Long Green Thing, You Make My Heart Sing
A Few New Ways To Use Avocados + Arugula
The cucuzza - known in my home as googootz - may be my very favorite squash. I anxiously await summer because I await its seasonal goodness. OK, the absolute truth, Italian woman’s honor, is that I anxiously await summer because I can finally say goodbye to pale Tina and hello to Turbo Tanning Tina AND THEN I can say hello to this sweet, long, green squash that reminds me of childhood.
Cucuzza is no ordinary squash, you see, it’s quite special being as it can grow up to 3 feet in length and, when cooked, maintains its shape (in our house we would say it doesn’t get mooshada) and has a slightly sweet taste. You can’t stew zucchini, it’ll get mooshada, but the cucuzza is meant to be stewed down with tomatoes, onions, olive oil and fresh basil if you have it on hand.
Another Day, Another Salad With Fish
If you’ve read anything I’ve ever written recently or in the past, you know I’m single and over buy produce - it’s my thing. I’m a well intentioned shopper and eater who is sometimes tempted by wine, crepes, a night out or sushi on my couch. Every week I buy what looks good at the market, what looks fresh, no real list - my only goal is to refresh my refrigerator with fresh food. And when I know my schedule won’t allow for much cooking or creating, I pick up my 5-10 ride or die items - you know, the foods I need to survive a busy week if I want to be able to function, poop and feel like a human without doing any cooking. Think sweet potatoes, greens and eggs.
Brunch + Thoughts From Bed
Canned fish has gotten me through the last 15 months of health coaching, substitute teaching, random production work, single lady, solo meal, low budget living. That was a mouthful. My love for canned fish runs deep, as deep as it does for good olives, 85% Lindt chocolate bars and $9.99 bottles of Malbec that I so happily entertain myself with on my fire escape (see photos below). We get one life, it should include canned fish, fine olives, chocolate and wine - right? I mean, if I'm not making out on a daily basis then I need to live a life where I eat and treat myself well. Although I cannot speak as to whether or not I will die from some sort of mercury or canned fish poisoning, I am staying on budget. All this wild canned fish must be great for my brain, with their omega 3's and my heart health. Now, if I could only figure out how to stop after glass #2 of wine and square #2 of chocolate, I'd be golden. I have, however, managed to not fall off of my fire escape yet.
Burger Salad Dinner Dreams
I dislike hollandaise sauce, but I love the idea of eggs benedict particularly for Sunday brunch. I am, however, English muffinless with no smoked salmon to be found in my fridge and lord knows I’m not going out in this NYC rain to shop. In my freezer I found one last wild salmon filet to defrost in cold water. You can also use canned wild salmon or smoked salmon, which I’ll be jelly if you do have it on reserve in your home ‘cause a hint of smoke in this would be the flavor boom. With a bunch of spinach to use before I leave for South Carolina next Saturday, this solo Sunday brunch was Brough together.
This meal was made with a few things in mind and here they are in no particular order, I think, although they may have some order because it’s all been on the brain. These thoughts happened at around 9am while I had coffee in bed.
Fake-Out Cold Sesame Noodles
Cooking on weeknights can be frustrating, tiring, blah, blah, blah. I know, I get it. I work too.
But a burger salad could be the solution to all of your weeknight cooking woes. Yes, it's true. 8 minutes to season and saute meat, and while that's happening you can chop your romaine, cucumbers, onions, cube feta and grab some olives.
Dinner is done.
Slow Cooker Chipotle Chicken
On Saturday night my father sent me a photo of my grandmother. This photo captured the essence of who she was as she stood in her element. Photographed standing over a table in the basement of our Brooklyn home, hair uncombed, glasses on, iron, scissors, clothes, and her sewing machine surrounding her - all I had to do was look at the photo and I could smell 1989. I've been thinking about childhood a lot. Teaching and being in a school daily brings back a flood of memories from my uncles, to mealtime, bouncing from house to house and visions of me sneaking food in the middle of the night.
Sweet + Salty PARTY NUTS!
Last Thursday I was walking home from work and took a terrible typical Tina tumble. It's been a while since I rolled an ankle and busted up my body, but I did a good job this time. It was common thing when I was heavier, I fell all of the time. I toppled, I tumbled, I twisted - this sounds like dancing but it was more like crashing ... down and off of Brooklyn sidewalk curbs.
There was no damage to my right knee, only crazy bruising. My right foot, also no damage, but the pain I've been having in my toes hasn't been my imagination - it's the onset of osteoarthritis. As an avid walker, this pains me, a my feet are my vehicle for movement - and knowing this is even more motivation to take care of this tank.
Dance With Flavor + Texture: Trick Your Mouth Into Complete Satisfaction
Sometimes I walk past those semi-dirty looking NYC street nut vendors and I wanna stop, but I say resist - Tina - resist. Lord knows what’s in those nuts and, let’s face it, they smell much better than they actually taste.
Bored of your same old same old mixed nut? You can feel super about this super combo of molasses (a great low GI sweetener) and maple syrup in this cinnamon spiced nut topped with flaked unsweetened coconut and non-pareils. Take that, street corner nut man with not so
Cooking Routines + Many Food Photos For Inspiration
At home, I tend to lean toward cooking food with A LOT of FLAVOR and A LOT of TEXTURE. I enjoy trying new spices and, in the past, did some writing for 2 NYC Food + Culture websites, Real Cheap Eats and City Spoonful. I co-wrote a piece on tacos, eating my way through every Mexican joint in Astoria one very hot, humid and thigh chafing summer. I spent a lot of my downtime exploring spices, traveling through Queens and back to my old neighborhood of Canarsie - once famed for their Italian salumerias and bakeries, bagels and babka - now houses a large West Indian/Caribbean population. It's through this eating and writing that I opened up my mind, palate and kitchen to cooking globally.
Beat That Beet Up
This past week of cooking wasn't unlike any other with the exception that I realized a few things about my routine. Over the last 17 years I've created a routine that I so steadfastly maintained to keep up my health, happiness, cooking curiosity and weight loss. After 3 months of teaching, 5am wake-ups and getting home at 4pm I now know that I don't need to apply my old routine from my old life to my new life. In my old life I got home most evenings stupid late and then I checked emails to even more stupid late hours (part neuroses, part necessity). I didn't have time or energy during the week for much of anything but boozing and walks, so I did my best to batch cook on Sundays to get me through lunches and freezer meals for dinner when I wanted and needed.
A Salad Less Ordinary + A 2 Ingredient Avocado Spread
A few weeks I bought my favorite pre-peeled and pre-cooked Gefen Organic Beets.
Why do I love these whole peeled, ready to eat, vacuum sealed, organic beets?
Because they are mess and hassle free, my weeknight lunch prepping and snacky friends.
Put them in a quick salad, eat them as is (I'm strange, I can snack on sweet beets and sometimes I crave exactly that) or turn them into your favorite dip.
Sweet Potato Noodles: From The Freestyle Cooking Files
I’ve been cooking quite a bit, but with the balancing of substitute teaching and coaching - recipe posting has taken a backseat for the moment. Waking at 5am and getting home at 4pm, although shorter than my corporate days are still somewhat anxiety filled (counting kids and making sure everyone is learning, getting along, practicing kindness and has not gone missing) but much more joyful.
Saying I’m ok with not writing and running myself ragged while I continue to take on new work and projects makes me proud, where as in the past I would have made myself feel terrible for not doing it all.
Maybe you’re thinking, why is this broad telling me this? Just gimme the recipe for that green stuff on that salad and I’ll be on my way …
Not Corned Beef + Cabbage
This morning I left my home in snow boots and a winter coat, but by the time I got out of school at 3pm I was greeted with melted snow and a sense of calm. Although I hear there is supposed to be a blast of snow yet, again, tomorrow and Sunday. Tonight’s dinner was inspired by the sunny NYC sky and my walk home. It’s been a minute since I made myself a dinner because I was down and out with the ills. Without a chance to do any shopping, but relying on my staples and produce from last week. So, what’s in this bright bowl of orange noodles?
Twisted Turkey Balls + Leftovers, It’s What’s For Dinner
I’ve been warding off the ills since Wednesday. The creep of a cough, sneezes in succession, ear buzzing and a runny nose - I told myself it was the onset of allergies. I popped a Zyrtek and told myself it was the onset of allergies knowing full well that tiny humans who put their hands in their mouths, fingers up their noses and wipe snots on their sleeves … touch me all day long. And you know what, I don’t even mind. I imagined going down this whole sub teaching path I’d be way more neurotic about sickness, being within close proximity to small beings and with the knowledge that all of my teacher friends are always - in some way - sick. I don’t have it in my heart to not let them tap my hand, high five or pinky promise even after said snot riot I speak of above. I simply remind them to cover their mouth when they cough, wash hands after sneezing and remind them how germs spread.
Meatless Monday: Radish Green + Spinach Pesto
Growing up Tuesday’s and Wednesday night meals were often Sunday reheats or leftovers. I always say that eating like a peasant never tasted so rich. Often times for dinner we ate stale bread with tomatoes, pasta with potatoes, canned tuna with olives and sauce, fagioli and leftover Sunday dinner bits and pieces. Our meals were home cooked every night of the week and rooted in preparation, leftovers and simplicity. This is how I developed my cooking style once I was able to understand how I was using food to support me emotionally. Now this process supports me emotionally, creatively and in an entirely new way.
A $15 Produce Refresh + This Week's Food Map
For tonights meatless Monday tribute, I’ve got zoodles with a new green sauce, but not just any green sauce. This pesto uses the greens from radishes, often times discarded without thought. So, next time you have a radish green, spare its life from the trash or compost and make it into a pesto. At the very least, toss it in your salad. They add another layer of flavor to any dish (saute it, process it, eat it raw) and cannot be beat when it comes to taste and their naturally peppery flavor which makes them quite ideal for a raw sauce like a pesto.
The Secret To Eating Well Is Keeping Things Simple + Saucy
I spent about $15 at the market to refresh my produce and I'll combine that with leftover produce, pantry items/staples to make meals throughout the week. Because of my teaching and coaching schedule I've been eating many, many more veggie based bowls lately. Lots of colors layered with whole grains, sauces for flavor and in the evenings mainly soups/salads and toasts with avocado or hummus.
This is a system that's been working for me and to be wholly honest I probably wouldn't be cooking in such volume for myself if I wasn't trying to keep my food costs down.
Bless Up, Frozen Fruit + Microwaves
Routine is wonderful and keeps us in check, but stepping outside of our comfort zone is essential for growth - in life and food. And keeping things saucy is certainly one of my secrets to making meals consistently fun and tasty. I don’t know if I could eat chicken, rice and broccoli or the same one pot meal over and over again throughout the week - not without some special sauces.
If you like the kitchen and if you don’t mind getting in it, dare to keep it saucy.
Not Your Mother’s Balls
You too can make berry bright breakfasts on a Thursday by ...
Taking frozen fruit to a level 5 breakfast in 5 minutes!
- Defrost 1 cup of mixed frozen berries
- Combine 1 tsp each peanut butter + maple syrup in a small bowl
Now, I’m going to tell you to put that mixture in the microwave, you know why?
I grew up eating Sunday sauce with a family where we connected folding tables in a basement, ate meals bumping elbows and talking with our mouths full. We fought for freshly fried meatballs and seconds at the table. Obtaining the final meatball could be likened to winning the WWF heavyweight championship title belt.