Category Archives: Uncategorized

Destination: Couch

Everyone has those days where all they want to do is come home, and curl up in front of the TV with their dinner and have a nice, chill night. That’s all I wanted to do today after the weekend I had, and because my sophomore year of college is officially over!! What better way to celebrate than with a lazy dinner of Super-Stuffed French Bread Pizza Rustica, and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip with Chips and Veggies. Let’s get cooking!

After last week’s visit to Trader Joe’s on a Sunday, I figured this Sunday trip would be just as easy, but I should’ve guessed it all depends on the time of day — and man, did I choose the wrong time. I went to Trader Joe’s at 5pm and the place was PACKED. I did most of my shopping in the line that wrapped the whole way around the upper level. I felt like I was never going to get out of the store. Luckily I did, only to do the exact same thing at Fairway. I waited for my turn at the deli counter for almost 20 minutes!! I had better things to do than wait for a half a pound of sweet sopressata (like go chill on my friends rooftop) but these are the things I do for my loyal EVOOers…what is my life?

The trip home from the grocery store was also a stressful one. Lately downtown trains have only been running express on the weekends so I had to go all the way to times square then transfer to an uptown train to get back to 50th street. Talk about a pain when you’re carrying about 20 pounds of groceries. Whatever.

I actually had a friend come cook with me tonight for the first time in AGES!! I forgot how amazing it was to have a cooking buddy. Martina came over and even brought some ingredients — she’s the real OG man.

In the past when Martina has cooked with me, “cook” has been a relative term — usually she supervises, but tonight she actually partook in the cooking! We chopped everything together and caught up on our pretty much nonexistent love lives. I started to cook the pizza filling while Martina cut the bread, but it should’ve been the other way around because she completely butchered the bread. Our pizza crust was almost ruined, but I swooped in to save the day and we switched cooking stations.

When the filling was done we stuffed out *saved* crusts, and topped them off with mounds of mozzarella then tossed them in the oven. While our pizzas cooked, we made the dip. I almost forgot I had my ratchet food processor, but it made an appearance tonight. I’m amazed that the piece of cardboard shoved into the slot does the trick, but that’s what you get from a cheap kitchen tool. All the ingredients were quickly processed into a lovely smooth dip, and by the time that was complete our pizzas were done too!


Like the title of this menu says, our destination was the couch for this meal and we finally had our moment of truth. 3…2…1…OOOOO yes. This was exactly what my taste buds and stomach needed. It may not be a New York slice, but this is so much better than I could’ve imagined it to be. I must admit I was fearful because I usually prefer plain pizza, but all the meat and veggies in this dish was fabulous! The dip was also a nice touch and was a flavorful side dish.


Now time for the ratings! Super-Stuffed French Bread Pizza Rustica receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts without a doubt. Before we even tried this dish Martina said she could tell it was going to be a 5 hearts meal, and she was right. I haven’t had pizza in two weeks (which is a super long time, since I’m hopelessly devoted to pizza) and this completely satisfied my craving. I have no problem eating this for the rest of the week. The Sun-Dried Tomato Dip with Chips and Veggies receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. Also very good, and since it was served with some veggies it made me feel healthy, but after digging in to the pizza, the dip didn’t even come close to comparing to it whatsoever.

Although every meal I eat is on my couch, this one is probably at the top of my list. Like I said in my last post, when your apartment is the size of a shoe box, the only place that there’s room to eat is the couch. Next apartment I have I really need to make sure there’s table space.

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

TV Dinner

With finals quickly approaching, there is nothing more I want to do than sit in bed with a huge dinner of all my favorite foods while watching Gossip Girl on Netflix. Anything like that is way better than studying for finals. It’s my lucky night tonight, because although this menu isn’t my favorite food (sushi) I can still watch Netflix while eating it! On tap for tonight is Chicken Cacciatore Subs and Al Fredo’s Popcorn. Let’s get cooking!

This adventure started yesterday (Sunday) at the grocery store. Trader Joe’s was the last place I wanted to be at 8pm on Sunday. I had a long weekend celebrating Ashley’s 21st and all I wanted was to curl up in bed and sleep for at least 15 hours. But I still dragged my butt to the store. I was expecting the store to be overflowing with people, but I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was absolutely no line! This was one of the most bearable shopping trips of my life — until my Sherri Hill shopping bag broke. RIP to that bag, it had been with me since I moved to New York. I had to carry the bag like a baby the whole way home so it’s contents wouldn’t spill everywhere.

Fast forward to today (Monday). After my first round of classes I stopped by the Food Emporium to pick up my last two ingredients: rolls and diced tomatoes. I wasn’t cooking until my last class was over at 6:30, but I texted Martina to remind her to bring the wine…she said she couldn’t come anymore ): I thought I’d finally be cooking with friends after so long, but I guess not.

I was starving by the time class was over and ran home as quickly as I could to start cooking. I didn’t have much to chop tonight which was a relief and the chicken cooked pretty quickly. All was going well until one of the chicken breasts literally flew over my counter and onto the floor. I just about had a heart attack. Luckily the chicken didn’t get dirty (5-second rule) and I placed it back on the plate to be chopped.

While my veggies cooked I cut the chicken. I didn’t have time to go out and buy more red wine, but I’ve had some sitting in my kitchen since January (I know gross) but I didn’t have any other options so I used that and prayed my food would still turn out okay.

Once the sauce was complete and the chicken was submerged into it, I piled the concoction onto my rolls, topped it with some provolone, and put it under the broiler to melt.


I decided to clean up a bit while the cheese melted, but I took to long and burned it a bit, but no worries, it was still edible! So here comes the 1st moment of truth for the night. 3…2…1… Just what I needed! This sub was oh so delicious. The combination of my favorite veggies (mushrooms, bell peppers, & onions), and perfectly cooked chicken was stupendous! I made two since I was so hungry and I situated myself on the floor to watch Gossip Girl while I ate.

I was so full from my subs, so I waited until Ashley got home to make the popcorn. I realized last minute that we were out of Parmesan, so I ran over to Duane Reade in my apron to pick some up. The line at Duane Reade was worse than the line at Trader Joe’s, I was there for a while before I finally made it home.

When I finally got home I topped my popcorn with garlic butter & Parmesan, then Ash and I had another moment of truth in front of the TV. 3…2…1…meh. This popcorn was so buttery and cheesy. I’m not much of a cheesy popcorn person — I prefer for my popcorn to be cooked in coconut oil and lightly topped with salt.


Now time for the ratings. The Chicken Cacciatore Subs receive ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. My dad always says that the bread makes a sandwich and I couldn’t agree more. This bread held everything inside and never got soggy. The contents were also very flavorful and made for one of the best sandwiches I’ve had in a while. Bravo to these subs. Al Fredo’s Popcorn receives ♥♥ (2) hearts. It doesn’t take much to mess up popcorn, but Al Fredo must’ve been high when he made this recipe. Too much cheese, too buttery, too bleh. No thank you. I only ate it because it was in front of me but Ash and I threw half of it away.

All in all, you know it’s a good night when you can sit on the bed and watch TV while you eat..but let’s be real. When your apartment is the size of a shoe box, the only place there’s room to eat is the bed…so a tv dinner is my dinner every night. Although I try to make it seem like I eat fancily…or at least cook fancily…okay whatever, goodbye ya’ll!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

I Can’t Believe I Made This

Hello my fellow EVOOers!! I want to apologize for not posting in a while. Life was so hectic, but I finally found the time to cook! It had been way too long. I really wanted to impress you guys with tonight’s dish — as the title goes — I really can’t believe I’m making this! On tonight’s menu is Spinach-Artichoke Casserole, Rice with Sweet Red Peppers, and Shrimp Newburg. Let’s get cooking!

I spent most of my week in Atlanta, and I feared I would never make it home. The airport was a complete disaster since there were so many flight cancellations the day before due to the weather. After 6 hours of waiting, I was finally on a plane back to New York. Where was the first place I went as soon as I landed? You’re all going to think I’m crazy, but I went to Trader Joe’s. Most people would assume that I’d want to go home, relax, and de-stress, but instead I went to one of the most stress inducing grocery stores in Manhattan. Why? I DID IT FOR EVOO GUYS! Seriously though, the trip wasn’t so bad. It was actually calming to be back at Trader Joe’s since I hadn’t been in weeks.

I already knew I would have to stop at Fairway for shrimp, so I didn’t get angry at Trader Joe’s off the bat either. Altogether it was a pretty good shopping day.

Fast forward to today (Saturday). I had a full day of dog walking, so as one can imagine I worked up quite the appetite. I did all the usual things: chopping and what not, then I made the casserole. The casserole was pretty easy to put together –all I had to do was layer bread, artichokes, and spinach then top it with lots of cheese and bake it.


While the casserole baked I moved on to the rice and shrimp. Why does peeling off shrimp tails take forever? I now understand why restaurants never do it! When I finally peeled all the shrimp, I let them cook with lemon and bay leaves. Then I made the sherry sauce. All of this was super easy…but it took forever!!


Finally after 2 hours (30 minute meals my ass) it was time for the moment of truth. 3…2…1..This food was definitely worth the wait. The shrimp with the sherry sauce WOW. Out of this world. I literally said “I can’t believe I made this” to myself. The rice…you can never go wrong with rice, and I love rice so it was amazing. I was somewhat nervous to try the casserole because I get iffy with spinach-artichoke, but it was delicious!! I didn’t want to stop eating, I easily could’ve eaten into oblivion..that’s how good everything was.

Now time for the rating. The Spinach-Artichoke Casserole receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. What made this dish so amazing was the bread: it maintained its crunch and didn’t become soggy at all. All of the cheese was a major plus too. Cheese makes anything amazing. Next, the Rice with Sweet Red Peppers receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. I love rice so much, but this put a little spin on it with the bell pepper. Who knew that one simple ingredient could make a dish 10x better? The pepper was a marvelous addition. Finally, the Shrimp Newburg receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. Everything about this dish was fabulous. The shrimp was cooked to perfection and the sauce was by far the best sauce I have ever had on any shrimp, and that’s saying a lot because I eat a lot of shrimp. Such a delicious meal.

This meal made me feel like I can really cook anything in this world and have it turn out great. I never lost my love of cooking, but this weeks meal put more fuel into that flaming love. I cannot wait to cook again — and I promise it will be soon!

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

Country Inn Supper

Picture this: You are in a log cabin in a beautiful forest, enjoying everything nature has to offer. You’re away from the city lights and having a nice relaxing weekend with your closest friends. What do you imagine yourself eating/drinking? I hope the answer is soup, cider, and nutty ice cream because that’s what you’re getting! On tonight’s menu we have Beef and Watercress Dumpling “Stoup,” Hot Spiked Cider, and Maple-Walnut Ice Cream Cups. Let’s get cooking!

This adventure starts at Trader Joe’s in Upper Manhattan because I am not in a log cabin in a beautiful forest unfortunately. I headed out to Trader Joe’s around 1:30 on Saturday and I knew from the start that this was not going to be an easy trip. I went to get on the subway…and the station is closed “NO 1 TRAINS AT UPTOWN 50TH STREET STATION THIS WEEKEND” the sign read. What a pain in the butt! I had to take the 1 train downtown to 42nd street then take an uptown express train to 72nd street. Train construction always occurs at the least convenient times.

It took me about 40 minutes to get to the store when it should’ve only taken me 15. This was already set up to be a failure grocery trip. Trader Joe’s was typical…they didn’t have everything I needed, but I was surprised by a few items (like watercress) that they did indeed have! This stop was also super expensive because I had to pick up some nuts and meat — the two items that always make my bank account cry a little.

Next I went to Fairway and found everything I needed pretty quickly. I could not find liquid smoke, but that was an optional ingredient so I said screw it. The last thing I was looking for was a box of biscuit mix. I asked an employee where I could find biscuit mix, and they led me to BISQUICK pancake mix instead…I didn’t feel like searching any longer and picked up the pancake mix…I mean it’s close enough to biscuit mix right?

I came home and after I got some homework done I began to cook. I’m really starting to get used to cooking alone — I can sing as loud as I want with my music and no one will judge me.

I started as I always do with chopping. I wish someone would invent anti-onion goggles that prevented crying. I desperately need a pair of those. The chopping was pretty simple and quick so I moved on to the cooking.

I love the smell of meat cooking, it’s such a glorious smell. Everything I put in the pot smelled delicious so I had high expectations. This recipe called for something I had never heard of/done before — Cook the dumplings by pouring some of the batter into the soup. It was quite odd but I try not to doubt Rachael Ray. I mixed together my pancake mix with the watercress and spooned it into the pot. From then on it was in the EVOO gods’ hands.

While the soup cooked I heated up my apple cider with some cinnamon and cloves. This was supposed to be a spiked apple cider but I couldn’t get my hands on a bottle of apple brandy so this is just hot cider.

Before I knew it the soup was done so I uncovered the lid and what I saw was…not pretty to say the least. This was the UGLIEST food creation ever and I was honestly a little scared to eat it. I unwillingly spooned some into my bowl and poured my apple cider…at this point I was really wishing my cider was spiked.


It was time for the moment of truth. 3…2….1….uhhh okay, not too bad to start out. The meat was pretty tasty, but the dumpling things…I don’t know, the consistency was just off. I tried to eat around most of the dumpling — I’m not even gonna call it a dumpling it was just a weird pancake mass type thing. I mean I ate the whole thing, and it tasted good for the most part but it could’ve been so much better…plus it looked like slop. The cider was good and warmed my cold soul. That was a great winter drink.


After I finished my slop I made my maple walnut sundae, and that dessert did not disappoint. It was crunchy, sweet, and delicious and I could’ve had more.


Now time for the rating. This should be interesting. The Beef and Watercress Dumpling “Stoup” receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. This dish really had so much potential! Maybe it was the pancake mix that made it weird, I don’t know, but I was highly disappointed by it. I’m half afraid to eat it the rest of the week…wish me luck. The Hot Spiked Cider receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. I liked this, don’t get me wrong, but without the spiked part this cider fell short. Finally the Maple-Walnut Ice Cream Cups receive ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. This dessert was the light at the end of the tunnel. It was very simple but sometimes simple is the best. I loved it.

I’ve always known I was a big city girl, and this meal just reinforced that. No country bumpkin food for me — I’ll stick to my seamless app and get my sushi from across the street delivered to my door, ahh city living.

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

Your New Favorite Meal

You can never go wrong with one thing. That thing is pizza. Pizza is my ALL TIME favorite food…I could eat it all day every day (literally). It’s dangerous to live in the land of $1 pizza. $1 might not seem like a lot but I bet I’ve spent over $100 on dollar pizza this past year…yes, I eat that much pizza. I’ve been on a health kick lately, so I’ve been trying not to have as much, but as soon as I saw the recipe for tonight I knew this pizza would pass off as healthy…or at least semi-healthy. Tonight we are making a Pizza Salad. Let’s get cooking!

I started this adventure on Tuesday (yesterday). After my last trip to Trader Joe’s I vowed to never go back on a Sunday, and only do my shopping on the weekdays. What a better way to spend Valentine’s day than at the grocery store — am I right? Well, Trader Joe’s was like a loving boyfriend to me today. Not only did I find all but one ingredient (I knew I wouldn’t find prosciutto there), but there was also NO LINE!!! Having no line at Trader Joe’s is basically unheard of. I fell in love with Trader Joe’s a little bit more yesterday. Thanks for being my Valentine.

I ran to Fairway to pick up my prosciutto and headed home.

Fast forward to today (Wednesday). I had a very busy day full of dog walks and class, so I wasn’t able to come home and cook until 9pm. That may seem really late to cook and eat, but that’s usually around the time I eat every night…it’s the only time during the day I’m free!

I was all alone to cook tonight, which I was okay with because I was tired and ravenous so I quickly got started.

The only thing that needed chopped was two cloves of garlic which took 3 minutes, and then came the fun part: rolling out the dough.

Compared to my friends, I have a pretty extensive collection of cooking supplies. But I don’t own 2 of the most basic items – both of which I needed tonight – a rolling pin and a pizza cutter. I just had to make do with what was laying around my kitchen.

I spread out some flour on my counter and started to knead the dough. I tried to do that spinning trick that so many pizza chefs do…. but I just looked like a flubbering idiot. After I kneaded the dough for a while I grabbed a wine bottle (I know, classy) and used that as my rolling pin. I thought forming this dough into a pizza crust would be simple, but I was so wrong. It took me a good 20 minutes to finally roll it out to a good size. Every time I tried to expand it, it kept shrinking down to the original size. It was somewhat frustrating but I finally got it after switching wine bottles. I really need to invest in a rolling pin.

Once the dough was rolled, everything afterwards was easy peasy. I layered *fat free* pizza sauce, mozzarella, garlic & red pepper flakes onto the crust and popped it in the oven for 12 minutes. While the pizza cooked I just ate some mozzarella…that is the best cheese ever, I swear!

When the pizza was done I topped it with prosciutto and lemon arugula. It looked beautiful. I don’t think pizza could ever be ugly, but this was like the queen of pizza —  looks wise. I prayed that it would taste just as good.

I cut the pizza in quarters and then it was finally time for the moment of truth. 3…2…1… That’s it, that’s it. I’m dropping out to become a pizza chef. This was the mother of all pizzas..NO this was the GOD of all pizzas!! I couldn’t stop eating it. Everything about it was simply delicious. Wow is all I can say, WOW.

Now time for the rating. Pizza Salad receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts even though it easily broke my scale. I’m a plain Jane when it comes to pizza, but these toppings were spectacular and made me feel a bit healthy. The recipe said this pizza was only 2 servings, but I’m a firm believer that any pizza can be a personal pizza. All you have to do is believe in yourself.

Pizza is a wonderful beautiful thing, and I truly believe it was given to us from the heavens. How could something that amazing not come from heaven??? I will definitely  be making this again. Heck, I’m just convinced I’m a master pizza chef. I think I’ll open my own pizza place. Mama mia it’ll be Murr’s pizzeria!! Just kidding, my uncle has a pizza shop and South Carolina, so I’ll let him be the pizza man of the family. But be warned Uncle Dave…I bet I could beat you in a pizza making contest now.


Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

Middle Eastern Meat-Free Dinner

I have always wanted to have every single one of my friends come over and enjoy a night of cooking with me, but that’s rarely the case because half of them are vegetarians and Rachael Ray basically creates only carnivorous recipes. Tonight, though, this meal is vegetarian friendly for once….and it falls on a night where all my veggie friends are busy. Oh, well. Nicolette and I will still enjoy this menu of Garlic and Red Pepper Pita Chips with Green Olive Hummus, Vegetable and Couscous Stacks, and Blackberry Napoleons. Let’s get cooking!

I love the days when I wake up and head straight to Trader Joe’s because it’s the only time the store is ever calm. This was the first time ever that one of the employees was not holding an “END OF LINE” sign while weaving around the store trying to follow the snakey line. I could move my cart freely without receiving the evil eye, and I waited in line 5 minutes tops. Wednesday mornings definitely are the best days to go to Trader Joe’s.

This trip was honestly somewhat relaxing…until I made my way to Fairway. Picture yourself at a zoo during feeding time, and all the animals somehow broke free of their enclosures…that’s what walking into Fairway is like. This place gives me a bigger headache than Trader Joe’s ever has, and everything is always so expensive! I was jumping for joy when I finally made it out of the store and made my way home.

Fast forward to tonight. Thank goodness my class let out an hour early because I was STARVING. I arrived at home and Nicolette came over shortly after.

We started out by making the pita chips. I had never made homemade pita chips before, and they were surprisingly super easy to make! I just cut up some pita bread, smothered the slices with evoo, garlic & red pepper flakes and baked them for 10 minutes. We served them with some hummus mixed with olives and red pepper flakes which leads us to the first moment of truth of the night.

3..2..1.. SO GOOD! Although extra hot and spicy, it was the type of hot where you can’t stop eating! Perfect appetizer for tonight’s main course.img_4342

Nicolette basically chopped everything up because I was so scatterbrained over by the stove. Also, the couscous recipe was mainly chopping and letting things bake for 15 minutes. When it came time to create the stack, the instructions told us to use a can and stuff the ingredients inside to make a perfectly shaped tower of food, but it was impossible to remove the bottom of the can. I knew my stack probably weren’t going to turn out pretty without the can as a guide, but I tried my best.

To assemble the tower I started out with roasted eggplant, then added roasted zucchini, couscous, roasted red pepper, red onion, mozzarella, basil & tomato. My stack turned out to look like a sad hill instead of a rising tower of food. A for effort I guess.

Time for the second moment of truth… 3..2..1..not too shabby. This mountain of food just seemed to be an odd combination, it wasn’t extremely flavorful, but that’s because I forgot to add parmesan to the couscous. I could definitely tell that this combination was on the healthy food spectrum so I felt pretty good while eating it. I should’ve given myself a bigger plate though, as the couscous fell off the mountain and onto the table. Nicolette cleaned up after me though, she’s like my mom.img_4344

Now to cook the best part of the meal: dessert. This one took a little longer because we had to let the blackberries marinate in sugar for 20 minutes. While the berries sat, we prepared the wonton wrappers for baking…and this is where everything starts to go bad. I put some butter in the microwave to melt and it starts to spark! I don’t even know why — I made sure I took off all the packaging before I nuked it. I guess my microwave just hates butter. Next, I pulled out my package of brown sugar. I understand that brown sugar is packed together, but mine was packed together solid as a rock. I think that if I threw the lump to the ground it would not have broken. So my question is: does brown sugar go bad? We had to forcibly break a tiny piece off of the rock, and grate it over the wonton wrappers. Talk about a struggle.

It finally came time to assemble this delectable treat. We layered blackberries and whipped cream in between each wrapper and dug in. 3..2..1..Hands down the best Rachael Ray dessert ever!! Everything about this dessert was delicious. I could have it every day, and that’s saying a lot because I’m not much of a sweets person. This dish was super messy though, and I nearly got filling all down my white shirt.img_4343

Ashley came home right as we were cleaning up and she scarfed down the pita chips. At least one vegetarian was able to enjoy part of tonight’s masterpiece.

Time for the ratings! Garlic and Red Pepper Pita Chips with Green Olive Hummus receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. Hands down best hummus and best pita chips I have ever had. Hummus usually freaks me out, but this may have started a new hummus obsession for me. Also, I’ll be making pita chips all the time now that I know how easy they are to make! Next, the Vegetable and Couscous Stacks receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. This recipe was a perfect case of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.” It might not have looked pretty, but it felt pretty good in my stomach. This is a leftover I’ll be excited to heat up for the next week. Finally the Blackberry Napoleons receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. It’s going to be very hard to top this dessert. Even though it isn’t summer, I feel like this is the perfect summer treat. From now on whenever I’m craving sweets, I’m definitely going to make this.

Is it weird to say that tonight’s meal had me considering joining the veggie-only side?…Yes that is very weird…I could never be a vegetarian. I love meat too much. Although eating some all-veggie meals sometimes is A-okay with me! Great food, great night.

Until Next week!

-Mary Honkus

First Night Feast

There’s a first time for everything, and tonight is full of firsts. It’s funny that this whole menu is titled “First Night Feast” honestly, because it’s the first time i’m ever cooking veal (woohoo) and it’s the first date night evoo! Yep, you read that right, a guy is cooking with me instead of all my gal pals. Luckily, this is the perfect menu for a date night. We’re making: Pasta al Forno, Veal Involtini with Pancetta on a Bed of Spinach, and Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce. Let’s get cooking!

As with every cooking adventure, this one starts at the grocery store. I knew I wouldn’t have any time on Sunday to shop, so I headed to Trader Joe’s at 4pm Saturday afternoon – of course I decided to go at the busiest hour. I was able to pick up almost everything except the meat, and a few random items. So all in all I wasn’t too disappointed with Trader Joe’s today (surprisingly).

Next I headed to Fairway where I stood in line at the deli counter for a good 15 minutes before I was served. I’m a very impatient person so waiting there felt like an eternity. Finally, I was helped but when I said “one thick 3 ounce slice of prosciutto please” to the deli man, he looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t think my request was too odd, but his mind was blown. He had to have 3 other deli guys help him slice the meat. I later found out he was a new guy..sorry new guy.

Anyways, fast forward to today (Sunday). Andrew came over bearing gifts of wine and amaretto (all for cooking of course). We started out how I start every week with chopping. Me, being an asshole, gave him the onion to chop. I got my karma pretty quickly, though because the onion was so strong it made me cry from across the counter.

We both seemed to have a habit of dropping things tonight, he dropped some onions and I dropped my garlic…I don’t know what the issue was, but besides that mishap, prep went off without a hitch.

We made the pasta dish first since it had to bake, then we moved on to the veal. These were veal roll ups – I know so fancy – we stuffed the veal with parsley, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, then covered the veal with pancetta and fried them. Andrew took care of the frying, and I was honestly very impressed with how he handled it for someone who rarely cooks and is always ordering seamless.

We finished off cooking dinner by cooking some spinach in wine. Now of course, it’s all about the plating so we attempted to make our plates look like a professional restaurant… you can see by the picture that we tried our best.

After what was actually 30 minutes for once (YAY!) it was time for the moment of truth…but I had to explain to Andrew what the moment of truth was. We both tried the pasta dish together first. 3..2..1..Not too bad! This baked pasta reminded me a lot of the carbonara I made a couple months ago. Both dishes tasted the same except this one was baked.

Next came the moment of truth for the Veal. 3..2..1…now this was DELISH! the cheese melted so perfectly and all the flavors blended together. I felt like I was at a real Italian restaurant. I honestly never thought I’d be able to make something like this. Glad the first time I made veal turned out to be amazing.

Once we were done eating, Andrew went straight over to the sink and started washing dishes. Personally, I was speechless. Anyone that knows me knows that I HATE doing the dishes, and I didn’t even ask him to do them! I gotta keep this guy around for a while.

We had a nice little system where he washed and I dried. It was great.

Once we cleaned up it was time to make the dessert. This was super simple. We pretty much just melted some chocolate chips, poured in some amaretto, then dumped it over peaches and ice cream. VOILA!

We decided to share a small bowl of this, so we sat on the couch and tried not to drip any chocolate sauce or ice cream anywhere. I was extra careful since I was wearing a white sweater, but Andrew on the other hand was not so careful. He should’ve been wearing a bib for how much he dripped onto himself. I just couldn’t help but laugh at him…I know asshole moment number 2 for me tonight: I laugh at other people’s misfortune; but no worries, he forgave me.

Now time for the rating. Both of us were pretty much on the same page with all the dishes. Pasta al Forno receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. I compared this earlier to the carbonara, and honestly, the carbonara was 10x better than this. This one was a little burnt, and contrary to what everyone says, pasta is not easy to cook. So when you throw together 2 people who’s fortes are not pasta making, you get a dish that is only 3 hearts. Next the Veal Involtini with Pancetta on Bed of Spinach receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. This was just all around delicious. The cheese was melted perfectly, the crisp pancetta added an extra zap of flavor, and the veal was cooked to perfection. I could not find anything wrong with this, except that it probably could’ve looked prettier. Finally, the Pears with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts as well. I was not expecting much from this dessert simply because of Rachael Ray’s history of desserts, but I was pleasantly surprised. I even said to Andrew “Don’t expect much from dessert.” but he loved it too, even though he did get it all over himself.

Well, a night of firsts turned out to be great. I’ve always wanted to have a cooking date with someone, and I don’t think it could’ve turned out better. I’ve said it so many times before but I’ll say it again. It doesn’t matter who you cook with – friends, family, a date, whatever – cooking with someone always brings you closer to the other person. Nothing is better than knowing and feeling that.

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

A Lunch of My Favorites

Lunch: a meal I often confuse with breakfast. Why do I confuse it with breakfast, you ask? Because by the time I wake up every day it’s lunch time for most people. My meal times are completely messed up. I usually eat breakfast around 12, lunch around 5, and dinner around 9:30…..I blame college. But while today’s menu may be suitable for lunch, it will be making a delightful dinner for my friend’s and I. Tonight we’re making: Oven Fries with Herbes de Provence, Tomato and Spinach Soup, and Rachael’s Tuna Pan Bagnat. Lets get cooking!

I started out my day at Trader Joe’s. The last Wednesday I went to Trader Joe’s it was a madhouse, so I was mentally preparing myself for the worst. I was pleasantly surprised to find the store near empty…or as empty as Trader Joe’s could be. For once I was able to navigate my shopping cart without feeling like I was in the middle of Manhattan traffic at rush hour.

As I headed to the lower level of the store, I noticed a sign that I had never seen before that read “Get your shopping list ready for today’s Trader Joe’s adventure” Oh Trader Joe’s…if only you knew that coming into the store truly is a different adventure every time.

I was able to find many ingredients on the lower level, I then proceeded to the produce section upstairs…but something was telling me to go back downstairs. I’m glad I listened to that feeling because I found two other ingredients that were needed. Always gotta double check!!

I did have to make a pit stop at Fairway for 3 items, which was a total pain because Fairway’s line was out the door. It was as if Trader Joe’s and Fairway switched lives for the day.

I was also very surprised at how cheap this meal was. Starting out on the right side of the recipe today woohoo!!

Morgan, Nicolette, and Mel came over around 8:30 and we started out with chopping like usual. There were an ungodly amount of items to be chopped tonight, but luckily not much stove work. Morgan was the savior of the night for being so tall.

I need to explain the terrible layout of my cabinet space to my readers. First off, Ashley and I are a little vertically challenged; we’re both around 5’2. I don’t know who designed our kitchen but they decided to put all of the cabinets above the microwave and the fridge, which makes most, if not all of the shelves impossible for us to reach. Luckily Morgan is tall and was able to reach everything we needed for tonight. So shout out to Morgan.

Nicolette was on soup duty, while I made the filling for the sandwiches…Mel didn’t want to help me because seafood freaks her out. I don’t know it could freak her out, the little anchovies were so cute! Just kidding, but seafood really does gives me life.

Turns out I was the only one eating tonight so I had my little moment of truth by myself.

3..2..1…Not too bad, not too shabby. I liked the Tuna Pan Bagnat, and I was pretty skeptical at first. I love sushi tuna, but canned tuna doesn’t really appeal to me, not to mention I don’t care for many of the ingredients in the filling (artichokes & olives just to name a few). I probably should’ve chopped up the rosemary a little bit more though, because I was getting huge tastes of rosemary; it was overwhelming at times. The soup wasn’t anything impressive, it was literally just tomato sauce with some spinach in it. Meh. The fries were alright as well. They were a bit of a let down from the oven fries with cheese from a few weeks ago. Compared to the previous fries, these were pretty bland.

Now time for rating… Oven Fries with Herbes de Provence receives ♥♥ (2) hearts. I was truly looking forward to these, but they were such a let down. Way too blah. The Tomato and Spinach Soup receives ♥♥ (2) hearts as well. This is another recipe that totally underwhelmed me. We are in prime soup season now that the weather is becoming colder, so I was expecting something to warm my soul and make my taste buds sing. This recipe did NOT do that. I’m iffy on tomatoes to begin with, and this was nothing but canned tomatoes sprinkled with spinach. I felt like I was just eating tomato paste. Extremely disappointing. Finally Rachael’s Tuna Pan Bagnat receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. First off, I’d like to say I’m mad that I forgot to put the capers in, although I feel like they wouldn’t have made much of a difference. This was one of those dishes where it’s very good to start out but the more you eat it, the more grossed out you get. Definitely not one of my favorites at all.

Welp, this lunch for dinner turned out to be a flop. I think I’ll just stick to making breakfast for dinner. You can never go wrong with that.

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

Dip-able Dinner

When you think of parties what is one food that is always present? If you’re thinking of dips you are correct! Dips, or dip-able foods, have become staples in American culture, but especially when it comes to big gatherings. I’m thinking tonight will be the most well-attended cooking adventure. I can’t wait for all my friends to be together for this menu: Asparagus and Green Beans with Tarragon Lemon Dip, French Dip Roast Beef Sandwiches, and Chocolate Fondue. Lets get cooking!

This cooking adventure is pretty spread out. It all started on Saturday when I went to the grocery store. I knew I wouldn’t have any time to shop on Sunday, so I went ahead of the game and headed to Trader Joe’s. I really didn’t have to pick up much which was great, and everything pretty inexpensive. I thought this was going to be the cheapest week yet for me, until I picked up a pound and a half of roast beef at Fairway…I died a little inside when my item wrung up for $20. The price I pay for a good meal…whatever, it’s always worth it!

Sunday rolls along and I was pretty excited….until everyone bailed. I get it, everybody has busy schedules and things come up, but it was frustrating for me considering I had already bought items that would go bad in a few days. Not only that, but after long tiring weeks, cooking with my friends is what makes me the happiest. No friends to cook with = no cooking = empty stomach = a very sad Mary. ):

Luckily, Nicolette my forever right hand woman and sous-chef said that she’d be able to cook on Wednesday! So, fast forward to today (Wednesday.) I had a few more ingredients to pick up because I didn’t want to burden Nic with too many items, then after class Nicolette, and surprise last minute guest Morgan came over!

Instead of making everything at once like usual, we decided to take things one at a time starting with the Tarragon Lemon Dip. Making this was fairly easy: we just threw a few things into a bowl and voila! A few weeks ago when my dad came to visit he brought me the cutest dip tray and I had been waiting to use it just for this. Once the veggies were cooked and ready to be dipped we had our first moment of truth.

3..2..1.. WOW! I must say, we were all pretty skeptical about this, but it was addicting!! We ran out of dippers so we had to cook more. This dip was creamy, and honestly I don’t know how else describe it. The only ingredients were mayo, lemon juice & zest, a shallot, tarragon, parsley and pepper which seems so simple but the outcome tasted like it was crafted by a gourmet chef. Not only was the dip delicious but the fact that it was served with asparagus and green beans made the healthy girl inside me scream for joy. It’s decided: this is what I’m making for friendsgiving.

After we were done ooooing and ahhhhing over this dip, we went on to make the main course: French Dip Roast Beef Sandwiches. This was probably the easiest main dish to make. Only 1 shallot needed to be chopped, then we mixed together a perfect dipping sauce on the stove that smelled just like french onion soup. When the time came, we dipped the roast beef into the sauce and set up little ramekins of extra sauce for extra dipping. We even decided to be a bit daring and put the Tarragon Lemon Dip on the sandwich…I know, we got fancy up in here.

Moment of truth number 2 here we go! 3..2..1 NOM! Also quite delicious, but from the first bite we could already tell what we could’ve done to make the sandwich even better. 1. toast the buns. 2. add cheese because everything is better with cheese. 3. the Tarragon Lemon dip was an exceptional touch. Still so good though, really no complaints here!

We had to let our stomach’s settle a bit before moving on to dessert: Chocolate Fondue. This was also extremely simple to make. We heated some heavy whipping cream, then melted in some dark chocolate and it was complete. We came armed and ready to dip some pretzel rods, biscotti, and strawberries into this delectable treat.

So, for the final moment of truth… 3..2..1 Yet another YUM-O moment. Let’s be real though, anything with dark chocolate is gonna be hella good. I didn’t think I’d be able to stop eating it. Morgan, Nic and I sat together and watched the debate with the fondue. Name something more American than that…I dare you.

After this long, filling three course meal we sat together and debated on what each recipe should be rated and this is what we came up with: the Asparagus and Green Beans with Tarragon Lemon Dip receives without a doubt ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. This has to be the best dip I have personally ever eaten…and that’s saying a lot because I’m in love with buffalo chicken dip. If I could rate this 10 hearts I most definitely would. Next, the French Dip Roast Beef Sandwiches receive ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. Also very scrumptious but there were a number of things (whichI listed earlier) that could’ve made this dish a home run. Finally the Chocolate Fondue receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. At last a dessert that wasn’t disappointing! I can’t get over how easy it was to make as well. The perfect ending on this little dip-able dinner.

After having a rather crappy week, cooking tonight really cheered me up. There’s just something about coming together with my best friends and bonding over food. Doing this makes me so happy, and I hope I’m able to keep doing this for a long time.

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus

Thanksgiving for Everyday

Fall. What are some of the things that come to mind with the word fall? Changing leaves, pumpkin spice, and Halloween are a few, but I think the epitome of fall is Thanksgiving. As the weather grows colder and the leaves finally fall, people gather together to celebrate the most wonderful thing on this earth: food. Now, although Halloween hasn’t passed yet, we are having a mini thanksgiving feast tonight! This week’s menu includes Herb Smashed Potatoes with Goat Cheese, Turkey and Wild Mushroom Meat Loaf Patties with Pan Gravy, and Green Beans with Lemon and Toasted Almonds. Let’s get cooking!

Since many of my friends and I were swamped with homework on Sunday, we decided to cook on Wednesday (today). My day started out with a trip to Trader Joe’s. I was expecting a nice relaxed visit to the grocery store since it was mid-week and in the middle of the afternoon….but I was very wrong. It seemed like every nanny/parent on the Upper West Side decided to bring their kids with them to the store today, and the kids were not very happy.

I overheard one kid arguing with his mother: “You better give me my money back mom. it’s my money!!”

“No, Tommy, it’s not your money. I know you stole it from me.”

“NO MOM. I didn’t steal it, it’s mine! I may have stolen it back out of revenge on you but it’s mine!

….I’m never bringing my kids to the grocery store in the future.

It was ALMOST a successful visit to Trader Joe’s except they didn’t have bread crumbs. What kind of grocery store doesn’t have bread crumbs?! So strange. Anyways, I made a quick pit stop to Fairway then headed home.

I had to run to the kitchen supplies store in the Chelsea Market today as well because I needed a potato masher, and a peeler for tonight. I usually love going to the Chelsea Market, but today it was overrun with tourists blocking the way. Nothing gets me angrier than people standing idle where I am trying to walk. Not gonna lie, I pushed some people out of the way. No regrets.

I picked up my tools, plus a mixing bowl because everyone needs a mixing bowl and just laid low until everyone came over.

Well, everyone was supposed to come over at 6 but ended up being an hour late (still love you Saoirse and Jenny). Ashley and I started the prep work by chopping everything before they even arrived.

This cooking adventure was a bit chaotic because everything was centered around the stove. At one point I think that all 4 burners were going. Also, the meatloaf patty recipe was too confusing so I ended up just making a bunch of turkey burgers…Oh well, still tasted the same.

Everything was relatively easy to make and before long it was already time for the moment of truth. 3..2..1 yum yum yum I was very impressed! The turkey burger/patty concoction was so delicious, I think it was the mushrooms…or the gravy..or both! When I was younger I had a weird fear of gravy, and I’m just now realizing what I was missing out on. It brings so much more flavor to the meat, and it made this burger completely irresistible. The mashed potatoes were unbelievable too, I think what made it so good was the goat cheese. I just couldn’t get enough. Finally, I was surprised with the green beans. I really don’t like green beans, but tossed in lemon butter they weren’t half bad.

To finish off the night we strolled down to Schmackery’s for some delicious cookies (:

Now for the rating! Herb Smashed Potatoes with Goat Cheese receives ♥♥♥♥ (4) hearts. I feel like anything carby or starchy will be rated high with me, but I never expected goat cheese to take this dish out of this world. I loved it, I will definitely have to make this again. The Turkey and Wild Mushroom Meat Loaf Patties with Pan Gravy receives ♥♥♥♥♥ (5) hearts. This blew me away, and I think it came down to the gravy. Meatloaf has always freaked me out too, but now I actually want to try a meatloaf because of this. All the flavors were great and it melted in my mouth. So delicious! Now the Green Beans with Lemon and Toasted Almonds receives ♥♥♥ (3) hearts. I don’t like green beans at all but this dish made them bearable.

Thanks to this week I feel like I now have some tricks up my sleeve for friendsgiving in a few weeks….It also got me excited for real Thanksgiving and going to see my family. I miss eating with them…and my cat. That is all.

Until next week!

-Mary Honkus