nutritious and delicious

Thanksgiving break marked the end of our first term of classes.  5 labs down, 10 to go. First up after turkey day: Nutrition and Sensory Analysis. The timing couldn’t have been better, huh? I was really looking forward to this class–I knew the instructor and knew we had very similar views on food.

What a new term also means is new classmates.  A group of about 8 of us “big kids” from our first session got together and all registered for the same classes, which meant about 12 new faces.  The first couple weeks were a little rough. I quickly named a group member “Wonder Boy,” and not as a term of endearment. We’ve all settled in though, and get along pretty well.  But it is VERY exciting to see old friendly faces in the halls.

So let’s get to the good stuff–the food! Each day before service we went down the whole line and each group had to explain why each of their dishes were “nutritious and delicious.”  Not surprisingly, i LOVED all the food in this class. A fellow health nut and I talked so excitedly about how much better we felt after class each day–we had more energy, were in better moods,  and life just seemed a little brighter.  After the land of cream sauces and mushy meat, it was like discovering the promised land.

upper left: shrimp spring rolls with rice noodles and fresh mint
lower left: banana nut bread (barf)
center: buckwheat pancakes! deeeeelicious
upper right: vegan tofu chocolate pudding with raspberry coulis. deeeeesgusting.
(i try to like tofu. i really do. but i just don’t. i don’t hate it like i hate bananas, so that’s something)
lower right: spaghetti squash with tempeh bolognese. tempeh is another meat substitute made of fermented soy beans. infinitely better than tofu.

 here’s a couple shots of the full lot of daily production (well, actually each of these are only about half of it):

two of my accomplishments: brocco-flower cheddar soup and smoothies (blueberry-banana and strawberry-raspberry-peach)

   

hands-down one of my favorite things i’ve made to date: falafel!

wonder boy made the tzatziki. took him approximately 2 hours.

 and the crowning glory after two weeks of very little meat, cheese, or fat:

bacon cheddar sliders with caramelized onions and chipotle mayo on fresh-baked rolls. the southern carnivorous males were in HEAVEN.

For our final, we had to take a recipe and modify it to pretty strict nutritional requirements.  I took a sautéed salmon with a beurre rouge sauce (read: 2 sticks of butter with some red wine) and turned it into:

Ancho Chile Salmon with Clementine Reduction

(after being tasted and graded. A+!)

I marinated the salmon in fresh clementine juice, clementine zest, ancho chile powder, brown sugar, salt, and pepper. 30 minutes later, they got baked at 375 until cooked through, about 12 minutes.  The brown sugar and the sugars in the juice caramelize on the outside of the fish, and the higher heat allow it to cook quickly and not dry out. Meanwhile, I reduced the exact same mixture as the marinade over medium heat until slightly syrupy. Drizzle that over the fish, top it with some toasted panko breadcrumbs and BAM (he’s a jwu alumnus, ps)!

Nutritious and delicious.

the one where i moved far, far away

so i’m here! tuesday marks two weeks in the queen city. here are the last few weeks in (iphone) pictures.

i was sent off by the girlies in STYLE.

Mad Dog came to town (old town, to be specific) and in between navigating an enormous yellow truck on 495, we managed some lovely evenings.

Chart House

Jackson 20

Mad Dog and Manfriend GRACIOUSLY took the time to drive my self and my stuff all the way down here.

\

my poor attempt at documenting our entrance into NC. i took a lot of naps.

we’re heeeeeeeere!

that low building in the front is the NASCAR Hall of Fame. WHO'S YER DRIVER?!

After a looong day of unpacking (I use that word loosely. Mostly men moving my boxes around.), we celebrated the best way 3 Irish Catholics know how.

I think the bartender had a crush on Mad Dog. That’s all scotch.

The next day, Mad Dog used his 6th man-sense to guide us to Big Bird’s final resting spot.

After a delicious $4 lunch (!!), Mad Dog used his 7th sense to seek out….BOOZE.

You can buy beer and wine at gas stations and Target, but for liiiiiicker, you must enter a compound run by un-friendly ex-marine ABC agents.

The kind, patient gentlemen hung my girly curtains while I uncovered tools essential to my culinary education.

but only until the clock struck scotch-thirty.

Mad Dog drove off into the sunset to go visit my tremendously talented cousins in Asheville, and a few days later I said a temporary (but tearful) goodbye to Manfriend…and I was alone and unleashed on the Queen City. First things first: I went to Target and Trader Joe’s (suburbia!!). Then I got in the kitchen, to whip up a creature comfort: granola.

My old oven ran 25-50 degrees cold. This one does NOT.

I hung a picture of my patron saint, Chili Pepper Cat, and hoped next time he would guide me.

And, low and behold, the next venture turned out much better.

forget to buy flour? flourless peanut butter cookies to the rescue! (with TJ mini PB cups to boot)

Chili Pepper Cat also guided me–to a job! I start tomorrow. It’s a super cute (there are twinkle lights involved) restaurant/bar a few blocks from the football stadium.  There is cold beer, turkey legs, and no polyester suits for miles.

Speaking of poultry legs, Manfriend visited again this weekend and we inaugurated the kitchen properly. Balti Chicken, oven-roasted potatoes, and broccoli.

And here we are! I promise monster posts like these won’t become the norm. Especially if y’all come visit!

you could be in pictures!

EXTRA EXTRA read all about it! DTMS has gone…local.  Yours truly is the newest Easy Meals writer for examiner.com! Super exciting (and a super kick in the pants to keep up with you all more regularly 🙂 )

Here’s  my first column–I went with a DTMS classic, the infamous steak salad. Click on the picture below to go to the full article!

alright, already.

ok ok ok ok ok! enough with the hounding and the judging and the abuse! we’re back! you asked for it. there are pictures, but they ain’t all pretty.  and turns out if you don’t write things down, 4 months later you forget what recipe you used. so, here’s what we got:

one day in october, manfriend and i made meatloaf.

i’m 90% sure we based it off pioneer woman’s recipe, except we didn’t wrap it in bacon (forgive me!). it was still delicious. especially the sauce.

then, i revisited my childhood and played with lots of rainbow sprinkles.

i’m 50% sure i used this recipe. i know i looked at it for a while, at least.

and now the for the crime solving portion of the programming–apparently at some point in early november, a dish was made in my kitchen i have no recollection of. a crime!  from the evidence gathered, i’ve deduced there was a salad with sesame-crusted steak

exhibit a

that was seared.

exhibit b

there were mushrooms involved. apparently.

exhibit c

the whole business was dressed in….soy and cilantro, knowing the suspect’s m.o. there was probably some chili sauce and honey implicated as well.

exhibit d

resulting in the carnage below. quite a whodunnit.

seriously, i have only a very vague memory of preparing this. i'm sure it was sufficiently tasty. well, i hope.

moving right along. Liscious and I made ourselves a fantastic brunch of pumpkin-cream-cheese-streusel-muffins and a egg-tomato-prosciutto focaccia pizza. oh and just a splash of champagne. just a splash.

 

doesn’t that look fun?  oh and then she got married. parts of the day went better than others. example of the latter:

bridesmaid bustle bender.

and then i made pork chops.  this is BIG. i hate pork chops. i don’t like hating foods (except bananas, which is well documented and i believe, entirely justified) so i tried to give it another go.  the problem with cooking foods you’re not terribly fond of or familiar with is you tend to not be well-versed in preparing them. ergo, i over cooked the pork chops. manfriend said they were tasty (good manfriend) but i was not satisfied. their saving grace was the maple-sage pan sauce i made to go with them. that was a win.

christmas happened again this year, which was nice.  i had a good, long, and sufficiently eventful stay at the homestead. There was deep dish pizza, pink champagne, snowflakes, and funtimes with the sistafriend.

shortly after, 2011 showed up. we tried to get off on a good foot–

but the universe had other ideas. we’ll just have to return soon to kentucky, and try again at gettin’ lucky.

and so here we are! i’ve got a few tasty things coming down the pike (pipe?) which are really only scheduled to keep you mongrels satisfied. RAWR.

meatless monday: mmm mmm mushrooms!

Risotto is one of the meals Manfriend requests on a regular basis.  I usually have no objections, but when this summer revealed itself to be an unwavering sweltering soul-crushing eternal heat wave, creamy warm risotto wasn’t exactly what I wanted to eat. Or stand over, stirring diligently.

At the first whisper of cooler weather…”can we have risotto?”  I had some mushrooms that needed a home so in to the pot they went and dinner was born. Until…

Until I decided not to get my handy step stool ( judge me. do it) to get something from a high shelf, I just reeeeeached up as high as I could. I teetered on my tip toes and leaned a bit to the side and CRASH. My acrobatics knocked the handle of  the pot containing my nicely sauteing mushrooms and the whole lot tumbled to the floor. Your honor, Exhibit A:

This meal quickly would have headed into a monday meltdown had i not saved some of the mushrooms, intending to use them in omelets.  Manfriend assured me, despite my insistence, that I was not actually an idiot and complete failure, and back to the cutting board i went.

So, how do you actually make this stuff? For a basic risotto, you only need a few items: onions of some kind (shallots are best), arborio rice, warm liquid (chicken or veggie stock), and, well, that’s it! From there, you can make it your own. The process is also very simple, it just requires a little bit of time (about 30 minutes, unless you’re cooking for 12) and some upper arm endurance.  We’re going to walk through the whole thing together nice and easy.  I’ll list the quantities I used, but you can adjust them to your taste.

First, heat 3-4 cups of your liquid over low heat so it’s just barely simmering. Barely.  Melt some butter or oil in another pot over medium heat.  Add 1/2 c. onions and cook until starting to soften (don’t let them get brown. If they start to brown, turn your heat down).  Once the onions are on their way, add some flavor!  I added healthy dashes of rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper, and my mushrooms (for round 2 there was only a scant cup) here so they could cook and release all their flavors into the rice as it all cooked together.

Now, add your rice. No liquid.  (1 cup will serve about 4 people).  Let the rice toast with the onions, etc until it juuuuust starts to turn the slightest shade of tan.  Toasting the rice before you cook it in liquid seals in the starch and helps make your final product nice and creamy.

NOW you add your liquid–sloooowly.  I use a 1-cup measure, dipping it into my simmering broth, which pulls up about 3/4 c. at a time.  What you’re going to do here, is add one ladle of broth and stir stir stir the rice until the liquid is completely absorbed.  This will happen very quickly at first then more slowly as it gets more and more cooked.  If you want to add wine (which is lovely in this), that should be the first liquid you introduce into your rice to maximize flavor and give it time for the booze to cook out.  Once the liquid is absorbed, add another ladle. Stir until absorbed. Wash, rinse, repeat.  A standard ratio is 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup of rice.  l usually use up ending a little more, so I start out with plenty of liquid at the outset so I’m not panicked at the end trying to warm up last-minute water. (Adding cold water halts the cooking process. bad. very bad).

about when you should add some more juice.

A note on stirring: purists say you need to stir this constantly as it cooks. Not fast and furious–but constantly. I’ve made it like that, and I’ve also made it where you’re doing more than one thing at once and maybe only stir it every couple minutes. Both turned out great.  You definitely can’t walk away from it for 10 minutes, but letting it do its thing, giving it a nice stir every so often is just. fine.

When is it done? The only way to know is to TASTE IT! It’s going to start looking all creamy, but I bet in that first bite you’ll find the center of the rice is still a little hard.  Keep tasting every few minutes, and it’s done when you like the texture.  Maybe you want it al dente, maybe you want it a little more cooked and super creamy. Whatever blows your skirt up.

And now, the best step: serve it up! As do most dishes in the DTMS household, we top ours with some grated parmesan. You could add chopped nuts, fresh herbs, anything you desire.

Ta-da! Total comfort food. The mushrooms (well, the ones that survived) added a deep, earthy layer of flavor. Perfect for warming you up from the chilly fall winds.

And look Ma, no recipe! If you actually got through this whole thing, you saw that strict rules and measurements really have no part in risotto-making. You have to make it your own!

ho-hum.

Mmm these were pretty so-so. They look tasty, right? The melty, gooey cheese and gently roasted pepper were both tasty.  Unfortunately, the filling was pretty bland.  The concept is great, but I HIGHLY recommend spicing it up–maybe a little chili powder, a little cumin, cayenne if you’re feeling crazy.
You could totally nix the chicken and add more veggies to make it veg-friendly. So, consider this a starting place.  A coloring book page for you to fill in as your creative juices compel you to.
on the up-side, below, check out the handy little links for you! noshbot.com is rockin my world.

Chicken-stuffed Poblano Peppers

food.com

Ingredients:

  • 4 medium poblano chiles
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, diced in 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon seasoning salt
  • 2 roma tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup mushroom, sliced
  • 2 ounces monterey jack cheese, cut into 1/4 inch cubes (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • cooked saffron rice, 4 servings

Directions:

  1. While using gloves, wash the poblano chilies and using a sharp paring knife, cut a slit lengthwise from stem to tip of chile leaving stem in tact.
  2. Carefully cut away the seeds and membrane rinse the inside of the chilies and set aside.
  3. In a large skillet over medium high heat, warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, add chopped onions and garlic.
  4. Cook until onions begin to turn golden, stirring frequently.
  5. Add the diced chicken, sprinkle with seasoning salt and cook until chicken is almost cooked through; add tomato and mushrooms, continue to cook until chicken is done.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 2 quart casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  7. With remaining tablespoon olive oil, lightly oil the outside of the chilies and place them cut side up in casserole dish.
  8. Pack the chicken mixture into chilies and push cheese into mixture along the slit.
  9. Cover dish, place in preheated oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes; remove cover the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking.
  10. Serve on top of a bed of saffron rice.

meatless monday

In case you haven’t heard, we eat too much meat. It’s bad for us, it’s bad for them, it’s bad for the planet. Meatless Monday started in 2003 and to say the least–it’s caught on.  Countless schools, celebrities, and companies are adopting the meat-free Monday.

I try to be cognizant of the amount of meat I consume, but I could absolutely be better.  So, let’s do this together.  I’ll post a meat-free recipe every Monday, something anyone could reasonably prepare on a weeknight, so you can get your act together too (i’m not judging, promise).

So here we go! I made this linguine a week or so ago. I love creative pesto interpretations, and this one worked out wonderfully. Beautiful end-of-season tomatoes and the almonds add a great little bit of bulk to the sauce. This is a great warm, cozy dinner as the weather turns colder, but won’t put you in a food coma or give you a gut. Winner!

Linguine with Tomato-Almond Pesto
from smitten kitchen, adapted from Gourmet

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 large handful fresh basil leaves
  • 1 to 2 large garlic cloves
  • Several sprinkles of sea salt
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 pound linguine

Method

  • In a large skillet, sauté the almonds in a little olive oil until toasted. Let cool, then blend them in a food processor or blender until they are in coarse pieces. (“The size of orzo,” the original recipe suggests.) Scoop them out of the processor and set them aside.
  • Put the basil, garlic and a few pinches of sea salt into the food processor and chop. Add the almonds back to the food processor (keeping them separate will keep them from getting too finely chopped as you get the basil and garlic to the right texture) with the tomatoes, cheese and olive oil and whirl briefly. Season it with freshly ground black pepper.
  • Cook your linguine until it is al dente and could use another minute of cooking time. Reserve one cup of pasta cooking water and drain the rest. Immediately toss the hot linguine with the pesto and mix quickly so that it drinks the sauce up a bit. Add more pasta water if needed.

p.s. how cute is the little text! yea, you’re thinking “christ that is so 2005.” WHATEVER.

back on the wagon

aaaand we’re back! its been a while, eh? i could give a million reasons for my absence, but the fact of the matter is we’re here now. and you better enjoy my company, dammit.

For today: falafel.  nestled in a bed of arugula and stuffed in a pita slathered with cucumber-yogurt sauce.

This was great right away, but I think got even better after a day or so once all the spices and flavors in the patties and the sauce had time to get to know each other.  These make great leftovers for weekday lunches–though I would recommend assembling right before you eat, the yogurt sauce will render the pita soggy and gross. I also woefully under-salted my patties (BAD cook!) but the warmth from the garam masala saved my rear.

And now, in a move of sheer genius, I’ve completely forgotten where I found this recipe. Yep I’m awesome.  Nick at Macheesemo has one that looks mildly familiar, so I’ll use his as a starting point and give you some colorful commentary along the way.

Chickpea Patties with Yogurt Sauce (Adapted from Macheesemo who adapted it from America’s Test Kitchen 30 Minutes Suppers )
Makes 8 patties.

2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
– 2 Teaspoons garam masala (original is 1 tsp.)
– 2 Tablespoons olive oil
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 Cup toasted bread crumbs
– 4 scallions, minced
– 1/2 Cup Greek yogurt
– 3 Tablespoons cilantro, minced
– Pinch of salt

Tzatziki Sauce:
– 1 Cup Greek yogurt
– 1 cucumber, shredded
– 2 Tablespoons scallions
– 1 Tablespoon cilantro
– Pinch of salt

Tzatziki: Dump all ingredients in a bowl. Mix. Done. (Nick salted his cucumber for 10-15 minutes to draw out some  moisture. I didn’t. I lived)

Patties:

  • Whisk together your eggs, garam masala, oil, and pinch of salt into a small bowl.
  • Add all your drained and rinsed chickpeas into a large bowl and mush them up with either a fork or a potato masher. (If you want it to be super-smooth, you can throw these bad boys in a food processor).
  • Then stir in your egg/spice mixture, breadcrumbs, and all the other ingredients.  (Nick: You’ll end up with this very thick paste of sorts.  Again, it doesn’t look great, but it’ll smell really good and trust me it’ll taste good also.)
  • Divide the mixture into 8 (or 6) equal parts and then form round patties out of the mixture about 3/4 of an inch thick.
  • In a pan over high heat, add 2 Tablespoons of olive oil and when it’s glistening, add your patties. (Don’t crowd your patties. Do these in batches if you have to. Or, in my case, if you just spent an hour in spin class and might pass out if you don’t eat NOW, cook one pattie. Eat. Then cook the rest later. Not much later–like I wouldn’t have this stuff chilling in the fridge for days–but you can eat and then make the rest an hour later. )
  • Cook until browned on each side (about 5 minutes per side).
  • Consume with tzatziki. You can go bare and just eat ’em on a plate…you can stuff them in a pita like me…you could put them on burger buns….i bet they would also be good crumbled up on salad greens. Hot creamy falafel, cool crisp lettuce. Yep sounds like a winner.

Alright I’m going to end this masterful work of culinary literature before it really goes off the tracks. I’ve got some kickin’ fall recipes in the oven (literally. right now.) so i’ll be BACK.

the plan.

On Tuesday, we planned to have the infamous steak salad for dinner.

On Tuesday afternoon, I ran into this post and plans changed.

On Tuesday evening, Whole Foods almost ruined the plans by being out of cumin. My lack of organization saved the plans when I found cumin in the waaaaaay back of the spice cabinet.

The plan was saved! The plan was eaten.  Along with big salads and polenta topped with parmesan.

The plan looked something along the lines of this:

photo from cooking light.

and this

photo from for the love of cooking

The plan was good. REALLY good.

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs

from Cooking Light

Ingredients

  • 2  teaspoons  garlic powder
  • 2  teaspoons  chili powder
  • 1  teaspoon  salt
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  paprika
  • 1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper
  • 8  skinless, boneless chicken thighs
  • Cooking spray
  • 6  tablespoons  honey
  • 2  teaspoons  cider vinegar

Preparation

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

a cardinal sin.

One evening in the relatively recent past, I got a hankering for mussels.  When this craving usually hits, Manfriend promptly deposits me on a bar stool at the incredible Granville Moore’s.

This time, I was feeling a little daring and decided to cook the mussels myself. Everything I’ve read and countless tv food personalities swear they’re insanely easy.  Well that just adds to the pressure, and the disappointment if they go wrong.

Well fear not because I’m AWESOME and these suckers turned out delicious.  Until Manfriend said, “do you have any bread?” which obviously, he wanted to sop up the delicious broth because that’s what you DO.  Crap I had no bread. What was I thinking? I’d committed the cardinal sin of mussels-making. You must have bread.

If these weren’t so incredibly tasty and fantastic, it would have been much more of a tragedy.  And if you know how important crusty bread is to the mussels-eating process, you understand just how uber-tasty they were (We made due with a few tortillas, but their broth-soaking-power is decidedly lackluster).

Spicy Mussels and Chorizo

from Martha Stewart

Serves 4 (uh…or 2 big mussels fans)

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 3 cups canned crushed tomatoes with juice
  • 4 ounces dried, hot chorizo, cut on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt teaspoon coarse salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds mussels, scrubbed and debearded
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Method

  • Heat oil in a large, heavy stockpot over medium heat. Add shallot; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and red-pepper flakes; cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add wine; bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and chorizo. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add mussels. Cover, and continue to cook, shaking pot occasionally.
  • DEVOUR. with crusty bread.