Monday, October 20, 2014

Fried Green Tomatoes - Towanda!

Do you like Fried Green Tomatoes?  I do, both the film and the food. I stumbled upon some of the last green tomatoes of the season at the farmer's market and decided it was time to try and make my own.  Be warned, I tried to be healthy and so they aren't quite the same greasy, fried tomatoes you may be used to, but they're delicious!

What you'll need:
  • An oven pre-heated to 350
  • 3 green tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 egg and 1 cup milk whisked together (you can also use buttermilk for some tang)
  • 2 cups cornmeal seasoned with salt, pepper, and cayenne to taste.
  • Cooking spray or an oil mister to grease the sheets and spray a fine sheen over the top

Dip the tomatoes in the egg/milk mixture and then coat in the cornmeal.  Place them on a greased cookie sheet (I ended up with 2 full sheets).  Place the tomatoes in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes and then flip them once the bottom begins to brown and bake for another 15-20 minutes.

When you're done, serve them up with the sauce of your choice, I dipped mine in some homemade marinara that was pretty great!

Enjoy and TOWANDA!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Insalata Caprese, or tomatoes and cheese if you want to keep it simple.

When I think of summer, garden tomatoes are what come to mind.  I got these beauties at the farmer's market and they were sooooo good. To make a good caprese salad, slice tomatoes and mozzarella to similar thicknesses, arrange them on a plate and then top with salt and pepper, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar to taste.  Enjoy on a patio with a dry glass of white wine.  Pretend you're in Italy. It's delightful!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Quick Dinner: Greek Burgers

A pound of ground beef.  That's how many of my meals as a kid started out.  Hamburger helper, meatloaf, goulash, Spanish rice, Chinese noodle casserole, lasagna, burgers... Aha!  Burgers!  I can have those!

When I came home to a defrosted pound of ground beef after work, I wasn't quite sure what to do, but a burger sounded like a great idea!

What you'll need:
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 t dried dill
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper 
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)
  • 2 T ghee, divided (or cooking oil of your choice)
  • 1 red onion, halved and sliced
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • Ketchup
  • Smitten Kitchen's Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles 
Mix the beef, dill, oregano,  feta and salt and pepper together, incorporating the spices throughout. Form into 3 patties and set aside.  Bring your frying pan to medium heat and add your ghee and onion.  Once the onion is translucent, add your mushrooms.  Fry until they begin to carmelize (you can also add 1 T balsamic vinegar, if you'd like to help the carmelization process along).  Remove from the pan and add your second tablespoon of ghee and then place your burgers in the pan.  Leave them for about 4 minutes on each side, then take them out of the pan and let them rest while you prepare your plate (in this case, greens with faux ranch).  Plate your burger and top with ketchup and pickles and put the onions and mushrooms on the side.  Then enjoy! 

Side note:  I threw the feta in, mostly because I wanted to see if I had any kind of reaction to the dairy.  It was good, but not necessary!  The burgers will still be delicious if you decide to omit it!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Spicy Red Lentil Soup


I'm a big fan of soups.  I love how the flavors come together to create something new, I love that they're usually good for several meals and I love that there's typically very few dishes when you're done cooking.  I hate dishes.  This is a great weeknight soup, it doesn't take forever to come together, especially because the red lentils cook faster than most of the other lentil varietals.

What you'll need:
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup green chilies, diced (to taste for preferred spiciness)
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 ear of corn, kernels removed (about 1 cup)
  • 1 T olive oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
  • 1 cup red split lentils (tip: they're actually orange ;-)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups water (or stock if you have some on hand)
  • Avocado, cotija cheese (or feta), cilantro, sour cream, etc. for garnish
  • 1 t. dried basil
  • 1 t. dried oregano
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T chili powder (to taste and depending on how many fresh chilies you put in).

Heat your olive oil over medium-high heat, add your celery, onion and green chilies and saute until translucent.

Add your corn and lentils and saute until the lentils begin to soften (just a few minutes).

Add your tomatoes, spices and water.

Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the veggies are cooked through.  The soup will thicken quite a bit, so feel free to add more water if you want it a little "soupier."

Garnish with everything but the kitchen sink!  And then try not to eat the whole pot, this stuff just gets better when it sits in the fridge a bit!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Short on ribs, long on flavor!


I love short ribs.  I'm a real sucker for meat that falls off the bone, and then practically into my mouth.  I made these beautiful babies on a Sunday and could hardly wait to get to Sunday dinner!

What you'll need:
  • 4 short ribs (or 2-3 per person)
  • 1/4 cups corn starch
  • 2 pieces of bacon, diced
  • 1 T cooking oil 
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 3 cups stock
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 t rosemary
  • salt and pepper to taste

Pre-heat your oven to 325 degrees. Pat your short ribs dry with a paper towel and season them generously with salt and pepper. Coat lightly with corn starch.

Over medium-high heat, brown your bacon pieces. Remove to a piece of paper towel.

If there's not enough bacon fat, add 1T of cooking oil to the pan and brown your short ribs. Once they are brown, remove from pan and set aside.

Chop your onion, carrots and shallots.  Then add to your pan once the short ribs are brown.

Cook vegetables until translucent, add salt and pepper to taste.

Add your wine, rosemary and your stock and bring to a simmer.

Add your ribs back to the pot.

Cover and place in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.  The meat will have pulled away from the bone once you're ready.

A lot of my liquid cooked away, but the flavors were divine! 

I mashed up a sweet potato, made a side salad and went to town.  This was a great meal!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Whole30 Riff on Pork Saltimbocca

In Italian, saltimbocca translates to "jumps in the mouth," which could either mean flavorful, or really, really creepy.  I'm going to go with flavorful.

I was brainstorming at work today as to what to do with the pork chops I had defrosting in the fridge and I struck upon the idea of a pork chop saltimbocca.  Like so many ideas I have, the Internet was already way ahead of me.  I found a recipe from Michael Symon and then gave it my own twists to accommodate my diet and my laziness.  And it turned out to be AMAZINGLY delicious!

What you'll need:
  • cling wrap
  • 3 pork chops
  • 3 slices of Prosciutto
  • approximately 1 tsp. dried sage divided among the pork chops (or 1 fresh sage leaf per chop)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 T grapeseed oil (or cooking oil of your choice)
  • 4 cups arugula, divided
  • lemon slices for garnish

Dry the pork chops with a paper towel, then place on a piece of cling wrap.  Season the top of the chops with salt, pepper and sage.

 Then cover each chop with a piece of prosciutto.

Top the bunch with another piece of cling wrap and pound flat with your favorite utensil.  Me?  I used a rolling pin, because I don't have one of those fancy hammers. It works for me, especially on days when I need to relieve a little tension!

Preheat your pan to medium high, add your oil and your pork chops, prosciutto side down.  Season the other side with salt and pepper once it's in the pan.

Cook each side for about 3-4 minutes, and then removed the chops to a paper towel lined plate.

Add half your arugula to the hot pan and wilt (about 30 seconds).  Toss the wilted arugula with the raw arugula.

  Garnish with sliced lemon and enjoy!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Whole30 Reflections and Non-Scale Victories

I got my labs back this week from the end of my Whole30 and I am happy to report that they look great!

  • My triglycerides are down 152 points from my labs in March (not a typo)!
  • My overall cholesterol is down 38 points!
  • My HDL went down a little, so I need to make sure I'm sticking with the healthy fats and get it back up.
  • My LDL is exactly the same, still a little high, but I'm going to keep working on it.
  • Also, I feel like my hair has been growing faster.  Could that be?  I'm not sure. 

These factors, along with a weight loss of about 14 pounds, I would call my Whole30 a success.  I don't know that I ever got the "tiger blood" feeling that others talk about. I still don't bound out of bed every morning to greet the day, but I never have, so 30 days is probably not enough time to change my entire personality. 

When you make a change like this to your life, it's hard not to ask for the moon.  In 30 days you want to be thinner, healthier, happier, better looking and also negotiate world peace!  
I think the lesson I came away with is that it doesn't happen that way.  Put away the scale (except for maybe once a month), and focus on how you feel.  I've learned a lot about how I use food as a coping mechanism and a social crutch.  I find it hard to plan events and socialize without food and drinks, this is still something I'm learning how to do.

I grew up in a family that feeds you out of love.  "You're sick?  What can I make you to eat?"  "You won the spelling bee?  You're getting a special dinner, young lady!"  "You're sad?  How about an ice cream?"  I'm pretty sure that's in my DNA, and it probably won't ever change, so I need to focus on offering up healthy and whole foods to my loved ones, rather than, you know, carbs and cheese mixed together in some format.  I think being aware of my tendency to use food (and cocktails) as a reward is also a big step forward for me.

Since finishing the Whole30, I've remained (mostly) faithful to the plan.  I have added back a little cheese from time to time, I've had about a glass of wine a week, out with friends and I've stopped worrying quite so much about small amounts of sugar in my sausage and bacon.  I also haven't been as strict when eating out, I don't make the chef come out and tell me exactly what's in the vinaigrette or whether they make their mayonnaise in-house. Oh, and I've had 1 Blizzard.  Frankly, it was disappointing.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Almost Whole30 Banana Whip

The Internet has been very interested in a 1 ingredient ice cream these past couple of weeks.  Sillies, all you need to make creamy and delicious ice cream is one ingredient: a banana.  Someone recommended banana whip to me when I was dreaming about Blizzards on my Whole30.  I decided not to indulge because it felt a little like SWYPO to me.  But now that I've begun reintroducing some of the things that weren't on my Whole30, I decided to give it a shot, but I wanted to use 3 ingredients.

What you'll need:

  • 1 banana (frozen)
  • 1 oz. square of dark chocolate
  • 1/4 cup coconut (toasted)
  • food processor

The first thing I did was toast my coconut over low heat in a dry pan.  It actually toasts pretty quickly, so keep an eye on it!

Once your coconut is toasty, set it aside and let it cool.

Meanwhile, peel your banana and put it into your food processor.  Turn it on and let it go, it actually needed to go for longer than I thought it would. You can also pre-slice your bananas and put them in the freezer already peeled if you're freezing bananas specifically for this recipe.  Me?  I've got half a dozen bananas just waiting for inspiration to strike in my freezer.

Once your "ice cream" is smooth and fluffy, add any additional ingredients you'd like.

In this case, I added dark chocolate and coconut, the chocolate was pre-chipped before I added it (something I had to learn the hard way).

I threw my mix back in freezer for about 10-15 minutes and stirred it a couple times.  Then I scooped it up and ate it ALL!

No guilt here!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Whole30 Tom Kha, or Thai Coconut Shrimp Soup!

This recipe is delicious (if I do say so myself) and I made it several times during my Whole30 with both chicken and shrimp.  Let's face it, I love shrimp and I will always choose shrimp over chicken when I have the choice, unless I can have both!  And to be clear, you can totally have both, if you want to.

What you'll need:
  • 1 lb. shrimp peeled and deveined
  • 1 leek (or an onion if you don't have one), chopped.  It's important to discard the tough outer leaves and tops of leeks, slice them down the middle and wash thoroughly, because they tend to be sandy.
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 knob of ginger (about a 1 inch piece), minced.  
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • (optional) 2 cups green beans, cut into bite-size pieces.  Alternatively or additionally you can use zucchini, or yellow squash or even potatoes, whatever you like!  It's your soup!
  • 1 T coconut oil (for sauteing the veggies)
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 4 - 6 cups stock (or water if you don't have any).  Use less stock if you want the soup to be thicker and heartier, more if you want to stretch it further.
  • salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
  • one lime (zest goes in the soup and then you can use slices for garnish)
  • cilantro for garnish
  • hot sauce of your choice for garnish
Looks like Michigan!

Start with your coconut oil over medium heat.  Add your leeks and saute until they begin to look translucent.

Add your mushrooms, ginger and jalapeno, saute until mushrooms release their moisture.

Add your coconut milk, stock, and salt/pepper/red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer.

Add your other veggies (in this case, green beans) and your lime zest.  Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the veggies are as cooked as you would like.

Add your shrimp the very last thing, they will cook in just a minute or so.  Once the shrimp have turned pink and are opaque, you're done!  Note: if you are adding raw chicken to the soup, put it in at the same time as the veggies, cut into bite-size pieces, it should all finish about the same time.  If you're adding cooked chicken, add it at the end when you put the shrimp in, you just want it to be hot!

Garnish with lime juice, cilantro and hot sauce (but check your spice level first, I don't want you dying from the heat)!

This soup keeps pretty nicely in the fridge for multiple meals, especially if you don't cook the heck out of the veggies the first time around, so be aware and stay on the undercooked side of things in terms of your vegetables!