Follow me through the adventures that take place in my kitchen, in restaurants or in other kitchens. Cooking and food are my passions and I want to share my experiences of cooking, baking and eating with you.
I'm a Greek self-taught cook who lives in Chicago. I learned a lot about cooking from both of my grandmothers, my mom and dad, family and friends. Passing on timeless traditions through food is one thing I strive to do in life.
These are my journeys through culinary exploration...
clraptis (at) gmail (dot) com
It’s the last week of the challenge and I’m proud to say I’ve stuck with it so far. Even the week I was in Vegas for 3 days - I brought Larabars, almonds and banana chips to eat instead of hitting the casino buffet.
Since I always do make-ahead lunches on Sundays for the upcoming week, I made one of my favorite salads. My mom had a strict rule that no matter what we were having for dinner, even if we were having pizza or grabbed some chinese take-out in a pinch, we HAD to have a salad with dinner. A good habit to have as a kid because I find myself now as an adult always ordering a salad with dinner at restaurants (and inevitably eating less of my meal as a result of filling up on something green first).
This salad is what we Greeks call a village salad. A true Greek salad. As you can see - NO LETTUCE. That’s right. It’s the simplest, easiest salad to make and in my opinion, the tastiest.
Here’s what you do: chop up tomatoes, cucumbers, and onion then throw together in a bowl. Toss in some crumbled feta, season with salt, pepper, and oregano, then finish off with some extra virgin olive oil (Greek olive oil preferably). Stir and you’re ready to go! I know, there’s no measurements… but if you were to ask my Yiayia (“grandma” in Greek) she would give you the same “recipe” so I figured I would stick to her style! :)
That’s my lunch for the last week of the challenge. Check out what these fabulous bloggers brought in their brown bags:
I made a huge bowl of this roasted chickpea, cucumber and marinated mushroom salad on Sunday night. Then portioned it out into 5 servings so my lunch is made for each day this week! I have to do make-ahead lunches over the weekend otherwise I’ll forget and end up making poor decisions when it comes to food for lunch.
Check out what these bloggers are bringing for lunch!
Cucumbers are the flavor of the week for Summer Fest (a celebration of seasonal summer ingredients on the Food Network Blog: FN Dish) and I couldn’t be more excited!
Being Greek and all, I believe I am genetically pre-programmed to have a soft spot for cucumbers. I’m sure most will have expected a tzatziki recipe, but instead I went with one of my favorite things to make and bring into work for lunch during the summer. It’s a take on a salad that Gina at skinnytaste.com has made in the past and it will NOT disappoint. I love how the juices from the tomatoes mix with lime juice to create a guilt-free dressing. When you’re in the mood for something cool as a cucumber (pun intended), refreshing, crunchy yet buttery and ultimately satisfying - this is the salad for you!
INGREDIENTS: 2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped 1 lb. grape tomatoes, halved 1 avocado, chopped ½ red onion, minced 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained 2 limes, juiced salt and pepper
DIRECTIONS: Put the chopped cucumbers
onion and black beans
and avocado in a bowl.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then douse in the lime juice. Stir to combine and taste to see if you need to adjust the seasoning.
Serve immediately or chilled and enjoy!
Check out these links to other great cucumber recipes by other bloggers participating in the FN Dish’s Summer Fest this week:
Have you ever dared to eat raw, uncooked kale? I never thought it would be tasty because kale is such a bitter green before it’s cooked down. When I saw an episode of Aarti Party on Food Network where she made a “massaged kale salad” I figured I had better try it first before I could say if I did/didn’t like it.
With heavy doubt in tow, I bought some locally grown kale from the farmer’s market and went for it. Apparently the mixture of olive oil, acidic lemon juice and constant massaging for 2-3 minutes breaks up the fibers in the kale to trick it into thinking it has been cooked! The mixture of the hearty kale with the sweet mango and crunchy pepitas was a great combination of flavor AND texture. It has become my favorite thing to bring to work for lunch.
Here’s the recipe. Try it out and see for yourself how delicious it is!
MASSAGED KALE SALAD
INGREDIENTS: 1 bunch kale (black kale is especially good), stalks removed, leaves thinly sliced 1 lemon, juiced ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling Kosher salt 2 teaspoons honey Freshly ground black pepper 1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup) Small handful toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds), about 2 rounded tablespoons
DIRECTIONS: In large serving bowl, add the kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a pinch of salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside while you make the dressing.
In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the ¼ cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes.
Pour the dressing over the kale, and add the mango and pepitas. Toss and serve immediately.
In an effort to give my “healthy habits” an extra push - I’m going to cut out bread, rice and pasta for the next month (before my friend’s wedding) to see how it can boost my weight loss. Don’t get me wrong, this is NOT a no-carb diet… I will still enjoy my fair share of fruits, beans and other carbs. I’m just eliminating flour and starches for a month to see what happens.
So I revisited my favorite healthy recipe website: skinnytaste.com to see what Gina has been whipping up in her kitchen. I’m going to post some recipe reblogs of some dishes that I can enjoy in the next month.
Crips, leafy greens with sun-dried tomatoes, figs, mushrooms and caramelized pecans. Topped with juicy chicken marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper with a side of balsalmic vinegarette.