Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chicago Trip

I know, I know, once again it's been about a week since I've last posted.  I had an extremely stressful week and didn't really cook at all.  My meals consisted of leftovers, food from the freezer, school lunches, and quick dinners out.  For all of you keeping track at home, this means that I've been eating fat, sugar, and lots of other stuff that makes my body hate me.  It's not that I'm the healthiest person, but I do try to eat some fruits and vegetables each day, and my body is not happy with me when I don't.  I've already bought produce for salads this week, and I have some healthy meals planned, along with a cream puff experiment.   Now I need to tell you about my scheduled day of debauchery in Chicago:

 I started out my day with my most embarrassing food related guilty pleasure: a Monster Biscuit from Hardees.  It's so wrong, but so good at the same time.  I only get these once every other month or so.  
 Once we got to Chicago, we headed to Superdawgs.  
These were the best crinkle cut fries I have ever eaten.  My superdawg is under the pickle.  Oh, and see the thing that looks like a anemic lime in the upper left of the box, that is a pickled green tomato.  This is brilliant, and I must learn to make them.  If it wouldn't have terribly embarrassed my husband, I would've asked for a box of these to go. 
 This sign came out a little blurry, but I thought it was cute, and I couldn't figure out how to get a good picture of these two giant superdawgs on the top of the building.  

The inside of the Superdawg.  This alone was worth the drive to Chicago.

After making a few non-food related stops it was time for supper.  I have never had a Chicago deep-dish pizza, so we decided to go to Geno's East.
 Our view from the table, on the second floor.
 Drinking my Coke and waiting for the pizza.
The pizza: pepperoni, green pepper, onion, mushroom, and black olives.

The verdict: The toppings were very good, and the sauce was very chunky and tasted fresh.  I really didn't care for the cornmeal crust though. It wasn't bad, but I like a doughy crust.  I'm very glad I had the experience, but I probably wouldn't go there again.

I'll be back tomorrow with a Weeknight Kitchen post, and yes, I know I'm a few weeks behind.  

Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday = leftovers for awhile, oh and Tuesday too.

Right now I have to be very organized when it comes to what I eat.  Mondays and Tuesdays mean very little free time for a few months.  I work my day job from 8 to 3:30, and then I work some more from 6 to 9.  When driving time is calculated in I have very little leftover time.  This lack of time means that I must rely on leftovers, and I must cook like crazy the rest of the week.  I'm wanting to test some new recipes, and I've been slacking on a book club post, so I've got to get cooking.

Here's what I ate today:

10:00 am: coffee with cream and sugar; chewy peanut butter Kashi bar

12:00 pm: leftover scallop stuffed cannelloni with five cheese sauce; 1 grapefruit

4:00 pm: leftover chicken ranch pizza; small spinach salad with a hard boiled egg and agave mustard dressing.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Filled Cookie

Behold the beautiful chocolate fudge and marshmallow creme filled oatmeal cookie sandwich.  That is all, thank you.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Scallop Stuffed Cannelloni with Five Cheese Sauce

Here's a secret that probably isn't too secret: I think about food all day.  I get panicky in the morning if I don't know what I'm going to make for supper that night.  I knew I wanted to make the creamy, delicious five cheese sauce, but I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with it.  I finally thought about the scallops in my freezer begging to be used and dreamed up this recipe.  It would be good with salmon, white fish, or crab substituted for the scallops.

Scallop Stuffed Cannelloni with Five cheese sauce
1. Lightly sauté scallops in a small amount of olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes or until scallops are cooked through, but not overdone.
2. Add scallops to large bowl.
3.  Add garlic, celery, zest and juice of lemon, mayonnaise, dill, parsley, salt, mustard.  Mix well.
4. Add bread crumbs until the mixture begins binding together.
5. Stuff scallop mixture in cooked cannelloni.
6. Place a thin layer of the sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.  Place filled cannelloni on top of sauce.  Cover cannelloni with the rest of the sauce.
7. Bake at 500 uncovered for 12 minutes.  Turn off oven and let pan sit in the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
8.  Serve and enjoy.  The sauce may look separated, but will come together when stirred a bit.

Fresh bread crumbs made in the food processor

 Mixing the scallops in my owl apron
 Balthasar monitoring the process and hoping for dropped scallops.
 Scallop stuffing
Balthasar and my husband grating the cheese for the sauce.
 The finished product.  Rich and satisfying on a cold night.
Balthasar watching me eat.

What I ate today:

9:00 am: coffee with cream, sugar; Hershey bar with almonds

12:00 pm: leftover goulash; grapefruit

7:00 pm: Scallop Stuffed Cannelloni with Five Cheese Sauce; chocolate sorbetto. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Agave Love

I really do love agave.  It is a sweetener made from the agave plant.  It is supposed to have all sorts of heath benefits over sugar, but I really don't care about all that.  I like agave because it has the consistency of honey, but I think it tastes a lot better.  I use it in tea, coffee, cupcakes, frosting.  I've also been making a agave mustard dressing.  The dressing is very easy to throw together.  Just mix together agave, dijon mustard, and a neutral flavored oil.  You may want to start with equal parts agave and dijon and about a third of the amount of oil.  Add more agave or mustard to taste.  The dressing is great on salads, and I would like to try it on chicken or pork chops.   

School was canceled today due to snow so I was able to take pictures of most of my food.

Breakfast tortillas: egg, potato, cheese, and BBQ sauce.

 Afternoon snack of cashews, pine nuts, and pistachios 
Supper: Spinach salad with hard boiled eggs and agave mustard dress.  I also had a grilled cheese sandwich.

In addition to what is shown above I also had leftover goulash for lunch.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Pictures of what I've been eating

Not too many words tonight, just pictures of a few items I had over the past week when I didn't post anything.

 Parmesan and herb crusted pork chops.
 Parmesan and herb crusted pork chops served with mashed potatoes
 Veggie sandwich and hash browns.  Like salads I crave veggie sandwiches in the winter too.  What's wrong with me?  I need to go make some soup or something.
 Crispy hash browns.
Goulash.  At least it's what my family always calls goulash.  (ground beef, onions, peppers, tomato juice, and usually macaroni, but penne tonight.

What I ate today:

8:00 am: Asiago bagel with cream cheese, coffee with cream and sugar

12:10 pm: baked potato with cauliflower and cheese, grapefruit, cashews.

3:00 pm: 2 fun sized Kit Kats, 1 fun sized Reese's peanut butter cup

7:30 pm: goulash

9:30 pm: sharp cheddar and wheat thins.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vegetable Stock

Yikes!  I was checking out my blog today, and I realized it's been almost a week since I've posted anything.  I've been slightly busy, but I have been eating amazing food.  I went to two great places on Saturday for my birthday, but of course I forgot to take my camera with me.  I'm trying to change the way I eat by added more snacks.  I'll do a post tomorrow explaining why, but for now I'll talk about stock.

I save all my vegetable peelings and scraps and put them in a gallon sized freezer bag.  I keep adding to this bag until it's full.  After the bad is brimming with carrot peels and onion skins it's time to make stock.  Below is a picture tutorial.  I also do this with chicken or turkey bones.  If I lived in an area with better seafood I would save shrimp peels too.  I just don't see any reason not to do this; it's basically free food.  

Place peeled garlic cloves, bay leaves, and pepper corns in crock pot.

Open bag of frozen veggie scraps (carrot, celery, onion, bell pepper)
Full bag of scraps
Place frozen scraps in crock pot.  If you forgot to put in the garlic, bay leaves, and peppercorns, do so now.
Fill crock pot with cold water.  Let cook on high for 4 to 6 hours or on low for 8 to 12 hours.  Your house will smell like soup and make you very hungry.
 At the end of cooking time, place mesh strainer in large bowl.
 Cooked stock before draining.  Pour veggies and broth through strainer.  Discard veggies.
Here is the stock waiting to be used or frozen.  I freeze the stock in quart sized batches.

The stock can be used in soups, gravies, for basting, in sauces.  It's very handy to have in the freezer for very little effort and money.  Start saving those scraps!

What I ate today:

10:00 am: wheat thins and sharp cheddar

12:00 pm: spinach salad with tomato, cucumber, carrot, avocado, colby jack cheese, hard boiled egg and homemade agave mustard dressing (I'll post a recipe for this soon).  I wish I had taken a picture of this salad because it was beautiful.  I also had an orange.

4:30 pm: grilled cheese sandwich, canned chicken noodle soup, pecan pie.  I was happy to have the soup in my cupboard for emergencies, but really I need to cook more, so I can have frozen leftovers.  I've eaten them all and don't have any back-up meals.

9:30 pm: wheat thins and cream cheese.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Weeknight Kitchen: Tamarind-Spice glazed roast of Brussels sprouts, onions and chickpeas, and Cauliflower with Ginger-Cashew-Onion Sauce

I know, I know I've been 2 weeks behind on posting Weeknight kitchen recipes from The Splendid Table.  It's not that I don't like Indian food, it's that I'm intimidated by it because I haven't ever really tried or cooked it. In the tiny Midwestern town I live in we don't see any Indian restaurants.  My parents are not very adventurous eaters, so I never ate any Indian food growing up.  These recipes scare me.  I finally decided to try two weeks worth of recipes today.  Here are the outcomes:

First up, Cauliflower with Ginger, Cashew Onion Sauce
 Onions in the pan and beginning to caramelize
 All the sauce ingredients except for vinegar, tomato paste, and water in pan.

 Finished dish with steamed cauliflower.  I just realized that I did forget the cashews and coconut.
Finished Tamarind-Spiced glazed roast of Brussels sprouts, onion, and chickpeas
 Before going onto the hot pan.

The answer is that I didn't really care for either.  I didn't like the cauliflower with cashew onion sauce at all.  I will be throwing the leftovers out in fact.  I thought the roast was okay, but I probably won't make it again.  I admit that this might be due to the fact that I didn't have coriander leaves and had to substitute dried coriander.  Honestly, when you live in a small town the only fresh herbs you can get in abundance are parsley and cilantro.  I will try Indian dishes again, but my fear remains.

Please note:  I am aware that India is a huge country and represent many different style of cooking.  I am not accustomed to any of them.

What I ate today:

9:00 am: everything bagel with cream cheese, black coffee leftover from yesterday

12:45 pm: weeknight kitchen recipes and rice, most of it was thrown out.

3:00 pm: peanut butter and jelly sandwich

5:00 pm: leftover pizza

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Raven's Brew Coffee

Today was a snow day, and I'm so happy to have my Raven's Brew Coffee.  I first saw this coffee at a little grocery store in Mattoon, Illinois.  I was drawn to the cover art and wanted to try it, but I didn't want to commit to buying an entire bag in case I didn't like it.  As soon as I came home I checked out the website link here.  I decided to order the sampler pack.  The sampler pack only comes in whole bean coffee, but this is perfect because I just got a coffee grinder as a wedding gift.  I placed my order and waited impatiently for the package to arrive.  Finally, all six 2oz bags were on my door-step.  I tried the Three Peckered Billy Goat first.  It's a bold and delicious coffee.  I worked my way through a French press full this morning while reading.  I haven't tried any of the other blends yet, but I'm impressed so far.  I think Raven's Brew has ruined me for the cheap coffee I was buying.

What I ate today:

11:00 am: veggie omelet (I'll post a picture tomorrow), potatoes, coffee.

6:00 pm: triscuits with cranberry and orange goat cheese.

8:30 pm: veggie sandwhich with colby jack, mayonnaise, cucumber, spinach, tomato, and avocado.  Small baked potato with butter and sour cream.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Overnight oats (in a jar)

If you've been reading my blog you've probably figured out that even though breakfast is my favorite meal of the day I rarely get up in time to make it on a work day.  I usually end up packing something quick to eat during my morning break.  Overnight oats are a great solution to my problem.  I had been seeing overnight oats on a quite a few blogs this summer and decided to give it a try.  They are very easy to make and extremely delicious.  I especially like to make them when I have an almost empty jar of peanut butter.  I'm not sure if this will work with steel cut oats, but I am going to try tonight and let you know how it went tomorrow.  When I cook oatmeal I need to add brown sugar, but something about letting the oats soak overnight makes them sweet, and I don't need to add anything.  This is a very healthy and filling breakfast.

Overnight Oats

1 cup oatmeal
1/2 and 1/3-1/2 cup milk (I use almond)
raisins or dried cranberries to taste (optional)

Mostly empty peanut butter jar waiting to fulfill its new purpose: oats.

Add oats to jar.

Top oats with raisins or cranberries if using

Top with milk.  I use the lower end of the measurements listed because I like my oatmeal thick.  If you want it a more "cereal and milk" consistency then add more.

Add lid tightly, shake.  Place jar in fridge overnight.  Enjoy in the morning right out of the jar; scraping peanut butter off the sides.  (This can also be mad in any container with a lid or cover).

What I ate today:

10:00 am: coffee with sugar and creamer.  Oats in a jar.  I was dismayed when I woke up this morning and realized I didn't have time to make coffee.  I received some new coffee last week that is delicious and maybe worth getting up early for.  I'll do a post about it soon.

12:00 pm:  Huge taco salad with leftovers from last night.  It contained romaine lettuce, carrots, tomato, black olives, orange bell pepper, guacamole, sour cream, lots of hot sauce, taco meat, black beans.  I almost couldn't eat all this...almost.

5:00 pm: 2 slices leftover gourmet veggie pizza.  I'm back to working Monday and Tuesday nights, so expect to see a lot of leftovers on these days.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Food from the weekend

I can't say it's been a busy weekend, so I don't know why I haven't posted before tonight.  This one is going to be heavy on photos and light on words, so please enjoy.

I was exhausted when I came home on Friday, so supper was pizza.  Jason and I went to Papa Murhpy's and grabbed a Cowboy and a Gourmet Veggie.  The Gourmet Veggie is one of my favorite pizzas ever.  I has a white sauce, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts.  Yum!
Above is my summer from Saturday night.  I ate with my parents and my mom made fried pork chops, peas, coleslaw, and macaroni and cheese.
Supper tonight was tacos. I'm tweaking my taco seasoning and will post it as soon as it's perfected.

What I ate today:

10:30 am: Egg and cheese sandwich.  Coffee with sugar and coconut milk

2:30 pm: I wasn't feeling too well, so instead of the leftover pizza my husband was having, I decided on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  This emptied out the peanut butter jar, which I will be making oatmeal in for breakfast.  I'll post on my method for Overnight Oats in a Jar tomorrow.

7:00 pm: tacos with ground beef, smashed black beans, homemade guacamole, lettuce, tomato, cheese, sour cream, and Louisiana hot sauce.