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Double dipping – two dip recipes

May 25, 2016

It’s a beautiful day. Warm and sunny, a hair over 80 degrees – it’s the perfect day to hide from the sun like a vampire.

In all seriousness though, it is gorgeous out and we did spend some time in the yard before retreating back into the house. Because yes, I do usually hide from the sun like a vampire.

But anyway, this post is not about my pasty white skin. It’s about double dipping – skordalia and babaganoush to be exact!

There are days where I just want simple. Easy prep, easy clean up, no fuss. Then there are days where I just feel like getting involved and apparently, this is one of them. Sometimes it can be difficult, with my husband being unable to eat dairy. So much has dairy in it! Not these.

Speaking of my husband, he will be home late tonight, so I’ve had the whole day in front of me. I defrosted some pork chops for the mister and Little Miss, which I tossed with lemon juice, olive oil and Penzey’s Greek Seasoning, which can go on the grill later.

But dips. The dips make it. I was giving Little Miss lunch when my eyes fell on the potatoes on my counter. Suddenly, visions of skordalia, the lemony, garlicky Greek spread began dancing through my head. Yes, I decided, I could do this.

Just a quick reminder, I don’t post recipes for the most part. I post guidelines. If you can cook even a little, you can do this, I promise!

The Skordalia Guidelines

Skordalia, if you’re not familiar with it, is a smooth potato spread with plenty of garlic and lemon, perfect for serving with bread, pita bread or sliced raw veggies.

You’ll need:

  • Potatoes (this is a dip, not a size dish, so I found 5 medium potatoes to be just fine), peeled and chopped into 1″ cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Lemon juice, and lemon zest/powdered lemon peel
  • 2 cloves of garlic or garlic powder

Remember, this isn’t a recipe, so it’s not exact, but instructions are:

  1. Boil potatoes until fork tender. Drain, but keep the water in the pot.
  2. Transfer potatoes to a bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil, one at a time.
  3. Salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cloves fresh minced garlic, or garlic powder to have the flavor without the bite (I used a little over 1 tsp).
  4. Add 1-2 tsp lemon juice and a little fresh lemon zest or powdered lemon peel, mix.
  5. One tablespoon at a time, add cooking water and stir in until the dip is smooth and creamy.
  6. Let chill in the fridge or enjoy warm.

The Babaganoush Guidelines

Or, “Babaganoush – It’s Better Than It Looks”

For this recipe, I use my handy dandy wood chopping bowl and mezzaluna knife. This is also useful for making tuna/chicken salad and anything else you need to chop. It’s a wonderful set and if you don’t have one, you should.

old fashioned modern living babaganoush recipeYou’ll need:

  • A normal sized eggplant
  • Fresh garlic or garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mayonnaise
  • Parsley (fresh or dried)

The instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Bake your eggplant for about an hour, or until it can be easily punctured by a fork.
  2. Remove eggplant from oven, let cool enough to handle. Cut the top and bottom off and use your hands to peel the skin off.
  3. Place peeled eggplant in chopping bowl and chop as finely or coarsely as you like.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, plus as much fresh garlic or garlic powder as makes you happy.
  5. Throw in at least a teaspoon of dried garlic, or a nice handful of chopped fresh parsley.
  6. Stir in mayonnaise (I used 2 teaspoons, but adjust for how much you prefer). Done.

Seriously, it’s not pretty, but it’s really good. Feel free to cook your eggplant on the barbecue for a nice smokey flavor.

This is how we’re double dipping tonight. I’ve got raw veggies sliced for dipping, the pork just about ready to go on the grill, some sliced and seasoned butternut squash to hit the grill with the meat, and “no fail” pita bread from this recipe rising – and yes, they’re rising! I have high hopes these will be nice and fluffy and not terrible little hockey pucks.

Now I just need to keep the toddler busy until daddy gets home.

Baking Cooking Recipe

Frozen Pizza, 2 Ways

May 3, 2016

As many of you know, I’ve been spending the last few months preparing for the arrival of my baby boy! My due date is now less than a month away- and instead of manic nesting energy- I find myself incredibly sleepy! I’m hoping to give my body the rest it needs now so that I can store up some energy for the home stretch. Along those lines, my pre-baby freezer meal prep for the week is cheat your butt off frozen pizza! The sauce, dough, and cheese are all store bought. The meatballs are leftovers from Sunday dinner. The second version is a vegan, veggie pizza with a sweet onion/garlic sauce. I recently saw it on A Beautiful Mess, and I have been dying to make it ever since. This one requires more work, because you have to make the sauce and cook the veggies a little- but the dough is still store bought.

From reading I’ve done, the key to making a good homemade frozen pizza seems to be pre cooking your pizza dough a little bit, and wrapping them really well to prevent freezer burn.  I’m planning on making four small pizzas, so that they aren’t so floppy that they fall apart on me when I am trying to move them to the freezer!

What You’ll Need:

2 bags refrigerated pizza dough

flour (for rolling)

(for traditional pizza)

1 small jar of sauce

1 bag of shredded mozzerella cheese

2 sliced meatballs (or whatever is in your fridge)

Penzey’s Pizza Seasoning

(for veggie pizza- adapted from A Beautiful Mess)

1 medium onion

4 cloves of garlic

1/2 large green pepper

2 big handfuls of spinach leaves

1 quarter of a medium zucchini

Penzey’s Italian Herb Mix

2 tblspn olive oil (plus more for drizzling)

1 tblspn balsamic vinegar

 

The first step is to remove the paper from your onion and garlic cloves, drizzle them with olive oil, and wrap them in tin foil. Bake them for about 45 minutes at 400 degrees.

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While your onion and garlic is roasting, chop up your veggies into thin slices (I chose peppers, zucchini, and spinach- but you can use whatever you want), and sauté them with olive oil and italian herb mix until they are just starting to get soft. You do not need to fully cook them because everything  will be baked when you are actually getting ready to eat your frozen pizza. Once your veggies are slightly softened, you can set them aside while you wait for your other veggies to be done roasting.

Once the garlic and onions are finished roasting, set the temperature to 375 degrees, and begin rolling out your dough into four small pizzas. I baked my rolled out dough for about 6 minutes at first, but I noticed that when I left the dough in for 2 minutes longer by accident, it was slightly more sturdy for wrapping the pizzas later. So, I’d say bake your dough for about 6-8 minutes, depending upon what makes sense to you.

Dough before baking

Dough before baking

Dough after being baked for about 7 minutes. It will look similar to the raw dough, but you will be able to move it without it breaking.

Dough after being baked for about 7 minutes. It will look similar to the raw dough, but you will be able to move it without it breaking.

While you are baking the dough, prepare the onion and garlic sauce. Blend the onion and garlic cloves with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar until it is pureed into a thick sauce. Once that is completed, make room to assemble your pizzas and gather the rest of your toppings.

For the traditional pizzas, I spread on tomato sauce, scattered slices of meatball, and covered them in mozzarella cheese. I figured if I covered the sauce in cheese, it would be less likely to all stick to the plastic wrap! I also sprinkled on the pizza seasoning.

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For the veggie pizzas, I divided the onion and garlic sauce between the two pizzas and spread them over each. Next, I added the softened veggies. It turned out that I cooked a large amount of veggies, but I used all of them anyway since these pizzas do not contain meat or cheese.

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This may be overkill, but I wrapped each pizza tightly in three layers of plastic wrap. I stacked them neatly and nestled them into the freezer. According to Emma of A Beautiful Mess, you need to thaw the pizza for at least an hour before you intend to bake it, and then bake it for 18-22 minutes at 400 degrees. Definitely keep an eye on your pizza as ovens can have some variations! I hope these come out good- because I will be saving them for easy meals after the baby is born! I think either of these types of  pizzas would be a nice dinner for two with a big salad- or a really generous dinner for one with no sides. Enjoy!

Pizzas tightly wrapped and ready to be stored in the freezer!

Pizzas tightly wrapped and ready to be stored in the freezer!

 

 

 

Baking Cooking Recipe Uncategorized

Irish Soda Bread and an Easy Crock Pot St. Paddy’s Day Dinner

March 17, 2016

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Maybe treat yourself to a Guinness and some Irish Soda bread today. Better yet, throw an easy corned beef and cabbage dinner in the crock pot before you go to work so you can kick back, relax, and watch The Quiet Man later instead of hanging out in the kitchen.  This recipe is nothing fancy (or photogenic!), nor is it health food- but we look forward to it every year. It’s also a pretty lazy kind of recipe. I pour a beer over it, scatter on the seasoning packet that comes with the corned beef and call it a day! You can easily customize it to make it more interesting, but we like it as is! Be forewarned, the cabbage cooking will smell kind of stinky, but cabbage actually has a pretty mild flavor. The soda bread is a little more labor intensive, and requires an hour to bake- but I promise its worth it!

 

Corned Beef and Cabbage in the Crock Pot

1  package of corned beef (ours was a little over 3lbs)

5 potatoes cut into large cubes

1 large onion, halved and cut into slices

5 carrots, cut in half

Half of a small cabbage, cut into wedges (wondering what to do with the other half of cabbage? Make this yummy cole slaw. I’ve made this dairy free by making “fake” buttermilk with nondairy milk and vinegar or lemon juice, and reducing the amount of sugar doesn’t hurt either! Change nothing else!)

Beer of your choice, we usually use a Guinness or a Bass

 

Place all of your chopped veggies, except for the cabbage at the bottom of your crock pot. Next, place the corned beef on top of the veggies, and then nestle the cabbage around it. Pour the entire beer on top of the layered meat and veggies, and then carefully scatter the seasonings from the flavor packet over the top. Funny story- this year I somehow bought a package without the seasonings. I improvised with a generous sprinkle of black pepper, parsley, and a little of Penzey’s Northwoods seasoning.  Cover the crock pot and cook everything on low for about 7-8 hours.

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When it is finished cooking, remove the meat and cut it into slices against the grain, and place the cabbage around it. Using a slotted spoon, strain out the vegetables (they will be hiding in all of that liquid), and place into a bowl.

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I like to eat this dish with a side of applesauce and Irish soda bread, and my husband likes spicy brown mustard instead of applesauce. Do whatever appeals to you! Please note: Corned beef leftovers make good sandwich meat for lunches during the week!

 

Now for the Irish Soda Bread Recipe! This is actually a recipe that my mom passed down to me from my dad’s mom, my grandmother. Its pretty special to me, and I hope you enjoy it! I always think of my Nana when I bake it. She was a pretty amazing lady. She and my Grandpa immigrated from Ireland and raised 10 children together! I remember climbing the trees in her front yard and having sleepovers at her house. I was always running wild, and she tried to get me to comb my hair. I really miss her, and wish she could meet my son.

Irish Soda Bread

4 cups of flour

3 tablespoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

3/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1 tablespoon of baking powder

6 tablespoons of butter

2 eggs

1 and 1/2 cups of buttermilk (once again, you can make your own “fake buttermilk”, although the recipe does include butter, so it won’t be entirely dairy free)

1 and a half cups of raisins (I actually cannot stand raisins, so I always leave them out!)

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Next, cut in the butter by hand. Beat the eggs in a small bowl, and then pour most of it into the mixture, reserving a little to be an egg wash. Add the buttermilk and stir until everything is combined. Once the mixture is well combined, add the raisins. Form a loose ball with the dough (if it feels too wet, its fine to add a little more flour at this point), and then place into a greased pan (I use a round cake pan).  Use a brush or a spoon to coat the dough in an egg wash. Feel free to crack another egg if you didn’t have enough leftover. Lastly, use a sharp knife to cut a cross into the bread, and place in the oven. The recipe says to cook the bread for an hour and 20 minutes, but I usually keep a close eye on it after an hour.

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Once your bread is cooked and cooled a bit, spread with butter and enjoy!

I hope everyone has a fabulous day and enjoys this easy dinner!

 

 

Health Recipe Uncategorized

Immunity Boosting Elderberry Syrup

March 15, 2016
immunity boosting elderberry syrup recipe old fashioned modern living

While winter is nearing an end (yes!) and cold and flu season is largely a thing of the past, the unfortunate warm weather illness or summer cold is still possible, and elderberry syrup is a great addition to your germ fighting natural arsenal. Elderberries themselves are high in vitamins, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and have been shown to both prevent flu and speed recovery from illness. The other ingredients pack a powerful punch as well, making this syrup a star for immunity boosting.

Back when I was in high school, my mother started buying Sambucol syrup, a commercially available elderberry syrup. It recommends daily maintenance dosage, and more intensive dosage when you are actually suffering from a cold or the flu. It’s a thick, sweet syrup that did seem to help. As an adult, I’d buy it periodically, but at $12.99 for a 4 ounce bottle that goes pretty quickly, I decided to try making it myself. It’s a simple recipe that yields a good result; me, my husband and Little Miss all use it.

To give you an idea of the cost of making your own elderberry syrup for comparison, the only expensive part is dried elderberries – and by expensive I mean I’ve found them online for about $4.75 for 4 ounces (at Mountain Rose Herbs), and you’ll need 1-2 ounces per batch. Also check local health food stores that carry bulk herbs. Then you’ll need water, honey, and some spices. It works out quite inexpensive all told, with a batch yielding about 16 ounces.

I’m just going to get this out of the way here, if you’re a certain type of person, the word “elderberry” probably brings one thing to mind. The French Taunter. So I’m just going to put it out there, while your mother is likely not a hamster, if you make this syrup, your house will smell like elderberries.

About the ingredients

immunity boosting elderberry syrup recipe old fashioned modern livingAny of the spices in this recipe can be left out if you prefer, but they do all serve a purpose. Let’s take a look at why this homemade elderberry syrup is such an illness fighting, immunity boosting powerhouse. All of these ingredients have a myriad of uses and health benefits, but I’m going to give a brief summary of the specifics that are relevant to this preparation.

  • Elderberries – They are anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory and boost the immune system. They can help sooth a sore throat and help coughs be more productive.
  • Raw honey – Honey is a natural anti-inflammatory as well as being anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. Consuming local honey can help sooth seasonal allergies as well, so I order New York honey rather than purchasing whatever is on the shelf at the store.
  • Cinnamon – Packed with anti-oxidants, cinnamon is an anti-inflammatory and helps fight bacterial and viral illnesses.
  • Ginger – Ginger reduces inflammation, increases circulation and inhibits the growth of many bacteria.
  • Clove – Antibacterial, and a great immune system booster, encouraging production of germ fighting white blood cells.

A quick Google search will turn up a number of recipes, but this is the one I use. You can use dried spices or whole spices; I often use both because I have them on hand.

An important note – elderberries are dark purple and can stain! I use my silicone spoon and rinse it after each stir (you only stir rarely). I do this in my white non-stick pot and it does not stain, but I’m still not taking chances with my beloved wooden spoons.

Homemade Immunity Boosting Elderberry Syrup Recipe

You’ll need:

  • 3/4 cup dried elderberries
  • 3 1/2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder, and/or 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tbsp dried ginger root (or use a few slices of fresh ginger)
  • 1/2 tsp dried clove powder (or whole cloves)
  • 1/2 cup raw honey

Directions:

  1. Pour your water into a medium pot/saucepan with elderberries, cinnamon, ginger and clove (dried or whole). Bring to a boil and give it a quick stir, then cover and reduce to low simmer for 30-45 minutes until the liquid has reduced by roughly half.
  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool to a manageable temperature, then pour through a wire strainer into a glass bowl. Discard elderberries and whole herbs.
  3. When the liquid is still somewhat warm but not hot, add in your honey (you don’t want the heat to kill off the beneficial stuff in the honey) and mix well.
  4. Pour into a glass bottle (I use a mason jar) and refrigerate for up to several months. Take a spoonful every day for maintenance and an immune system boost, or take twice a day when you’re feeling unwell.

That’s all! It’s inexpensive and simple, and doesn’t take that long. And I’m not going to lie, this elderberry syrup tastes pretty good! If you wanted to drizzle it over vanilla ice cream just for the sake of it, I’m not going to say not to.

Note: I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. Do your own research and as always, use your best judgement.

Cooking Recipe

Let’s talk veggies, plus a recipe

March 9, 2016

Alright ladies and gentlemen, let’s talk veggies. Yes, I mean we’re going to talk about vegetables, and I may say some unpopular things.

First off, I love veggies. I am not vegan (though I use some vegan products due to my husband’s issues with dairy) and I’m not even strictly vegetarian, I just eat little to no meat. So, as a proud supporter of vegetables, there are some things I take offense to on their behalf. These include:

  1. The notion that liking meat and liking vegetables are mutually exclusive.
  2. The idea that things that are healthy can’t taste good (new Bai 5 commercial, I am looking at you).
  3. The belief that vegetables have no taste.

Number 1 from the list above is it’s own issue. I have come across people who seem to think you’re either a vegetarian or a meatatarian, and that’s that. I refuse to even address that, as it speaks for itself.

Numbers 2 and 3 however, are more or less the same issue. Now let me be very clear, I understand that people have preferences and not everything is everyone’s cup of tea (or plate of salad, as it were). My husband doesn’t care for bitter vegetables and finds the taste of artichokes weird. Whether it’s a taste, a texture, or something else, I get it. Not everyone likes everything.

But an individual preference isn’t what I’m getting at here. Let’s look at first, “healthy foods can’t taste good.” You know what I’m talking about, the marketing ploys where the spokesperson says something along the lines of “something that tastes this good can’t be healthy!” or “so good, you’d never know it’s good for you!”

Slow your roll here, this is nonsense. I will concede that people who eat mostly processed, high sugar foods do likely have a taste for sweeter things than someone who eats more natural, low sugar things. It’s just what you’re used to. What I take issue with is perpetuating the idea that healthy food is gross and junk food is delicious. I will admit, somewhat sheepishly, that I like Goldfish, and I’m actually a fan of some junk food. But that doesn’t mean that a ripe strawberry isn’t just as awesome, if not moreso. There are so many things that are either actually healthy, or just “healthier” than processed, packaged alternatives that are downright amazing, that the fact that I hear this said over and over is just absurd to me.

Just for argument’s sake, if I bake a snack cake from scratch and use flour, real butter, good vanilla extract and organic eggs, sure it’s not “health food” but it’s a lot healthier than a Twinkie, and probably takes just as good if not better. And it’s not loaded with chemicals and preservatives.

Now, I recently saw comments regarding veganism, and one of the ongoing threads was along the lines of, “I like my food to have taste, so I eat meat.” I’m sorry, what are you eating?! I have known people who actually have a compromised sense of taste, like welders and heavy smokers, but otherwise…what? Seriously, if you think that your options are meat or iceberg lettuce and boiled carrots, we may have found the problem. Try buying fresh vegetables and cooking them in different styles. If you cook your broccoli until it’s falling apart, cook it for a few minutes less. If your green beans are grey and limp when you eat them, that may be your issue. If you can honestly say that across the board, vegetables have no taste, I’m sorry but you’re doing something wrong.

Sautee! Stir fry! Steam! Branch out from seasoning with salt and pepper; get yourself some garlic powder, some herbs, some dried shallots! The world or vegetables and healthy eating has so many options, varying tastes and textures that I absolutely cannot understand how a full grown adult can make these statements seriously, nor think it is fair or appropriate to pass these notions to our children. I could go further into how this affects kids’ eating habits and can feed into this nation’s obesity crisis, but I’ll leave that be.

That’s the end of my snark for today. I do have a pretty excellent recipe I’d like to share, but I want to remind you of something first…you know those food blogs that use such beautiful, evocative photos that you feel like you can practically smell the food cooking? This isn’t one of them.

The Meatloaf and the Meatless Meatloaf: a Basic Recipe

This is really quite simple. My assistant helped.

This is really quite simple. My assistant helped.

The other night I decided to make a simple meatloaf (ground chuck beef, an egg, breadcrumbs, diced onions and seasonings) with roasted potatoes and carrots for my husband and Little Miss. I wouldn’t be eating that though, so I got the idea for a meatless meatloaf. My mother has made a pretty crazy faux chopped liver in the past with canned string beans, so I though hmm, maybe that would work (this is the only time I’ve ever purchased canned string beans, by the way).

With quinoa, an egg and a sprinkle of Italian cheeses for protein and an assortment of vegetables, this came pretty excellent! It didn’t hold together in a loaf shape, so I spread it in my square Pyrex dish and it baked beautifully next to the meatloaf. I would consider this a main dish alongside some nice sides to fill out the meal, or it would make a lovely side dish itself. Plus I’m pretty sure you could put nearly any veggies in and it’d rock! My favorite kinds of recipes are the ones that serve as a guideline for you to customize, and I think this falls into the category. Here is the recipe as I made it. I chopped my vegetables after they were cooked, but you can also chop them fine then sautee them quickly if you prefer. This is also nice because you can prep it early, then just throw it together and pop it in the oven when you’re ready.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack white mushrooms
  • 1 can string beans
  • 5 leaves fresh kale
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • Salt, pepper, dried parsley, onion powder
  • 1 large egg
  • Sprinkle of mixed Italian cheeses (Parmesan, Romano, Asiago, Provolone), if desired
  • Olive oil
  • Handful oatmeal

Instructions:

  1. Cook your quinoa as instructed on the packed. Wash your mushrooms and kale and rough  chop, then sautee in olive oil until fairly cooked (this doesn’t have to be perfect, it’ll be baked again). Set aside to cool to a manageable temperature.
  2. Place cooled mushrooms and kale in a chopping bowl and chop into uniform smaller pieces (I use a wooden bowl and mezzaluna blade). Remove into another bowl, open and rinse string beans and chop.
  3. In a large bowl, mix chopped vegetables, chopped beans and quinoa. Add in a sprinkle of salt, pepper, dried parsley and onion powder to taste. Add large egg and a handful of oatmeal (to absorb excess liquid), plus a sprinkle of cheese if desired, and mix it all up.
  4. Spread into a square Pyrex oven-safe dish and place in oven preheated to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Because I was cooking this alongside the meatloaf, I didn’t time it exactly; it cooked for about 40 minutes I believe, but could go for less because the only ingredient that needs to cook is the egg. It came out with a nice crispy top and I was overall very pleased with it – Little Miss even enjoyed a few bites!

Cooking Recipe Uncategorized

Easy and Delicious Weekday Breakfast: Avocado Toast

January 13, 2016

Anyone else bored with their weekday breakfast routine? I was loving my granola and yogurt until I wasn’t, and I overdid it on the cereal during the early days of my pregnancy.  I need change! When my sisters were here, we were on a muffin making kick, which was pretty awesome, but my husband usually needs a little more protein for breakfast to get through the morning.  Then I remembered something I have not made in about a year- avocado toast!

Here is my favorite way to make it:

Avocado Toast For Two

Toast two slices of whole wheat bread.

Mash up one ripe avocado and add a splash of lime juice, and a little salt and pepper.

Spread over your toast and enjoy OR-

Get creative with more toppings!

Add a fried or medium well done poached egg,

add some chopped up bacon,

add a thinly sliced tomato or other sliced veggies of your choice,

or maybe add some leftover beans that you had in the fridge.

When I made some toast  for my husband and I this morning, I topped ours with some leftover bacon and a poached egg each. I highly recommend that you give this breakfast a try if you are an avocado lover!

 

Cooking Recipe Uncategorized

I have broth bowl envy, but no time. Let’s make stir fry instead!

January 6, 2016

I don’t know about you, but I have been seeing a lot of pictures of beautifully styled broth bowls on Pinterest, some of my favorite blogs, and one particularly inspiring Instagram feed. My friend’s picture on Instagram looked particularly enticing, so I looked up recipes from the chef that she was trying to emulate. David Chang’s ramen bowls look lovely, but the broth takes hours to make. Also, I hate mushrooms and don’t have any pork belly on hand. Eww. I’m a carnivore, but that even grosses me out.  This is not ideal for a week day meal. Maybe I will attempt some version of this on a weekend one day, but today I have work and do not want to create a huge mess. We don’t have a dishwasher. In fact- I am the dishwasher. My husband helps, but the poor guy works over 9 hours a day, so I try to handle this stuff during the week. I have learned if the dishes are not done by 8:00 pm, they will not get done until the next morning. Bedtime comes early when it’s winter and you are growing a human. So let’s keep dinner simple tonight, shall we?

However, now I am craving some kind of asian food. I am going to be practical, and use what I already have at home in the name of economy and also, because it is currently four degrees outside.  When I am examining what about the broth bowl I am craving, its mostly the noodles and the egg portion. A stir fry over rice noodles should satisfy this craving, and I can make it colorful and pretty and top it with an egg for extra protein! The good thing about stir fry is that you can use whatever meat or veggies you have around. This would be just as delicious with broccoli or even brussels sprouts or whatever you want!

Easy Week night Stir-Fry

Here’s what you’ll need:

Sesame oil for sautéing or olive if you don’t have sesame

1 chicken breast, cut into short strips

1/2 zucchini, quartered

1/2 yellow summer squash, quartered

2 carrots, peeled and cut into short spears

1 green pepper, cut into short strips

a handful of frozen spinach

1/2 an onion, diced

1 garlic clove, diced

Light soy sauce

1 tspn Powdered ginger, plus a little extra

A few shakes of hot red pepper flakes

1 package of rice noodles

By the way- I am kicking myself for running out of chili garlic sauce. About a  tablespoon would be lovely in this dish if you happen to have it and like the spice!

First, cut up all of your veggies, and sauté them in sesame oil over medium heat. I like to use my wok, but any large pan will do. Once the veggies begin to soften a bit, add a few drizzles of light soy sauce, and about 1 teaspoon of powdered ginger to season the veggies. Add a few shakes of hot red pepper flakes according to taste. We like things pretty spicy at our house.

veggies-2

I ended up sautéing the chicken separately because the veggies took up so  much space.  I removed the cooked veggies from the wok once they were soft and added the chicken. I seasoned it the same way- just used less- a drizzle of soy sauce, a few shakes of ginger and red pepper flakes. The chicken only took a few minutes to cook because the pieces were so small.

I prepared the rice noodles according to the directions on the package. In this case, the package said to soak the noodles in very hot water for 10 minutes, and then strain them. Once the noodles were done, I mixed the noodles, chicken and veggies in a big bowl. Tonight, when I serve this, I’ll  probably drizzle it with a touch more soy sauce, and top mine with a poached egg! Don’t worry, it will be cooked all the way through for the sake of tiny baby!

plate plate2

I hope you give this stir fry a try some night! Has anyone tried to make those trendy broth bowls?

 

 

 

Cooking Recipe

Some favorite side dishes (that rhyme)

December 21, 2015
Old Fashioned Modern Living

I don’t like eating meat, oh no I don’t, I don’t like eating things with feet. I do not it on a boat, I will not eat it with a goat. I don’t like it here or there, I do not like it anywhere!

Thanks for the help there, Dr. Seuss. For real though, I’ve always been a picky eater not in that I don’t like variety, but in that I don’t particularly care for meat. And when I do eat meat, be prepared for a dissection of epic proportions. I have said in the past that my favorite meat is chicken breast – no gross bloody spots appear during cooking like chicken thighs, very little fat and really very little to be offended by. When it cooks, it just changes color and texture with no unpleasant surprises. Basically, it cooks like a vegetable, and I appreciate that.

The past several months I’ve been exploring simple ways I can satisfy my enthusiastic carnivore husband while eating the bare minimum of meat myself – without spending all day cooking or dirtying every pot and pan in the house. One of my tricks is to make a side dish that he can eat, that is substantial enough that it can serve as the bulk of a vegetarian meal. I’m going to share two of my favorites, and it just so happens that they both rhyme.

First up is quinoa and beanoa. If you’re not in the know, pronounce quinoa “keen-wa”…then just add “wa” onto the end of the word bean to make it rhyme. Because why not?

Like most of my recipes, this is more of a guideline. It’s so simple though, that’s all you need. First you take a pot, and you cook 1 cup of quinoa following the instructions on the box. Next, in a nice size pan or saucepan, sautee some onions and garlic in olive oil. Then throw in your favorite veggies, be it spinach, strips of kale, diced zucchini, sweet corn, stir and leave it for a minute while you dice up a tomato. Throw that in and let cook, seasoning as you like. Salt and pepper, parsley, a pinch of basil…or go in another direction and add cilantro. Open up a can of red kidney or cannelini beans (I prefer kidney beans with white quinoa and cannelini beans with red quinoa just for aesthetics) and toss them in. Stir until the beans are hot and the veggies are cooked. Quinoa cooks quick, only about 20 minutes, so when that’s ready, toss it in with your veggies and give it a stir.

And there you have it. I don’t have a photo, so you’ll have to use your imagination. Quinoa is packed with protein, as are beans. This is one of my favorites to serve for dinner, then use the leftovers the next couple of nights so I don’t need to make another vegetarian entree.

Note: Yes, I will use canned beans if I don’t have dried that I have soaked and cooked waiting in my freezer. I try to buy organic when possible, and rinse them well before using to remove all the “can sludge”.

Old Fashioned Modern LivingNext up is beets and sweets. I spent much of my life resisting beets. They stain your hands, they taste like dirt…not interested. Less than a year ago I tried again, roasting red beets and sweet potatoes, slicing and layering them drizzled with balsamic vinegar. And it was good. Like, my husband was happy to eat it good, and he is a total beet hater.

Then I discovered golden beets. I buy them at the supermarket, they’re a delightful sunny yellow inside, and handling them doesn’t stain your hands. So, beets and sweets. Grab your golden beets and a couple of sweet potatoes. Wash them and peel them, then dice into nice little chunks. Line a baking pan with parchment paper (or don’t, as you wish), and lay out the chunks, then drizzle or spray some olive oil on them. Bake at 400 degrees fahrenheit until tender enough you’d want to eat them – mine took about 45 minutes to be fork tender. Once they’re done, hit a frying pan or skillet with diced onions and a little garlic until it starts to get tender. For me, I would skip this next step (and you easily can to keep it vegetarian), but I was making this for a crowd this last time, so I chopped up a slice of thick bacon to throw in to add a little extra richness and a salty tang. Stir that around then throw in the beets and sweets. I seasoned with pink sea salt, black pepper, parsley and a touch of rosemary and thyme for a warm, earthy taste.

The only reason sage wasn’t sprinkled in was that I couldn’t find it. Sorry Simon and Garfunkel, I tried to go all the way with it for you.

And then that’s it. It came beautiful! The colors popped, the flavors were fantastic, with the contrasting sweetness of the beets and sweet potatoes playing off each other.

I like to cook, I like to cook, and I rarely do it from a book. I make up recipes you see, I create them, I make them be! I shared two vegetarian sides so how about you, what kind of side dishes do you do?

Cooking Recipe

Tips for Preparing Grass fed Beef

December 14, 2015

Hello Everyone! I am back with some quick tips for preparing grass fed beef to (what we feel is) its full advantage. Prior to purchasing grass fed beef in bulk, I hadn’t had much experience with eating or preparing this type of lean beef. I just knew that it was healthier for you and that many restaurants boasted grass fed beef on their menus. When we began preparing our grass fed beef using our usual methods, we were a little disappointed by its slightly gamey flavor and lack of moisture. Now that we have been cooking this meat for about a year, we’ve learned how we best like it prepared.

 

Tip 1: Add a little moisture to the meat. We often use olive oil. We use this technique when browning ground beef for spaghetti and meat sauce. Follow the same tip for making meatballs and hamburgers! No need to add too much oil, just a little bit goes a long way.

Tip 2: Use good, high quality seasonings. We are crazy about Penzey’s seasonings! My husband’s family has been using them forever, and we’ve been using them since we received the big wedding crate of seasonings as a wedding present. We use the Italian herb mix whenever we are making meatballs or meat sauce. When we make burgers, we often add fresh chopped onions, jalapeños, and red pepper flakes.  Seasoning well, but not over seasoning really brings out a good flavor in the meat.

Tip 3: Make a homemade gravy or sauce to be ladled over the meat. Last week, I made beef brisket in my crockpot for our Chanukah dinner. My husband and I enjoyed it, but although it was seasoned, we still felt like the meat had a slightly gamey flavor. After dinner, I used the juices leftover in the crockpot to make gravy to put on the brisket. We both enjoyed it much more this way!

Here are a few of our favorite recipes:

Spicy Burgers

You’ll Need:

1 lb grass fed ground beef

A little drizzle of olive oil (skip this step if you are not using grass fed meat)

A drizzle of Worcester Sauce

1  fresh jalapeño diced up with the seeds removed (you may want to wear gloves)

About a quarter of a small onion diced very small

A few shakes of salt

A few generous shakes of pepper

Mix all of these ingredients and shape them into patties. Use your favorite method of making burgers- grilling or broiling work fine!

Beef Short Ribs

All credit must go to the amazing Pioneer Woman. I cannot describe how delicious this is. Although it is a time consuming recipe- it is  very enjoyable! Make this when you have time to cook and enjoy a leisurely dinner. This is one of my husband’s special dishes that he occasionally makes on Sundays.

Crockpot Beef Brisket

You’ll Need:

1 Medium sized (or so) Beef Brisket

1 cup of red wine

1 onion cut into large chunks

a sprinkle of dried thyme

a sprinkle of dried rosemary

We also used  a bit of Penzey’s shallot pepper and Northwoods seasoning. I think they enhanced the flavor, but they are not a requirement. You really can use whatever seasonings that you like. By the way, if you sign up for the Penzey’s catalogue, you will receive coupons for free jars of seasonings! I’ve gotten so many free things from them over the years- its definitely worth it.

Put your brisket in the crockpot, and pour the wine over it. Season as desired and allow it to cook on low for 8-9 hours.

Cut into slices and place on a serving platter once the meat is cooked. You can cut it with a fork!

Gravy

All of the meat/wine juices (strained of most of the onions)

A few tablespoons of butter

About 3 tablespoons of flour (I have successfully made gravy this way with gluten free flour as well, so that is a fine substitute)

Melt the butter in a small pot over medium low heat , and then mix in the juices. Using a sifter, gradually sift in the flour, mixing after each addition to achieve the desired thickness for your gravy.

 

I hope that you find these tips and recipes helpful when preparing grass fed beef. They can also be used with whatever beef you have in your freezer, and you won’t have to worry about adding extra moisture. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Cooking Recipe Uncategorized

Easy Dinner: Spicy Chicken Pasta

December 3, 2015

Now that we are finally finished with our Thanksgiving leftovers, my husband requested that I make this spicy chicken pasta dish.  We had some for dinner last night, along with a tomato and mozzarella salad. It’s best enjoyed with a generous glass of red wine, or some sparkling cranapple juice- if that’s more your speed! My husband enjoys it so much that he was excited to bring leftovers for lunch today, despite the fact that it is Chinese Food Day, one of the happiest days of the work week. Anyone who has worked long hours at a job, especially one where you sometimes feel a bit cooped up, knows how exciting ordering out is, or even just lunchtime in general. When I worked as a job coach, the Starbucks and McDonalds runs that I’d make with my coworkers got us through the long days at the office when we weren’t out coaching. The point is, on Thursdays, I’m competing with Chinese Food Day, and today, I won.

This is an easy enough dinner to make on a busy week night. Just be sure to take some chicken out of the freezer to defrost in the morning. We usually use one large chicken breast, but you can add more if you like a dish that is a little more meat heavy. You could also use spiralized zucchini instead of pasta if you are looking for a gluten free or lower carb dinner. You can adjust the level of spice, but please don’t- the spiciness makes this dish interesting.  We think it’s pretty perfect, but it is really spicy, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Large Chicken Breast

1 Shallot or about a quarter of a small onion

1 Cup of Frozen Peas

1 Pound Pasta (we like rigatoni)

1 Jar Tomato Sauce (Homemade is best, but your favorite store bought brand works too:)

1 Tablespoon Italian Herb Mix

2 Teaspoons Hot Red Pepper Flakes  (plus a little more to sprinkle on top)

Grated Romano Cheese (for a topping when you serve)

 

Before you start chopping, put up some water to boil the pasta. Dice up your shallot, and sautee it in olive oil over medium heat. While keeping an eye on the shallots, cube the chicken breast. Add the cubed chicken to the shallots and sautee them together. Once the chicken is beginning to cook, sprinkle on the Italian herb mix, and toss the chicken so that everything is spiced. Next, do the same with the hot red pepper flakes.

onions  cutting-chicken

Is the water boiling yet? If so, add your pasta and just mix it once in awhile and keep an eye on it while you are cooking the chicken.

boiling

Once the chicken is nearly done, add the peas into the mix to defrost (make sure you are adding loose frozen peas because a giant frozen block will take too long to defrost. Hit the bag on the counter if you need to break up clumps of peas). My least favorite part about cooking chicken, is making sure everything is cooked. I end up using my spatula to break a bunch of the bigger cubes in half to check if they are cooked. Its not the best method, but that’s how I do it!

chickn

Once the chicken is cooked, as well as the pasta, get out the biggest bowl that you have. Add a little tomato sauce to the bottom, and then add your pasta to the bowl. Top with the chicken, shallots and peas, and then pour on the rest of your sauce. Mix everything evenly together, and then feel free to sprinkle on some more hot pepper flakes if you like things extra spicy.

pasta

Enjoy it for dinner! And then maybe again for lunch tomorrow!

bowl tomato-salad

*For those of you interested in the salad, we used mozzarella pearls and halved cherry tomatoes drizzled in olive oil and balsamic. I also sprinkled Italian herb mix over the top. No measuring required, just follow your heart. Unless your heart tells you you to add the whole jar of seasoning or something. That’s just wrong.