Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grilled pork chop with pineapple relish

Well hello, Saturday.  So nice to see you!  It's been a long week, and I am over the moon to be sitting on my sofa in my pjs.  I sat down several times this week to blog this recipe but never got around to it, but  c'est la vie.  I would love to say that I'll be more timely in the future, but sometimes life gets in the way.  I'm going to focus on quality in my posting, and not worry about quantity.  In fact, I think I'm doing readers a favor because it gives you less to read, and life is so busy as it is: you are welcome!  (See what I did there?)

Anyhoo, enough of my weekend rambling: on to the food!  This is a great example of how something really simple can dress up a dish in your regular meal rotation and give it new life.  I have made these teriyaki pork chops more times than I count: they are definitely a favorite for my fella.  We typically don't buy bone-in chops, but I follow the marinade recipe although I don't measure: life is too short to be that precise!  

I've also made the blueberry relish and it is great, but this week I tried something different: pineapple!  I have been famous in the past for wasting food so I'm really trying to be more conscientious about buying ingredients that I can use in multiple ways and pineapple is something we already love.  So take a recipe you love, tweak one or two ingredients, and give new life to an old standard.  This relish was great for two recipes: chops and quinoa early in the week and pork lettuce wraps later in the week.

Pineapple relish
1 cup of pineapple, coarsely chopped
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minched
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1 tbsp lime juice
1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger
sprinkle of kosher salt

Combine all ingredients and refrigerate.  Can be served immediately, but flavors will deepen if given time to chill.  Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Kale and White Bean Stew

This weekend was a busy one for me with work responsibilities (retreats on Saturday and Sunday) so I didn't have as much time for cooking as I would have liked.  Also, whenever I have to eat out a lot in a short period of time I try to cook something healthy for dinner as soon as I can to balance the scales.

Don't get me wrong: the guacamole, Chinese food, cupcakes and Italian were all delicious.  You might notice that I said I ate out twice, but that sounds like more than two complete meals.  Welcome to working with college students. :)

Anyhoo, this kale and white bean stew from epicurious was just the ticket. Of course, it was 75 degrees (thanks Louisiana) but such is life.  I also think that this soup tasted WAY better than it looks.  This isn't just a commentary on my photography skills: it looks so healthy, amiright?  In my experience, something that looks this healthy might suffer in taste but trust me when I say this is de-lish.  While I'm calling this recipe vegetarian, I did use chicken stock because I just don't like veggie stock flavor as much, but feel free to substitute whichever suits your fancy.

Let me also take an opportunity to plug the Epicurious App: tons of great recipes, really easy to use, save, and share.  Check it out!

Kale and White Bean Stew (from Epicurious, with my modifications)

2 pounds kale leaves, center ribs and stems removed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped peeled carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped shallots (about 4)
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup white wine (Elios Mediterranean White)
2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon garlic red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

Cook kale in large pot of boiling salted water 1 minute. Drain. Transfer to bowl of ice water to cool. Drain. Squeeze out excess water. Coarsely chop kale.

Heat olive oil in medium pot over medium heat. Add chopped carrots, celery, shallots, and garlic; cook until soft, stirring, about 15 minutes (do not brown vegetables). Add white wine and simmer until liquid is slightly reduced, about 7 minutes. 

Add white beans, 4 cups broth, thyme sprigs, and bay leaf and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 20 minutes. Add kale and simmer 5 minutes longer. 

Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Add remainder of broth to thin stew. Mix in red wine vinegar and chopped fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper.

Grilled Squash Salad

On my new quest for more vegetables, I am trying to come up with easy salads to bring for work lunch.  This is a bit of a challenge for me because I have always been very unimaginative in this area.  For most of my life, a salad has been lettuce, tomato and dressing.  Anything beyond cucumber was exotic and perplexing.  "Olives?  In a salad?  THAT IS NEITHER LETTUCE NOR TOMATO!"

I've branched out a bit, but I'm always probably a little overly pleased when I come up with a "different" salad.  This one came together with zucchini that my fella grilled over the weekend.  I intended to do my usual spinach salad with fixins but the spinach was past its prime.  Instead, I ended up with zucchini as the base, which I liked even more.

While I'm having a salad confessional, let me also say that I don't make my own dressing.  I know how easy it is, and I have good olive oil and tons of vinegar, but I just can't be bothered.  And they just put it in bottles and make it so nice!  Who am I to put the hard working salad dressing folks out of business?

Grilled Squash Salad

3 zucchini, chopped
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning
1 tsp olive oil
10 cherry tomatoes
1/2 tablespoon pinenuts
1 tbsp goat cheese crumbles
1 tbsp Ken's Olive Oil and Vinegar Dressing

Put zucchini on foil sheets.  Cover with lemon pepper seasoning and olive oil.  Wrap and close and place on warm grill until your fell says they are done, roughly 10 minutes.  Let zucchini cool and chill until the next day. (Note: If you can't grill the squash, roasting in an oven would work fine.)

Assemble all other salad ingredients and put dressing in separate container.  Bring to work and enjoy!

Vegetarian Tacos: Support that Resolution!

Well hi there!  If you're still here, thanks!  Sorry about the radio silence: after my big trip abroad I have been bushed and out of wack.  I'm finally able to stay awake past 9 pm (party time!) so let the blogging commence.  In additional, it's taken a while for me to get back into the swing of cooking, and I am fired up about trying new dishes.  Specifically, I'm trying to recommit to a balanced diet.  With the holiday and vacation, I've had a bit of a backward slide, so I'm excited about getting "back on track" if you will.

I've decided to take things a step further and try to eat more vegetarian meals.  I don't think I will ever be a vegetarian because meat is tasty, but I know it's a healthy way to go, so I'm going to be trying to find more creative ways to enjoy vegetarian meals.  This first one is almost so simple, I feel like posting it is cheating, but it was too yum to keep all to myself.  By substituting roasted mushrooms for meat I was able to have a meal that was flavorful and tasty but light on fat.

Vegetarian Tacos

1 container white button mushrooms, rough chopped
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp olive oil
2 wheat tortillas
1/8 cup shredded cheddar cheese
10 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 Avocado, sliced
1 tbsp of cilantro, rough chopped
1 tbsp salsa
1 tsp lime juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place mushrooms on baking sheet and coat with paprika, chili powder, and olive oil.  Stir to coat.  Bake for 10 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through but still firm.

Microwave tortillas for 10 seconds.  Put cheese on tortillas (not as pictured, but how I should have done it.) :) Add mushrooms and all other ingredients and enjoy!

Note: Wheat tortillas, although healthier than flour, still pack a lot of calories.  I typically don't eat the whole tortilla because it's a little big so I tear off about 1 inch all the way around.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sawadee ka! (Greeting in Thai!)

I've been a bit quiet as of late, because I've been in Thailand!  It was a combination wedding/vacation and was simply marvelous.  I'm excited to get cooking again soon.  Stay tuned!

I may also do a post with some pics of food and sites because Thailand was extraordinary, and should be shared. :)