August 27, 2014

What to Wear: #WalkinickiWedding

Weekly Wardrobe: #WalkinickiWedding | Hard Parade
The man, Dan, and I had the absolute pleasure of attending our good friends' wedding this past weekend up in Salem, Massachusetts. It was a gorgeous day - the weather was perfect - and the ceremony took place right on the water's edge at The House of Seven Gables looking across a serene blue bay dotted with boats. Afterwards, there was an outdoor cocktail hour adjacent to the ceremony and then we took a trolley (beep beep!) to the reception at the Hawthorne Hotel where we danced the night away.

I wore this dress from ModCloth, belting it around the waist because it's a bit big on me and I got it on final sale (NO RETURNZ!). It actually comes with a little waist detail but I used a seam splitter to remove it and add the belt. With a fresh tan (and hidden sunburn) I matched the beachy surroundings pretty perfectly and felt great! And sometimes a girl just needs to rock a big, hunkin' braid. PS. How great did my date look?
Weekly Wardrobe: #WalkinickiWedding | Hard Parade
Her: [ Dress: Modcloth ] [ Necklace: Urban Peach Boutique ] [ Belt: H&M ] [ Shoes: Kenneth Cole ]
Him: [ Shirt, Tie, Pants: Target ] [ Watch: Timex ]
Weekly Wardrobe: #WalkinickiWedding | Hard Parade
We never take selfies but we were on a trolley, come on! Congratulations, Tanya and Chris!
Weekly Wardrobe: #WalkinickiWedding | Hard Parade
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August 25, 2014

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with Collard Greens & Poached Eggs

Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with Collard Greens | Hard Parade
Happy Meatless Monday! It's the last week of summer and while it's been a fun, albeit QUICK, one - I am ready to say hello to fall. This dish is a good transition meal into the heartier, spiced, fall flavors that will be popping up here once the leaves start to change. The original recipe called for kale but our local grocery store was out so I subbed in collard greens, which still gave that bitterness you find in kale but also a ton of flavor since it soaked up all the juices in which it was cooked. Never tried collards? Not a fan of kale? Try Swiss chard or other stalky, leafy greens like that instead.

Spaghetti with Collard Greens & Poached Eggs
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 4, PointsPlus: 14
Ingredients:
  • 2-oz. panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced
  • 16-oz. collard greens, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 large eggs
  • 8-oz. whole wheat spaghetti
  • 2-oz. pecorino Romano cheese, divided
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 400f. Spread breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 teaspoons olive oil. Bake at 400f for 5 minutes or until toasted, stirring occasionally (so they don't burn)
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil, swirling to coat, and add sliced onion, sautéing until golden brown, about 8 minutes
  • Gradually add in the chopped collard greens, wilting them down after each addition. Collards don't wilt as easily as kale (in my opinion) so put the lid on the skillet to assist in the wilting process. Pour in 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar to help the wilting. Stir in the cayenne pepper and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the collards are completely added and tender. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm until the other parts of the dish are ready
  • While the collards are reducing down, cook the pasta according to the package directions. When finished, drain and place in a large bowl. Grate 1-oz. cheese and add it, along with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and salt and pepper to the pasta, tossing to coat
  • Divide the pasta among four bowls and add about 1 cup of the collards mixture on top
  • Poach the four eggs and add one to each bowl, topping with the rest of the pecorino cheese and 1/4 cup toasted breadcrumbs
  • Break open that egg and let the yolky goodness dribble all over the spaghetti and enjoy!
Meatless Monday: Spaghetti with Collard Greens | Hard Parade
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August 22, 2014

BBQ Chicken Pizza

BBQ Chicken Pizza | Hard Parade
Hi! I just got back from vacation on Wednesday night, so sorry for the lack of posts (not that anyone is out there reading these - hello? Anyone?)! I was down in South Carolina on Hilton Head Island, aka the best place anywhere. My family has been going for years and years and years and I was finally able to join them this year since jetBlue started offering direct flights from Boston to Savannah, GA (which is about a 45 minute drive from the island). So, now I'm back with a tan (okay, a burn) and ready to start cooking again!

This was my 'going away' pizza last week, a final meal before heading off to SC for a few days so Dan and I DID IT UP. You can pretty much make this pizza from anything that you have in the fridge, so long as you have barbecue sauce. We piled on tomatoes, onions, and cheese and cooked the pizza longer than usual so it was extra crispy crunchy.

BBQ Chicken Pizza
Ingredients:
  • Ready made pizza crust (I used Pillsbury's Thin Crust)
  • 1 1/2 cups barbecue sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Hot and Sweet)
  • 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, without the skin
    • You can also use cooked chicken breasts here instead
  • 1 cup baby tomatoes, quartered
  • 8-oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • Freshly cracked black pepper and kosher salt
BBQ Chicken Pizza | Hard Parade
Directions:
  • Pre-cook the crust according to the directions. While it pre-cooks, slice the onion, tomatoes, cheese, and shred the chicken. 
  • Take out the crust and raise the oven temperature to 450. Spread barbecue sauce all over the crust, leaving about a half inch border around the edges. Top with the rotisserie chicken and layer the mozzarella slices on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  • Evenly distribute the tomatoes and onion on top of the pizza and again sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes, or until browned and crispy (depending on how crunchy you like it). 
  • Remove from the oven and cut into even slices and enjoy! I also add a dash of hot sauce to my piece before chowing down - even some ranch dressing!
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August 11, 2014

Meatless Monday: Turnt Up Tomato Sandwiches

Meatless Monday: Turnt Up Tomato Sandwich | Hard Parade
There's one food that feels and tastes like summer to me more than anything else - the classic tomato sandwich. It's simple: toasted white bread slathered with mayo, topped with thick slices of bright, juicy red tomatoes and cracked pepper and salt - that's it. *Edited to add: according to my oldest sister, Kelly, there is NO pepper on this "childhood luxury." I don't necessarily agree but she's the oldest so she must be right. 

As soon as I start making this sandwich, I'm transported to our timeshare in South Carolina and I'm trying to slice the tomatoes with this wonky, dull, half-serrated knife that came with the kitchen in our unit. I've been eating this sandwich my entire life and it will never taste as good as it does after coming back from the beach covered in salt water and sand.

Growing up, I thought my dad had invented this miraculous, summer-in-every-bite snack (I say snack because I can eat about six in a row). He was always the one handing it to me on the flimsy paper plate already saturated with tomato juice - no one else I knew was eating this for lunch each day of the week and no one else could make it like he could.

While yes, he still makes the best tomato sandwiches, I've taken over the knife and can make them on my own. This version is TURNT UP with salty, feta cheese and fresh oregano and is served open-faced. It still delivers the classic summer taste with fresh tomatoes and still makes me feel like a little kid, waiting anxiously to be handed that paper plate.

Turnt Up Tomato Sandwiches
Serves 2
Ingredients:
  • 4 thick slices of white bread, toasted
    • No, it's not great for you but yes, it's the base of this sandwich
  • Mayonnaise
  • 2 beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2 inch slices
    • Say what you will about New Jersey, but it IS the Garden State and the best tomatoes are grown there. SO if you have access to 'Jersey Grown' tomatoes - get them (and don't be a hater)
  • 4-oz. feta cheese, cut into 1/2 inch slices
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Olive oil, for drizzling
Directions:
  • Toast the bread to your liking. I recommend going more on the dark side since it hardens the bread a bit and the tomato juice won't soak through right away. Slather with mayonnaise - no measurement here, just load it up! 
  • Place two slices each on two plates and evenly arrange one layer of tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Add two slices of feta to each piece of toast and top with another layer of tomatoes, seasoning with salt and pepper again. Drizzle olive oil all over sandwiches. Garnish with fresh oregano.
  • DIG IN AND TASTE THE MEMORIES! This isn't innovative, it's just damn delicious.
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August 8, 2014

Heirloom Tomato Pizza

Heirloom Tomato Pizza | Hard Parade
PIZZA! In an ideal world, I'd eat it all day everyday but I don't so once a week will do (for now). This is the perfect summer dinner (or breakfast or lunch) because it showcases summer's best produce: tomatoes. One of my sister's doesn't like tomatoes and I just don't understand it. They're juicy, sweet, tart, savory, delicious, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes and flavors. If you're like she is, stop reading now because this pizza is covered in heirloom tomatoes and they're the star of the delicious pizza show. Oh and you know what else? This pizza is only SIX ingredients so you can make it in a SHNAP. 
Ps. though pizza is a Friday kinda meal for me, this works for Meatless Monday, too!

Heirloom Tomato Pizza
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 4, PointsPlus: 10
Ingredients:
  • 1 16-oz. ready-made pizza crust (or refrigerated fresh pizza dough or in a can)
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 fresh mozzarella ball (like BelGiosio), thinly sliced
  • 12-oz. tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
    • I used a medley of smaller ones plus 1 Kumato tomato
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper (these don't count to the six ingredient total!)
Directions:
  • Place a baking sheet (or a pizza stone if you have it, I don't) in the oven and preheat to 500f
  • Combine basil, garlic, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a mini food processor, pulse a few times to form a paste, then add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and pulse until smooth
  • Carefully remove baking sheet from the oven and place the pizza crust on it. Spread 2 1/2 tablespoons of the basil mixture over the crust and top evenly with the sliced mozz and tomatoes
  • Season with salt and pepper and bake at 500f for 8-10 minutes until crust is browned and crispy. Top with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons basil mixture and cut into slices!
Heirloom Tomato Pizza | Hard Parade
Heirloom Tomato Pizza | Hard Parade
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August 6, 2014

Grapefruit Risotto with Scallops

Grapefruit Risotto with Scallops | Hard Parade
(please excuse the grainy photo - we were dining al fresco)
Grapefruit. Risotto...When I first found this recipe, I didn't think it would be a great combination (I was wrong). When I think of risotto, I think indulgent, cheesy, and filling. When I think of grapefruit I think light, bright, and acidic. In reality, these two are a perfect pair - the acidity of the tart grapefruit cuts through that sometimes overwhelming creaminess of the risotto and the perfectly pan-seared (the man, Dan, does the searing) scallops provide a toothy bite and crunch that brings this dish to five star restaurant level. 

Sidenote: sure, grapefruits are winter fruits but in this day of genetically modified, flash-frozen, 'must have it' food, you can certainly find grapefruits in the summer months. 

LET'S DIG IN.
Grapefruit Risotto with Scallops
Recipe from The Washington Post
Serves: 2, PointsPlus: 17 (so plan ahead!)
Ingredients:
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup shallot, minced
  • 1 cup arborio rice
  • 1/4 up dry white wine (drink the rest with dinner!)
  • 1 cup fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves, minced
    • Plus sprigs for garnishing
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 grapefruit cut, segmented
  • 4 large scallops (I actually made this with 6, giving each person 3)
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
Scallops | Hard Parade
Directions:
  • Risotto: Heat the water over medium heat until it's just below a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low to keep it warm. 
  • Melt the butter in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the minced shallot and cook for about 2 minutes until translucent. Stir in the rice until everything is evenly coated, cooking for 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the white wine and continue to stir until it's completely absorbed.
  • Add in the grapefruit juice and cook until it's completely absorbed. Add 1/2 cup of the warm water, stirring to incorporate until the liquid is absorbed and continue to add water in 1/2 cup increments until the rice is creamy and tender. This is the tough part about risotto and will take about 20 minutes. 
  • Once all the liquid is absorbed, stir in the thyme, season with salt and pepper, and gently fold in the grapefruit segments then remove from heat.
  • Scallops: Pat the scallops dry then season with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the 1 tablespoon of butter in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the scallops and sear for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side until golden brown. 
  • Divide the risotto between two bowls, arrange scallops on top, and garnish with thyme sprigs. Serve right away and indulge! Serve with the remaining white wine not used during cooking.
By the way, this is one of my favorite Aziz Ansari jokes:
Aziz Ansari grapefruit joke
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August 4, 2014

Meatless Monday: Eggplant Stuffed with Lentils & Goat Cheese

Meatless Monday: Eggplant Stuffed with Lentils & Goat Cheese | Hard Parade
I'm very excited to announce that I just became an official Meatless Monday Blogger! Once upon a time, I was a vegetarian and while that didn't last, I've been observing Meatless Monday for about a year now. There are tons of reasons to join the Meatless Monday movement (which you can read about here) and you don't have to be a die-hard animal lover/vegetarian/vegan/what have you. You can just be interested in changing up your diet at least once a week and exploring all the different possibilities going meatless has to offer! You can find all my Meatless Monday recipes here. Now, onto this week's vegetarian option...

Eggplant and I don't go way back. We aren't typically friends and when we try getting along, the result is usually disastrous. But I'm making an effort. I want to like eggplant and in this recipe, I do! It's stuffed with lentils, carrots, and goat cheese and topped with bright, sweet and acidic pomegranate seeds that balance out all its earthiness. This recipe really makes the eggplant sing and by serving the meal in its own shell, the cleanup is a breeze. If eggplant was always approached this way, we'd have been friends by now. 

Eggplant Stuffed with Lentils & Goat Cheese
Recipe modified from SELF Magazine via Epicurious
Serves: 4, PointsPlus: 7 (that's it!)
Ingredients:
  • 2 eggplants, 1 pound each
  • Cooking spray
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 cups cooked lentils
  • 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus more for garnish
  • 2-oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 475f. Halve the eggplants lengthwise and remove the pulp. Cut pulp from one eggplant into 1/4-inch cubes and set aside. Either discard the rest of the pulp or use it in another recipe (I recommend the latter). 
  • Coat eggplant shells with cooking spray, season with salt and pepper, and place open side down on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 
  • In a bowl, coat the eggplant cubes with cooking spray, season with salt and pepper, and place on a second baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake eggplant shells AND cubes until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove the shells and cubes, set aside, and reduce the oven to 350.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat and sauté the onion, celery, and carrot until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, cooking until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  • Add the cooked lentils, eggplant cubes, broth, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Stir in chopped mint.
  • Flip the eggplant shells over on the baking sheet and stuff evenly with the lentil mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Top with goat cheese, mint leaves, and pomegranate seeds.
Do you have a love-hate relationship with any vegetables? Let me know in the comments!

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