What We Ate Last Week: 2/8-2/14, 2015

I got such a positive response from posting my dinner menu last week, I thought I would share it all again! We enjoyed lots of tastiness, a variety of flavors and ingredients, and not enduring the cold weather outside.

Monday, February 8th

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Thoughts & adjustments: First of all, I used a cup of quinoa rather than a cup of couscous because ~someone~in my house claims to dislike couscous (when we were eating this yummy dish and I asked him the last time he even tried couscous, he said he couldn’t remember! I’ll get him to like that grain!). I adjusted the spices a bit (adding more than suggested), but it contributed to a very flavorful, yummy dish that we enjoyed as leftovers for a couple more days. I enjoyed the variety of veggies & meats hanging out together.

Tuesday, February 9th

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Thoughts & adjustments: These tasty little guys were my contribution to a book club meeting. My girl Laura shared this recipe with me, and it was one of her strongest finds. As I was gathering my ingredients, I realized that I only owned one normal muffin tin, but 2 mini-cupcake tins, so these turned into mini taco cupcakes. If you check out the recipe, that means I only made one layer rather than two. All my book club ladies said they liked the bite size option, and topped these treats with fresh pico de gallo, sour cream, and chopped cilantro. I would try this recipe again, but without a time constraint, I would make my own refried beans (check out my favorite from scratch recipe here). A crowd pleaser, for sure.

Wednesday, February 10th

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Thoughts & adjustments: During busy weeks, Craig & I indulge on Blue Apron boxes (which you should totally try!). Not only are the recipes delicious, they are fun to replicate on your own. This was one of my most favorite recipes that was given, but I made a few adjustments. I used ground turkey rather than ground beef, eliminated the almonds, and couldn’t find a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, so substituted some good salsa. Regardless, this is a easy, tasty dish that highlights some yummy veggies. Simple & delicious.

Thursday, February 11th

Thoughts & adjustments: This was a pretty fast meal, and I was able to serve it for four of us. Marinating the steak is key to keep in some of those traditional Greek flavors. I followed the potato recipe pretty closely, but threw in 1/2 cup of grated parmesean cheese (because I mean, why not?). Everyone gushed over the potatoes. The asparagus was simple and added a good contrast to the potatoes. A great ensemble of dishes if you are a lover of Greek food.

Saturday, February 14th

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Thoughts & adjustments: Lobster tail is a traditional Valentine’s Day meal, and that tradition does not skip our house. Rather than fighting others for reservations, Craig and I enjoy cooking together on the sappiest day of the year. I must admit that we had a bit of a pasta disaster (heart raviolis are tougher than they look!), hence the store-bought tortellinis, but we made our favorite salad dressing to go alongside our favorite part of the lobster. Lobster tail shouldn’t be for just V-Day though–enjoy it throughout the year (Earthfare often has lobster tail deals every month or so).

It was a very tasty, vibrant week of meals at our house. Let me know what you’re going to try, I look forward to hearing your adjustments and ideas!

What We Ate This Week: 2/2-2/8, 2015

I’ve been talking about food a LOT with my friends and family lately. Food is awesome. Food helps us sustain, food can be pleasureable, food gives us energy and joy and all those great things. In our society, we have created a dichotomy of “healthy” versus “fatty”, and to me that is just detrimental. I think the best dietary lifestyle you can choose is one of being conscious–being aware of what you’re putting into your body, its ingredients, and where it all comes from.

Most people who know me (or follow me on Instagram) also know how much I love to cook. In our home, we cook about 5 nights a week. Granted: we are a childless, upper-middle class couple that has access to grocery stores, farmers markets, and other resources that make eating consciously attainable, and for that I am extremely grateful. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I encourage you to try the recipes I will be posting each week. So many people say that finding recipes, grocery shopping, and prepping for meals waste too much time, but I want to show all of you that eating at home can be just as delicious and satisfying as a night out. I gather most of my meal ideas from Pinterest, Eating Well magazine, and various other cookbooks I have collected over the years. So, for the week of 2/2-2/8, 2015, this is what Craig and I ate for dinner:

Monday night

  • Korean beef over white rice + Sriracha green beans
    • Recipe for Korean beef: http://veryculinary.com/2015/01/04/cheater-korean-beef/
    • I made the white rice traditionally on my stove
    • Green beans: I make these by ear every time. Usually it involves sesame oil, soy sauce, and Sriracha, garlic powder, and more-or-less stir frying them for about 8 minutes.

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Thoughts: This Korean beef dish is ADDICTIVE. I had it again for lunch the next day and it was amazing leftovers–and the cooking of it all was so simple (literally took 15 minutes). This is a great way to try unique flavors without the stress of finding rare ingredients and a difficult cooking process. I highly recommend.

Tuesday Night

Thoughts: I freaking loved these tacos, and didn’t miss having any kind of meat. Adding some favorite hot sauce and sour cream perfected it. I fry my own taco shells, but Craig had his with just doubled-up corn tortillas, and we were equally satisfied. If you’re trying to go veggie a couple nights a week, but are afraid of being denied the fullness and satisfaction of meat, you should definitely try these.

Wednesday Night

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Thoughts: Carbonara is my favorite pasta dish, but I do miss the variety of veggies found in most red sauces. Adding peas and using the “Hidden Veggie” noodles make me feel like I’m not missing out on my vegetables and being too indulgent. Although it’s hard to pass up bacon, I used proscuitto for a leaner meat. This is a pretty common recipe in our house, and it should be in yours, too.

Thursday Night

Thoughts: This was my second time using the Garlic Chicken & Potato bake recipe, and the potatoes are DEFINITELY the highlight of this dish. Baking it all together saves you some dishes, but it is a timely meal. As for the asparagus, it’s my favorite vegetable, and I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it. Cooking it in a sauce was different than my usual roasting technique, and I was pretty satisfied.

Sunday Night

  • Crockpot Chicken Sloppy Joes, spicy ranch potato wedges, and homemade cole slaw
    • Recipe for sloppy joes: http://www.fivehearthome.com/2014/05/14/slow-cooker-chicken-sloppy-joes/
    • Recipe for potato wedges: Heat your oven to 500 degrees. Slice one Russet potato into wedges by initially cutting the potato in half, then making diagonal chops (should produce 13-15 long wedges). Sprinkle with ranch seasonings and crushed red pepper. Drizzle olive oil on potatoes, toss to combine. Bake on a baking sheet for about 20 minutes, checking on them frequently to avoid burning. Easiest & tastiest.
    • Recipe for cole slaw: I used a package of pre-chopped and sliced Dole Coleslaw, about a cup of mayo, 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar, and who-knows-how-much amount of garlic powder & Season All. I know this is not super helpful, but coleslaw is really just one of those dishes I trust my gut on. Also, lots of recipes tell you to add sugar, which just sounds ga-ross to me.

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(I feel like this picture does not do justice to the yumminess of this sandwich)10988746_10101539857590138_197544628_o

Thoughts: Sunday is my coveted Crockpot day. I love my Crockpot. We are like, really good friends. And she did not fail me last night. These “sloppy joes” were delicious and made from scratch, so there were no added preservatives. I literally have no idea why people still buy Manwich when it is so easy (and delicious) to make your own sloppy sauce. Coleslaw was yummy as always and I got distracted so my potatoes got a little crispier than usual, but what can ya do? Still tasty 😉

Let me know if you try any of these recipes this week, and what alterations you made! Keep cooking!

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Legs with Prosciutto + Fried Rice with Veggies

I have missed sharing recipes on this blog, and like to let folks know how easy it is to make delicious, [relatively] healthy in the comfort of their own homes. You don’t need mixes and packets, you just need an hour and confidence that you can cook like a pro. Last night I made a meal that is sure to impress and please the pickiest of eaters. And before you get all sassy, I know this is not TRADITIONAL fried rice, but I don’t like eggs. I own chickens ironically, I suppose. Anyhoo, you’ll like this anyway, I promise.

Ingredients

Sweet & Spicy Chicken Legs with Prosciuitto

  • 4 chicken legs
  • 1 package (8 oz, typically) prosciutto
  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Fried Rice with Veggies

  • 3/4 cup prepared rice, preferably a day or two old, but no one is watching if you make it fresh
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 cup soy sauce (low-sodium, if you can)
  • 2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1 bundle of asparagus
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed

How the hell do I do this?

Chicken:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, cumin, paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, & olive oil. It will smell delicious, but do not drink it, please.

Put your chicken legs in a Ziploc bag. It is my professional duty to let you know that my Ziploc bag had a hard time staying closed, which made life difficult, and I spilled some stuff on the floor. I cleaned it up, but I was mad. The moral of my story–use a larger sized Ziploc bag than I did.

Once your chicken legs are in the bag, pour the yummy mixture you previously made into the bag. Now you get to pretend you are a background dancer in Outkast & shake it like a Polaroid picture. After the mixture is evenly spread on your chicken, you could marinate it in the fridge for 30 minutes. You could, but I didn’t, so I’m going to tell you–it works either way.

Whether you were a patient home cook or not depends on when you do the next step. One at a time, take a chicken leg & wrap a piece of prosciutto around it. Your hands will get messy, but it’s worth it. A master’s tip may be to slice the prosciutto slices diagonally to optimize covering more of the chicken leg. Follow your heart, I say! Wrap it however you want! In fact, I wrapped using two slices on a couple legs (because I’m a rebel, that’s why!). Whenever the legs are wrapped to your liking, place them in a glass dish and then in the oven. You will get to forget about these bad boys for 45 minutes. That’s a whole episode of America’s Next Top Model (on Hulu, I mean).

Fried Rice with Veggies

I’m going to start the directions of the recipe with the presumption that you know how to make stove-top rice, or microwave rice-in-a-bag (which is weird, stop doing that, learn how to cook on a stove). If you don’t know how, here is a really handy guide. You will learn it, master it, and never order Chinese take-out again. You’re welcome.

Heat the canola oil in a large pan (large enough to hold 3/4 cup cooked rice & veggies) on medium-high heat. When hot, toss the onions in there. Saute for about 3 minutes, adding 1 tbsp of the garlic powder. Mix and cook for about another minute. Then toss in the peas & asparagus, with 1/2 tbsp of the paprika. Mix so that it is covered, and cook for about 5 minutes, moving constantly so nothing gets burnt. Then throw in the rice, soy sauce, remaining garlic powder & paprika, and the pepper. Mix, toss, whatever adjective best describes making sure everything is integrated & hanging out in the pan. Cook quickly for about 5 minutes (if your rice is burning, cook less time. If your rice is not fried enough, fry longer. Baby girl/boy, follow your heart.).

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So there it is! A delicious combo of flavors & textures. And you made it all from scratch! You did! Hooray for you!

Did you make this at home? Any alterations that worked/failed miserably? Comment & let me know!

Taking Control of My Kitchen Challenge #2: Worcestershire Edition!

So, I almost broke my new rule to myself–less than a week into my challenge. I know, I know…but this is such a mind switch! It’s so easy to wander down grocery store aisles and buy staples, but that’s not my life anymore (sounding super, super dramatic). But, no fear, I snapped back into it the minute I picked up a bottle of one of our kitchen’s necessities, worcestershire sauce.

For a lot of people, worcestershire is one of those things you have to buy for that one recipe you are going to make one time, and it just sits in the back of your fridge. At our house, however, it is a pretty commonly used ingredient. A lot of crockpot dishes call for it for a quick burst of flavor, and we use it when we make our homemade Caesar dressing. So when we ran out today while I was cooking (and I yelled “NOOOOOO!” to an empty kitchen), I put it on our grocery list, since we were going to be cooking with it again this week (we make weekly menus at our place, so I’m always one step ahead).

However, it was a rookie mistake to put this condiment on my list. This is because–of course–it is incredibly easy to make. When I picked up the bottle in the grocery store, I immediately recognized my misstep, and walked away slowly. Very, very slowly.

Actually, worcestershire isn’t the absolute worst condiment in the world to buy. It often contains high fructose corn syrup (which is bad, remember?), but a lot of brands don’t put that junk in it. Anchovies are a surprising ingredient. Also, they add coloring to make it look more appealing, I guess? So, I knew when I made it that it would be the “wrong” color.

The recipe I found was super easy to follow and do. We had all the ingredients already at our house, and if you cook often you probably do too, but here’s a rundown on what it took to make this tasty, salty little number (recipe courtesy of Food Renegade):

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce (if you don’t already have this, you can usually find it next to the soy sauce)
  • 2 tbsp honey (use local!)
  • 1 tbsp molasses
  • juice of one lime
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove (warning to those of you who don’t already own this: this is a pricey spice)
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic 
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder

Put all these ingredients in one bowl. Transport them into a [recycled] salad dressing bottle or some other container (I used my old Worcestershire bottle). SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE! SHAKE IT LIKE A POLAROID PICTURE!

& there you go.

No high fructose corn syrup. Not even an anchovy.

Tastes just like worcestershire sauce! Stupid easy. Like, saying “worcestershire” is harder than actually making this.

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to wake up & take the time to make my own staples in my kitchen.

Has anyone tried making the mayonnaise from my last post? Let me know what you think about it, or this recipe, or whatever you make on your own! Also, any suggestions or recipes are HIGHLY encouraged!