Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dinner of a Champion

Not sure if I've mentioned this yet, but tomorrow I'm running the Hyannis half marathon...13.1 miles of pure hell bliss.  No, I'm kidding...not about the marathon but about the hell part.  I've been training and I'm ready to go!  Just as long as the snow holds out until I'm done.  Because then it actually will be hell.

Anyway, in an effort to find an excuse to carbo load pump my body with fuel, I cooked myself a little pasta party for one.  Delicious, Nutritious, and Gone.

1 cup dry pasta
1/3 lb ground turkey
1 cup baby portobello mushrooms
2 Tbs grated parmesean cheese
1/2 cup tomato sauce of your choice
spices for turkey (I used paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat saute' pan over medium-high heat with some olive oil or cooking spray and add turkey.  Add spices and cook until golden brown.  Set turkey aside.

In the same saute pan add a little more oil or cooking spray and add mushrooms and spinach until cooked through and wilted.

In a separate sauce pan, bring water to boil and add pasta.

When pasta is cooked, drain, and add turkey and spinach and mushroom mixture.  Stir in tomato sauce and grated Parmesan cheese.

I also baked up a new batch of granola bars for some morning pre-race fuel.  I've switched up the recipe a bit since the last time I posted, and I think its much better.

1 1/2 cup oats
2 Tbs of almond paste
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 package of peanut butter & chocolate chip mixture
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 large eggs
2 - 3 Tbs of maple syrup or honey

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix dry ingredients together.  Add wet ingredients.  Pour into baking pan and even out with the back of a spatula or spoon.

Bake for 28 - 30 minutes until slightly browned.  Let cool, and serve!

(Sorry, this iphone pic is beyond terrible)

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

An Oldie, but Goodie

After 60 degrees on Friday, it was disappointing when we dipped back down to 20 degrees over the weekend.  The sudden drop in temperatures made me crave something warm and comforting.  I had been promising some matzo ball soup to one of my co-workers and took this as the perfect opportunity to cook up a big batch.

Now, anyone who knows me knows how much I love my matzo ball soup; and if someone were to tell me matzo balls and cape cod chips were the last two things I would ever eat, that'd be fine with me.  In fact, bring it on.

Anyway, growing up there was always homemade chicken noodle/matzo ball soup around.  It didn't need to be a special occasion for my dad to cook up a pot of soup, and you bet I was always the taste tester.  (Take that elbow to the ribs, Joel)

27 years later, I'm happy to say I've perfected my dads recipe.  In fact, I miiiight say its better, but I wont.  

I like my soup with lots of chicken, hearty veggies, noodles, and the most light and fluffy matzo balls ever.  When time allows I'll make my own broth and balls but on Monday this was not the case so I improvised with store bought chicken stock and matzo ball mix.  

6 cups chicken stock
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 chicken or split chicken breast with ribs
6 celery stalks
6 carrots, peeled
2 parsnips, peeled
1 onion, sliced
fresh parsley or dill (depending on your taste)
salt and pepper to taste
1 bag of whatever your favorite soup noodles are
1 box of matzo ball mix

In large stock pot, heat 6 cups chicken stock and add 3 - 4 cups water.  Bring to a boil, and add bouillon cubes.  

Wash chicken, and place into boiling water.

Add chopped veggies (I like to chop my veggies on the larger side to add texture to the soup)

Cover, and simmer soup for 2 hours.

When chicken is fall off the bone tender (yeah, I said it) remove from soup and place in large bowl.  Using two forks or a fork and knife, remove meat from bones and replace in soup.  I like my soup with white meat only.

Add parsley, salt, and pepper to taste.  Cover and let simmer for 30 more minutes.

While soup is simmering, prepare matzo ball mixture (you can pretty much follow the description on the box).  (I was too busy eating tasting the soup to document this part, but I assure you, its thrilling)

Simmer mballs, covered, for 30 minutes or until they have reached desired texture. (For you first time mballers out there, trust me...light and fluffy is where its at)

Remove balls from heat, and set aside.  I like to reserve the water I cooked the matzo balls in to cook the noodles.  Not only does it have flavor, but the pot is already hot.

Add a few matzo balls and noodles to a large soup bowl and enjoy!

5 seconds later, refill.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Crunchy, Salty Sunday

It's no secret that I am obsessed with chips, specifically cape cod chips.  Something about the crunchy, salty, clusters of chips just gets my taste buds going.  I know, everyone loves chips or cape cod chips for that matter, but my obsession is borderline unhealthy.  Not only can I (and have done many more times than a few), but I'm actually known to house bags at a time.  I've woken up with my hand inside a bag, woken up with an empty bag as my bedside companion, and woken up with swollen salt lips after shoveling them in faster than you can blink and miss the freak show.  (Just ask Dan the man or the late night cashier at Shaw's.  I wish I was kidding.)

Anyway, after my run this morning, I had little motivation to do anything but lounge around the house.  I did some work, some cleaning, and realized I had some sweet potatoes I needed to use up before they went bad.   So, in the spirit of my race next weekend in Hyannis and my love for all things salty and crunchy, I decided to make some homemade sweet potato "cape cod" chips.

1 Sweet Potato
Spray Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Peel skin off potatoes and begin peeling "slices" for chips.  You'll probably need to make these in a few batches.  Once I had enough to fill 2 cookie sheets, I sprayed the sheets with some olive oil and laid the potato peels in a single layer.  I sprayed another layer of olive oil over the potatoes and topped them off with a sprinkle of salt.

Bake for 5 - 10 minutes, depending on the level of desired crunch.  I baked mine for about 8 minutes.  Keep your eye on these, as they will burn quickly if you're not watching.

Repeat with the rest of the potato, and eat the whole bowl enjoy.

These were delicious! And very "cape cod" like.  A perfect snack for my lazy Sunday.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm Stuffed

I think it's safe to say there were little to few leftovers from last nights dinner surprise.  And what I didn't house like a hippo (Jamie that's for you) eat last night, became lunch today so I needed to improvise for dinner tonight.  I haven't gone food shopping yet this week so I did a quick survey of the fridge and decided I could pull off some stuffed peppers.  

All it took was 2 leftover bell peppers, some ground turkey, an onion, shredded cheese, and tomato sauce and voila! Instant weeknight dinner.

2 green bell peppers
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs shredded Mexican cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cook quinoa in chicken broth until all liquid is absorbed.

Heat saute pan over medium-high heat and cook ground turkey.  I added some chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a little cumin to give it some flavor.  Once turkey is cooked, add onion until browned.  About 5 - 10 minutes.

Prepare peppers by cutting off tops and removing seeds and insides.

Combine cooked quinoa and tomato sauce to the turkey mixture, heat for 2 minutes.

Add Parmesan cheese, and begin filling peppers.   Cook for 20 - 25 minutes or until pepper is slightly browned and soft.

Add shredded cheese and bake or broil for 2 - 3 minutes or until cheese has melted.


I enjoyed one of the peppers with a small caesar salad and will bring the second pepper for lunch tomorrow.  

Awkward?  Good!

Monday, February 14, 2011

My Cali Vali

Happy Valentines day people!

I hope everyone enjoyed a special day filled with love, chocolate, flowers, and FOOD.  I know I did!  I got a special delivery to work today....

and an even more special delivery to my house for dinner.....

Yup, that's Zaftig's right there!

Dan the man (all the way from Cali) ordered me my most favorite matzo ball soup, some delicious potato pancakes (with sour cream and apple sauce), and pickles...because what's deli without pickles?! Nothing, duh! 

So good.  So perfect. xo

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Superbowl Sunday

I always feel like Superbowl Sunday means eating lots of food, even when the beloved Patriots aren't playing (tear).  While I had no crazy party plans, I decided to cook up a feast fit for a family of seven me and my roommate with plenty of leftovers for the week.

Since we know I love my soups, I had to get something soupy in the mix.  I had a ton of mushrooms and some barley in my apartment, so I went in search of a mushroom barley recipe.  I found this recipe by Smitten Kitchen and decided to go with it.

This was delicious!  The barley made it hearty, the beef stock made it rich, and the different kinds of mushrooms added some interesting textures and flavors.  

1/3 cup dried mushrooms (I used porcini)
2 Tbs oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound mushrooms (I used a mixture of shiitake, cremini, & white)
1/2 cup farro, barley, or spelt (I used barley)
6 cups low sodium or salt - free beef broth or stock* (vegetable, mushroom or chicken can be swapped)
1/4 cup dry sherry
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 Tbs sherry vinegar (I used red wine vinegar because it's what I had on hand)
Salt and pepper to taste

*Even though the recipe called for low sodium beef stock, this was still very salty.  I think next time I make it I'll use a cup or two of low sodium chicken stock to lighten it up a bit. 

Cover dried mushrooms with 1 cup boiling water, and set aside for 20 minutes, or while you prepare the rest of the soup.  Trim and slice mushrooms, then give them a rough chop to your desired texture.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed deep pot.  Saute' onions and carrots over medium heat until onions begin to color,  about 10 minutes.  Add garlic, and saute' for 30 seconds.  Add fresh mushrooms, and cook until they begin to release liquid, about 10 minutes.  Raise heat and add barley, saute' until it begins to color.  Add broth, sherry and tomato paste.  Drain porcinis and finely chop.  Strain mushroom-soaking liquid to remove any grit (gross!) and add to pot along with the reconstituted mushrooms. 

Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 40 minutes, until barley is tender.  Stir in sherry vinegar (or red wine vinegar); adjust seasonings and serve!

Next up on the agenda of gorging myself deliciousness is Balsamic Roast Pork Tenderloins.  My friend Libby shared this recipe with me while I was in LA a few weeks ago, and I noticed that Pork Tenderloin was on sale at Roche' Bros while I was pickin' up some dried porcini's.  

This recipe is SO easy and so delicious.  It literally took 30 minutes (yep, you guessed's a Rachel Ray special) from start to finish, including the cook time.  Also, most of the ingredients are things you will have in your house, so the only ingredient you'll need to purchase is the pork.

I cut the recipe in half because it called for 4 pork tenderloins, and I was only cooking for two.  But if you wanted to make the full recipe, just double everything.

2 1/2 pound pork tenderloin, should be 1 package with 2 tenderloins in it
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, cracked (aka, smashed...this is fun too!)
Steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and black pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary leaves stripped and finely chopped
2 sprigs thyme leaves stripped and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F.

Trim skin or connective tissue off tenderloins with a sharp knife.  Place tenderloins on a nonstick cookie shit (or roasting pan).

Coat tenderloins in a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, rubbing vinegar into meat.  Drizzle tenderloins with extra-virgin olive oil, just enough to coat.  Cut small slits into meat and disperse chunks of cracked garlic cloves into meat.  Combine steak seasoning blend or coarse salt and pepper with rosemary and thyme and rub meat with blend.

Roast in hot oven 20 minutes.

Let meat rest, transfer to a carving board, slice and serve.

I cooked up a quick batch of quinoa in some chicken broth and added some caramelized onions to eat with mah' pork.

Sweet plating skills right?! (riiiight)

This was so good! The balsamic vinegar, herbs, and steak rub make a spicy and crispy crust while the pork inside is perfectly juicy and tender.  I also added some flour and water to the pan and scraped up the leftover juices and bits to make a gravy.  


Friday, February 4, 2011

Snow Bites

With the endless amounts of snow upon us, I've been craving something sweet all week.  Trying not to destroy the very few work outs I've managed to squeeze in, I wanted to make the healthiest sweet treat possible.  I went digging through various blogs and websites to find the perfect thing, and stumbled upon these granola bars from Itzy's Kitchen.

1 1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup almond meal or ground up almonds (I couldn't find this at the grocery store near me, but I did find almond paste which I substituted)
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 package chocolate chips or chunks
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/2 cup canola oil (I used applesauce instead)
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients.

Add wet ingredients and mix well (it may seem like there isn't enough wet but keep mixing).

Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and push mixture into the bottom of the pan with the back of a spatula/spoon.

Bake for 28 - 30 minutes until slight browned on top.  Let cool completely and cut into bars.

Now, because I used almond paste instead of meal, these came out very sweet and almond-y.  At first I didn't love the flavor, but after a bar or two, I decided I like it.  They taste similar to a macaroon with the strong almond flavor.  I think next time I may use maple syrup or honey instead of the almond paste.  But I still enjoyed each and every bar.

Happy Friday peeps!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Zucchini Cakes

I've got to be honest, this was my third attempt at perfecting these stupid  zucchini cakes.  My first time was the "veggie pancake fail slop" I referenced here.  And I didn't even mention my second attempt because it certainly wasn't blog worthy.  But, I have finally perfected the zucchini cake and I'm proud to share it with all of you.

1 large zucchini grated, excess water removed (I did this by putting the grated zucchini into paper towels and squeezing to release the water)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
Sprinkle of ground nutmeg
Sprinkle of paprika
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

Using a heaping tablespoon, form the mixture into patties.  Heat skillet with some cooking spray or heat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat.  Once heated, add patties and cook until golden brown.  About 3 - 4 minutes per side.

Place cakes on paper towel to drain excess oil.

And serve.

1 zucchini made about 6 cakes.  I shoveled these in with some salsa.