Wednesday, December 30, 2009

20-Minute Chicken & Italian Veggies


Recipe courtesy of Healthy Calendar.

No, I did not alter the photo - it was really as delicious [and as hot!] as it looks. Well, maybe it doesn't look incredibly delicious to you; my eyes may be fogged by the memories of this dish.

Neither Sean nor I *really* care for chicken all that much. I hesitate to admit this fact, being born and bred in the land of Perdue's HQ, but there it is. This chicken, however, was nothing like any other chicken through which I had previously suffered. [It was of course by Perdue, why would I buy anything else?] They were covered in great spices, bread crumbs, and of course, the coup-de-gras: a sauce of lemon juice and chicken broth at the end. This chicken was flattened and then pan-seared, locking in all the moisture. I'm guessing this is why it didn't turn out too pretty, but it tasted great!

The veggies were wonderful! The zucchini and broccoli, though not actually in season, were extremely bright and flavorful. These were sauteed with the carrots for a few minutes in garlic, and then steamed for another few minutes to produce the fine work of art you see here.

This was a great, filling, starchless dish for us!

P.S. - I'm assuming this goes without saying, but a lot of times I have vegetables in my pictures that go unaddressed. You can go ahead and assume I added these myself and they require no description, as they did not come from the book. Occasionally the book gives me a meat or entree with no side dish, so I improvise to supplement the meal.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Roast with Vegetables & Sage Stuffing



THIS. WAS. AWESOME!!

I know I always harp about ground beef and how much it sucks, but, seriously, I can get down with a nice slab of cow. This roast was incredible! It was so tender yet cooked enough for my tastes [I like my steaks like Ronald Reagan - "Well.....". Dated joke courtesy of one of my dad's friends.]

Because I don't own an actual roasting pan, the top half of the vegetables dried out due to the small baking pan I used! They weren't bad, and they reconstituted well as leftovers. The original veggies that remained in the bottom with the bouillon and water were awesome though!

I could rave about this roast for hours, but let us move on to the stuffing. This was my first time making "homemade" stuffing [prebagged bread cubes, hence the " "], and I wasn't sure how prunes were going to fare in something like this. I also wasn't sure if they were going to make it into the stuffing at all, since I kept stealing them to snack on throughout the preceding days! Apparently, I am an old lady.

We thought it turned out pretty well, even though I don't feel the roast needed a side dish at all, really. The vegetables were enough.

***

Well, it is official - I start my Nutrition class at Wor-Wic on the 20th of January! If the study is all it is cracked up to be, I will be searching for graduate programs soon!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Chicken Drumsticks & Mashed Sweet Potatoes



Yes, I realize this is one of the most hideous photos ever, but this was a day when Archaic POS Camera decided to act up, leaving this picture as the only relatively useful yield. Pretty soon, I will start updating with photos from Amazing Sentient Camera, and we will all look back on these days and laugh!

These drumsticks started off great in theory. I really thought the marinade recipe would be wonderful [onions, garlic, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt, pepper, bread crumbs], but when all was said and done, I wasn't very impressed. Sean really liked them, so maybe it's just me. I guess I'm just not a fan of dark chicken meat, because the marinade smelled and tasted good when it came out, but the meat was just gross. I'm also not a huge fan of foraging carcasses for scraps [unless it is a crab carcass], which is why most of the meats I ingest are boneless. Regardless, as long as one of us likes it, I'm happy.

On the other hand, the mashed sweet potatoes were amazing! The recipe had me treat them sort of like a pie filling, so they were sweeter; next time, I'll probably try the saltier route and treat it more like regular mashed potatoes!

Sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A, and a great substitute for white potatoes, especially for diabetics. They are a great source of fiber with a low glycemic index, and because they aren't *really* part of the potato family, they are not as starchy. Feeding a diabetic a white potato is akin to putting a bowl of table sugar before them and saying, "Have at it!"

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Shrimp Marsala



Scrimps Marsala!

I find myself experiencing severe writer's block here. All I can say is that this was awesome! Mushrooms and tomatoes simmered in wine, with the shrimp added later, all served over brown rice.

My only lesson for the future would be to make sure I examine the frozen shrimp bag much closer next time before purchase. Through the bag they looked pink and pre-cooked, and because of this I assumed they were also de-shelled, de-tailed, and de-pooped.

I was completely wrong on all accounts! The fact that they were uncooked wasn't a huge deal, but the shelling and deveining process [well, I made Sean devein] really messed up my food ETA. Plus, it's a pain in the ass that I'm willing to pay an extra dollar to avoid.

But, when all was said and done, the meal was delicious and simple!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Spicy Chicken Chili



I love chili. I mean I really love chili, especially if it is non-traditional chili. To me, traditional chili means that beef, beans, and tomatoes are the main ingredients, and you need Frito Scoops to really enjoy it. My favorite chili in the world is a vegetarian chili I make with butternut squash as the meat stand-in. Also, I never get heartburn from it...

But this Spicy Chicken Chili is probably one of the best meated chilis I've ever had!

It felt a little bastardized to me when I realized the bulk of this chili came out of about seven different cans, since my veggie chili is made with almost all fresh ingredients. Course, I also saved myself a world of pain by using canned jalapenos in this recipe, as opposed to the fresh ones I seed and chop for my veggie chili. It only took me one time without gloves to realize they were definitely a necessity... -.-

I also had to cube raw chicken for this recipe. I've really gotten around my fear and dismay at handling raw meat for the most part, thanks to this month's recipes.

Overall, this was a really spicy, really colorful, really delicious chili!

In other news, it's Christmas Eve! I am going to make a cake for Christmas straight outta the Healthy Calendar. The December dessert is Raspberry Almond Layer Cake. Looks awesome, sounds awesome, pictures to come in probably another month, at the rate I'm going!

In other other news, I've started taking garlic supplements for reasons I don't feel like disclosing, but I expect great results from this! Garlic is probably one of the healthiest things in the world for you to eat! I got a new book called Prescription for Herbal Healing. It's a great book in which you can learn the medicinal value of almost any herb or spice in the first half, and in the second half, it is organized by disorder with a list of beneficial herbs and in what form you can find them.

Don't worry, I haven't become some hippie overnight or anything! I just am really interested in the prevention and treatment of problems through the use of nutrition and herbs/spices as opposed to "drugs 'n shit". Obviously anything serious should be checked out by a real doctor, but a small addition of herbs and spices in food or supplement form can do wonders. Garlic for one, has been thought to help prevent cancers and heart attacks. It also lowers cholesterol and blood sugar and fights to prevent fungal infections, parasitic infections, and ulcers. Also, it tastes damn awesome.

You might need to wait a bit or skip ahead a few seconds to get proper video quality here, but it was the only video that wasn't just a recording of someone's 1980's television set.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Pepper Steak over Rice



Hey, all. It is Christmas Eve Eve and I am up in Vermont. I do not know if I will continue updating while I am here, since this machine is nowhere near the supercomputer I'm used to! Also, I received a copy of Watchmen for Christmas, and I have been furiously rereading it since I arrived yesterday!

But, I also realize I have an obligation to the three people who read this, and I haven't been updating nearly as often as I should to keep you all content and hungry! So here comes Pepper Steak!

This was about as simple as it looks: steak, peppers, salt, and black pepper. I'm sure I added garlic powder and cayenne to it as well though! This also marks probably the first time since culinary class [yes, the one I took almost ten years ago] that I've really handled and sliced meat before it was properly cooked. I have no idea why, but I'm entirely grossed out by it. Maybe it's because I've learned enough about microorganisms in the last ten years to turn anyone vegetarian. Maybe because the thought of slicing up a carcass turns my stomach. Either way, I'm proud of myself for finally taking the leap once more.

Seven words can sum up this meal:

Good, but not as good as Dad's.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Roasted Chicken & Potato Casserole



I must admit, I totally cheated here.

The book asked me to buy a three-pound fryer chicken, cut it up, put minimal spices on it, and bake it for half an hour.

What you see here is a delicious, semi-lovely rotisserie chicken with a busted kneecap, courtesy of the Giant in Long Neck. Why would I go through all that extra trouble for the same basic cost? We also cheated on the healthiness by eating the skin, but you can keep that on the down-low.

The second dish you see here is a Potato Casserole, which Healthy Calendar claims to be "a healthy version of a traditional high-fat recipe". I am not really sure what traditional recipe they are referring to, but I thought it was a tasty casserole of hash browns, onions, cream of chicken soup, sour cream, cheese, milk, and spices. Combine and throw in the oven to bake for an hour.

The casserole paired with the chicken, which required only six minutes worth of reheating, made a great low-maintenance meal during which I could easily laze around and enjoy Watchmen.

Yes, this movie is like a year old so posting the trailer is lame, but all the good scenes are embedding-disabled! This is probably the greatest story about society and the human psyche of all time. The graphic novel and movie are both amazing, the book even being selected for one of Time magazines greatest 100 novels of all time. A graphic novel, which is basically a novel-length comic book for those of you who don't know, making it to that prestigious list is pretty amazing.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Angel Hair with Turkey Bacon and Peas



Pasta! As with any pasta, this was a million times better the next day as leftovers. I've experimented with bacon, peas, and pasta before with good results, but this was relatively bland the first day. Fat-free sauces strike again! I shouldn't blame the sauce, I only had about a third of the bacon I needed left, and even I thought there was a lot here. Maybe this was supposed to be super-bacon!

Okay enough rambling, there is not much to say about this except once I added a ton of fat in the form of olive oil and fake parmesan cheese, it was good! Even though olive oil is a good form of fat, a lot is still high in calories. While a tablespoon of olive oil and a tablespoon of butter each have approximately 120 calories, the olive oil is healthier because it is unsaturated.

I feel so bad because I'm like two weeks behind on this blog between eating the meal and writing about it. But!! Fret not, dear reader, as I will be away for a week during Christmas, and not cooking. The back-up oughta give me something to do that week and you something to read!

I officially have all my Christmas shopping done and am looking forward to a good rest of the week at work and week off for Christmas!!!!!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

French Onion Soup & Cobb Salad



Woohoo! Soup and salad is my favorite!

This meal is pretty self-explanatory, so I won't go into too much detail about what's in these dishes. Lots o' onions 'n broth, and lots o' lettuce 'n bacon 'n eggs.

The homemade dressing (red wine vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard) for the Cobb salad was tangy and gave it quite a kick. On the other hand, my soup was pretty bland, even with half a can of pepper unloaded in there.

'Course, being a healthy cookbook, the recipe calls for fat-free, reduced-sodium [aka 'tasteless'] broth. I've used FF RS broth for everything else in this book so far, but it's usually just serves as a tasty, behind-the-scenes liquid for stew and things. In french onion soup, that's like the whole soup! Onions floating in beef broth. Next time, I might have to go for the full-sodium or fatty broth, or make my own!

If I knew more about spices [other than the names and where they can be found in the McCormick displays], I could have improved upon the soup greatly. I don't know much about what spices are used in what scenarios. Everyone knows tomato & basil and rosemary & chicken, but I can't usually take a dish and think, "Oh, X here would make a good taste". Once I rattle through my standby trifecta of black pepper, red pepper, and garlic powder, I'm stuck.

I am looking at a book for Christmas that might help me though! More information about this later!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Italian Sausage with Pepper Medley



Looks good, eh? Almost too good? Well, I have a confession: This is a picture from the book. As I have stated before, my digital camera is a piece of garbage by now; after I took several snapshots of the real meal, the images were nowhere to be found on the camera or the computer once it was plugged in! Sorry about the flash - I tried to crop it with the best free photo editing program Microsoft has to offer! And yes, smarmosaurs, I realize scanning the image in would be the obvious solution, but my printer is not hooked up to either computer right now and I am lazy.

On the plus side, I was lucky that this image happened to be in the book, considering only 10-20 meals are featured in the picture insert!

This was absolutely delicious. I substituted Italian-style chicken sausage with some brand-whose-name-escapes-me Chicken & Apple sausage flavored with maple-syrup. It was on sale and looked too good. And it was! I also served this over the forgotten brown rice from the Unstuffed Cabbage adventure instead of with sweet potato fries, with which the meal is shown here. Sweet potato fries are actually a side dish from some other random month. Other than that, the food looked almost exactly like the picture and tasted incredible, so no complaints here!

I love peppers. I really love hot peppers, but bell peppers are obviously the best choice for eating whole. They are colorful, [always a sign of a healthy food, with the possible exception of poisonous forest berries....] loaded with Vitamins A & C, and so, so versatile! They are tame because they have a recessive gene that blocks out capsaicin, the spicy compound!

Some day I will write about the Schoville rating system, the world's hottest pepper, and why cayenne is the most amazing food known to humankind, but not today.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Unstuffed Cabbage



I know, I know, I haven't updated about food in forever. Dammit, my camera sucks and I've been busy and it's Christmas and I've at least been pumping in the random fodder to keep you entertained!!!

*breath*

Well, I got most of my Christmas shopping done today [the rest shall be done on Amazon] so I can rest easy for a bit!

This chaotic-looking melange is exactly what it sounds like: a delicious, simple, inside-out take on classic stuffed cabbage. It's a one-skillet meal of ground animal of your choice, broth, onion, tomatoes, vinegar, random spices, and of course, cabbage. The recipe suggests serving it over rice, but I forgot and left the cooked rice in the microwave. In hindsight, I really don't think the rice would have been a good addition anyway, so I ended up saving it for the next night's meal, with which it went exceedingly well! This was definitely something I'll make again outside of the book plan.

The meat [I used turkey, of course] provided a lot of protein and the cabbage provided a lot of fiber and vitamins C and K, among other nutrients. Cabbage is also good for weight loss and overall health!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Local Decay!

A friend of mine posted this on his Facebook. One of his friends [who I believe I may have met at a party once] wrote the following Letter to the Editor about this festering cesspool of a 'small town'. It is probably the best thing I have ever read. POST THIS EVERYWHERE:

"A Letter To The Editor
Dear Council and Mayor,

I have lived in Salisbury since I was 4 years old. My wife moved here after high school to go to Salisbury University where she obtained a Master's degree in business. We have both work locally since we've lived here. I worked for two family run businesses, one of which was on the plaza. I have lived on the plaza and in various neighborhoods in town in my adult life.

I want you to be aware of my background because I am a homeowner (hence taxpayer), live and work here (again with the taxes) and have always intended to keep my skills here to be a benefit to the economy in this area. I believe we live in one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world.

My wife is now scared to live here and wants us to sell our home and move across the bridge to D.C. I'll let that sink in. My wife wants to move from "quiet little Salisbury" to "the big scary city" because she is afraid of crime. Something here is not right. We used to walk in our neighborhood (around Lincoln Ave and before around New York Ave) and now we don't.

We used to walk around the trails in the park. Now we don't.

We used to go out to eat in the evenings. Now we don't.

About the only thing we've spent money on in the last few months is upgrading our alarm system.

I asked my employer today how long it would take of me not doing my job before I was fired. If I came to work, did only a bare minimum, left early everyday and was grossly incompetent. I asked how long before I was let go if I took vacations when our company was in need or failed to work with the other employees or the many vendors we rely on. He said he'd give me a warning and maybe two weeks. I thought that was a bit generous of him. I would fire myself long before that.

I can here the excused brewing in the backs of your heads. I need the support of the rest of the council. I'd need a reason or face litigation if I did what I needed to do. I may have dirt exposed that would hurt my career.

I want to tell you that I don't care. I will not raise a family in a town with multiple, unsolved, broad daylight robberies. With multiple shootings. I can tell you this though, I will live here long enough to make sure each and every one of you never holds public office on the Eastern Shore again.

I will forward this email to everyone I know. I will send it to everyone I meet. I will post it on every blog and news organizations website. It will go on Facebook and Myspace.

My message is simple and clear. Take action now. Fire our grossly incompetent, absent, uncooperative, selfish, coward of a Police Chief. Ensure our police force has the resources necessary to fight the crime in this town. Utilize the existing resources and cooperation of our neighboring law enforcement. Most importantly stop considering your best interest over that of the community you serve because everyone else in this city that works doesn't get the same luxury. I have to consider the needs of my customers over my own, why shouldn't you?

If any of you think my email has been unreasonable I would have to assume you've entered politics for your own self-satisfaction and will vote accordingly. If you think I'm being threatening, imagine how I feel driving home at night. That's pretty threatening.

Thank you for your attention and please search inside yourselves, our poor city is dying. I don't care about Republican vs. Democrat, liberal vs. conservative or past feuds. I want clear, decisive and prompt action.

Sincerely,

Matthew C. Green"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Turkey Soup with White Beans



Leftovers! The Leader [Healthy Calendar] told me to utilize my leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make this excellent soup. Tasty veggies and turkey with beans and orzo, an ingredient that is quickly becoming one of my favorite foods in a dish. Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that goes with everything and sucks up the taste of whatever it is coupled with.

Since I have a migraine and haven't slept properly in a while, I will cut this short.

But first! I'd like to say that my faith in the medical field, and, possibly, humanity, has been somewhat restored!

I've been having some issues with a tooth for years now. About four years ago I got a filling between the back two teeth in the upper right [stalkers, take note]. A few weeks later, I was out to dinner with a friend and I felt something break in my mouth. The extreme pain made me think the filling was knocked out, and I returned to the dentist for him to tell me that it was just a small leftover piece that broke off, and everything important was still intact.

The tooth remained fine for a couple years until a few weeks ago, when I started getting extreme pain and sensitivity due to cold or sweetness. I have been uninsured for about six months now, but I could not postpone having this fixed; that's what credit cards are for!

(Not to mention that even if I *was* insured with my company's crappy cheap option insurance, I'd have to wait three months anyway to get it done! At least I can pretend I'm sticking it to The Man before I'm forced to relinquish all privacy to him in a few years!)

Anyway, I went in today, and it turns out the filling was not broken or missing, it was LOOSE. How weird is that? Since I take my fillings like a hardass [sans Novocaine], I braced myself for impact, and had a brand new, better-than-before filling in ten minutes time. He wished me a Merry Christmas and sent me on my way.

Okay, all this exposition was pretty unnecessary, but I like to hear myself type. The great part was when I went to the lady up front to pay she said he wasn't going to charge me for it!! She also wished me a Merry Christmas and I half-joked that I better get out of there fast before he changed his mind! I don't know if he gave me a break since I'm an uninsured hobo-looking kid (I came in my work clothes), or because he was impressed by my unshaken demeanor when he was drilling my not-numb nerve, or because he knows my mom and aunts, or because he's just a stand-up guy?

Either way, it was great!!! For once, I could say going to the dentist was probably the best part of my day!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

FTW



This lady is awesome and puts this into better words than I ever could. Usually, my stance on gay marriage is: "Of course they should get married! Why deny them the chance to be miserable too!?"

Thanksgiving!



Here's our beautiful two-person spread for Thanksgiving! Complete with hypodermic needles!

I made the cranberry salad[courtesy of HC] in the farthest dish. Just pureed cranberries, oranges, and sweetener. Sean doesn't really care for Thanksgiving food [he's probably a witch], but he said the cranberry salad made him enjoy the meal more!

We received a pumpkin pie in the Thanksgiving deal, but I also made a sweet potato pie, the one HC dessert recipe for November. I didn't get a picture of it, but it turned out pretty decent, considering I suck at baking. I bought a pre-made crust but I made the filling myself. I think I should have gotten a deep dish crust and a better oven. I seriously have to keep everything in almost double or triple the length of time, or jack up the temperature.

Everyone knows cranberries are amazing, and here's why: They are chock full of antioxidants and antibacterials and keep your urinary tract totally functional! Also, they are a vital part of a well-balanced Cosmopolitan.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Mushroom Alfredo Halibut & Garlic Mashed Potatoes



This was a terrible experience. And as you can see, it looks pretty terrible, too!

There were problems with this dish from the get-go.

For one thing, the little slab of fish I buried underneath my 'mashed potatoes' here was not halibut at all, but cod! It is a decent substitute as a white fish, but I've come to the conclusion that I pretty much hate cooked fish now. Sushi all the way!

I also didn't have tinfoil to bake the fish in, which I was freaked about ruining the dish without, but it didn't seem to affect the taste or moisture outcome. Apparently, foil only helps to lock in moisture, but if you have liberally added an oil or sauce to the fish before baking, it won't get dry in the oven.

It doesn't help that, in helping Sean study the ServSafe book [a guidebook for professional kitchen safety and rules], I learned about all the wonderful, amazing things that various types of seafood can do to ruin your life if improperly prepared! I was convinced that the cod smelled bad aka 'deathly', that it wasn't baked all the way through [Sean's thermometer proved me wrong], and that we were totally going to get Anisakis simplex and we'd be coughing up worms.

This is another reason I prefer sushi: all sushi-grade fish goes through extreme measure to be tested and handled for safety. On the other hand, with most seafood, if it is contaminated, neither freezing nor cooking the fish will cure it anyway. So really, anyone who is wary to try sushi has nothing to lose versus going to a Red Lobster. [Dad]

Fortunately, neither of these happened, but I'm telling you all this to hopefully gain some absolution from my mashed potatoes disaster here. This goop you see here actually tasted great, but I was too busy freaking out over the fish to pay proper attention and I ended up pouring in way too much half and half and making the potatoes like soup. Sadly, this wasn't even my first time making mashed potatoes -- I've made them a million times and they've been awesome -- but for some reason I failed to gradually add the liquid. *Sigh*. This is what I get for blindly following the recipe. I'm serious, you can't make anything decent without bullshitting most of it.

The mushroom alfredo sauce was actually quite awesome, so I am pleased with that. Normally alfredo is VERY fatty, but the recipe calls for fat-free half-and-half instead, which soothes my heart in more ways than one.

Final verdict: I was pretty grouchy about it, but Sean said he liked it all. I love him because he loves all my so-called culinary disasters.