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I knew when I moved back to New York after sixteen months of living in suburban Virginia that I would have to readjust to life in the city.  I knew I’d have to give up my car, consolidate my wardrobe, and adapt my love of cooking to a significantly smaller workspace.  This last item was probably the hardest, because I love to cook.  A lot.  But let’s be honest: cooking with any regularity in a New York City apartment kitchen is challenging.  Many of us have only one-square-foot of counter space, refrigerators and ovens are smaller than average, and dishwashers are a luxury.  All of this, on top of the fact that we’re living in a place that offers pretty much any kind of food you want delivered right to your door...well, it’s tempting to use your kitchen as extra storage instead of for cooking.  

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However, having a small kitchen has not stopped me from cooking for myself weekly.  (Not that I don’t indulge in the occasional Indian takeout; my favorite neighborhood restaurant knows me and my order by heart.)  It’s not always easy, but the challenge is part of the fun.  I’m constantly searching food blogs and combing through cooking magazines to find recipes that I can easily recreate at home.  I’ve collected dozens of recipes—everything from summer vegetable strata to coffee-mug chocolate cake—all of which have proven easy and affordable and delicious!  Like any home cook, I have a few go-to recipes that I’ve made time and time again.  The reason I love them?  They don’t run up my (very strict) grocery bill, they don’t work against my (not as strict) yoga regimen, they don’t require ten hours of clean up, and they’re great leftovers. 

 

Breakfast: Olive Oil Pumpkin Bread

*adapted from Fine Cooking

My cousin introduced this recipe to me a few years ago.  As much as I love to cook, I’m actually a terrible baker.  Which is why this recipe is one of my favorites. You can fudge the measurements slightly, can combine all of the ingredients in one bowl, and you still get amazing results.  This is a no-fail recipe for even the worst of bakers (like me).

Ingredients:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1½ cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted pumpkin seeds

Directions:

  • Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350° F. Spray a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

  • In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except pumpkin seeds with a large spatula until evenly incorporated.  (Hint: Measure out the olive oil first, then use the same measuring cup for the honey; the olive oil will prevent the honey from sticking to the measuring cup.)

  • Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.  Tap the pan on the counter a few times to settle the batter.  Sprinkle the top with the pumpkin seeds, pressing them down lightly.  Bake until the top is browned and a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean; 40 to 45 minutes.  Cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then transfer the bread to a rack to cool completely before slicing.

 

Lunch: Moroccan Chicken and Apricot Salad

*adapted from The Year in Food 

I really like chicken salad, but I hate mayonnaise.  By replacing the mayo with Greek yogurt, you can enjoy a classic chicken salad sandwich without the guilt. And what’s more, this recipe puts a fun, spicy twist on the traditional dish, using Moroccan flavors like cinnamon and cumin as well as chopped apricots and sliced almonds for a delicious crunch.  Eat it on wheat bread, in a wrap, or on a bed of greens.  Or, if you’re like me, you can eat it right out of the bowl!  You’ll be tempted.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground chipotle powder (optional)
  • 3 cups shredded roast chicken7
  • 1 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced green onions
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Finish with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate before serving.

 

Dinner: One-Pan Chicken and Veggies

*adapted from Tasty

After a long day’s work and being trapped with strangers on the 6 train, the last thing many people want to do when they come home is prepare a complicated, well-rounded meal.  Box mac ‘n cheese, takeout sushi, or even a bowl of cereal sounds easier and less time-consuming than chopping,  baking and sautéing.  But all you really need to make a balanced, healthy dinner is one pan and a little imagination.  Start with your protein (in this case I chose chicken, but you can choose salmon, shrimp or turkey cutlets, whatever you’re in the mood for).  Then add your veggies.  I recommend choosing what’s in season; stop at the farmers’ market and pick out what looks good to you.  Finally, add your seasonings.  pices, pre-made sauce or olive oil and vinegar are all good options.  You’ll go from zero to dinner in less than thirty minutes.

Ingredients:

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 4 cups veggies of your choice (i.e. diced carrots, chopped broccoli, halved Brussels sprouts, diced beets, diced red potatoes, sliced green beans)
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Minced garlic, to taste
  • Dried rosemary, to taste (or any other spice you like: basil, oregano, white pepper, lemon pepper, cumin, curry powder, etc.)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Olive oil

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 400° F.

  • Spray an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.  (Hint: lining the baking pan with aluminum foil makes cleanup a breeze!)

  • Spread half of the veggies on one side of the pan, the chicken in the middle, and the other half of the veggies on the other side.  Sprinkle with seasonings and salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with olive oil.

  • Bake for 25–30 minutes. Serve immediately.

 

 

Samantha Hoback is an avid reader, writer, and publishing associate. She loves coffee and wine, Indian food and tiramisu, yoga and ballet. Read about her adventures in the city on her blog, From New York, with Love.

 

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