Saturday, February 18, 2012

Produce Overload, Mango-Spinach Salad with a Mango Vinaigrette, and Progress

So what did you get for fifteen dollars today?  (Uh, don't answer that.)  I got this:

Holy produce, Batman.
Yes, I got all of that for fifteen bucks.  I'm thinking this is a good week to either go vegetarian or take on a "no processed foods for a week" challenge.  ((Neither are going to happen... I don't think.  Never count me out though.))  Pictured is a bunch of spinach, a huge head of romaine, 3 yellow squash, 3 cucumbers, 7 apples, 2 dozen key limes, a pineapple, a bunch of bananas, a dozen oranges, 4 mangoes, 2 dozen tomatoes, and about a gzillion sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes.  I nearly separated a rib carrying it all in.  ((Making two trips is for wimps.))

I joined Bountiful Baskets, the food co-op where all this came from, almost two years ago.  Honestly, I have no freaking idea why I did that.  At that time (August of 2010), I could not have told you when the last time was I ate either a fruit or a vegetable, let alone a fresh one.  A few of my friends were doing it,  I guess I turned into some kind of a joiner there for a minute, and here we are.  I'm a convert.  I cannot bring myself to choke down a frozen vegetable now.  Can't do it.


In an attempt to jump start some clean eating, I threw together a spinach and mango salad.  Simply tear up your spinach, top with cubed mango, crack a little black pepper on top, throw on some toasted pine nuts ((because you feel like it, that's why,)) and add a mango vinaigrette.  This salad is also good with fresh strawberries.  Grilled chicken or shrimp on top would be good with it as well.  

For the vinaigrette simply combine one cup of fresh mango, 1/4 cup of orange juice, 1/4 cup of rice vinegar, the juice of one lime, and a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Run that through the blender and then add salt and pepper.  ((It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 weeks in a sealed container.))

Want/need to know how to make the mango come out in cubes instead of looking like a total disaster?  Cut the mango roughly in half, avoiding the core.  From there, slice straight up and down as close to the core as you can on the three remaining sides.  Take each part and on the fruit side, draw a grid with your knife (like a tic tac toe board?) being careful not to pierce the flesh and/or your flesh.  Then turn the skin inside out so the cubes pop out and cut them off with a knife.   


In other news, the morning was spent designing the business cards for my new ventures.  ((!!!!!))  I will share them and the details on what the hell I'm up to once they arrive.  I nearly had a psychological break-down after working on the first one for about an hour to get the verbiage just right, the alignment the way I wanted it, etc etc... when it didn't save.  Thankfully, it was fairly easy to recreate and no electronics were injured in the incident.  

Until later...  Jules


Friday, February 17, 2012

Spaghetti Aglio, Olio, e Peperoncino con Gamberi e Basilico

Alternatively titled, "I hope Google Translate Isn't Making Me Look Dumb" or "Spaghetti with Olive Oil, Pepper, Parmesan, Shrimp, and Basil."

Delizioso.  (I'm sticking to English from now on.)

This is another really simple dish that looks like you put a lot of effort into it, which is basically, my favorite kind, as you are learning.  It takes all of about 10 minutes too which means there is no excuse for having another Lean Cuisine.  Again.

I got this idea from Iowa Girl Eats...  I added the shrimp and basil to make it more Spring-y because I have a raging case of Spring Fever.  (Remind me of this when it is over a hundred degrees in about three months and there is constant fist-shaking at the heat.)

Here's what you need for 2 servings:
-10 large raw shrimp
-4 oz whole grain spaghetti
-1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
-Red pepper flakes
-One clove of garlic, minced
-Black pepper
-A handful of basil
-A squeeze of lemon
-1 tablespoon Grated Parmesan

How to go about it:

Bring the water to a boil for the pasta and cook according to the package directions.  You will want to be sure that it is al dente (not turned to mush) for this type of sauce.  (Quick tip:  You can tell spaghetti is done when you throw it at the wall and it sticks.  Plus, you get to feel like a real rebel throwing food around.  I do not recommend leaving it there though unless you are a really big rebel and maybe a bit gross.)

While the pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, combine a drizzle of olive oil, some cracked black pepper, a few red pepper flakes and a little bit of the minced garlic.  Stir it around and then dump the shrimp in and toss to coat.  Add the shrimp to your saute pan (which has been lightly sprayed with a cooking spray) and allow to cook until they are no longer translucent, maybe 3-5 minutes, flipping them around every once in a while.  (Don't mess up the "not translucent" part... You'll regret it.  But seriously, it's easy.  You're fine.)   

In a slightly larger bowl combine 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 clove of minced garlic, some red pepper flakes, and cracked black pepper.  Yes, you did this before for the shrimp.  Yes, it seems redundant. HOWEVER, you do not want to use the same bowl or mixture that had the uncooked shrimp in it.  Safety first, kids.  Whisk it together and then add your now drained pasta and toss to coat.

Top the pasta with the shrimp and then your chopped basil, a squeeze of lemon, and as much fresh-grated Parmesan as your heart desires.

Nutritional info:  350 calories, 15 grams of fat (13 of those are from the olive oil, so it is a "good" fat.  Rest easy.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Easy Chicken Teriyaki Stir-Fry

This is one of those easy to throw together, cleans out the vegetable crisper, kind of dinners.  It just takes a couple of minutes of prep, but it looks like you really did something worth talking about.  Consequently, um, here I am talking about it.

Colorful, no?
There really is no "recipe," per se.  You can just take what you have and basically throw it in a pan.  Here's what I used:

-One good-sized chicken breast (shrimp is also good)
-1/2 of a red pepper, diced
-1 garlic clove, minced
-2 cups(ish) of sugar snap peas
-1 bunch of baby bok choy, chopped
-1 cup of pineapple, chopped
-2 tablespoons of teriyaki sauce

Start by throwing the garlic into a sauté pan that you have sprayed with an olive oil cooking spray.  While that is softening, slice the chicken breast into chunks.  For the love of salmonella, do this on your designated meat cutting board so that you don't have to scour the other one in a few minutes while loudly groaning, "Ugh, why do I keep doing that?"  No, that has never happened to me.  I *totally* made that up for your edification.  Ahem.

Add the chicken to the pan and let it cook thru, stirring it around quite frequently.  While that is browning, chop up your bok choy, red pepper and pineapple and give the sugar snap peas an extra rinse because you're almost positive you washed the entire bag before, but you couldn't swear to it under oath.  Plus, it couldn't hurt to do it again.

((Confused by bok choy?  It was new to me too.  Just chop off the white-ish end, throw it away, and chop up the leaves.  Don't be scared.))

Pic from Local HS which was captioned, "Not scary."  Not really.
When the chicken is browned and cooked through, remove it to a separate plate.  In that same pan, throw in the red pepper and peas with a small amount of water or chicken broth.  Cover and allow to steam, maybe 4 minutes.  Add the bok choy steam for another two or three minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan, add the pineapple, crank up the heat and add the teriyaki sauce.  Let it get all sizzle-y and keep stirring it constantly.  You may choose to yell some stuff in a foreign language or what you think might be a foreign language to recreate the experience of dining out in a Chinese restaurant if that makes you feel more festive.  ((No, I don't do that either.  Who's asking?!))

When it is good and hot, throw it on some brown rice (or not) and serve.

These proportions serve 2.  Here's the good news:  Even with the brown rice, it comes to just under 300 calories and 4 grams of fat per serving.  ((Read:  Permission granted to feel very self-righteous about your diet and celebrate with some chocolate.  Or wine.  Or chocolate and wine.))

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Grandma's Zucchini Bread

Okay, so this is not my grandma's zucchini bread.  I frankly have no idea if my grandmother even had a recipe.  If so, it is stuffed somewhere in the very battered copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook (an original!) that my mother has.  That poor book is now held together by nothing but decades-old spilled vanilla extract and hope.  This is my good friend and fellow food-lover Jennifer's grandmother's recipe.

I'm, admittedly, not that much of a baker.  I finally accepted that it was my cavalier attitude toward measurements that was causing the issue.  I also didn't know until recently that it makes a HUGE difference in how you measure dry ingredients.  One cup of flour scooped out of the bag is an entirely different amount than one cup poured.  I have finally yielded to my own baking failures (and satisfied my healthy case of OCD) by buying a digital scale.  By weighing your measuring cup first, checking the bag/box to see what the measurement of the product equates to in grams, and then getting the scale to that number, you get wildly better results and a LOT less frustration when something doesn't work out.  It takes an extra 30 seconds, but that's better than feeding the dog another batch of cookies.  For you, not the dog.  It also makes you feel like a scientist or something.  Next step, Breaking Bad.  I digress.

Zucchini Bread... You'll never know it has vegetables.

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups white sugar
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups grated zucchini (roughly one 6-8 inch zucchini)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1.  Grease and flour two 8 x 4 inch bread pans. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
2.  Sift flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.
3.  Beat eggs, oil, vanilla, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add sifted ingredients to the creamed mixture, and beat well. Stir in zucchini (which you have peeled and put through a food processor to chop quite finely) and nuts until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pans.
4. Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until a tester or a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  (When you pull it out to test it, don't slam it on the counter.  This causes the middle to fall, telling you it isn't done, and no, I did not just do this.)  There is a wide range because in part, the timing depends on your oven and the color of your pans.  I always set the timer for 40 and then check it.  

5.  Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes.  Remove bread from pan, and completely cool.  If you don't have a rack, you can improvise.  I've used a grill on top of a strainer when my rack went missing.  ((WOW, does that sound odd.  I hope your rack never goes missing.))  

If you cut each loaf into 10 slices, it is 260 calories and 12 grams of fat per slice.  This could definitely be reduced by using applesauce to replace the oil.  

Because this makes two loaves, keep one and give one to your grandmother, Jennifer's grandmother, or my dog.  She is missing all the extra snacks.    

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Antipasto Salad (aka The World's Most Fattening Non-Salad Salad)

Antipasto salad is one of those things that is easy to throw together, but still looks pretty impressive.  It's perfect for potlucks, picnics, or parties.  Sorry, I was just going for alliteration there.  It is definitely NOT low-calorie, but that's okay.  Just this once.  Ahem.

Meaty Non-Salad Salad

Although I must admit, when I made this salad the first time, I announced on Facebook, "This salad is pissing me off."  I no longer remember exactly why I said that...  Granted, I say a lot of dumb stuff.  I admit that freely.  I believe there are a few hundred witnesses who would attest to that as well.  See also:  My memory sucks.

Here's what you need:
-1 24 oz jar of pepperoncinis, drained
-1 15 oz can of garbanzo beans OR chickpeas, drained and rinsed
-2 cups halved, fresh mushrooms
-2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
-1/2 lb of provolone cheese, cubed
-1 6 oz can of pitted black olives, drained
-1 3.5 oz package of pepperoni slices
-1 3.5 oz package of salami, sliced
-1 bottle of Italian vinaigrette dressing (or you can make your own and you know, why not?)

Here's what you do:
1.  Throw all of the above in a bowl.
2.  Toss it around.
3.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, but longer is better.  (TWSS.  Sorry.  No, I'm not.)
4.  That's it!

If you are feeling ambitious and want to make your own dressing mix 1 1/2 c evoo (extra virgin olive oil), 1/2 c white wine vinegar, 1 tsp minced garlic, 1 tsp oregano, 2 tbsp dried parsley, and *some* salt and pepper in a blender for 10 seconds.  Allow to sit for approximately 30 minutes, rewhisk, and dump it on.

This makes enough to easily serve 14-16 and makes for great leftovers.  Hopefully, you won't be as inexplicably pissed off as I was the first time I made it.  Or if you are, leave me a comment as to why and maybe it will prompt my memory.