For the new kid in the kitchen…

Lunch/Dinner

Stuffed Shrooms

Stuffed Potabella Mushrooms

Simple but vital life lesson: The best way to make something that’s already delicious even better, is to stuff it with even more tasty ingredients and then cover it in olive oil. Case-in-point – Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms. Make these as an appetizer, serve them as a side dish, or serve them as a main course… JUST MAKE THEM.

If you’re looking for an easy, healthy, and quick vegetarian main dish, then this recipe is perfect for you. There are a number of food myths circulating that mushrooms have little nutritional value, but my friends that is just not true.

Because mushrooms have such a high water-content percentage, they are also quite low in calories, racking up just about 100 cal./oz. Additionally, portabello mushrooms are loaded with potassium, a vitamin great for lowering high blood pressure and preventing stroke. One medium mushroom has even more potassium than a whole banana! If you’re not convinced yet, then it might help to know that mushrooms are also loaded with a powerful antioxidant called Selenium, which may help reduce youre likelihood of getting cancer.

That’s more than enough nutritional info for now, let’s keep the Novice Noms mission in mind. The most important fact about mushrooms is that they can be delicious! This recipe takes a little more prep work than some of my previous posts, but I think you guys are up for the challenge.

Ingredients

  • 2 Large portabella mushrooms
  • 1 cup diced onion (do you remember my lesson on chopping them?)
  • 2 cloves diced Garlic
  • 3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (or bread matzo crumbs if you’re like me this week)
  • 1/2 cup spinach
  • Enough olive oil to coat the bottom of your shrooms

Lets get cooking

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Take the stems off your mushrooms and clean out the gills with a spoon (instructional video here).
  3. In a frying pan cook down your onions, garlic,  mushrooms and spinach. Be sure to add the spinach for only the last few minutes, as it cooks down very quickly.
  4. Add your cream cheese and bread crumbs to the pan and mix it in until fully combined.
  5. Dispense your mixture into your portabella tops and place them on a baking tray
  6. Toss them in your oven for about 20 minutes (or until the mushrooms are completely cooked).

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do. I recommend serving this dish up with some sweet potatoes and salad for an easy and irresistibly healthy meal.

Until next time, Enjoy!

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Olive Oil Makes Everything Better


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I guess you could say that I am to extra virgin olive oil, what Paula Deen is to butter… a FANATIC! Aside from cake, pickles, and Cheetos, just about anything can be made better with a little EVOO (Thanks for the annoyingly simple nickname Rachael Ray).

So you’re probably wondering, what makes olive oil so much better than butter, or any other type of oil? They all do the same thing don’t they?

NOPE.

In addition to being an anti-inflammatory, containing healthy fats, protecting against heart disease, and perhaps even helping to prevent colon cancer, olive oil can be easier to cook with! Because olive oil has a higher smoke point, it can be used with higher heat without burning. This results in a flavorful food that crisps without burning. To help you substitute olive oil in for butter, here’s a nifty conversion chart.

To get your started on your olive oil endeavors, I want to give you a few of my favorite recipes to try. Each one only contains two ingredients (one of which is… you guessed it… olive oil!). Doesn’t get much easier than that…

  • Roasted Garlic

Cut the top off you bulb of garlic, exposing part of each clove. Place on a lightly oiled pan and drizzle the top with more oil, covering the bulb entirely. Cover with tin foil and back at 400 degrees for about 40 minutes. Scoop the cloves out and spread on just about anything (French bread is my favorite). Extra garlic should last about a week in the fridge.

  • Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Lightly cover a baking sheet with olive oil, then toss you halved brussel sprouts in more olive oil. Sprinkle on a dash of salt and pepper if you wish and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes. I urge any and all brussel sprout skeptics to try this recipe. It may just change your outlook on life (or at least vegetables).

  • Sweet Potato Hash

See my earlier post for complete instructions. Just dice up sweet potato, coat in olive oil, and cook in a pan until browned and soft.

The list doesn’t end here people. Go out and experiment on your own! Let me know what works and what doesn’t. And as always, Enjoy!

*** BONUS ***

Some Grad school friends and I decided to make a BU COM parody of Rebecca Black’s Friday. You should probably check it out and laugh at my horrible dancing skills… Click here!


Cinco de Salsa

Image compliments of http://www.AwardWinningSalsa.com

Despite how delicious last week’s Taco Soup post was, my Mexican craving has yet to be fully satiated. So, in honor of Cinco de April, I present to you Cinco de Salsa! 5 easy must-know salsa recipes that you can break out on any occasion!

The great thing about salsa is how versatile it is. You can throw it on top of just about anything to spice up your meal. Personally, I enjoy grilled cheese with tomato salsa, or baked tilapia with corn salsa… but really the options are endless.

Because this little concoction can be mixed up in an endless array or varieties, I’ve decided to start you novice chefs off with 5 basic, easy, and delectable variations (each of which is a slightly tinkered with random recipe that I found online). Feel free to change up the recipes to make them to your liking… anything goes with salsa!

Tricks of the trade:

  • Any time you use jalapeno peppers make sure you remove the seeds! If you skip this step you will be in for one fiery and unpleasant surprise.
  • Make sure you pick avocados that are ripe. This will ensure full flavor, and easier removal from shell. To test this out, search for avocados that are a deep purple cover and slightly soft to the touch.
  • Size matters. The degree to which you chop your ingredients affects both flavor and texture. Finer dices make ingredients blend in more, while larger cuts will allow ingredients to taste more bold.

Uno: Pineapple Salsa

–       Good with Fish, Pork, Chicken, or Chips

  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 squirt lime juice
  • salt to taste

Dos: Corn Salsa

–       Good with chips, chicken, beef, or pork

  • 2 large cans of sweet yellow corn
  • 2 diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 finely chopped red onion
  • 1 diced scallion
  • 1 diced jalapeño (remove seeds or your mouth will be on fire)
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 2 squirts of lime juice
  • chili powder to taste
  • salt to taste

Tres: Straight up Salsa

–       Good with anything!

  • 4 diced red tomatoes
  • 3 diced jalapeno peppers
  • 4 minced cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup diced white onion
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Cuatro: Black Bean Salsa

–       Good with chips, beef, and chicken

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can sweet whole kernel corn
  • 2 diced red tomatoes
  • 1 diced avocado
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1/8 chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 squirts lime juice
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Cinco: Avocado Salsa

–       Good with chips and chicken

  • large ripe avocado
  • 1 large chopped red tomato
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 squirt lime juice
  • 2 tsp minced jalapeño pepper
  • 1 minced clove garlic
  • Salt to taste

Get out there and start chopping! Which salsa is your favorite? Do you have any recipes you like that I haven’t included? I wanna hear from you!

Until next post, enjoy!


Fiesta in a Bowl

A fiesta in your mouth!

Do you like tacos? Do you like soup? Let’s be honest… who doesn’t?

While I love going down the line at Chipotle and picking out custom ingredients  to stuff an over-sized burrito with just as much as the next person, I’ve been needing a break from my basic “Mexican” regimen. Since it’s the beginning of April, and it still managed to snow last weekend, I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that a nice hearty bowl of soup is still a great dinner option.

From start to finish the prep time for this delicious little dish takes less than 10 minutes . Not to mention, the hardest part of the recipe is waiting while your soup develops flavors and cooks down. I must warn you however, the aroma produced by this soup is quite irresistible. If you’re house is anything like mine, this might lead to frequent walk-by tasting from roommates (this isn’t a bad thing, seeing as this recipe makes PLENTY to share).

Here’s what you need

1 can tomato paste

2 cans water (use tomato paste can to measure)

2 cans milk (use tomato paste can to measure)

1 can black beans

1 can diced tomato

1 can kidney beans

1 packet of taco seasonings

1 onion (diced)

Cheddar cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or chips for topping (optional – but highly recommended)

Cooking steps:

  • In a large pan cook your onions with a little olive oil until they start to get transparent.
  • Add your ground meat (or ground meat substitute) to the pan and cook until browned.
  • While your meat and onions are cooking, add your tomato paste, water, and milk to a large pot and slowly heat and stir until the ingredients are combined.
  • Add the meat, onions, beans, diced tomato, and taco mix to the pot and stir to combine.
  • Let cook on low heat for 30 minutes or so, stirring about every 10 minutes.
  • If desired, let the soup cook longer to develop your flavors a little more (I let mine go for at least an hour)
  • Throw in a bowl, top with cheese, sour cream, guacamole, or tortilla chips and serve.

I guarantee this little soup recipe will have you going loco in no time.  Enjoy!

*** Bonus Cocktail Recommendation: White Cactus

  • 1 Ounce of your finest tequila (or more… why not?)
  • 1 Dash of lime juice
  • Ginger ale
  • Lime for garnish or salt for the rim of your glass if so desired

White Cactus: A cocktail favorite amongst my friends and I

This perfect little Margarita-esque beverage is a great way to add even more fiesta to your Mexican themed dinner.


Not Just OK PB&J

Pictured above: Banana Bonanza and Breakfast PB & J

Who doesn’t love that classic childhood favorite – the PB & J sandwich. It’s cheap, quick, and easy… all of which are Novice Noms necessities. I’m pretty sure that PB & J made an appearance in my lunchbox at least 4 times a week back when I was in elementary school. As a kid I basically DEMANDED that my PB & J was made using white bread, creamy peanut butter, and grape jelly. If someone had slipped me wheat bread with crunchy peanut butter and raspberry preserves, it would have been game over. No thanks. Take that gourmet creation away!

Now that my taste buds and I are all grown up, isn’t it time to give this simple little sandwich some pizazz? Now I know I’m not the first to
try to spruce up this dynamic duo. A company  named Peanut Butter & Co. has gone as far as to create flavored peanut butter spreads, and even open up a restaurant in NYC that specializes in custom PB & J creations. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve salivated over their menu a number of times. Like most people however, I cant just pick up and go to NYC every time I get a craving for a bite of my childhood.

Not to fear people! There is an easy solution to this. All we need to do it get a little crafty at home, and see if we cant come up with a few of our own delectable creations. With PB & J, just about anything goes, but I want to offer up a few of my favorite variations just to get your brainstorming started.

Just a general tip to keep in mind as you concoct:

  1. Think about both flavor and texture. I love adding a little crunch to my PB & J.
  2. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Peanut butter and Cayenne pepper… why not!
  3. Almost any PB & J sandwich tastes better toasted. I promise.
  4. Try new breads, bagels, English muffins, waffles… etc…

Novice Noms PB &J Variations

  • The Hiker: PB, J, assorted nuts, dried fruit, and m&ms
  • Breakfast PB & J: PB, J, cereal of choice (I prefer raisin bran)
  • Banana Bonanza: PB, banana chips (or regular banana’s for less crunch), cinnamon, oatmeal, and honey
  • PB & J French toast: Traditional PB & J, dunked in eggs and cooked like french toast
  • PB Chocolate Sinner: PB, Nutella, crushed chocolate chip cookies
  • Fall Harvest: PB, thin apple slices, cinnamon
  • Big Bad Breakfast: PB, fried egg, bacon (warning this sandwich is delicious but may instantly clog your arteries)
  • Peanut Butter Joy: PB, Nutella, and coconut flakes
  • Jelly and Schmear : Jelly and cream cheese

That’s all I have for now. Try one of these tasty combos or get out there and star creating your own. Leave a comment and let us know if you come up with any great new ideas! I’d love to hear from you.

Also, just wanted to say a quick thank you to all my readers. We passed 1,000 hits this week! I really appreciate all the support and feedback you guys have given me!

Until next time, enjoy peanut butter and jelly time!


Painless Parm

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For today’s easy recipe I wanted to do a dish in honor of a traditional family dinner.  Maybe I’m just feeling extra sentimental, or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been stuck with my family all week, but either way this is a great recipe to bring people together (Sidenote: I think anything smothered in melted cheese brings people together).

While I pride myself on being from a Jewish family that loves to cook, I often look to another ethnicity for inspiration when it comes to giant family meals… as such, today Novice Noms declares Viva l’Italiano!

I’ve tinkered with several recipe options and have produced an easy Chicken Parmesan recipe that will have you, and your dinner guests, feeling both full and happy. So without further adieu, Let’s dive into this Italian masterpiece …and i assure you, I will do all of this without even one reference to the Godfather or Good Fellas.

Breading Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (or panko)
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • A generous dash of salt, pepper, oregano, basil, and garlic powder

All Other Ingredients

  • 4 chicken fillets
  • Mozzarella cheese slices
  • Tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs

Let’s start cooking already!

  1. Sandwiching your chicken between a cutting board and saran wrap, pound your fillets into 1/4 in. slabs (keep these thin and uniform to minimize cook time and maximize even cooking).  A mallet is recommended for this, but I found that any tool available will do. Personally, I used a rolling pin. ALSO, I found that this was one of the best stress relievers that cooking offers. Just pretend that chicken is your unruly co-workers, or homework, or whatever else is currently irking you.
  2. Once you have achieved flat chicken (and inner peace), whip together together your eggs in a separate bowl and dunk each fillet in (use whites only for a healthier option).
  3. In a shallow tray mix your dry ingredients, then coat each side of your fillets in this concoction.
  4. In a large frying pan heat your olive oil then place your fillets in.
  5. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until the breast is fully cooked in the middle.
  6. Place on a separate tray and cover in tomato sauce and sliced mozzarella.
  7. Broil for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese is fully melted.

There you have it folks, an easy classic Italian favorite. So crack open a bottle of red wine, boil up some pasta, and invite  some family and friends over for some Chicken Parm that they won’t be able to refuse (ok, i slipped… one Godfathers reference).


Pizza Bites Done Right

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I would be lying if I didn’t say this was hands down my favorite recipe that I have made to-date. Yup, that’s right… I’m talking about easy pizza bites! Do I really need to spend time convincing you to try to make these. They are ridiculously simple balls of pizza dough filled with oozing cheese and sauce, and they are as close to a religious experience as food can bring you. Hell, I’d go as far as to say that these might very well replace money as world currency some day.

Are you hooked yet? Have I convinced you to try this recipe? If not, then really… it’s just your loss. But, for my beginner chefs who want to try out this absurdly easy dish, let’s not waste any more time in  getting started.

What you need:

  1. Pizza dough
  2. Pizza sauce
  3. Mozzarella cheese
  4. Olive oil
  5. Some thyme, basil, garlic powder, or oregano (if you’re feeling fancy).

Let the Magic Begin:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray down a small 8 x 8 baking pan with non-stick spray.
  • Break off a small ball of dough (using flour to de-stickify it helps) and press it into a flat square-like patch.
  • Place a dab of pizza sauce in the middle, and a small chunk of mozzarella cheese on top of that.
  • Pull out the two diagonal corners of the dough and pinch them together, then repeat with the remaining two corners. If a little sauce ends up outside of the ball, no problem… the counter was all but covered in cheese, sauce, and flour when I made these, but they still tasted AMAZING.
  • Place the ball seam-side down in the baking pan.
  • Repeat until you run out of dough or have fill the pan (If you run out of space in the pan before you run out of dough, by God get another pan! Don’t waste a single bite… they’re just too good).
  • Once all your pizza bites are in the pan, dab the tops of them with a little olive oil. Sprinkle a light layer of your seasonings and then follow with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.
  • If you’re bites seem messy or uneven and small – no worries. When they bake the dough expands and they even out.
  • Bake for 20 min.
  • Consume

I feel the need to clarify this last step. Just saying “consume” doesn’t begin to do these justice. What I meant to say was pull each doughy little bite apart one by one, letting the cheese ooze out of them as you take each perfectly proportioned bite. Ok, you know what. That’s it. I don’t even want to write this any more. I need to go make another batch immediately…