Thursday, December 27, 2012

Brussel Bliss with a Side of Fish

I was surfing the meat counter at Whole Foods not too long ago since I'm regularly looking for products I've never seen before. Especially since I dazed out a this month and forgot to pick up my CSA from Stillman. So for the next month, I'll be getting meat elsewhere. But back to the meat counter...I was looking around and saw pancetta. Alright, so I know Italian folks are regularly cooking with this product, but if I'm being honest, I'm not even sure I've ever seen it in the store. So I decided I was going to figure out how to use it. I mean, it's just fancy bacon, right? Couldn't be too hard. I decided to go with brussel sprouts as the veg to go with it. Not a ton of thought went into this mostly because I love caramelized foods. So that's what I was going to do with all of the ingredients.

Here's the breakdown:
Pancetta and onions

2-3 cups brussel sprouts
1 onion
1/4 lb pancetta
s&p

Slice onions thinly. Dice pancetta into small pieces. Brown in a pan until fat renders. Add onions and turn heat to low. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and cook on low, stirring frequently until onions are caramelized. 30-45 minutes. Meanwhile, cut ends off brussel sprouts and quarter or half the sprouts. Turn heat to high, add sprouts. Here's the important thing. DO NOT TOUCH the brussels until they have browned on one side. You can check them by flipping the one in the middle of the pan. You want to get a good brown on one side of them. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.

I paired this dinner with mahi. Earlier in the week I made cookies for work that had almonds and coconut flakes (the big kind; not finely flaked or shredded). I decided to crust my mahi with those ingredients to make a nutty complex fish.

3 mahi fillets
2 cups coconut flakes
1 cup whole almonds
2 eggs
1 jar sugar free apricot preserves
1 Tbsp dijon mustard
coconut oil
s&p

Put the coconut and almonds in a food processor to thin it out a bit and put it in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Pat the fish dry with paper towel, whisk the eggs and dredge the fish in egg. Put the fish in the Ziploc bag and toss around pressing the coconut almond mixture into the fish so that it sticks. Heat about 2 Tbsp coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Put fish in pan and cover 4-5 minutes or until that side is brown. Do not rush this by upping the heat or you'll have raw fish. Blech!!!! Flip your fish and cook until brown and cooked through. If you get the right brown and the fish isn't cooked, throw it in a 350 degree oven until it's cooked through. This won't take long. Put the apricot preserves and dijon mustard in a small sauce pan with a pinch of salt and heat through. Drizzle the sauce over the fish, add brussel sprouts to the plate and voila, a beautiful dinner! The sauce was particularly delicious and even Ray who refuses to eat salty and sweet together like it! The mustard really changed the profile of the preserves.



As a side note, make sure you're reading the label on the apricot preserves. I was able to find a brand that has fruit, apple juice and pectin. That's what you want, stay away from all that sugar that most brands add!

Salud!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Kentucky Mexico Collision

I grew up eating chicken salad. Not like greens with chicken on it. Like chicken with mayo in it. My mother made the literal best chicken salad any side of the Mason Dixon and that’s a fact. In fact, when I was a teenager, I worked in the country store we owned and when I tell you I made and sold about 900 pounds of chicken salad in any given week, I’m not totally exaggerating. Ask one of my oldest friends, Ash, who worked alongside me. I mean, to give you an idea, we would mix it up with gloved hands because no spoon/spatula/snow shovel could stand up to the mass quantity that was being made at any given time. And it’s not like we just made a ton and threw out the leftovers. People from all over the small town of Frankfort, Kentucky came out daily; ordering chicken salad every which way you can think of. My mom’s chicken salad only has breast meat, red grapes, celery and mayo in it. It’s simple and it’s delicious. I even requested it when she was planning the catering for our wedding. I guess you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. We may have also had whiskey barrels full of beer and sweet tea vodka, but that’s for a different blog!

So here’s the thing. I am a chicken salad addict. But I try not to eat too much mayo if I can help it, however much I may…do…love it. Additionally, the way we ate it back in the day was either on white bread or a croissant, neither of which appear in my diet these days. So I decided to make a version of chicken salad that would be yummy (not as yummy as my mom’s) but sans all the guilt I get from my mom’s version.

Here’s what I came up with, I hope you like it as much as I did.

Mexican Chicken Salad

2 chicken breasts
Grape tomatoes, diced roughly
1/2 green bell pepper, diced small
1 Jalapeno, minced
Handful Cilantro, chopped
1-2 Tbsp red onion, diced finely
Lime
Cumin
½ - ¾ cups Guacamole
*I use Wholly Guacamole brand
s & p
Lettuce

Cut chicken breasts in half horizontally to make thin cutlet-like shapes. Sprinkle each side of the chicken liberally with cumin. Grill on each side approximately 4 minutes or until cooked through. Let the chicken sit and cool. Meanwhile, dice up grape tomatoes, green pepper, jalapeno and red onion. In a food processor mince the jalapeno, but make sure to take out the seeds first, or don’t if you want it really spicy. Chop up the cilantro into a confetti-like consistency. Put everything in a bowl. Chop up half the chicken in a rough but small dice. The other half of the chicken should be chopped up very finely. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix in the guacamole until it has a “creamy” type of consistency. You want the pieces sticking together.  Then juice the lime over all of it, sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Serve in lettuce cups.



Verdict? It’s not the same as my mom’s. But I never expected it to be. What it is; is a really yummy healthy alternative! Josh and I both really loved it and I know you will too!

Salud!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Healthy Southerner's Paradise!!!

As I’ve mentioned….or rather driven home the point…..I am a southern girl. For those of you who are as well, you’ll probably agree with me when I say that it’s one of my favorite things about myself. Unfortunately, it produces a regular argument between my healthy me and my southern me with regards to food. But after a wildly flattering comment post Crazy 8’s this week, by one of my trainer’s other clients, I was revved upped to keep fit and find a way to make a southern meal healthy and happy!

As I’ve said before, I just don’t see the point of eating if it’s not delicious! This revised southern classic was not only delicious, but really cute too!

Here’s the Breakdown:
Turkey Meatloaf Muffins
½ lb ground turkey breast
½ lb ground turkey (regular)
1 egg
¼ onion, diced finely
½ green pepper, diced finely
1 ½ Portobello mushroom caps, diced small
Splash of Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp – 1 Tbsp Montreal Steak Seasoning
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp dried parsley
½ tsp garlic powder
Coconut oil

Muffin Topper
½ lb center cut bacon
1-8 oz can tomato sauce
Worcestershire
Dried basil

Mix everything for the meatloaf muffins together. Grease the muffin tins with coconut oil and fill each cup with the meatloaf mix. You should have about 8 “muffins”.  Cut the bacon in half to make smaller pieces. Then microwave on paper towel for 3 minutes. Meanwhile, mix up the tomato sauce, Worcestershire and dried basil. Smash down the meat a little with a spoon. Spoon on the sauce, layer on a piece of bacon then spoon on a little more sauce. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. If you like your bacon a little burnt/crispy like I do, turn up the heat to 450 degrees after 20 minutes. Make sure you put your muffin tins on a large baking sheet so that it doesn’t leak into your oven and smoke up. I learned this particular lesson the hard way.

Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash
1 head cauliflower
1 cup grass fed yogurt
10 cloves garlic
Olive oil
S&P

Before you start doing anything with the meatloaf, coat garlic with olive oil. Roast in the oven at 300 degrees for about 15 minutes until lightly browned and soft. Trim and boil the cauliflower for about 20 minutes or until soft. Mix in a food processor with yogurt and garlic. Mix in s&p to taste.

As far as the zucchini goes, I just sautéed it in a pan with a little oil and s&p.

The verdict? Soooo yum yum yummy!

I want to share a few of my tricks to healthing up this typically unhealthy meal. I learned that if you add Portobello mushrooms to meat, it serves as an expander but you can’t really notice that it’s not meat. This way you remove some calories with healthy veg! And it’s true, you would never know. I also replaced mashed potatoes with cauliflower. The Irish girl in me really struggles with this tough transition, but it was super and as my soul.train. friend Jackie mentioned when discussing the benefits of tequila, it’s Paleo! I used Traders Point Creamery yogurt to make them creamy, but felt great about the fact that Traders Point is grass fed dairy. You can get this brand at Whole Foods.


I hope you enjoy this as much as I did. One other score….totally portable leftovers, should you have any!



Thursday, December 6, 2012

Beauty and the Beef!!

I realize that not everyone loves curry and Indian food as much as I do. I am borderline obsessed, which is really funny considering I wouldn’t touch the stuff until about 3 years ago. While I don’t think many are obsessed in the same way I am, I do believe that one or two of you read my blog to get ideas for food you wouldn’t think of on your own. Big Eater Outside the Box!! No I’m not changing my name, but humor me and try this even if you don’t think you like curry. Because really, besides bacon, what could be better than beef?!?!

I’m especially excited about this particular dish because I’m going to keep pushing Stillman’s at the Turkey Farm on you folks until you either want to kill me or buy a CSA! *maniacal laugh maniacal laugh

Here’s the breakdown:

1 lb grass fed ground beef
2 cups fresh okra, cut
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsp red curry paste
1 Tbsp hot madras curry powder
Generous sprinkle cayenne pepper
Sprinkle turmeric powder
¼ onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large acorn squash
Olive oil
s&p

Cut squash in half, scrape out the seeds and rub inside with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle with s&p and roast at 425 degrees for 45 minutes or until soft. Meanwhile, sauté okra in a pan over low until it is soft. DO NOT RUSH OR SKIP OVER THIS!!!! Undercooked okras is almost inedible.  mix coconut milk, curry paste, curry powder, cayenne pepper and turmeric in a shallow but wide sauce pan and simmer on low for several minutes. Sauté onions and garlic for a couple minutes until soft. Then add onions and garlic to the sauce mixture. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Brown the beef and strain it really well. Then put everything in the sauce pan and simmer for several minutes over medium-low heat. Spoon the squash into a bowl and smash into a … uhhh… mash? Yes, a mash. Then spoon the beef curry over the squash.


FACT: MY DINNER IS NOT PHOTOGENIC!
FACT: IT DOESN’T MATTER!



It was extraordinary. I mean really really really good. It was spicy though, so adjust accordingly to your taste. However, the squash wasn’t necessary albeit a good substitute for rice. Hope you’re ready to jump on the curry bandwagon and at the very least….Stillman’s!

Salud!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Orange Juice Glad I Said Shrimp

On Monday, I asked my trainer, Anthony, to give me one of those “hardest workout of my life kind of workouts”. To which he responded with exactly that. Then Tuesday night I went to Crazy 8’s class. Now for those of you who imagine pansy group classes, I’d like you to erase that from your mind. Then imagine the hardest workout of your life, double it and that’s Crazy 8’s. In fact, when I first started taking this class, I would come home and have to lie down in the shower for half an hour or so just to get enough energy to stand back up. That’s not an exaggeration! So after two crazy workouts, I believe my metabolism was in overdrive because I was STAAAAAHVIN Tuesday night after class. But when you do that much work, you really want to eat something healthy but filling because your body is going to burn right through it! So on my menu was citrus shrimp stir fry. Not exactly sure what inspired the citrus part, but I do love grapefruit and there are very few proteins delicate enough to suck up the grapefruit flavor. Now, you guys know I’m not making rice at my house, so this really needed to have big veggies that would fill me up! Additionally, I could barely move my arms and legs, so it needed to be easy! The result was exactly what I needed!
Here’s the breakdown:

20-25 large raw shrimp

Shrimp Marinade
Zest of:
      1 orange
      1 lemon
      1 lime
Juice of:
      1 grapefruit
      1 orange
1 Tbsp honey
½ tsp red pepper flakes
S&P

Veggie Mix
12 oz bag of fresh broccoli florets
12 oz bag of fresh stir fry mix (snow peas, grated carrot, grated red cabbage)
½ large sweet onion, sliced

Stir Fry Sauce
3 Tbsp coconut aminos
1 Tbsp honey
½ tsp hot sesame oil

Other
½” chunk fresh ginger, minced
Blood orange olive oil

Mix the ingredients of the shrimp marinade. Pull the tails off the shrimp and put all of it in a Ziploc bag. Let it sit for about 40 minutes. Not much longer or it’ll turn into ceviche. Then put blood orange olive oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the minced ginger and sauté for a few minutes until infused. Then drain shrimp from the marinade in a colander and add it to the wok. Cook about 4 minutes or until they turn pink. Remove shrimp from the pan and cover with aluminum foil. Then add just a bit more oil into the wok, add the veggies and sauté until just barely tender. You DO NOT want soft soggy veggies. While it’s cooking mix up the stir fry sauce and pour over the veggies. Plate the veggies and then the shrimp. Don’t mix the shrimp in the pan with the veggies. The flavor of the citrus won’t overcome the sauce.

I ate mine with a little bit of Sriracha on the side for the veggies. Not the shrimp, again, the citrus won’t overcome the Sriracha. This was super yummy and with all the dense broccoli and cabbage, it filled me right up despite the rumbly in my tumbly.

Now let me side bar and quickly tell you about coconut aminos. This is something I’ve recently discovered as an alternative to soy sauce. You can’t taste the difference, but there are 339mg sodium in 1 Tbsp of coconut aminos versus the 920mg in 1 Tbsp of soy sauce! Plus if you’re Paleo, this makes takes care of the soy! Always looking for superior products, so that’s my schpiel.







Alright friends, enjoy!


Thursday, November 15, 2012

I'm Cooking....No I'm Cooked!

Since Monday, I have cleaned out my closets which produced two garbage bags of clothes to donate, grocery shopped, attended boot camp, worked 12 hours, trained, stayed up for a ridiculously late UK game, subsequently attended 6:30 a.m. boot camp and worked another 12 hour day. I AM COOKED! But for the salted dark chocolate caramel I just treated myself to, I’d be face down. So folks, there is no witty or interesting story about the dish I’m blogging today. In fact, I cooked this meal a week ago. Thank goodness I have a couple back log recipes to share. But it was really good and I did invent it. So there you have it.
Here’s the breakdown:
2 mahi-mahi filets
2-3 tsp Chinese hot mustard
A splash of fish sauce
A splash of rice wine vinegar
½ tsp crush red pepper flakes
1-2 Tbsp olive oil

The truth is I did not measure anything except the fish, which is pretty easy. One Fish Two Fish. But it’s a marinade, so it’s all good! Mix all the ingredients together and put it and the fish in a Ziploc bag. Let it marinate for a couple hours. Then throw it on a screaming hot grill for about 5 minutes per side. Couldn’t be easier.
I paired the fish with a bok choy sauté that was also delish.
4 heads of baby bok choy, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
½” fresh ginger, minced
¾ of a fresh cayenne pepper sliced thinly
1 Tbsp Coconut oil
Sesame seeds

Melt coconut oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger and cayenne peppers. Sauté for 2-3 minutes until aromatic, but not so long that you brown the garlic. Toss in the bok choy and crank the heat up to high. Sauté until the bok choy is wilted about 5 minutes. Add the bok choy to your plate and place the fish on top. Then sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds. I had it with a little extra of the mustard on my plate to dip the fish in, but I like spicy more than the average bear, so you might want to skip that!


Besides the marinating time for the fish, this dish is very quick. It’s also really light but satisfying. It’s a perfect choice if you’ve had a big lunch or even if you just don’t want a heavy meal. Thank you for the bye today and I promise to have more energy next week. I think ;)
Salud!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What Season Is It Again????

Last weekend it was autumn! I swear! Not that you could tell from the current weather! But since my southern butt prefers fall to winter ANY DAY, I’m still going to blog autumn inspired food. Ray was over for dinner on Saturday night and I had been to the farmers’ market that morning buying an unnatural amount of meat from Stillman at the Turkey Farm. However, that’s not all I purchased. I also found a bag of delicate lettuces that looked so good, I just couldn’t stop myself despite the pile of veggies already residing in my house. On the walk back up the hill to my house I decided since I had so many greens, I would make a giant autumn inspired salad with grilled chicken for my health conscious friend Ray! Who incidentally, lost about 15 pounds this summer. That’s right, go Ray! So before I ran into town to scoop him, I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up some of the other components for the salad. What I ended up with was really something!
Here’s the breakdown:
Varied Lettuces
*mine were all in one bag, but if you can’t find that, mix your own
2 handfuls arugula
2 red beets
*boiled until fork tender, peeled and sliced
2 chioggia beets
*raw and sliced
Goat cheese
1 handful dates, chopped
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup pecans, chopped
Fig balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Fresh pepper

Mix the greens and arugula in a large bowl. Sprinkle dates, pecans and cherries on top, but focus most of them in the middle of the bowl. Line the bowl with red beets, Chioggia beets and crumbled goat cheese taking up 1/3 of the rim with each ingredient. Grind fresh pepper over top. For the dressing, I totally eyeballed it. Simple: fig balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Make as much as you want, but just know you need about 33% more oil than vinegar. But always taste it to make sure you like it before dumping it on your salad.

Now, if this salad is nothing else, it is BEAUTIFUL! I found it to be quite tasty, but even if you don’t, others might and it’s definitely something you’ll admire sitting out on the table until you toss it all together. It's almost too pretty to eat.....almost!




The chicken was marinated in a mix of spices and pomegranate juice, yes pomegranates are in season. But the real star was the salad. Ray also made an amazing pear dessert that I’ll blog as soon as he sends me the recipe…..cough cough RAY GET ON IT!!!

Cheers to fall...I mean winter...I don't knw what I mean. It'll probably be 80 degrees tomorrow!!!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Falling for Fall

With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I am in quite a festive mood! And for us southerners, festivity and holiday means food! Needless to say, I’ve been looking forward to last night’s dinner since I went shopping for it on Sunday. I wanted something warm and seasonal and that’s just what I planned for the future of a fabulous acorn squash! So just before I headed out to my training session, I put the squash in the oven to roast while I got my fitness on. In hindsight, maybe that wasn’t the best idea to leave the oven on with a highly sensitive smoke detector, but I was almost to the gym when I had that revelation, so I crossed my fingers! Anyway the cranky retired fireman next door would unhappily handle an emergency so no big deal! If you’ve ever heard stories of my neighbor, you know he’s crazy as hell! So back to my yummy festive dinner.
Acorn squash with mushroom mix:
1 acorn squash, cut in half and seeded
3.5 oz shitake mushrooms, diced
8 oz baby bella mushrooms, diced
1 small onion, diced
½ zucchini, diced
Dried Thyme
Ground sage
Coconut oil
Olive oil
s&p

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Rub olive oil onto the squash, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for about 45 minutes or until soft. When the squash is almost done, melt a table spoon of coconut oil in a skillet, add mushrooms, zucchini and onion to a pan. Toss in the oil and sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper, thyme and sage. Toss around and sauté until the veggies are cooked. About 8 minutes. Then scoop the mushroom mix into the bowl of the squash. This is seriously delicious! In fact, while I ate it, I decided that this would be a PERFECT alternative to stuffing on Thanksgiving!





We all know that I’m a protein eater, so I paired the squash dish with a poultry seasoning inspired piece of mahi-mahi. And I swear, it worked perfectly as a Big Eater Small Body early Thanksgiving!



Pre Cooked
Rosemary & Prosciutto Grilled Mahi:

2 mahi-mahi fillets
6 slices prosciutto
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
Olive oil
Pepper

Pre-heat your grill for about 1 minutes. Sprinkle pepper on each side of the fish. On one side place 2 full sprigs of rosemary on each fillet. Then wrap all of it up with 3 pieces of prosciutto each. Drizzle the outside with a wee bit of olive oil so it doesn’t stick to the grill. Finally grill on each side for about 4-5 minutes.

These two dishes went perfectly together and with all the seasoning it was as comforting as Thanksgiving, but muuuuch healthier! And the prosciutto gets crispy….BONUS!!!! 

Salud!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Junot Diaz Night

If you know me, you know I love to read books, real books. So much so that I only started reading books on my iPad a few months ago! If you know me really well, you know that I went kicking and screaming into the ebooks mostly because I like to hold the real books. I like to smell them. Alright, so maybe I’m creepy….I prefer to use the term “old school”. If you know that my favorite book of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird, you are of the select few. And if you are of these select few, you may or may not know that my beloved copy is one I stole from one of my High School English teachers, has her notes in the margins and that I’ve read it close to a trillion times. I’ve got a lot of “stuff”, but this book is my most prized possession. That said, a close second on my list of favorite books is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. Because you presumably read my blog for food, I will not get into the details of why I love this book so much. What I will tell you is that the biggest reason I love it is because of Junot Diaz’s use of Spanish to paint a picture that cannot be adequately described with English words.

So you can only imagine my excitement to find out Junot Diaz would be at my local book store IN THE FLESH! Which is where I parked my happy a$$ for 3 ½ hours last night. I’d love to get into how amazing he was, but you read my blog for food. So what I’m leading you up to is that I didn’t cook last night due to my temporary residence at Porter Square Books. It was Josh’s night to cook! If you know Josh, you know he doesn’t come up with recipes, but he can execute pretty well. So I gave him a Real Simple recipe and he nailed it! And it was yummy enough to share with ya’ll.

Here’s the breakdown:

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pork tenderloin
Borsari
¼ medium head red cabbage, thinkly sliced
½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup applesauce
salt

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet (or whatever pan ya got) over medium-high heat. Season the pork with Borsari and cook, turning occasionally, until browned. 8-10 minutes. Add the cabbage and ½ tsp of salt to the pan with the pork and toss to coat. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake until the pork is cooked through. 10-12 minutes. Remove the pork and let rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Add the vinegar and parsley to the cabbage and toss to combine. Serve with the pork and applesauce.




The meal was terrific and I was on cloud nine! Winning evening!

Salud Junot!


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Squash the Squash!!!

So it’s been a pretty uninspired week of cooking. Frankly, between work and my workouts and family in town plus Strides, well, you get the picture! That said; I wanted to share a delicious recipe that I cook often in the fall. It really drives home the happy autumn vibes and warms the heart as well as the tummy! Last week in my organics box I received a beautiful Delicata squash. If you’ve ever seen a Delicata, you know that by itself, it’s really not much food. Especially when you have a husband with an empty leg! So I picked up another squash to go with it. I grabbed a Red Kuri squash, mostly because it was pretty. But pretty much any winter squash will work with this fantastic recipe with the exception of spaghetti. Besides being yummy and getting you right into the swing of fall, this is a fantastic choice of veg because likely your farmers’ market is still open and you should be able to get some locally grown! So try there first!

Here’s the breakdown:

1 Delicata Squash
1 Red Kuri Squash
1 Tbsp Hot Madras Curry Powder
2 Tbsp Butter
Olive Oil
¼ cup milk
s&p

Cut the both squashes in half and spoon out the seeds. Then rub olive oil on it and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. Check with a fork at 20 minutes and take them out when a fork easily pierces into the inside. The key is for this to be soft. When the squash is soft, spoon out the insides and put into a bowl. Smash the squash to a mashed potato consistency. Then add milk, butter and curry powder and mix well.


And that’s it folks! I absolutely love this dish and I know you will too! Don’t be afraid of the curry, it is the most essential ingredient to making this an amazing treat! Try it out with any protein, but especially beef, chicken or pork. I’ve never tried it with fish, but hey, I’d try anything once!

Salud!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Better Than Your (My) Momma's Chicken & Mushrooms

The first time Josh met my mother, she was cooking for him at her house. I asked him what he’d like since she’s such a fantastic cook. Of all strange things he asked for was chicken marsala. I’m not sure on what planet he thought my super southern momma was going to pull a classic Italian meal from. In fact, I remember marinara sauce coming from a jar and boxed dry spaghetti as a kid. She’d add ground beef usually, but trust me; this was not one of my mom’s specialties! So in an attempt to impress my cute new boyfriend, I asked her to satisfy his ridiculous request. And I prayed that he’d never eaten it before! Well, the woman put together a dish with chicken and mushrooms. But man was it awful! He thought it was fine, but he really should have asked for fried chicken or goulash.
Since that terrible incident, I’ve feared cooking chicken and mushrooms in any combination. I love mushrooms and chicken is a staple for me, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Until, that is, Everyday Food magazine had a recipe for chicken with mushrooms. I had previously admired the loose mushroom section of Whole Foods and this recipe gave me an excuse to buy some.
The problem with this recipe was that it had the chicken dredged in flour and cooked in butter. Alllllrighty then my eating habits just aren’t digging that. Queue Big Eater Small Body remedy! This one’s pretty easy, nix the flour and replace the butter with coconut oil. So I can’t really take the credit for this recipe, but I’ll take the credit for healthing it up and give Martha Stewart her props! What I love about Martha Stewart’s recipes is the ease at which most of them come together. However, Martha Martha Martha, why on earth would you use button mushrooms when you have so many beautiful ones to choose from at Whole Foods?!?!
So enjoy this beautiful mushroomy delight with low stress!
Here’s the breakdown:
2 chicken breasts
1 tsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 lb cremini mushrooms, quartered
¼ cup white wine
¼ cup chicken broth
s & p

Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 2 thin pieces. Pound out the chicken. I used a hammer, but perhaps you’ll have a more official kitchen tool. If not, hammers work! Place some plastic wrap on top of the chicken and work it out! Maybe hold onto this recipe for a tough day at the office! N E WAY…..when the chicken is thin, cut those pieces in equal halves or thirds depending on the size of the piece. Heat coconut oil in a skillet and in batches brown the chicken on both sides. About 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Turn the heat down to medium and add thyme and mushrooms to the pan. You may need a little more coconut oil, but eyeball it. Last thing you want is oily food. Even if it is yummy coconut oil. Sauté the mushroom mix for about 6 minutes until they are soft. Add the wine, broth and cook until liquids are reduced by half. This takes about 3 minutes according to the white collar criminal, but I’d say it’s really closer to double that time. Return chicken to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until everything is the same temperature.

Voila! I served this dish with a lemony broccoli that worked really well as a balanced dinner. All ya gotta do is sauté minced fresh garlic, red pepper flakes, zest of one lemon and a minimal amount of coconut oil until the garlic is fragrant. 2 minutes or so. Then add the broccoli. Crank the heat a bit and sauté for about 5 minutes. Do not overcook the broccoli. That’s the absolute worst!



I can safely say this dish was worlds more enjoyable than that chicken marsala attempt in 2002. And though Josh would never admit it to my mom, he did enjoyed it more as well. Hope you’ll try it out as well!

Salud!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Smokin Good!


It’s a pretty well-known fact that foodies love pork. In fact, I didn’t even call myself a foodie until I started to really appreciate the world of pork and all it had to offer. Well this foodie is here to tell you about a terrific company in Vermont where they’re smoking the finest quality and happiest of pigs to bring you great sausages, bacons, hams and various other pig products. Established in 1962, Vermont Smoke and Cure has been providing their consumers with a product that they can eat with confidence that the piggies’ and consumers’ best interest and health is a priority.
They currently source their local pigs from a single farm in Franklin, Vermont and season some of their pork with local Vermont maple syrup from Sweet Retreat in Northfield, Vermont, which we love because our local farmers are so important to us! All of us, right? In fact, in 2011 they purchased over 60,000 pounds of pork and beef for their products either in Vermont or not far from there!

The pigs live on pasture during much of the year and in barns with deep bedded packs during the winter and early spring.  They eat only grains and legumes, minerals and pasture or hay.  Farrowing crates aren't used.  These are happy, healthy pigs.


So what are they doing exactly….smoking and curing. And bringing you a quality of products you can taste the Vermontness (is this a word?) in. They are using a restrained hand to bring you a product that you can taste a balance of smoke, salt, pork and maple. And HELLO who doesn’t love maple syrup? I think I’ve heard a particular funny guy at a wedding weekend say “I happen to know everything there is to know about maple syrup! I love maple syrup. I love maple syrup on pancakes. I love it on pizza. And I take maple syrup and put a little bit in my hair when I've had a rough week. What do you think holds it up, slick?” Agreed Mr. Vaughn!
And, if you have a particular food restriction, you’re likely to be able to eat almost anything they produce as all but their beer brats are made without wheat or other gluten containing items, MSG, milk or milk products, or nuts of any kind. And they go so far as to clean all the equipment after making the beer brats to prevent cross contamination! So for those of us with food allergies, Stay Calm & Consume On!  
So what are you waiting around for? Oh yeah, the Boston Local Food Festival isn’t until Sunday! Make sure you check them out then and if you love the product, as I assume you will, they will ship to you! Visit them at Vermont Smoke and Cure! And definitely get your tookuses down to the food festival! Check it out Here!!!!



 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Who Says It's Left Overs?

It was a clean out the cupboard kind of evening. My veggies from the week were getting wilty and I needed to use the stuff I had. This happens every so often and usually I come up with something that not only makes me happy to eat because it’s yummy but also that whole past life from WWII. Waste not want not! So my end of week veg list consisted of baby kale greens, mixed greens, two ears of corn, ¾ tomato and two scallions. Clearly I was having salad! But I’m a protein eater, so I wanted some kind of meat. Lucky for me I had half a giant hanger steak in the freezer from Stillman at the Turkey Farm. Yes, grass fed! So after defrosting, I put the steak in a Ziploc with fig balsamic vinegar and left it overnight.

When I was in Kentucky last, I stopped into this place called Stuartos Olive Oil that specializes in vinegar, olive oil and salts. While there, I picked up this amazing espresso coarse salt. I figured that would pair really nicely on the grill with the fig balsamic. DO NOT ask me how I come to these decisions. Sometimes they come out great, other times, not. But the answer is always no if you don’t ask the question. So I tried this out.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Mixed greens
Baby kale
2 scallions, sliced
1 red tomato, or in my case ¾ tomato
2 ears of corn
Fig balsamic vinegar
Espresso salt
1lb hanger steak

After marinating the steak in vinegar overnight, I pressed a liberal amount of espresso salt onto both sides of the steak. Then cranked the grill until it was screaming hot and grilled the steak about 5 minutes per side. Meanwhile, I stacked up my veggies onto salad plates. The corn I boiled for 13 minutes. Not 12, not 14, trust me, 13 minutes. Then I cut it off the cob and mixed with about 1 tbsp of butter. Yup, I said it! I spooned the buttered corn over the salad. After letting the meat sit for about 5 minutes to redistribute the juices, I sliced it thinly on the bias. This is important for the proper texture, especially for hanger steak. Otherwise its a chewy mess, yuuuuck! Top the whole thing with pieces of the steak.

Because of the amazing coffee tasting salt and the butter, you will not need additional dressing for this salad.

It was pretty outstanding! I especially liked the charred ends of the steak which were nutty and complex! I suggest this for a quickie meal and with the exception of a teeny bit of grass fed butter, it’s healthy! It was definitely different, but my taste buds were totally on board and yours will be too!





Salud!