Grilled Coconut Chicken Banh Mi © Spice or Die

When I had the auspicious task of coming up with a recipe for her in honor of her donation to the National MS Society, I wanted something as lovely and light as her personality.  A recipe that would make her want to motorboat it at first blush.  Since she was a fan of my Yogurt Chicken, I thought to adapt those flavors into a Southeast Asian-themed chicken marinade for a banh mi.  This sandwich has all of the traditional Vietnamese condiments – shredded romaine, crisp daikon radish and carrots, and the cool crunch of mint and cilantro – adorning tender chicken prepared like a Thai satay.  Nestled in the finest baguette you can find, you are in for a treat so glorious, you’ll want to scream “Son of a goat!” and break out into sassy jump kicks and boobie shakes.   Continue reading

Truffled Eggs with Arugula, Pancetta and Fontina Flatbread

Truffled Eggs with Pancetta, Arugula and Fontina Flatbread

Recipes for a Cure
This saucy dish is part of a collection of recipes written to benefit the National MS Society. In 2008, my sister Lexi (then 21 years old) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We formed a team of friends and family called MS is BS (Mind Strong is Body Strong), and each year we raise thousands of dollars for MS research. This recipe was written in tribute to a generous donation towards my $1500 fundraising minimum for the 2013 Capital Challenge Walk, a two-day 50K walk through Maryland, Virginia and DC. Learn more about team MS is BS on our website at http://msisbs.org.

Brunch Buddies 4 Life

Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t take ages to forge a friendship of worth. Case in point, take my BFF Tara – we met as sketchily as a Craigslist missed connection (not that I know what those are all about…) Back in 2010, my homegirl discovered Adesina’s Kitchen through our fave food blogger hub, FoodBuzz. After hitting me up for my thai dumpling recipe, I meandered over to her site What We Chow, and found that we enjoyed waxing poetically over luxe ingredients, price tag be damned.  I was enamored at the prospect of making her virtual acquaintance, but had no idea that shit was going to get real.  Pronounced: rull. Continue reading

chickenmarsala2

Chicken Marsala with Crispy Potato Gnocchi and Sauteed Spinach

Recipes for a Cure
This saucy dish is part of a collection of recipes written to benefit the National MS Society. In 2008, my sister Lexi (then 21 years old) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We formed a team of friends and family called MS is BS (Mind Strong is Body Strong), and each year we raise thousands of dollars for MS research. This recipe was written in tribute to a generous donation towards my $1500 fundraising minimum for the 2013 Capital Challenge Walk, a two-day 50K walk through Maryland, Virginia and DC. Learn more about team MS is BS on our website at http://msisbs.org.
In my exceedingly short time spent in the desert, I came to realize that one of the keys to my happiness was earned in the kitchen. Those times that I spent with friends close at hand, chatting about randomness, sipping some boozy concoction and performing the feat of creating some sort of culinary majesty. By the time I left, there was a cohort of folks referred to as “the usual suspects” who spent many an evening at the Gunderdome chopping, rolling, stirring and feasting. My buddy Alex (whom I knew was destined to have major cool points in that we both went to Fordham University) was one of my kitchen darlings, and this recipe was created in honor of her and her partner in crime, Josh.

Continue reading

wildmushroomcanneloni4

Wild Mushroom Cannelloni with Kale Pesto and Bechamel

Recipes for a Cure
This saucy dish is part of a collection of recipes written to benefit the National MS Society. In 2008, my sister Lexi (then 21 years old) was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. We formed a team of friends and family called MS is BS (Mind Strong is Body Strong), and each year we raise thousands of dollars for MS research. This recipe was written in tribute to a generous donation towards my $1500 fundraising minimum for the 2013 Capital Challenge Walk, a two-day 50K walk through Maryland, Virginia and DC. Learn more about team MS is BS on our website at http://msisbs.org.

Shrooms and Dinosaurs.  For Real.

In crafting this recipe, I was reminded of the fact that the reason I love to cook is because it is one of the few tasks that allows me to both obsess over ingredients and elevate them at the same time.  The creation of this recipe started with a memory – I was in Italy for the summer on a study abroad (aka. the photography boondoggle in Europe) with my good friend Lauren.  There were easily a hundred of us living in Orvieto, all crammed into the same little hotel, each with our favorite spots in the town that we had claimed as our own.  Lauren was in love with this one haunt for lunch, and not only did she try to eat there just about every day, but she informed me over a bottle (or two) of white wine that she tended to always order the same thing – the simply dressed green salad and tagliatelle with fresh porcini mushrooms. I loved the town already, but that lunch made me weep with joy at how lucky we were to be there. Continue reading

crockpotmeatballs

Sweet and Savory Crockpot Meatballs (Grape Jelly Meatballs)

Put Jelly in the What Now?

I like to pretend that I am in the know when it comes to what makes for a delicious dish and what makes for a dish worth open-hand throwing across the room.  If someone told me that the secret to killer crockpot meatballs was a jar of grape jelly, I’d probably spit out my filet mignon and make a mental note to never trust a single recommendation that person ever made.  And yet!  And yet!  Turns out those cocktail meatballs that I swooned over at every single potluck and holiday party were made with (you guessed it) grape ‘effin jelly.  That same vile stuff that I eschewed as the evil mistress of peanut butter in the PB and J.  And yes, I hate PB and J, but that’s for another day. Continue reading

lightenupmemorial

Lighten Up: Memorial Day BBQ Veg Out

Kicking Your Muffin Top’s Ass for America

Not that I’m one for reducing, but with the weather getting warmer and bathing suit season quickly approaching (Damn! It’s here!) my tummy starts craving veggies in a manic kind of way. And when the Memorial Day barbecue gets its flare on, I want to smother my plate with a mess of farm-fresh goodies in a salad extravaganza. I figure with enough luscious tomatoes, crisp greens and light and lovely lemony vinaigrette, my stomach will have enough wholesome veg to stave off the actions of the celebratory booze sloshing around my tummy without adding to the muffin-top. Fuck a muffin top. Regardless of any sort of dietary aims, this menu is a grand celebration of the season and a good use for any produce you’ve managed to grown on your own (or with the help of the local farmer’s market). Continue reading

chickenandwaffles

Buttermilk Fried Chicken with Butter Pecan Waffles

Chicken + Waffles + Booze = Inhalation

If you’ve not been turned on to the allure of the goodness that is chicken and waffles, now is your chance. Sweet and salty get sweaty in a tryst that goes hard through breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’m talking a slow jam of culinary perfection, with lacy spiced chicken batter playing against the buttery maple goodness of pecan waffles. It’s everything good on a plate, and well worth heating up some oil and firing up the waffle iron.

I like to get my waffle on as soon as possible, so I go with chicken tenders for faster cooking, and a syrup remix that is partially homemade and partially drunk. Yep, booze is invited to the party. You can’t be surprised. It’s my kitchen we’re talking about. Continue reading

Foodie for Life—Delicious to Death