Thursday, January 27, 2011

Turkey Cop-Out Event!!!!

Hey!!!!!!!!!!! I'm back with more updates!!!!!!!!!!! And recipes with crappy and/or old pictures!!!!!!!!!! Warning: if you can't handle reading about bodily fun(k)tions, do not read the next paragraph.

Well, last weekend our septic blew up which makes for the third weekend in a row that has been worse than the actual work week. Hurriedly sopping up urine that cascaded all over the floor (It was like Niagara Falls!! but luckily ONLY urine) was not something I'd like to relive anytime soon. Luckily, we rent the place, and the causation was nothing that could possibly be attributed to us and therefore, we don't have to pay for it. Naturally, everyone wants to blame a flushed tampon for a septic problem, but I vehemently denied the existence of tampons in the system. Of course that was a boldfaced lie, and every woman has flushed one at least once or twice, so secretly I was in a complete panic that it would be the cause and I'd have to build an even larger web of lies to keep from ponying up the dough.

Long story short, the septic system is old and failing, and was also 4 years overdue for a pump. In addition to this, roots had infiltrated one of the major pipes, and that was the cause of the blockage. Here is a visual aid:


So basically the purpose of this article is filler. I made a few things and completely forgot to take pictures of them, because I was dealing with not having a toilet or shower, and intense dental anguish (dental, not mental) from a procedure. Plus, 2.5 of the 3.5 are insanely simple so they will all be lumped. Because I forgot to take pictures, I'm going to use the pictures from the old articles! Thank goodness for repetition!

First on the chopping block is super-simple turkey chili, which is great for a night where you don't want to think, but want to eat some relatively decent comfort food. I was smart enough to take the picture for these ingredients!

Turkey Chili

1 1/4 lbs. lean ground turkey
cooking spray
1 green pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes (undrained)
2 15.5-oz cans kidney beans (undrained)
1 1.25-oz chili seasoning packet

In a large pot, cook the turkey over medium-high heat until brown. Remove from pot.

Spray pot with cooking spray and saute the pepper and onion for 5 minutes.

Add cooked turkey and all the remaining ingredients to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.

Wicked easy! Also, if you can manage to save four cups of the recipe, without scarfing it down like crazy, you can add 3 cups of cooked (1 1/2 cups uncooked) elbow macaroni the next night to make a chili mac, and stretch the leftovers even longer!

The next set of recipes is another delicious soup and salad combo! I hope you like mushrooms, because both dishes are chock full of them!

Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

1 T. butter
1 cup diced carrot
1 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 garlic clove, minced
2 T. flour
5 3/4 cups chicken broth
1/4 t. dried thyme (I guess without measuring, but this is suggested)
1 bay leaf
12 oz. precooked turkey breast
1 cup uncooked wild and long-grain rice
1/2 cup evaporated milk
salt + pepper

1. Heat butter in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Saute carrots, onion, celery, and mushrooms until beginning to brown. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

2. Add flour and stir constantly while it cooks for one minute. Add chicken broth and stir, making sure to scrape the flavor bits on the bottom of the pan - they are tasty!

3. Add thyme, bay leaf, salt+pepper, turkey, and rice, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer; cover and cook for 25 minutes. While this happens, make the salad!!*

4. Add evaporated milk and bring to a boil for one minute. Remove bay leaf, or suffer intestinal shredding from it.

*Spinach Salad with Mushrooms

This is so easy it doesn't really require a written recipe.

Toss a bag of baby spinach and the leftover mushrooms from the soup recipe together in a bowl. Sprinkle 1/4 cup sunflower seeds and Ranch dressing over the top. Toss well to coat!!

Recipes adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pecan Chicken & Spaghetti Squash


And that is all I have to say about that.

This was my second time making spaghetti squash (the first time chronicled here), and it was once again delicious and fun!

The pecan chicken is a great way to shake things up with new and/or healthy ingredients. Yay, pecans!

Here's the line-up:

For this recipe, the book is throwing me a curveball by having two long-baking items set for two different temperatures with different instructions. No way. I adapted this to be not stupid, for your cooking pleasure.

You really need to time this meal right, so I'll describe the recipe a little differently than usual. I usually put the ingredients list first so you can gather everything together, because I'm a sucker for mise en place, but hey, everything in moderation, including mise en place. Just don't let the CIA hear that (the tasty one, not the scary one). I'll just bold the newly-mentioned ingredients.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut ends off 1 medium spaghetti squash (or hack with cleaver - it's fun!) and then cut squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and wash and dry both sides.

2. Coat a large baking dish with cooking spray. Place squash halves face down on baking dish and spray the skins lightly with cooking spray. Put the timer on for twenty minutes, and get to work on the chicken!

3. Coat a shallow baking pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup crumbled cornflake crumbs, 1/2 cup chopped pecans, 1/2 t. garlic salt, 1/2 t. onion salt, salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, lightly beat 1 egg and 2 egg whites. Put 2 T. flour in a third bowl.

4. Now for the assembly line! Dip each chicken breast (recipe is for a pound of chicken total) in the flour, then the egg mixture, then in the cornflake and pecan mishegas. Coat each side of the chicken breast.

5. Place chicken in the baking pan and spray chicken lightly with cooking spray. Place in the oven with the squash, turn the temperature down to 350 on the oven, and bake for forty minutes or until done.

6. When you remove the dishes from the oven, dig the squash meat from the rind with a fork and place in a bowl; discard the rind. Drizzle oil, Parmesan cheese, butter, salt, pepper, and whatever else you want to put in there, and stir!

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What the "Dilly of Some Shrimp"?

Okay, so I have totally sucked at this blog once again. I feel like I've been running myself ragged the last two weeks, as I spent all of my Sunday at a Slumber Parties event. While it was fun, waking up in the dark for the sixth day of the week sucks. Especially on a Sunday.

Work has also been crazy, but I at least got to have a pretty long conversation with my boss today that reassured me that I indeed am NOT the worst person ever at my job, and our customers are ultimately jerks. Also, he gave me the great news that I'll get to hire some helpers for the summer, which is my EXTREMELY busy season, so at least I won't be totally strung out by the workload.

This next recipe is actually NOT from the Healthy Calendar, but one of the stranger cookbooks I own. I make a habit to collect esoteric or extremely specialized cookbooks (I have one entirely on guacamole, for example).

This next book is so rare, you can't even get it from Amazon direct. Even I'm pretty sure I stole it from my mom or grandma. If you like shrimp, and I mean really like shrimp, you have to go to the masters. And if pop culture has taught us anything, that means the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, run by Forrest Gump himself. That's right,The Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Cookbook is where I found this fast and tasty recipe.

Believe it or not, this is actually a great shrimp cookbook, teaching the many ways in which you can bake it, barbecue it, boil it, fry it, saute it, and so on. Literally, those are the chapter names. It also has great side dishes and sauces for shrimp and memorable quotes and pictures from the movie!

I should point out that every recipe in the book calls for fresh unpeeled shrimp, but in my opinion, that's too much damn work. I used precooked, peeled, deveined frozen shrimp, because that's what I had, but you're free to adapt the recipe however you wish!

Pay no attention to that balsamic vinegar - he's always trying to get the face time.

Dilly of Some Shrimp

1 pound shrimp, any size (mine were small)
2 T. minced shallots
1 T. minced garlic
1 T. butter
1 T. olive oil
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. fresh chopped dill
salt + pepper

Cook garlic and shallots in butter and olive oil in a large skillet over medium, stirring constantly until tender. Stir in shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until they're pink (if fresh) or hot (if frozen, like I used), stirring occasionally. Stir in lemon juice, dill, salt, and pepper. Serve warm or cold.

I served mine with couscous and steamed broccoli!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hearty Lentil Soup & Cucumber Onion Salad

Okay, so you'll have to forgive me (have to, there's no option here) for my absence. This has been an extremely cruddy week work-wise, and to top it off, I was sick for most of it. I haven't really been on the computer much at all, and when I was, blogging was the furthest thing from my mind.

But I'm back with a great new soup and salad combo. I really think soup&salad is the best type of meal you can have, comforting and refreshing! And soups and salads are versatile enough that they will never be boring!

I made these recipes before, but apparently did a really crappy job of it since I wasn't that impressed with them the first time around. I thought they were excellent this time! Though I do find it amusing that I was apparently sick the last time I made this, too.

On this specific evening, we had my dad over for dinner. Sean made some cute little "Chesapeake-spiced" (read: Old Bay coated?) turkey, swiss, and mustard/mayo sandwiches.

I took a bite out of that one, and realized half the sandwiches were gone and there was no picture!

Here's what you'll need!

A lot.

Hearty Lentil Soup

cooking spray
14 oz. lean smoked pre-cooked Kielbasa, sliced
2 stalks celery
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
3 cups water
1 14.5-oz can of chicken broth, or equivalent (I'm still getting through my cube collection)
2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes
1 cup dried lentils
2 bay leaves

Coat a large soup pot with spray, and saute sausage over medium-high heat until lightly brown. Remove from pan.

Add celery, onion, and carrots to the pot and saute for approximately 5 minutes.

Add everything else including the sausage, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Remove bay leaf (or eat around it!) and serve.

Last time I made the cucumber onion salad, I followed the recipe and used an entire medium onion. I couldn't even eat it because it was so potent. This time I used significantly less, but I honestly think the recipe would be great with no onion whatsoever. It's up to you!

Cucumber Onion Salad

1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1-2 T. fresh dill, minced
1/2 t. garlic salt
1 1/2 T. white wine vinegar
1 t. sugar
2 large cucumbers, peeled and sliced
1/2 small onion (or however much raw onion you can handle!), thinly sliced

Whisk together everything except the cukes and onion. Add cucumber and onion and toss to coat well.

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Tortellini Soup

Well, I've had a good weekend so far. I had an, erm, "conflict of interest" yesterday at work that put me in a crappy mood, but thankfully I have an awesome boss who quickly punished the offenders. And then I played Lego Harry Potter all night. Yay!

This morning, I woke up to breakfast in bed from Sean. Well, actually, I woke up too early on my own and ruined the surprise for myself. But it was still awesome and very sweet! <3 Now we are cleaning the house because my dad is coming over for dinner, which means I better hurry up and get out my leftover blogpost before tonight!

There isn't much to say about this soup except that it is completely awesome. You can't really go wrong with sausage or tortellini in just about any recipe, and this has been a perennial favorite in my house.

Here's the line-up!

Tortellini Soup

cooking spray
4-5 links Italian turkey sausage, crumbled (I think this means pull it out of the intestinal casing - and yes, I've just ruined sausage for you)
1 diced onion
1 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 T. basil
1/2 T. oregano
1 15-oz can low-sodium diced tomatoes (with juice)
5 3/4 cups of beef broth (or equivalent - I have been using cubes & water lately)
1 9-oz package of whole wheat three-cheese tortellini
salt + pepper

Coat a large soup pot with spray. Add sausage and onion and cook over medium-high heat until sausage is mostly brown.

Add vinegar and cook for a minute. Add basil and oregano and cook for a minute. Add tomatoes and broth, and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add tortellini, salt and pepper. Cook for another 10 minutes, and then enjoy the best soup ever.


Yep, I've already run out of pop culture references related to my dinners. Here's a Harry Potter trailer to watch. It's worth watching if you're a fan, because it's freaking amazing, and it's worth watching if you're not because you get to see Ralph Fiennes without a nose!

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Peanut-Crusted Cod

I'm glad I tried this recipe again properly. I tried it once last year with tilapia as a substitute for cod, and it was pretty vile.

Of course, my opinion might have been tainted by the fact that I "spent twenty minutes shelling the peanuts that I bought in-shell to save a buck, and then another twenty minutes thawing the fish. No. Not at the same time. Sigh."

Here is your small ingredients list!

Peanut-Crusted Cod

1/2 cup flour
1/4 t. cayenne
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
4 4-oz cod filets (or however many you need!)
salt and pepper
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
cooking spray
1 t. butter - not pictured, :(

In a small bowl, combine flour and cayenne. Spread mixture on a plate. Spread peanuts on another plate.

Season filets with salt + pepper on both sides. Dredge filets through flour, dip into egg whites, and press one side of each into chopped peanuts.

Coat a skillet with cooking spray, and melt butter over medium heat. Place filets peanut side-down and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until done.

Served with the ultimate in gourmet, stovetop stuffin'.

Eventually, I'm gonna run out of genius relevant videos to post. Until then, ride the wave.

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Sloppy Joes & Corn Salad, REDUX

Why is it no matter how long the time between two visits to the dentist, it always feels as if you were just there? I just came back and now I'm all in pain and cranky. Ah well, it's nice to have insurance again at least. On to the food!

This recipe is a repeat of an old entry that appeared a year ago. Since I'm doing the Healthy Calendar again, you guys are going to see some of the same foods from last year. It's not as bad as it sounds - I only did it for a few months last year, and at least this time I'll have some improved photos and actual ingredients/recipes instead of just a vague description of the picture! Either way, I'm sure no one has followed my blog enough to remember any of this stuff, but I'll post the old ones for my own nostalgia.

This ingredients shot is so crammed it looks like it should be on Awkward Family Photos Dot Com.

It reminds me of the time when my extended family decided it was a good idea to have a professional group photoshoot taken for my grandma for Christmas. It was a good idea in theory, but some (there's a good chance it was my mother, so I'll refrain from using the word "dumb" here) well-meaning family member decided we should all wear the same colors: tan tops and blue bottoms. Well first of all, not everyone looks good in those colors, and secondly, there are OVER 9000 shades of tan and blue, so naturally no one actually matched. Take that and combine 9 different versions of our family's Patented Fake Smile, and you have an awkward family photo!

Sloppy Joes
1 lb lean ground turkey
1/2 cup diced onion
2 minced garlic cloves
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, drained
1 T. mustard
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
salt + pepper
whole-wheat hamburger buns

Cook ground turkey over medium-high heat until mostly browned. Add onions and cook 3 minutes more or when they begin to turn clear. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Add everything else except the buns and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve on buns!

Corn Salad
1 small bag of frozen corn, thawed
1 diced green bell pepper
1 diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 t. chopped fresh basil
1/4 balsamic vinegar
1 T. olive oil
salt + pepper

Toss together corn, peppers, onion, and basil in one medium bowl.

In another small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients to make the dressing, pour over the salad, and toss!

Here's a non-awkward family photo. Thanks to SLOPPY JOE, SLOP, SLOPPY JOE, YEAH!

We could not have Sloppy Joes without this song, that I was singing the entire time I was cooking!

Sadly, this was the best version I could find. But it's okay, 'cause everything's doin' fine down here in Lunch Lady Land.

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Dinners!

I didn't want to break up Ramen Week with my New Year's feast(s), so I'm posting them a few days late.

This was New Year's Eve dinner. What you see from left to right (clockwise) is artichoke salad, Lindt truffles, cocktail peanuts, chips, homemade guacamole, fresh salsa (storebought), caprese salad, plate of prosciutto, asiago, and fancy olives, and a second caprese salad!

The caprese salads were cute enough to deserve their own photo, sans tomato helmets. Other than the awesome food, the evening was relatively lowkey. We also had wine and beer that barely got imbibed, and the three of us could barely stay awake til midnight. We were asleep by 12:05!


On New Year's Day, I wasn't taking any chances. I broke out the lucky black-eyed peas (with a side of pork tenderloin) recipe I did last year. Yes, we're kicking back off with the Healthy Calendar - hopefully we can get through the whole damn thing this time!

Here's the cramped family photo:

Tangy Apricot-Glazed Pork Tenderloin

1 pound pork tenderloin
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 T. sage
1/2 T. basil
1/2 T. thyme
2 minced garlic cloves
salt + pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

In small pan over medium heat, combine preserves, vinegar, spices, and garlic. Simmer for 3 minutes or so to make a glaze.

In a shallow baking dish, season the tenderloin with salt and pepper. Coat tenderloin with the glaze and bake for 30 minutes or until done. If you're anything like me, you require at least 50% extra on the baking time (45 minutes), because I'm an obsessive freak when it comes to avoiding foodborne illness. You can use this time to make the black-eyed peas.


Lucky Black-Eyed Peas

2 T. olive oil
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
2 minced garlic cloves
2 15.5-oz cans black-eyed peas, drained
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes

Saute green pepper in oil over medium-high heat for about ten minutes. Add garlic and saute 30 more seconds.

Add peas and red pepper and saute 5-10 more minutes.

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

This is about as fitting a song I can muster!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Final Countdown: Ramen Pizza!!!

Don't miss parts One, Two, Three, or Four of Ramen Week!

Here it is, folks: the coup de gras of Ramen Week! My dear friend Sarah is the genius behind ramen pizza, and she doesn't even know it - until now!

A few weeks ago, when I was trying to conceptualize Ramen Week and all the dishes I would adapt, I was consulting her on genres/cultures of food, without filling her in on the intended purpose. I was looking for 5 different ideas, and all either of us could come up with was, "Hmmm, Italian, Mexican, Asian....". Suddenly, she offered, "Pizza? Ha ha", and the idea was born! I told her she saved Christmas/Festivus/New Years, and I secretly got to work!

Though scientific and culinary curiosity prevailed, I will be perfectly honest - I was extremely wary of this recipe. I predicted that no matter how hard I would try, there was no way at all it would turn out edible, much less palatable.

HOW. WRONG. I. WAS. Ramen pizza CAN be done, and it CAN be very pleasing to the eye and palette!

To be safe, I took a tried and true homemade pizza recipe, and adapted it to fit my ramen needs.

1 package of instant noodles, KEEP the packet this time
4 cups fresh spinach, I use the pre-bagged kind
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 and 1/2 T. of olive oil, divided (I ran out so canola is the stand-in)
salt + pepper
1/2 T. dried basil
1/2 T. dried oregano
1 12-inch premade pizza crust
3 minced garlic cloves, or equivalent
1/2 to 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375, and get your noodles started.

Saute the spinach, mushrooms, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, and RAMEN SPICE PACKET together in 1/2 T. of oil.

Rub the pizza crust with the other tablespoon of oil, and the minced garlic. Spread your drained noodles evenly over the crust, then do the same with the spinach/mushroom mixture.

Sprinkle the mozz on top and pop it in the oven for 15 minutes or until done.

Stand back, everyone, I've officially ripped a hole in the Geek Space-Time Continuum. Now we can be sure to get enough nourishment from both major food groups (ramen and pizza) during those long WoW jags!

Recipe adapted from The Healthy Calendar!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Ramen 'N Cheese

Don't miss parts One, Two, or Three of Ramen Week!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!

I am extremely excited for 2011, because 2010 was the worst year of my life. I will not be doing a "Year in Review" like After The Gold Rush. Even though I thought it was a great idea, the past year is not something I'd like to rehash at length to do the same for my blog. I experienced a lot of sad/stupid/tragic/irritating/lame/expensive bullshit, encompassing every aspect of my life. Though some things were only a minor setback, and though some of the damage caused is irreversible, it has all been a learning experience, for better or worse.

The three of us (Shadow makes three!) are looking ahead with optimism to a better '11! I'd take more time to wax philosophical, but I'm afraid I'm not as good a writer as ATGR! Also, you're here to see ramen!

Ramen 'N Cheese is another simple substitution, but it is supertasty nonetheless! This is prepared in the style of stovetop mac-n-cheese, as opposed to baked. So far, I've gotten good feedback on my new habit of including an ingredients photograph, even if my ingredients are near-empty (I prefer to think of them as lived-in). This practice is something I picked up from the only food blog I read, Crepes of Wrath. Not only is it a great Simpsons reference (I assume is where she got the name), it is a great blog with great food and great photos! So I figured I'd toss her a shout-out here!

Here's whatcha need!

Real butter makes all the difference. In life, the universe, and everything.

3 packages of instant noodles, MSG packet discarded
1 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1.5 T. flour
3/4 Cups milk
1.5 Cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 t. cayenne
salt + pepper

Start the noodles first.

Heat the fats (that would be the oil and butter) over medium heat. When they're all melted together, add the flour, and stir until the flour cooks - about 3 minutes. The idea is to create a roux, but I way overdid the oil/butter mix so it was way too liquidy. Ah well. Extra butter is only a good thing.

Whisk in the milk, and bring to a gentle bubble. Stir in your cheese, and season with the spices. Mix the sauce with the noodles, and enjoy! I love this version of noodles and cheese; the combination of nutmeg and cayenne give it an excellent flavor! Also, it is probably the fastest mac-n-cheese you've ever made (without the help of SeƱor EZ-Mac, of course).

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray's recipe. Yes, I know. No, don't give me that. She may be annoying as hell, but the woman can make some damn good comfort food. In 30 minutes or less...Also, I promise that is a basil leaf, maaaaaaaaan.