Sunday, February 16, 2014

The Valentine’s Day Massacre




On Valentine’s Day, most couples will make reservations, eat at a fancy restaurant with a pricey pre-fixe menu, exchange a few gifts, and eat some chocolates.

But Jeremy and I are not most couples. 

This Valentine’s Day, we were assassins.


Lobster assassins that is!

Every year for Valentine’s Day, Jeremy and I opt to stay in and cook dinner together.  We plan to cook something special that we wouldn’t normally eat.  In past years, we’ve made steaks, another year it was shrimp scampi and chocolate-covered strawberries. This year, I wanted to do something a little different. As I’ve mentioned before, I am was afraid of cooking live lobster, but wanted to one day get over my fear and try it.  And what better activity to do with your significant other on Valentine’s Day?


After all, nothing says “I love you” like murdering a crustacean together. 

We actually cooked two lobsters.  I bought two lobsters, in case one did not work out, we would have a spare.  And if it turned out to be success for both, I anticipated I would not be inclined to have to share a lobster. 

So after work last Friday, I stopped at a Shop-Rite by my office to purchase said crustaceans. When the clerk pulled the first one out of the tank, it didn’t move much, which made me a little worried, but he assured me  that it was alive and plopped it on the scale.  I watched it crawl around on the scale, which confirmed to me it was still alive.  The second one put up a fight coming out of the tank, which gave me a good feeling that it would be nice and tasty.  (I read that according to lobstermen, the feisty ones are tastier).

Now, Jeremy and I had both thoroughly researched did a google search on the preparation and cooking process of lobsters.  We had some disagreements on how to kill them.  He wanted to kill them just before dropping them in the pot of boiling water – supposedly this is more humane and reduces the chance of getting splashed with boiling hot water.  But the idea of stabbing a lobster in the head with a knife skeeved me out a little.  So we opted for steaming instead because it only involves boiling an inch or two of water, and less likely to splash.  But we both agreed that we should put them in the freezer for 20 minutes before cooking them because that will cause their body temperature to drop, and they will essentially go to sleep and be easier to handle before dropping them in the pot.

So into the freezer they went.  Jeremy also had prepared a wet cloth that was soaked in salt water to use to handle the lobsters for when we took them out of the freezer. 

While the lobsters were taking their last nap, we took our biggest pot and filled it with about two inches of water, added a generous amount of sea salt, and set it to boil. 

After about 20 minutes, we took out the first lobster from the freezer. 


Hello, my pretty.

The lobster was pretty sluggish (I think this was the first lobster that came out of the tank, which was more docile to begin with).  So Jeremy held it down with the wet cloth while I snipped off the rubber bands from the claws with scissors.  I was expecting the lobster to fight back, but it actually didn’t really move much.

So into the pot it went. And 8-10 minutes later, it was done!


Once it was done, we put it on ice to stop the cooking process.

While the first lobster was cooking, we moved the second lobster into the fridge.  I was worried that, if we kept the second one in the freezer for too long, it would die in the freezer.  In retrospect, this was probably unnecessary, and only meant that the lobster had a chance to thaw before we put it into the pot, and this was the feisty one!

For the second lobster, I added to the cooking water a few sprigs of fresh thyme, two bay leaves, juice from half a lemon, and the lemon rind. We also cooked this one for about a minute less.  The second one turned out to be the tastier of the two. I think the herbs and lemon helped, as well as the shorter cooking time.  (The first one was a little overcooked).  Also, if what they say is true, the feistier ones really do taste better.


The feisty lobster is ready for its close up… and to be eaten!

For the sauce, I melted a stick of unsalted butter, with some sea salt, a few sprigs of thyme and juice from about half a lemon.  It went well with the lobster, but next time I would add less lemon since it was a bit overpowering.  We also had a lot of sauce leftover, so the entire stick of butter was probably too much.

On the side, we had steamed broccoli, which I stirred in some of the lemon butter sauce.

Overall, this was a fun couples cooking adventure to do on Valentine’s Day! We both admitted that it is a little weird to see something moving, and then later cook it and eat it.  I imagine fishers and hunters must be used to that, but it was a first for both of us.  On the plus side, the lobsters were about a pound a half each, and ended up costing about $16 each.  I recognize that they would be much cheaper in the summer time, but still $16 per person for a lobster dinner + plus sharing a fun cooking adventure = one great Valentine’s Day!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mahi Mahi with Corn and Black Bean Salsa



This was a completely improvised, but healthy and delicious meal I made tonight! When I came home tonight, I already had frozen mahi mahi filets defrosting in the fridge, but I wanted to do something a little different with it.  We also had half a can of black soy beans in the fridge, so I rummaged around the fridge and freezer to see what else I could do with this.  I had seen restaurants serve fish with corn and beans before (like at Chandler’s Crabhouse during our trip Seattle), so I whipped together this mild salsa with odds and ends I had in the fridge and steamed some broccoli to go on the side. The result is what you see here, a colorful, tasty dish!


For the fish:

  • 4 mahi mahi filets
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the salsa:

  • 1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup corn (I used frozen which I defrosted in the microwave, but if it’s in season, fresh would be best)
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, finely chopped
  • handful of grape tomatoes, chopped (or a whole plum tomato would work nicely here too)
  • 1 Tbs grated onion
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • 1 Tbs parsley, finely chopped
  • seasoning salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • dash of cayenne pepper
  • juice from half a lime (or more to taste)


  • Substitute parsley with cilantro, if you are not cilantro-averse like me
  • Substitute bell pepper with a finely chopped jalapeno for a spicy kick
  • Some cubed avocado would be an excellent addition, but my avocado was not ripe yet


Preheat oven at 450 degrees

Prepare the fish: lightly oil a roasting pan with olive oil.  Place filets in pan.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle a little more olive oil on the fish.  Roast in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

While the fish is cooking, prepare the salsa by combining ingredients into a bowl.  Set aside.

When fish is cooked, plate it and top with salsa, and an extra drizzle of lime juice.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Super Bowl Recipe Ideas



Happy Groundhog’s Day/Super Bowl Sunday! For those of you who are coming to Jersey City for the big game, there’s still time to check out the guide Jeremy and I put together to watch the game here in town.

Since I’m actually not a huge football fan, my favorite part about the Super Bowl is the excuse to eat yummy party food and enjoy a few drinks with friends.  Here are some of my Super Bowl party-friendly recipes:

And here are some fun Super Bowl party recipes from around the web:

No matter which team you are rooting for tonight, I hope you all have a happy and safe Super Bowl Sunday!

Monday, January 27, 2014

A Super Bowl-Goer’s Real Guide To Downtown Jersey City (And Beyond)

Jeremy (or J. as I have called him on this blog until now) and I are proud to announce that we co-authored a guest post on our friend Kevin's blog, Inside Jersey City. Super Bowl XLVIII coming to New York has been all the buzz lately, but of course, the Seahawks and Broncos will actually be playing for the coveted ring in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  And what many people don't know is that the players are staying in hotels in Jersey City.  So Jeremy and I put together a Super Bowl-goers guide on our favorite places to eat, drink, and hang out in the beloved town we call home.

So go on over to Inside Jersey City to check it out! While you're there, check out all the tips, helpful information on local businesses, and other useful resources about Jersey City on Kevin's blog!

Special thanks to Kevin for hosting our guest post!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Brooklyn Ale Fish and Chips in the New York Times



Okay, so I made this not so much for the “health” factor, but rather for the “new to me” factor in that I’ve never made fish and chips before.  In fact, I’ve always been intimidated by deep frying.  Before attempting this recipe by Alton Brown, I used to have visions of horrendous oil fires and 3rd degree burns if I were to try deep frying.   But it actually turned out quite well, no flash fires or singed eyebrows,  and now I can cross off deep frying off my cooking bucket list. I also learned a little trick on how to tell if oil has reached 350 degrees without a deep fry thermometer.  Put in a single kernel of popcorn in the oil while it is heating. When it reaches 350-360 degrees, the kernel will pop. Thank you, Cooks Illustrated!

We added a “New York” twist to this British favorite by using Brooklyn Brown Ale in the batter, and wrapping it up in the New York Times.  And to make up for the deep fried battered fish, I opted to make oven “chips” as opposed to frying them in oil, using the recipe below.  Overall everything came out quite tasty.  Perhaps next time we’ll stay true to our roots use New Jersey Beer Company beer and wrap it up in the Jersey Journal?



Fish and Chips

I followed Alton Brown’s recipe for the fish.  And then healthified the chips by making them in the oven like this:

Oven “Chips” for fish and chips


  • 3 medium sized russet potatoes, scrubbed (leave the skins on if you like)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbs finely chopped fresh oregano or other herb (Optional)

Preheat oven at 425 degrees.  Slice potatoes lengthwise into 8 wedges each.  Place in roasting pan in a single layer.  Drizzle oil, salt, pepper, and herbs and toss potatoes to coat.  Bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, flipping potatoes once halfway through the cooking time. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pumpkin Curry Soup



Week 2 of my “new recipe” New Year’s resolution and going strong! When I told J. about my resolution, he made one request – to use up ingredients in our cabinets and fridge! Since we have about half a dozen cans of pumpkin stocked up in our cabinets, I knew I had to do something with them.  And since one of the requirements of the new recipe resolution was that it had to be “healthy,” pumpkin pie was out of the question.  (Plus, who eats pumpkin pie in January?  That is a dessert I personally reserve for Thanksgiving.) 

So after some google searching, I found this recipe for this Thai pumpkin soup, which was perfect for the cold single-digit weather we had this week!  But since it calls for ingredients that I usually have in my pantry and is ready in minutes, I would make this any time of the year.

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Adapted from Foodie Crush


  • 2  14.5 oz cans pureed pumpkin
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  14.5 oz light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbs red curry paste
  • 1-2 tsp fish sauce (to taste)
  • A few dashes of sriracha sauce (to taste)


  • In a medium sized pot, toast the curry paste for about a minute over medium high heat.
  • Add chicken broth and pumpkin, stir until smooth and cook until it reaches a boil, about five minutes.
  • Stir in coconut milk, and cook until heated through, about another three minutes
  • Season with fish sauce and sriracha to taste and serve.

Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year’s Resolutions 2013


New Year’s resolutions sometimes get a bad rep. Sure, you can point and laugh at the people who sign up for a gym membership on January 1, and then stop going by Valentine’s Day. But I don’t laugh at those people.  After all, I made a New Year’s resolution in 2012 that actually stuck.  So when I see the unfamiliar faces at the gym at the beginning of January, I give them a nod of encouragement. You can do it!

What I do find makes keeping a healthy resolution is falling into a rut.  In trying to cook healthy all the time, I have a tendency to fall back to the same half dozen or so go-to recipes because I know that the taste good and are good for me too. But then my taste buds get bored after a while, making eating out and indulging all the more appealing. So to break from the routine (but not my resolutions), my resolution this year is to cook a new healthy recipe once a week.

First up – slow cooker chicken in chipotle sauce!


I had this recipe from Best Ever Recipes For Your Slow Cooker for years, but never made it because it called for dried chipotle peppers, which I never have on hand.  So last weekend, I trekked out in the pouring rain to my local Key Food supermarket, where I found the peppers quite easily.  (One of the advantages of living in such a diverse neighborhood – makes me wonder why it took me so long to make this!)

Though I had to laugh at the delightfully vague instructions:


Use to enhance the flavor of your favorite dish, eh? But how?

I reduced the amount of chicken and peppers the recipe called for, but forgot to reduce the amount of liquid, which made for a watery thin sauce as you can see in the picture above.  But that actually turned out to be a happy accident when I took the leftovers with me to work for lunch. The following morning, in my haste to get to work and not have to carry a lot of containers, I dumped about a half cup of brown rice into the broth and chicken mixture.  At the office, I reheated the stuff in the microwave.  Since I didn’t have a knife, I shredded the chicken with a fork, voila! I had an even tastier stew. 



I actually liked this better in stew form, so next time, I may just make it as a stew from the get-go. Sometimes, cooking mistakes mean making an even better recipe!

Slow Cooker Chicken in Chipotle Sauce (or Chipotle Chicken stew)

Adapted from Best Ever Recipes for Your Slow Cooker


  • 4 dried chipotle chilies (If you don’t want it to be too spicy, you can probably tone it down to 2-3 chilies)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 Tbs grapeseed oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh oregano for garnish
  • Cooked Brown rice (optional for stew)


  1. Boil water and pour boiling water over dried chilies.  Allow to sit for about 45 minutes or until soft.  Remove chilies, but save the soaking water.  Cut off the stem from each pepper and cut it open to remove the seeds with a knife. 
  2. Chop the chilies and put in food processor or blender, along with soaking water. Process until smooth.
  3. Heat oil in a frying pan.  Add onions and cook over medium heat until soft, about five minutes. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the onions.
  4. Place onions in the stoneware insert of the slow cooker.  Layer chicken breasts on top. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the chicken.  Pour chili puree on top of chicken, making sure all the chicken is coated.  (I had to do this in layers because I have a small, 3 quart slow cooker.).  Cook on high for 3-4 hours.
  5. Once fully cooked, you can serve the chicken breasts whole topped with generous spoonfuls of the sauce and oregano leaves.  To make the stew, simple shred the chicken into bite sized pieces with two forks.  Add brown rice, if desired.