Friday, December 10, 2010

Persephone Salad

Pomegranates were on sale at the store so I bought one, not really knowing what to do with it. I cut it in half, tried to scoop out the seeds of one half, and made a huge mess all over the counter and had purple spots all over my face from it splashing on me. After that, I decided to look up online how to properly seed it. First, you cut it in half and place the pomegranate in a bowl of water. Scoop out the seeds into the water and clear away the hard, brittle white stuff that's surrounding them. Drain and you have just the seeds left! I made some pomegranate yogurt with one half and made a salad with some of the other half. It was really good so I hope this will help someone who wants to try a pomegranate and doesn't know what to do with it. I'm calling it a Persephone Salad because in Greek mythology, Persephone ate 6 of Hades pomegranate seeds, forcing her to stay with him in the underworld for 6 months of the year. Hence the seasons, 6 cold months and 6 warm months (that's the really short version). Anyway, here it is!

A few tablespoons of fresh pomegranate seeds. Read above for instructions!
A bowlful of salad greens or baby spinach
Red wine vinegar
Olive oil
Crumbled feta cheese (I used goat feta here)
Sliced almonds, (I had brown sugar and cinnamon ones for this)

I'm sure you don't need instructions on what to do. I recommend definitely using oil and vinegar instead of a heavily flavored dressing because all of the flavor is in the pomegranates and feta.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Green Mediterranean Pasta

Awesome picture of a pasta heart that appeared in my pot. Maybe it means something?

This was a "what do I have in my kitchen?" type of meal. I tried a new thing and it worked out really well...spinach pesto! You of course, can change up the vegetables or type of olives..whatever it is you like.

1 lb pasta, I used Capellini--cook al dente, drain, rinse, save a cup of pasta water
1 clove garlic
a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach
2 Tbl almonds or other type of nuts
2 Tbl parmesan
olive oil
lemon juice
1 jar artichoke quartered artichoke hearts, chopped up a little
a handful of olives, I used kalamatas
4-5 stalks of asparagus, cut into 1 in pieces
a few Tbl. of crumbled feta

First, get your water on for your pasta and start cooking. Make your pesto: Spinach, garlic, nuts, parmesan, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice all in a food processor and chop. You could also throw in some basil leaves or mint if you have any around. In a saute pan, put a little more olive oil and artichokes, olives, and asparagus. Cook until the asparagus is slightly tender. Add about a 1/2 cup of the saved pasta water and the pesto. Cook for a few minutes until everything is heated. If it is too thick, add more pasta water. Toss with pasta. Top with feta cheese after it's plated.

I know I don't put precise measurements because with cooking, it doesn't matter much. You can add more or less lemon juice according to your taste preference. Karl loved this one...he said it tasted like a "gour-met" meal. Ok here's the final picture!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tuna Steaks with Lemon Cream Sauce

I was at Giant Eagle on Sunday and looking in the seafood department when I came across some fresh tuna steaks for only 4.99/lb (compared to the regular 10.99/lb) because their use by date was only a few days away. I planned on making them for dinner that night anyway, so who cares! They turned out so good! My only regret is that I didn't take a picture to share with you how pretty it came out. But here's the recipe anyway:

2 tuna steaks
1 Tbl black pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Combine the spices and coat the steaks top and bottom with mixture.

Lemon sauce:

1 Tbl butter
1 Tbl olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Juice and zest of one large lemon
2 Tbl heavy cream
a little parsley
salt, and a pinch of sugar to take away the sourness of the lemon

Saute garlic in butter and olive oil taking care not to burn the butter. Add the lemon juice and zest along with everything else and simmer on low for a few minutes until the sauce thickens up.

Meanwhile, heat a saute pan over med-high heat with a little olive oil. Put the steaks in once it has become hot and cook for 4-7 minutes on each side, depending on thickness and desired done-ness. It is recommended to eat tuna med-rare, but we cooked ours until about med-well, just slightly pink. Remove from pan and place over a bed of mixed greens if desired, and cover with sauce.

I think this may have been the best fish I've made to date!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Butternut Squash Soup

I had extra squash leftover and need to get rid of zucchini so I threw that in there too. It turned out pretty good, but I think next time I'll add something to give it more flavor. Celery and carrots or roasted red peppers.

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
1 small zucchini cut into cubes
1 small onion, diced
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
olive oil
1 cup milk (or 1/2 of cream)
1/4 cup flour whisked with 1/4 cup water
1/4 teas. nutmeg
salt and pepper

Saute onions in olive oil until soft. Add stock and squash. Boil until squash is tender. Transfer to a blender or food processor with the liquid and blend until smooth. Put back into pot and add milk, flour mix, and spices. Bring back up to boil, whisking constantly until it thickens.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Roasted Fall Vegetables

It's been a while, huh? I've been pretty busy with the cake thing, Evan, and Evan's birthday coming up and finally I found some time to try something new. I found this recipe in a Food & Wine magazine but altered it with ingredients I could easily find and weren't too expensive. The original had a pine nut pesto over the veggies but I decided to just go with some Parmesan cheese. Also added some rosemary and potatoes. I have been wanting to try new produce I find, things I've never cooked with before, and decided to go with the parsnips the recipe called for. I honestly did not like them. They taste like a very very bitter carrot. Next time, I'll do without them. The brussels sprouts however turned out delicious! Much better than steaming them. I will definitely use this technique just for the brussels sprouts themselves. Butternut squash, but the way, is one of my new favorite things to try out. It was really good in this and makes wonderful baby food. These veggies have a very earthy taste to them, very nice for a fall dinner. Anyway here it goes:

Makes about 4 big servings. 6 smaller side dishes.

2 carrots, peeled, diced into 1 in chunks
2 parsnips, peeled, diced into 1 in chunks (next time I will do without these!)
1 large white potatoes, peeled, diced into 1 in chunks
7 or 8 brussels sprouts, halved. (the ones I had were huge so I had to quarter them)
About 1 1/2 cups butternut squash, peeled, and diced into yep, you got it! 1 in chunks
1/2 cups white onion, cut up into 1/2 in. pieces
1 clove garlic, chopped
a couple Tbl. olive oil
1 or 2 sprigs rosemary
1/2 teas. dried thyme
salt, pepper

Cut all the vegetables up, drizzle with olive oil and spices. Mix until covered. Transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with foil. Bake for about a 30 min on 375 or until veggies are tender. If you want them to get a little browned, take the foil off ten minutes before they are done.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cajun Shrimp, Jalapeno Corn Muffins, and Zucchini

Cajun Shrimp: (this is for 2 people)
Preheat oven 400 degrees

.5 lb medium size raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 lemon sliced plus juice from one lemon
2 Tbl melted butter
1 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1 clove chopped garlic
2 bay leaves
Cajun seasoning
black pepper
parsley flakes

Mix melted butter, lemon juice, and all ingredients except shrimp and sliced lemon. Pour half of mixture into casserole dish. Add shrimp and place lemon slices overtop. Pour the rest of the mixture on top. Bake uncovered for about 15 minutes until shrimp is cooked. If making a bigger portion, make 1 layer shrimp, 1 layer lemon, 1 layer shrimp, etc. Serve with the butter from the dish on the side to dip in.

Jalapeno Corn Muffins:

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup corn meal
1/2 cup corn kernels
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 Tbl butter
a pinch of salt
1.5 t. baking powder
cayenne pepper
1/4 cup shredded cheddar or pepperjack cheese
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 half jalapeno diced
3 Tbl honey

Sautee onion and corn in butter in small saucepan. In a bowl, combine dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk buttermilk, oil, egg, and honey. Add this to the dry ingredients, along with the jalapeno and cooled onion and corn. Grease 6 muffin cups and add the batter 3/4 full. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and tops are golden.

I had our first pick from the garden, a large zucchini (cut into thin slices) so I just sauteed it up with some olive oil, salt, and black pepper.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Steak Salad

This was my first attempt at a flank steak and I was pretty impressed with the way it turned out. They are an inexpensive cut of meat but I've heard they can be super tough if not prepared properly. I marinated it for a few hours in soy sauce, worcestershire, and fresh garlic. I grilled it outside on a gas grill but here's the trick: (as with any steak, I think) Get the grill super hot before putting the meat on it, cook each side only 4 minutes and flip only ONE time. Don't touch it once you put it down for the whole 4 minutes. If you overcook these, they WILL get tough. They have to be done no more than medium-med well. After you take it off, let it sit for about ten minutes before you slice it. Use a super sharp knife and cut against the grain on an angle making thin slices to lay over your salad. I used a mix of romaine and iceburg with bleu cheese and a balsamic dressing (both very good with the red meat) I made up real quick. Here is a complete list of ingredients for this salad, sorry, no measuring!

One flank steak (for two people)
Soy sauce
worcestershire sauce
fresh garlic
salt pepper

Romaine and Iceburg lettuce
Balsamic dressing (I make my own with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and sugar)
Crumbled bleu cheese
Any vegetable you want to throw in there (I had an avocado so I sliced it up)

I think that's it :)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Chicken and Broccoli with Almonds

I made this for lunch today. I've made it about 5 times now and I think I perfected it. This is for one person.

1 small boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
3/4 cup of broccoli florets
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 Tbl (give or take) soy sauce
1 t. chopped garlic
1 Tbl brown sugar
1 teaspoon peanut butter
a small handful of slivered almonds

In a frying pan, coming the oil, soy sauce, sugar, peanut butter, and garlic. Heat on medium until bubbling. Add chicken and cook until almost done. Add broccoli and almonds. Cook under the chicken and broccoli are done. I like the put my broccoli in with only a couple minutes left because I like it still crunchy. This is super easy and fast. I make it in under 10 minutes for lunch. To make it a dinner, you could cook up some rice or noodles for a bigger meal.

Can you tell we eat a lot of chicken?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Brown Sugar & Ginger Chicken with Vegetables

I stole this recipe from Giada At Home and changed it up a little bit. Karl LOVED it, I thought it was a little too sweet. Anyway, it turned out pretty good, I would probably use less sugar and maybe add some soy sauce next time.

4 Chicken Thighs cut into 1 inch pieces(The kind I bought had skin and bone in so I had to cut the skin off and pull the bone out. Kind of a pain in the ass but they are cheap)
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 Tbl butter
1 Tbl chopped fresh ginger
a few peeled and cut potatoes
a few peeled and cut carrots
a handful of chopped fresh parsley (keep half for garnish)
cayenne pepper (depends on how hot you want it)
Cajun seasoning
black pepper
3/4 cup water

Melt butter in large skillet, add brown sugar. Cook until bubbly and it starts to turn dark. Add chicken and cook until done or close to it. Add your potatoes, carrots, spices, and water. Cover and simmer about 20-30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Transfer to serving bowl and garnish with the rest of your parsley!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Whole Wheat Pizza with Chicken, Roasted Red Peppers, and Portabellas

We had this for dinner last night and it was soooo good! The dough is flavored with rosemary, but you can obviously omit it if you'd like. It takes a little more time than most of the stuff I make, but if you have time you can prep some of the things the night before and just put it together the next day. I swear this was better than any take-out or frozen pizza I've ever had.

Here's everything you need:
-All the stuff for the dough mentioned below
-1 red bell pepper
-olive oil
-2 cloves garlic
-1 boneless, skinless chicken breast marinaded in olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, basil and oregano
-1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
-a handle of mushrooms, baby portabellas used here
-1 cup or more of shredded mozzarella
-dried basil and oregano
-salt and pepper (of course!)

For the Dough:
1 1/2 cup warm water
1 t. sugar
1 package instant dry yeast
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour (plus some more for kneading)
4 Tbl. olive oil (plus a little more for coating the dough)
1 t. salt
1 Tbl fresh chopped rosemary

Dissolve sugar in water. Sprinkle top with yeast and let set for 10 minutes. Add flours, oil, salt, and rosemary. After mixed together, flour a flat surface (cutting board, clean countertop) and knead dough for about ten minutes until it all comes together and form it into a ball. Rub a little more olive oil on the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and put into refrigerator. Let rise for at least 4 hours in the fridge (or overnight). Take the dough out and let set at room temperature for an hour. Then stretch the dough onto a pizza sheet and let it set for another 15 minutes or so. Right before you are about to bake the pizza, stretch it again until it is the desired thickness (mine filled up pretty much the whole pizza sheet with a nice crust around it).

How to roast a red pepper:

Take a whole pepper and set it directly onto the stovetop range. You can do this under a broiler or on a grill, too. Turn the heat to medium-high and turn with tongs so all sides get charred. You want it to turn black on the outside while cooking through the pepper. After the whole pepper is charred, place in a bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap and let it cool while trapping the steam inside. After it cools, peel away the black skin (leaving a little bit is ok) and cut the top and remove seeds. Marinade in this:

Marinade for pepper:

1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves chopped garlic

This is becoming a lot of work, huh? Totally worth it.

Cook your chicken breast in a pan until cooked through. Chop into small cubes.

To make the pizza:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Brush olive oil over the dough. Sprinkle about 1 cup mozzarella cheese over it and add your toppings. I used baby portabellas, my chicken, and my chopped roasted red pepper. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until it's slightly browned around the edges and dough is cooked through.
While you are baking your pizza you can start a simple marinara sauce to dip it in if you want.


Use your leftover oil and garlic from the pepper marinade and add to a small saucepan, Saute for 5 minutes and add crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, and a little dried basil. Simmer until pizza is done! (this was Karl's favorite part of the whole dinner) We just dipped the pizza into it, but you can make it ahead of time and use it as a sauce directly on the pizza.

Ahhh ok! We are all done. FINALLY. Lots of work, but once you get the hang of pizza dough, it really isn't too hard. And like I said, better than any pizza you can find frozen or have delivered! And healthier too, since you can control the amount of cheese and it's made with whole wheat.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Zucchini Flax Muffins (vegan)

I've actually never made any baked vegan items before. I don't really bake a whole lot, but am trying new things. As always, it's trial and error. Cooking comes much easier to me than baking because I don't like to measure which you kinda have to do when baking. These turned out really good, especially for vegan! They don't contain any oil or eggs so they are low-fat and have tons of fiber because of the flax and wheat flour. You can add raisins or walnuts also if you would like.

Preheat oven 350 degrees

Mix in large bowl:
2 cups wheat flour
1 cup white flour
4 Tbl. milled flax
1 1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

Mix in small bowl:
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/3 cup applesauce
2/3 cup soy or almond milk (I used almond) you can also use regular if you don't care about the vegan thing
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup

Add the wet mixture to the dry and then add 2 cups shredded zucchini. Fold in your raisins or walnuts at this point also. Line muffin pan with liners and fill each about 2/3 full. Bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops get a little bit browned. Makes exactly one and a half dozen.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hummus Wrap

If the saying "you are what you eat" is true (which it totally is in certain ways) I must be half chickpea. Chickpeas are versatile, affordable, and delicious. This lunch took me 15 minutes from start to finish to make, but I made a whole batch of hummus which I can save for later use. This hummus is just plain, but there are many things you can add to spice up and change the flavor. (red peppers, cayenne pepper, jalapenos..the list goes on) The wrap I used for this is the brand Flatout. I buy the multi-grain ones (white or bleached anything is an empty carb) and they are only 100 calories each! I also use a sprinkle of feta on it. Cheese is delicious and everyone loves it, besides vegans of course. (secretly I think they like it too.) Unfortunately, cheese is pretty much all fat. However, there is a solution to this cheese dilemma! I often use stronger tasting cheeses, such as feta or goat cheese instead of the regular old cheddar or jack. They taste stronger, therefor you use less of them making it less fat you're adding to your meals. They also usually come in reduced fat varieties. Check into and type in some different cheeses. You may be alarmed at how much fat they can contain. I also want to mention, since this is also about saving money while eating healthy, I love Marc's. They have a good selection of items for low prices, good prices on produce if I can't make it to Shaffer's (a little market close to my house), and usually I pretty much find everything I need for sometimes half the price of what they charge at the big name grocery stores. Anyway! On to the recipe for my lunch today...

1 multi-grain wrap (see above for the kind I use)
a handful of greens...I used spring mix for this one
2 t. crumbled feta

Hummus: (plain)

1 can chickpeas, drained, brine reserved in bowl
1/4 cup Tahini (sesame seed paste) ..can be found in the international section of grocery store
1/8 cup lemon juice or juice from one lemon
2 t. chopped garlic (I sometimes just buy the prechopped little jars packed in olive oil)
3 Tbl. olive oil (plus more in needed)
1/2 t. paprika
salt & pepper to taste

Add all ingredients of hummus to a food processor. Slowly add some of the reserved liquid back in until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy. You can also add a little more olive oil if if you wish. Heat the wrap in a skillet until bottom gets a little toasty. Smooth out about 1/2 cup of hummus on wrap, add your greens and feta, and wrap it up as best you can :) I usually fold the bottom up, the 2 sides in, and then roll it so both ends are closed, but whatever works. I also had 2 strawberries to finish out the meal.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Here I am, starting a food journal so all of you can witness my experiments, good and bad. I believe everyone has the ability to cook healthy meals that are simple, quick, and affordable. I believe we have become to reliable on fast food and prepackaged garbage that is affecting our health and our children's health. People have become "too busy" with their lives that they forget to stop and think about what they are putting into their bodies. Work, school, taking care of seems hard to fit in a healthy homemade meal with everything going on. Now that I have more time on my hands, I want to share with everyone my cooking experiments, share recipes, get others' input or recipes of their own to trade, and to hopefully make someone realize they can cook nutritious and fresh meals in a short amounts of time instead of stopping at the drive-thru. I will post pictures when possible with my "guess" recipes (I rarely measure unless I'm baking) and I would love for you to share yours also!