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Archive for the ‘Quick and Easy’ Category

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 60

I wanted to include a couple more vegetable/side/meatless dishes in the 68 Days of Gourmet project. I flipped through The Gourmet Cookbook vegetable dishes and Peas with Spinach and Shallots looked like a great choice for Spring. It took less than 15 minutes to put together, was a nice change from plain peas or spinach and looked pretty on the plate. I find myself repeating the same sides over and over so it was good to try something new that was so easy and manageable on a weeknight!

One Year Ago: Grilled Sweet Potato Slices

Peas with Spinach and Shallots
(Recipe source The Gourmet Cookbook, published in Gourmet January 2002)

Ingredients:

2 medium shallots, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
10 ounces frozen peas
1/4 cup water
5 ounces baby spinach
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Heat a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and butter and heat. Add shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until soft 3-6 minutes.

Stir in peas and water and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender, about 5 minutes. (Note that you might want to start with a little less water and add more if necessary.)

Stir in spinach, salt and pepper and cook, tossing, until spinach is just wilted, about 1 minute.

Yield: 4 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 57

Yes, that is meatloaf in the picture above. Random, I know, but would you believe that Gourmet has a plethora of meatloaf  recipes? Shocking. So I bought ground beef at the store this week with intentions of making burgers topped with pimento cheese but we ended up going over to my in law’s on Monday to watch the NCAA Basketball Championship and had burgers there. That left me in a scramble to come up with a dinner using ground beef and the ingredients in my pantry.

Enter meatloaf. My epicurious.com search of Gourmet’s ground beef recipes yielded a lot of meatball and meatloaf recipes. Since I’d already conquered meatballs for 68 Days of Gourmet, all signs pointed to meatloaf. Most meatloafs use a mixture of beef/pork/veal but I was able to find this recipe using only ground beef. And while this meatloaf wasn’t really a stand out dinner it was extremely easy and economical and the bacon slices on the top definitely jazzed it up a bit.

No more meatloaf talk. Yesterday I ran 3.5 miles with Sullie. Beautiful weather, miserable conditions. The pollen in Charlotte right now is out of control. I’m not exaggerating. Apparently it’s the worst pollen Charlotte has had since they started tracking it in the 90s. Everything is yellow. While I was running I could feel myself breathing in pollen. Not good. Of course I woke up coughing and sneezing this morning. No fun. But in other running news, I did register for the Marine Corps Marathon!

Taught BodyPump this morning and went to a hot vinyasa yoga class this evening at Y2 Yoga. The lovely Sarah Keach was teaching (check out her super fun blog!). I usually can’t attend her class because I teach BodyPump Thursday nights but I switched for Tuesday evening this week and subbed for someone this morning so my evening was free! It was a great class with extremely challenging abdominal work and long holds in standing split. Like Sarah kept telling us, it was only one hour and we could rest when it was over! :)

So happy that tomorrow is Friday! Hope you’ve all had a great week!

One Year Ago: Bacon Wrapped Filet (funny coincidence)

Traditional Meatloaf Topped with Bacon
(Recipe source Gourmet, April 1993)

Ingredients:

1 large egg
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
3 tablespoons ketchup, divided
5 saltine crackers, crushed fine
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound ground chuck
2 slices of bacon, halved crosswise

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl whisk together the egg, onion, bell pepper, 2 tablespoons of ketchup, saltine crackers, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Add the chuck and blend the mixture with your hands until it is just combined (do not overmix). Form the mixture into an 8- by 4-inch loaf in a shallow baking pan, spread the remaining tablespoon (or a little more) ketchup over it, and drape the bacon pieces across the loaf. Bake the meat loaf in the middle of the oven for 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees (mine took about 40 minutes).

Yield: 4 servings (Gourmet says 2 but this definitely could have served 4 for us. More power to you if you can eat 1/2 pound of beef!)

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 56

A dinner salad was a must on this week’s menu. The temperatures have been in the 80s and the days are getting longer and longer. A perfect reason to enjoy a cool, flavorful salad with grilled chicken. I browsed through the grilled chicken salad recipes from Gourmet on Epicurious and this salad was the standout.

It was super easy to prepare – the chicken only has to marinate for 15 minutes and while it’s grilling you can prepare the tomato mixture and plate the salad. This salad is a great healthy and quick option for a weeknight dinner.

Our Easter weekend was awesome! We celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday (say happy birthday to Mema – she reads the blog!!!) and cooked up a storm. I baked my favorite Lady Strawberry Cake and the crowd pleasing Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting. I can’t resist sharing this picture of Mema with her TWO birthday cakes!

I’m teaching FOUR BodyPump classes this week. I predict that I will be sore by the time Sunday rolls around. We’re teaching the new release and it’s really tough – the squats and lunges make me want to cry! And I have some news for you guys…I am going to register for the Marine Corps Marathon tomorrow. I’m so nervous to commit to a race that is 6  months out but it’s a big goal of mine to run a big city marathon and I’ve heard great things about this race. I’ll start slowly building my base in the coming months and really ramp up my training in July. Ahh! I can’t believe I’m 100% committing to another marathon.

And now salad!

One Year Ago: Chocolate Peanut Butter Tart (YUM!)

Grilled Chicken Salad
(Recipe source Gourmet, August 2005)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon mild honey
1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup olive oil
6 chicken breast halves with skin and bones (3 pounds total) – I used 2 boneless skinless breasts and halved the lime vinaigrette
2 large tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
2 medium shallots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise (1/2 cup)
8 ounces mesclun, thinly sliced (6 cups) – I used baby greens
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced – omitted because the store was out of basil – so disappointing :(
Sliced avocado (if desired – I added this)

Directions:

PREPARE THE CHICKEN AND SALAD
Whisk together lime juice, honey, red pepper flakes and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add oil in a slow stream, whisking.

Transfer chicken to a 1-gallon sealable plastic bag and add 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette, then seal bag. Marinate chicken at room temperature 15 minutes.

Transfer another 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette to a bowl, stir in tomatoes and shallots, and marinate until chicken is finished cooking. Transfer another 1/3 cup lime vinaigrette to a large bowl and set aside for cooked chicken.

Remove chicken from bag, discarding marinade, and sprinkle all over with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.

TO COOK CHICKEN ON A CHARCOAL GRILL
Open vents on bottom of grill and on lid. Light a large chimney starter of charcoal briquettes (80 to 100) and pour them evenly over 1 side of bottom rack (you will have a double or triple layer of briquettes).

When charcoal turns grayish white (after 15 to 20 minutes) and you can hold your hand 5 inches above rack for 3 to 4 seconds, sear chicken breasts, starting with skin sides down, on a lightly oiled rack over coals, uncovered, turning once, until well browned, 5 to 6 minutes total.

Move browned chicken breasts to side of grill with no coals and cook, covered with lid, turning over occasionally, until just cooked through, 12 to 15 minutes more.

TO COOK CHICKEN USING A GAS GRLL
Preheat all burners on high, covered, 10 minutes, then adjust heat to medium high heat.

Sear chicken on lightly oiled grill rack, lid down, until well browned, about 3 minutes per side.

Turn off 1 burner (middle burner if there are 3) and arrange all seared chicken on rack above shut-off burner. Cook seared chicken, covered with lid, turning over once, until just cooked through, 10 to 15 minutes. Internal temperature should be 160 degrees.

TOSS GRILLED CHICKEN IN VINAIGRETTE
Transfer hot grilled chicken to large bowl with lime vinaigrette and turn to coat. Leave in bowl 5 minutes, then transfer to a platter and loosely cover with foil.

ASSEMBLE SALAD
Toss together mesclun, basil, tomato mixture and salt to taste. Slice chicken and arrange over salad. Drizzle with some lime vinaigrette and serve.

Yield: 6 servings

*Note: I used 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts and cut the lime vinaigrette in half.

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 40

Part two of Sunday’s impromptu brunch. I happened to have all the ingredients on hand for this frittata and it was delicious and easy. A great change from our normal eggs over medium. Also, this really stayed with me all day. I wasn’t  hungry for hours after eating this.

It’s been a busy week so far. I braved the icy roads on Monday morning to teach BodyPump at 6 a.m. Although it was a small crowd we still got a great class in. After work Monday I headed to the Y again to hit the treadmill for day one of my new half marathon training schedule. I really wanted to run outside but there was still a lot of ice on the sidewalks and Brandon told me that my clumsiness + the ice = recipe for disaster. I ran a half mile warm up, 3 miles at tempo speed (about 8:30 pace) and a half mile cool down for a total of 4 miles. After a lot of deliberation I decided to use the Furman FIRST program. I’ll run three times a week – tempo, speed and long. This plan just seemed to work the best for my schedule with teaching BodyPump and maintaining my yoga practice. I don’t think I’d ever want to follow a three day a week program for marathon training (just not enough miles and time on the road) but I do think that it’s great for me to maintain a balance for half marathon training. I’ll keep you guys posted on how it works for me.

Tonight I headed to Y2 Yoga for a hot vinyasa class and it was HARD. The class wasn’t any harder than usual but I think my legs were done after my Sunday yoga practice and two workouts yesterday. My balance was off and I was just sore. But sometimes it’s good to have to dig down deep to make it through. It challenges you in a whole new way – both mentally and physically.

Back to the frittata. I will definitely be making this again. It was a Sunday brunch treat! I think this would be a great dinner too when you’re looking for something simple and flavorful. I think it would be nice with a side salad and a light vinaigrette.

Herbed Ham and Cheddar Frittata
(Recipe source Gourmet, January 1995)

Ingredients:

2 scallions, minced (I used about 2 tablespoons of minced shallot instead – delicious!)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, minced, or 1/4 teaspoon dried, crumbled
1/4 pound ham steak or thick ham slices from deli, chopped (about 3/4 cup)
1/3 cup grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (about 2 ounces)
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Heat an 8-inch heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil, scallions or shallots and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 2 or 3 minutes.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, thyme, rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Add egg mixture to scallion mixture and cook, without stirring, 2 minutes. Add ham and cook, without stirring, 8 minutes, or until edges are set but center is still soft.

While frittata is cooking, preheat broiler.

Sprinkle cheddar over top of frittata and broil about 4 inches from heat until cheese is bubbling, about 1 minute. Sprinkle with parsley and cut into wedges.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 68

Are you thinking what I was thinking when I first saw this recipe? Gourmet has a recipe for Cornflake Fried Chicken? I was really shocked! I knew it was something that Brandon would love and I had some cornflakes in the pantry that needed to be used. I made several modifications to the original recipe that included dredging in flour before egg and adding spices to the cornflakes. I decided to bake mine instead of frying it and it turned out great. We did a taste test with Brandon’s fried and my baked and while the baked was definitely missing out on the “fried chicken” taste it was okay with me! Chicken breasts are so big when you pound them out so I saved half of mine to eat over a salad for lunch tomorrow.

I taught BodyPump tonight at the Y. There were 32 people in the class! So exciting. I’m going to yoga tomorrow morning – so looking forward to it after two days out of the studio. After work, Brandon and I are working on making chocolate butterfly wings for the butterfly cupcakes I’m making for my niece’s 2nd birthday Saturday. I am so thankful to have his help with the wings because he just has so much more patience with this type of thing. We’re heading to Sole for a late dinner to take advantage of their Charlotte Restaurant Week menu.

We have a really good chance of getting some snow this weekend! We’ve had two close calls this winter but no snow yet so keep your fingers crossed :)

Cornflake Fried Chicken
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, July 2008)
Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 cup flour
1 large egg
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups cornflakes
Paprika or cayenne pepper, optional
1/3 cup vegetable oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Pound out chicken to 1/2 inch thickness (in a plastic bag or between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper).

Set up three shallow bowls. Put flour in the first and season with salt and pepper. In the second bowl, whisk together egg and milk. In the third bowl, crush cornflakes and toss with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper and cayenne and paprika to your liking (about 1/2 teaspoon) if desired.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot.

Meanwhile, season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess flour and then dip in egg mixture, then in cornflakes, pressing to help adhere.

Fry chicken, turning once, until golden and just cooked through, 5 to 6 minutes total. Internal temperature should be 160 degrees. Drain on paper towels.

*Note – I baked mine on a wire rack at 400 degrees for about 10-12 minutes, until internal temperature reached 160.

Yield: 2 servings

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68 Days of Gourmet: Day 35

Hot fudge sauce is the perfect desperation dessert. I always have the ingredients in my pantry and it just really takes ice cream to the next level. Brandon was wanting dessert and we really didn’t have anything but ice cream. I whipped this up in about 10 minutes and it totally hit the spot! So chocolately and delicious!

This has been a pretty solid week on the health and fitness front. Here’s a quick fitness overview:
Monday: taught BodyPump AM, 60 minute power mixed yoga class PM
Tuesday: 75 minute hot vinyasa yoga (this class was SERIOUSLY hard!)
Wednesday: 75 minute power mixed yoga class
Thursday: taught BodyPump (launched the new release!!!)
Tomorrow (Friday): 60 minute hot vinyasa

Now…I know you’re wondering where the cardio is. I totally admit that I’ve been on hiatus. And the funny thing is that I feel really good. The yoga has been exactly what I need. I’m looking forward to starting a new half marathon training program on February 1 rested and restored. I’m running the Charlotte RaceFest Half Marathon on April 10. I’m following a 10 week training program from Runners World that will hopefully help me improve my time. The training plan is pretty aggressive but I’m excited about it and looking forward to some hard work. Can’t wait to run on some beautiful spring days and for the days to get a little longer!

It’s been a good nutrition week too. For whatever reason, I just haven’t had my normal appetite. This is bad considering the amount of exercise I’ve been doing. I don’t know if it’s the lack of running or something about the yoga but my eating habits are definitely a little off. Also, I’ve been craving healthy food (which I’m not complaining about). I’ve just been all about the fruits, whole grains and veggies this week.

We have a pretty indulgent weekend coming up. It all starts with a pizza party at work tomorrow for lunch. I’m planning on having one slice of veggie and bringing other healthy snacks. Then tomorrow night my in law’s are taking us to BLT Steak for Charlotte Restaurant Week. So excited to try it. It’s the new hot spot in Charlotte. And then Saturday we have reservations as another steak house. I’m planning on hitting up the fish selections and steering clear of the beef!

So go get your workout in and then have a hot fudge sundae! :)

Hot Fudge Sauce
(Recipe source Gourmet, February 2004)

Ingredients:

2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt and half of chocolate to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir constantly until chocolate is melted. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add butter, vanilla and remaining chocolate. Stir until melted and smooth.

Sauce can be made and stored for one week. Just scoop out what you need and heat!

Yield: 2 cups

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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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