Monday, January 25, 2010

How to Save Your Roommate's Pan You Accidentally Burned

It's Thursday Night and after a long claustrophobic day at work (it was the weather I swear), you go home to make yourself some tofu stir-fry. Except you turn away for a split second to long (damn you crackberry and your bbming) and "EPG, what's that burning smell?"

This was me last Thursday. I burnt rice in my roommate's pot and I couldn't for the life of me get the stains off the bottom. I ruined her perfectly food pot.

But thanks to the internet, I discovered this neat little trick.

When you burn a pot, pan, etc. fill it with cold water and dump a TON of salt into the water. Let the salt water sit overnight and the next day, burn marks come right off.

I don't know what chemically happens overnight but this tip saved me a trip to the Red Hook Ikea to replace her pot.

Hope it helps you out some day.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

This week's Cooking: Peanut Chicken & Tofu Stir-fry

Woah the first week of the semester was difficult. But I'm really proud of myself for not slipping into my old habits and eating our too much.

Last Monday my best friend from home taught me how to make Peanut Chicken with Vegetables and Rice. I've always been intimidated by cooking raw meet and I tend to burn rice so it was scary.

But actually, it turned out pretty good and I was able to grill the chicken we didn't use. With some rosemary, it's perfect for a salad. No photo though.

The second dish of the week was tofu and snow pea stir-fry. I didn't have a great tofu grilling strategy to start off but when I was finished I had delicious food for the next few days. One thing for the next round, I would love Teriyaki sauce. I made do with soy sauce and salt this time but it needed a little more flavor.

Overall, I'm missing a little bit on the flavor levels so far in my cooking adventures. The first round things have been a little on the bland side, but well cooked and balanced meals. I'm really excited to keep cooking and blogging about what I make.

Next up: Lessons from Kitchen Disasters: Saving your burnt pan.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

10 New Brownbag Recipes I'm Going To Try

Since I live in New York City, I tend to go on several smaller grocery trips. After all I can only carry so many environmentally friendly tote-bags filled with groceries down 14th street. Therefore, my next grocery trip is tomorrow. I'm going to buy more lunch foods and some new dinner foods. My friend is coming out of town and it actually might be fun to try to cook dinner for someone. Or it could be a disaster.

But in my quest to make yummy brown bag lunches and stick to brown-bagging, I've decided to browse some recipes in hopes of variety.

1) Martha's Favorite Tuna Salad Sandwich
2) Grilled Chicken and Escarole Sandwich with White-Bean Spread
3) Chicken Wraps with Mango, Basil and Mint
4) Baby Spinach Salad with Tuna
5) Tangy Tabbouleh Salad
6) Waldorf Salad
7) Lentil Soup
8) Chicken Pesto Sandwiches
9) Turkey Cobb Salad Wraps
10) Salmon Cucumber Sandwiches

I'm still on the hunt for a great chili recipe though.

Cool Opp: Ms. Career Girl's College Senior Series

Through some link-hopping I stumbled on Ms. Career Girl's website (now in my links I love). In exploring the website, I found this really awesome opportunity for college seniors transitioning into the real world.

Though I will not be signing up (because then this blog would have no purpose), it seems like a really nice opportunity to re-evaluate your career strategy, and increase your Google factor as your enter the real world.

Check it out here at Ms. Career Girl

Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday Reader Poll: What is your favorite brown bag lunch?

I decided I'm going to try to post a question for the reader's every Friday. Since I just blogged about why to pack your lunch, I want to know your favorite brown bag lunch recipe!

So far this week, I've made two delicious turkey, hummus sandwiches. It's actually pretty flavorful and probably healthier because there is no cheese or condiments.

Can't wait to try your suggestions.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

My First Homecooked Meal: Tuna Salsa Pasta?

As I mentioned on twitter, I failed to buy my original protein for my stir fry at Whole Foods.

So I had to improvise my dinner plans tonight:

I started with this (minus the pasta sauce, I ditched that at the last minute):
And I ended up with pretty decent pasta dish. The salsa lost a little flavor when I heated it up so I think next time I will add it last. But the tuna was perfect and I saved some for tomorrow!

4 Reasons to Pack Your Lunch

Today I packed my lunch, a yummy turkey, baby greens, & hummus sandwich on whole grain bread. I have my own reasons for packing my lunch but according to twitter, there are many other reasons to pack a lunch.

1. It's better for the environment. According to Go Green, Live Rich, by David Bach, take-out packaging creates 1.8 tons of litter per year. Plus, there are still many takeout establishments that use plastic packaging that just sits in landfills.

2. It's healthier for you. Unless you are lucky enough to live in a major city, most fast food joints don't list their calorie counts directly on their menus. With limited portion control capabilities, it's easy to overeat. Even if you do live somewhere like NYC, according to the NYTimes, those calories counts might not be so accurate.

3. Packing will save you money. Period. In the past two weeks, I've saved an average of $40 a week. Or $120 a month, which covers my grocery bill and then some.

4. Better use of your lunch hour. Take a stroll around the block, hit them gym, or do some window shopping instead of waiting in line at the nearest cafe.

But what if you eat out to socialize and get out of the office? Meet up with your friend at a local park and eat your lunch there. If you are going to a fast food place or a cafe, take your lunch and take a seat. Sometimes when my Cosi obsessed friends really want Cosi, I go across the street to get something else and sit with them. Sure it may not seem kosher, but as long as one of the people at the table made a purchase from the restaurant, you can bring your own lunch and be social.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The cook-off begins: Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping in downtown Manhattan is always very overwhelming. I plotted out my grocery list before I left for work this morning.

But when I entered Whole Foods in Union Square, I got hit like a deer in the head lights. Which way is up? Where am I going? Why does this cost this much? Is that too much? How long will it take me to eat these grapefruits? a

It goes on and on. I succeeded mostly. I did not break my budget (though I skipped a few item as well), and got a couple healthy meals in the my two tote bags.

In my grocery bag
Farfalle (Bowtie Pasta)
Canned Tuna
Spicy Black Beans
Roasted Vegetable Pasta Sauce
Two cans of Vegetarian Chili (1 spicy, 1 mild).
3 Grapefruits
4 Granny Smith apples
Baby Lettuce
Sliced Turkey

The other great thing about Whole Foods, is that you can buy pre-chopped fresh vegetables. These are great because all you do is wash them and they are great for stir-fry or salads.
-Sliced Peppers
-Diced Red Onions
-Jicama/Mango salsa (for flavor)
-Guacamole (I couldn't get past the blockade to the real avocados)

I forgot to buy: Eggs (luckily my roommate is trying veganism and invited me to eat hers) and tofu (for my stirfry).

All in all, a relative success. I might only buy produce there in the future and purchase my basics (like pasta and chili) at the local supermarket.

But I'm glad I did adventure to Whole Foods, because now I can follow them on Twitter and find all the steals and deals.

Til next time

Great Reads: Top 8 under-appreciated blogs by Gen Y women

I'm always looking for heroes, and inspiration. So on this blogging venture, I figured I better checkout what other female Gen Y bloggers are out there.

I found this great list by on, which detail the Top 8 under-appreciated blogs by Gen Y Women. In addition to Modite herself (I'm picking through the archives as we speak), she's linked me to some fun, fresh & enthusiastic Gen Y women.

I had to share.

P.S. If it kosher to refer to someone by their domain name in the Blogosphere (or is it Blaggosphere...I've seen that too)

Monday, January 11, 2010

The blog Where I Grow Up?

Hi all, Empty Pocket Grad here. Yes I made a whole new gmail and blog account so I could chronicle my transition from college to the real world.

Let me tell you a bit about me. I'm about to finish my senior year at a NYC university and like most Gen Yer's, I'm using a blog to figure out my life. Everywhere I went over winter break, people ask me "What are you going to do when you graduate?" I have some pretty good ideas, but I realized I have a few obstacles to overcome.

1) I cannot cook. I love food but I was happy I made deviled eggs for New Year's. As a result, I'm going to use this blog to force myself to learn, post pictures of my new creations (failures included, because part of life is failing miserably).

2) I need to get a job. In this economy and particularly in my media industry, job-hunting is a bit messy. I love writing about job hunting resources, tips, etc--so I hope I can share some of my revelations with you.

3) Personal finance. I'm not horrible on this one, but it's so hard to keep yourself on a budget. In my disconnected campus life, it feels like it's always "let's get coffee, tea, lunch." And while I enjoy all those things, it kills my bank account. So I've made spending limits for myself this semester so I can save money to move. Let's see how long my good habits last.

4) Other post-graduate things: staying healthy, finding cheap, free things to do, helping others.

5) Whatever else I want to blog about. Because I'm entitled to blog about anything I want.

Signing off,

The Empty Pocket Grad.