Monday, May 31, 2010

My Food Philosophy is Growing.....

Our style of eating as shifted lately, and I have been putting off writing a post about it for a while.  Not because I didn't want to share.  I did, and I do.  I just wasn't sure how to approach it, or explain it.  So here I am, taking a deep breath, and jumping in.

John and I have cooked the majority of our food at home for a while, at least most of the time.  We liked to cook and we did it often, but we also used convenience items to make life easier.  Things like baking mixes and canned paraphernalia gave the IMPRESSION of home-cooked, but without all the time and cost.  While this was helpful, I had a nagging feeling like I was cheating.  I started to make more foods from scratch, and I loved it.  The more I cooked, the more I wanted to cook.  I started reading cooking blogs and cookbooks and felt more and more inspired by each recipe.  I read, and I cooked, I read, and I cooked.  Many of the reading materials I was stumbling across were full of  "healthy" recipes, but they didn't sit right with me.

I reached a brick wall.  ::Warning-What I'm about to share might be too much info, so feel free to click away now!::  I had been dealing with digestive issues for as long as I can remember.  I recall sharing a theory with a friend as a young teen, and I think my theory sums up a part of it, even it if isn't scientifically sound.  I told her that when I ate, the food rushed into my intestine.  It waited there until the next meal or snack came.  When the next food came, it pushed the first meal out.  Forcefully.  Ouch.  In addition, I was lactose intolerant.  So, in a nutshell, I would eat, I would bloat, I would... let the food out.  You get it.  And I would be hungry.  All the time.  So I stopped eating lots of dairy.  I found that preservatives and artificial things in food were making it worse.  So I started cutting that out.  I never liked using them all that much anyway, but I became more aware of them.  That helped, but something was still wrong.  I started gaining weight, and I had never struggled with that before.  It didn't make sense.  The "healthy" recipes and ingredients were not making my digestion better, and I was gaining weight. 

So I gave up.  

I stopped looking for "healthy" recipes and started just started to follow my instincts.  I cooked what I wanted, when I wanted.  The food I wanted to make or cook was never really "bad," but they weren't "healthy."  They included meat of all kinds.  They included carbs.  They included dessert.  When I wanted ricotta cheese, I didn't get skim.  I gravitated towards blogs with the "whole food, whole person" view that my instincts had originally been guiding me towards.  This time?  I didn't fight it.  I started losing weight and feeling better.  My food stayed in.  I felt full.  So I continued.  Around this time, I read Nourishing Traditions.  It resonated with me, and for the first time, I felt validated.  I felt like my crazy way of feeling better wasn't so crazy.  I felt like my instincts were right. 

I tried to get John on board.  He was cool with trying the crazy recipes I was finding, as long as it did not too off the wall.  He ate all the things I cooked, and even liked some of them!  I wanted him to read about the logic behind it, but I knew Nourishing Traditions would be too much for him at first.  I mean, it is a lot of information, not really an introduction.  Enter Nina Planck and her books.  I knew her first book would be the perfect introduction for him.  I may or may not have forced him to read it on our honeymoon.  

The result?  Well let me just say that the day after we got back from our honeymoon, we went food shopping at Fairway for grass-fed butter, milk, and meat, along with free range eggs and other fun things.  

So far, John and I have been both feeling better and looking better.  Our lives have changed for the better.  So, you may be seeing some new things on the blog, or maybe you have already noticed.  Either way, I hope you continue to enjoy and join me on this journey!!

And if you are still reading at this point, you deserve a medal!

This post was listed on Fight Back Friday @!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Green Bean Supreme!

Apparently my literary genius has allowed me to progress from alliterative titles to rhyyyyyming!  Go Me!

John and I are actually away for the weekend (remind me to thank Blogger for allowing posts to be written in advance and posted later!).  Since we are frugal and like to eat well, we packed lots of things to munch on....

You get the picture, I'm sure.
In addition to all of that, because that is just not enough for 3 days, 2 nights, I made a green bean dish.  This dish is special to me, because it was one of the first "grown-up" dishes I made in my first apartment.  I made it for a dinner party in 2006 with chicken, but it is good without it, too.
It is seriously SO EASY to make.  It was perfect for this trip because it keeps well and can be served cold.  

First, snip the ends off some green beans.
Next, boil them until the are bright green.  When they are, plunge them in cold water to stop them from cooking.
While the beans are cooking, mix up the sauce.  It is 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.  I don't like to taste pepper, so I exclude it.  Feel free to follow suit. 
If you juiced your oranges, drink the excess.
Then, mix it all together.  It is fun topped with slivered almonds!

This recipe was also posted on Two For Tuesday at A Moderate Life


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Super Snack Saturday!

Most of the posts this week have been of meals, dinners to be exact, so I thought the weekend would be a good time to share some of the OTHER things we have been eating.  

Waffles with Peanut Butter/Honey/Banana Topping
Home made peanut butter, sliced bananas, and honey were thrown in a bowl...
And served over a toasted waffle!  The waffle was leftover from when we made them last weekend.  I just froze the extra, and when I felt like a fancier breakfast, stuck it in the toaster!

The other big snack-o-the-week is a riddle.
What do you get when you mix 2 apples...
a mandolin slicer...
and cinnamon?
Why, apple chips, of course!  Especially when the are baked at 250 for an hour or so!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Clams Oreganata and Asparagus Macaroni

We stuck with our meal plan well this week!  On Wednesday night we had Clam Oreganata and a cool asparagus macaroni invention.  It was actually pretty boring, but SO GOOD!  I just realized I say that about lots of the things we make over here.  Hmm.  That's a good sign.  Anyway, on to the clams!

Step 1:  Clean clams.  Little neck clams were on sale for 3 dozen/$10.  We are only 2 people, so we got a dozen.  Only 1 was bad (open before it was cooked) so I scrubbed up 11 clam-o-s.

Step 2:  Cook clams.  Stick the clams in a pot with a small layer of water and boil the water.  The steam will cook the clams.  When they open, they are ready.  If they don't open, don't eat 'em.  We lucked out, they all opened!  Don't forget to save a little of the cooking water to add to the stuffing!

Step 3:  Chop clam insides.  Actually, the real 3rd step is to get the clam bodies out of the little shells.  I didn't take a picture of that because my hands were all clammy.  I just stuck them in the food processor and pulsed it a few times. 
Step 4:  Make stuffing.  I started with about a 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs, and then added lots of garlic powder, parsley, oregano, and sea salt.  Then I streamed in maybe a 1/2 cup of olive oil.  As it mixed, I added the clam cooking water to get it to the right consistency. 

Step 5: Fill shells.  This is the fun step!  Scoop up the stuffing, make it into a ball, and add it to the (rinsed) clam shells.  I put the little balls in the shells, and then smushed them down when it was time to cook them. 
Step 6: Serve with awesome macaroni with roasted asparagus in a lemon butter sauce.  This was easy.  Cook macaroni and roast asparagus.  When you pour the macaroni into a colander, use that pot to melt lots of butter.  Then add in the juice of a lemon.  Chop the asparagus and add that into the pot.  When it is mixed in, put the macaroni back in the pot.  This is great because it only uses one pot, and because you can reheat it on the stove when you go back for seconds.  Because you WILL go back for seconds!!!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lentil and Beet Salad with Goat Cheese

Do you remember when I attempted to make a beet and lentil salad?  And it was awful?  I do, and since then, I have been plotting a way to make it again.  Except delicious.  

Challenge accepted.  Enter Bobby Flay.  This was the blueprint.   Of course, I didn't have sherry vinegar, so I used a mix of red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar.  I'm not sure why, but it worked.  I didn't use bacon, because we didn't have any.  I THOUGHT we had dijon mustard, but we didn't.  We had mustard seeds, though so....

I smashed it up with some olive oil.  Go me.

On to the actual cooking.  The day before, I chopped up the beets and roasted them at 375 until they were tender, and mixed the dressing.  I did not photograph those steps.  Bad Blogger!  I also made the lentil broth that night.  

 Nice broth of chicken stock, celery leftover from our fondue-ing, and some onion mixed with tons of spices. 
 The morning I was ready to make it, I added in the lentils and cooked them until the liquid was gone.  
In a separate pan, I mixed onion and garlic with butter, and then threw in the lentils.  I discarded the mushy celery and onion.  

At dinnertime, all we had to do was throw the lentil mixture over some arugula and dressing, throw on the goat cheese, and arrange the beets. 
It was so much better.  It was easy, surprisingly easy, especially with the changes and prepping it in steps.  It was cheap, other than the goat cheese, but you could omit that.  We probably would have, but I wanted to make it just like the meal at the restaurant.  SUCCESS!!


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Adventures in Granola

For a self-proclaimed granola freak like myself, store-bought favorites get costly very quickly.  Considering the fact that I would eat granola for breakfast and snacks, and can make full meals out of granola bars, I have to reel myself in.  When that doesn't work, I need to make my own.

Enter: Katie at Kitchen Stewardship.  She posted her granola recipe ages ago, and I have been faithful to it ever since.  I love it.  It is so simple and delicious.  Check it out...

Granola Before:
Granola After:

Now the harder part is the granola bars.  I don't like them to be crispy and hard to bite into.  I don't like them to be so chewey they hurt my jaw.  I don't like them to be cookie-like.  I am a bit too picky.  

Over the course of my granola bar making, I have made ONE batch that was perfect, to me.  Unfortunately, I did not bookmark the link to the recipe and it is now lost forever into cyberspace.  I do make them often, however, and I thought I would share my latest attempt.

Based upon this recipe (also from Kitchen Stewardship, although I changed it), I dove into this version. 

The biggest changes I made were using the granola above, subbing 1/2 homemade peanut butter for 1/2 of the butter, and omitting the flour.  
The liquid ingredients were melted together in the pan,
 And then the granola was added in.
After it was all stirred up and mixed together, it was pressed into a pyrex pan lined with parchment paper. 
 I then assembled the add-ins...
And pressed them into the tops of the bars.

The extra parchment paper got folded over the bars and I pressed it down with ALL MY STRENGTH.  Then, since all my strength is still not much, John helped.  

The result?  Pretty crumbly.  I'm not sure why, maybe it was the peanut butter substitution or something.  They were delicious, though, so I'll keep trying. 


Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Continuing with our efforts to spice up weeknight dinners, John and I recently had a fondue dinner!  Some people knew that our first date was at a fondue restaurant, so we have received a few fondue sets we had not yet put to good use.  I guess the assumption is that fondue is just for parties or something.  NOT TRUE!

The main course was a cheese fondue LOOSELY based upon this recipe.  It was another one of those moments when the stars align and the ingredients happen to be in the house.  The ONLY change we made was to use wine as the liquid.  
First, let me just say... Shredding the cheese in the food processor was SO EASY!
I am so glad we have it now!
We had been given a large chuck of regular commercial cheese, which we don't usually buy.  It was perfect for this because I somehow would have felt guilty for meting down that much good cheese.  Weird, I know.  I did spice it up with a little bit of an herb rubbed raw cheddar and fresh mozzarella.  Now that I know how easy and delicious this was, I feel ready to use GOOD cheeses in it.

Once the cheese was shredded, it was added to the other ingredients:
...and prepared for melting.
The only other prep work was getting the dippers ready.  We used carrot sticks, celery sticks, roasted potatoes, roasted asparagus, bread cubes, leftover roasted chicken breasts, and mushrooms. 
The cheese was slowly melted and enjoyed!
I must admit that it kind of turned into a ball of cheese instead of a sauce, but we didn't care.  It was good. 

For dessert, we mixed home made peanut butter, sugar, and a little grass-fed milk together and enjoyed it with bananas, strawberries, pineapples, and rice krispie yummies. 

That was probably the best part.

Lesson learned?  Don't wait for a party!  Fondue is Fun!

This was also posted at the Nourising Gourmet Pennywise Platter


Monday, May 24, 2010

Meal Plan Monday!

I really need to get back into the swing of menu planning!

Monday: Leftovers
     Prep for Tuesday: Cook Lentils, chop beets and onions. 
     Morning: Prep dressing and beets, clean beet greens
     Evening: Roast beets, assemble salad
     Prep for Wednesday: Soak Clams (this might help!)
Wednesday: Clams Oreganata with Macaroni (loosely based on this)
    Morning: Cook Clams (this might help!), make macaroni sauce and clam stuffing
    Evening: Cook Macaroni, assemble meal
Thursday: Dinner with Family
Friday: Clean out the fridge!!!

Other things to make this week:
Date Snacks
Waffles to Freeze

This was posted on Menu Plan Monday... Check it out!


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Buttermilk Waffles...MMM!

While food shopping last week, I saw some grass-fed buttermilk.  Of COURSE I had to buy it and make some breakfast magic!

Of course, now that I am ready to post about it, I can't find the recipe I used.  I hope you enjoy the photos anyway.  

First I mixed together the dry ingredients...
Then the wet ingredients...
And then the wet AND dry.

The recipe said to whip the egg white separately.  I did it, but I think this is the last time I will, since they were not whipped well and it still tasted good.  Why should I make extra work!?
Anyway... Then I turned on the waffle iron and sprayed it lightly with olive oil.  We use MISTO to spray most of our oils.  It uses air pressure rather then chemical propellants. 
The waffles were then poured in and cooked up!
They were nearly perfect, if I do say so myself!  John had them plain, but I jazzed it up with his homemade yogurt and lots of fruits!