Posted in Food, Recipe

How to Prepare Beets







1. Buy fresh beets from your local grocer or famer’s market.
2. Trim the greens to leave 3″+ of the stalks
3. Put beets in a large pan of water
4. Boil beets as you would potatoes (these took about 20-30 minutes, tops)
5. Strain the beets and peel the (dirty-nasty-icky) skin off to reveal perfect pretty beets.
5a. NOTE: If you are pickling beets or otherwise keeping them for a long period of time, you can still use this method, just strain the water through a coffee filter to remove impurities.
6. Slice and admire
7. Admire and enjoy.

I never used to like canned beets, but I think fresh ones are pretty, aromatic, earthy and delicious.  What is your favorite way to eat beets?

Posted in Food, New Food, Recipe

Experimental Pizza Night: Apple Wood Smoked

So once Mr. and Mrs. Roomie left the house, I set to work cleaning the kitchen.  There were a lot of dishes to do because the roomies have been cooking these past few weeks and Rah-rah and I have been out of town, too busy, too lazy, and myself–too sick to put in the effort.  So.. I threw on some music and just got down to business.  Luckily we have an awesome dish washer that does a great job… While that was running I did two sinks full of pans and scrubbed my cast iron skillet.  

On a side note… I’m watching “The Next Iron Chef” at the moment, and it’s freakin’ sweet!  I really hope Robert Irvine goes all the way through to the Finale…

For dinner tonight, Rah-rah and I decided to go rogue and make a home-made pizza.  I rolled out my family’s pie-crust recipe for the crust and grabbed some pasta sauce from the cupboard while Rah-rah fried up the bacon in a skillet and shredded the cheese.  I was really excited about the flavors that we had to work with.  Tonight’s theme was “Apple wood smoked.”  We had apple wood smoked bacon and apple wood smoked gouda cheese.  We paired it with a Spicy Red Pepper Classico pasta sauce, green pepper and part-skim mozzarella cheese.  

Since we haven’t done this before, we weren’t sure if the pie-crust as pizza-crust was such a good idea.  I’m thinking that it MIGHT work better next time if we tweak it a little, but tonight it didn’t cook up as expected and it had too much of a flour-flavor instead of a nice bread.  I think the toppings, though, more than made up for it.  I know that Trader Joe’s sells a good pre-made pizza dough that we may use the next time we want to make our own pizza. 


Apple Wood Smoked Pizza
Ingredients:
– Pizza Crust (home-made or store-bought)
– Classico (brand) Spicy Red Pepper pasta sauce
– Green Bell Pepper, cut to preference (we like ours chunky)
– Part-skim mozzarella cheese (shredded)
– Apple Wood Smoked Gouda cheese (shredded)
– Apple Wood Smoked Bacon 

Preheat your oven to 425 Degrees Fahrenheit, then start by prepping your crust… in my case, I should have pre-baked the crust to help it get that flaky texture that we were aiming for.  While I was making the crust, Rah-rah fried the bacon and shredded the gouda.  Once your toppings are prepped, put your crust on a pizza-pan or stone, then spread a thin layer of pasta sauce on your crust.  Afterwards, sprinkle with cheese, add veggies and meat (make sure your meat is cooked through), then top with more cheese.  Bake for about 20 minutes or so.  Cooking times will vary based on the type of crust and thickness of your toppings. Just check it at 20 and let it cook longer if needed.

Serve hot and enjoy 🙂

Posted in Food, Menu Planning, Recipe, Self-Reflection

Menu Monday: Kale Soup Recipe

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So, my trip to Colorado was nothing if not eventful.  While I was there, it felt like it was paced perfectly–each day had its own activities and we didn’t feel rushed at all.  Now that we’re at home, Rah-rah and I are looking back and thinking about how fast time flew by and how we’d still like to be there with friends, working and enjoying our time together.

/wistful sigh.

Ah well, c’est la vie, no?  Our trip is a wonderful memory that we will cherish for a long time to come.  In the mean time, we’re back to “the daily grind” at work and I’m back to making the weekly menu:

Tonight’s dinner did not go as planned.  Instead of Lemon Chicken and Green Beans as planned, we instead had Herbed Chicken with Mixed Veggies and Knorr/Lipton Pasta Side.  It’s my own fault, I suppose.  I didn’t prep the chicken last night so Mr. Roomie made use of what we had on hand. I was a bit miffed and Mrs. Roomie was apologetic… The mixed veg was contaminated by butter because she forgot my request that the communal pot of veggies be left nekkid and that they add butter or oil only to their own servings.  I had planned to have half a plate of veggies tonight in order to avoid the pasta and extra carbs and still get full, but I can’t track something that I don’t know the quantity of.  I skipped the veggies altogether and opted instead for a pear.  Unfortunately, I was hungry again within an hour and a half.  I think this is another c’est la vie moment–I did not plan,  or prepare the meal myself and so I must suffer the consequences.  It is not as if the meal were actually ruined, it’s my own sense of control that made me unhappy with choices. Everyone else still ate and enjoyed what Mr. and Mrs. Roomie were kind enough to prepare.  I don’t want to appear ungrateful, but I did want to write about tonight’s experience because it is an important part of my weight-loss challenge.

Tomorrow, we have a great meal planned that I -will- be preparing myself.  It’s Kale Soup that I had while staying at my friend’s house.  It reminds me of Tsuppa Toscana from Olive Garden, but it just FEELS lighter than that could possibly be.  I’m excited to cook it tomorrow.  The recipe was originally forwarded via e-mail so I am not sure where it originated, but my friend’s mom spiced it up by changing out a couple ingredients and adding some extras.  If you try it, please let me know what you think of it or if you changed it even more 🙂
Kale Soup – a la Sandy

1 tb olive oil
1 lb chorizo sausage/turkey kielbasa or other spiced meat
1 qt chicken Beef broth (low sodium)
1 lg onion (diced)
4 large potatoes (cubed) 1/2 lb red potatoes, diced, unpeeled.
1 bunch kale washed & chopped
1 can red kidney beans 1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
PLUS green beans
mushrooms
carrots
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
– Cube/dice/cut meat into bite-sized pieces.
– Heat oil in a heavy soup pot; sauté sausage and onion until fat rendered, 3-5 minutes.  (If using a meat other than sausage, cook through until done)
– Add other ingredients, except kale.
– Bring to a boil and simmer 10 minutes.
– Add kale and simmer about 8 minutes or until tender.
– Add salt/pepper to taste.

It was -so- good.  The way that my friend’s mom made it, it was full of vegetable-y goodness with just a hint of spice from the meats.  I may do a more in-depth entry about this meal tomorrow when I actually make it 🙂 If you read this entry in time, perhaps you can make it with me.

Hope you’ve all been well, thanks, as always, for reading.

Posted in BTHR, Food, Menu Planning, New Food, Recipe

Goat Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls

Goat Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls by Giada De Laurentiis featured on Giada at Home on the Food Network.

Woo hoo! I’m continuing my adventures in new food with Goat Cheese, Lentils and Mint.  I think I’m going to add Brown Rice to my list of new foods because I hadn’t had it before the healthy eating program started at work last year… yep yep yep! 

Lessee… Mr. and Mrs. Roomie sorted out the lentils… had them cleaned and rinsed and simmering before I got home from work.  When I got home, I teamed up with Mrs. Roomie to finish up the rest of the meal.  The chard (‘nother new food!) that I bought on Sunday, though, was all limp and sad looking.  Awwe… poutface. My grandma taught me a trick, though, that you can re-crisp greens by putting them in ice water.  I went one step further and put them in ice water and then into the freezer while we took care of the other greens.  Mrs. Roomie chopped up the arugula and I chopped upEverybody in!the mint.  Gosh! It calls for half-cup of chopped mint and I honestly think it was way too much… Also–I think I bought brown lentils instead of green ones. Not sure what the difference is…

We mixed everything up in the bowl then pulled the chard out of the freezer… removed the center stem, sliced them in half, filled them with the mixture and rolled them up.  Popped them into the oven for about 30 minutes or so… and then stared at the mess of mixture that we had left over.

We used the ratios that were mentioned in the recipe, but we went wrong some where because we only had enough chard for 6 rolls but we had enough mix for about 2-3 more batches than the one we made. I tried to get creative by putting cheese on top and then popping that in the oven for a bit… but really, it didn’t work.  Mr. Roomie followed a waste-not-want-not idea and used the left over mixture as a chip-dip.  Hey! Whatever floats your boat, right? Now our house smells like a high-end Italian restaurant.. Yep–we’re the ones stinking up the building’s hallways. Guilty as charged and unashamed!  It was a delicious meal! 3 out of 4 roomies liked it.  Mrs. Roomie bought dinner from the gas station.

Posted in Fitness, Food, Recipe

Recipe: New Orleans Style Stuffed Peppers

So, instead of skipping my workout and going home to make dinner tonight, I stayed at work and did a Zumba DVD.  Before I went, though, I e-mailed the recipe for tonight’s dinner to Rah-rah and asked if he could make it happen.  Mr. Roomie got home before Rah-rah did though, so Mr. Roomie made it instead.  It was pretty tasty and really filling! One problem, though: he didn’t cook any of the filling =P he just kind of mixed, stuffed and baked and cut out the first few steps.  Lucky enough it was alright in the end 😀 45 minutes at 350 still cooks it alright.  Next time will be EVEN Better!

New Orleans Style Stuffed Peppers
Ingredients:
1 package sausage, diced2+ cups brown rice
3 jalepenos, diced
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
1-2 Table Spoons EVOO
Directions:
Move the oven rack to the middle of the oven and preheat to 350.
1) Prepare brown rice per directions on the box (make at least 2 cups.. can make extra as a side-dish if desired)
2) while rice is cooking, dice sausages, garlic, onion and jalepenos and heat in a skillet with a little bit of EVOO
NOTE:  use the food-processor to dice to save time and teary eyes while dicing ingredients.  Remember to remove seeds from jalepeno unless you want us to be mad at you for making it too hot =P (food processor is in the cupboard above the fridge.  Good luck.)
3) Once rice is done, mix 2 cups rice with diced ingredients.
4) Cut the tops off of the bell peppers, de-seed and de-vein.
5) Stuff the peppers with the mixture and bake in a cake-pan or appropriate container at 350 for 30-45 minutes or until the bell pepper is done.
Posted in BTHR, Fitness, Food, Menu Planning, Recipe, Strength Training, Warrior Dash

Meatless Monday! P1W2D1 ST + Veggie Chili

I feel as if the more I do that is ‘mature’ or ‘adult’, the more I feel matured and like an adult, and the easier it is to do those things.  As an example, I made the menu for our household yesterday and got the grocery shopping done.  Originally, we were going to have stuffed peppers for dinner tonight but when I realized that I wasn’t going to be home this evening (Gotta get my Warrior training in!), I switched things up.

Before I even changed out of my pajamas this morning, I was in the kitchen loading up the crock pot for vegetarian chili.  It is such an easy thing to do… open up 10 cans of  various types of beans and sauces, add chili powder, add veggies, cook for 10 hrs on low.  🙂  Note to self: 6 Quarts of Chili is probably too much for 4 adults.  Since I wasn’t going to be home to cook dinner, I got it cooking before I even left the house.  Aren’t I nice? 😛

I thought that the chili had really good flavor.  I’d mix it up a little and add probably twice as many mushrooms next time and half as many black beans.  Total cost for this recipe was only around $20, though, and it makes 24 1-cup servings.  Not a bad deal!

Veggie Chili:
3 16oz cans Bush’s Best Chili Beans (Hot Sauce)
3 16oz cans Bush’s Best Dark Red Kidney Beans (Rinsed Well)
3 16oz cans Goya Black Beans (Rinsed Well)
1-2 pounds white mushrooms (Quartered)
46 oz Campbell’s Tomato Juice from Concentrate
Chili Powder to taste

Toss it all in a crock pot and cook for 10 hrs on low.

I tried to take a picture of it, but honestly, the lighting was not great and it was not so visually appealing.  I think this might even be a vegan dish if you skip the sour cream or cheese on top, but I don’t know enough about vegetarian- or vegan-ism to know for sure.  If you know, please chime in!
The rest of the day went really well as far as my eating goes.  I only had 1 “slip up” where I bought a pack of Sour Patch Kids, but the rest of my food was on-par.  I had my oatmeal for breakfast, an apple and peanut butter for snack, 1/2 sandwich and cottage cheese for lunch, sour patch kids in the afternoon, HELLIFIED WORKOUT!, banana, apple, 1.5 cups vegetarian chili.

Feels so good.  Now about that hellified work out… This is the 3rd round of strength training so far.  Just starting Phase 1, Week 2, Day 1 and I’m using the same methods as we were working on last week.  This time I made it all the way through the workout and didn’t skip any sets.  The gym was closing by the time I was done, though, so stretching and hitting the showers was kind of out of the question.  When I came home, I approached Rah-rah and asked if I could have a “Nice big sweaty hug!” and he said “Sure!” and swung his arms open for me.  Then he retracted and said “Uh.. how about you go through the shower first?” I didn’t notice, but apparently I had a big line of sweat on my front and a big patch of sweat on my back.  Are you workin’ hard or hardly workin’?

After I cleaned up, it was time for dinner (8pm by now) and I listened to my roomie’s reviews of dinner.  They missed meat and commented about throwing in some beef or bacon and a stick of butter next time.  They’re tolerant of my cooking adventures, but they definitely have their preferences in place.  I hate to admit how appetizing bacon chili sounds…

All in all, it wasn’t too bad at all!

[Edit: Cassie at BTHR is doing a give-away!  She opened a new online shop.  Check it out, show some love, get some swag: http://backtoherroots.com/2011/09/19/bthr-on-your-sleeve-giveaway/]

Posted in Food, Menu Planning, Recipe

Menu Making: Giada and EatBetterAmerica

I had a hard time coming up with ideas for dinner today so I put it out on Facebook and Bloop that I was trying to plan a menu and asked for people to chip in ideas.  I knew I wanted to make Momma’s Chili, but then I got recommendations for a few things from EatBetterAmerica.com and from Foodnetwork.com.  At the grocery store, I got (among other things) brown rice, arugula, goat cheese, green lentils, mint, diced tomatoes, jalepeños, zucchini, pears, bananas, mushrooms, chocolate, etc.  I have all of the ingredients to make everything on my dinner menu, plus healthy snacks, breakfasts and lunches for later in the week. 

This week, we’re having all of the following:

The ‘healthified chicken skillet’ was pretty tasty.  Basically just cook chicken in a fry-pan with olive oil, salt and pepper then slice zucchini and cook in the same pan.  It was pretty tasty and came together really quickly.  Eat Better America was already linked above, so check it out–you can sort recipes by calorie count, prep time or meal type.  I like it so far.

I am really excited about the apples that Mr. and Mrs. Roomie picked up, though.  They went to an orchard today and brought home the first round of Honey Crisp apples.  Mrs. Roomie is looking around for an ‘Apple Crumble Pie’ recipe, but I’m not sure what she’s talking about so I can’t help her with that.  I just want to eat them straight-up and delicious.

I’m also excited to try a couple recipes up there.  Almost every one is new.  I’ve got 4 jalepeños to use… I haven’t quite decided if I’ll use them in the chili or if I’ll save them for the spicy Mexican dish on Friday.  I’m just excited to get cooking 😀

Tomorrow starts Phase 1, Week 2, Day 1 so I should go finish drinking my water and get some sleep 🙂

Posted in Emotional Eating, Food, Menu Planning, Overeating, Recipe

Menu Monday: Mac n Cheese

Over the weekend I helped my sister out and babysat for my 6 year old niece.  I picked her up on Friday night and she spent the weekend with me.  Because of that, the weekend menu was geared more towards a younger pallet.  We made home-made mac n cheese with enriched elbow macaroni and some fresh cheeses (cheddar, a little bit of motz and some milk) and she just loved it.  While she was here, I taught her how to make french toast (learned a new way to crack eggs), and how to make “healthy” apple pie (how to use fractions and how to measure!)  She also got a chance to paint (she learned what “abstract” was), she got to draw on the windows (thank goodness for Crayola!), she got to view the moon through the telescope (yay Astrology), plus, she learned a little bit about budgeting because I set a price limit and then took her to Target to pick out her birthday gift.  All in all, it went really really well.  It was interesting to try to do the usual weekend activities (grocery shopping, running errands, planning menus, fixing cars..) with an opinionated, spirited, smart 6 year old along.  

Saturday: Macaroni & Cheese
Sunday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches
Monday: Waldorf Chicken Salad
Tuesday: Steak
Wednesday: Beef Stew
Thursday: Chili
Friday: Left Overs

Tonight’s plan for Waldorf Chicken Salad kind of happened–I still ate it.  But, before that, I was hanging out with my brother who wanted fast food for his dinner… so he proceeded to chant “cheese burger cheese burger cheese burger!” in my ear.  We stopped at Best Buy for him and I ate some raspberries so that I could “just say no!” to the fast food.  When he came out from the store, he had 1/2 a KitKat for me to thank me for driving him to the store.  Then we made it to the BK drive through and he’s nudging me and saying “c’mon! You know you want one…” so somehow instead of saying “1 shortstack” I said “2 shortstacks” and kept one for myself.. And scarfed it down.  When I got home, Rah-rah warmed up some left over super-cheese pizza, and I really “needed” some of that too.  So I had some.  And then I finished my waldorf chicken salad.

After that escapade, I was being goofy and ranting at Rah-rah and confessing everything that I had eaten.  I told him I’m going to get seasame seeds.  “Where?” he says. “On my buns!!” I squealed and pointed at my jiggly butt.

I am an admitted, confessed, trying to be reformed emotional eater.  Tonight’s food extravaganza was definitely a way for me to try to find comfort.  My sister collapsed at work today and ended up with a trip in an ambulance to the ER.  She’s okay, but I’m the type that I don’t panic in the face of an emergency, I process it afterwards… and now I guess I processed with fast food, pizza and still tried to “compensate” by eating my original healthy plan.

Because of the trip to the ER, my Phase 1 for the Warrior Dash has been rescheduled to tomorrow at 7am.  Wish me luck, and will power. 🙂

Posted in Food, Menu Planning, Recipe

How to Make Lasagna: Part 2

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1 – 24 oz Jar Classico Roasted Garlic Pasta Sauce
1 – 24 oz Jar Classico Tomato & Basil Pasta Sauce
1 – 24 oz Jar Classico Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onion Pasta Sauce
1 lb box Lasagna Noodles
3 lb Supreme Lean Ground Beef (97/3)
1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan Cheese*
1/2 to 1 cup Romano Cheese*
1/4 to 1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese*
Mozzarella Cheese

Brown the beef in a large skillet.  You may need to cook 1 lb at a time if you’re limited on space or burners.

Mix beef and all 3 sauces together and set aside.

While the beef is cooking, get the water boiling for the noodles.  I recommend putting a little oil in the water to prevent the noodles from sticking–especially if your pan isn’t large enough to let the noodles swim around on their own.  Drain the noodles and rinse with cold water–time to start the assembly party!

Start with a layer of meat sauce, then noodles, sprinkle ricotta, then parmesan, then romano (sparingly, each), then mozzarella (generously).  Layer noodles, sauce, cheeses until you’re almost to the top.

Cover with foil and bake for 1 hr at 350° F.

Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes–bake your garlic bread in the mean time.  When the bread is done, serve the lasagna and enjoy!**

*These cheeses have a very strong flavor profile and can easily be over-used.  Especially Ricotta.  If you’re leery of using Ricotta, it’s okay to sub cottage cheese for a milder flavor (but I don’t like it =P)

**This meal is quite dense in the way of carbs and fat.  I would recommend serving it as a SIDE DISH to a nice full house salad.  It freezes well and reheats even better so it’s fabulous to have left-overs.

Continue reading “How to Make Lasagna: Part 2”

Posted in Food, Menu Planning, Recipe

Smoky Maple-Mustard Salmon

This week, I am cooking a couple recipes from the “EatingWell” magazine that I borrowed from work.  I could not find a digital copy of this recipe online through EatingWell, however, their website is [here].  This recipe is for “Smoky Maple-Mustard Salmon” from the September/October 2011 publication of EatingWell Magazine.  See page 35.

I didn’t have the exact ingredients so I just kind of used what I had on hand.  I visited the farmer’s market with my mom a couple weeks ago and picked up some salmon fresh.  It turns out that the fillet wasn’t big enough to feed everyone so I sent Mr. Roomie to the store for another fillet.  He got one that I usually get, but when I compared the two side-by-side and there was a distinct difference in color (and I assume flavor). 

Onto sprayed tinfoil the fillets went, and then they were brushed with the mustard/syrup/seasonings mixture and into the oven.  While they were cooking, I prepared a ‘broccoli rice medly’ from Lipton/Knorr sides and nuked some frozen veggies.  This is one of those nights where I was tempted to swing through a fast-food restaurant or order delivery due to time constraints.  I reminded myself that this meal takes the same amount of time to prepare as it does to wait for food, and it costs a whole lot less!  Only about $10 for the fish, $1 for the rice, $2 for the veggies, split 4 ways–a healthy, nutritious meal for less than $3 each! (there were lots of veggies left, for use in later meals)

When they were done, the salmon was perfect.  The broccoli rice medly complimented it well, but I’ll be switching to brown rice once we go through our stockpile.  I just ‘steamed’ the frozen veggies in the microwave, but I think next time I’ll boil the veggies so that there’s a consistency with the temperature.  Overall this meal took about 20 minutes from frozen to eating.  My roomies, Mr. Roomie, Mrs. Roomie and Rah-rah were all satisfied with this meal.  The only down-side that I can see, is that I was hungry within 2 hours of eating it. That’s where I think switching to brown rice will help.

Smoky Maple-Mustard Salmon:
1 Tbsp maple syrup    
3 Tbsp Dijon mustard, whole-grain dijon, preferable    
1 Tbsp paprika, smoked paprika (regular paprika ok)
1/8 tsp table salt    
 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground    
 1 spray(s) cooking spray    
 2 fillet(s) skinless salmon filet, divided into 4 portions of about 4 oz. each    

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray.
3. Combine mustard, maple syrup, paprika, pepper and salt in a small bowl. Place salmon filets on the baking sheet. Coat Salmon evenly with mustard mixture. Bake about 8 – 12 minutes, until done.

If you try this meal, be sure to let me know how you liked it 🙂