Tuesday, December 28, 2010

When All Else Fails, Stir-Fry!

I really don't feel like going to the store, so I'm trying to make do with what I have. One of the best uses for random ingredients is stir-frying! I started this off my raiding my freezer where I found some chicken pineapple meatballs and we took it from there. I served this with some whole grain noodles. I also made some cumin-lime sweet potatoes and a small spinach salad with strawberry vinaigrette. I know those don't really all go together, but the common theme is cleaning out the fridge and making delicious food!

I do have to say that I'm a big fan of winter and have learned to work around the lack of super fresh foods.

Pineapple Stir Fry
1 package chicken meatballs (or any leftover meat you may want to use)
1 medium onion cut into wedges (I used purple for color!)
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 cup pineapple chunks
Chicken broth or stock
2 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with water sufficient to make a thick paste
1/8 tsp. sesame oil (optional)
1 tsp. brandy
1 tsp. soy sauce
4 tbsp. oil

  1. Heat oil in pan and stir fry pepper and pineapple until pepper is crisp-tender. 
  2. Add enough chicken broth to cover, and a dash of salt, cook for 1 minute. 
  3. Add meatballs (or meat), and cornstarch and water mixture, sesame oil, brandy, and soy sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Serve hot over noodles or rice. 

What are some of your favourite stir-fry recipes? 

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    I suck...

    at blogging. No really, I do. I forget that I even have a blog floating around in the vast space of the interweb. I hope everyone is having a great winter so far and had a happy holiday, whichever one it is that you celebrated.

    Santa brought me some great cookbooks that will inspire me to cook up something great and create my own yummies. Christmas morning was celebrated with a delicious Irish fruit cake, which is sooooooooo much better than American fruitcake. Soon I'll share the recipe, but it is still be perfected. It's much cake-ier than the American one and then it is covered with a type of almond paste and topped with some fondant. Sugar coma indeed, but worth it.

    So now that Christmas is over, it's time to "clean" the system of some of the bad things it was filled with (ie, sugar, fat, alcohol, simple carbs). Yesterday I ate vegan, focusing mostly on cleansing produce and whole grains. I made an amazing lentil mushroom pot pie (recipe to follow) for dinner that was fantastic and filling and I served it with tons of garlic roasted broccoli. Broccoli helps detox the liver for those that don't know and I try to eat it after I may have had one too many drinks.

    And the past two mornings, I have been running some major sprint intervals. I'm not racking up the mileage like I would wish, but intervals really fire up the ol' metabolism and help burn those Christmas calories quickly. Simply, I warm up for about five minutes and then I run as fast as I can for as long as I can, then slow down to a fast walk until I catch my breath and repeat for as long as I have my energy. Each time, I try to go a little faster or a little longer. Sometimes I increase the pace every few seconds until I'm really burnt out. Of course, I cool down for a few minutes too! Seriously guys, this is the way to go to burn the calories. I know I've read a ton of studies about the lasting burn of intervals. As in, you may not burn as many calories during your workout, but you continue burning calories all day long afterwards. Plus I'm trying to do more yoga to relax my mind and build up some muscle stamina. I'm going to fight the winter spread before it even has a chance to think about happening.

    Lentil Mushroom Pot Pies

    • 1/2 cup lentils
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1 ounce dried mushrooms (the recipe called for porcinis, but I had dried oysters)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
    • 20 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced (any would work, I had baby bellas, because they were on sale)
    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 2 carrot, chopped
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried sage
    • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 large garlic clove, minced
    • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
    • 4 teaspoons soy sauce
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
    • Biscuit topping, use your favourite (I used my Trader Joe's Multigrain Baking Mix substituting unsweetend almond milk, for the dairy, and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper. The original recipe called for cheese in it, but since I made this vegan... no cheese. If I didn't do this vegan, I would probably mix in some Italian cheese: parm, asiago, etc)

    1. Preheat oven to 400. Combine 3 cups cold water, lentils, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in medium saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain; set lentils aside.
    2. Pour 3 cups boiling water over porcini in medium bowl; soak 25 minutes. Remove porcini from soaking liquid, squeeze dry, and chop coarsely. (Reserve soaking liquid.)
    3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add fresh mushrooms. Sauté 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil, onion, carrot, sage, and thyme. Sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Reduce heat to medium-low. Mix flour into vegetables; cook 1 minute. Add porcini soaking liquid. Mix in porcini, soy sauce, and tomato paste. Cover; simmer for 5 minutes until liquids thicken and reduce a bit. Add lentils; season with salt and pepper.
    4. Divide filling among four 2-cup ovenproof bowls.I actually filled five of my ramekins, but you could probably split this into six too. 
    5. Turn biscuit dough out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into equal pieces for as many bowls as you filled; shape each into 2/3-inch-thick disk. Set rounds atop filling.
    6. Bake pot pies on baking sheet until tester inserted into biscuit topping comes out clean, about 30 minutes.
    7. Eat and feel good. Yum!

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Squash + Fennel = Delicious Choice

    I have mentioned my addiction to farmer's markets and fresh produce before, but it's a very creative addiction too. I was trying to find a use for acorn squash and some fennel bulbs that were going bad and I came across this wonderful recipe. It combines both ingredients plus a few other fun things and next thing you know, you have a delicious side dish coming out of the oven.

    Spiced Squash with Fennel
    (courtesy of Epicurious, slight changes by me)

    1.5 pounds squash (I used acorn, but the original called for butternut)
    2 fennel bulbs
    1 large onion
    3 tbls olive oil
    2 tsps cumin
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 tsp chili powder
    1 tsp tummeric

    1. Preheat oven to 450.
    2. Trim and cut squash, fennel, and onion into wedges of about equal size. Make sure to peel and seed the squash first.
    3. Combine squash, fennel, and onion on a sheet pan and toss with oil and spices and salt and pepper as needed.
    4. Roast until veggies are tender and lightly browned tossing once. Should take around 45 minutes.

    On another note a few coworkers have been handing out baked goods for the holidays. The treats are mediocre at best, but I know they mean well. Most of my coworkers know that I'm a foodie and am planning on a career in the culinary world. Of course they all want me to try grandmas famous cookie recipe or the best muffins ever and I can only say that I will try them later so many times. I'm not a good liar, so I have to practice saying how delicious it was to everyone (I imagine a really good roast chicken or pasta recipe to get the right face).

    But here's my question, I was planning on bringing some goodies, but now I'm not sure. I don't want to one-up them or anything, but I want to share some delicious treats of my own. Either way, based on what I'm receiving, I don't think my lemon anise biscotti or nutmeg sugar cookies will be a big hit. But it's the thought that counts, right? So do I bring the baked goods and hope that nobody thinks I'm trying to show off my skills? Or do I just keep them at home and just give a card with something like a piece of Godiva chocolate tapped to it?

    Wednesday, December 15, 2010

    Gimme Gimme Gimme, I need, I need, I need!

    Name that movie!

    So a quick break from my usual recipe goodnes. Don't worry, I have some yummy stuff coming up tomorrow, like squash and fennel! Instead I bring you two amazing things that would make a great Christmas present for yours truely. I mean, if you would so please to reward me for delivering delicious ideas into your computer. And even more exciting, I finally upgraded to a DSLR, so instead of spending all my time getting film printed and then forget to add them to the blog, I can actually take pictures and post them right away! Sounds good to me.

    Popchips! My new favourite snack. They are a potato chip that isn't baked or fried, it's popped! It leaves a wonderfully crunchy and satisfying texture. The flavours are perfect as well. Not to strong, but just enough to satisfy when you have a salty craving. The best part to me is that a bag has three servings and one serving is about 120 calories. So if you "accidentally" DEVOUR the entire bag, you haven't ruined your entire day and are still well under 500 calories for your snack. I picked mine up at Target, but I've also seen them at Whole Foods. Seriously, buy me a few bags of each flavour and I'll be happy for a week.

    FoodTees! These are the cutest clothes and accessories you will ever own. I want to own one of each. They are pictures of yummy looking fresh foods with fun sayings underneath. Like a celery stalk and it says "stalker" underneath. Funny, right? So once you pick your funny, you decide where you want said funny, tee-shirt, apron, bag, baby onesies, and so on. Wear your heart on your sleeve, your grocery bag, your "locally-grown" baby, your friends, I could keep going. If you feel like buying me one (hint*hint), I can list my top... well, all of them, in order of want the most to want lots and sizes.

    So now that you know what's on my Christmas list, what foodie item do you have on yours?

    Sunday, December 12, 2010

    A healthy little indulgence during the holidays.

    First off, if I have any regular readers, sorry I don't update frequently. I'm barely ever online, let alone blogging. I wish I could be like one of those people who blogs all day long. I don't know how they do it! But moving ahead, I made us some muffins that are pretty darn healthy and delicious! Pumpkin Banana Muffins! I like my muffins slightly dry, because in the mornings I warm them up with a little nut butter, which adds moisture. One of these muffins plus a piece of fruit keeps my going until lunch. Plus during the holiday season full of decadence and no time to grab a decent snack, these are wonderful to have on hand. Make a batch or two and freeze them to get you through until 2011.

    Pumpkin Banana Muffins
    3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
    1 cup rolled oats
    1/2 cup almond flour (also called almond meal. I use the Bob's Red Barn name brand)
    4 tsps baking powder
    2 tsps baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 tbls cinnamon
    1 tbls ground nutmeg
    2 tsp ground ginger
    1 tsp allspice
    3 ripe bananas mashed
    15 ounce can pumpkin puree (or 1 3/4 cup fresh pumpkin puree)
    1 cup grapeseed oil
    4 eggs
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 cup packed brown sugar
    1/4 cup honey
    1 cup chopped and toasted walnuts

    1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease or line muffin pan with paper liners.
    2. Combine flours, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices in a bowl and mix well.
    3. Combine rest of the ingredients aside from the nuts in a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth.
    4. Gradually beat in dry ingredients until just combined.
    5. Spoon into prepared pans with cups being just about full.
    6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

    I hope that with all the hustling and bustling around in what could be bad weather, you're trying to stay healthy and include fruits and veggies in every meal. This is just a quick and easy example of what I try to do during this season. Of course I always have chopped up fruits and veg in my fridge for easy access so I have no excuse for not eating well and taking care of myself. Any other good tips floating around out there? What do you do to stay on track during the holidays?
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