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Archive for the ‘Ethnic’ Category

67 Days of Gourmet: Day 58

I’m really embarrassed to admit that tonight was the first time I’ve cooked with quinoa. Bad foodie, especially given my love for all things healthy, whole grain and nutrient packed. :( And I’ve had it from the hot bar at Whole Foods and Earth Fare, just haven’t cooked with it yet.

I’ve been meaning to make this recipe for the last couple months. Every time I made homemade Mexican this was on the menu but I kept bailing on it. Every time I went to Harris Teeter I was annoyed that they were charging $5 for a small bag of quinoa. I was picking up a few things at Earth Fare this weekend and was so excited to find awesome bulk prices on all kinds of grains. I stocked up on quinoa and rolled oats.

I can’t believe I waited so long to make this. Whether you’re a quinoa lover or someone who has never tried it, this is a must try recipe. The flavors are so well balanced with the quinoa, black beans, fresh corn, bell pepper and jalapenos and the lime/oil based dressing is the perfect finish. I’m so looking forward to enjoying the leftovers for lunch this week topped with diced avocado and an extra squeeze of lime and know I’ll be making this many more times in the future.

BIG NEWS #1
YOU HAVE SUCCESSFULLY REGISTERED FOR THE 35th MARINE CORPS MARATHON! I did it! I registered! I’m beyond excited. And even better news, my friend Meghan registered to run it too! This will be her first marathon. I can’t even put into words how happy I am that I won’t be running this race alone!

BIG NEWS #2
I’m launching a Healthy Living blog!!! Don’t worry, Bakin’ and Eggs isn’t going anywhere but I’ve really been conflicted over whether to continue discussing fitness/my life on this blog or whether I should start a new blog. In the end, I decided that the healthy living blog was the best way to go. The name has been selected, the domain has been registered and I’m in the process of getting it all set up. I promise that I’ll let you all know the second it goes live!

Please try this quinoa recipe and then let me know what you think!

One Year Ago: Fresh Strawberry Scones

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad
(Recipe source Gourmet, July 1994)

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups quinoa
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed if canned
1 1/2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups cooked corn (cut from about 2 large ears)
3/4 cup green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 pickled jalapeño chilies, seeded and minced (wear rubber gloves)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander (I subbed a bit of ground coriander because the store did not have fresh)

FOR THE DRESSING
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin, or to taste
1/3 cup olive oil

Directions:

In a bowl wash quinoa in at least 5 changes cold water, rubbing grains and letting them settle before pouring off most of water, until water runs clear and drain in a large fine sieve. (I attempted this step but my quinoa went right through my sieve so I skipped this step and just cooked it as is. Turned out totally fine.)

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook quinoa 10 minutes. Drain quinoa in sieve and rinse with cold water. Set sieve over a saucepan of boiling water (quinoa should not touch water) and steam quinoa, covered with a kitchen towel and lid, until fluffy and dry, about 10 minutes (check water level in pot occasionally, adding water if necessary).

While quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Add bell pepper, jalapenos, corn and coriander.

Let quinoa cool a bit then add to bean mixture and toss well.

FOR THE DRESSING
In a small bowl whisk together lime juice, salt and cumin. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss well.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 4 to 6 as an entrée or 8 as a side dish

Note: I cut this recipe in half and it made plenty for 2 with lots of leftovers!

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 51

Part two of our Greek feast – check out my homemade pita bread here. This dinner has been on the list since I first began researching recipes for 68 Days of Gourmet. I thought Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs with homemade tzatziki sounded great. Unfortunately, the kebab thing was not happening! I tried to putting these meatballs on skewers but immediately knew that there was no way they would stay on the skewer. They were falling off. I made a game time decision to cook them inside in a skillet and all was well and tasty with no grilling disasters!

I think one of the biggest milestones you make as a home cook is the ability to deal with situations in the kitchen that don’t go as planned. I had a lot going on in the kitchen – homemade pita bread, making tzatziki, assembling the meatballs and marinating the zucchini. It would have been easy for me to get frustrated and give up on the dinner but I just decided to make the best of it and cook the meatballs and zucchini on the stove top instead. I made a different kefta recipe last year using this method so I knew it would work out.

I don’t blame the recipe for my meatballs not coming together. I forgot to buy pine nuts for the meatballs and don’t know if they might have been a detrimental part of the binding. Regardless, this turned out to be a great dinner. We stuffed our pitas with the keftas and taziki and ate the zucchini on the side. Brandon enjoyed the leftovers in pita sandwiches for lunch.

Quick update on fitness recently. 10 workouts in the last 8 days – all yoga, running (!!!) and teaching BodyPump. Overall, I’ve been feeling great but kind of hit a wall today. I’m a big fan of the time change – love having daylight when I get home to run and hang out outside – but it was really tough getting up at 5 to teach BodyPump this morning. I felt so out of it and exhausted all day. Decided just to relax on the couch, catch up with the DVR and make homemade pizza this evening after work. Exactly what I needed. Sometimes you just need to listen to your body and rest!

One Year Ago: Tomato, Fresh Mozzarella and Basil Salad

Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, January 2006 – originally published in 1980)

Ingredients:

FOR THE TZATZIKI SAUCE
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (I subbed parsley)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice

FOR THE ZUCCHINI
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
2 medium zucchini (around 1 pound), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

FOR LAMB MEATBALLS (KEFTA)
2 slices firm white sandwich bread, torn into small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves (omitted, I just increased the parsley)
1 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted and finely chopped (omitted because I forgot to buy them!)

12 (10-inch) wooden skewers, soaked for 30 minutes

Directions:

FOR THE TZATZIKI SAUCE
Stir together yogurt, mint/parsley, garlic and salt in a small bowl and chill.

FOR THE ZUCCHINI
Whisk together lemon juice, sugar, salt, pepper and oil in a large bowl and stir in zucchini slices. Marinate at room temperature while making meatballs.

FOR THE KEFTA
Cover bread with water in a bowl and soak 10 minutes. Squeeze handfuls of bread to remove as much excess water as possible and transfer to a bowl.

Pulse onion and herbs in a food processor until finely chopped. Add mixture to bread along with lamb, salt, spices and pine nuts. Mix with your hands until well blended. Form lamb mixture into 36 balls (about 1 tablespoon each).

TO ASSEMBLE
Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium heat for gas). Thread 6 meatballs, 1/4 inch apart onto each of 6 skewers.

Thread zucchini lengthwise onto remaining 6 skewers (5 slices per skewer). Cut sides should be on grill, leaving 1/4 inch between slices. Grill zucchini and lamb on oiled grill rack, turning over once, until golden and just cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve warm with yogurt sauce.

Alternatively, saute zucchini and meatballs over medium heat on the stove top (in separate skillets) until cooked through, 6-8 minutes.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 50

This was my first time making pita bread and it was a huge success. I followed the recipe directions exactly and the dough was a breeze to work with. I can’t even explain to you how much better this is than any store bought pita bread. It’s so soft and has that delicious homemade bread flavor.

Brandon asked if it would have a pocket and honestly, I had no clue. But while it was baking it puffed up and we were excited to cut into it and see that the pocket had “magically” appeared. I served this with kefta, homemade taziki and zucchini. I’ll be sharing that recipe tomorrow!

We’ve really enjoyed the leftovers for sandwiches this week and I’m already planning on adding this to the regular rotation. It would be so easy to make a big batch on Sundays and use if for the week. Also, The Gourmet Cookbook says they freeze well.

The only complaint I have is that Gourmet calls these whole wheat. But with only 1-cup of whole wheat flour and 2-cups of white flour, I didn’t feel like I could really call it whole wheat. I’m going to experiment next time with increasing the wheat to white ratio.

If you’re a pita lover this is a must try! :)

One year ago: Grilled Chicken Salad

Whole Wheat(ish) Pita Bread
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, published in Gourmet May 2003)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon honey
1 1/4 cups warm water (105–115 degrees F), divided
2 cups bread flour or high-gluten flour, plus additional for kneading
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
Cornmeal for sprinkling baking sheets

Directions:

In a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer if using), stir together yeast, honey and 1/2 cup warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. If mixture does not foam, start over with new yeast.

While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free/warm place (I like to use my oven – I turn it on for about a minute to get it warm – about 80-82 degrees and then turn it off and place dough in oven) until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes.

Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms. Either turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough flour to keep dough from sticking, or use a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook and on low speed to knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 8-10 minutes.

Form dough into a ball and place in a large oiled bowl, turning once to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free/warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Prepare 2 baking sheets by sprinkling with cornmeal. Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball, flatten the ball and then roll out into a 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Transfer round to prepared baking sheet. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas  with clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Adjust oven rack to the lower third of oven and remove other racks (I left the other racks). Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack (alternatively, I think you could bake these on a preheated baking stone so they don’t get wire marks from the oven). Bake until puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more.

Cool pitas on a cooling rack 2 minutes, then stack and wrap loosely in a kitchen towel to keep pitas warm. Bake remaining 4 pitas in same manner. Serve warm.

Yield: 8 pitas

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 48

I hope you didn’t think I’d disappeared. My sore throat ended up morphing into laryngitis and a bad upper respiratory infection and we were out of town. I’m just now starting to feel normal again. To give you any indication of how bad I’ve been feeling, I haven’t worked out since Friday morning. Whatever was going on in my chest was not good and I needed to rest.

In slightly more interesting news, we did a five-course chef’s tasting dinner at Woodfire Grill on Friday night. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s Top Chef contestant Kevin Gillespie’s restaurant in Atlanta. I’m going to post a recap of that dinner tomorrow night and my experience meeting Kevin!

And now onto the food you see pictured above. I found this recipe for Chicken Hawaii while I was searching for older recipes to make for the 68 Days of Gourmet project. The recipe was originally published in 1953 and featured some of our favorite ingredients – coconut, curry, pineapple, chicken – it was a must try.

I was so excited about serving the coconut curry braised chicken with all of the fun toppings – lime wedges, pineapple, toasted coconut and chopped macadamia nuts. It smelled amazing while it was cooking but then kind of fell flat in the flavor department. I was so disappointed. There just wasn’t enough curry flavor and it was kind of bland. I was explaining the lackluster dish to my dad and he made a good point, the whole can of full fat coconut milk that I added to the curry mixture probably just washed out the flavor. And he made another funny point that in the 1950s people were really just starting to experiment with bold flavors and served a lot of bland dishes. Maybe this was pretty cutting edge in 1953!

So while I won’t be making this again, I still enjoyed cooking it and liked the idea of serving the dish with toppings so it can be customized to each diner’s taste.

One Year Ago: Lady Strawberry Cake (a show stopper!)

Chicken Hawaii
(Recipe source Gourmet, January 2006 – originally published in 1953)

Ingredients:

1 (3- to 3 1/2-pound) chicken, cut into 8 serving pieces
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
3 tablespoons peeled fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 tablespoon curry powder (preferably Madras)
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
1 (13 1/2- to 15-oz) can unsweetened coconut milk (not low-fat)

Optional accompaniments for serving: rice, toasted coconut, fresh pineapple cubes, lime wedges, mango chutney,  chopped salted roasted cashews, macadamia nuts or peanuts, chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Directions:

Rinse, pat chicken dry and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Heat oil in a 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat. Brown chicken, turning occasionally, 8-10 minutes. You will probably need to do this in 2 batches. Transfer to plate and reserve fat in pot.

Add onion, ginger, garlic, cinnamon sticks and bay leaf to fat in pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is browned, about 5 minutes. Add curry powder and flour and cook over medium heat for 1 minute, stirring  constantly. Stir in sugar, coconut milk and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring and scraping up brown bits from bottom of pot. Return chicken and any accumulated  juices to pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through. This should take around 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165 degrees. Discard cinnamon sticks and bay leaf. Season with salt to taste.

Serve chicken over rice with sauce from pot and toppings.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 47

This is going to be short and sweet. I am sick for the first time in almost two years and need to get to bed! My throat is so sore but luckily no fever. I made this Thai Beef Noodle Soup on Monday night when the sore throat was first making its appearance. It has great flavor. The ginger and lime juice gave the broth so much flavor. And I’m usually not really into beef-based soups but thought it was perfect in this dish. I had some leftover noodles and whipped up another batch of broth using chicken stock and left the beef out – also delicious.

Needless to say, there isn’t much to report on the fitness front. I taught BodyPump Monday morning but after that the sickness started creeping in. I was really feeling ick by Tuesday. It has taken every ounce of my willpower not to go to a yoga class the past couple days but I know that my body needs the rest and my instructors and classmates would not appreciate my attendance while sick! I’m itching to practice though since I’ve missed my regular Sunday and Tuesday classes. But since I’ve been sick my appetite has been a little off and I’ve struggled to get enough fruits and veggies in. Hopefully a good night of sleep will be just what I need!

Thai Beef Noodle Soup
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, February 2008)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mild honey
2 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound flank steak (I used a flat iron steak, much cheaper!)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 large shallots, thinly sliced (1 cup)
1 tablespoon finely chopped peeled ginger
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons Thai green-curry paste (or more if you want to kick it up a little)
2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus extra slices for serving
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
3/4 pound dried Asian egg noodles

Directions:

Mix together soy, honey, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow baking dish. Add steak and turn to coat. Marinate at room temperature for 20 minutes.

While steak marinates, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat until it shimmering. Cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. then cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until browned well, about 8 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and curry paste and cook for another minute. Add add broth and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in lime juice, remaining tablespoon fish sauce and salt to taste and keep warm, covered.

Heat grill pan or large skillet over medium-high heat, then lightly oil. Cook steak, turning once, about 12 minutes total or until internal temperature reaches 120 degrees for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toss bell pepper and scallions with remaining tablespoon oil, then grill, turning frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

While steak stands, cook noodles following package directions. Drain well, then add to vegetables and mix well. Divide noodles among 4 bowls and top with 1/2 cup broth. Cut steak in half lengthwise, thinly slice across the grain and serve on top of noodles. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 37

It’s Wednesday night…which means I’m on my own! Brandon is in a bowling league (seriously) on Wednesday nights so I get to enjoy a night of eating whatever I want and watching what  I want on TV. Glorious! :) Tonight I had leftover Coconut Red Lentil Curry, a salad and a chocolate chip cookie.  It’s always some sort of meat-free feast!

It’s been a very relaxing night. I took the day off from exercising because I haven’t had a rest day in over two weeks and I’m just tired and my body needs a break. I’ve started teaching a BodyPump class on Monday mornings at 6 a.m. and it’s been a big adjustment. The 5 a.m. wake up call is very early for me. I know I’ll get used to it but so far I feel like I start the week in a sleep deficit.  The good thing is that I have a class full of people up early with me and they are ready to work!

Yesterday I went to a hot vinyasa class at Y2 Yoga. I’m so sad that my one month unlimited “new student” pass is ending! My brother-in-law and his wife gave me a pass to try this studio for Christmas. Obviously, I’ve definitely been using the free month to its fullest extent! So now I have to make the decision whether to buy a 10 class pass or a month unlimited. There’s about a $25 difference in price. I’m just not sure which is the right fit. I know I’ve been all about the yoga lately but I’m starting a new half marathon training plan on February 1. I dont’ know if I can fit in teaching BodyPump, running 4-5 days a week and utilizing a month unlimited pass to it’s fullest extent? Thoughts?

Okay…back to food. I’m sure you’re confused about the meaty pasta dish in the picture above since I’ve been going on and on about vegetarian dinners and working out. I made this dish on Monday night. It’s a Greek dish – Lamb and Eggplant Pastitsio. I was craving eggplant and love Greek food so this recipe hit the spot.

It was so good…the cinnamon added an awesome warm flavor to the lamb sauce and the nutmeg I added to the cheese sauce complimented it perfectly. Although it took a couple hours start to finish, the end result was totally worth it. And it’s not all hands on time – lots of simmering and baking time in there too. I thought the double layer was really fun – you mix the bottom pasta layer with the meat sauce and the top pasta layer with the cheese sauce. Yum! I’m so embarrassed to admit that we both went back for not only seconds but thirds! And we had the leftovers again last night. If you’re a Greek food lover this is a must try. And just a side note, I think you could sub beef for the lamb if you’re not a fan of lamb.

Lamb and Eggplant Pastitsio
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, October 2001)

Ingredients:

FOR THE LAMB SAUCE
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound lean ground lamb
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 (28- to 32-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 garlic clove
1 whole clove or a pinch of nutmeg
1/2 pound feta, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large eggs

FOR THE PASTA
10 ounces penne (3 cups)

Directions:

FOR THE LAMB SAUCE
Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3-5 minutes, until softened. Add lamb and continue cooking over medium-high heat, stirring to break up lumps. Cook until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, oregano, cinnamon, sugar and pepper and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Stir in eggplant and tomatoes. Gently simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until eggplant is just tender, about 40 minutes. Remove lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes more. Season generously with salt and pepper.

FOR THE CHEESE SAUCE
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

While meat sauce is simmering, melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook, stirring frequently, 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and add garlic clove and whole clove or nutmeg. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking occasionally, 5 minutes. Add feta, salt and pepper and cook, whisking vigorously, until cheese is well incorporated.

Beat eggs in a large bowl and slowly add sauce to eggs, whisking constantly.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water. Slightly undercook the pasta since it will finish in the oven. Drain in a colander. Toss half of pasta with lamb sauce and half with cheese sauce.

TO ASSEMBLE PASTITSIO
Pour pasta with lamb sauce into a 9 x 13 baking dish, spreading evenly. Spoon pasta with cheese sauce on top, spreading evenly.

Bake uncovered, in middle of oven until bubbling and top is golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 36

This vegetarian goodness was warmly welcomed after a weekend of splurging for Charlotte Restaurant Week. Friday night we went to BLT Steak and Saturday night we went to Sullivan’s. Both meals were delicious but very indulgent!

I taught BodyPump on Saturday morning and was very excited to have a great crowd! Love seeing people up and knocking out their workouts on Saturdays. Later that morning Brandon and I headed over to Y2 Yoga for a power 1 class. Saturday was Yoga Day USA so I couldn’t miss out on practicing! I headed over to Y2 again today for hot yoga. I’m happy to report that I practiced 6 out of 7 days this week!

After yoga I was famished. This dinner was so easy to put together and a nice change from all the steakhouse dinners we enjoyed this weekend. Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite curry that I’ve ever made but was still very good. My favorite vegetarian curry is still this Butternut Squash Curry which also happens to be from Gourmet!

Heading to bed early tonight…teaching BodyPump at 6 a.m. tomorrow.

Coconut Red Lentil Curry
(Recipe source Gourmet, December 2006)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
1 fresh jalapeño or serrano chile, finely diced, including seeds
2 cups water or vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils (about 10 ounces)
1 (13- to 14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk (I used lite)
1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium), diced
1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro sprigs (omitted, cilantro is Brandon’s least favorite herb!)

Steamed brown or white rice, for serving

Directions:

Heat oil in a 3-4 quart heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until edges are golden, about 6 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Add cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and chili pepper and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

Stir in water or broth, lentils and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and then cover and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in zucchini and simmer, covered, until lentils and zucchini are tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and serve over rice with cilantro sprigs scattered on top.

Yield: 6 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 31

I hope everyone had a nice weekend. Mine was full of cooking, house hunting, cleaning and working out. Saturday morning started off with a bowl of oats full of apples, peanut butter, raisins and ground flax while I updated my blog with the seared scallops from Friday night’s dinner. Then I headed out for a quick 3 mile run with Sullie before meeting with our realtor to look at houses.

On Saturday night we finally tried Lebowski’s for dinner. It’s a local bar and grill that actually has great food. I had two sliders – one turkey burger and one “beef on weck.” I’d never had a beef on weck before – delicious! I also had a side of garlic fries because I heard they were the thing to order. This was a big splurge for me – I’m usually all about the sweets and pass on fried food – but they were totally worth it. They had some great looking salads and healthier fare that I’ll have to check out next time. We’ll definitely be going back to Lebowski’s!

When we got home I put together an overnight French toast to have for breakfast the next morning. I was not feeling French toast after our feast but my feelings had changed Sunday morning when I woke up! I’ll be blogging about the French toast soon. It was the perfect weekend treat.

Sunday was devoted to mostly cleaning and organization (our apartment desperately needed it) and of course, my 90 minute hot yoga class at Charlotte Yoga with my very favorite teacher, Suzanne. I look forward to this class all week! Seriously amazing. I saw on the schedule that Grace, the founder of Charlotte Yoga, was assisting in the class so I knew I’d better get there early. I’m so glad I did, the class was packed and they ended up having to send about 20 people away. The room was packed with almost 50 sweaty, hard working yogis!

I actually planned on making Duck a l’Orange last night for 68 Days of Gourmet but I just did not have the energy for it after my day of cleaning and the yoga class. I ended up making Teriyaki Chicken with the chicken breasts I got on sale at the grocery Friday. I was browsing chicken breast recipes from Gourmet online and thought this looked simple and healthy. Brandon and I decided that while this was a nice basic dinner it wasn’t anything special. Neither one of us is super fanatical about teriyaki chicken but if you are then this is a great recipe for you to try. It’s so simple, healthy and the homemade teriyaki sauce is way better than the stuff you buy in a bottle. We didn’t dislike this; it’s just not something I think we’ll make again. I adapted this by changing the sauce to pretty much double it after reading a lot of reviews to do so. Was definitely necessary. I also used boneless skinless chicken instead of boneless, skin on.

So the duck is on the agenda for tonight. Wish me luck! This is my first time preparing duck. Blog update to come soon!

Teriyaki Chicken
(Recipe adapted Gourmet, May 1990)

Ingredients:

5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger root
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon medium-dry sherry (I did not double this as I’m not the biggest fan of a strong sherry taste)
2 tablespoons white-wine or rice wine vinegar
1-2 garlic cloves, minced and mashed to a paste
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Directions:

In a large, shallow dish, whisk together soy sauce, ginger, honey, Sherry, vinegar and garlic. Pound chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper to about ½ inch thickness. Place chicken in marinade and turning to coat. Marinate for at least 20 minutes, turning once.

Preaheat the broiler to high. Transfer chicken to the oiled rack of a broiling pan, reserving marinade. Broil about 6 inches from heat for 5 minutes. While chicken is cooking, boil the reserved marinade until reduced by half. Remove chicken from oven and flip chicken breasts. Brush marinade on tops of chicken and return to broiler for 5-8 more minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, careful not to overcook.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 29

I feel terrible that I’ve been such a bad blogger this week. I started in the hole since I didn’t get to make my weekly menu and grocery shopping trip. It was a major pain to scramble every night to figure out what to have for dinner. Now we’re back in town and settled back into our routine.  I promise that I have lots of fun cooking and baking projects planned for this weekend that I can’t wait to share with everyone!

I was looking for something simple to make last night for dinner. I was browsing through the easy and healthy weeknight meals gallery on Epicurious and sent the link for this Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup recipe to Brandon. I was shocked when he said, “I’d eat that.” I still firmly believe that it’s only because this soup included sausage in the ingredient list! Also, kale is one of my grandmother’s signature dishes so Brandon has discovered that he loves it. I love using kale in recipes – it packs a HUGE nutrient punch. Check out this overview of the nutrients in boiled kale.

So back to my struggle with blogging and dinner this week…I work out pretty much every day after work. I usually don’t get home from my workout until after 7 p.m so if I haven’t planned dinner, it’s very challenging to make it happen. I’m very proud to share that it is extremely rare that we eat out on a weeknight. I always have something planned for dinner. I know I continue to harp on the importance of meal planning in advance but it makes a huge difference. I was stressed all week this week trying to pull together dinners and make time to get to the store.

On Monday Brandon and I went to a Vinyasa Basics yoga class at Y2 Yoga. It’s a newer yoga studio with smaller classes. I thought the class was pretty easy but it’s always nice to get back to the basics. Brandon enjoyed the class and got some great work in on perfecting the basic positions.

I planned on running with Sullie Tuesday after work but got stuck at work until 6:45. I still had to go to the grocery to get stuff for dinner (again, pre-planning people!) so by the time I got home at 7:30 I was hungry and cranky and it was freezing cold and dark. The run didn’t happen.

I set my alarm to get up and run Wednesday morning. Sullie is great motivation to get out of bed because she really needs the exercise and to get out of the apartment. We did an easy 3-miler but it was freezing – about 20 degrees and windy! Wednesday night I went to a power yoga class at Y2.

I planned on running today but got called at the last minute to sub BodyPump. Literally, at the last minute. I had to leave work a few minutes early to go home and grab my music, change and get to the gym. I hit terrible traffic and ended up being 10 minutes late to class. I felt terrible because I know how disappointing it is to have the workout you committed to cut short but hopefully all the push-ups we did made up for it! I ran 3 miles on the treadmill after.

So, hopefully I’ll be updating the blog A LOT more frequently and you won’t have to get a whole run down on my week in fitness in one post! I had this Kale and Potato soup for lunch today and it totally satisfied me for the whole afternoon! And I think the leftovers were even better today!

I made quite a few modifications to the original recipe. The original calls for only adding the kale in the last 5 minutes of cooking. There is no way it would have been done in that amount of time. We like our kale tender so I added it with the potatoes. Honestly, I didn’t  really follow the cooking directions at all for this recipe. I just did what made sense to me. But the soup turned out great and is an easy and nutritious weeknight dinner.

Portuguese Kale and Potato Soup
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, November 2009 – the last issue ever :( )

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound chouriço or linguiça (smoked Portuguese sausages) or kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (uh, I used kielbasa)
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound russet (baking) potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (2-3)
6 cups water or chicken broth (I used half and half)
1 teaspoon paprika
1 pound kale, stems and center ribs discarded and leaves torn into small pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
Hot sauce, like Sriracha, for serving

Directions:

Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes. Add sausage and garlic and continue to cook 2-3 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then add potatoes, water or chicken broth, kale, paprika and salt to taste to the pot.

Cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until kale and potatoes are tender. Mash up some of the potatoes with the back of a fork to thicken the soup a bit. Taste and do a final season with salt and pepper. Serve with a drizzle of hot sauce.

Yield: 4 main course servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 28

Happy New Year everyone! The holidays have been busy for us with lots of family time and traveling. Since we spent Thanksgiving with my family this year, we stayed in Charlotte and celebrated Christmas with Brandon’s family. We rang in the new year in Asheville with The Avett Brothers and then headed to Atlanta on New Year’s Day for yet another Avett Brothers show and to spend the weekend with my family. It was so good to see them! My mom, Brandon and I went to the Georgia Aquarium on Saturday afternoon while my dad stayed home prepping our amazing dinner! He made Paul Prudhomme’s Seafood Gumbo. SO DELICIOUS! He made his own seafood stock and made the perfect roux. It was exactly the dark color of Paul’s in the book. It was full of oysters, crab, shrimp and fresh andouille! I roasted up some okra for a side dish and my mom made my favorite banana pudding recipe. Yum! I love going home and enjoying my parents cooking! :)

I was happy to arrive home yesterday and get back in the swing of our normal routine. I attend an incredible hot yoga class every Sunday afternoon at 4. It’s the perfect way to end my weekend and prepare my mind and body for the work week ahead. Since I was a little crunched on time given our afternoon arrival home and wanting to make my yoga class, I was looking for an easy meal. It is freezing here (seriously – lows in the teens, highs in the 30s – that is cold in the South!) and slow cooked meat sounded like the perfect dinner. Our grocery store had chuck roasts on sale so off I went to Epicurious to look for a Gourmet magazine pot roast recipe.

I found this recipe for Oven Braised Beef with Tomato Sauce and Garlic. It only had three ingredients and had received numerous positive reviews. Decision made. You don’t even brown the beef before placing it in the dutch oven! Can it get any easier than that? Off I went to the grocery to grab the ingredients. I threw everything in my dutch oven before I left for yoga and came home to an amazing smelling house!

I was a little nervous because the recipe called for so much garlic but it really mellows out in the oven during the long, slow cook and adds a wonderful flavor. I admit that I added a couple carrots and some onion during the last hour of cooking but it totally wasn’t necessary! I just wanted more veggies. Brandon decided that this should be my “go-to” method for cooking roasts.

I served last night’s roast over mashed potatoes with a salad and french bread. I’m making shredded beef enchiladas with the leftovers tomorrow night.

And now for the announcement:
If you’ve read the “About Jen” section of this site you know that my second love is fitness and nutrition. One of the questions I get all the time is, “How do you cook and bake all that food and stay fit?” Well…I’m going to start sharing that information with you on the blog. Don’t worry, I’m not changing the focus of this blog. It is definitely still first and foremost a food blog but I am going to talk about my nutrition and exercise for the day/week in my posts. If you’re not into it – simply scroll down for the recipe!

In a nutshell, it’s all about maintaining a balance. I’m going to talk about that balance in my posts. I hope I can provide a little bit of motivation and inspiration that you can enjoy delicious food and stay fit!

Let me know what you think in the comment selection below and if you have any questions! Eventually, I hope to add separate fitness and nutrition page to the blog but that’s later in 2010!

And now for the most delicious 3 ingredient roast recipe…

Oven Braised Beef with Tomato Sauce and Garlic
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, February 2001)

Ingredients:

28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
3-3 1/2 pound boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1 head of garlic, separated into cloves (unpeeled)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Optional: potatoes, carrots, onions or any other vegetables you’d like to add
Accompaniment: mashed potatoes, orzo or egg noodles

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Generously salt and pepper roast. Place roast in a large dutch oven. Pour tomatoes over the roast and then scatter around garlic cloves.

Cover and bake for 3-4 hours, until roast is very tender and shreds easily. Break into chunks or shred and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

*Note: if you’d like to add extra vegetables, add them when you have about 1 hour left in cooking.

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