Thursday, August 6, 2015

Quick post #6

Grown up Green Eggs and Ham

Or, a continuation of my Frittata obsession.

2 large eggs
1 - 2 tbsp fresh pesto sauce
1 tbsp sliced onion
1 large mushroom, sliced
Large handful of baby spinach and arugula mix
1tbsp crumbled feta cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 slice Peppered bacon

Heat up a touch of olive oil (about a tsp) in a medium pan over medium heat, and saute onion and mushroom. Add salt and pepper to taste.

While the onion and mushroom are cooking, whisk the eggs together with the pesto sauce. You shouldn't need extra seasoning at this point, especially if you have a traditional pesto with raw garlic, but if you feel the need, certainly add more garlic.

When onion is tender and mushroom sliced are browned, add the spinach and arugula mixture, and toss until the greens are wilted.

Make sure the veggies are spaced evenly on the bottom of the pan, and pour in the egg mixture, turning the pan to ensure even coating. Allow the eggs to set, using a spatula to help keep the sides free from sticking, about 2 -3 minutes.

When the eggs are no longer completely liquid, flip! You can use a large flat spatula, or, if you are daring, you can wiggle the pan a bit to make sure your half cooked egg disc is loose, then use that fancy saute motion to flip the whole thing. Think Julia Child. Sometimes you get a perfect flip, sometimes you have doubts, and get an imperfect flip. Either way, it tastes good.

After I get the frittata flipped, I turn off the heat and let the other side finish cooking with residual heat for another 30 -60 seconds. Add in your crumbled feta cheese, fold in half, then slide onto your plate next to your awaiting peppered bacon.

Dig in!

I love frittatas because of the many variations of flavors you can have. They are totally customizable to your tastes and they are an excellent way to use up miscellaneous ingredients in your fridge.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Quick post #5

There's something heartening about having a pot of something simmering on the stove on a rainy day.

For me, today that something was a pot of chicken stock, easily made from scratch.

I started with chicken bones leftover from some thighs I processed yesterday. (When there's a good deal at the store, you stock up!)

I also picked up some mirepoix vegetables, onions, celery, and carrots, from a local organic market.

The last addition was some white button mushroom stems. The stems tend to be woody, so I prefer not to use then in my other recipes, but they can still impart that lovely earthy flavor I love.

I roasted all the ingredients in the oven (350°, 45 -60 min) to deepen the flavor and color.

Then follow your typical stock directions: add everything to a large stock pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and let it simmer for several hours. Check occasionally and skim off the fats and yucky stuff that floats to the top.  Keep an eye on the water level, and add more as needed to keep the ingredients completely submerged.

After 2 - 3 hours, strain the stock either into a container, or into another pot for further simmering if you want to reduce the stock even further.

If you have a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth, strain the stock into a container for storage.  If you don't, let the stock settle and cool, then carefully pour it into a container leaving any bits in the bottom of the pan.

Store in the fridge, and use as needed throughout the week.  You can store stock in the freezer as well. Try freezing it in ice cube trays to get individual servings of stock you can add to a variety of recipes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Clean Eating Challenge

I recently completed a 28 clean eating and fitness challenge.

Some of the reasons I decided to jump in and do this are:
1.  My exercise goals and my exercise realities were not in alignment. I would always have plans to go for a walk or work out at my local pole gym, but often found myself getting wrapped up in other things or being completely distracted. This challenge requires a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise for 6 days a week, not much of an effort if you really think about it, and with the community being as supportive as it is I feel like this will be cake. Most days.

2. The food part of the challenge is a “Clean Eating” type of diet. Not diet, life change*.  There are a few variations on the idea, but generally eating clean means avoiding overly processed foods and beverages with excessive amounts of additives, sugar, sodium, dyes, etc. The easiest way to achieve this is to basically skip the middle aisles of most grocery stores. Any food item in its whole state, with little to no processing is fair game. Think produce, meats, eggs, and whole grains. This does require making a lot of meals from scratch, but that’s all part of the fun! Well, for me anyway.

I’ve learned a similar idea about what makes food good for some about ten years ago while taking some cooking classes, it just never really had a name.  What I learned was that fresh ingredients make for excellent meals, when you cook from scratch, you control what goes into your food, and that simple is often better when it come to preparation and presentation.

I remember one of the chefs telling us about the best dessert he ever had in a restaurant. It was fresh ripe fruit, still on the branch, simply presented on a plate.  He was so impressed; it made an indelible imprint in his memory
A lot of people have lost sight of this simplicity and insist upon doing a lot to food, but really if it’s fresh and ripe, less can be more when it comes to presentation.

To be able to achieve this at home, only takes a little bit of cooking knowledge and a little extra time and effort. But its time and effort well spent if it means your food tasty and fresh, you know all the ingredients in it. 

* I say its a life change, since diets aren't forever, and therefore do not yield lasting results.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Quick post # 4

I've been enjoying salads for lunch or dinner for the past couple of weeks; they're healthy, quick and delicious, making them ideal meals for the summer.
Layering my salad ingredients probably started out of sheer hunger. Who has time for tossing a salad when you're ravenous and all you want to do is stuff food in your face?
But, this layered assembly method stuck with me and now I've got it down to an art.

Start with one or two fistfuls of salad greens of your choosing and place them inside your bowl. Now unless you have enormous bowls, this alone will fill them to capacity, or close enough that adding anything else could result in a tragic mess.
Don't fear, our next step will rectify this. Add any seasonings you may like such as salt and pepper to taste, and then the recommended serving of your favorite dressing. Mine's ranch, and I use a smidge more than 2 tbsp, measured by eye.
Now is the time to cut and/or toss the greens so they get an even coating of dressing. You'll notice that as this happens that the greens will start to take up les volume in your bowl. (The dressing helps to weigh down the greens so there is less air present between all the leaves)
Next, layer on whatever toppings you like. Today I added parmesan cheese, cucumber slices, a tomato, and two hard boiled eggs.
Topping combos are endless, and some of the others I've added recently have been diced chicken breast, sliced mushrooms, sliced bell peppers, carrots, and other typical salad mix-ins.
By leaving the ingredients in layers on top of the greens, I can dig into my salad and get a little bit of everything on my fork, without chasing them around in my bowl.
I also avoid the potential mess of my salad spilling over the sides of the bowl when I try to mix all the ingredients together.
For me this is clearly a superior way to eat salad at home.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Lunching with friends

Last Friday I made lunch for my bff and myself.
It was simple, refreshing, and delicious.

Tuna salad (white albacore, mayo, Old Bay), tomatoes, and salad greens with ranch dressing.

P.s. I love her square plates!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Quick Post # 2 - What do you put on your eggs?

Normally, I use A1 sauce on my eggs. It's weird, but I like the savory kick it has.

I'm all out of A1, and my backup is usually ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and garlic seasoning, but today I decided to tweak that a little.

Since its the being of summer, I've been craving a good crab feast, that means Old Bay.

Trust me when I say that Old Bay is good on everything; French fries, popcorn, tuna salad, any and all seafood, chicken, corn, pizza... Even icecream. Yup, icecream, and I'd recommend sprinkling Old Bay on vanilla.

But that's another topic.

Today I decided to make a Maryland style egg scramble with ingredients I had on hand: corn, bacon, cheese, and Old Bay in my egg sauce, instead of garlic. It was glorious. If I had crab, that would have gone in t tooo, and I'm sure that would make for a special breakfast.

Crabbing was a summer ritual growing up, and marked the end of the school year for my sister and me. I do miss living close to the water, where if you could get your hands on some chicken necks, string, and some patience, you could snag fresh crab. I'll have some crabs sometime soon, its high on my summertime to do list.

In the meantime, I'll continue to put Old Bay on just about everything I eat.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

I've been smelling all amazing charcoal grills of everyone in the neighborhood and decided to fire up the fire pit to roast brauts for dinner.

I also made a s'more for desert with some of the bacon chocolate bars I have stashed.

It was beyond delightful.

I forgot to take pictures of the actual food, but in my defense, I was hungry!