Monday, February 27, 2012

Lunch in a Jar

My daughter gave me this fantastic idea for taking lunch to work.  Her and her co-workers do this all the time.  After she told me about it I thought what a brilliant idea.  Here's the scoop...

You can make a salad in a mason jar.  I used a pint sized jar.  It is really cool once you think about how it is constructed.  You can add any ingredients you want but you should start and finish with the same items.  What you will be doing is making a salad upside down.

Here is what you need to do:  For the bottom of the jar, add your favorite dressing.  Next layer any and all ingredients you want.  I added leftover tenderloin steak from the other night, cheese, dried cranberries, tomatoes and then end with lettuce.

You want the lettuce as the last thing that you add.  I am told that you can make lunch for the whole week this way (so essentially you can make a week's worth of lunch on Sunday to last from Monday to Friday).  It will keep and the lettuce won't wilt.  I was very delighted to be able to reach in the refrigerator this morning and grab lunch.  Once you are ready to have lunch, drop the ingredients out onto a plate.  You can try so many different things to take for lunch this way.  Also, you could easily use another size jar to make a larger salad or to have more room.

As you can see it turns into a large sized salad.  I apologize for the not so great pictures, these were taken with my phone.

This post was shared on The Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania 2/27/2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Steak and Sweet Potato Fries

We really wanted to do steaks on the grill for tonight but it was just to windy outside oh and not to mention cold.  So I had to fix the steaks in the house.  I have always cooked the steaks on the grill, never inside.

Sweet Potato Fries
1 huge Japanese Sweet Potato (Japanese Sweet potatoes have a purple colored skin and are white inside - I happened to have this type of sweet potato in our pantry)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Peel the sweet potatoes and then cut in half.  Turn cut side down and cut in half again.  Turn so that cut side is down and cut into slices.  Take each slice and cut into pieces that will make a nice fry.  Put the sweet potatoes into a Ziploc bag, add olive oil, shake so that all oil has been distributed.  Pour the sweet potatoes onto a foiled lined baking sheet.  Sprinkle sweet potatoes with salt and pepper.  Place in a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for 35 minutes.  Turn the sweet potatoes over once during cooking time. This will help them brown more evenly.

2 grass fed beef tenderloin steaks (We get ours from Mountain Run Farm)
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil
Bring the steaks to room temperature (you don't want them refrigerator cold but not too hot either).  Brush or rub olive oil onto both sides of the steaks.  Sprinkle each side with salt and pepper.  I used a cast iron skillet to cook the steaks.  Place the skillet on the stove and heat it over high to medium heat.  If you have a flat top stove be careful as heating the pan up to fast and for a long time can crack the top of the stove.  Place the steaks onto the pan, you want them to sizzle.  Let the steaks stay on the skillet until they start to brown, turn over and place pan into a 450 degree Fahrenheit oven.  I cooked these steaks for about 9 minutes.  Which cooked them to a medium rare.  Let the steaks sit before cutting into them.  By letting them sit it helps to keep the juices inside the steak and helps it to not dry out and be tough.  I found that cooking the steaks on the stove and then in the oven was really easy.  So if you don't have a grill this is a great way to do it.  The only thing I missed about not cooking them on the grill was the smokey flavor.

The meal was served with a side salad, some barbecue beans and a couple slices of crusty bread.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sausage with Mushroom Ravioli

When I was at the store I picked up a package of Porcini Mushroom and Truffle Triangles product of Italy made by Bertagni.   Looks very much like a ravioli.  I thought a simple sauce would be in order for this.  I had some Italian Sausage that I was going to cook and put with this.  When I opened the package of triangles you could immediately smell the truffles.  I love the taste of truffles and this meal needed something simple to go with it, I didn't want to cover the truffle smell or taste with a heavy sauce.

Cook the Italian sausage in a skillet until done, sliced it and added it back into the skillet.  Take 1 can of diced roma tomatoes (no salt, just tomatoes) and added it to the skillet.  When the tomatoes had warmed add some fresh chopped oregano and basil.

The triangles only take 3-4 minutes to cook.  Just add them to a pot of salted water and cook on a gentle boil.

Take the triangles out of the water and layered the sauce (tomato and sausage mixture) and the triangles together with just a little extra virgin olive oil.  Add a couple of triangles to the plate with some of the sauce mixture, top with some fresh grated Parmesan cheese and some fresh basil.

The meal was served with a side salad and a couple slices of crusty bread.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Baked Salmon with Sour Cream Rub

We bought our salmon from SeaBear along with some other fish.  This recipe actually came off of their website.  The website has all kinds of great looking recipes.

2 - 6 ounce salmon filets
1/4 cup sour cream
grated rind from 1/2 of a lemon
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 small clove of garlic, peeled and crushed
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix together sour cream, lemon rind, mustard and garlic.   Place salmon skin side down onto a foiled lined baking pan sprayed with olive oil.  Turn up the edges of the foil so that any juices don't run off.  Spread the sour cream mixture onto the tops of the salmon.  Bake for 18 - 20 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork.  Squeeze lemon juice (from the 1/2 lemon) over salmon before serving.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

The salmon was served with couscous and frozen cooked spinach.
1 cup of couscous
1 cup of water
Add couscous and water to a pan.  Cook until water boils.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Taco Night

Tonight I had a hunger for tacos.  I make my own taco seasoning which is so much better than the stuff you buy in the store. 

Here is the recipe for the taco seasoning:
2 tablespoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons ground pepper

There is enough seasoning for 2 different meals.  Use about 2 tablespoons per 1 pound of grass fed ground beef.  Brown ground beef and then add seasoning and about 1/2 cup of water.  Cook until seasoning and water is absorbed.   I love making this because you can tweak it to your tastes. 

The tacos are store bought organic corn tacos.  The toppings included vegetarian refried beans, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream, salsa and dried cilantro.  

Just in case you are wondering the fork isn't actually stuck into the taco, the taco is actually resting on the fork so that the taco doesn't fall over.  

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spiced Chicken Breasts with Algerian Wedding Rice

Wanted to try something different for dinner tonight and needed to figure out something for chicken breasts.

Spiced Chicken Breasts
6 chicken breasts
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and mashed
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Trim chicken breasts and pound lightly.  Mix spices and garlic with oil and brush onto chicken pieces.  Marinate chicken breasts in refrigerator several hours or overnight.  Brush a heavy skillet with olive oil and allow to heat up.  Add chicken and cook over medium high heat.  About 7 minutes per side until done.

Algerian Wedding Rice
1 cup long grain brown rice
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups of water
Add water, butter and rice to pan, bring to a boil, cover and cook rice for 50 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork when done.
1 cup dried apricots, cut into bits, soaked in water for 1 hour and drained
1/2 cup almond slivers
1/2 cup pine nuts
2 bunches green onions, chopped
4 tablespoons butter, softened
sea salt and pepper
Toss cooked rice with remaining ingredients.  Season to taste.  Place in a buttered casserole dish and bake at 250 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes.

Now I have no idea how the rice got its name nor do I know if there is any significance to Alergia.  If anyone knows please comment so that we can all learn about it.

The meal was served with a caesar salad.

Caesar Salad
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
2 pressed garlic cloves
1/4 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 cup vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
Mix together. 
Add just enough dressing to coat romaine lettuce but not too much.  Sprinkle each salad with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.

Here are some notes about the spices that were used on the Chicken.  
Turmeric:  One compound in turmeric (curcumin) inhibits the synthesis of substances called prostaglandins in the body that are involved with pain.  In addition to good amounts of vitamins C and E and carotenoids, turmeric contains many other antioxidants.  Also turmeric has been used as an anti-inflammatory as well as many other things.
Cinnamon: Cinnamon contains an antibacterial action when combined with other herbs.  Cinnamon has a reputation to help with fevers. 
Cumin: Contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Paprika: Contains Vitamin C and high in antioxidants.
Curry Powder: Curry is a mixture of spices.  Which can contain: coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and red pepper.  Other spices in curry can also contain: ginger, garlic, fennel seed, clove, cardamom and nutmeg.
Information about these spices were found in the book The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, Ph.D.

This post was shared on the Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania for 2/20/2012

Wacky Cake a.k.a. Chocolate Cake

This by far is the easiest and quickest cake there is to make.  If you want to make a cake this is it.  It is also great because the only dishes you really get dirty are your measuring spoons.

3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
pinch of salt
12 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla
2 cups of cold water
confectioners sugar, if desired

Place the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.  Make 2 holes in the dry ingredients and pour the following into these holes: oil, vinegar, and vanilla.  The pour the water over top.  Stir the mixture in the pan until mixed (make sure you get the corners) and bake in the same pan.  Place in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.

I made my own confectioners sugar by adding regular sugar to a blender and blend until powdery smooth.  The sugar will only be good for a short period of time like this because it doesn't contain any starches that will prevent it from caking.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Slow Roasted Black Cod

We bought fish from a company called Sea Bear.  They ship directly to your house (or where ever).  So we thought we would try Black Cod.  I have never cooked black cod but have had it out at a restaurant some time or another.  I found this recipe on the Internet (Wrightfood) and thought I would give it a try.  In the original recipe it calls for capers, I usually have them in my kitchen as a staple but for some reason my disappeared and was not replaced.  So instead of running to the store just for capers I decided to make the sauce a lemon butter sauce with a splash of white wine.

Here is the recipe:
Black Cod with Lemon Butter Wine Sauce
Black Cod filets, skin on cut into 2 pieces
olive oil
sea salt
pinch of finely chopped thyme
juice of half a lemon
splash of wine (I am using a Viognier, which we are also drinking with dinner from King Family Vineyards)
3 tablespoons of butter
Take the fish out of the refrigerator, pour some olive oil over the fish and let sit for 15 minutes or so until the fish reaches room temperature (or it no longer feels cold).  Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.  Take the fish and place on a parchment paper lined baking dish.  Sprinkle with a little sea salt, place in oven and bake for 20 minutes (depends on how thick the pieces area) or until fish flakes with a fork.
For the Sauce: Melt about 2 tablespoons butter in a small saucepan.  When the butter has melted add the lemon juice and then whisk in a splash of wine, off the heat add 1 more tablespoon of butter and thyme, whisk until smooth.  Serve over fish.

Glazed Carrots
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon honey
chopped parsley
Peel carrots, cut off top and bottom of carrot.  Slice in half and in half again.  You want the carrots to all be roughly the same size when cut so that they take about the same amount of time to cook.  Add the carrots to a skillet along with the butter and honey.  Add enough water to just cover the carrots.  Boil over high heat and then reduce to a strong simmer.  Stir carrots from time to time.  When the liquid begins to thicken and reduce, remove from heat.  Add parsley and toss.

Caesar Salad
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
2 pressed garlic cloves
1/4 cup Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 cup vegetable oil or extra virgin olive oil
Mix together.
Add just enough dressing to coat romaine lettuce but not too much.  Sprinkle each salad with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Breakfast for Dinner with Poached Eggs

We had a change in our plans this evening and so we didn't have anything laid out for dinner.  So we did a old favorite breakfast.

1-1/4 cup of flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk ***
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.  In a bowl combine milk, egg, oil and vanilla add to flour mixture stirring until blended but still slightly lumpy.  Pour batter onto a hot skillet, about 1/4 of a cup of batter for each pancake.  Cook until bubbles start to form and pop then flip pancake and continue to cook until golden.  Serve with maple syrup.
***I used goat milk kefir instead of milk.  I thought that kefir which is has the same consistency of buttermilk.  I found that by using this gave the pancakes great flavor.

Poached Eggs:
Poached eggs are really easy.  I found a recipe of Julia Child's a couple of years ago and this works like a charm every time.  The biggest thing you need to do is have the freshest eggs possible.  I use farm fresh eggs.
In a pan bring about 1-1/2 quarts of water and 1/4 cup vinegar to a simmer in a sauce pan.  I break the eggs in a small dish first because it seems that every time I break and egg open a get shell with it.  So my me doing this makes it easier.  Also when you are cooking several eggs it makes it easy to slide them into the pan.  When the water is at a simmer slide the eggs into the water (stay as close to the water as you can), set timer for 4 minutes.  When removing the eggs from a pan, scoop them out in the order they went in.  Use a slotted spoon to remove eggs.  We served the eggs on a piece of toast.

We like to cook our bacon in the microwave, it is fast and easy clean up.  All you need to do is have a microwave safe platter, line platter with paper towels (a fair amount since this will be soaking up the grease) and then line the paper towel with your slices of bacon.  Add more paper towels over top of the bacon.  Place in microwave.  Now our microwave only takes about 3 minutes for 5 slices of bacon.  Remove bacon to another platter, add more paper towels as needed and cook the rest of the bacon.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cincinnati Chili

The weather has turned cold and windy.  When it is cold the kind of food I want is comfort type foods, something that fills you up and satisfies your appetite.  So this evening my choice for dinner was chili over spaghetti.  Having chili this way (over pasta) became famous in the Cincinnati Ohio area in 1922 by immigrant restaurateurs from Macedonia.  If you have never tried it I highly recommend it.  Serving this chili over a pasta serves several parts of the comfort food.

Here is the recipe:
1 pound of grass fed ground beef
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt (if you are using store bought broth you may want to wait to taste and then add salt)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon basil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 (28 ounce) can peeled tomatoes with added puree or 2 14 ounce cans of chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup beef broth
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 ounce (1/2 square) unsweetened chocolate, grated
12 ounces spaghetti (wheat, or whatever type of pasta)
16 ounces of kidney beans (you can use a can of beans but I soaked kidney beans and cooked them to use in this recipe), warm kidney beans in a separate pan
Cheddar Cheese, grated

In a large dutch oven, cook beef, onion, and garlic, stirring often to break up lumps of meat, until beef looses its pink color, about 5 minutes.  Add chili powder, salt, cinnamon, cumin, basil, oregano, allspice, and pepper.  Cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add tomatoes, beef broth, vinegar, and chocolate; break up tomatoes with a large spoon.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer until thickened, about 1 hour, adding more beef broth or water if chili get too thick. I have found that if you cover the pot with a lid for the first half of cooking you won't have to add more broth.  Remove the lid and continue to cook until thickened.  Cook pasta until the desired done-ness and drain.  Add pasta to a bowl and add a little bit of butter to help the pasta from sticking together.  Serve spaghetti on plates and top with kidney beans, chili and top with cheddar cheese.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Crock Pot Sweet Potatoes

Had a class to attend tonight and really didn't have a lot of time for dinner and decided at the last minute to make sweet potatoes.  I decided to use the crock pot so that when I got home they would be done and ready for me to eat.

Place washed sweet potatoes into a crock pot. Turn crock pot on high (mine heats to a very high heat) and let them sit covered for about 3 hours.  When I got home they were ready, just poke with a fork to see if they are ready.  Serve with toppings of your choice.  I used butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.

sweet potatoes in crock pot
sweet potato with toppings

This post was shared on the Healthy Home Economist Monday Mania 2/13/2012.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

White Turkey Chili

Thought about making something to eat while watching the superbowl, what is better then chili.  We had turkey (that was pulled from the bones) leftover from thanksgiving that we froze.  So I decided to thaw it out and put it into the chili.  I didn't decide to do chili until late this afternoon.  When I decided to do chili I wanted to find a recipe.  I couldn't find a recipe that I liked 100 percent so I decided to combine 2 of them and make it my own.

Here is the recipe for the chili:  
1/2 pound dried navy beans, picked over***
1 large onion, chopped
1 stick of butter
1/4 cup of flour
2-3/4 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1-1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1/2 teaspoon salt*
1/2 teaspoon white pepper or to taste
2 -  4 ounce cans whole mild green chilies, drained and chopped
2 pounds of cooked turkey, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1-1/2 cups Monterrey jack cheese, grated
Creme Fraiche or sour cream

***Since I hadn't planned on making chili until late today I didn't have ant beans soaked.  I could have used canned beans but canned beans have a different taste.  I took the 1/2 pound of beans and rinsed them.  Add the rinsed beans to a pan and cover with water.  Sit on stove top and bring the beans to a boil. Once it boils, cover, remove from heat and let sit for 1 hour.  After 1 hour, rise beans in a colander and then add the beans back to the pan.  Add 6 cups of water and place on stove, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour.  After 1 hour taste a bean and see if it is tender.  If it isn't tender continue to simmer for another 30 minutes.  Once done rinse beans and you are ready for use in the chili.

In a large pan melt butter and add onion; cook onions until tender (don't let them brown), using a whisk add flour and continue to whisk.  Whisk in broth and whisk until the flour is mixed in and there are no lumps.  Bring mixture to a boil and simmer, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes or until thickened.  Whisk in Tabasco, chili powder, cumin, salt and white pepper.  Add beans, chilies, turkey and cheese, cook over moderately low heat, stirring, cook for 20 minutes. 

Note:  It will look like there isn't enough broth when you go to add the turkey and beans but it will be enough.  As it cooks it will create more liquid.  

*if you are using commercial chicken broth, do not add the salt until it has cooked for a while and then taste and add salt accordingly. 

Serve chili with a dollop of sour cream.  Served the chili with a wine called Smith Mountain Lake Mist (a mix of Vidal Blanc and Chardonnay) from Hickory Hill Vineyards and Winery located in Moneta, Virginia.

This post was shared on the Heathly Home Economist Monday Mania 2/13/2012.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Halibut with Asparagus Sauce

Today my husband and I were talking on the phone and he asked what I wanted for dinner tonight, I told him I had no idea.  He suggested fish (we had several varieties in the freezer) and so he decided on Halibut.  Since I was out running errands today I would pick up some things to go along with the fish.  Thinking about what I was going to do came to me as I was driving down the road (sometimes I think my best thoughts are at this time) and so all I need to do was stop at the grocery store.  I am truly winging this and have never made this before.

Here is what I did:
Asparagus Sauce
Snap and wash fresh asparagus (you will need about 10 stalks for the sauce)
Juice from 1 lemon
Place asparagus in a pan of boiling salted water and cook for about 5 minutes (it will depend on the thickness of the asparagus).  Remove asparagus from pan and place directly into a dish of cold water with ice (this will stop the cooking process).  Drain and place asparagus into a blender.  Add about 2 tablespoons (I didn't measure so this is a guess) of kefir (I had this on hand, but a plain yogurt would be good too), add a little bit of lemon juice and some salt and pepper.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and add more salt or lemon juice to get the consistency you want.  

Drizzle halibut with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place into a hot skillet that has been coated with olive oil.  Place fish top side down and cook.  My mistake was that the pan was hot enough but I turned the fish too soon so it wasn't as brown as I would have liked and also it came apart slightly.  Cook the fish until it is opaque.  Remove fish from pan.

Place sauce on the bottom of the plate, add halibut on top and top with more sauce if you want.

Along with this I cooked new potatoes in the microwave and topped with some butter, salt and pepper. Cut potatoes into cubes and microwave until tender.  The meal was completed with the rest of the cooked asparagus and some french bread.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Chicken with Lime Butter

Here is what was for dinner tonight:

Chicken with Lime Butter
3 boneless chicken breasts (I flattened them out to help then cook evenly)
3 tablespoons olive oil
juice of 1 lime
6 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon minced chives (I used dried, this is what I had on hand)
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
Season chicken with salt and pepper.  In a large pan heat oil over medium heat.  Add chicken breasts and cook until lightly browned on both sides. Cover and reduce heat to low, cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove chicken to a platter, keep warm.  Discard any residual oil and wipe pan.  Add lime juice and cook over low heat until bubbly.  Add butter, stirring until butter becomes opaque and sauce thickens. Stir in chives and dill.  Spoon over chicken and serve.

I also made couscous.  Take 1 cup of water bring to boil; stir in couscous.  Cover, remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes.  I added some fresh grated lime zest to the couscous when it was covered.  It added a touch of flavor to the couscous.

Also had some cooked frozen spinach.

Breakfast Smoothie

I always have a hard time deciding what I want to eat for breakfast.  So this morning I thought a smoothie would be good.  Then I needed to figure out what I wanted to actually make.  So here is what I did:

Peach Banana Smoothie
1/2 bag of frozen peaches (10 ounce bag)
1 ripe banana
1/2 plain kefir (kefir is a probiotic fermented milk drink)
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1 tablespoon agave nectar (honey would work as well - I just happened to grab the agave first)

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.  The smoothie will be packed with protein and fiber.