Dinner with the Works

Dinner with the works: another 3 course meal courtesy of Nicolette and I. Our entree for tonight is Hot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches. Now this may sound odd, especially since I’m an American, but I have never had buffalo wings. I know, I know, I’ve eaten some weird exotic stuff like calamari, but not the simple all-American classics like buffalo wings. Although this is a sandwich and not wings, it pretty much has the same concept; especially since it is served with a blue cheese sauce…which I’m kinda scared about because I’m not a fan of  blue cheese…needless to say, I’m praying I like this recipe. Our side dish of the night is Super Stuffed Potatoes with the Works. Who doesn’t love potatoes? I had no fear with this recipe…okay maybe a little since I’m not a bacon fan. See I told you I’m so un-American because I dislike so many American foods. Anyway, the final dish, and our dessert for the night is Orange Sherbet Freezes. We will be eating like true Americans tonight.

Flashback to yesterday (Tuesday). I went on my normal excursion to Trader Joe’s for the ingredients. My trip was going as it usually does: I find most things, but not everything. Nothing out of the ordinary…until I reach the cash register. I always have some great conversations with the cashiers, because I’m a friendly person, so this talk at the register starts out like any other. “yeah I’m a student at FIT….yadadada” he told me about himself “yeah, I live in queens…yadadada” whatever, typical small talk. The only different thing was this cashier asked for my number. I just didn’t know what to do in the moment because I didn’t want to be mean, so I gave it to him. Way to go, Mare. He texted me later but I didn’t answer…oops. I hope I don’t get him as a cashier again because that would be aaawwwwwkkkkkwwwaaarrrrddd.

I carried my groceries home before I went to Fairway because my bag was extremely heavy. If I would’ve gone to Fairway first, I never would’ve been able to lift my bag. So, I drop everything off at home then head back out. Thank God Fairway had everything. Shopping wasn’t that bad this time. Eventful for sure, but not terrible.

Flash forward to today (Wednesday). Nicolette doesn’t get out of class until 6:30, but I started without her….kinda. To my loyal blog readers, I’m sure you remember the last time we made stuffed potatoes: the recipe said to cook the potatoes in the microwave for 12 minutes….well after 24 minutes in the microwave the potatoes still didn’t cook, so I was not messing with that this time around. I preheated the oven to 450 degrees and threw those potatoes in there for almost an hour. I knew they’d actually cook this time, even if it did take longer.

Nicolette came over and we got cooking. We went back and forth between working on the potato recipe and the chicken. It always seems like Nicolette is the chopper, although after last week she told me if there was garlic that I had to cut it from now on since her hands smell like garlic for days after we cook. Luckily, there was no garlic in this recipe, and no extreme amounts of chopping. I cooked the bacon, and almost cooked it in evoo, but Nic told me not to because it’s already fatty enough. Thank God for her, she always sets me straight while cooking.

River came over to “help” (aka chill and watch) us cook. I love the extra company though. While I cooked the chicken, Nicolette made the blue cheese sauce, the hot sauce marinade, and the stuffing for the potatoes. She was on a roll today. We still had the same issue with the potatoes as last time: it was hard to scrape the insides out. We ended up with one beautiful potato (pictured) and one destroyed potato…but we almost had no potatoes because I almost dropped them in the oven. I should never be responsible of taking them out of the oven when we only have one oven mit because I have weak wrists. Yeah, yeah I know you’re all thinking “excuses, excuses.” but forreal! I could never be a waitress because I’d just drop everything thanks to the twigs I call wrists.

The marinade for the chicken was SPICY. it just consisted of hot sauce and butter. River kept saying that the hot sauce we used was deadly. He was already sweating over it before we were ready to eat.

Everything smelled yummy and we prepared our sandwiches with the chicken, lettuce, and a nice slather of the blue cheese sauce on the bun. The potatoes were quickly browned to perfection and it was time for the moment of truth.

3…2…1! Yum-o! the first bite of the chicken wasn’t extremely spicy, even though River built up the hype that it would be like walking into a volcano. He felt like it was hot as hell, though, and had to run over to his room the get some milk. As for Nicolette and I, we didn’t feel like the spiciness was overwhelming. In fact, the blue cheese sauce balanced and canceled out the spice very nicely. It was a fine and dandy sandwich to eat…until about halfway through. You know when you absolutely love something at first, but then it gets funky? That’s what happened with this. The chicken was still good, don’t get me wrong, but the sauce just got weird and gross really quickly. The potatoes on the other hand…. Let the angelic choir sing because that was something straight from heaven. My potato was ginormous and I was full to bursting halfway through eating it but it was so good that I couldn’t stop eating. I could’ve actually died from bursting but I would’ve been okay with it because that potato was that delicious.

We had to wait about a half hour after finishing dinner so we could digest our food to make and eat the dessert because we were so stuffed. The  Orange Sherbet Freezes had 3 simple ingredients: vanilla ice cream, orange sherbet, and lemon-lime soda. Of course when I opened the soda it exploded everywhere. I just called that that would happen. It was an easy clean up though, and an easy dessert to make. Morgan, Ashley, and Jenny all came over to enjoy this refreshing dessert.

Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite part: rating the food. the Hot Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches receive ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. It was great at first, like I said, but there was something about the blue cheese sauce that made it so unappetizing. At least I was able to give the leftover sauce to Adrian so it wouldn’t go to waist. the Super Stuffed Potatoes with the Works receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. I have never tasted such deliciously amazing potatoes in my life. After eating them I hope I will be full for the remainder of this week. Finally, the Orange Sherbet Freezes receive ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts because it was a refreshing ending to this meal, and everyone enjoyed them! My stomach was and is still very happy even three hours after I finished eating. Rachael Ray: please don’t make me fat from all of your good food. That’s all I ask!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

Anna Maria’s Greek Shrimp and Feta Penne

Oh, Rachael Ray, you know how I love pasta. I knew from the start that this pasta dish would be delicious because seafood makes everything better. Anna Maria’s Greek Shrimp and Feta Pasta. I don’t recall ever trying feta cheese before, but it’s cheese and all cheese is good. New cheese, new pasta, new food: that’s what this cooking blog is all about, trying new food and making new memories. It’s that time to make another delicious memory.

It has been another extremely busy week for me and I’m very surprised I had the time to run to the grocery store today. I headed to Trader Joe’s around 1:45 and praise God the store was not busy at all. It’s nice to be able to shop without feeling like I’m stuck in traffic trying to make it over to the produce section. I wasn’t able to pick up all the ingredients I needed…what a surprise. Although, everything that I bought at Trader Joe’s totaled to only $11, so I was pretty pumped thinking that I’d be eating like a queen with spending little money.

I was debating on going to Fairway or Whole Foods, and I couldn’t make up my mind. The cross walk signs ended up deciding for me because I am very impatient waiting for them to change. I ended up going to Whole Foods. I only needed 3 more ingredients: crushed tomatoes, oregano, and 2 pounds of shrimp. I spoke too soon about having a cheap meal because the shrimp was 30 FREAKING DOLLARS. Why is shrimp so expensive?! That got me a little upset, but I can’t let my readers or my stomach down so I payed without complaint. Whole Foods didn’t have fresh oregano either, so Nicolette was able to run out and find some since I did not have the time to do it myself. She truly is a lifesaver.

Fast forward to 9 pm. After 4 long hours of apartment searching, I headed home to finally start cooking. Nicolette and I immediately got to work. I spent most of my time ripping the tails off of the shrimp and Nicolette was on stove duty this week. I swear we get better and better at this whole cooking thing because we cook faster and faster every week. We actually got done within 30 minutes!

We were beyond ready for the moment of truth. We scooped our pasta into our bowls and 3…2…1… no words. The pasta was definitely worth the long wait tonight. All the flavors meshed perfectly together (like they always do because Rachael Ray is a genius.)

Our friend Morgan remembered that we were cooking and she sprinted down the hall to try some. Once the pasta graced her taste buds she just about fell out of her chair from how good it was. She just kept repeating over and over “this is soooooo good.”

As far as rating goes, this one was so easy. Anna Maria’s Greek Shrimp and Feta Penne receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts! This dish is easily comparable to Pasta with Pumpkin and Sausage. Both recipes are by far the best pasta dishes I have ever consumed. Rachael Ray really hit it out of the ball park with this one. I also have enough leftovers to feed a small army for about 3 weeks, but I’ll eat it all by myself in 5 days #fatass and proud of it. Thank you Rachael Ray!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Pasta, pasta, pasta! As I have stated in the past Rachael Ray has really made me fall in love with pasta. This weeks recipe included a picture, which makes me so happy…especially when the picture looks delicious; it gives you that feeling where you know that what you’re about to make is going to rock your socks off. This pasta dish is carbonara….let me rephrase that. The actual name of the recipe is: The Only Recipe You Need: Carbonara. Nicolette just about shit herself when she found out we were making carbonara because she LOVES it. This week also came with dessert: Sugared Stone Fruits with Cookies and Cream. Time to find out if this carbonara recipe really is the only recipe I need.

This week has been one of the busiest weeks of the semester by far. I’ve had countless papers and assignments due, so I was pretty happy when I saw that my grocery list was extremely small this week. In between classes and apartment shopping I decided to change things up and go to Whole Foods first. I was surprised that I wasn’t able to find everything on my list, and I didn’t have the time to go to another grocery store before cooking, so I asked Nicolette to pick up the last few ingredients. Thank God for her, she is a lifesaver.

So, today at 6:30 we got cooking. We were preparing to boil water, when a glass shattered out of nowhere. We were pretty confused, but quickly cleaned it up. We decided to get the dessert ready first. The recipe called for peaches, apricots, and plums, but we weren’t able to find apricots at the store so we just used peaches and plums. The peaches were kind of funky looking, not gonna lie, but we just played it off and hoped for the best. Once we sliced the fruit, we sprinkled it with sugar and let it in the fridge to chill.

Onto the main course. I know I say this a lot, but honestly this was the all time EASIEST (and quickest) recipe to make. Garlic, pancetta, evoo, wine, and done. mixed the sauce (if you could call that a sauce) with the pasta and voila! Bon appétit.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s already time for the moment of truth. 3..2..1..very good, very good. This pasta was flavorful and had a certain spicy kick to it, which is a staple in all of Rachael Ray’s recipes. We pretty much inhaled our pasta; it was gone in a flash.

We took out our chilled fruit, added some heavy cream, and crumbled some sugar cookies over top. It looked extremely unappetizing (as you can see by the picture) but wasn’t too shabby.The peaches in the dessert were meh, but the plums were good. It definitely was not your traditional dessert, but it was a nice cherry on top of dinner.

As for rating the food…ugh always so difficult. The Only Recipe You Need: Carbonara receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. Delicious, but not the only recipe I need. I’d get sick of this pretty quickly if it was the only recipe I had. As for the Sugared Stone Fruits with Cookies and Cream, that receives ♥♥ (2) hearts. It probably would’ve been better if the fruit was actually in season. I can see it being a very good summer dessert.

Sorry about the short post this week, it appears these recipes were very uneventful. I’m hoping for more excitement next time. I hope you all are becoming inspired to cook! Thanks for reading, xoxo

Until Next Week!

-Mary Honkus

Weekday Fiesta

¡Ay Caramba! Another week, another set of Mexican recipes from Rachael Ray. This woman really has a thing for Mexican food, and I commend her for coming up with so many of these delicious ethnic recipes. When Rachael Ray is craving Mexican she makes a new recipe. When everyone else craves Mexican they go to Chipotle. I usually just follow the Chipotle train, but not tonight. I am having a Weekday Fiesta (OLAY!) which consists of: Rio Grande Spice Rub Strip Steaks, Cracked Corn and Cheese Squares, and Mexican Fiesta Salad. ¡Consigamos de cocinar ! (That means lets get cooking in Spanish…according to Google Translate).

This week’s adventure started yesterday (Tuesday) with my trip to Trader Joe’s. I had a buddy who accompanied me on this trip: one of my good friends, George. George had a break between classes and offered to go to the store with me. He met me outside my dorm and we walked to Trader Joe’s together. George lives on Long Island and had never been to a Trader Joe’s in Manhattan before…needless to say he was shocked, just like everyone else’s reaction when they first enter the store. At first, I pushed the cart and he read off the list of ingredients I needed, but that was killing my groove so I made him push the cart. I felt like a mom telling him where to go; I even led the cart from the front like a mom would. About halfway through the trip he was really questioning why he came and kept saying “you better save some steak for me.” He lost it whenever I told him to park himself somewhere, and so he left. That wasn’t the only reason he left, though, his class also started in 10 minutes (he wasn’t actually mad at me, he never gets mad at me cause I’m awesome). It’s funny, for the only reason he came with me was because he wanted to be a super hero and carry my bag of heavy groceries home. Curse the long line of Trader Joe’s, but thank God my grocery bag wasn’t heavy this trip.

Of course there were a few things I couldn’t get at Trader Joe’s so I stopped by Fairway for two specific spices. I was surprised both stores were out of cilantro, but I was not in the mood to go to Whole Foods and decided to pick up the last ingredient on Wednesday.

Fast forward to today (Wednesday). I had an hour break from 2-3 so I ran some errands. One of the errands was to pick up cilantro at Whole Foods. I picked the worst time of day to go because the check out lines were insane! Not as insane as Trader Joe’s, but still ridiculous. I made it back just in time for my 3 o’clock class. Phew.

After class I had to run two more errands before it was cooking time. I mistakenly bought a spice from Trader Joe’s that I already had, so I returned it. Then I ran to Bed Bath & Beyond for a glass baking dish. I was so unbelievably happy because I purchased a value pack of 4 different sized glass dishes. It was like Christmas morning for me. Nothing makes me happier than new kitchen supplies. NOTHING.

It was somewhat of a struggle carrying the set home 8 blocks… I have no upper body strength, and was dripping sweat on the way home. Workout of the day: complete thanks to my new dish set.

As soon as I got home, Nicolette came over and we got to cooking. First we made the batter for the Cracked Corn and Cheese Squares. We threw in so much cheese, then put it in the oven. Mmmm I love cheese, so I was pumped to eat the squares.

Next, Nicolette prepared the salad and I prepared the steaks. The amount of spice I put on the steaks freaked me out a bit. I was basically setting my mouth up for a 5-alarm fire. I rubbed 4 different spices into the steaks: ancho chili powder, cumin, coriander, and cayenne pepper. HOT HOT HOT.

Guess who was ecstatic to use the stove this week…that’s right, me. You know why? Because maintenance finally fixed our front burner. HALLELUIAH. This burner had literally been broken since October. To finally have a fully working stove was a God sent gift. Looking back now…I didn’t even use the fixed burner tonight, but I was still so happy that it was fixed.

As I cooked the steaks, Nicolette worked on the salad. I don’t even want to call it a salad because it was just some avocado and tomato wedges piled on a plate and drizzled with lime. I don’t know, to me that is not a salad, just a plate piled with some Mexican-ish veggies. Whatever.

Well, everything was finished at just about the same time. We piled our plates with steak, onions, salad, and cracked corn and cheese squares. As we scooped the squares out of the dish, all of the cheese oozed out. It was truly a beautiful sight. After cutting the steak, we realized that 5 minutes on each side was not enough time, so we put the steaks back on the stove for about 2 minutes.

Now it was time for the moment of truth…well almost. Nicolette touched her finger to her steak then onto her mouth and started gagging because of the spice…

Nicolette’s gagging scared both of us, so I poured us glasses of water. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying any attention while I was pouring and I overfilled my cup. It seemed as if we would never get to try our meal. We mopped up the water, and then, after a bit of a delay it was time for the moment of truth.

3..2..1….YUM YUM YUM DELICIOSO. The steak was nowhere near too spicy, it had the perfect subtle kick to it. The cracked corn and cheese squares…don’t even get me started on those…MMM. They were slightly sweet and complimented the spiciness of the steaks to a T. As for the salad…It was an avocado drenched in lime juice. Can you really call that a salad? I mean, I ate it and it was good, but is that really a salad? I don’t think so. At least it fit the Mexican theme.

After Nicolette and I cleaned up, she treated me to frozen yogurt…she is the best sous chef ever. I wouldn’t want anyone else cooking by my side.

Now here we have another Mexican fiesta to rate. I swear, the Mexican recipes are always the hardest (or easiest?) to rate because they are consistently delicious. Let’s start with the steaks. I’d give the Rio Grande Spice Rub Strip Steaks ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. I can’t complain about them. Like I said above, they had the right amount of spice. This recipe would’ve received 5 hearts if we wouldn’t have had to throw them back on the stove to cook some more. I’m learning that with Rachael’s recipes, about 5 more minutes of cook time needs to be added. Nicolette and I both gave the Cracked Corn and Cheese Squares ♥♥♥♥♥(5) stars. All I can say is it really brought out the essence of Mexican food and when I put a square in my mouth, my taste buds began to salsa dance. Lastly, the Mexican Fiesta Salad receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. I’m still so confused on how this was a salad??? That was the lamest salad ever, but it still tasted good, so I’ll give it a thumbs up for flavor. I can definitely see why Rachael Ray has so many Mexican recipes: she is hellah good at creating them. I want to thank her for exposing me to food from such a beautiful culture. I look forward to my next fiesta meal. Gracias, Rachael Ray, mucho gracias.

P.S. As I was writing this blog post, my friends Chela and Morgan came in asking to try the food. I took the steak and cheese squares down to Chela’s room so Purple Ashley could have some too. I swear, the way they ate the squares looked as if they were malnourished children and this was the first food they had seen in weeks! I had to pry the dish out of their hands to get them to stop eating my squares, they were hypnotized by the taste. Morgan had some steak and she fell in love with it too. I guess if a career in advertising doesn’t work out for me, I could always become a cook!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus