Monthly Archives: July 2011

A very green dinner

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My last entry for Farmers’ Market week! This time our local ground beef was the star, with the fresh kale in a supporting role.

Asian-Style Lettuce Wraps

Adapted from a recipe at The Cynical Chef

Ingredients:

  • 16 butter lettuce leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ½ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (or 2 tbsp white vinegar + 1 tsp lemon juice)
  • 1 (8 ounce) can sliced water chestnuts, drained and quartered
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 4 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ red pepper, chopped
  • 2 tbsp Siracha hot sauce

Directions:

1) Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.

2) In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool.

3) Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and Siracha to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, and sesame oil, and continue cooking until the onions, mushrooms, and red pepper have cooked, about 7-10 minutes.

4) To serve, spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!

I loved this recipe. It kind of reminded me of sushi, in a weird way. Not the ingredients (obviously) but the wonderful feeling of protein inside a leafy, green wrap. Maybe this is a good time to explain that I love lettuce—the taste, the texture, the color. Lettuce wraps pretty much encapsulate (ha!) everything that I love about lettuce while still feeling different and exotic, mostly thanks to the Asian ingredients: sesame oil, water chestnuts, hoisin sauce. Anyway, 4.5 out of 5 for me on this: it was awesome. The Boyfriend said he liked it too but he would have rather eaten the beef mixture over rice than inside a lettuce leaf.

We were under a time crunch so we made a simple side dish: sautéed kale. And when I say we, I really mean him: The Boyfriend graciously took care of the kale so I could focus on dinner and we could get out of the door sooner rather than later. The kale was okay—this is one of our go-to recipes because it is easy but it won’t win any flavor awards anytime soon. It is definitely competent but not exciting, if you know what I mean. He did a great job with it, the recipe is just not very exciting; but it is easy and it tastes good.

Sautéed Kale

Adapted from a recipe at Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • ½ bunch kale
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic (or 1 garlic scape) chopped
  • ½ cup stock (chicken or vegetable) or water
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

Directions:

1) Wash kale; remove stem and cut into bite-sized pieces.

2) Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.

3) Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored.

4) Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

5) Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.

Due to all of the green, I was pretty satisfied with the healthiness quotient of this meal.

Chicken Wings and “cannibalistic” squash

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Two posts in one day! I’m getting good at this. This one is going to be short because I have friends over and I want to get back to the shenanigans that are currently ensuing without me.

Tonight we continued on our local produce track and used up more of our farmers’ market gets: antibiotic- and hormone-free chicken wings and squash! The Boyfriend is a big fan of buffalo wings; me? Not so much. (I attribute that to an unfortunate coincidence when I was struck down with a stomach virus hours after ingesting buffalo wings; but that’s a story for another day). Imagine The Boyfriend’s surprise when I suggested that we cook our new-bought wings buffalo-style. My only caveats were that the wings not be deep fried (for health’s sake) and that they not be so spicy that I couldn’t eat them (for my tongues sake; The Boyfriend has a much higher tolerance for spicy foods than I do. I personally think he is a bit of a spicy-food masochist). Using our new camping grill we were able to keep these babies as healthy as possible while imparting the wings with tons of flavor (and nice char marks).

Grilled Chicken Wings

Adapted from a recipe at Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds chicken wings
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Badia complete seasoning (or other similar complete seasoning)

For sauce:

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ Frank’s Red Hot sauce
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Sniper (or other hot sauce—Tabasco, etc)
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp white or apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350o and set a gas grill to heat up.

2) Rub wings with celery salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika, and complete seasoning.

3) Melt butter in small saucepan over low heat. Whisk in the rest of the sauce ingredients until combined. Remove from heat and set aside.

4) Put wings on baking sheet; ladle a teaspoon of sauce on top of each wing. Cook in oven for 8 minutes.

5) Remove wings from oven and finish cooking on grill, 3-5 minutes. Once wings are finished, add to bowl with remaining sauce and toss to cover.

Cannibalistic Stuffed Squash

Adapted from a recipe at Raptor Toe

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 small squash, of various type
  • 1 wedge Light Laughing Cow spreadable swiss
  • 2 tbsp cream cheese (or in my case, schmear)
  • 1 tbsp Gar-la-la (optional; or sub for 2 cloves raw garlic)
  • 1 garlic scape, chopped
  • 3 oz mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil + more, for drizzling
  • 2 tsp seasoned breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350o.

2) Slice each squash lengthwise; using a spoon (or in my case, knife) scoop out innards of each squash; set aside.

3) Place squash on a baking sheet; drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven and cook for 15 minutes.

4) Chop up leftover squash innards. Add olive oil, jalapeno, mushrooms, innards, and chopped scape to pan; sauté for 5 minutes. Add Gar-la-la and both cheeses to pan; stir until cheese has melted and combination is well mixed.

5) Scoop mixture into squash boats; add breadcrumbs to top of squash and place in oven on broil for 3-5 minutes or until bubbly.

Ok, so why is it called cannibalistic squash? Well the original recipe called for the innards of the squash to be discarded. As I was making this recipe, we had a friend expectantly join us for dinner so I wanted to try to stretch the meal a  little farther; I decided to keep the innards and saute them with the rest of the squash stuffing. I guess I called it cannibalistic because I scooped out the insides of the squash and then stuffed them back in and that seemed a little funny and kind of messed up. Maybe not cannibalistic (because the squash wasn’t really eating itself) but, I don’t know, that’s what I thought of. Maybe I should work on my food-naming skills…

A twist on meat and potatoes

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A twist on meat and potatoes

When I think of meat-and-taters, I usually imagine a big steak with a loaded baked potato. Unfortunately, that meal isn’t going to win any healthy awards anytime soon. If you read/remember from the last post, I bought beef short ribs at the farmers’ market on Saturday, so I decided to cook ’em up with some lightened up mashed potatoes. Ok, so it’s not a huge twist on the norm but it is a little healthier and it was super easy to make.

Asian Style Short Ribs

Adapted from a recipe at Blisstree.com

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar (or sub for 2 tbsp white vinegar + 1tsp lemon juice)
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 lbs beef short ribs
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp cold water

Directions:

1) Mix soy sauce, sugar, oil, vinegar, ginger, garlic and red pepper in a small bowl.

2) Place ribs in a slow cooker and pour sauce over. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours or on low for 9 hours.

3) Transfer ribs to a platter, and skim and discard excess fat from liquid. Place liquid in a saucepan, combine cornstarch and water and add to liquid. Bring to a boil and cook for two minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.

4) Remove meat from ribs and discard fat. Top meat with sauce.

This was my first time making short ribs and I kinda imagined that they would be cut similar to pork ribs. Nope. It was a giant block of meat and fat with 2 little bones at the bottom. That sorta confused me but I followed the recipe anyway (except that I cooked mine for 4 hours on low and then 2 hours on high). It wasn’t the tenderest beef I have ever eaten (but it certainly wasn’t tough!) so maybe I cooked it too long or not long enough. Something to think about for next time, I suppose!

Also, I had some cornstarch lumps in my sauce (blech!) even though I was whisking it constantly. Maybe the cornstarch and water should be mixed together before going in the sauce? Or maybe not added until the sauce is already boiling? I’m not sure. The sauce did get wonderfully thick; it just grossed me out a little when I bit into a lump of undissolved cornstarch.

Garlic Scape Mashed Potatoes

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb potatoes (I prefer Yukon Golds)
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic scape, chopped
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

 Directions:

1) Set a pot of salted water to boil on stove. Peel and quarter potatoes; add to water when boiling.

2) Boil uncovered 10-30 minutes or until fork tender (soft enough to mash); drain.

3) Add potatoes, butter, and milk to bowl; mash until satisfied with consistency (you can use a potato masher, a large spoon, or a fork).

4) Add garlic scape, olive oil, salt and pepper to bowl; stir/beat with fork until well mixed. Top with leftover short rib sauce.

I added the olive oil so that I could use less butter and milk (minus bad fats, + good fats!) but I realized today that plain Greek yogurt would have worked as a substitute for the milk. Greek yogurt has little/no fat and tons of good gut bacteria; it its a good substitute for mayo (if you season it) or for sour cream. If you want to go the olive oil route with the taters here, be aware that more olive oil = more olive oil taste; if you want traditional tasting mashed potatoes, I recommend going the butter/milk (or Greek yogurt) route.

As usual, I made a salad to accompany the ribs and mashed potatoes and filled half of my plate with the salad. I think eating healthy isn’t about denying yourself the things you love (in this case red meat and carbs), but indulging a little while also filling up on healthy things (giant salad of deliciousness!).

Short post today. Go make (or eat!) something!

Farmers’ Market

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Farmers’ Market

I meant to post this on Saturday but I got behind so happy belated blog! On Saturday The Boyfriend and I checked out the renowned Troy Waterfront Farmers’ Market. Every Saturday, the farmers’ market takes over downtown Troy; Troy closes off a few streets and close to 80 local vendors set up shop for four hours. I was super excited to see (and shop!) locally: I have never had the opportunity to buy meat, dairy, and accoutrements from local farms. In south Florida, there was a gigantic flea market that I used to frequent to buy cheap produce and the best Mexican food around, so I was doubly excited to find a replacement for my previous favorite Saturday excursion.

The Boyfriend and I decided to try to get as much of our weekly shopping done at the market as possible so we withdrew $60 for shopping (leaving about $30 for things we could only get at the grocery store). We got some great stuff for $55 (we had $5 left over!); I listed it all out because you’ll be seeing it on recipes throughout the week:

-1 lb ground beef and 1.6 lb beef spare ribs (Bornt Family Farms)

-1.3 lb chicken wings (Homestead Farms; antibiotic and hormone free)

-1 (huge) bunch kale

-1 zucchini, 1 squash

-1 lb Yukon gold potatoes

-1 bunch garlic scape

-1 tub sundried tomato and chive schmear Argyle Cheese Farmer

-1 tub Gar-la-la (vegan, raw garlic spread) from Zorba’s Natural Food

-1 22oz Hefferveisen from Brown’s Brewing Company (local brewery)

-6 oz locally made pasta from Flour City Pasta (sweet potato shells, red pepper crested rigate, lime tubes, carrot thyme radiatori)

-1 quart chocolate milk from Battenkill Valley Creamery

-1 bagel (Our Daily Bread)

-12 jumbo eggs (Cornell Farm)

On the wish list for next week is pesto from Buddha Pesto, pickles, sauerkraut, or kimchee from The Pickle Club, and some local wine! But for this week, The Boyfriend and I have planned out:

*Creamy Chicken Pasta and Raw Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

*Korean-Style Short Ribs with Garlic Mashed Potatoes and a salad

*Buffalo Wings with Cheese-Stuffed Zucchini/Squash and a salad

*Asian Ground Beef Lettuce Wraps with Sautéed Kale and salad

Now! The recipe. I had a cooked chicken breast left over from the week, as well as some mushrooms and orange pepper so I decided to combine leftovers with fresh goods to make an easy, healthy(ish), and fast dinner; for this recipe, I also used the schmear, garlic spread, and my local pasta.

Creamy Chicken Pasta

Ingredients:

  • 6 oz tri-color spiral pasta
  • 8 oz chicken breast; seasoned, cooked and chopped
  • 4 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
  • Half an orange pepper, diced
  • Half a white onion, diced
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp schmear or cream cheese
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp dill
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper
  • Optional: 2 tbsp Gar-la-la

Directions:

1) Put a pot of water on the stove to boil; add dash of olive oil and salt to water.

2) While waiting for your water to boil, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil, onion, and garlic to pan; cook 3-4 minutes.

Freakishly large garlic clove!

3) Add mushroom and red pepper to pan; cook another 3-4 minutes.

4) Turn heat down to medium; add schmear, milk, and Gar-la-la (if using). Stir until schmear melts and milk and schmear is incorporated.

5) Add chopped chicken, salt and pepper, and dill.

6) Cook 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until all ingredients are incorporated. Turn off the burner and take the skillet off the heat; add lemon juice just before serving.

If I wasn’t going for healthy, bacon would be a great addition to this recipe; spinach would also be a tasty compliment to the pasta. Or sundried tomatoes! Or rosemary instead of dill, mmm. Or… I should probably stop before I get carried away. The point is, this recipe is pretty versatile and you really can add or omit ingredients at your discretion. I can’t recommend the garlic spread enough though—shit is baller. Tastes great on everything—bread, crackers, chips, pasta; you get the idea.

For the side dish, I decided to serve some of the giant bunch of kale that I bought. I didn’t want to serve it the way I normally do (sautéed with garlic and olive oil) since the pasta was already garlicky. Instead I decided to go out on a limb and make a raw kale salad. Kale can be a bit bitter (and, as The Boyfriend says, tastes “too plant-y”) but I read a few online recipes that recommended removing all of the stem to tackle the bitterness problem; the recipes also recommended soaking the kale in salad dressing  to soften it up and give it some flavor.

Kale Salad with Roasted Chickpeas

Ingredients:

  • ¼ bunch kale
  • ¼ cup cup shredded carrots
  • 6 slices of cucumber, quartered
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • ¼ cup roasted chickpeas
  • ½ cup salad dressing

Directions:

1) Wash kale; completely remove all stem pieces and chop kale into bite-sized pieces.

2) Add kale and salad dressing to Ziploc bag; squish bag to make sure kale is completely covered in dressing. Place kale bag in fridge and let chill for 15-20 minutes.

3) When kale is ready, put kale in bowl with other salad ingredients; toss.

Roasted Chickpeas  

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Seasoning of your choice (I used paprika, salt, pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder)

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 400o; line a baking sheet with tinfoil.

2) Add chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, and seasonings to bowl. Mix well.

3) Spread chickpeas onto baking sheet and put baking sheet into oven; bake for 20-25 minutes stirring chickpeas occasionally.

Once roasted, the chickpeas can be eaten as a snack as well as a salad-topper; The Boyfriend really enjoyed them and compared their texture and taste to peanuts.

The salad was pretty good; The Boyfriend thought it was still too plant-y but I thought it tasted fine. I’m also a big fan of tomato, cucumber, and shredded carrots so it was an easy sell for me.

Epic Mealtime

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Epic Mealtime

Yesterday I was in the kitchen, minding my own business, making myself a midday snack when I was confronted by The Boyfriend. He too was in search of a midday pick-me-up, but where my snack was light and (by most standards) healthy, The Boyfriend was high off of a Youtube binge and wanted something epic.

Have you ever seen the Youtube series Epic Mealtime? EMT is a Youtube cooking show that focuses on making high-calorie food, usually consisting of a lot of meat (especially bacon) and alcohol. The guys make things like tacos (using bacon weave as the taco shells; bacon slices as chips for the nachos; Patron guacamole, salsa, and cheese sauce) or chili (with Four Loko poured on top, eaten with a paddle out of a bacon-lined trough). All of their…creations are half exciting, half nauseating. The Boyfriend is a big fan of super fatty food and of Epic Mealtime and he has been hankering to make some epic food of his own. On this particular day, we decided to make his epic dreams come true and we created A Dog of Epic Proportions.

Epic Dog

Ingredients:

  • 1 Hebrew National all-beef hot dog
  • 1 hot dog bun
  • 1 chicken breast, seasoned, cooked, and shredded
  • Sliced Muenster cheese
  • Sliced pickled jalapenos
  • 2 tbsp Siracha mayo (2 tbsp mayo + 1tsp Siracha, mixed together)
  • 1 tbsp Triscuit crumbs or similar (potato chips would work)

Directions:

1) Turn oven on to broil. Start by toasting your hot dog bun. We just put ours into a toaster but it would have been even better buttered and toasted in a pan on the stove.

2) Heat up the hot dog and, if necessary, the chicken.

3) Spread Siracha mayo liberally on the hot dog bun; butterfly the hot dog (slice lengthwise).

4) Add hot dog and top with shredded chicken and sliced jalapenos.

5) Cover dog with slices of Muenster cheese and put hot dog on a cookie sheet into the oven. Cook about 3 minutes. Remove pan from oven and add Triscuit crumbs. Cook another 2-3 minutes.

The Boyfriend, ready to attack

This was a dog befitting of Thor

This was a damn tasty dog, let me tell you. And I know what you’re thinking: “I thought you were trying to change your life, live healthier. Isn’t Epic Dog sort of against that?” Don’t you worry—while I did have a bite of The Boyfriend’s snack, I made myself a much lighter (and healthier) snack: Triscuits, a wedge of the low-fat Laughing Cow swiss, and 3 slices of tomato, all washed down with a glass of iced Earl Gray. Some of this healthy eating stuff ain’t so bad 😉


PS I talked The Boyfriend into trying Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown DVD with me and let me tell you, it was kind of awesome. I thought it was going to be easy compared to her other kick-(my)ass DVDs but it wasn’t. It burned for the whole 18 minutes. But I really liked it! If you have ever wanted to try yoga, check out Jillian’s DVD.  It’ll get you stretched and balanced, mentally and physically.

Movin’ on up

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Movin’ on up

To the east side! To a deluxe apartment in the sky-i!

My long hiatus is now over—we have moved into our house in New York! It’s a whole ‘nother world up here: a world of $0.05 deposits on all glass bottles bought, a world of no parking on certain sides of the street on different days, a world of no central AC*.

I really want to take advantage of this shake-up and make some changes to my lifestyle. I’ll let you in on a secret: I have always battled with my weight. I have a lazy thyroid which contributes some to this problem but most of the responsibility rests on me. I have tried too many diets and have gone on many an exercise binge. While I may lose some weight during each of these phases, these short fluxes are unsustainable and the weight finds me as soon as I go back to my “normal” life.

So new state, new state of mind. I think I have realized my past mistakes and I feel like I am ready and able to make some real life changes. I am focusing on changing my lifestyle gradually into a healthy routine that I can keep up for the rest of my life. I’m going to be accountable to myself but I am also going to be honest with you and be accountable to the blog.

I have a few simple goals for myself:

1)  Be active every day. This might mean walking for an hour with The Boyfriend, exploring our new neighborhood. Or it might mean working out to a Jillian Michael’s DVD**. I would like to try different workout classes (hot yoga, kickboxing, etc) at local places but that will have to wait for now, in the interest of finance.

2) Eat only when I get hungry and only until I am full. I want to stop overeating and I need to stop eating just because I’m bored or because The Boyfriend is eating or just because something tastes good.

3) Eat good-for-me food. This is what I thought would be the hardest since I am used to eating whatever I want to eat. This, unfortunately, usually amounts to several trips a week to McDonald’s or Taco Bell. But actually, after eating so much bad food all summer I am ready for a change. I’ve been eating breakfasts with protein, lunches with lots of veggies and good, lean dinners***.

*We bought our first window-box unit on our third day in NY. Being that I’m from Florida, I never thought I’d live in a place that I would need to BUY an AC unit. But I am happy to report that a 12,000 BTU unit (plus 2 fans) is enough to cool our 1100 ft2 apartment. Also, pro-tip: if you want to cool multiple rooms, you have to get a bigger unit; they may cost more but they cool a much larger area. I offer this advice in case anyone else is facing the dilemma of “What the hell is a BTU?” and “Isn’t it smarter to buy three 5000 BTU units rather than one 12,000 BTU unit?” The answer is no; two 5,000 BTU units is not equal to one 10,000 BTU unit. Rant completed!

**I bought Jillian’s 30 Day Shred DVD about a year ago and I got through 20 days before I let my hectic schedule get the best of me. The DVD was super tough and I loved the results I saw but I hated the monotony—doing the same workout everyday gets old fast. I decided to get a hold of the other Jillian DVDs (Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism; Ripped in 30; No More Trouble Zones; Yoga Meltdown). I have since tried the Ripped in 30 DVD and it is great! Definitely brutal though. The point of the asterisk is to pretty much impress upon you how awesome Jillian’s workouts are. They run you ragged and you curse at the screen and you hate your life; and you see results immediately. If you like quick workouts (24 minutes—including cool down and warm up!) that are high impact, you’ll love Jillian. Well, you’ll hate her but you’ll love how she whips your body into shape.

***Specifically I have been eating 1 egg and a slice of oatmeal toast for breakfast (an old standard: eggs-in-a-hat; look for the recipe in a future blog post, if you’d don’t already know it). For lunch, I have either a veggie wrap or a salad (salad recipe down below!) for lunch and a lean protein + veggie for dinner (ex: last night’s dinner was steamed cod with chipotle/garlic sour cream, roasted broccoli, and a salad. I would usually include a starch in with the dinner meal but as I am without a rice cooker, I have been foregoing the dinner starch and I think it’s working out for the best). I also eat 1-2 snacks per day; this week, the snacks have been half of an apple + a few slices of sharp cheddar cheese OR 1 wedge Baby Bell Light Swiss Cheese with 8 Roasted Garlic Triscuits and 4 slices tomato. Mmm… I also replaced soda with iced tea–iced black tea! I feel really posh when my tea and snack time happen at 4pm, haha.

But enough about me. You’re here for the food, aren’t you?

Iced Black Tea

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Twinnings tea bag (I recommend Lady Grey)
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp milk OR 1 tsp lemon juice (optional)

Directions:

1) Fill a coffee cup up with 1 cup water. Heat in the microwave about 1:15.

2) Seep tea bag in hot water about 8 minutes. Remove tea bag and add honey.

3) Pour hot tea over ice in another glass. Add lemon juice or milk if you’d like.

4) Drink with pinky extended.

Super Salad

Makes 2 salads

Ingredients:

  • lettuce, whatever type you prefer (I used a mix of red leaf and green leaf lettuce)
  • 1/4 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 4 slices cucumber, diced
  • 1 small handful shredded carrots
  • 1 chicken breast; seasoned, cooked and chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled

Directions:

1) Add all ingredients to bowl; toss to mix. Top with 1 tbsp Instant Dressing.

Instant Dressing:

Ingredients:

  • Equal parts extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • Badia Complete Seasoning*, to taste
  • lemon juice (optional)

Directions:

1) Add all ingredients to squeeze bottle. Shake to combine.

*If you have never used Badia’s complete seasoning, you’re missing out. It is delicious! Badia is a self-described “ethnic” seasoning line. They make a ton of spices and they’re usually cheaper than McCormick’s and taste every bit as good; however, their complete seasoning is a cut above the rest. Unfortunately, it does have MSG in it but I still think that the flavor it imparts is worth it.

I ate one salad for lunch and split the remaining salad (minus chicken) between The Boyfriend and I for a side dish for dinner. Dinner tonight was steak with mushroom sauce, green beans, and leftover Super Salad. I know that steak doesn’t sound too healthy (or very cost-effective) but we bought shoulder steak! Shoulder steak is very inexpensive (about $3.50/lb at our local grocery store) and an 8oz piece only has 9 grams of fat (compared to 25 grams in a sirloin). My portion was only 4oz which cut the fat total in half. Red meat is still a sometimes food rather than an everyday food, but I urge you to “splurge” and eat steak sometimes. Onto the recipes!

Splurge-tastic Shoulder Steak

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb shoulder steak
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup Bragg’s Amino Acids*
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1/4 cup onion, sliced
  • paprika, cayenne pepper, Italian seasoning**, salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) 12-24 hours prior to making dinner, make the marinade. Combine lemon juice, Bragg’s, OJ, and garlic in a bowl. Mix salt and pepper, paprika, cayenne, and Italian seasoning together. Rub seasoning onto both sides of the steak. Put the steak in a large Ziploc bag with the marinade and onions. Place the whole bag inside of a bowl so that the marinade completely covers the steak and place the bowl in the fridge. Marinate (preferably) overnight***.

2) One hour before cooking, take bowl out of fridge and sit it on the counter to come to room temperature****.

3) Heat a skillet on medium heat; add ½ tbsp olive oil as well as about 1/3 cup marinade to hot pan and add steaks. Cook 4-5 minutes per side. Remove from pan immediately but let the steak rest for about 10 minutes before cutting into it. Top with mushroom sauce.

*Bragg’s is another product that I highly recommend purchasing. It is a “liquid protein concentrate” that can be used in sauces, marinades, etc. It has a savory taste similar to soy sauce but less salty; it also contains less sodium than soy sauce. Bragg’s is liquid amino acids: amino acids are essential for humans and are only found in food.

**I used one of those premixed Italian seasonings spices but you could make your won. It is typically thyme, oregano, garlic, and dried parsley.

***The reason you need to marinate the steak overnight—this is very important. Shoulder steak is a tougher cut of steak; it is meant to be marinated and/or braised rather than grilled. To render the steak as tender as possible, the steak must be marinated for a long time in an acid-based marinade. The acid helps break down the connective tissue and collagen making the steak tender. If you had a meat tenderizing tool, I would advise using that on the steak before putting it in the fridge. If (like me) you do not own a meat hammer, a regular hammer will do in a pinch. It won’t work quite as well but it’s better than nothing. Also remember that acidic (in this case, lemony) marinade = acidic (lemony) steak. Your steak will taste like whatever your marinade tastes like. I happen to like the light tang to this steak but if you have an aversion to lemon, use a different acid (like vinegar).

****Always cook meat from room temp. I’m not sure why it works but it does.

Creamy Mushroom Sauce

Adapted from Taste and Tell

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 4 ounces mixed mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream

Directions:

1) Heat the olive oil and butter in a large saute pan on med-high heat.

2) Add the onion and cook until soft, 3-5 minutes.

3) Add the mushrooms and cook until tender.

4) Stir in the water, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and Italian seasoning; cook for 2 minutes.

5) Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.

Groovy Green Beans

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb fresh green beans
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • garlic powder, paprika, Badia Complete Seasoning, salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1) Start by washing and trimming all of your green beans. For those that have never cooked fresh beans, “trimming” just means snapping the ends off of each bean; think Pollyanna.

2) Add beans to a pot; add enough water to cover beans. Add salt to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Boil beans 4-5 minutes.

3) While beans are cooking, prepare a large bowl with ice water. When beans are cooked, drain them and add them to the ice water. Let sit 5 minutes.

4) Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat.

5) When skillet is ready, add garlic and beans to it. Sauté beans 5 minutes, adding seasonings about 2 minutes in. Immediately remove beans from skillet when finished and add lemon juice.

I didn’t get any pictures of the cooking process—sorry! It’s hard enough to learn how to cook in a new kitchen and I didn’t want to have to stop and take pictures along the way. Expect more pictures (and recipes!) as I get unpacked and more comfortable in my new kitchen.