Thursday, August 30, 2012

What I Ate Wednesday

Have you heard of WIAW?  I just read about it last week, but apparently I’m out of the loop!  It’s been going on for a long time and is very popular with bloggers and it’s been mentioned on Pinterest.  I heard about it on a blog called Peas and Crayons.  Since I am obsessed with food I find this weekly posting of what people eat very fun!  I like hearing and seeing what people eat and cook.  I thought I’d join in on the action and start blogging about what I eat on Wednesdays.  Beyond just reading what other people eat, if you’ve never kept a food diary I highly suggest it.  I don’t do it on a regular basis, but periodically I will.  It’s a really great way to track all you put it in your body.  Sometimes, through the course of a day you don’t realize how much you actually eat.  I’m not big on calorie counting. (Although I know it works great for many people) Some days I eat like a “normal” person and then other days I could eat all day and still feel hungry.  If you’re lucky, that will happen one of these Wednesdays. J  One of the people I work with has mentioned how she doesn’t understand how I don’t gain weight since I eat all day long sometimes.  News flash, my broccoli, my apple, my hummus, my Greek yogurt, my edamame, and my brown rice are not going to make me fat. 

Without any further blabbing, here’s WIAW #1:

Wednesdays are one of the mornings I wake up early and run and go to yoga.  I don't like eating before I run so as I got ready in the locker room I ate two No Bake Energy Bites

Usually I order decaf coffee because too much caffeine gives me migraines.  However, I have learned as long as I don't drink it two days in a row I'm fine.  I needed some caffeine to get me through hump day yesterday!  This week, I will be up by 4:30 every single day due to either workouts or my work schedule.  A girl needs a caffeine kick sometimes.  I usually go against my "rule" of not eating artificial sweetener and get ONE pump of sugar free syrup in my coffee.  I grab a coffee only once a week or so and I figure it's such a small dose it's okay.  I just can't bring myself to get regular syrup and drink my entire daily sugar limit in one sitting.  However, it looks like Starbuck's messed up and gave me regular.  I see no SF before that Hazelnut on my sticker.  Shame. On. Them.
My mid morning snack was three bean salad.  My grandma brought this to a family meal once and I loved it!  I buy the can of three bean salad at Aldi's and then add some black beans and kidney beans, northern beans, whatever I have in the pantry.  Usually, I add some celery and white onion too, but I didn't have any when I mixed this together on Sunday for the week so I'm eating it plain this week.  It's still delicious.  Drain all your cans except the three bean salad one and you're good to go. 

For lunch, I had leftovers from dinner Tuesday night.  I had a black bean veggie burger on a 100% whole wheat sandwich thin with Sriracha ketchup and shredded sweet potatoes.  (I'll post both recipes soon)

My afternoon snack was a bowl of Grape Nuts with Almond Milk.  I know, kind of a weird snack, but I had originally packed it for breakfast.  Sometimes, after I workout I eat a small post workout snack and then still want some breakfast an hour later.  Yesterday, my energy bites and coffee kept me full until I was ready for a snack so I didn't eat my cereal.  However, after I ate lunch I was hungry again around 3:30 so I ate it then. 

 I forgot to take a picture of our dinner, but we had Brinner last night.  We've been married 6 years and I bet we have done this three times.  I always forget about it, but I should really do it more often.  I love it!  It wasn't very healthy, but I enjoyed every bite!  I guess I was so excited to dig into my pancakes I forgot to take a picture.  If you haven't tried Trader Joe's Pumpkin mix you are missing out.  I don't know if they have them in stock yet as it's a seasonal item, but I was a crazy lady and bought about 5 boxes last year to last me through the winter and summer.  And, if I do say so myself, I have shown excellent self control.  I still have one box left thank you very much!  Anyway, I ate two pumpkin pancakes with 100% maple syrup, one piece of French Toast on 100% whole wheat bread and 1 scrambled egg.  Yes, just horrible for me, but so good! 

If you'd like to comment when I post these what you ate on Wednesday I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wild vs. Farm Raised Salmon

Yesterday, I shared a recipe for salmon and told you to trust me and buy wild caught salmon.  Today, I'll tell you why.  I have included links to two articles that sum it up very well.  They both focus on salmon, but I choose to purchase all my fish wild caught.  Yes, it's more expensive, but my health is important to me so it's worth it.  You should have no problem finding frozen, wild caught salmon fillets.  It is a bit tougher when you are looking for Mahi Mahi or Halibut.  I usually get my Mahi Mahi at Sam's Club or Trader Joe's.  Sam's used to have Halibut, but they haven't lately and I haven't been able to find it anywhere else.  Wild caught shrimp, in Kansas, is pretty difficult to find.  However, just a couple weeks ago at Dillon's I found a frozen package that said it was wild caught.  It's hit or miss, just take the time to look.

Yes, I just googled the topic to find these articles, but they look like credible sources and it's all information I have read before written by many different people.  They all say the same thing; farm raised salmon is: injected with dye to give it the pink color (without it they would be grey), given antibiotics because there are so many of them in an enclosed space that without it they would all get sick, and higher in fat and lower in the beneficial Omega-3's you normally give your body when eating wild caught salmon. 

My Dad and I share a passion for wild caught fish.  He is the one who told me several years ago about all the articles he read on the topic.  One more topic he brought my awareness to is that you  may read on the front of the package "Wild Alaskan Salmon", but then on the back of the package it says "product of China".  Confusing, huh?  How is it ALASKAN Salmon, but then coming from China?  Often, the fish is caught in Alaska and then quick frozen and sent to China for packaging.  There's debate on how safe this is.  I currently don't have any salmon packaging at my house because I usually take it out and store it in the freezer in clear containers so I honestly am not sure if mine said packaged in China on them. I will update this post the next time I go salmon shopping. However, if your package just says Wild Caught Salmon on it and then says packaged in China, the fish probably came from China and I'd stay clear.  Make sure you buy Alaskan salmon and you're probably okay.  Obviously, your best best is to have it caught AND packaged in Alaska...but, good luck with that in the middle of the United States. :)

One last thing, I wouldn't order salmon at a restaurant unless you're specifically at a seafood place where you know it's fresh.  Chances are, it's farm raised if you are at Chili's or at a sports bar watching a game.  I know, I know, you're just trying to eat something healthy at a place like that, but instead you end up ingesting dyes and chemicals and antibiotics.  (And people wonder why I stress out when I have to go to places like this.  What's a girl to order?!) My suggestion is to not be afraid to ask your server!  They may not know, but they can easily go find out for you if they serve wild caught salmon/fish.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Baked Salmon

Yesterday, Josh had a golf tournament he played in that ended with a dinner so I was on my own.  What I really wanted to eat was this:


Thai Basil Tofu from a place called Tsunami that’s just down the road from me.  It is one of my favorite meals in Wichita.  However, I have said the word “budget” more times than I prefer to in my entire life this past month to Josh so I figured I should try and follow it too.  I saved the $9 (because let’s face it, we know I’ll cave and buy new workout pants next week) and decided to eat at home.  After rummaging through the freezer and pantry I had a great idea.  I always have fish in the freezer so I pulled out some salmon and decided to try the recipe that’s floating around on Pinterest where you put it in the cold oven, turn it on and it’s supposed to be flaky and perfect in 25 minutes.  It sounded too good to be true, but I gave it a whirl.  When I first clicked the link to this recipe last week it took me to The Pioneer Woman's website and I did not have high hopes.  Usually, her recipes are full of butter and things I try not to cook with, but this was quite the opposite.  She explains her friend came to visit and prepared this so that might explain it! Ha ha!

I also had some sort of grain from Trader Joe’s my mom gave me last time I was home.  She gave it to me in a Ziploc so I have no idea what it is, but it’s a mixture of tri-colored orzo, red quinoa, lentil and other deliciousness.  I cooked it in vegetable broth and ate it with my salmon. 

I took a picture of my pepper and salt because I just love my pink salt.  I bought it on my first ever trip to Trader Joe's.  This lady was buying it who had been to Trader Joe's before and went on and on to my mom and me about how good it tastes.  I had to hold back from interrupting her.  She clearly didn't know me.  You had me at PINK, lady.  I'm buying it for that reason only.  To be honest, I try not to cook with a ton of added salt and I think it tastes like salt.  However, I think it's more fun to use pink salt so that's what I use.
Drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with salt & pepper.
All done.  I took mine out after 15 minutes (recipe says 25) because I had a small portion and in the recipe they have an entire fillet.  It was not done at 10, but I probably should have checked it again at 12.
Verdict: VERY simple.  I actually really enjoyed it with the Trader Joe’s blend, but I think it would be a little bland if I would have only eaten it with brown rice like I normally do.  I will definitely make this again for a quick, healthy dinner, but I might get more creative with the spices I sprinkle on top. It’s nice to just plop it in the oven and it’s done in minutes.  I am not going to rave about it quite like the Pioneer Woman, but I will remember this easy method and use it again sometime.  My suggestion if you make it is to remember to pair it with a flavorful quinoa, rice, or mixture like I did by making it with broth instead of water.  Or, do like they show in the recipe and pair it with potatoes and vegetables to supplement it.

Don't forget, make sure you buy WILD CAUGHT salmon.  (One of these days I'll post about why, but for now, trust me) Check your packages!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Avocado Pita Pizza

One of the recipes I tried while Josh was out of town a couple weeks ago was yet another one from my Mom’s Pinterest: Avocado Pita Pizza with Cilantro Sauce.  I love pitas, avocados and cilantro so I had high hopes.  Plus, all the ingredients are items I have on hand each week anyway.  It was very easy to prepare and I found it to be a nice, light dish.  I sent Josh a picture of it and told him our next Meatless Monday menu was set.  He also likes pitas and avocados so I thought it was sure to be a hit.  I knew he would need two of these along with a side dish to get full so I also prepared a sweet potato black bean quinoa dish I know he likes.  (I’ll post that recipe soon too…if only I had time to blog every day!)

Last Monday came and I made our Pita Pizzas.  Mistake #1: calling it pizza.  I pulled these out of the oven and Josh asked if he should put ranch on it.  Excuse me?! I shot that down immediately.  He puts ranch on his pizza all the time, but this was homemade cilantro sauce.  I asked him to kindly please try it plain first and then add ranch should he feel it necessary.  Then he asked if he should put red pepper flakes on it.  Now, that actually was a good idea because I like things a little kicked up too.  However, I was still so appalled that he would suggest ranch on my “pizza” I prepared I shot that down too.  However, next time I make these I just might sprinkle a few red pepper flakes on it.  He might be on to something there. 

We started eating and I patiently waited for him to get through a few bites before asking what he thought.  I got a very nonchalant shrug of the shoulders and an explanation that it was good, but it wasn’t really that flavorful.  Mistake #2: I showed way too much excitement about this recipe to start with so therefore his expectations were so high that when he took a bite he was disappointed.  Or, so I tell myself.  The truth is, I may be the “foodie”, but Josh has a much more developed palate than I do.  I mean, let’s face it, there isn’t a glass of red wine I have met that I disliked.  And, if I’m in a situation where I’m supposed to be educated on the wine or make a comment I totally make things up.  I taste blackberry with a hint of vanilla.  Not true.  I taste red wine and it’s delicious; end of story.  One time, I even said my wine tasted like I just licked the grill...during a wine tasting in front of the wine reps.  Whoops.  Honestly, that was the first time I tasted a wine and I actually felt like I knew what it tasted like and I blurted it out before I even thought about how it might sound.  It wasn’t a negative comment at all, it’s actually one of the best wines I’ve ever had.  I have a bottle at home that’s been sitting there for three years just waiting for a special occasion.  I haven’t quite figured out which occasion screams, let’s open up the I just licked the grill grate wine!

Anyway, Josh ate it for dinner on Monday and while he thought it was alright, he didn’t find it flavorful enough.  I am in agreement it is not the strongest, most potent flavor you have ever tasted, but I found it delicious.  I think the combination of the cilantro with the  cheese and avocado is a wonderful mixture.  I think this would be a great appetizer at a party and if you have some side dishes it’s a great main dish as well.  So, one of us loved it, one of us though it was alright.  I say you give it a try and let me know what you think.  As I mentioned, it’s super easy and made with common ingredients.

The quest for Meatless Monday dishes Josh likes continues.  I believe I am 1 out of 12 currently.  Time to increase that statistic.  Maybe next Monday…

Recipe found here:

If you live in KC these pitas are the best!  My mom found them at a little place in Lenexa. I have never been, but she has also eaten there and really likes it.  They are perfect because you can freeze the bags and then put them in the oven as needed and they are ready to go in minutes.  She buys me two or three packages at a time and I keep them on hand.  It's worth the extra stop if you're ever in the area.

This is how it looks right before going in the oven.  After it's baked you top it with your avocado slices and eat up!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Chemicals in Products

Have I mentioned I have no respect for the FDA or USDA? You can't trust them.  I know, I sound like a crazy, paranoid person, but I am serious.  You have to do your own research and find articles and read labels, etc.  I read two articles yesterday that were quite disturbing.  These don't have to do only with food, but I try to live a healthy lifestyle and these apply to my daily living. 

1: Johnson & Johnson to remove dangerous chemicals

Johnson & Johnson, you know, the ones who make BABY products.  Here's a quick excerpt:

The key chemicals in question are 1,4 dioxane and the preservative formaldehyde, which is slowly released by a chemical called quaternium-15 to kill bacteria. Both 1,4 dioxane and formaldehyde are probable human carcinogens; formaldehyde also is a skin, eye and respiratory irritant.

Remember when I talked about Aspartame and how it turns to formaldehyde in your body?  Well, if I don't want to ingest it, I also don't want to apply it to my skin and certainly not on a baby! 

Carcinogens=cancer...awesome.  If they are dangerous chemicals, why are they permissible in the first place?

2: Beetle Juice!

As for the second article about beetles, well, when I discussed Michael Pollan's Food Rules he mentions a rule is to not buy anything with any ingredients that a 3rd grader can't pronounce.  Here is a perfect example as to why.  Turns out, beetles, listed in their scientific name are often in yogurt, ice cream, and make-up among others.  Spectacular.

Are you depressed yet?  I brought up the Johnson and Johnson article while on the phone yesterday with my veggie loving friend Katie O.  She told me about a new all natural, chemical free cleaning product she just purchased.  I told her she is going to be my first guest blogger.  I know, it's not food related, but hey, we all just want to live long, healthy lives so anything I can learn is beneficial.  Get to cleaning and testing those products out so you can tell us all about it, Katie!   

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Picasso's Pizza

It’s a toss-up between the Friday paper and the Sunday paper as to which one I like better.   On the one hand, there’s nothing like an omelet, a good cup of coffee and the Sunday ads.  On the other hand, on Friday’s I go straight to Wichita’s GO! section which has a full page of the newest restaurant’s opening and reviews.  I devour this word by word.   Several months ago I read about a place called Picasso’s Pizza that was getting ready to open in the Delano district.  A few weeks later, the Wichita Eagle’s food writer, Denise, wrote this:

DON’T MISS DISHES: The slices at Picasso’s are amazing, especially the ones that use Picasso’s delicious red sauce as the base. Slices are made on homemade thin crust made with just the right flour — a high-gluten formula it took Schmidt a long time to find. (Picasso’s offers gluten-free slices, too.) Pizza crust connoisseurs will love the way it’s thin and crispy under the toppings and yeasty and chewy when they finally gnaw their way to the top. I’ve been to Picasso’s five times already, and my clear favorite is the simple beef-and-mushroom slice ($4.95), which lets the flavor of the sauce and crust shine through.

I need to learn how to write about food a little more descriptively and creatively, huh?  She puts me to shame, but she’s getting paid for it and I’m not so I’m over it.  Anyway, I finally made it to Picasso’s last week and I am no pizza expert, but I have to disagree with her.  The atmosphere was fun, the pizza options were plentiful, and the slice was bigger than my head.  (They are going for New York Style)  The veggie options were abundant and I went for the tomato and basil.  Here’s the thing: I didn’t think the red sauce was anything rare and as I ate it I couldn’t wait to get to the crust because in my humble opinion that can make or break a questionable slice of pizza.  In this instance, there was no “shining through” in the flavor of the crust.  I was pretty disappointed.  If I am splurging and eating more calories than I normally would (because let’s face it, you put a piece of pizza that equals three normal pieces in front of me and I will finish it) and if I’m eating white flour if better knock my socks off! 

I am not saying I won’t ever go back; perhaps I need to try a different kind.  I really enjoyed how you can order by the slice and then they bake it fresh.  However, I was not blown away on my first visit.  I realize there is a variety in styles and flavors of pizza and maybe this just isn’t my cup of tea.  If you live in Wichita, you now have a raving review from a true foodie, and a not so good review from a girl who likes food and has a blog about it.  It’s probably worth the gamble to give it a try, and I would love to hear what you think of it if you go!

Nothing fancy about their sign...compliments of Boulevard, but the inside is much nicer.  Like many places in the Delano district, if you don't know what you're looking for you drive right by.

The prep line where the pizza is assembled.

Open kitchen where you can watch all the slices come in and out of the oven.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Eggplant "Meat"balls

Eggplant meatballs over zucchini noodles, sauteed spinach, roasted okra and roasted cauliflower with tahini dressing.

Several months ago I found a recipe for lentil meatballs.  It would be harsh to say they were horrible so I won't go that far, but they were mediocre at best. Due to that not so great experience I was a bit hesitant to try this recipe, but I am so glad I did!  Last week I had my friend Katie over for Bible Study. I also cooked her dinner to thank her for taking Josh and me to and from the airport for our trip.  She got up early and stayed up late and we were so appreciative.  Thankfully, she's always up for my veggie adventures.  (Or, she's really good at faking her excitement!)  Usually, I don't try new things when I have people coming over, but since it was a close friend I decided to gamble.  I knew she liked to eat eggplant and if we had to order pizza last minute it wouldn't be a big deal.  Thankfully, no pizza was needed that night and I found a keeper of a recipe.

This recipe also came with a basic red sauce to make with it and I followed that as well, but obviously, you can top this with your favorite sauce. 

One thing I have noticed since I quit eating meat is that I eat WAY more carbs.  I always choose whole wheat, but I still eat too many of them.  That being said, I wish I could say I put these eggplant meatballs over zucchini noodles because I was actively trying to eat less carbs.  As good as that sounds and as much as I need to work on that, it isn't the truth.  If I'm being honest, it was because I wanted to use my new mandolin!  I've been wanting one, but the ones I have looked at were super fancy and around $50.  A couple weeks ago I was at Aldi and found one for $5.  FIVE DOLLARS!!!  Sure, it's plastic and may not last a lifetime, but it works.  It's absolutely perfect for my at home use. 

I need to give credit to my Mom for this recipe.  She posts the yummiest looking stuff on Pinterest.  So, when I set out to make new recipes I go straight to her Pinterest page and I find tons! This one came from a blog:  This blogger is vegan, so she used vegan cheese and egg replacer and I just used regular stuff so I'll type it out here how I did it.


1 medium sized eggplant, peeled, diced
2 tbsp onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp parmesan cheese
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg

In a large non-stick skillet saute the onion for about 5 minutes or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and continue to cook for about 15 minutes or until eggplant is soft and gray in color. Allow to cool.

Dump the eggplant mixture into food processor and process until smooth and sort of pasty. Add to breadcrumb mixture.

Add the egg and mix well. Form meatballs using a measured tablespoon and roll into balls.

Place meatballs onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper lightly sprayed with cooking spray. I sprayed the tops of the meatballs as well. Bake for 20–25 minutes at 375° flipping half way through to ensure even browning.
This recipe makes about 17 meatballs and comfortably serves 4. (I used my cookie scooper and made these a little bigger than she did so I didn't get quite as many.)

Quick and easy tomato sauce recipe below.


1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
pepper to taste
dash crushed red pepper

Mix together in a saucepan and heat.

This is the "grayish" color it turn to once it's soft and done cooking.
All the ingredients mixed together.

                                                                 My $5 mandolin. :)
                                                     A few quick slides across and...
...beautiful zucchini "noodles".  I put these in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then drained so they were warm.  I can't wait to add these meatballs to spaghetti, pasta and so much more!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Portabella Mushroom Sandwich with Pesto

While the husbands away, the wife will play…in the kitchen that is!  I miss Josh lots when he is out of town, but I make the most of it and try new recipes almost every night while he’s traveling or on call.  It keeps me busy, makes the time go by quickly, and I get to try my ever growing list of recipes I want to test.  So, last weekend when he was out of town for a few days I got to cooking.  All but one recipe was a success and I will share them on here!

First up, was to recreate an amazing sandwich I had while at the Atlanta airport a couple weeks ago.  I know, I know, airport eating that was tasty?  On this trip, we had a two hour layover and had plenty of time to search for a sit down meal.  Thankfully, Josh understands my dislike for airports and flying as well as my borderline anxiety I get when trying to find something healthy to eat.  He is very patient while I walk around and peruse looking for just the right spot for us.  I don’t even remember what this place was called, but we found a great book/coffee/cafĂ© shop that had a very nice looking, healthy for an airport menu.  I ordered their portabella mushroom sandwich (albeit with fries, but they were baked!)  and proceeded to eat the entire thing.  It was pretty big, and I probably should have taken off the top part of the bread, but I wanted to get really full so  I just had to finish it all.  You see, I have this rule…well, I have LOTS of rules while flying, but one of them is I don’t like to eat on airplanes.  Not even snacks.  It grosses me out.  I had a three hour flight ahead of me and needed to fuel up so I ate all of it and enjoyed every bite.  Along with the portabella, it had roasted red pepper, mozzarella cheese and a yummy pesto all on a ciabatta bun.

As I decided what I should make for my first dinner I chose to recreate the Atlanta airport sandwich.  I chose to do this for lots of reasons.  One, I wanted to recreate a delicious meal.  Two, pine nuts are expensive, but I found them at Aldi’s last week (so exciting!) and couldn’t wait to make pesto with them.  Three, I adore roasted red peppers.   I knew it couldn’t be too hard to make and I was right-it turned out beautifully!  I didn’t have a recipe as I was simply putting together a sandwich, but I did follow a recipe for the pesto.  Along with the pesto I also had to grill my mushroom and roast my peppers.  For the mushroom, I descaled it and let it soak in a little bit of olive oil and balsamic vinegar while I prepared the rest of the sandwich.  I then grilled it for 5-8 minutes on both sides.  There’s no real trick, just cook it until it gets soft.  To roast peppers, you want to turn them black.  That’s right, all you who feel like you burn things, maybe you should try roasting peppers; blackened is the goal!  Simply put your whole pepper(s) on a baking sheet and put them in the oven.  Yep, that’s it.  Turn your oven to 500 degrees and when it’s heated put the pan in.  Bake for 20-30 minutes until the skin is black.  I usually flip mine halfway through, but I don’t know that it’s necessary.  You will see in the pics below, but when you take them out of the oven you need to cover them with foil and let it sit about ten minutes.  This causes them to “sweat” a bit and condense so you can take the skin off easily.  Then, assemble away and enjoy the fanciest sandwich you’ve ever made!

Pesto Sauce

1 1/3 cup loosely packed basil leaves
4 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2/3 Cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons pine nuts

In a food processor, pulse basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and pine nuts until chopped. Add in half the olive oil and cheese and pulse to blend, add in the rest and continue to pulse until combined. Makes 1 cup. Keep refrigerated.

This is what the pepper looks like just out of the oven.

Cover with foil for 10 minutes.
Take the foil off and they are done "sweating" and mushy.
The skin should peel right off and inside, you have a delicious roasted pepper.  Simply take off the top, scoop the seed out of the inside and slice to desired size.
I even made grill marks on my mushroom, I was so proud of myself. :)

Your pesto will look like the one on the right.  I also made a kale pesto (pictured left) and wasn't a huge fan.  I try and try to like kale because it's so good for you, but it's not working out. 

Ciabatta is delicious, but I used a much healthier 100% whole wheat sandwich thin.  Spread some pesto, a couple slices of mozzarella cheese (or whatever cheese you like), some of your roasted peppers and your mushroom. 

I made two in order to try both pestos, but only ended up eating the pine nut pesto one.  No sense wasting my calories on some kale that I don't like that much.  I have one of those sandwich makers so I put it in that to heat and melt the cheese.  If you don't have one, I would just grill it on the stove like you would a grilled cheese.  It shouldn't take long, just need to melt the cheese.  If you don't like mushrooms or if you want some meat try it with chicken or add more veggies.  The possibilites are endless.  My side dish was some sauteed spinach with pine nuts.  Recipe coming soon.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Sriracha Ketchup

Yep, you read that right.  Sriracha ketchup.  When Josh and I were at a restaurant in St. Thomas we noticed Sriracha ketchup was listed on the menu.  Josh's meal came with fries so we asked for some.  We both loved it! It wasn't as spicy as I expected it to be, but it gave the ketchup a different flavor.  And by different, I mean way better.  Turns out, our restaurant the next night had this condiment as well.  Apparently, it's very common in the Virgin Islands.

I first fell in love with Sriracha sauce about 5 years ago.  It's an Asian sauce, often referred to as Rooster sauce due to the container.  It's spicy so you do not need much, but this sauce can go with many items.  I often saute some veggies in soy sauce and Sriracha sauce and eat it over rice.  It's a great condiment to have in your refrigerator.  You can find it at any grocery store.

Even though Sriracha on it's own is incredibly spicy, when it was blended together with ketchup it enhanced the flavor, but as I mentioned, not as spicy as I expected.  I consider this a perfect union of condiments.  Unfortunately, I now feel after eating this combo I will find plain ketchup rather boring.  I've brought them together and now I can't bear to separate them.  It just wouldn't be right.

I wasted no time after returning from our trip and I made some over the weekend.  I heated up some of my tasty Tofu Edamame Nuggets.  I used 1 T. Sriracha and 3 T. ketchup.  It was more spicy that the one we had in St. Thomas, but I liked it that way.  There really is no perfect combination here...make it how you like it.  Less Sriracha if you don't want it spicy, more if you like your mouth on fire.  

I am extremely Type A personality and the "island time" phrase was mentioned more times than I can count during our vacation.  Island time means relax and we will get it done when we get around to it.  Island time=Trisha trying not to stroke out.   Although I may not agree with the approach to life in the Virgin Isalnds, they are on to something with this condiment.  I am forever grateful to the island of St. Thomas; they brought two of my favorite things together: friends and food.  My friend KoKo was united with Kip, and ketchup and Sriracha were united as well.  Oh, what a vacation it was!

Looks just like ketchup, but it has so much more to offer!  Bottom corner is my kale and goat cheese stuffed mushroom.  Not great, not horrible.  You win some, you lose some.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Tomale Stuffed Peppers

Josh and I just returned from a vacation I am so thankful we could go on.  My college roommate, teammate and friend got married in St. Thomas.  She was a beautiful bride and it was so much fun watching her say her wedding vows overlooking the water!  But, this isn’t a blog about my life is it?  :) So, what am I getting at?  Well…while in St. Thomas Josh and I discovered an amazing new condiment.  It won’t be difficult to make, but I have to work on it this weekend to determine exact measurements.  More on that next week!

For now, I thought I’d post the Tomale Stuffed Pepper recipe I talked about last week.  As I mentioned, my mom found the recipe on Pinterest and when she told me she liked it I decided to give it a try.  It’s very easy to make and it has common ingredients in it so I make these fairly often. 

2 medium bell peppers
½ cup tomatoes, diced
½ cup black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup corn
¼ cup green chillies
¼ cup green enchilada sauce
¾ cup Mexican blend cheese, shredded
¼ cup cornmeal
2 Tbsp. green onions, chopped
1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
hot sauce to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Prepare the bell peppers by slicing off the tops and removing the seeds. Set aside.

In a medium bowl combine tomatoes, beans, corn, green chillies, enchilada sauce, ½ cup cheese, cornmeal, green onions and cilantro.  Spoon the mixture into hollowed bell peppers and sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Place stuffed peppers in a baking dish and add about an inch of water to the bottom of the pan.

Bake, uncovered, until peppers are tender and filling is heated throughout; about 50 minutes.

Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm
Serves 2

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When you chop the tops off don't just throw them away!  Cut around the stem and dice them.

Then put them in a freezer bag and place them in the freezer.  I use these all the time in omelets or in recipes that call for diced pepper.  I know I made more peppers than I usually would with my company, but look how much would have gone to waste had I thrown all the tops away.

Ready to go in the oven.

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Cilantro-Lime Dressing

Last October, my friend Brittany started a Craft Club.  We get together once a month at someone’s house and eat dinner and then do a craft.  To be honest, I was just excited for the socializing and wine.  I don’t consider myself super crafty, but it turns out I haven’t been totally horrible at everything.  I enjoy having people over so I have hosted a few times.  I always volunteer to host and in my mind I’m planning the food and I'm having all sorts of fun getting the menu ready and then, bam, I remember I have to come up with a craft.  This is usually when I wonder why I offered to host in the first place.  The good news is, bad craft or not, we always have fun and it’s more about getting together than the craft.  Or, so I tell myself.  

Sometimes, I like to cook meatless meals and see if people enjoy it.  I get kind of nervous, but I always think it’s fun to show people how creative and FULL you can get cooking meatless!  This week, I hosted craft club and I chose one of my favorite types of food: Mexican.  I made a salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing, Stuffed Portobello’s, Stuffed Bell Peppers and Black Beans and Spanish Rice for side dishes.  I got the stuffed Portobello and the dressing recipe from my friend Katie O, (the one who turned me veggie) and the stuffed pepper recipe is one my mom found on Pinterest.  There’s a TON of variations for stuffed peppers, but I really enjoy this one when I cook Mexican food.  There were only a couple who were brave enough to try the Portobello’s, but that’s okay.  I ate them for lunch the next day.  And then for dinner as well...I do love Mexican food.  Everyone tried a stuffed pepper and seemed to enjoy them so I would say it was a successful vegetarian Meatless Monday dinner for everyone!  Today I’m posting the recipe for the Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing and I’ll post the other two recipes soon.

Cilantro-Lime Salad Dressing
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root
1/4 cup lime juice
1/3 cup honey
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 teaspoon oil, or to taste
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Place the jalapeno pepper, garlic clove, and ginger into a food processor or blender; pulse until the jalapeno and garlic are finely chopped. Pour in the lime juice, honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt, add the cilantro leaves; pulse a few times to blend. Turn the food processor or blender on, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until incorporated into the dressing. Season to taste with salt before serving.
*Ginger is kind of expensive per pound, but you need just a little bit for this recipe.  Don't be afraid to break a little piece off.  Last time I went to the store, there were lots of little pieces at the bottom of the pile and it cost me $.39

Jalapeno, garlic, and ginger

Dressing all mixed up with everything

I never buy salad dressing anymore and my mom told me to store my homemade dressing in jars.  Brilliant!

I put some romaine, spinach, corn, black beans, and red and green peppers and tossed.  So easy, pretty, and delicious!  If you are a meat eater, you could put some taco meat on this and top with the dressing as well.