Monday, May 20, 2013

Weekend recap....

Howdy, everyone!  So I have LOTS to recap from this let's get right to it, shall we???

First up was week 2 of our 'Friday night summer tradition'...

Made with 2 of a burgers BFF's... caramelized onions:

...and the BEST melting cheese:  buttery fontinaJ

Served up on a lettuce wrap for some extra CRUNCH!

Even though it can be a little messy, I LOVE me a lettuce wrap sometimes!  It gives you the chance to REALLLLLLY taste the burger, and while you're at it, it saves you over 100 calories.  Double win!
(ps-I should also mention that 99% of the time, we make our burgers with ground turkey unless it's for company and/or a holiday...just another way to cut back a bit)

And as our burger buddy for the night, we picked one of our ALL-TIME FAVORITE SIDES...

  • 1 cup couscous, cooked in chicken broth & cooled
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 cup roasted corn, defrosted
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Olive oil & salt to taste
And we even got a new fan in da house!

Saturday morning we headed off to the farmer's market, dressed appropriately of course!

Where the height of strawberry (oh God, these smelled so good!)...

...and lettuce season was in full swing!  These guys were HUGEEEEEE!

We gathered up our goodies and made a quick stop at my favorite Tortilla Press stand...

For my chicken, cheese, asparagus and ROASTED RED PEPPER breakfast quesadilla!  I just love these things!

And AS USUAL, I had to shareJ

Saturday night was spent with a Groupon-inspired dinner at this little Rahway gem, Cubanu...
Maybe it was the glaze of multiple coconut mojito's, but this dinner was TOP NOTCH!  Delicious, but not over done.  Just simple & perfect.  Plus, we love ANY chance we get for CUBAN!

We started with a few appetizers, including these PERFECT mini Cuban sandwich wontons...(HEAVEN!!!!  THESE THINGS WERE SOOOOO GOOD!)...

Also some beef empanadas & garlic shrimp...

Followed up with the "NJ version" of one of my ALL-TIME favorite dishes: MOFONGO!  (this time with crispy pork bites)
(which, let's be honest, was ABSOLUTELY delicious, but still no match for our dear Raices...sighhhh...)

And capped off with the most absolutely perfect tre leche cake I've ever tasted!  (besides the one we had at a random truck stop in Costa RicaJ)  Some are just JARRINGLY sweet, but this one was subtle & mellow...divine!
A fantastic dinner.  We left full & very happy...or maybe that was just the mojitos talkingJ  hehehehhehee...

And not to brag, but I think I made THE BEST breakfast yesterday morning!!
I combined pre-mixed pancake mix with a bit of extra baking powder and a LOT (A LOT!) of brown sugar to make fluffy in the center, crispy around the ridges brown sugar pancakes!

Topped off with maple syrup heated with even MORE brown sugar!

(Plus, who doesn't love any excuse to bust out ye ole gravy boat!J)

Thankfully we balanced alllll that sweetness with some salty from oven-cooked bacon (which is probably the easiest way to make bacon ever!)
Just line a baking sheet with foil & place the bacon on a cooling rack placed on the cookie sheet and pop in a cold oven.  THEN turn on your oven to 400 degrees.  As the oven heats up & the bacon cooks for 16-20 minutes, it gives the time for the fat to render making for SUPER crisp/less oily bacon.  Perfection.

Swwwooooooooooooonnnnnnnn...brown sugar & bacon HEAVEN!  I already want to make these again next week...just. so. good!!

And these kept us full for an absurd amount of time.  I had these fresh strawberries for lunch around 3, while Scott had ZILCH!  Those pancakes were lasting!
And can we just acknowledge how absurdly heads & tails, above & beyond fresh strawberries are compared to 'grocery/out of season berries'?????  In comparison, those taste like WAX.  These are like little bundles of sweetness.  Swwooonnn...again! J

For dinner, we whipped up another meal staring one of our farmer's market finds:  Pasta with broccoli rabe & roasted garlic ricotta!

I have never been much of a broccoli rabe fan, but thought I'd try give it another try after discovering on Pinterest how to make it less BITTER.

As instructed, I heated up about 3/4 cup of olive oil & a few garlic cloves and let that warm up for a few minutes...

Then added in the diced broccoli rabe & 1/2 cup of water, turned the heat to medium low, covered it up and allowed this to slow simmer for an hour & 15 minutes...

The occasional stirring & some time later and my green lovelies had wilted into this:

While the 'rabe was cooking, I also popped in 2 heads of garlic to roast at 350 for an hour.  Because...well, WHY NOT???J

When the broccoli had about 5 minutes left, I threw some pasta into boiling water...this time using angel hair:

And got busy with my 'other' all-star:  the roasted garlic ricotta!
Into the food processor went:
  • 1 cup ricotta (I used part skim)
  • 2 bulbs of roasted garlic
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 ladle of starchy pasta water 
Whirl that up & set aside while you drain the pasta.

Once drained, toss the pasta with about 1/4 cup grated cheese...

And stir in the roasted garlic ricotta.  Make sure to mix well to allow the ricotta to heat up & melt around the pasta...

Finally, toss in the broccoli rabe with a slotted spoon or macaroni 'fork,' draining off the excess oil before adding...

I can't say that the braising COMPLETELY got rid of the bitterness, but it was mellowed out enough to make it luscious...made even MORE mellow with the help of the smooooothhh roasted garlic ricotta.  
It was one of those perfect "Sunday" recipes that took some time, but only about 10-15 minutes worth of actual 'effort', ya know??  Try this one on your next lazy Sunday!

And in more "there's no way a baby would like this" child INHALED this dish!  I started her off with half a scoop and she ended up eating every. last. strand of the entire scoop.  Crazy!

And in EXERCISE news, I sweated through both a VERY challenging power yoga class on Saturday morning and then was promoted to "experienced boxer" by my teacher on Sunday morning! ('s the little things in life that keep me going...hahahahahaha) Which meant not only did I get my own punching bag (without having to share/split time with anyone!), but she also  decided to chase me AROUND said bag, so I was forced to work on my footwork on top of my punchesJ  Let's just say by the end of the final 2-minute round, I was WIPED OUT!  But I felt FANTASTIC.

ALRIGHT...that's SO MUCH for one day!!  Hope you guys had a great weekend too!  What were you up to??

Have a good Monday!
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