Tuesday, August 30, 2011

WIAW-super stressed 2 job edition.

I'm going to keep this short and sweet because, honestly, I should really be working on my lecture for tomorrow night.  BUT I miss y'all and I ate some fun things today.  :-)

Teaching a class and having a full time job at the same time is kinda stressful.  Whodda thunk it.  Although, the location of my class is incredibly beautiful.

Also, a request:

A wonderful, amazing friend of mine has some new diet restrictions because of health issues.  If anyone has any lower carb, low sodium recipes (especially fast ones), or meal ideas, please comment or send me an email.  Y'all are the best.  <3

As always, thanks to the beautiful and talented Jenn for hosting this event.  <3


0% greek yogurt, crunchy peanut buttah, and homemade Rum Nectarine Preserves.  They were PERFECT with the greek yogurt.  Not too sweet like I feared at first.  

*Cough* I have no idea what you are talking about.  

Pre-Dinner "Snack".  AWESOME wine in a bag.  Such a brilliant idea!  It's 2 bottles worth of wine in a bag.  The genius part is that it stays fresh for up to a MONTH after you open it!!! omgash.  And it's super light for taking camping and hiking.  Find it here @ Clif Family Vineyards.  I'm not affiliated (just a wine club member!) but seriously, this is the most amazing wine revelation.  $17 for 2 bottles worth of really delicious wine that stays fresh?? Yes please! 

Dinner was the lovely Jenn's Quinoa fried "rice".  With broccoli, spicy veggie sausage and an egg. I also used some of my new Trader Joes Sweet chili sauce.  The sauce is cheap and doesn't contain a lot of weird ingredients.  Yum.  

Gratuitous Maeby pics: 

Mastering the CAT tree. 

Pretending that I don't want mom's dinner but really I keep inching closer and closer. 

<3 <3

Please send me any low sodium/lower carb recipes/ideas you have!  Thanks y'all.  

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yes I can! Rum Nectarine Preserves

Thanks to Allie @ the forgottenbeast for finally getting me to stop being lazy and start canning.  It honestly wasn't as hard as I thought it would be.  The hardest part was finding the darn jars and lids.  I guess its not "canning season".  Except that it is, isn't it??

First, I chopped up a bunch of nectarines (my favorite summer fruit!!!).   Then added 1/2C of rum, some sugar, some lemon juice, pectin and started it boiling. 
After boiling off (some of) the booze I added the rest of the sugar, boiled for a minute, then placed the jam in hot sterile jars. I capped the suckers and put them in a big old pot of boiling water.  (I didn't have any sort of special equipment to do any of this, by the way, and the cans stood up just fine).
After about 10 minutes in the boiling water I took them out, put them  on the counter and pretty soon heard "Pop!" "Pop!"  I think that means I did something right.  :-) 
The nectarines and the rum are delicious together, but I think next time I would use less sugar.  It is a bit too sweet for my taste, although I don't have a big sweet tooth to begin with.  Does anyone know how to adjust the jam recipes for less sugar?

Nectarine Rum Preserves
4.5C chopped Nectarines
1/2C Rum
1 packet pectin (no sugar needed variety)
3C sugar
2Tbs Lemon Juice

1. Sterlize all equipment and jars (this makes enough for six 8oz jars).
2. Mix 1/4C of the sugar and pectin.  Add to nectarines, lemon juice and rum in a large saucepan and bring to a rapid boil over high heat.  Stir constantly!
3.  Add in remaining sugar and return to a boil for 1 minute.
4. Fill awaiting sterilized jars, cap and process (boil) in the big ol' pot of water for 10 minutes.
5. Allow to cool on the counter.  Lids that cannot be popped down mean that the canning went as planned and everything is sealed.  If it DOESN'T seal properly just store it in the fridge and eat right away.

For a more detailed canning description check out this post!

Up next?  Spicy SPICY dill pickles! 

EDIT:  Whoever found my blog searching for "Balsamic Terrier" ... we need to be friends.  

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Vacuum Fried Banana Chips!?!

I've been in such an awful food rut recently I decided to just go to Trader Joes and pick up a couple items that I have never tried before, then think of ways to use them. 

Enter vacuum fried banana chips.  Honestly, I was mostly attracted to the bag.  It's silver and shiny and you can't see what is inside so it's kind of mysterious!  I love shiny things and mystery.

These bad boys were $1.99 at trader joes for 4oz, which according to the bag is 4 servings.  I ate half of them on the drive home from the store.  Ooops.  They are 140 calories per servings and only contain two ingredients: bananas and palm oil.  I know palm oil is controversial, but I WAS glad to see that there was no added salt, sugar or artificial preservatives/colors/what not. 

Supposedly they have half of the fat of "other banana chips", but honestly I've never tried other banana chips.  I could taste a bit of oily-ness too them, but definitely not as bad as most "chips".  That's about the only negative thing I can say about them, though.  They are super crunchy and naturally sweet (but not too sweet!).  I really, really love them. Probably why I ate half on the way home from the store.  :-)

I did manage to control myself for a little bit and use some of the chips for something OTHER than just snacking.  :-)

For instance, I love bananas on my yogurt or oatmeal in the morning.  The flavors really compliment each other, but they can kinda seem like, mush topped with mush and more mush (when I use peanut butter).  So, I crunched up some chips and use them instead of a fresh banana.  While more calories/fat than a normal banana, I LOVED the crunch they added! They even stayed crunchy throughout the entire bowl. 

Mmmmm.  I'll be buying these again to use in peanut butter sandwiches and in the morning, but I probably won't buy them every time I go to the store because I would certainly eat them all too fast.  :-)

Vintage Maeby!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

WIAW --new car edition

Quoted from Peas and Crayons:
What WIAW isn't about
Comparison - Judgement - Restriction - Guilt

What WIAW is about
Celebrating one of the glorious things we all have in common: We all eat!

This is why I love WIAW, and Jenn, the host.  Such a fun group to participate in.  :-D 

I have still been pretty stressed, so my eats aren't super interesting this week, but I have been trying to come up with creative ways to use up all this squash!  (Still). 

First, a gratuitous Maeby pic.  Because I love her.  Much. 
Maeby cleaned out a yogurt cup for breakfast.  It got all over her face. 
 I had sprouted wheat bread with peanut butter and this AMAZING grind-y thing from Trader Joes.  It has coffee beans, chocolate and sugar in a grinder.  I'm so glad I heard about it on lots of other people's WIAWs because it blew my mind.  
 Strawberry Lemonade.  Not homemade, but still good.
Nap time.  <3 
 New car takes a LONG time to buy, so I just heated up leftover squash burgers and opened a bottle of Tamber Bey Rabicano to celebrate. A Rabicano is a blend of Merlot, Cab Franc and Petit Verdot. It is smooth but spicy and very, very delicious.  

No recipes today because of the 3 hours spent at the car dealership, but hopefully I'll have another summer squash recipe tomorrow.  Any ideas!?  

PS everyone should start canning for the canning party with forgotten beast and a dash of domestic! I have never tried canning, but these lovely ladies have me convinced. :-)

EDIT:  I'm trying a new comment system as I'd like to be able to reply to people directly. I can't seem to quite figure it out, but I'll be able to read and respond directly at least! 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Veggie Burger (AKA summer squash recipe #2)

I have so many of these.

SOOO many.  So when I saw this delicious veggie burger recipe from the edible perspective I knew I had to try to incorporate some summer squash into the mix.

I'm not sure if my burgers were as good as the original, but they were darn delicious and used up some squash.  :-D Also, well liked by certified squash haters.  Always a plus. 

Black beans!

Mashed with quinoa. 
Cookin' up some summer squash.

Delicious baked burger! Topped with the most amazing BBQ sauce from the St. Helena Olive Co.

Veggie Burgers with Summer Squash
adapted from Edible Perspective

-1can black beans (rinsed and drained)
-3C diced cooked potatoes, I used half sweet and half russet.  I also chose to roast the potatoes in order to up the flavor! 
-2 diced summer squashes
-1/2 onion, diced
-1C cooked quinoa--I cooked it in veggie broth, for more flavor
-1/4C flour (I used garbanzo flour)
-1t salt
-1t cumin
-1/2t garlic powder
-1/2t cayenne pepper
-1T olive oil

1.  Prep by cooking the quinoa (I recommend using broth for more flavor) and cooking the potatoes.
2. Preheat oven to 375.  Dice the summer squash in a small dice, season with garlic powder, salt, pepper and cayenne and saute over medium high heat until cooked through and starting to caramelize, about five minutes. 
3. Smash the beans and the potatoes together until combined, but not fully pasty.  We want some chunks of spuds/beans for texture. 
4. Add all of the rest of the ingredients and mix until combined.  Check the seasoning and adjust to taste. Make sure the mixture is cool enough to handle (ouchie!) and shape into patties (about 8-10).  
5. Bake at 375 on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes, flip and cook 20 minutes longer until the top is nice and crispy.  

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Science Fiction Books (Not food related!)

Thanks to my friend over at forgottenbeast I found this awesome list of Sci Fi books from NPR.  I absolutely adore NPR so I'm not sure how I missed the original.  Oh well!

I've read the crossed out ones, and I'll star the ones that people have said that they can loan me.  If you have others that you wouldn't mind loaning me, let me know! :-D  I haven't read most of them, so I'm sure my friends can help me out.  :-)

1. The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy, by J.R.R. Tolkien
2. The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
3. Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card
4. The Dune Chronicles, by Frank Herbert
5. A Song Of Ice And Fire Series, by George R. R. Martin
6. 1984, by George Orwell
7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury
8. The Foundation Trilogy, by Isaac Asimov
9. Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
10. American Gods, by Neil Gaiman
11. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
12. The Wheel Of Time Series, by Robert Jordan
13. Animal Farm, by George Orwell
14. Neuromancer, by William Gibson
15. Watchmen, by Alan Moore
16. I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov
17. Stranger In A Strange Land, by Robert Heinlein
18. The Kingkiller Chronicles, by Patrick Rothfuss ***M
19. Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut
20. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley
21. Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?, by Philip K. Dick
22. The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
23. The Dark Tower Series, by Stephen King
24. 2001: A Space Odyssey, by Arthur C. Clarke
25. The Stand, by Stephen King
26. Snow Crash, by Neal Stephenson
27. The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury
28. Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut
29. The Sandman Series, by Neil Gaiman
30. A Clockwork Orange, by Anthony Burgess
31. Starship Troopers, by Robert Heinlein
32. Watership Down, by Richard Adams
33. Dragonflight, by Anne McCaffrey
34. The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
35. A Canticle For Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller
36. The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells
37. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea, by Jules Verne
38. Flowers For Algernon, by Daniel Keys
39. The War Of The Worlds, by H.G. Wells
40. The Chronicles Of Amber, by Roger Zelazny
41. The Belgariad, by David Eddings
42. The Mists Of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley
43. The Mistborn Series, by Brandon Sanderson
44. Ringworld, by Larry Niven
45. The Left Hand Of Darkness, by Ursula K. LeGuin
46. The Silmarillion, by J.R.R. Tolkien
47. The Once And Future King, by T.H. White
48. Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman
49. Childhood's End, by Arthur C. Clarke
50. Contact, by Carl Sagan
51. The Hyperion Cantos, by Dan Simmons
52. Stardust, by Neil Gaiman
53. Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson
54. World War Z, by Max Brooks
55. The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle
56. The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
57. Small Gods, by Terry Pratchett
58. The Chronicles Of Thomas Covenant, The Unbeliever, by Stephen R. Donaldson
59. The Vorkosigan Saga, by Lois McMaster Bujold
60. Going Postal, by Terry Pratchett
61. The Mote In God's Eye, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
62. The Sword Of Truth, by Terry Goodkind
63. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy
64. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke
65. I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
66. The Riftwar Saga, by Raymond E. Feist
67. The Shannara Trilogy, by Terry Brooks
68. The Conan The Barbarian Series, by R.E. Howard
69. The Farseer Trilogy, by Robin Hobb
70. The Time Traveler's Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger
71. The Way Of Kings, by Brandon Sanderson
72. A Journey To The Center Of The Earth, by Jules Verne
73. The Legend Of Drizzt Series, by R.A. Salvatore
74. Old Man's War, by John Scalzi
75. The Diamond Age, by Neil Stephenson
76. Rendezvous With Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke
77. The Kushiel's Legacy Series, by Jacqueline Carey
78. The Dispossessed, by Ursula K. LeGuin
79. Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
80. Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
81. The Malazan Book Of The Fallen Series, by Steven Erikson
82. The Eyre Affair, by Jasper Fforde
83. The Culture Series, by Iain M. Banks
84. The Crystal Cave, by Mary Stewart
85. Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
86. The Codex Alera Series, by Jim Butcher
87. The Book Of The New Sun, by Gene Wolfe
88. The Thrawn Trilogy, by Timothy Zahn
89. The Outlander Series, by Diana Gabaldan
90. The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock
91. The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury
92. Sunshine, by Robin McKinley
93. A Fire Upon The Deep, by Vernor Vinge
94. The Caves Of Steel, by Isaac Asimov
95. The Mars Trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
96. Lucifer's Hammer, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle
97. Doomsday Book, by Connie Willis
98. Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville
99. The Xanth Series, by Piers Anthony
100. The Space Trilogy, by C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

WIAW + Summer Squash Recipe #1

I am finally getting back into the WIAW swing of things after a couple of crazy weeks.  Unfortunately life is still super stressful so I haven't been cooking that much (AKA boring eats!).  I am really struggling with feeling creative and motivated in the kitchen which tends to lead to me eating much worse :-(.

However,  on the bright side, I am spending lots of time working on preparing for the class I'm going to teach this fall semester.  I love teaching, so even though it is really stressful preparing for something I haven't done before, it is exciting as well.  :-)  I've wanted to be a professor ever since I wanted to be anything so I'm super excited to finally have the opportunity to teach my own class at a University.

Ugh lets not even talk about the exercise.  I always seem to lose motivation there first.  How do y'all stay motivated to exercise/cook well when busy or stressed?  Help!

Anyways, here's my Tuesday food stuffs:

Oats, Almond Milk, Chia Seeds, Melted Peanut Butter, Maple Syrup
2 Shots espresso, Soy Milk, Vanilla, Ice! (Addicted?  I have no idea what you are talking about).  Totally unrelated note, does anyone have an recommendations for at home espresso machines? ;-)
Dark Red Sweet Cherries. 
Spinach, Lowfat Cheese, Onions, Boston Terrier*, Hot Sauce, Balsamic *no Boston Terriers were harmed in the making of this salad.

And finally, roasted summer squash.  I've been drowning in summer squash.  I get a bag or two a week from my CSA veggie box.  I'm going to try to document all of the ways I eat it because I'm sure I'm not the only one swimming in squash.  Even though this preparation is very simple I really enjoyed how buttery and flavorful it made the squash.  I drizzled it with balsamic, but I almost would have preferred it without to better enjoy the buttery flavor of the squash.  

Roasted Summer Squash
Ingredients (serves 2)

4 summer squashes
1tbs olive oil
1/4tsp salt
Pepper/Cayenne pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400F. Slice the squashes thinly and as evenly as possible.
2.  Toss the medallions with oil, salt, pepper and cayenne until evenly coated.  Spread in a single layer (very important!) on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
3.  Roast for 15-20 minutes (depending on the thickness of the slices).  Pay close attention towards the end of the cooking time and take them out when they start to brown on the edges.  They can go from brown edges to burnt super fast.  They are so very delicate!

Drizzle with nice olive oil or balsamic vinegar.  Mmmmm!

Monday, August 1, 2011

My Bolognese (Veggie + Meat Options)

I have a giant head cold so my apologies in advance if this post is crazy/nonsensical.  =] 

This week we went to the most beautiful wedding in Napa Valley.  The ceremony, reception and dinner were all amazing and I absolutely fell in love with the valley.  I could stay in California forever if I could live up there!  Everything moves slower in the Valley when compared to the bay area.  Also, one thing I really enjoy about Napa is that each of the towns are separated by fields, much like back home in Wisconsin.  Well...the fields are grapes and not corn, but the concept is the same.  :-)

Before we went, I spent some time online looking up things to do in Napa.  Shockingly (!!!!) most of the top choices were wineries. I absolutly love wine (Karla juice), but I really don't know much about it.  I know when I like a wine, but I'd be hard pressed to list the reasons.  In the end curiosity won out and we ended up going tasting at seven or eight wineries over the weekend.  I never got sick of it!  

Like I said, I am no wine expert, but in terms of the tasting experience itself my two favorite wineries to visit were Velo Vino and Tamber Bey.  Velo Vino is a winery owned by the Clif bar family.  Their tasting room is filled with friendly people and healthy snacks that are made from local organic ingredients.  The tasting includes some delicious nut pairings, and they waive the tasting fee if you buy a (reasonably priced) bottle.  The people at Tamber Bey were also super friendly and totally willing to help educate my somewhat ignorant self.  Oh, also, their wine tasting comes with gourmet cookie pairings.  Yes.  Cookies!  Awesome. 

Needless to say, I came home with a TON of wine.  I decided to put some of it (the cheaper stuff) to use making one of my favorite wine inclusive dishes, pasta bolognese.  I made both a meat and mushroom version simultaneously using the same methods.  This sauce is so incredibly rich, that even the mushroom version is sure to please vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

First, chop up and brown a ton of veggies.
Then, brown the meat (if using) and add the wine and tomatoes.  
Simmer for a loooong time to thicken and develop the flavors. 
Serve with pasta and fresh herbs. 
Pasta Bolognese
Serves 4+
Active cooking time: 30 minutes (including chopping)
Passive cooking time: 1hr 30 mins (or more)

1 leek, diced small
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1lb ground meat or chopped mushrooms
1 can tomato sauce
2 tbs Tomato paste
1c dry red wine (something you would like drinking)
1c milk (I have not tried it, but I assume you could eliminate for a vegan version and it would still be awesome)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1tsp dried rosemary, thyme or a combination
1lb pasta

1. Saute veggies (including mushrooms if you are using them instead of meat) over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until browned and caramelized.  About 10-12 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper (about 1/2tsp each at this point, we'll add more later). 
2.  Add meat (if using instead of mushrooms) and cook until browned.
3. Add tomato sauce and paste, stirring and cooking until the sauce reduces enough to  coats the veggies instead of being soupy.  About 5 minutes.
4. Add the wine, stir,  and reduce by half.  This should only take a few minutes, depending on your stove.
5.  Add the milk and herbs, stir, and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer the sauce for at least an hour and a half.  Check the sauce every 10-15 minutes to make sure it doesn't get too dry and add water as needed.  Basically it should be "soupy" enough that is it always bubbling gently.  If it isn't it needs some more water.  The water will simmer out so don't worry about adding a precise amount. 
6.  About 20 minutes before you want to eat boil water for the pasta.  At this point check the seasoning of the sauce and add more salt gradually if needed.  The total amount needed really depends on the tomato sauce/paste used so I don't want to give a precise measurement. 
7. Cook the pasta until it is almost done--about a minute or two less than the package instructions.  Drain the pasta, add it to the sause, and cook it for the final minute or two in the sauce itself.  Don't rinse the pasta...the extra gluten helps the sauce really stick to the noodles.
9.  Enjoy! I loved mine with red pepper flakes and fresh basil. Mr. C used tons of parmesan.  :-)
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