Three years ago I could barely boil water. Determined to be a kick ass wife who not only watched football, but who could make a mean meal anytime, I taught myself how to cook. Now I write recipes, sample local eats & blog about it all!

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Entries in Guest Articles (6)

Wednesday
Aug032011

Garlic Teriyaki Pork Chops from Lauren's Latest

Hi friends! I'm still on vacation, but today I have a fantastic guest post for you from Lauren @ Lauren's Latest. I recently found Lauren's blog and was instantly smitten by her beautiful photos and ah-mazing recipes (try her Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Filled S'mores on for size! Yowzah!). Today Lauren is sharing a recipe that has my mouth watering! I adore teriyaki and I just don't make enough pork chops, so I cannot wait to try this one!
As I was leaving for vacation, I hooked up with Lauren to trade guest posts, so be sure to check her site for my guest article coming up soon!

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Hello readers! I'm Lauren from Lauren's Latest here guest posting while Rachel is on vacation! I haven't been following The Avid Appetite for long, but I definitely was hooked after one look at Rachel's Pizza Dip.
I found it, bookmarked the recipe and made a version of it the next day. Yeah....it was amazing. I'm hooked and now dream of this pizza dip. Literally. I had a dream about it. My husband and I ate the whole thing in one sitting!

 

I am not embarrassed. {You'd understand if you made it.}

 

When I'm in the kitchen, I typically only like to make recipes that are simple, easy, delicious and use very common ingredients. Whoever doesn't cook like this probably doesn't like cooking. Just sayin'.

 

Today I'm posting a Garlic Teriyaki Meat Marinade that is really versatile, really easy to put together and will leave you salivating.

 

 

It all started when I found some pretty little pork chops at the grocery store. They looked really good and were on a super sale. {That's usually how things end up in my cart.} I brought them home and rummaged through my cupboards to see what I could come up with for dinner and this is what I got. A moist, juicy, sweet yet savory piece of pork with a smokey undertone from the grill. Yeah....they were good. Like, really good.

 

I got rave reviews from everyone who tried them and even my two year old daughter said "yummy, Mommy!" which is unheard of these days. It was the definition of a culinary home run. And don't forget this marinade would be good with any other meat too! So, give this one a whirl!  You will love it! Happy grilling! :)

 

Garlic Teriyaki Pork Chops
yield: 4 servings
by: Lauren Brennan of Lauren's Latest

Ingredients:
for the marinade-
3/4 cup soy sauce
3/4 cup pineapple juice + 1/2 cup pineapple tidbits {I used canned pineapple...}
3 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
4 1/2-inch thick Rib Pork Chops {bone in} or any other meat

 

Directions:
Mix all ingredients for marinade together in a small bowl. Pour into large plastic food storage bag. Place meat inside bag with marinade and seal. 
Move bag around to coat meat, place into plastic container {incase the bag breaks} and refrigerate to marinate. The longer the better! {I marinated mine just over 24 hours.}
When you are ready to grill, preheat outdoor BBQ to medium heat. Remove meat from marinade and place onto hot grill. Cook 5-7 minutes per side or until grill marks form and meat it thoroughly cooked. Remove from heat and cover with foil for 10 minutes before serving.



So a giant thanks to Lauren for sharing this fantastic recipe! I hope you'll all give it a try...I know I will definitely be adding it to my repetoire! What is your favorite marinade for pork, chicken, or any other grillable (or roastable) delight?

Psst...Kimberly's talking about working out while on vacation over on The Peach & The Pit. Hope you'll check it out!

Wednesday
May182011

What I Really Learned in Law School

Today I've got a great guest blogger for you - my sister Kimberly! I often talk about Kimberly here on the blog, so I'm thrilled to have her sharing a post with you all today! Enjoy!

 Rachel & Kimberly, 2008

Hello everyone! Rachel’s younger sister, Kimberly, here and I am so so excited to be guest blogging for Rachel while she is traveling Europe!  As I am about to embark on one of the scariest and most exciting times of my life, it’s the perfect opportunity for me talk about the lessons I learned through a very tumultuous, yet rewarding experience over the past three years – law school. 

For whatever reason, I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer.  Probably because I am a giant nerd at heart and it’s the perfect profession to put my “pencils in a straight line, color code every tab in my binder perfectly” obsessions to a productive purpose.  Deciding I wanted to be a lawyer and go to law school was just about the only “easy” decision that has come my way over the last three years.

To say that I was a nervous wreck in the weeks leading up to leaving for law school would be the understatement of a lifetime.  From tantrums to complete meltdowns you name it I did not want to move to Boston for law school for a myriad of reasons - the distance, leaving my boyfriend, family and friends and being down right terrified.  But I sucked it up and left for Boston and swore up and down that I would transfer back to New York after my first year.

Boston!

Within a week of moving to Boston, I absolutely fell in love. With the brownstones, the tree lined streets, law school, the friends I made along the way and the fact that, as a Yankees fan, I could basically throw rocks at Fenway Park from my apartment building’s stoop, I was completely hooked.

 Dad & Me at Fenway Park

But I had made a promise to myself and after one year in Boston, I submitted (with fingers crossed I could stay in Boston) my transfer applications to all of the top choice schools I had been rejected from during my first go around.  And then, out of nowhere, an opportunity I just could NOT pass up came my way, I was accepted to Brooklyn Law School.  Within seconds of reading my acceptance letter, it became clear how much of an impact a year in Boston had made on me, through tears, I made the decision to accept my admission to Brooklyn Law. I’ll never forget my parents’ attempt to take me out for a  “celebration” dinner. And by celebrate, I mean my father (bless his heart) tried to cheer me up by feeding me mojitos and trying to explain to the waitress that, this was actually a reason to celebrate as I continued to cry into my cocktail.

24 hours later, I was moving to Brooklyn. Alone. Waving goodbye to Boston, my new friends and the school I loved.  And although I will spare you the details of the way things went down in Brooklyn, let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.  On top of the stress that comes with law school (which if you haven’t heard is abundant), I broke up with my boyfriend, tackled New York City, struggled both academically and socially at my new school and really came out of the experience two years later a different person.  As I embrace graduation and looming unemployment, I am doing my best to not try and predict what the next year will bring and look back (somewhat) fondly of the last three years and the lessons learned:

You will ALWAYS need your family and friends.

I know that this is obvious, but many times I felt like I was alone in my struggles and that no one would understand what I was going through.  And time and time again my friends and family proved me wrong.  Even if I was going through this “alone”, I was never alone and from the beginning should ALWAYS put more faith and trust into my family and friends – both old and new – who listened to me complain and cry from everything to a break up to my finals for three years (you know who you are) and I thank you for always picking up my phone calls, always being prepared with a bottle of wine and always telling me it WAS going to get easier. I could not have survive any of this without everyone supporting me.

You can do whatever you want.  When I wanted to go to law school, I never thought I would be able to go to Brooklyn Law School.  Everyone told me it was too competitive and my chances of getting in were almost zero. But I was determined.  Even when my friends made fun of me for being at the library at 7:15 everyday, it was worth it. I got in and I am proud that I never let the negativity discourage me from sending my application. Although my decision to transfer did not turn into a positive experience in the end, I am happy that I made the decision to move to Brooklyn and am happy with the person that will receive their diploma from Brooklyn Law.   I am currently struggling to use this advice and ward off the nay-sayers, as I struggle to find my place in my post-graduate life and land the dream job I’ve always wanted at a law firm in New York City.

Indulge

Bottom line, indulgence (in moderation) can really help anyone through a rough situation.  Sometimes it’s okay to pull the covers over your head. Get a good cry in. Never underestimate the power of a piece (or five) of chocolate.

at my NYC apartment with my roomies

Drink an entire bottle of red wine and go dancing.  Through all the red bulls, late night study sessions and take-out food, letting myself indulge every once and awhile really helped me get through the toughest of times and come out with at least a bit of my sanity in tact.  

Everything happens for a reason.

with my fantastic New England Law girlsThree years later, three apartments, two cities, two law schools and one giant cliché later, I have walked away with friendships that will last me a lifetime ones I would have never formed if I hadn’t moved to Boston, a boyfriend and best friend whom I wouldn’t have met if I never went to Boston (and then subsequently moved ten blocks from where he grew up in Brooklyn), and an exciting new start to my life that I know I would not appreciate had it not been for the changes the past three years have taught me.

with my boyfriend, Nick 

I thank my lucky stars for the journey I’ve been on because it would have never left me where I am today – happy, confident and excited for the next curveball that life will throw at me.  Because in the end, everything happens for a reason, even if we don’t know it yet.  

Thanks for listening to my (very wordy) story, and I leave you with these questions: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in your life?  What advice would you give to how to handle adversity?

Tuesday
May172011

Spice it up!

Today we've got a great guest post for you! I love reading Lauren's blog, The Spiced Plate, because she shares great ideas on how to use spices, not only for healthy eating and healing, but for bringing easy (and calorie-free!) flavor to her dishes. I cannot wait to try the recipes that she is sharing with us today, especially following my meat/cheese/beer fest this week in Spain & Switzerland. Enjoy!

Hello fellow readers of The Avid Appetite!  My name is Lauren, and I write the food blog The Spiced Plate, where I write about spices, nutrition, and eating a gluten-free and vegetarian diet. My journey into the world of healthy eating began when I started working in a health food store at the age of 16.  There, I was introduced to the idea that food can be used to heal -- someone might switch from an all wheat diet to a gluten free diet and be healed of digestive woes.  Another might find comfort from joint pain by including ginger and tumeric into their diet.  While Rachel is enjoying her vacation, she's asked me to write a guest post.  I decided to highlight a few spices that have healing benefits and share few recipes that highlight them. 

I love cooking and experimenting with spices.  Here are four spices that I use often in my kitchen, for both healing properties and taste:

GARAM MASALA:  Versatile and aromatic, garam masala literally means "hot mixture".  The warming combination usually includes coriander, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, and pepper.  This blend is great to use if you're new to using spices in your meals, since the proportions of various spices are already measured out.  Each component of garam masala has its own health benefit.  Cinnamon and coriander help to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.  Cumin, cloves, and pepper are great for digestion, while nutmeg has been shown to relieve stress. 

GINGER:  You can find ginger in a plethora of forms:  as a root, powder, candy, pickle, paste, or tea.  Golden in color, ginger is a spicy-sweet rhizome that has been used traditionally as both flavor enhancer and medicine. 

Ginger is a super star for your health:  it's great for stomach aches, motion sickness, muscle pains, and arthritis.  Plus, it's full of antioxidants, and may help prevent Alzheimer's Disease.

CURRY:  Another mixture of spices, curry is predominately composed of turmeric, along with mustard, chili, cayenne, and black pepper.  Much like garam masala, curry powder's ingredients vary depending on what kind you buy.  Warming and full-flavored, curry powder also has healing benefits.  The ingredients may ease joint swelling associated with arthritis, detoxify the liver, and help to relieve gas.

CUMIN:  This pungent spice can be found as a tiny brown seed or ground.  Earthy and nutty, cumin might also be found in curry mixtures.  On its own, this spice assists with the functions of your gut, liver, and kidneys.  Cumin is also known for being a great source of iron. 

Spicy Sweet Potato Chips
Serves 4
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time:  40 minutes

This simple recipe is a flavor upgrade from regular potato chips.  Since they're baked, they're healthier than their fried counterparts.  Garam masala kicks up the heat on these chips, adding a savory flavor.  Sweet potatoes are nutritious, too -- they add fiber and vitamin A to your diet.  Serve as a healthy snack or an accompaniment to a meal.  This recipe may be halved.

3 large sweet potatoes
1 tablespoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


1.  Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.  Grease a sheet pan with cooking spray or olive oil.  Wash and peel the sweet potatoes, and cut them into thin slices.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the oil with the garam masala, salt, and pepper.   
3.  Toss the sweet potato slices in the oil and spice mixture, making sure to coat each slice.
4.  Spread the chips onto a greased pan in a single layer.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Take the sweet potatoes out, and using a spatula, flip them over onto their other side.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes.
5.  Let cool.  Serve with ketchup or enjoy them plain.

Triple Threat Ginger Cookies - Gluten Free
Yields 12 cookies
Active time:  10 minutes
Total time:  35 minutes


These golden cookies offer the spicy-sweet taste of ginger in three ways:  crystallized, ground, and grated.  Here they are made gluten free with rice flour, but you can substitute whole wheat flour if you don't want to make them gluten free.  A light dusting of sugar adds a bit of crunch to the outside of the cookie, while the inside is chewy and moist.  Low in sugar and fat, these cookies are still sure to please and warm up a crowd.

2 cups rice flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 heaping teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger, chopped
rind from 1/2 a lemon, plus a couple spritzes of juice
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup of sugar

1.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a baking sheet with cooking spray or butter. 
2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the dry ingredients, except for the sugar.  Stir everything together until well incorporated.
3.  Add in the applesauce and milk, mixing until the batter is creamy.
4.  Place generous tablespoon-sized cookies onto the baking sheet.  Let bake for 25 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies start to turn golden-brown.  Let cool completely before serving.  May be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Creamy Curried Cauliflower Soup
Serves 4
Active time: 15 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes


The cauliflower absorbs the essence of curry powder in this hearty soup.  A touch of ginger and turmeric give this dish even more of heat level, without being overwhelming.  Lentils add an earthy touch and a good deal of protein and fiber.  Pureeing part of the soup at the end makes it delightfully creamy, without any dairy.  Recipe may be halved, or made ahead and stored in the refrigerator or freezer.

1/2 head of cauliflower, about 5 cups., chopped
1 1/2 cups broccoli, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup green lentils
5 cups water
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt

1.  In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat and add the onions.  Stir frequently, until the onions soften and become translucent. 
2.  Add in the vegetables, lentils, and water, and cover.  Let boil for 25 minutes.
3.  Add your spices and salt, and stir well. 
4.  Pour or scoop about 1/3 of the soup into a blender.  Puree until smooth.  You may use an immersion blender to puree part of the soup.  Add the puree back into the pot, and stir well.  Serve with naan bread or a drizzle of cream.

Spicy Falafel
Serves 4
Active time: 10 minutes
Total time:  35 minutes


A staple of middle eastern cuisine, falafel is a patty made from ground garbanzo beans.  Here, the beans get a boost of flavor from cumin, turmeric, and a pinch of cayenne pepper.  High in protein and fiber, these falafel get a healthy boost by being baked, not fried.

2 1/2 cups garbanzo beans, pre-cooked, or one can of garbanzo beans
1/4 large red onion, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
a pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
4 white button mushrooms, chopped finely
1/2 cup rice flour

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a baking sheet with canola oil. 
2.  Place all the ingredients, except for the rice flour, into a food processor.  Pluse until the chickpeas to be chopped into small pieces, but not a fine puree.  If you only have a blender, put the onions, mushrooms, garlic, and spices on the bottom and the chickpeas on top.  Use the ice crusher setting or pulse until it reaches the desired consistency. 
3. Pour the mixture into a large bowl.  Stir in the flour, incorporating all ingredients.  With a bit of flour on your hands, shape into balls about 2 inches in diameter and place on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake for 10 minutes.  Turn the falafel over with a spatula and bake for an additional 5-10 minutes.  Serve with a blend of yogurt and dill, hummus and lettuce and eat in a pita pocket, or crumble falafel over a green salad.

I hope you enjoy spicing it up!  What spices are your favorite to use in cooking?