Week in food: 1/24/16

Greetings from life post-blizzard! I normally grocery shop on Sundays, so I missed a week of shopping. We had plenty of food, but the weather made me just feel generally blah and lazy so I don’t have anything fun to report in terms of new dinners. However, I did still make two non-dinner new recipes. I have some interesting dinners planned for this upcoming week though, so stay tuned.

New recipe (4/52): Healthy banana bread

I haven’t had banana bread in years. My mom used to make it a lot when I was little but we didn’t have it very often in my teenage years. Like every person making banana bread, I had a few bananas about to go bad and decided to give this a try on Monday when I was teleworking. It intrigued me because it didn’t have any butter or white sugar.

My modifications, based on preference and/or what I had on hand: all-purpose white flour and vegetable oil (coconut oil can be such a pain), upped the cinnamon to 1 tsp, and added 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.

It smelled amazing in the oven, but the taste was just…ok? I started to vaguely remember that banana bread may have disappeared from my childhood because I don’t really like it. Yup, pretty sure that’s it. Not sure I can make a fair assessment on this one. Mike thought it was good.

New recipe (5/52): Seasoned pretzels

OMG. Almost no effort required, ability to make ahead, and addicting = win. I stuck to the original recipe, but used pretzel twists since that’s all I had. The spices did have some trouble sticking and the twists+spices=a little too salty, but were still delicious. I would use hard pretzels next time, and I might mess around with the spices, but it’s also perfect as is. I’m making these again for a Super Bowl snack.

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Week in food: 1/17/16

Welcome to my new home on WordPress! A few people mentioned they didn’t know how to comment on or follow my blog when it was on Tumblr. I hope that using WordPress solves the issues. I have to fix some links in my “tested recipe” page, but otherwise everything should have moved over.

You should be able to see a “follow by email” button in the right column of the page. You have to put in your email address when you leave a comment for spam protection purposes. Let me know if you have any problems with either of these. Thanks for your interest 🙂 Onto the food!

New recipe challenge (2/52):
White bean soup with bacon and spiced brown butter.

I could not get this out of my brain. It just sounded so good. I also wanted a recipe that would let me use the immersion blender I got for Christmas. No cardamom, because LOL at spending $15 on a bottle at Giant. It looks like it’s decently priced on Amazon, though, so I might need to pick some up for future recipes.

I did some advance planning on the ingredients which made cooking the soup a breeze. I cooked the bacon in the oven while teleworking using the method described in the recipe below for chicken bacon rice bowls. I’ve always felt a little scared of cooking bacon because I feel like I’m one second away from third-degree burning myself with grease. Doing it in the oven instead of stovetop worked well. I also caramelized the onions in my Crockpot as I described here. Instead of cooking the onions as noted in the soup recipe, I added a little bit of olive oil and heated them through with the garlic and spices for a minute before moving on to the next step.

I really enjoyed this, but I don’t think the browned butter added anything taste-wise (though, again, I didn’t use cardamom. I used an improvised mixture of nutmeg and allspice instead). We also ate it later in the week without bacon and it was still really delicious. Finally, my immersion blender is awesome and I can’t wait to use it a million times this winter.

New recipe challenge (3/52):
Chicken bacon rice bowls.

Tis the week of bacon. As the author notes, this is such an “uh, this sounds incredibly simple…” recipe. I chose it to remind myself that getting out of my comfort zone and cooking something different doesn’t need to mean a recipe that is elaborate or involves fancy ingredients. Also, I’ve never cooked chicken in a skillet before (should I be ashamed of this?) Raw chicken freaks me out so I usually just throw it in the Crockpot or a pan with minimal hand contact. I conquered my fear and the chicken cooked well.

Unfortunately, I thought the recipe was just OK. It needed more seasoning than just salt and pepper, or some kind of sauce. I made extra chicken and spinach and later that week we tossed that with pasta and marinara. I actually thought that was way better than the original recipe. Ah well.

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Week in food: 1/10/16

Two things before I start: One, for the three people reading this, does anyone have a favorite way to organize their recipes? I like Pinterest for digital collection, and I tend to use my iPad in the kitchen when I’m trying a recipe for the first time. Now I’d like to start having paper copies of recipes I’ll keep going back to so I don’t have to search for them all the time. Can’t decide if I want to have a binder, notebook, or something else.

Two: I mentioned in my last post that my goal is to try 52 new-to-me recipes this year! This post has my first.

New recipe challenge (1/52):

Lebanese beef kafka patties, served with wild rice.

  • I made these with lamb. Note to self: if you think that your food processor can’t handle quarter chunks of onion with everything else in the food processor, listen to your gut. Next time I’ll chop it up in the food processor before adding the meat and spices. I cooked them on the stovetop in a non-stick pan. These are super flavorful, but something is off. Too salty maybe? I ate leftovers once and something made my stomach turn thinking about eating it any more. If I were to try again, I’d use ground beef, no salt, and make a tzatziki sauce.

Repeats:

Vegetable cheddar quiche.

  • I’ve made this a million times and it never fails. No mushrooms. This time around I didn’t have the frozen veggies but I did have fresh so I used those instead and it was even better (though more time consuming. I’m a slow chopper.)

Polenta bowls with chicken sausage, garlicky kale, and soft-boiled eggs (repeat from this post.)

  • I really love this recipe. It seems so much more fancy than it actually is. I This time around I used kale instead of spinach because it was all I had (spinach works better here) and soft-boiled the eggs instead of poaching them using this guide. The eggs came out perfectly but they were really difficult to peel. I feel like this always happens to me when I hard boil them though, no matter what “trick” I use. I also didn’t season the polenta as well this time and I noticed the difference. I might need to work this one into a more regular rotation.

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Well then…

I’m pretty sure I blinked and seven weeks passed! Shamefully, I did very little cooking in that time, and most of the meals I did make were ones I’ve already made. Here are the few exceptions:

  • Eggplant parmesan pasta, served with green beans: This was amazing. Made two tweaks: used whole wheat pasta since I can’t tell the difference in baked dishes, and made my own pasta sauce using the marinara recipe from the cheese-stuffed turkey meatballs I made (find sauce recipe here– makes 28oz, I just used it all).
  • Crockpot salsa chicken: Put 1 lb. chicken, 3 tbsp. taco seasoning (this is the recipe I use), and 16 oz. salsa in a Crockpot on low for 8 hours.
  • Cinnamon bun smoothie. So simple, but so good.
  • Spaghetti squash enchilada bowls: These were really good but I felt like it needed a little something extra. I brought it for lunch at work the next day and added a few things from the taco bar and that made it tastier. Next time I think it needs some meat and maybe beans.

Back on the wagon this week. One of my 2016 goals is to make 52 new dinner recipes. See you next Sunday!

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Week in food: 11/29/15

Dinner #1: Return of the falafel (see this post for original review and recipe).

  • Still just as good.

Dinner #2: Italian chicken and peppers over pasta.

  • This so does not sound like something I would normally go for, given my tomato hatred and my less well-known dislike of cooked peppers. But for whatever reason this sounded alright and I knew Mike would like it. It was fantastic. I ate over pasta one day but just ate it straight the rest of the time. Parm required. Surprisingly, Mike wasn’t nearly as into this as I was.

Other: 

  • Slow-cooker cinnamon brown sugar oatmeal. This recipe was from a book on vegan slow cooking. I’m not intending to become a vegan but I thought it would be a good way to get some vegetarian meal ideas. I’m not bothering to link the recipe here since it was only OK, but happy to send it if requested (it is pretty simple– essentially just oats, almond milk, water, vanilla extract, brown sugar, and cinnamon). The taste was great but the texture was weird. The top got hard and I was excited thinking it would be kind of crispy. Nope, just weirdly chewy. Sticking to the microwave or stovetop next time.
  • Apple oatmeal breakfast cookies. Meh.

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Week in food: 11/15/15 & 11/22/2015

Combining weeks here! It’s been wild with the holiday season and everything else going on, so there has not been a lot of cooking recently. Also experimenting with a new format since it’s not super important to know what I ate on what day. I feel like I may have made more than this but I can’t remember what else for the life of me.

Dinner #1: Slow cooker Italian chicken and vegetable ragu, served over pasta.

  • This sounded and smelled better than it ended up tasting. It wasn’t bad; it just wasn’t something I really reached for again after eating it the first time. The sauce was thinner than I thought it would be, probably because I added extra zucchini. If I were to make it again an immersion blender would help a lot with that (already requested one for Christmas!) I also cooked it on high because I ran out of time and I would not recommend that. Chicken wasn’t tender enough. Ended up throwing away some extras.

Dinner #2: Ground turkey chili, with leftover sweet potato cornbread.

  • I have trouble finding a recipe I like for chili that’s linkable. I find that most of them don’t have the right meat/bean ratio and/or include tomatoes, both of which are hard passes for me. I used 1 pound ground turkey, 1 can pinto beans, 1 can black beans, a few tbsp tomato paste, and the seasoning from this recipe. Add some water if it looks like it needs it.

Other non-dinner things I made…

  • Microwave hot chocolate for one. In eighth grade I had Swiss Miss with mini marshmallows almost everyday for breakfast, and nothing else. I’m not sure how I did that given how hangry I get as an adult without breakfast. I’ve only had hot chocolate a handful of times since then, and I’d never made it myself from “scratch”– a word used loosely here given how small the ingredient list is. I’m ashamed. Neither tea nor coffee felt right one afternoon and I was FREEZING, so after some quick Googling I found this recipe. I used only 1 Tbsp sugar, which was still a bit too much, a bit more vanilla extract (did not measure), and a dash of cinnamon. I was surprised at how rich this was given that I only used skim milk, not that I’m complaining. Yum.
  • Pumpkin pie! Back of the can instructions. I don’t mess with tradition.

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Week in food: 11/8/15

I was craving some veggie-heavy meals this week and am really happy with the result. Overall this was a great week for food. All of these meals were fulfilling without being too unhealthy.

Sunday: Lentil soup with sweet potato cornbread.

  • Lentil soup was pretty decent. I feel like it was a bit too muddy tasting though the lemon juice definitely helped. I still included the tomatoes but definitely picked around them when eating the soup. This recipe made way more than 4 servings; it was closer to 6-8.
  • Cornbread was good. I microwaved then peeled the sweet potato rather than boiling, and I also made the bread in muffins instead of the skillet. It took about 14-15 minutes to bake and made 18 muffins. I froze most of them and can easily defrost them with 30 seconds in the microwave.

Monday: Leftovers.

Tuesday: Leftovers.

Wednesday: Asian turkey meatballs with lime dipping sauce, with spiralized zucchini.

  • Loved these. I used 1 pound of meat but didn’t decrease the seasoning accordingly; I still used close to the full amounts in the recipe. You could really taste the ginger which I liked. I used shallots instead of scallions and dried cilantro. It took away some of the pretty color but was still really delicious. Also my first time using my cheap hand-held spiralizer. I’m a fan. I spiralized three medium zucchinis, drizzled with EVOO and salt and pepper, and heated through in a skillet for 4-5 minutes.

Thursday: Leftovers.

Friday: Cauliflower rice fish taco bowls.

  • I actually ended up making this for Saturday lunch instead, but am leaving it here as it was a planned dinner for the week. This was great. My first time making cauliflower rice and not my last. I didn’t realize how easy it was to make. Mike asked if it was couscous and commented that he couldn’t believe it was cauliflower. Great way to sneak in some veggies. 
  • As usual, I made my own tweaks to this recipe. Mahi mahi was really expensive at Trader Joe’s so I improvised and purchased TJ’s mahi mahi burgers. I still seasoned them with the spices in the recipe, but did it by eye and with a light hand. I sprinkled a bit on each side and then rubbed them in. I also omitted cabbage since mine wasn’t looking great and used dried cilantro. I realize while typing this that this week would’ve have been a good to time to buy fresh cilantro given that two recipes required it. Oh well.

Saturday: Out

Other non-dinner things I made…

  • Greek farro salad. A couple years ago I ate a salad for lunch every day at work. I overdid it and turned myself off of that, and so this is my first foray back into regular lunch salads because eating a large volume of food at lunch is more satisfying and you can’t exactly do that with unhealthier foods. This was delicious. I had farro at sweetgreen recently and I’m really into it now. Much better than quinoa. No olives, dried parsley, and a mix of arugula and kale.
  • Cranberry apple baked oatmeal. This is a repeat from before the blog. Love the tart cranberries in this. Amazing reheated with vanilla almond milk poured on top.

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