Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lemon Herb Salmon with Zucchini & Sugar Snap Peas

All recipes are adapted from the Healthy Calendar.

This week has sucked, too. I've spent every day in and out of the vet with my cat, and it looks like the rest of the week may go that way as well. My 12-year old fat cat, Shadow, has stopped eating, but contrary to what you may think, that's bad! He runs at risk of fatty liver disease if he stops eating. He lives with my grandma, so I am not supervising him every minute, but she says he has also been throwing up, and it seems like he's getting a lot of hair in the vomit.

We've had all sorts of tests run, and seen specialists, and by all medical logic, Shadow is the healthiest fat-ass in the world. He has been eating more since Monday, so that's good. I personally think it's a hairball problem, but the vet seems to be concerned still, even though every vitality is perfect, and a sonogram and x-ray revealed perfection in all his organs. Clearly, I'm no vet, so I'll keep my mouth shut and my eyes and ears open for updates.

Think good thoughts for my baby!

This is actually a couple years old (evidenced by the fact that I look 13), but it's the most recent good picture I have of the two of us (I didn't feel the picture of me crushing him with my foot was appropriate), AND it mysteriously obscures my face enough so as to not give away my location to THE MAN.


Okay, we're officially back on the Healthy Calendar train, TTF-style! I'll say now that once again, I did not have foil when I needed it, so I'll include that in the instructions. Start off with preparing the fish:

1/2 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon tarragon
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 4-oz. salmon filets
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
aluminum foil

1. Preheat the oven to 400. Combine the juice, garlic, and herbs in a bowl. Add the fish and marinate in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.

2. Spray a 12"X12" sheet of foil with cooking spray, and place 2 filets of fish on the sheet (reserve marinade). Top with half of the zucchini and repeat layering.

3. Sprinkle chunks of butter over the fish and drizzle the marinade over the pile. Top with salt and pepper.

I only had two fish filets and no foil, and this is what my mountain of madness looked like!

4. Bring foil sides up and seal. Bake for 20 minutes, or until fish flakes with a fork. Since I didn't have foil, mine took longer.

While the fish is baking, it's time to prepare the sugar snap peas!

olive oil
3 cups whole sugar snap peas, washed and dried (or frozen)
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 teaspoon lite soy sauce

1. Add some oil to a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add peas and stir-fry for two minutes (or a few more if they are frozen). Sprinkle with sesame seeds and stir-fry for two more minutes. I added a handful of slivered almonds at this point, because I had them on hand!

2. Drizzle peas with soy sauce and stir-fry for 1 more minute.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Homemade Sausage Pizza

Wow, it's been a while! Sorry about that, but there have been a LOT of things going on in my life the last few weeks, spanning my family, relationship, finances, health, and more, and I'm not out of the woods yet. I won't go into the details, since almost everyone who reads this is a close friend anyway, and already knows the details. Some of the issues have been resolved, and things are looking up on some of the subjects, so I'm thankful for that. But I don't need to dwell here on the bad things - I need to dwell on the good things. And the best good thing is food!

This is the first meal I can officially say I theory. Clearly, I didn't invent sausage pizza, but I might have invented soysage pizza! Sadly, I made this so long ago, I hope I can remember what I did!

1 prepackaged pizza crust (or you could make your own, if that's your thing)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon of Spice World minced garlic
1 or 2 sliced tomatoes
4 links of soy sausage (or as I call it, 'fauxsage'), turkey sausage, or regular sausage, diced
grated Parmesan cheese
black pepper

1. If the crust has been in the freezer, take it out first so it may thaw a bit. Preheat oven to 400 degrees (or whatever your crust's package suggests).

2. Next, brown the sausage in a skillet for a few minutes on each side. You probably want to slice them BEFORE the skillet, instead of trying to cut them after the fact like I did, which is why mine looks so butchered...

3. Coat the crust all over with the olive oil and garlic. Lay the tomato slices down evenly and top all of that with the sausage. Toss your preferred amount of grated cheese, oregano, basil, and black pepper over everything.

4. Bake for fifteen minutes or until cheese is browning.

I served this with a fresh salad, some grapes, a few slices of Pepper Jack cheese, and some flavored almonds to round out the meal.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vegetarian Chili

Recipe adapted from The Supermarket Diet Cookbook.

I've officially gotten through the treacle of old backposts and can start fresh! In case you haven't been following my blog religiously until now, I've recently made a minor (though you may disagree) change in my diet: I no longer eat farm animals/birds/other mammals. Some people have asked, "Well, what DO you eat?" Seafood and um, everything else of course!

My reasons are my own and I'm not going to preach about it (except perhaps, the nutritional ramifications, as should be expected from this blog!), and I don't care what anyone else does in their kitchen. Oh yeah, and before you all ask, I'm not forcing Sean to eat this way either, even though he is being supportive. BUT, there will clearly be some changes to the blog material from here on out!

Don't panic, dear readers, everything I post will be an already vegetarian dish, a seafood dish, or an easily-adapted-to-include-meat dish. But best of all, I will still use the Healthy Calendar, and since I'm adapting most of the recipes, I am going to be able to post the recipes and instructions without paranoid fear of plagiarism from transcribing an entire book!

Okay, let's get down to business. This chili recipe has been my favorite recipe for years now, so it only makes sense to kick off the new age of Twirling Towards Freedom with it! You'll never even notice that it's meat-free and ::gasp:: insanely healthy and cheap! Here is my version:

Vegetarian Chili

4 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium butternut squash (2-3 pounds), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced/crushed
2 cans crushed tomatoes, low-sodium
3 jalapeno chiles, seeded and minced (I use one bell pepper if I forget the chiles)
1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
cayenne pepper
black pepper

1. In large nonstick soup pot, heat half the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add squash and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Transfer squash to bowl, set aside.

2. In same pot, heat remaining oil. Add carrots and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in chili powder and garlic; cook, stirring, one minute longer.

3. Add tomatoes with their juice, peppers, broth, sugar, and salt - I also give it some cayenne and black pepper; stir and heat to boiling. Stir in beans and squash; heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer until squash is tender, about 30 minutes. Serve with chips or whatever you like with your chili!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Honey-Mustard Pork Chops & Pasta Cabbage Stir-Fry

All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

Here's a tasty combo to keep you energized for a night of blogging! Even Homer Simpson would like this healthy and easy meal - as long as he could have seconds (or thirds)!

For your pork chop sauce, combine 1/2 cup of Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons of honey, and some salt and pepper. Coat a baking dish and place your pork chops down and cover with the sauce! Bake for half an hour at 400 degrees.

While the chops bake, cook 8 ounces or so of linguine according to package. Drain and set aside.

Pour some olive oil into a large skillet and saute a sliced onion for a few minutes until translucent. Add four cups of shredded cabbage and stir-fry for ten minutes. Throw in some salt and pepper, mix in the linguine, and saute for a few more minutes.


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Beef Fajitas

All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

Okay, I lied. THIS is the last appearance beef will be making on my blog, so....don't have a cow, man.

These were pretty simple, as beef fajitas tend to be. First, coat your large skillet and cook about 2/3 lb. sliced flank steak for 3 minutes or so. Remove the meat and put some canola oil into your pan with 2 sliced green peppers and one sliced onion. Cook for 7 minutes and add meat and any juices back to the pan! Cook for another two minutes, then add 1/4 cup water, 1/2 T. chili powder, some cayenne, some cumin, and a good amount of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, simmer until the water evaporates, and serve over tortillas!

Serves FOUR starving jackals.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Veggie Pizza

All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

OMG. This pizza was just so great, so simple, so quick, so delicious, so healthy, so AWESOME. You might recall my previous homemade pizza attempt, and while that was wonderful, this was even better! Here's the goods:

While your oven preheats to 450, add some olive oil to a skillet and saute a cup of broccoli, one sliced yellow squash, a cup of sliced mushrooms, and one sliced red bell pepper. After three minutes, add two minced garlic cloves* and saute for another half-minutes.

(*Tip: I use the drum-sized bucket of pre-minced garlic that Spice World sells. You can find it for sure in the produce section at Giant or the bulk spices at Sam's Club. Unless I'm making something that requires whole cloves, in which case I would buy a head of garlic, the Spice World bucket cuts out one prep step for you!)

Evenly spread your veggie mixture on a 12-inch pizza crust, and sprinkle some black pepper, some red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella (reduced-fat!) over everything. Bake for 20 minutes (or until cheese starts to brown), and enjoy!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Cantonese Chicken

All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

This was my second attempt at homemade Chinese food, and it was definitely not as good as my first.

This was not BAD, but it was pretty bland. I'm sure if you're more attuned to proper Chinese spicery, you might have a go!

First, spray a large skillet and cook up a pound of cubed chicken for about six minutes or until done. Remove from the pan and add a cup of chopped celery, a cup of sliced, drained water chestnuts, and a can of bean sprouts, drained. I'm sure at this point you're saying to me, "Hey, Stupid, where's the flavor?"...

While you stirfry this mixture for about 3 minutes, whisk together a can of chicken broth, a couple tablespoons of soy sauce and 1.5 tablespoons of cornstarch. Add this to the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer for five minutes, then add back the chicken and some salt+pepper.

I served this over rice, to use up the rest of my white (devil) rice. You could also serve this over any type of rice or Chinese noodles.

As always, Sean liked the meal while I thought it was subpar. I ate half my plate, then ended up over cayenne+garlicpowder-ing, and throwing the rest away. If you know a better way to make Cantonese chicken (other than using full-flavor aka full-fat+sodium broth), or what spices would be complementary, let me know with a comment!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Penne Farfalle with Chicken and Vegetables

All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

This was oh-so-good and oh-so-healthy! But before I get into this, I have a semi-exciting announcement pertaining to the blog! I have figured out a way to still use the Healthy Calendar while swapping things and adjusting it to my/our needs. And with all the creativity and bastardization I intend to employ, that means I'll actually be able to avoid plagiarism and put the recipes on the blog and actually be a real food blog! Oh joy!

First, cook 9 ounces of penne, farfalle, or whatever kind of pasta you want. Then, spray a large soup pot and cook a pound of chicken strips for a few minutes until done. Remove the chicken and put some olive oil in the pan. Saute two cups of broccoli, two sliced red bell peppers, and two sliced yellow squash (or zucchini) for about four minutes. Then, add a can of diced tomatoes (no-salt-added!), 1/4 cup white cooking or drinking wine, 1/2 teaspoon each of basil and oregano, and some salt and pepper, and cook for six minutes or so. Toss the chicken and pasta in the pot with the vegetables to make sure everything is heated through, and serve under Parmesan cheese!

Sean and I each loved this, but unfortunately, we must have both been really exhausted that night because we didn't notice that we left the pot out overnight! We had to throw all the tasty leftovers away for the sake of safety! :(

Bon appetit!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Turkey and Avocado Wraps & Confetti Pasta Salad

All recipes are part of the Healthy Calendar adventure!.

This is something you need to go home and make right now. Already home? Well, you still need to go to the store and then buy stuff and then come home and make this. We ate this for days after the fact because we still had fixin's and leftovers.

It's probably plain to see what this wrap consists of, but I'll give you the recipe for the awesome avocado sauce on top. For enough sauce for about 4 wraps, you need half an avocado, 3 tablespoons of plain yogurt (preferably low-fat or fat-free!), and "some" chili powder). Mash that all together with a fork and you have the best sauce ever.

We used whole-wheat tortillas, and topped them with deli-sliced turkey, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, ranch, and the avocado sauce, but you can fill them with anything you want!

For the pasta salad, you will need to cook about 2 cups of rotini (or whatever pasta, betta' be whole-wheat though!), and let it cool. Toss this with a cup of fresh or thawed frozen peas, a cup of diced carrot, a diced bell pepper, and a diced tomato. The homemade dressing was the usual: 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar, a couple teaspoons of olive oil, "some" basil, and "some" salt and pepper.

(I keep saying "some" because I don't actually measure out a spice if it is less than a teaspoon. But if you're anal-retentive, all the "some"s in this recipe have been for 1/4 teaspoon.)

Drizzle dressing and toss! Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Fire And Rain

I always liked this song, but tonight I heard a heartbreaking story that gave it a new meaning to me. Apparently, I never paid as much attention to the lyrics as I should, because it never seemed as sad as it did tonight!

I was driving home from class and the only station without a commercial was the easy listening channel. It was playing one of those "touchy-feely" shows that plays romantic or soft-rock songs for callers with sad, funny, or happy tales of love, family, and the like. It's been around at least 15 years now, but I don't know if it's national or not.

Anyway, I tuned in to a caller telling a story of a woman he had known and loved for his entire life (I placed him between 35-50). They had been childhood friends and were inseparable and he described her as his "first crush, first kiss, first love". She moved away in their teen years and they each married other people and had kids, but had kept in contact for the past twenty years.

He sounded so happy talking about her, and at this point, I was expecting him to bust out with a sweet story of how they had both divorced and ended up together again after all these years.

Instead, he revealed that she suddenly died yesterday of a severe asthma attack.

I actually started to tear up. Not only is unexpected death a heightened possibility I face every day with the one I love, this was the first time I'd ever heard the host get choked up on air. (Yes, I listen to this froofy stuff more often then I'd care to admit.) She said she would play a song for him, and "Fire and Rain" was the pick.

I can't imagine a more appropriate song. I just hope I never have to call her with a similar story.