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.

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

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


  • 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


  • 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.

in mother russia, steak broils you!

I like lists. I like the organization of them. I like adding things to them. I like checking things off them (actually I’m more of a strike-through person). At work, at home, and ESPECIALLY in the kitchen. For 2 years I lived not in walking distance to a grocery store, so food purchasing was done once or twice a month thanks to Zipcar and LISTS.  I’d plan a few recipes and make sure to get all the ingredients. It was a good system.

Now that I’m walking distance to 3 (yes THREE!) grocery stores, we do the European go-to-the-market-everyday-for-just-what-you-need. Which is also a very nice system.

So Monday. Manfriend and I have returned from Florida (exhausted, battered, and broke as I predicted) and there is NO food to be found. I work one of the most frantic 11-hour days in history and (still frantically) meet Manfriend at Safeway. Where ALL HELL PROCEEDS TO BREAK LOOSE. I have no list, no plan, no system. Manfriend would rather gouge his eyes out than be in a grocery store at 7pm on a weekday, and THE SHELVES ARE BARE. They are out of milk, most produce, chicken breasts, and anything else you need.  At what point did the new shiny Safeway become Communist Russia?

Needless to say, we come home with a motely crew of goods. One of which is a large flank steak, which I must have thrown into the cart right before the Red Army came storming through the doors. A little search through  my Google reader, and this little gem was discovered. Cool cucumber, zesty peppers, salty and creamy feta–all over STEAK. Yea, this was going to be good.

Flank Steak with Cucumber-Pepperoncini Relish
from Cooking Light


  • 1  (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
  • 1  tablespoon  bottled minced garlic
  • 1/2  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  black pepper
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  tablespoon  pickled pepperoncini pepper pickling liquid
  • 1  tablespoon  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2  teaspoon  Dijon mustard
  • 1  pickled pepperoncini pepper, chopped
  • 2  tablespoons  chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2  tablespoons  crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2  English cucumber, quartered lengthwise and sliced (about 1 cup)


  • Preheat broiler. (i love steps like this)
  • Sprinkle both sides of flank steak evenly with garlic, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Place steak on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray

the grain on the steak makes it easy to shove the little garlic bits riiiiiight in there.

  • Broil steak 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

FIRE! I did 7 minutes per side for a 1.75lb steak, which came out on the "well" side of medium.

  • Place steak on a cutting board; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Uncover; cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

the smoke was billowing into the camera (and my face) in swirls. kinda like standing over a sidewalk grate.

  • Combine pepperoncini pickling liquid, olive oil, and mustard in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk.

do not fear the pepperoncinis. they are salty and tangy and delicious.

  • Add chopped pepperoncini pepper, parsley, cheese, and cucumber to oil mixture in bowl; toss well to combine.

and now, rapid-fire relish assembly.




despite a second trip to safeway, they still had no fresh parsley. Manfriend and I cautiously tasted this stuff first and determined it to be acceptable. It has salt in it though, so bear in mind when seasoning.


ta-da! (full disclosure: i made this before the steak even went in the oven. i do what i WANT.)

  • Serve steak with relish. (Slice steak diagonally on the grain)






I also made some brussels to go with because sprouts and bacon were 2 of the 6 ingredients available at the store on Monday.


The photo is not quite up to my standards…but there was anxious, hungry foot-stomping and wimpering going on right directly behind me. This was his plate.

The layered flavors in this are really fantastic–every ingredient gets its time in the spotlight, and they all come together so, so nicely.  Fast, fantasic, and hello–healthy! Cooking light clocks this at 219 calories per serving.  Are you kidding me? Go fight the commies and get yourself a flank steak immediately.

chicken curry!

This is a meal from my childhood. My mother made this quite often–the smell brings back very fond memories of cold Chicago nights, curled up on the couch with some curry watching the new episode of ER (god bless the 90’s) with my mom and sis.

And now, as a working woman, I understand why we had it so often: it’s insanely easy.  One pan (ok 2 if you count the rice)  and leftover chicken, 20 minutes, and you’re done.   The smoky curry powder, with the balance of chicken broth and milk, make it luxurious but not gluttonous.

I roasted my first whole chicken this past Sunday (i’ll post the next one. i had a little too much fun bathing the little birdie and dancing him around the roasting pan. but i digress.) “Well, then you have to make the curry with the leftovers,” MommaBear said. Aye-aye.

This recipe is from my father’s grandmother’s best friend.  I don’t have much memory of Alice, but if this curry is any indication, she was one awesome broad.

2 quick recipe notes: white basmati or any long-grain rice is best. also, my favorite toppings are bacon, raisins, and toasted walnuts (seriously toast them. makes a world of difference.)


Alice Marshall’s Curry Sauce
serves 3-4

  • 4 T butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 T minced fresh ginger, or 1/2 t powdered ginger

Fry above in medium saucepan until slightly browned. Add:

  • 1 T curry powder (this amount will make a reasonably spicy sauce)
  • 1/2 t brown sugar
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1/2 t salt

Stir until pasty. Immediately add:

  • 1/2 c. chicken broth

Add slowly, stirring constantly:

  • 1 1/2 c hot milk

Simmer until thickened.

Use with any chopped meat. Serve with rice  and condiments – bacon, chutney, pineapple, chopped hard-boiled egg, raisins, onions, nuts, etc.