Monday, December 10, 2012

Steak Tacos

So, aside from a minor hiccup the SCD diet is going really well.  We are sticking to the diet very well except for the occasional trip to the Mexican place by our house.  The proof is in my pant size- I've officially made it down to a size 6 from a size 8 when we started this lifestyle change about a month ago.  That makes me feel very chummy, especially since my workout schedule is very lax and when I DO workout I mainly do nice relaxing yoga instead of my usual "cram 2092 exercises into half an hour" tapes.

The hiccup that has come along is the fact that I need a root canal.  The hints started getting dropped this weekend with a slight toothache that regular tylenol could soothe.  This morning was different.  Even after popping a pill I was in such extreme pain, but I went along with my day anyway and made my way to work.  I officially spent more time on the bus today than I did working.  I  made it for a grand total of one hour before I hightailed it out of there and made my way to my amazing dental clinic. When asked by how much pain I was in I explained that while walking to work I looked cuckoo because I was simultaneously shivering and screaming whenever my teeth touched.  They got me in right away.  I'm kind of annoyed because they flat out told me that if I was able to come in before noon I would be able to have whatever procedure I needed performed.  I might have spoke too soon when I called them amazing.  No such luck, so tomorrow I'll be taking ANOTHER day off from work to go in and unhinge my jaw.

Eating anything that requires mastication has gone out the window for the next couple of days, which means that I am in for some serious diet cheating since I don't have much time to make anything from scratch.  Yes, I had eggnog for breakfast because my tooth hurt so bad :(

Anyway, actually perusing the grocery aisles was a very odd experience.  Being on the Specific Carb Diet you have to be well, specific, about what you pick up.  I can't follow recipes anymore that are like "pick up an already prepared and processed ingredient and mix it with these other canned ingredients over thurr".  I have to read EVERY label- and I have most of the illegal common ingredients memorized.  No sugar, no corn products, no grains, no soy products, no dairy unless it is a specific kind of cheese or homemade yogurt etc.  Alex was initially overwhelmed by the fact that he can't eat away at anything like he did before since a big factor in choosing his ulcerative colitis treatment was that he wanted to be able to eat whatever he wanted like the good old times (aka junk food).

I found it stressful picking out all this food that I know is bad for me (and everyone else for that matter), and I can't wait to go back to shopping the fresh perimeter of the grocery stores that we go to.  Oddly enough knowing that these foods are bad for me makes me not enjoy them as much, instead of relishing them as forbidden fruit.  I'm planning on making a batch of apple sauce tomorrow to make myself feel less crappy about the food that I picked up today to slurp down.  For the record Trader Joe's is mucho mucho cheaper than our regular grocery store- even when we buy organic meat/produce.


My team at work got me a cookbook for our wedding a few months ago, and with most cookbooks I thumbed through it, marked a handful of recipes that look promising (for some reason I never make a recipe that doesn't have a picture included unless it's something that I'm specifically looking for), shelved the book and forgot about it since I spend so much time perusing the internet for recipes at work.

I made the excellent decision to pluck this book out from the others, and this recipe is why

Steak Fajitas from Bride & Groom Cookbook which has incredibly well-deserved glowing reviews

1 lb steak- either pounded 1/2 inch think or cut into chunks
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground cumin
Olive oil
2 bell peppers- seeded, ribbed, sliced
1/2 yellow onion- sliced
1/8 tsp black pepper
SCD approved salsa
1 Avocado- chopped
Shredded cheddar cheese

Combine the spices together and add a bit of olive oil to make a paste.  Smooth the paste onto the steak and let it marinate for at least 30 minutes at room temp.
Pan fry the steak until it reaches a desired doneness.
Transfer the meat to a plate, leaving the juices in the pan and add the bell peppers and onion- cook until softened.  Cut the meat if it was cooked in one piece
Serve the fajita mixture over a bed of lettuce and top with desired ingredients.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Coconut Flour Pancakes

Oh yum.  Eating an SCD breakfast just got a whole lot easier.  This recipe makes enough pancakes for 2-3 people, and it refrigerates well.

Recipe adapted from Nourishing Days
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Coconut oil or butter
Beat the eggs for 2 minutes in a medium-size bowl, mix in the coconut milk, vanilla extract, and honey. 
Combine the dry ingredients and mix into the wet ingredients and stir until the flour has been thoroughly mixed in.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat and add coconut oil or butter to grease the pan.  It is easy to make the pancakes small- about 1/4-1/2 cup of batter each.  Cook for 2-3 minutes per side, or until you can easily slide a spatula under the pancake.  There is a learning curve to making non-flour pancakes, but even the ugly pancakes are delicious.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Cottage Pie

Last week Alex made me Raman Prasad's Shepherd Pie from his book Recipes for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, we ate the whole thing in one sitting.  I was pretty annoyed by the lack of leftovers, so this week I decided to repeat the meal but beef it up with... not beef but vegetables.  This more than doubled the yield, which means that I have leftovers for the next two days- hoorah!

1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef
1 red onion- diced
4 carrots- chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp lime juice
1 medium-large zucchini- spiralized or julienned
2 cups frozen peas- thawed
1 head of cauliflower- chopped into florets
2 tbsp butter
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 325

Heat up a pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil, ground beef, red onion, and carrots and cook until the meat has browned.

Meanwhile, steam the cauliflower until it is tender.

Once the meat has browned, lower the heat, add the cumin and salt, and cover to allow the onions to soften up a bit more.

Once the cauliflower has steamed through, add the butter and mash it however you prefer- I have used both a food processor and an immersion blender.

Add the zucchini and peas to the pan with the ground beef in it and stir to combine everything.

Fill a large pie plate/pyrex container with the ground beef mixture, top it with the cauliflower, and sprinkle the cheese over the top.  Cook for 15-20 minutes and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Bulgogi Wraps

Is this a pile of meat and green onions on a bed of lettuce?  Yes it is, and despite the bland look it is definitely worth making again.  Eating on the SCD diet is restricting in the sense that you have to do more prep work to get a satisfying flavor, but it definitely makes me appreciate every bite.  I have been instructed that the next time we make this we need to double the meat, but with a side dish/snack this is a decent sized meal for 2.


  • 1 lb rib-eye steak
  • 1/4 cup SCD Asian soy sauce (recipe follows)
  • 1/3 cup sesame seed oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 8 spring onions- chopped
  • Pepper and salt to taste
  • Lettuce leaves for serving
Cut the steak into thin slices, combine all of the remaining ingredients except for the lettuce into a bowl, add the meat to the marinade and let it marinate for 1 hour.  Add the meat to a wok and cook over medium-high heat (with sesame oil I find it better to add the meat and wok to the stovetop before I turn on the heat, otherwise you get a bunch of smoke).  Cook until the meat has cooked through and serve in lettuce wraps.
SCD Sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
Combine all the ingredients on a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until it has been reduced by half- about 20 minutes 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie

SCD diet update- Alex and I have been struggling to stay on the diet- it's hard when you love Mexican food and the restaurants always keep on refilling your chips and salsa without asking, but we've been doing an excellent job abiding by the SCD laws in the grocery store!  We've been going by Trader Joe's a lot, which makes it easy to shop with their incredible organic meat supply and fresh fruit.

Notice that I got a new table?  If you're interested you can see more of it on my other blog


  • 2 cups almond milk (or milk option of your choice)
  • 3 ripened bananas
  • 2-3 tbsp peanut butter to taste
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 ice cubes
Blend together in a blender (this diet has me lusting after a Blend Tech or a Vitamix, someday...)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Zucchini Pasta- or How to Eat (and Enjoy) Two Zucchini in One Sitting

I'm currently trying to immerse myself in the Specific Carb Diet- the premise behind this one makes sense.  Certain foods create bacteria/yeast in your digestive tract which compromise your health, and you avoid such foods (wheat products, refined sugar, preservatives, potatoes...).  It is essentially gluten-free meets paleo meets raw, and I'm really enjoying how I feel on it.  It is so fabulous that a lot of people attribute it to curing autism/Crohn's/Ulcerative Colitis/ms/etc..

Now, I love pasta.  Noodles & Co was my to-go spot in high school, and even whenever I would wind up at the Mall of America I would always pass the more "exotic" eateries in favor of good old Noodles.  With that said, it is going to be hard for me to pass up pasta.  To cope with this loss, I bought a spiralizer

With said spiralizer I have had this same meal twice in one week, which testifies to the fact that it quick, easy, and crave-inducing.
You can make zucchinia pasta without a spiralizer of course.  You can use a mandolin to create wide and thin noodles, you can use a julienned (this would take longer of course), and you can just match stick the zucchini (this would be the least consistent and take the longest).
  • 2 medium sized zucchini- spiralized
  • 2 handfuls of grape tomatoes- sliced in half
  • a few slices of roasted red peppers and a few tablespoons of their juices if from a jar
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • salt
Heat up a skillet over medium heat and add the vegetables and butter.  
Heat up until the butter melts and the zucchini warms up a bit (the less you cook it the crunchier it will be).
Adjust the butter and red pepper juice to taste and lightly salt to taste.  Yummo!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My New Favorite Thin Crust Pizza

Sometimes I make something so good that I'm glad that no one else is home with me to make me share with them.  This was one of those meals.  I really wanted pizza yesterday when I got home, so I threw together some ingredients and prayed that it wouldn't require 10 hours of dough rising.  It was so delicious that I ate the whole thing even though I was stuffed after I ate half of it.
The dough was thin, crispy, chewy, and this was one of the more bubbly pizzas that I have made to date.  Yummo!
  • 1.5 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 3 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1 cup of bread flour (or all purpose if you don't have it, but I won't be making the switch anytime soon)
  • 2 tsp sea salt
Mix the water and yeast together, mix in the salt, then add in the flour.  Knead until the dough is smooth and slightly tacky to the touch.  Place in a bowl and cover with a pot lid or a damp towel.
Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat oven to its highest setting- mine tops out at 500.
After about half an hour roll out the pizza dough on a floured surface. 
Place the dough on a pizza peel that has a light coat of corn meal on it, with the pizza placed as far away from the handle as possible to make sliding it off easier.  Before I had a pizza peel I used one of those flexible thin cutting boards.
Top the pizza with your favorite toppings- I like to brush on a 1 inch thin coat of olive oil around the outer crust, spread out a thin layer of salt-free tomato sauce, top it with fresh mozzarella balls and sliced tomatoes, I also hold my sea salt grinder high above the pizza and crank it a few times.
Slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone and cook until the crust is golden and the cheese has melted.
Top with fresh basil and enjoy.

Santa Fe Chicken with Spaghetti Squash

I have a diet FULL of variety.  Some days I do paleo, some days just gluten-free, and more often than not I carbo-load even though I'm not entering into any marathons anytime soon.  Incorporating spaghetti squash into my diet is a new way for me to satisfy my cravings for pasta without having the post-pasta guilt trip.  One cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains about 42 calories, whereas pasta contains over 200 calories per cup.  Aside from the longer time commitment to cook a spaghetti squash, the health benefits make this a no-brainer.

I slow-cooked one of my favorite meals to serve mixed in with the squash- and IT'S INCREDIBLE.  I've been eating the leftovers for lunch now for a few days, and I'm thrilled to report that spaghetti squash microwaves much better than pasta does.

Santa Fe Chicken recipe adapted from Skinny Taste
4 boneless chicken breasts
14.4 oz can diced tomatoes
14.4 oz chicken broth (I filled the tomato can with water as a measuring tool and mixed in some Better than Bouillon)
2 cups of cooked pinto beans or black beans
2 cups of frozen corn
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional garnish: cilantro and diced green onion

Mix together all of the ingredients and set the chicken on top.
Slow cook for around 4-5 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
One hour before serving shred the chicken, adjust the spice and salt, and start cooking the spaghetti squash.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Wash and dry the spaghetti squash. 
Cut it in half, remove the seeds with a large spoon, and place in a large glass casserole dish or in separate pie plates.
Bake for 40 minutes to an hour. 
Remove from an oven and use a fork to separate the ribbons of squash from the skin.  If the squash isn't easy to separate place it back in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes or until it doesn't resist.

Serve the two together- and savor every bite because it is delicious!!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Balsamic Pork Tenderloin

Contrary to popular belief, we have been cooking in this household!  We've just been taking advantage of our grill and most of our recipes have been meat seasoned with salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes with a veggie side.  Anyway, this recipe was worth sharing due to its deliciousosity and its novelty in our household- I don't think that I've ever had pork tenderloin before?

Recipe adapted from Kitchen Confidante
5 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
2 pork tenderloins

Stir together all the ingredients (except for the pork) to create a paste.  Coat each pork tenderloin with the paste and allow to marinate for at least one hour- preferably 24 hours.

Preheat grill to medium high heat and grill each of the four sides for 5 minutes.  The internal temperature should be 160 degrees, if it isn't keep on grilling until it reaches that point.

Let the tenderloins rest for ~5-10 minutes before slicing.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Thai Steak Salad

Being married is great, for some reason food has been tasting better ever since the wedding.  That's not the only reason of course, but this is a food blog and I won't go off with some ode to marriage here.  Alex and I chose to get married out in the Rocky Mountains at the Estes Park YMCA.  People always asked me why this was where we chose, and I didn't really have a good answer for them.  The first question was always if I was from there- pfft I wish!  I have only been there once about ten years ago, and Alex had never even spent any time in Colorado before.  I just knew that this is where it was going to take place, and luckily Alex is a great guy and went along with me. I didn't get that feeling with any place in the midwest, so I apologize to the midwesterners who had to trek out to Colorado.  I hope that you had a great time- we enjoyed you and were glad to give you an excuse for a vacation!  I'll share some more wedding food related deets before I actually tackle the recipe.

Catering was one of the most stressful factors of getting married in a place where it isn't terribly practical to drive out there to do a tasting when you live 16 hours away.  Our cupcake lady disappeared off of the face of the planet a few days before the wedding.  Seriously, she wasn't picking up her phone and this was made worse by the fact that her website had vanished- I almost checked the obits.  I didn't know whether or not to be relieved that we hadn't paid her in full yet or in panic mode because we didn't send in the remaining balance by her due date and what if she was still alive and wouldn't make our cupcakes because of this??

Anyway, turns out that she was just flooded and her server was changing.  I'm glad to say that Costco cake, while quite tasty, was not served at our wedding.  Our cupcakes were pretty good, not as great as my chocolate banana muffins but some things cannot be helped.  The flavors were: Red velvet with chocolate ganache filling and cream cheese frosting, chocolate with raspberry filling and chocolate buttercream filling, and vanilla with blackberry cream cheese frosting.  I ate one of each for breakfast the next day.  I am very upset at myself for letting someone walk off with the leftover cupcakes that morning- in hindsight I would have snatched some just because I would have appreciated them more without overactive bride brain.

The overlooming stress factor was that we had zero choice in catering, the YMCA was strict in providing their own food.  It was pretty decent, but the prime roast was great.  If you attended the wedding and ate other stuff and thought that it was just so-so, it isn't my fault that you didn't have the roast!  

Oh and just to go on a bridezilla tangent since I was a pretty level-headed bride considering all of the stuff that I couldn't control, if you RSVP yes to a wedding please make sure that you can actually come.  I know that it isn't life-shattering if you bow out a week before the wedding, but a head count is usually required by vendors weeks before the wedding, and while they are more than accommodating if your guest #s go up, I'm sad to say that they will not let you lower your head count if people can't come anymore.  I'm mostly sad because of all of the delicious food that went unenjoyed.  Scolding over.

Anyway, for our honeymoon we camped in the Rocky Mountain National Park for three nights.  We had some meals that consisted of cold brats and hot dogs since the western states are all ablaze right now and there were 0 fires allowed with the penalty of ranger fury, and some pretty incredible meals that didn't stray far from our usual price points.  I never would have thought that family run Thai and Nepalese restaurants in a touristy town would be the culinary highlight of our trip.  On our return voyage we finally had a campfire at the Wind Cave National Park, but then a fire ban went into effect at midnight.  It is dry out there!

We came back a day early since the main road in the RMNP was under construction and made getting places a real pain in the butt.  In hindsight I wish that we had camped out for another night and just dealt with the construction, but we both enjoyed the mountains so much that there are plans in the next couple of years to return out there.  It felt weird driving home for the first time after being away for over a week in the wilderness.  I do love suburbia though, and I'm thrilled to have my phone charged consistently again.  When we went out to eat I would request a table with an outlet (one poor foreign exchange kid had no idea what I was talking about) and charge my phone for as long as possible.  It would then die within half an hour after leaving.  Even though it was very inconvenient, it was great to be unreachable.

Ok- onto the recipe!

This is the first meal that Alex and I made together when we got back.  It was amazing, mostly due to the marinated steak of course since I would be fooling myself if I said that I loved red cabbage.  But a forkful of cabbage with a bit of steak on it is an enjoyable way to get some shunned vegetables.  It gets thrown together quickly with two people working together (awww), but wouldn't take that long to prepare solo.  I love the marinade.  A few days later and I still salivate when I recollect how incredible it was.  It was sweet with a great kick added by the sriracha, if you don't like spicy food then I wouldn't recommend this, otherwise it is something great to try.

This is a recipe from the June edition of Cooking Light.

1.5 lb flank steak- trimmed of excessive fat and seasoned with salt and pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp minced garlic
1+ tsp sriracha sauce (depending on personal preferences)
1 red cabbage- thinly sliced
1 1/4 cup bean sprouts
3/4 cup julienned carrots
1/3 cup mint leaves
1/3 cup cilantro leaves
1/3 cup basil leaves

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Coat the pan with cooking spray and cook the steak ~6 minutes per side.
Remove the steak from the pan and let it sit for 5 minutes (this finishes the cooking process) and then slice diagonally into thin strips.
Combine the lime juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and sriracha.  Set aside 2 tbsp of this sauce and marinate the meat in it.
Combine the cabbage and the remaining fresh ingredients in a large bowl and toss with the additional sauce.  Add the steak and serve immediately.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mature Hamburger Helper

This is one of the few new recipes that we have made since we have moved.  Add vegetables, more cheese, and maybe another variety of vegetable and it is good.  I added tomatoes, but it would have been amazing with chopped celery and maybe some green onions.  Alex helped make it, which makes it extra special as far as meals go around here. 
Recipe from Budget Bytes
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb ground beef- the fattier the tastier!
2 tsp garlic- finely chopped
1 small red onion- chopped
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp chili powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
8 oz tomato sauce
2 cups beef broth
2 cups pasta
1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar- separated

Heat up a large pot over medium heat and add the olive oil and ground beef.  Proceed to crumble and cook the beef.  Drain the beef once it has been browned.
Return the beef to the pot and add the onion and garlic.  Cook until the onions have softened- stir frequently!
Once the onions have softened add the flour and continue to stir the pot for an additional minute. 
Add in the spices, tomato sauce, and beef broth and cook until the liquids have heated through.
Add your favorite kind of pasta to the pot, raise the temperature to a boil, place a lid on the pot and reduce the heat and proceed to cook for the recommended cooking time on your pasta box.  If you need to add additional water to cover the pasta, do so!
Stir in 1 cup of cheese!  Add in some vegetable fixings!  Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of individual portions.

This made enough for probably 3 adults.  Stretch it further by adding more pasta, beef broth, and adjust the spices/herbs to taste.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Weeknight Asian Noodle Stirfry

I'm so glad that I am able to post this.  I originally made this TWO MONTHS ago, thought that I had posted it, tried to find the recipe a while back and couldn't find it, then found it in my drafts.  Naturally, I hadn't posted the recipe.  Luckily I somehow google searched the crap out of this and came across the original recipe.  AND HERE IT IS.  Too lazy to rewrite it, since I didn't change anything.

This meal was extremely easy, and will probably be a frequent item on our table.  The leftovers are spectacular, and it can be easily modified with different vegetables.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Adobo Chicken

A lot has happened since my last post!  We put an offer on a house, it got accepted, we bought our first new piece of furniture (on clearance since I'm a cheapskate), I found out that I have three cavities (AAHHHHH!), and my car has a huge gash in it from some butthead that rammed into it.  So, what I really mean to say is that we are now officially poor.  Eek!

With all of this crud going on, I want a dinner that is simple, delicious, and makes leftovers so that I don't spend money at the cafeteria.  Voila, adobo chicken!

Recipe adapted from Table for Two


  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion- diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic- minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1/2 low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 5-6 chicken breasts
  • 5-6 green onions- sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp corn starch mixed in with 1 tbsp water
Spread the olive oil over the bottom of a crockpot
Add the onion, garlic, peppers, bay leaves, stock, soy sauce, and apple cider vinegar and stir together.
Add the chicken and slosh the liquid over the top.  
Add the lid to the crockpot and cook on high for 2 hours.
Line a broiler pan with tin foil.
Remove the chicken from the crockpot and wipe off any onions or other solids that may be on it.
Strain the liquid into a pot and discard the solids.  Heat until reduced, about 20 minutes, or add the corn starch mixture to thicken the sauce***.
Brush the sauce onto each side of the chicken and place the broiler pan under the broiler for 2 minutes, flip the chicken and broil for an additional 2 minutes.
I served my chicken over a bed of finely chopped cauliflower and topped with additional sauce and green onion garnish.

***IMPORTANT!!! Do NOT add corn starch directly to the sauce without first mixing it with water.  You will have clumps of corn starch nastiness floating around in the sauce, and the sauce won't thicken if you do this.  Yuck yuck yuck!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

This weeks menu

In an effort to utilize all of the groceries that we accumulate, I am going to post my menu for the week on this site.  I tend to lose the menu that I write out for my shopping trip, so hopefully this will help!

Chinese Chicken Salad- 168 Sunsets
Vegetable Chicken Lo Mein- 214 Sunsets
Honey Hoisin Chicken Wings- 442 Sunsets
Yogurt Marinated Chicken Kebabs- 475
Spicy Buca Pasta
2 meals centered around what meat is on sale

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

French Onion Soup

I didn't realize how long it has been since I have cooked anything new!  I have been absolutely beaten down by house hunting.  It is frustrating when you find a gem of a house that has been on the market forever, put an offer on it, and have some other butthead swoop in and steal it.  I feel like this hunt for a house has consumed my entire soul.  At work?  Looking at houses online.  Off of work? Driving around to look at houses.  Sleeping?  Having nightmares about never finding a house.  Waking?  Having much more sensible fears about never finding a house.  Also, apparently to get a house with a good kitchen you need to have a mortgage 25k more than ours.

To wrap this story up, I just want to say that I haven't been spending as much time in my own kitchen as I have in the kitchens of strangers.  Dinner for us lately has been: a big bowl of popcorn, hamburger patties without a bun and other fun burger things, and restaurants that we have groupons for.

This soup has been the first meal in a long time that I have actually invested more than five minutes into, and it's fabulous- and healthy.  It also changed my opinion on swiss cheese being gross.

Recipe from Ellie Krieger

  • 2 small leeks- remove the green top, cut the remaining leek in half and slice thinly
  • 3 yellow onions- finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 3 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • A few slices of whole wheat bread
  • Swiss cheese- about 1 cup shredded
Heat some oil in a large pot over medium heat- add the leeks, onions, thyme, and bay leaf.
Reduce the heat to medium and stir occasionally until the leeks and onions have caramelized/browned.
Sprinkle the flour over the onions and stir.
Add the white wine, beef broth, and water and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for about 15 more minutes- this reduces the soup
Toast your bread and then tear into large chunks
Season the soup with salt and pepper.
Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the toast and swiss cheese.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Baked Mozzarella Sticks

Back in the day when I was a nerve-wracked obsessive compulsive little kid I would ONLY order mozzarella sticks when I went out to eat with my family.  I would also attempt to get to a certain destination - say the bathroom- in a certain amount of strides.  I have become less weird over the years.  I still really like mozz sticks.

I've attempted to make my own before, but I made a few mistakes.  I have since then altered my method and this is a fail-proof way to make delicious cheese sticks.  For loyalty reasons I used Crystal Farms Wisconsin Mozzarella Cheese sticks (since Minnesota isn't cool enough to have their own) which worked quite well, but I'll be trying out different cheese varieties in the future to see if I can find the perfect type.

This is a plan-ahead kind of snack since you need to freeze the sticks.  I usually am an instant gratification kind of person when it comes to food, but it was nice to be able to get back from doing stinky horse chores, preheat the oven, hop in the shower, throw cheese sticks in, do my hair and in ten minutes have lunch.
Cheesey goodness

  • 10 mozzarella cheese sticks 
  • 1/2 cup flour 
  • 2 eggs- lightly whisked until homogenous
  • ~2 cups Italian style bread crumbs
*The process is simplified if you put the flour, egg, and bread crumbs in their own bowl that is wider than the cheese stick.
  1. Roll each cheese stick in flour until the entire surface has been thinly coated
  2. Dunk the cheese in egg- make sure to get the ends!
  3. Gently bury the cheese in the breadcrumbs
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3
  5. Freeze the cheese sticks- this is a crucial step and must be done for at least a couple of hours 
  6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
  7. Place the cheese sticks on a pan lined with tin foil and bake 5 minutes on each side
  8. Eat immediately- mozzarella cheese sticks are not meant to be slowly savored!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Jamba Juice Smoothie Kit Review

In the past I was pretty shameful when it came to buying new products.  I would watch an infomercial and immediately think that my life was incomplete without that product.  That is how I wound up with a hair waxing product that was heavily advertised as edible.  Since then I have become a wiser consumer, and I think about whether or not I really need something for at least 30 seconds now!

Since I never visit the snack and chip aisle at the grocery store, I hardly ever get to see anything new and exciting foodwise.  However, Jamba Juice has a newish (at least to me) product- smoothie kits!
Image from
These kits are sold at Target, Walmart, and other national/regional locations.  At Target one kit will run for $2.50, which is much cheaper than getting your smoothie fix from the actual Jamba Juice.  Apparently Costco sells these as well, I just need to get there to see how great of a deal they will be!

A lot of amazing restaurants (California Pizza Kitchen, PF Changs, etc.) have expanded their reach into the aisles of grocery stores, which seems like a great idea when you are grocery shopping and want familiar restaurant flavors without the high price.  Then you get home and you realize that you ended up overpaying anyway for the name and are stuck with an average product.  Even though I have only tried one smoothie kit so far, I can say that the kits do deliver on their authenticity.

What I love the most about this kit is that I don't need to spend money on a bag of blueberries, a bag of strawberries, etc..  I don't think that you could even buy a bag of just blueberries for $2.50....  You do need to have juice (in this case apple), but if you forget to pick some up I don't think that you would regret making your smoothie with milk or another juice variety.

The only con is that you need to have a pretty powerful blender to make this quickly.  Even at my blender's most "powerful" speed I had to stop it and stir up the contents several times.  However, I didn't mind spending the extra time manipulating the slush since I didn't have to stand in a mile-long line.

I'll be keeping my eyes peeled for the Orange Dream Machine variety- that is my favorite!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tallarin Saltado

I have been crazy for Peruvian food ever since my mom and I hit up a Peruvian restaurant for an extra credit project for Spanish class.  When I went off to college I was thrilled to find that there was a fabulous Peruvian restaurant, Inka Heritage, right off of campus.  Al and I spent many Valentine's days, anniversaries, and date nights gorging on saltados.  When I saw the caught the word saltado out of the corner of my eye in my latest cookbook, I made sure to check the recipe out. 

I'm so glad that I did, every other recipe that we have tried out to this point has been lacking.  Usually we have had our saltados served over fries, but using pasta instead was a fun way to spice it up.  Peruvian food is a fun fusion between Latin and Asian flavors, which work so well together.  This recipe is on my official dinner roster, and I'm looking forward to trying out some new Peruvian dishes as well.

Recipe from The Sunset Cookbook- I checked this book out from the library, looked through the recipes, and was so impressed by the them that I ordered it without making any of them.  Best impulse decision ever.

  • Pasta- I used whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 1/2 lbs sirloin steak- cut into 1 inch cubes or strips
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 red onion- sliced into wedges
  • 1+ tbsp cilantro
  • 1/2-1 tbsp sriracha sauce (this really makes the dish)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 medium tomatoes- sliced into wedges and then halved
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • salt
Heat a large pot of water until boiling and cook pasta as directed. 
Strain the pasta and set aside.

Heat up a few tbsp of olive oil in a wok over medium heat
Cook the meat until it is browned, then cook for 3 more minutes- stir as needed
Remove the meat, but leave any leftover oil in the pan.
Cook the onion until softened
Add the cilantro, sriracha sauce, soy sauce and cook for an additional minute
Add in the tomato and cook until it starts to soften just a little bit- probably around 30 seconds
Add in the pepper
Return the meat back to the pot along with the pasta
Stir everything together and cook until the pasta and meat are reheated if necessary
Add salt to taste

Friday, January 20, 2012

Healthy Buffalo Wings

Back in the day when I was "sort of cool" I used to hang out at Buffalo Wild Wings with my pseudo-boyfriend and his buddies.  I was so nervous about being judged that I wouldn't even order anything (because that isn't weird at all), and for some reason I somehow convinced myself that I didn't like hot wings.  I guess watching a bunch of pimply dudes inhale them isn't the greatest appetite stimulant...  Anyway, I would just sit there and listen to whatever manly stuff 15 year olds could think of to yammer on about. Major mistake, I should have spent that time making that skater-haired kid spend his allowance on plate after plate of wings.  I might have shared.

Now that I am old enough to realize the glory of wings, I am also old enough to realize that if I don't work out every day that I can't eat at BWW as much as I really want to.  That is why when I found myself curled up on the chairs that are oh-so conveniently located by the cookbook section at my bookstore I went crazy when I found this recipe in Ellie Krieger's latest and most desirable cookbook Comfort Food Fix.  I wanted to make it so badly that I took pictures of the recipe with my obsolete cell phone.  Keeping it classy!

This recipe doesn't include any deep-frying, and some of the fat is separated from the wings by boiling them.  In the end it definitely took longer than just dumping the wings in some hot oil, but the taste was just as good if not better, and it doesn't hurt that there was 0 guilt afterwards.  Apparently this method will save you ~500 calories compared to the traditional frying method- woohoo!

Recipe from Comfort Food Fix

  • 2 lbs chicken wings- split at the joint
  • 1/4 cup Frank's hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Set an oven rack on the second highest rack and preheat the broiler
Combine the hot sauce and lemon juice in a large bowl
Place the wings in a wide pot and cover with 2 inches of water- bring to a boil
Boil the wings uncovered for 10 minutes
Remove the wings with a slotted spoon and place on a broiling pan
Broil for 5 minutes- or until the skin browns- flip the wings and repeat
Remove the wings and place them in the hot sauce bowl- stir to thoroughly coat each wing with the sauce.
Return the wings to the broiling pan and broil for 1 additional minute to adhere the sauce to the chicken.
Serve with additional hot sauce.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Simple Yet Gourmet Filet Mignon

One of my best friends in high school had an awesome connection that resulted in me eating at a place way out of my budget for free.  Thanks to him, I had my first filet mignon.  Thanks to my middle classness, I had no idea what it was that I was ordering and so I ordered it well-done.  The waiter probably thought that I was bonkers.

Since then I have learned how to properly order a filet mignon.  Not that I do this frequently- the most that I'll spend on a restaurant steak is $12 and only if I'm feeling like a millionaire on that day.  Anyway, yesterday I ended up going grocery shopping alone since Alex was off being a stud at BJJ class and we were completely out of non-water beverages which is a huge no-no in his book.  Without Alex there to restrain me, I filled up my cart with all sorts of meat that was on super-going-to-go-bad-in-two-days-sale.  This is how I wound up with filet mignon- and a freezer jammed with things that I never usually buy like turkey legs.   

Ok, this recipe is really good and can be made for two for under $14 if you are classy like me and grocery shop at Walmart.  I spent $9 since the filets were on sale, and I had everything else at home.  Trying to impress someone?  Make this.

  • 2 filet mignon steaks
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup red wine (I used Barefoot's Sweet Red)
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 red onion- chopped
  • 1 tbsp each of butter and extra virgin olive oil

Season the steaks with salt and pepper to taste.  
Heat up a grill pan over medium high heat and a small pan over medium heat.
Add your chopped onion, the butter, and EVOO to the small pan and stir every once in a while to brown the onions.  
Once the onions have browned, add in the red wine and balsamic vinegar- reduce heat to low-medium and stir occasionally while the liquids reduce.
After adding in the liquids to the small pan, pour in a few good glugs of olive oil onto the grill pan and cook steaks on each side for 5-7 minutes.
Let the steaks rest on a warm plate for a few minutes.  
Cut into a steak to make sure that it isn't too rare- if it is then throw it back on the grill pan for a few more minutes.
Top with the onion sauce and enjoy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Taylor Digital Thermometer Review

Today for lunch I baked a chicken.  For myself.  You see, I had intended on making this for Al's birthday dinner last night but for some reason the oven stopped working and was stuck at 77 degrees.  We ended up ordering Dominoes (their upgraded recipes are amaaaazing- especially the herbs and cheese that are sprinkled on the crust), and I was left with a raw chicken that would not cook.  I wanted to see if the oven was being less fussy today.  It was- and in went the chicken!

I love baking whole chickens because I live for dark meat, whereas Alex turns his nose up at it.  I made him appreciate pork, so maybe one day he'll be able to enjoy the delicacy that is dark meat.  Baking chicken can be a real B, since most recipes will say "the chicken is done when the juice runs clear at the leg", but I have had a really hard time with reading how clear chicken juice is.  Also, for some reason traditional thermometers don't like me.  I've bought two and both have failed to give an accurate reading- even though it should be a simple process.  Enter the digital thermometer!

After doing a ridiculous amount of research for my wedding registry (I swear that I've read every review on every single item), I decided that I couldn't wait to see if someone would buy me this thermometer.  So I bought  it (yay for Prime membership's free shipping!) and I finally got around to using it today.

The Taylor thermometer is my new best friend!  The screen shows the goal temperature, the current temperature, and it has a timer as well.  If you are using it for its ability to reach a certain temp, there is a temp alert that you can switch on.  The best feature is that the display sits outside of the oven, so you don't waste any heat by opening the oven door for a temp reading.  It was only $14 on Amazon, which is only a few dollars more than the traditional thermometer.

This chicken turned out to be the most crispy and succulent version that I have ever made.  The recipe is quite simple, but is worth sharing.

  • 1 whole chicken- thawed
  • ~2 tbsp butter- at room temp
  • ~2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt- I used the pink Himalayan salt which is available at Trader Joe's and it tastes even better than sea salt!
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees
Rinse the chicken with cold water and pat dry with a paper towel
Massage the entire chicken with the butter, then repeat with the olive oil
Generously sprinkle salt on both sides of the chicken
Place in a baking dish and bake until a thermometer inserted into the breast (but not hitting any bones) reads 165 degrees.
Allow the chicken to rest for 5-10 minutes.
I had a hard time keeping Lyonel away from his dream feast

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Frozen Elvis

Today was one of those days where you slave away at something and as a reward it flops horribly.  In my case I made butternut squash ravioli from scratch- but I didn't roll out the pasta thin enough and so it didn't cook evenly.  Normally this would put me in a foul mood for a few hours, but I had a new kitchen toy to distract myself with.

I had been wanting an ice cream machine for quite a while, and since it was more of a want than a practical need I had not yet splurged on one.  My spectacular sister got me one for Christmas, and since then I have worked feverishly to free up enough space in the freezer to accommodate the freezer bowl.

The machine is pretty slick, it makes a batch of ice cream in under half an hour!  My favorite part about making ice cream (aside from the obvious) is that the top isn't completely covered so that it is easy to taste and adjust the ingredients as needed.

2 cups Greek yogurt- I used fat free plain Fage
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 overripe bananas- broken up
1/3-1/2 cup peanut butter

Place all of the ingredients together in the ice cream mixing bowl and follow manufacturer's instructions.
Taste and adjust ingredients as necessary- I found that starting light on peanut butter and adding more as needed worked best.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Scurvy-Free Salad

A few months ago I dragged Alex to a darling cafe (Cafe 318 in Excelsior for those of you who are interested).  I ordered a pretentiously amazing pizza, and it came with a salad on the side.  The salad had no other obvious ingredients in it besides the lettuce, and I only got around to eating it because I needed something to occupy my time while I was waiting for the waitress to bring the bill.  IT WAS AMAZING.  Instead of being dressed with something oily/fatty/or both, it was tossed with plain old lemon juice.  Maybe Mcdonalds should start offering lemon juice as a dressing so that people that are on a diet yet wind up at Mcdonalds ordering a salad actually have a chance at walking out of there successfully.  Maybe.

I was sick over the holidays and I have been inhaling several variations of this salad in an attempt to load up on vitamin C and to make my calories count.  Tonight's version was probably my favorite, but my key to having a fabulous salad is to have these main ingredients that I always have lying around: lettuce, craisins, walnuts, apples, and lemon juice.  Adding in other fruit just makes it even more irresistible.

Rating 10/10.  This salad is so addicting that I have two servings of it before I get around to actually eating the main course of the meal.

1 head of lettuce- washed, chopped, and given a whirl in a salad spinner
1 apple- chopped
1 pear- thinly sliced or chopped
1 persimmon- sliced into half moons
Lemon juice- for dressing

Combine all of the ingredients together and drizzle with lemon juice.

FYI- Costco sells bottles of pure lemon juice and huge bags of craisins.