Monday, April 27, 2015

Cibo, New Orleans

I'm from New York. And that means I need Italian food (and Jewish food and Korean food and Japanese food and Indian food...) on the regular to keep me happy. I went to elementary school in an Italian neighborhood, so pizza, Italian icees, garlic knots, and lots of pasta is a big part of what I grew up eating. And though New Orleans does have some Italian roots, there really isn't an Italian culinary scene down here.

I had to do some searching to find an Italian restaurant that was neither too American nor too New Orleans nor too modern. I was set on checking out Vincent's on St. Charles, only to realize that of course it was open only for dinner on Sundays. Not surprised, but definitely disappointed. Was very excited to try sauteed oysters with green onions, garlic, and olive oil over angel hair pasta. So I went for a drive up South Carrollton and parked on Oak Street. I was about ready to give up and just go for a basic cold sandwich from a coffee shop, when I turned the corner and saw the familiar colors of the Italian flag and CIBO in big letters. Cibo means food in Italiano, so this place besta be stocked with some Italian goodness.

Turns out that Cibo is more like an Italian deli, offering a selection of subs with bread straight from New York made by guys straight from New York. I was leaning towards a meatball sub, but was convinced to try their popular chicken parmesan. I of course also had to order the caprese salad, which was served over a bed of arugula and made with this delicious and a little smoky fresh mozzarella. I added broccoli rabe to my chicken parm (sorry I'm not sorry I'm addicted to vegetables), which was flavorful and served on perfectly toasty crispy bread. Really all my favorite ingredients in a meal: mozzarella, arugula, olive oil, and broccoli rabe.

Now I know exactly where to hit up whenever I'm craving a meatball/ chicken parm/ eggplant parm sub!

1114 South Carrollton Avenue
New Orleans, LA

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Fresh Pesto and Green Pasta

This week is all about the green. 4/20 and Earth Day? Time to reevaluate how you treat and perceive our planet. In celebration, I made a green vegetarian pasta with lots of pesto and veggies.

Making pesto is one of my favorite culinary pasttimes, especially when I'm home in New York. I love plucking fresh leaves off from my mini herb garden and using them in my recipes. The smell of freshly made pesto is simply the best.

Anyways, in honor of the holidays, remember to respect the earth. Not just this week, but every week. So here are two green recipes that are perfect for any day of year (but especially summer summer time!).

Fresh Pesto (yields about 8 oz)
1 bunch fresh basil, about 1.5 - 2 cups leaves
1 bunch fresh Italian parsley 
1/4 cup walnuts
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt 
1 tbs lemon juice
1 clove garlic

1. Take all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Green Pasta (serves 6-8)
1 lb pasta (I used rigatoni) 
2 zucchinis, chopped
2 cups mushrooms
3 cups spinach 
2 cups broccoli rabe, chopped 
5 cloves garlic
1 cup fresh pesto 
1 cup cherry tomatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper 

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Toss zucchini and mushrooms in olive oil and a pinch of salt/pepper and bake for 25-30 minutes or until browned. 
3. Cook pasta according to directions. 
4. Sautee broccoli rabe and spinach in about 2 tbs olive oil with garlic until cooked. 
5. Add cooked pasta, roasted zucchini and mushrooms, and raw cherry tomatoes to the cooked greens. 
6. Mix everything with the fresh pesto. Serve immediately or chilled. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Church's Chicken

I don't know why everyone hates on Church's Chicken. This morning I was extra hungry and needed something to hold me over on the way over to Tulane's Crawfest (yes, I needed breakfast before devouring pounds of crawfish boil). Henok suggested getting biscuits and there was conveniently a Church's. Never heard of it until I moved to New Orleans, but it's a southern thing.

I don't remember the last time trying a new fried chicken fast food chain, so I don't have much of a comparison.* But come on now. $1.29 for a spicy thigh and 2 for 1 honey butter biscuits? How could you not. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, and the biscuits were warm and fluffy. Definitely devoured it within minutes of walking out of the joint. I have yet to have Popeye's down here, but Church's isn't bad!

*Nevermind. I tried Chick-fil-a for the first time back in October after a long day of river tubing.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Strawberry Oat Protein Shake

I did it. I finally caved in and bought a bag of protein. Waitressing is no joke! I must walk 3-4 miles every shift, and I always come home exhausted. My eating schedule is completely askew because I always have to make the decision to either eat dinner at 4pm or at 12am. So to remedy all these problems, I bought a bag of protein. Optimum double chocolate, nonetheless! 

Protein is great for muscle recovery, muscle building, and satiety. And because it's peak of strawberry season here in Louisiana, I obviously went wild with my magic bullet and blended together some fresh strawberries, oats, a dash of milk, and half a scoop of protein (12gm). I wasn't expecting much, but wow am I a natural at making protein shakes. This tasted like straight strawberry milk! I've already had it way too many times this week to hold me over between meals or as a late night post-work drink. It's just so delicious! 

Strawberry oat protein shake (~12 oz serving) 
1/2 scoop protein powder 
8-12 strawberries
3 tbs oats 
1/2 cup milk (regular, soy, or almond) 
1 cup ice

1. Place all ingredients in a blender.
2. Blend until smooth. 
3. Enjoy immediately! 

✓ protein
✓ fruit
✓ fiber
✓ whole grains