Sunday, April 17, 2011

Playing Catch-up

We've been fairly busy this past month, using our weekends to work out elaborate meetings with friends to share our news. I don't even want to tell you how long it's been since I've folded laundry. Since next week proves to be another busy one with Passover about to begin tomorrow night, we used today to get really caught up.

I made a bunch of relishes (tomato, coleslaw, and mustard slaw) for some healthy veggie Passover snacks. I cut up fruit and tupperized it for easy snacking. I made our lunches for tomorrow and dinner for tonight. Thatboy vacuumed and did dishes. And of course, I folded laundry.

Of course, we took some time out to head to the beach. Since it was so lovely yesterday. But, as a surprise (or not) it was cold and windy at the beach. So I sat, wrapped in a sweatshirt and windbreaker while Thatboy fought some choppy waves.

It was great to get caught up, since tomorrow morning we're going to start falling behind again. With dinners Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday night, I'm really not going to be seeing much of my home until Thursday. And of course we leave Friday for Easter with the Inlaws. Can I tell you I'm already looking forward to May?

With the dip in weather, I wanted something warmer for dinner, which gave me a chance to use those tomatoes and green bell peppers I picked up at the farmer's market last week.

Gratin of Beef (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
1 onion, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 tomato, peeled and chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 bay leave
1 tsp rosemary, chopped
salt and pepper
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 Tbsp capers
1/5 Tbsp gravy
sliced roast beef
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 Tbsp melted butter
  1. Preheat oven to 400. Saute the onions and green bell pepper in canola oil about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the tomatoes and garlic and cook 10 minutes until liquid has evaporated.
  3. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, salt and pepper, parsley, capers and gravy.
  4. Spread on the bottom of an 8x8 baking dish. Slay sliced beef on top, enough to cover.
  5. Sprinkle the breadcrumps over the beef and drizzle butter over. Cook 15 minutes.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Too Darn Hot

I've mentioned before that Thatboy and I live fairly coastal - running distance from the beach. Which means it's a little cooler here than other parts of the county.

Today Thatboy and I traveled east 20 degrees. I'm not kidding. At some point, we passed one of those digital thermometers that read "95 degrees." Can I please point out we are in April right now?

When we finished our errands in Hades, I begged Thatboy "Please - drive west. Just go until the water starts coming in through the windows." (I tend to be a bit melodramatic.)

And so he did. Our errands including picking up lots of chocolate and candies for Thatniece and Thatnephew's Easter Baskets, which we had to leave precariously in an oven-like car while running into the supermarket. (Disclaimer- no chocolate bunnies were injured during this escapade.)

When we finally finished and had brought our bags of movies and candies and sundries back home, we both peeled off our clothes and (get your minds out of the gutter) threw on our swimsuits and headed down to the pool.

Obviously we were not the only ones with this idea. It seems like the pool is an excellent substitute babysitter for actual parenting. I mean, sure it seemed like some of the adults sitting along the side must be related to the screaming and running children, but surely one of them would have spoken up had it been their child who was casually throwing himself backwards into the corner of the shallow end of the pool. (Given that this is the same child who was tearing around the edge of the pool, just skimming the corners, I'm tempted to think he was actually gunning for some form of head injury. Perhaps they give out prizes for such a feat in his home.) I'm also not quite sure which adult belonged to the three year old who was sitting in the hot tub during our entire time there. Perhaps she belonged to the nine year olds who would race from the hot tub to the pool jumping in both? Or perhaps I'm the only one who doesn't quite see why a child would need to ride a bicycle around the edge of a pool.

Whatever the case may be, the pool was not quite as relaxing as I had hoped, although it was a welcome relief to cool down a bit. And of course, now that we're back home and the sun has set, it's back to normal night chilliness. And there was no way I was going to ruin the chill with something from the oven. If it's hot where you are, let me suggest something stovetop and spicy. Stovetop's not going to heat up your whole kitchen/home. Spicy because it'll make you sweat a bit which will then evaporate and cool you off. Same idea as drinking hot tea or soup on a hot day. As a word of caution - drinking something cold on a cold day does not have the effect of warming you up.

Firecracker Shrimp
1/2 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup panko
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup sweet chili sauce
1 tsp Sriracha
1 tsp fish sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
  1. Dip shrimp in buttermilk and coat with panko.
  2. Heat oil in skillet until hot. Fry shrimp 3-4 minutes, until crispy.
  3. Whisk chili sauce, sriracha, fish sauce, and sesame oil.
  4. Toss shrimp in sauce and serve hot!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Foggy Day

Thatboy and I are commuter buddies every now and again. We work across the street from each other, and aside from the fact we have different hours, it works out for the most part. A couple of weeks ago I was the cause for the commute as my car was getting some work done. Today, Thatboy brought his moneypit of a car in.

You have to understand, Thatboy LOVES this car. It was his first purchase when he got his first out of school grown up job. And he has since sunk a ridiculous amount of money in it. It's almost as if he is rebuilding it, one piece at a time. Last weekend, the driver side door stopped working. It no longer opens from the outside. So he made plans to drop it off at his mechanic (otherwise known as the Highway Robber) to get the door fixed.

Which means we were carpooling to work this morning and leaving at an insanely early hour so we could drop his car off and still get him to work on time. Too early for me to get in my morning run. And when the alarm went off, I was not ready to get up. I felt like I had taken Benadryl last night and it hadn't fully worn off. It was so bad, that I was afraid I was going to fall asleep in the shower, so instead of blowdrying my hair, I crawled back into bed for a couple extra minutes while Thatboy took his own shower. Except, he didn't bother to cancel his usual morning alarm, and I was too lazy to turn it off, so mostly I just laid there and listened to his alarm for 10 minutes.

Needless to say, I was exhausted all day. Thatboy blames it on the fact that I didn't get my morning run in, since that gets me up and at 'em in the morning.

When we got home, I was supposed to hit the gym with Thatboy - our usual pattern when we're both home at the same time. Which really only happens when we carpool. Otherwise he hits the gym and I hit a pilates video at home. Tonight, he hit the gym, and I hit the bed to grab those extra few minutes I missed out on this morning.

Dinner was obviously a bit late and being that it's Friday night, I wanted something with little effort. So a reinvention of leftovers it was! Hash is a typical way to use up leftover corned beef (although I will never turn down a nice corn beef sandwich). It really works for all meat though. And although this roast beef hash was used for dinner, it would be fantastic for breakfast with a nice poached egg atop.

Roast Beef Hash
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup cooked roast beef, chopped
1 baked potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup gravy
salt and pepper

  1. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the beef, potatoes, onion, and gravy. Cook until brown underneath, about 7 minutes.
  2. Add salt and pepper to taste. Flip the hash and cook the other side for an additional 7 minutes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

When the market gives you lemons...

Guess who got all their veggies at the Farmer's Market today! Take that beet lady! Of course she had some gorgeous red and golden beets today, so I could take advantage. I've got tomato relish chillin' in the fridge. (I know, I know, no more tomatoes...) I used some cabbage in some sweet potato and cabbage soup for lunch tomorrow. Because when you have fresh veggies, it's hard for me not to use them right away.

Broccoli and carrots got used as a side dish (with some cauliflower thrown in because I really am trying to get us to eat more). And of course lemons create a perfect sauce to top chicken. They're also great for lemonade, but this recipe has a lot less sugar.

Chicken with Lemon Sauce
1/4 cup flour
1 clove garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup chicken broth
juice of 1/2 lemon
chopped parsley

  1. Combine flour and garlic. Use all but 1 Tbsp to coat the chicken.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet. Cook chicken 6 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove from skillet.
  3. Add broth, lemon juice, and remaining flour to skillet. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 5 minutes until sauce begins to thicken.
  4. Pour sauce over chicken and sprinkle chopped parsley over top.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

More Bites - of Balls

This weekend we had lunch with The Ks. Thatboy ordered a meatball sandwich. I have this fantasy that meatball sandwiches are should be like bites of pure joy. A soft, fragrant meatball covered in sweet tangy tomato sauce and ooey gooey cheesy. All wrapped in nature's favorite carbohydrate - a crusty roll.

This was not that sandwich. The meatballs themselves were nearly completely flavorless and disappointing. Meatballs should never be disappointing. Meatballs should never be boring. As I have oft stated, there is just so much that can be done with those little balls of meat.

And to emphasize my point, everyone go to your fridge and pull out a pound of ground meat. (turkey, chicken, beef, lamb - whatever you have handy) It's okay. I'll wait.

Back? Okay. Now divide that ground meat into two piles. With the first we're going to make your basic Italian meatballs. You know, the kind that go in meatball sandwiches, or on top of spaghetti. This is not the first meatball recipe I've shared, and it definitely won't be the last. I love experimenting and playing around with them. These are a great balance of herbs, garlic, and meat.

Italian Meatballs
1/2 lb ground meat
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp parsley, minced
1 Tbsp basil, chiffonade
1 egg white
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp oil
2 cups of your favorite tomato sauce

  1. Combine the beef, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, basil, egg white, salt and pepper.
  2. Mix thoroughly and shape into balls.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan and brown the meatballs on all sides.
  4. Drain the oil and add the tomato sauce. Cover and simmer 40 minutes.

Alright, still have that other half pound of meat? Of course you do! Where would it go? It hasn't had legs or a heartbeat in at least a day or two! We're going to use the remaining meat to make Swedish Meatballs. These are fabulous as appetizers, but equally fabulous when served over noodle. They do come in their own delicious sauce, after all.

Swedish Meatballs
1/2 lb ground meat
1 slice of bacon
2 slices of bread
1 egg white
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp butter
3/4 cup beef broth
1/4 cup heavy cream

  1. Preheat oven to 325. Combine the meat, bacon, and bread in a food processor, pulsing twice.
  2. Add egg, sugar, allspice, nutmeg, salt , and pepper with meat mixture. Shape into 1 inch balls.
  3. Melt butter in ovenproof skillet and brown meatballs.
  4. Add the beef broth, cover, and bake 45 minutes.
  5. Add the cream, cover and cook another 15 minutes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bite Size Treats

Thanks for all the good wishes guys, you certainly know how to make a girl feel warm and fuzzy inside!

Don't worry, I can promise you that this is not about to become a baby blog, or a mommy blog, or anything like that. I have another blog specifically for that! I haven't been boring you with pregnancy trivialities up to now, and I don't plan on starting any time soon.

And I can guarantee you'd be bored.

I have been ridiculously and incredibly lucky on all aspects of this pregnancy - and trust me, I'm aware that it's not the norm. Not a day of nausea, no cravings, no aversions, not even a minute of fatigue. Which is why there hasn't been a break in your regular blog reading! I've been eating just the same as I did 15 weeks ago, with the exception that there has been a marked decrease in my alcohol intake. Now I only use it in cooking. Which explains why I've been using it a lot in marinades and sauces. (Notice I said decrease, not absence!)

But in honor of our expected bundle of trouble, I'll share with you a very special recipe. How many of you grew up with TGIF like I did? You know, Full House, Family Matters, Step by Step. Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about. You ALL remember Full House. Okay. Now that we're all on the same page, do y'all remember how Becky told Uncle Jesse she was pregnant? She served him a meal of "baby" food - baby corn, baby carrots - you get the idea.

Well I present to you - Baby Steak Sandwiches! Now that Trader Joes carries slider rolls, there's no reason to eat full size anything anymore! Bite size food is not only cuter, but I'm pretty sure it tastes better. And for some reason you feel less guilty eating it. Pan fry a thin steak, throw it on a slider roll, and you're pretty much done. Which is perfect for moms, non-moms, and moms-to-be!

Baby Steak Sandwiches
1 lb thinly slices boneless top round meat
1 bottle of your favorite dark lager
1/4 cup Italian-style bread crumbs
3 Tbsp shredded parmesean
1 clove garlic, minced
1 egg
1 Tbsp milk
olive oil
slider rolls
  1. Cut meat into 2x3 rectangles. Marinate in beer overnight.
  2. Dry meat with paper towels. Mix together the bread crumbs, parmesean, garlic, and just a smidge of that salt.
  3. Mix eggs and milk in shallow bowl.
  4. Heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in large pan over medium high heat. Dip meat in egg, then in bread crumb mixture.
  5. Fry meat 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  6. Serve on slider rolls.

Monday, April 11, 2011

This is the one Jonesy

I haven't been entirely honest with Eat.Live.Be. I've been kind of a cheater. This is the post where I'm coming clean.

My first cheat was in picking my goals. I purposely picked things that would be pretty easy for me to do. Drinking more water? Drinking less alcohol? Yeah, those were very specific goals. Nothing nearly as difficult as "watching what I eat" or "losing 15 lbs."

Speaking of the losing 15 lbs, here's my second cheat. Every month we're supposed to post how much weight we've lost. I haven't been posting this. And there's a reason for this. I haven't been losing weight. In fact, since Eat.Live.Be. has begun, I've actually gained 2 lbs.

Whew. It feels good to finally confess. Although, I'm sure you're expecting a little more from me. You know, like an explanation for my sneakiness? Well, let me try to explain.

Today on Eat.Live.Be. we're supposed to discuss vitamins and supplements we take. I get most of my vitamins from the food I eat, but I do supplement - I take these every night.

Not quite getting the full picture yet? Maybe these cookies will help. My friend Wan made them for me. Isn't she incredibly talented? If you need cookies for any occasion, I would definitely get in touch with her.

Still not there? Maybe Thatmom can put it into words best.

Next week's topic we share our playlists. I love music, so expect some good times!

And here are a list of the other bloggers participating:

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Where's the Beet

Okay, now I can start sharing where those beets were supposed to go. The other night Thatboy told me he was craving red meat. It must be related to the full moon or something. Usually he's pretty nonverbal about requests, eating whatever I give him. Even his requests are a little "vague."

"what kind of red meat do you want?"
"I dunno"

Helpful, right?

So I closed my eyes, opened my Fannie Farmer book and pointed. And when I saw this recipe not only had beef, but also beets I was all in. It also had capers which is an inside food joke in our family. Everyone has those, right? This is pretty much a hash, even though it's not titled as such. And like most hashes, mine have a tendency to fall apart. It's a weakness of mine. Good thing I'm good at so many other things!

Beef a la Lindstrom(From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
2 potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 1/2 lbs ground beef
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 roasted beets, diced fine
2 Tbsp minced onion
3 Tbsp capers
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp oil

  1. Mix the potatoes, beef, egg yolks, cream, beets, onion, capers, salt and pepper.
  2. Shape the mixture into 6 patties. Melt the butter and oil in a skillet and fry patties over medium heat, turning as they brown.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Les Pomme Frites

Have you ever noticed the fries you make at home aren’t as good as the fries you get at restaurants? Well I’m going to tell you the secret right here. Are you ready for it?

Fries in restaurants are so good because they are dipped in a giant vat of old oil with a timer that tells you exactly when to pull them out. The old oil definitely helps. It’s why fries taste so much better at midnight than they do at 4 in the afternoon. (and the four or five beers you’ve had since 4 in the afternoon don’t hurt with making the fries taste so good.)

Now, chances are, most of you don’t have an industrial grade French fryer in your kitchen. (And be thankful you don’t – can you imagine the cleanup on those puppies?) So we home cooks need to come up with other ways to make our fries sinfully delicious. One of the bars Prez and I go to gives you fries with parmesean, garlic, and truffle oil on top. These are some serious fries. (Again, the 2-3 martinis we drink alongside might influence our palettes a little bit.)

I don’t have truffle oil, but it’s something I need to pick up – Thatboy and I also love it on our popcorn. These fries, however, definitely take advantage of the parmesean aspect of our bar fries. This is a recipe for baked French fries, because in Thathouse, all our fries are baked. If you want to make them the stovetop way, just fill a pot/pan/metal dancing clog with oil and cook the fries that way before adding the “seasoning.” Remember, the thinner you cut the fries, the crispier they will get.

Eat these plain, or use them for steak frites. Leftover fries always get turned into steak frites in Thathouse.

And if you have truffle oil at home, a drizzle on top definitely isn’t going to hurt the flavor of these puppies. In fact, I encourage it. And then send me some!

French Fries
2 potatoes
1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp grated parmesean
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 tsp chopped parsley

  1. Preheat oven to 425. Cut potatoes into thin strips and toss with olive oil
  2. Bake 30 minutes, or until crisp.
  3. Mix parmesean and seasoned salt. While the fries are still warm, toss with cheese/salt mixture.
  4. Top with parsley.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Missed out on my beets!

Let today serve as a lesson to everyone. I went down to the farmer's market and saw some beautiful beets. I know they are fantastic, because I picked them up 2 weeks ago and used them in just about everything.

Making a mental note to return for the beets, I headed to pick up a quick lunch. On my way back the beets were gone. GONE! Sold out. Not a one left. I was so sad. Next week the beet lady will be my first stop.

Instead I picked up some more mandarins for my ever dwindling supply. How is it that even though I am constantly buying them they always seem to disappear. More tomatoes (you're not really surprised are you?) and some green peppers. My egg guy wasn't there this week, which is a little sad since I love buying my eggs at the market, watching him go through each dozen to find me the "best" one.

I have plans for all those produce, but of course, none will be featured tonight. I have to keep you guys coming back, don't I? I know right now you're sitting on the edge of your seats just wondering what tomato dish I can screw up next. Many of you will toss and turn tonight over my disappearing citrus dilemma. I get it, it's slow on television right now. Although, tonight marks the return of new Vampire Diaries AND America's Best Dance Crew, so Thathouse is full of happiness.

Happiness and mushrooms. Normally the two of those together lead to far different connotations. And one day I'll tell you the story about my crazy dream that involved mushrooms and the Beatles. Well, nevermind because that's pretty much the dream right there. I guess I'm not so good at previews.

Tonight I'm presenting a dish that uses a lot of mushrooms, in a sauce that coats a flavorful ground beef. So much better than your average meatloaf. I served them aside some mushrooms and peas, just in case the sauce wasn't mushroomy enough for you.

Cannelon of Beef (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
2 lbs ground beef
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp minced parsley
1 egg
2 Tbsp minced onion
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
4 slices salt pork
Mushroom Sauce (recipe to follow)

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Combine the beef, lemon rind, parley, egg, onion, melted butter, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Mix until very well blended. Chill and then shape into a roll.
  2. Place on rack in roasting pan, arrange slices of salt pork over the top and bake for 30 minutes.
  3. Serve with mushroom sauce.
Mushroom Sauce (From the Fannie Farmer Cookbook)
5 Tbsp butter
1/2 lbs mushrooms, sliced
2 Tbsp flour
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 cup heavy cream
salt to taste

  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Stir in the mushrooms and cook for 2-3 minutes until they darken a little.
  2. Stir in the flour, blend to smooth, and cook 2 minutes.
  3. Slowly stir in lemon juice, cream, and salt, and cook until hot.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Prepping for Pesach

Passover is just a few weeks away. I don't normally plan in advance, but this year I am. There are two reasons for this. The first is that when I went shopping this week, the people in front of me had an entire cart full of their Passover shopping. And that was last week! Am I already behind? Last week was the first week my store had the Passover section open - 5 rows of Passover food. The second reason is Cara's Seder Plate Challenge.

Cara's challenge is based upon the traditional Passover Seder Plate - the ritual centerpiece of the ritual meal for Passover.

Let's start with the egg and work our way around, since all of you are familiar with an egg.

Egg - this is a symbol that pretty much everyone recognizes. It's the idea of rebirth. The circular shape represents the cyclical nature of life. (You know "The Circle of Life") I have yet to have one person explain to me the relationship between the Easter Bunny and eggs, since rabbits are mammals and therefore don't lay eggs. I have a theory this is one of the "borrows" from another religion the Catholic church is over so found of. (Oh HI Christmas tree!)

Okay, go in either direction from the gg and you'll find:

Green Vegetable - I can't explain why, but every single seder plate I've seen has an extra "spot" on it, this one fills the spot with a green veggie, but you can just as easily put a cup of tea in the extra space. Anyway, back to the green veggie. This is another symbol of newness - regrowth, hope, and all that good junk. But just in case you get a little too hopeful, the green veggie is parsley 99% of the time. Not exactly tasty. And in case parsley is your thing, we also dip it in salt water, to remember the tears of our ancestors.

Lamb Shank - This is representative of the Passover offering, or ritual sacrifice. I grew up in a very small town (hi Rene!) and they were not really familiar with Jewish traditions. I remember every year having to convince my friends that the Jews do not eat Christian babies at Passover. Somehow the idea of the 10th plague (the killing of the firstborn Egyptians while "Passing Over" the homes of the Jews) has been twisted and translated into something very...weird. Frankly, I'm tempted to say that the eating of Christian babies goes against a number of Jewish tenets such as "thou shalt not murder" and the whole idea of "kosher."

Charoset - Somehow Jewish holidays always involve apples. Interesting since apples are definitely not spring fruit. These apples are mixed with red wine, nuts, honey, and spices. In the Passover story the Jews were slaves in Egypt and had to do slave things like build pyramids. So next time someone tells you about the aliens or Mayans being in charge of the pyramids, you tell them that my people broke their backs making those suckers. Anyway, long story short, the charoset represents the mortar between those bricks.

Bitter Herb - horseradish! Because man y'all, that slavery time? So not fun. And in case you forgot about how much is sucked, a bite of this will remind you. Yeah, we're still bitter. Ask anyone whose people have been enslaved. We hold grudges.

Anyway, Cara has started a challenge in which we use one of the items from the seder plate to create a Passover friendly dish. I'm expecting loads of really creative dishes. Especially considering Cara has always been my inspiration for Passover meals. She introduced me to quinoa which has been a Passover staple in Thathouse ever since.

This is not one of those creative recipes. BUT it is a fabulous way to get a lamb shank for your seder plate. (Although, my supermarket gives them out for free - they literally stick a basket in the meat section and you can just grab them - but maybe you don't live in such an awesome place.)

First you braise the lamb shanks.
Then you eat the lamb.
Then you throw them back in the oven to roast off any remaining meats on the bone.

Oh you want more of a recipe? Try this:

Braised Lamb Shank
4 lamb shanks
2 fat cloves of garlic, each cut into 8 slivers.
3 Tbsp margarine (butter is a no no for kosher preparation because the dairy and meat)
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp grated lemon rind
juice of 1.5 lemons
4 carrots, chopped
8 small white onions, peeled
  1. Cut four slits in each lamb shank and insert a sliver of garlic.
  2. Heat the margarine in a dutch oven and put the shanks in. Brown on all sides.
  3. Add the bay leaf, lemon rind, lemon juice, and 1/4 cup water.
  4. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the entire thing. Simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Add the carrots and onions and cook 40 minutes longer.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Using those rotten tomatoes

Today is the week I complain about tomatoes. Have you picked up on that yet? I consider it part of the martyr complex I'm nurturing. I'm running for sainthood and since I'm Jewish, I need all the help I can get!

In reality, I hit the nail on the head yesterday when I told you that I can't live without tomatoes year round. Even when they are no good. In the summer, I eat them like apples, sliced, or bitten right into them. The rest of the year I use them raw only when I get desperate. The rest of the time I cook them into meals - sauces, stirfries, and casseroles. Throw them into soups and omelets.

Baked tomatoes are almost salvageable. Because baked tomatoes take on so many of the flavors of what you're cooking with. They add to that rainbow of fruits and veggies we were talking about yesterday and are a great easy way to bulk up a meal. Tomatoes are one of those fruits that are just filled with water. Which makes them a great choice for filling up without adding a lot of calories.

This dish is loaded with color- red(ish) tomatoes, yellow corn, green peppers. I probably should have posted it yesterday since it is such a rainbow. It's also a total comfort dish, with a healthy twist. No cheese! You won't miss it.

Tomato Casserole
1 Tbsp oil
1/2 green bell pepper, chipped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 lb ground beef
1 cup corn (shhhh I used frozen)
1/2 tsp salt
1 tomato, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup bread crumbs

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Heat oil in skillet and cook peppers and onions until translucent.
  2. Add the ground beef and brown.
  3. Stir in corn and salt.
  4. Place everything in an 8x8 baking dish and cover with the tomato slices.
  5. Sprinkle breadcrumbs over and bake 25 minutes.

Monday, April 04, 2011

From the Earth

This week's topic on Eat.Live.Be. is creative tips to make sure you're getting in all your fruits and veggies.

This one is just a no-brainer for me. I completely attribute it to my parents. Both of them were veggie eaters, and my mom even liked the "weird" veggies - like brussels sprouts. Thatmom is also a fruit fiend. So we had a variety of vegetables and fruit in the house year round.

Vegetables were always served with dinner. And stories are told about how one had to watch their lima beans when dining with me. I was a lima bean fiend. I would steal them right off your plate. Know why? Because lima beans in my house were served with a generous serving of butter and salt. It's considered bad form to eat butter straight from the stick, so even at that age I was happy to find any acceptable vessel to get the butter into my mouth.

Salads were served every night - usually filled with fresh vegetables from our garden (during the summer). Thatbrother and I would be sent out to pick something fresh which made us feel empowered and like we were contributing to dinner.

As for fruit? Well I can hardly remember a day without fruit salad in the fridge. In the summer it was melon and berry. In the fall, pears and apples. Winter had citrus and grapes. If you were hungry after dinner, an apple was placed in your hand. "If you're hungry, then this should help fill you up." Fruit was treated as dessert - and when you treat it like a treat, that's the way it's viewed.

So my tips for working fruit and veggies into your diet?
1) Buy seasonal. Food in season tastes so much better when they're in season. I mentioned it the other day with tomatoes, but it really holds true for everything. I don't buy strawberries until I can literally smell them at the farmer's market. Never buy a melon before June. And zucchini and tomato are just perfect by end of the summer.

2) Work them into every meal. I'm not a proponent of using juice as a "fruit" because it's more sugar than anything else. It's too sweet for me, so I tend to water it down. I've gotten Thatboy to water down his insane amounts of juice too. Instead of orange juice at breakfast, try sliced oranges. Berries and grapes are perfect for breakfast. At lunch, throw some carrot sticks, celery, jicima, or cucumber for snacking. And at dinner, make sure you're using veggies in and around your main dish. I always throw some fruit into my salads along with the veggies.

3) Keep them handy. As soon as I buy strawberries, I chop them up so they're easy to grab. Same with carrots and celery. Keep them in some water and they'll last - except for the fact you'll be much more likely to grab a handful. I keep grapes in the freezer for anytime I want a cold, sweet snack.

4) Use them mercilessly. Throw some carrots in your smoothie for some added sweetness - and of course, the smoothie in general is a great way to add fruits and veggies into your diet. Add veggies into soups, stirfries, omelets, and pastas. There is really no dish that couldn't benefit from some added fruit and vegetables. Take grilled meat. Sure you could make a meal out of just meat and potatoes, but if you've got that grill growing, throw on a couple skewers of veggies. Even better, veggies AND fruit. I like pineapple, but peaches and apples also grill beautifully.

Lamb Kebab with Veggies
1/2 leg of lamb, cut into cubes
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 Tbsp canola oil
2 small onions, parboiled
2 large mushrooms
1 tomato, quartered
4 squares of green pepper
4 pineapple chunks

  1. Mix lamb, sliced onions, slat, pepper, sherry, oil and a sprinkle of oregano in a bowl and mix. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. Place the lamb on skewers and grill until cooked to your liking.
  3. While lamb cooks, skewer the veggies and pineapple. Brush with a teaspoon of oil and grill 2 minutes per side.

Next week's topic is Vitamins and Supplements.

And here are a list of the other bloggers participating:

Sunday, April 03, 2011

You're Hot and You're Cold

It was supposed to rain this weekend. Which of course means it was sunny and beautiful out. Still a little chilly yesterday. H made fun of me when I showed up at her house for dinner last night in a skirt. Good thing we were eating inside.

Today was warmer though. So much so that around 8pm tonight, Thatboy said it felt like a summer evening. Hey Mother Nature? You wanna make up your mind? I have no idea what to make for dinner these days. Menu planning seems like a waste since sometimes it's freezing cold and the sound of a cold salad sounds less than appealing. Other times that warm lentil soup you've been looking forward to all day just seems a bit out of place.

Luckily, I'm a fruit and veggie-holic. Which means at any given time there are boatloads of fruits and veggies, just waiting to be used and abused. So when the weather takes an unexpected turn for the beautiful, and we want to eat outside, it's easy enough to convert any meal to "salad night!"

Dressing is simple, just some vinegar and oil, because it can be tossed together quite easily at the last minute. And I already used up the garlic red wine vinaigrette I made to bring to H's last night. The rest is just made up of what we have. I know it's not tomato season, and frankly, these were not the best tomatoes. BUT I need fresh tomatoes year round, I can't help it. And I can buy them year round at the farmer's market, even if they are less that stellar. You can feel free to leave them out until this summer. You'll probably be just as happy.

Simple Spring Salad

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 chicken breast or several chicken tenders
2 cups of mixed baby greens
1 tomato, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
2 tsp cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

  1. Whisk together olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  2. Combine tomato, avocado, onion, and artichoke hearts with mixed baby greens.
  3. Toss with the dressing and salt and pepper.
  4. Saute chicken breast/chicken tenders stovetop. If using a chicken breast cut into slices.
  5. Top the dressed salad with sliced chicken and cilantro.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Best of Both Worlds

No, not like that silly.

I have quite possibly found the world's greatest chili idea. I know, chili, right? I mean, just two days ago I was complaining about the heat. But, as I often state, don't look twice at the thermometer in California because it will be completely different. We're back to the typical spring chill, as though this past week was just nature's April Fool's joke.

Anyway, back to one of my favorite meals - chili and corn bread. Have you ever thought of combining them into one dish? Well some smart person did. I wish I could say it was me. It wasn't. But once I heard about it, it was very easy to create my own recipe. And you can easily make it your own too by using your favorite chili and your favorite cornbread.

There are a variety of similar dishes. Kathleen just recently posted a "tamale pie" which is a very similar concept. But this, this is a "cornpone pie."

Corn bread baked atop chili so that one scoop gives you that sweet corn flavor atop delicious chili. Sure you can call it a casserole, but have you ever had a casserole this fabulous? Even the name brings joy to the tongue. If it doesn't yet, then a few verses from Stubby Kaye will have you hummin' as you combine the ingredients and bake it.

Try it. I swear by the time you have it in the oven, you'll be kicking your heels in the air. Of course, that's only half the excitement you'll be feeling once you take a few bites. You may never have chili the regular ole way again.

Corn Pone Pie
Ingredients for your favorite chili (if you don't have one, this one from Cooking Light works well.)
Ingredients for your favorite cornbread (if you don't have one, you can use the ingredients from these corn muffins.)

  1. Preheat oven to 400. Cook the chili according to whatever chili recipe you're using.
  2. Spread the chili into a 2 qt. baking dish.
  3. Combine the ingredients for the cornbread batter and spread overtop of the chili.
  4. Bake 20 minutes.