Sunday, February 28, 2010

Beef Tenderloin & Scalloped Potatoes


All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

I have great news: Sean and I are going to be parents!

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That's right, we are thinking of "adopting" an animal from the Salisbury Zoo! For a small fee, we can help provide food for one of the zoo animals and get an adoption certificate with a picture of "our" animal, an "Animal Fact Sheet", and our names on the board of recognition at the zoo (obviously, the most important part). I sent an e-mail to who I believe is the zoo director, asking which animal is the least sponsored [or most unloved! ):]. I want to sponsor the animal in most need of sponsorship, as I'm sure all the cute animals (i.e. the bobcat or capybara) could be eating filet mignon and truffles with the number of people desiring sponsorship. I can't wait to get back a picture of Twinkie, the hissing cockroach, thanking me for my interest...



I'm sure you're all excited to see a true "meat-and-potatoes" dish here. Don't get too comfortable, it's likely the first and only of its kind! Since I'm reducing/deleting farm animals from my diet, this is the only steak with the special privilege of appearing on this blog!

Nonetheless, it was a good farewell to steak, and the scalloped potatoes were low-fat and delicious, so if you would like to recreate this dish, here you go!:

First, prepare the potatoes. Peel and slice 6 russet potatoes into thin rounds. Spray a skillet and saute the potatoes and a sliced onion for a few minutes until the onion turns clear. Spray a small (8") baking dish and spread half the potato mixture on the bottom. Salt and pepper it, pour 1/2 cup of fat-free half-and-half over the potatoes, and top with 1/4 cup or so of reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Repeat this process one more time, then pop this in the oven for 40 minutes at 400 degrees, or until the potatoes are soft.

Season your chosen number of tenderloin steaks with salt and pepper (I'm usually pretty liberal with the pepper), and sear for a minute on each side on a pan coated in cooking spray. Place them on a sprayed baking pan and bake for the last 15 minutes with the potatoes. I utilized the "Chef's Tip" from the book, and let the steaks sit for 5 minutes out of the oven so the juices could redistribute. It's a good tip!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Banana Chocolate Butterscotch Chip Bread


All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

Here we see January's "Dessert of the Month" from the Healthy Calendar. This was so simple, even I could figure it out, and I suck at baking! With a donated loaf pan and some butterscotch chips (thanks, Grandma!), I was ready to rock!

First, combine about 4 bananas, MASHED(I can't stress this enough. I took mine directly out of the freezer and didn't mash them nearly enough, leaving giant banana pockets in my bread...), a couple tablespoons of canola oil, 1/4 cup buttermilk*, and four egg whites.

*Make your own buttermilk! Put a tablespoon of lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup, and pour enough milk (preferably 1 or 2%) in to reach the 1 Cup mark. Let sit for five minutes, and you have buttermilk!

Next, combine the dry ingredients! Mix 1.5 cups of flour, 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup sugar, a couple teaspoons of baking powder, one teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 a teaspoon of salt.

The instructions say to next "make a well in the dry ingredients" before pouring in the liquid ingredients and mixing them. I've never quite understood the purpose of the well but I obliged them anyway!

Next, you're supposed to stir in 1/3 cup of mini-chocolate chips. I didn't have any, so I used my donated set of large-and-unwieldy-butterscotch chips. After you pour the batter into your loaf pan, sprinkle some more chips on top, and bake at 350 for about an hour!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Turkey Lasagna


All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

I love that as soon as I sign up for AdSense with my blog, I stop updating. Greatest business mind, ever.

So, I am mainly posting this meal as a cautionary tale. Do NOT use ground turkey in lasagna, because it is horrendous.

I made this in the usual way you would make any other lasagna. First, I cooked the turkey in a jar of marinara sauce. Then I mixed together a 1/2 cup mozzarella, 15-oz. container of ricotta, 1/4 cup grated Parm, an egg, and a few tablespoons of dried parsley. I coated the bottom of the baking dish with cooking spray and a jar of marinara. I layered my noodles, cheese mixture, and meat sauce until I ran out, covered the dish with foil, and baked for 25 minutes. Then, I removed the foil, tossed some more cheese on top, and baked for another 25 minutes!

I have certainly enjoyed ground turkey as a substitute for ground beef in almost every instance, but this was just awful. I shouldn't say awful, because I didn't throw it out after the first bite, but I didn't even get seconds or eat it the next day. The cheese mix was actually wonderful, but the turkey gave it a 'wrong' taste that set everything off. Perhaps next time I shall make it Veggie Lasagna!

I'm getting burnt out on the Healthy Calendar, but I have an ace up my sleeve. And as always, I'm way backlogged on dinners anyway, so there will be plenty of filler til then, if only I can make my lazy self update!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tuna with Tomatoes and Olives & Roasted Asparagus


All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

I ruined this meal for myself. I made this the night of the Great Snowpocalypse, after my power had been out for ten hours. During the preparation, I psyched myself out so bad that the tuna was infested with some horrendous waking nightmare from being "time-temperature abused", that I couldn't eat more than two bites of the tuna. I've also decided from now on, I'm going to leave it to the experts, and only eat tuna in sushi form. Unless it's from the can, it's too expensive (for the level of tastiness) and too nerve-wracking to worry about.

It looks awesome though, doesn't it? If you're game and have functioning electronics (or gas!), here's how: First, throw down some cooking spray and saute your tuna steaks on each side for a few minutes and set aside. Add olive oil to the pan and saute an onion until it begins to brown, then reduce heat and add a can of diced tomatoes, 1/2 C. of chopped olives, and 1 T. of oregano (or 2 T. fresh!). The book suggests Kalamata olives, but I hate them with a passion, so I used plain ol' black olives. Let this mixture simmer for a few minutes, then add pepper and "one packet sugar substitute", or I guess regular sugar if you're a normie. I think the point of this is to cut down on the saltiness (correct me if I'm wrong), but I still totally threw some salt on top of it just in case. Tasted fine to me! After this, place your tunas back into the mixture and cook for a few more minutes. Due to my psychoses, I cooked the hell out of these babies, which you can probably tell by the picture. On to the asparagus!

I LOVE asparagus. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT. I can't stress enough just how awesome it is, but I'm sure it made my parents' lives easier that I was willing to eat it, because apparently a lot of kids don't. Though my dad did serve canned asparagus (bleh!), we drenched it in a homemade Hollandaise sauce (mayonnaise and butter? the paragon of health!) and all was well. My personal preferred method is roasted fresh asparagus, with just about any topping.

On the night in question, I made roasted asparagus, sprinkled with olive oil and Parmesan cheese. It's pretty much the easiest thing ever; coat a baking dish with spray, throw in some asparagus (cleaned, ends chopped!!), throw on some toppings, and bake for fifteen! It will come out amazing and delicious.

I suspect that soon I will stop using this book (except in a sporadic sense). The money isn't really a problem anymore, since anyone with an arsenal of condiments can pull this off pretty cheap. I mainly used this book to help me plan meals and learn a thing or two about a thing or two in the cooking realm. I feel I have definitely learned a lot, but following a strict regimen is stifling my creativity. Also, I'm making some pretty heavy changes to my diet soon, and this book won't comply as much as it does now. This entry is long enough, so I'll fill you in in more detail next time!

EDIT: Oh, by the way, I forgot to mention that I got a pretty famous visitor to my blog the other day:

ISP: Executive Office Of The President USA
Search Words: twirling towards freedom

Looks like SOMEBODY is a Simpsons fan! Either that or my blog is obviously so superfamous in federal circles that he decided to check it out. In reality, I'm guessing one of the interns was screwing around one day and found my blog, realized it had nothing to do with anything the name suggests, and left in less than a second! OR, they were all looking for a good laugh from this video (thanks to my friend Greg for finding this!):

Friday, February 19, 2010

Prepare Yourself....

....For this will be the hippiest sentence I ever write:

I am officially a card-carrying PETA member, and I can't write any longer because I'm going in for my trial yoga class!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spinach Pasta Shells


All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

Wow, I suck at this blog lately! I have been cooking and enjoying lots of food, but I just have been failing at updating. Things have been tense lately (work is getting really hectic!), and I've been busy, so I haven't been thinking about this! Or I've been too busy using the computer for The Sims.....whichever reason you prefer.

Recently, the book has been offering more quick, simple meals like this, which I appreciate! I guess they realize that after Christmas everyone is po'. The book also gave us a taco night, but I figured I'd omit that, since everyone knows how to make freakin' tacos!

Anyway, these spinach pasta shells came together in a snap and were totally cheap to make! All you do is cook some pasta shells, during which you saute some spinach (if frozen, thaw and drain first) and add some garlic and grated parmesan cheese. Mix it all together! Easy as pasta pie.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Ham and White Bean Soup & Quick Creamy Cornbread


All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

This duet was probably one of our favorite meals so far from the Healthy Calendar, AND one of the most economical!

First, I prepared the cornbread for the oven. I mixed together a box of corn muffin mix, an egg, and the secret ingredient - creamed corn. I dumped that into a pan and baked for half an hourish. Normally I like to make things from scratch, but the keyword of this recipe was "quick", and you can't get much quicker than that!

I started the soup by 'frying' the ham on the bottom of the soup pot. I say 'frying' because I'm not sure what constitutes frying, as I used no butter or spray, but it was definitely sizzling! I honestly could not tell if my slab of ham was cooked or not, so I cooked it for a bit on both sides to be sure. It definitely had a nice smoky smell and taste afterwards!

I chopped the ham and threw it back in the pot with some onion to saute for a few minutes. Then I added two cans of chicken broth, two cans of Great Northern beans, some salt + pepper, and a bay leaf. Then it boiled and simmered until the cornbread was done.

How easy is that??

***

I apologize for not updating very often lately, but I can assure you I've either been working hard or playing XBox360.

Sean just came into the room and asked if I was blogging about the snow plowing, like I said I would. WELL, I AM NOW. Oh my God, is everyone on the Eastern Shore retarded? (Sorry, the new PC term is "Intellectually Disabled" - probably because assholes like me turned "retarded" into derogative slang.)

How can a region be so completely idiotic at everything? I understand we are under-equipped for blizzards and the like, but is that really an excuse to cut every road down to one lane until the snow melts? Sacrificing right turn lanes entirely, or the right AND straight lanes, and using the left turn lane as a free-for-all? Several well-traveled routes (example: route 24) still have gigantic patches of ice splotching them. Maybe we could start plowing this shit into the Wicomico, and reduce the amount of water:HIV ratio in the river. It's time to invest in some new city plows with a real shovel plow and not some cow-catcher attachment (since those just throw everything into the traffic).

TRAFFIC. That's another thing. What the fuck happened in northern Salisbury/lower Delaware today? Because everyone and their brother was traveling southbound on 13 from the Delmar region today this afternoon. It was extreme traffic and congestion on that end, and nearly none on the northbound side. Is everyone out buying last-second Valentine's Day presents or something? My goodness.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Stuffed Peppers


All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

Well, it seems as though I forgot to take a picture of the meal the night before this one, but you weren't missing much. It was Mac & Cheese, but undercheesed! I ran out of cheese so it was ugly and bland, though salvageable with a sprinkling of my Holy Trinity (black pepper, cayenne, and garlic powder). No big loss!

The next night I made stuffed peppers, which were delicious and not as complicated as I imagined they would be. Always a plus. To make these I cut the tops off six peppers and boiled them for a few minutes. During this time, I cooked together a pound of ground turkey and an onion. Then I added some cooked rice, garlic, pepper, and a can of diced tomatoes. I shoveled the mix into my motley assortment of peppers (most of which were not structurally sound enough to stand upright), and baked for half an hour.

They came out so delicious and so cool and cute! I love self-contained food; and stuffed peppers even come with their own hats/lids.

So, Maryland is in a state of emergency. Which means I can't work or go to school. Sigh. So much for getting my work (and by proxy, my pay) schedule back on track. Meh, I'll try to see what I can get worked out with my supervisor by maybe taking these snow days as 'sick days' instead. 'Cause, dammit, if it weren't a freakin' felony to drive right now, I would go to work.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chicken Breasts with Raspberry Balsamic Glaze & Candied Walnut Salad



All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

I am about to freak out on the indigenous local yokels on this Eastern Shore. They have panicked over this snow so bad, that Giant is literally SOLD OUT of chicken. From the crazed shoppers itching to swipe up the last bit of creamed eels to get them through the night, to the trucks not coming down to the stores to make deliveries, it is just a nightmare. I am in no way blaming local grocery stores for this madness, because I'm sure those employees are hating it even more, but this is just insanity. Maybe I can trek over (next door!) to Cletus and Brandine Del Roy's house and borr-ey two of the thirty pounds of chicken they have stored in the deep freezer. Well, let me write about some of the chicken I made before the Winter Wondarmageddon befell us.

This is probably the fanciest-looking chicken I've ever prepared, but it was extremely easy! I made a glaze out of garlic, sugar-free raspberry preserves, balsamic vinegar, pepper, and salt, and spread half over the chickens. Then I popped the chickens into the oven for half an hour, and poured the rest of the sauce over it. Easy as pie! Chicken pie!

Then I made the salad. Now, the walnuts were supposed to be candied, but I couldn't in good conscious obey that idea. How the hell are sugar-and-butter-coated walnuts good for anybody, much less a diabetic?? I made an executive decision to use the walnuts plain, on the intended bed of shredded carrots and spinach. The walnuts were delicious just as they were, and guilt-free! The dressing was made of red wine vinegar, olive oil, and Dijon mustard. I ended up chopping my chicken and eating it right in the salad, and it was great!

So needless to say, our work schedule has been turned upside down due to this snow, but we're still making it work...kinda. It can't be any worse than the holidays, and we're both still getting proper hours, so yay! I wonder if my class will be cancelled tomorrow night. On one hand, I want to go to class, but on the other hand, I don't want to drive. Eh, it's only Route 50 though, how hard could it be?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sweet and Sour Pork


All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

So we're "snowed in". The plight of being trapped in the building with all my neighbors hasn't been too bad - SO FAR. And if it gets that bad, Sean and I are more than equipped for winter travel, with our respective New England experiences and holier-than-thou attitudes.

Here is some irony: Every panicky idiot in the tri-state area overstocked their fridge like we're expecting a nuclear winter, only to find that all their perishable items are now bad from long power outages!

Ours was out for ten hours, spanning from 3AM to 1PM, and tonight I still totally cooked up some fish that had been hanging out in the fridge the entire time. I ended up psyching myself out and not eating more than two bites, but then I ended up psyching myself back to normal with some redeeming information (but not 'til after I had thrown the fish away!). 'Cause knowledge is power!

Sean and I spent our power outage sleeping, looking out the window, playing handheld video games, having meaningful conversation, and ruminating on just how bad we needed showers. We also have a gas range, so we made eggs for breakfast, and heated a pot of coffee on the stove. Survival skills!

***

So, this dish was something I threw together rather quickly before class one night. This was my first attempt at making my own Chinese food, and it turned out really well!

First, I mixed my sauce, made of store-bought sweet and sour sauce and chicken broth. I sprinkled the pork cubes with pepper and sauteed them in some olive oil. I stuck those to the side and sauteed the green pepper for a bit, then returned the pork to the dish, along with some pineapple! I poured the sauce into the pan and simmered for a few minutes. I threw this all over some rice, stuffed my face, and ran to class!

Good luck in the weather, everyone!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup & Spinach Salad with Mushrooms



All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

So, I haven't updated in a while because I haven't actually been home at night to relax since the last night I wrote. Tuesday night I went to a get-together with some people I haven't seen in a while, Wednesday I went to class to take an exam, and last night I was moving furniture around! No, we aren't moving yet, but we inherited a completely fantastic king-size bed from my aunt and uncle!

They wanted a new one for whatever reason, and I told them if they ever got one, to pleeeeeeeeeeeease give us the old one. We have been practically sleeping on a junkpile. It was a full-size bed, which is way too small for two people on a regular basis. (Even though we sleep on a futon smaller than that when we stay at Sean's mother's house, and don't even have that much trouble - our bed was just horrendous). The mattress was so old and saggy that we had turned it over to sleep on the wrong side (i.e., the springs) just so we wouldn't fall into the middle every time. And finally, any time you sat, rolled, or moved on it, it sounded like a cement mixer.

The new one is completely amazing! It's huge, and came with a memory foam pillow topper, which adds to the complete awesomeness. I am happy! But enough with that - this is a food blog!

More soup and salad! I love all kinds of soups and salads - I could eat them every day! I love making soups, and salads are so versatile. This particular menu was fantastic!!

The soup was done just right. I started by sauteeing some carrots, onion, celery, and mushrooms; then I added some garlic and flour to the pot to cook. I dumped in three cans of chicken broth, thyme, salt + pepper, a bay leaf, some precooked turkey, and a box of wild and long-grain rice. I simmered it for a bit and when we were ready to eat, I poured in some evaporated milk and let it boil for a minute or two. This gave the soup the perfect, slightly creamy consistency you see here.

While the soup simmered, I prepared the salad. I enlisted myself in a horrible kind of labor before I got lazy. I knew the recipe called for sunflower seeds, and I bought a cheaper bag of them with shells on because I figured the recipe would want maybe a tablespoon max of them, and it wouldn't take long to shell them myself.

The recipe wanted 1/4 cup of sunflower seeds. I myself cracked maybe a third of the dry measuring cup until I got sick of it and decided to top the cup off with pine nuts instead. I piled the seeds and nuts on top of a bed of spinach and mushrooms, and topped all of it with light ranch dressing - it was delicious!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Hearty Lentil Soup & Cucumber Onion Salad



All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

So this was "hearty" lentil soup. That is one adjective I've never understood in the food world. Hearty. What the hell does that even mean? Is that a way of making froofy "hippie food" like lentil soup more tough and manly?

Either way, I give this dish a B minus. I generally like lentil soup, and this was tasty, but not something I'll crave again. It wasn't like any lentil soup I was used to, so maybe that was the problem. Granted, I'm used to canned lentil soup, which is mostly lentils and starch + flavor. I feel like this soup existed already, and the lentils were thrown in as an afterthought. Maybe the chef coauthor of the book wanted to pump up the fiber count in this soup and tossed a few handfuls of lentils in!

I sauteed some turkey sausage and set that aside. Then I sauteed some celery, onion, and carrots together. Then I added the sausage, water, chicken broth, diced tomatoes, dried lentils, salt, pepper, and a bay leaf and simmered for an hour. Then I made the salad!

The cucumber onion salad was tasty, but the raw onions were way too potent for me - something not even all the dairy in the dressing could quell. For the dressing, I stirred together some plain yogurt, sour cream, fresh dill, garlic salt, white wine vinegar, pepper, and a smidgen of sugar substitute. I tossed the sliced cucumber and onions in the mixture and then we were ready to eat!

Here's a tip: plain yogurt is pretty much amazing! It's so versatile! You can mix it with honey and fruit for a dessert, or use it in place of mayonnaise or sour cream in almost any recipe.

I go back to work in the morning after the "snow day", and get to be in a freezer whilst recovering from a cold. Yay.