Friday, July 4, 2014

Summertime Experiment

Over the past year, I have been reading more and more about eating local and what it means.  I have always been supportive of our local restaurants that use local organic products and shop the smaller local farmer's markets in my neighborhood.

This all got me thinking ... could we do a month of meals eating local?   Now I do live in Minnesota so realistically summer is the best time to do this.  But can I do it while having a busy work schedule, exhaustion, and a food tolerance?  It does mean a lot of planning and energy to take this on.  All this said I am ready to take on the challenge.

So begins the month of eating local.   Stay tuned for more posts on this experiment and see what recipes come from it.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Fructose AHA Moment

Last night I had an amazing dinner at a friend’s house.   During the meal I was thirsty and didn’t want more wine or water, so I asked for a soda.  It ended up being a regular Squirt, meaning it had HFCS in it.   Now I do know I have Fructose Intolerance and know that although I really wanted the Squirt I would be paying for it later.   So I had the Squirt.   This was not my aha moment by the way.   I drank it and it went fast.  Actually I don’t remember drinking it so fast but when it was done I wanted more.   Instead I switched to water.

Now comes my AHA moment.   Normally I drink soda made with real cane sugar.   Usually one can can last me awhile and I feel satisfied after drinking it.   So why didn’t I feel satisfied after drinking the Squirt?   This morning, over coffee, I discussed this with the hubby.  Then I began to verbally think out loud.   Is this why soda is so enticing that we need to 20 to 40 ounces rather than 12 ounces because we aren’t satisfied?  

We then moved into the conversation of sweets in general and how this may also be why people gorge themselves on candy.  I know for a fact it takes 1 mainstream candy bar to sort of satisfy my craving but if I have just a small amount of a high quality chocolate, I am satisfied.

Then I began to think about yogurt.  I use to love Yoplait yogurt and would have one every morning for breakfast.  Low fat, calcium, protein .... hey that can’t be too bad.  But within hours I was starving and counting the clock for lunch.  I later learned there was HFCS (which I now see ads that this has changed) in it and switched to a more expensive all natural brand.  Funnily enough, it satisfied me and kept me full.  This lead to the hubby and I have discussions about other foods, like why can someone sit down and eat a whole box of fake mac & cheese but feels stuffed after a portion of real homemade mac & cheese.

So why aren’t we willing to eat whole foods?  Why are we so enticed by these foods that don’t fill us?  Granted whole foods are not always grab and go but there are better alternatives.   Is the food industry so afraid that if we eat more whole foods, natural foods, it will collapse along with the Twinkie?   

In case you were wondering, I did pay for having the Squirt.  But I would not have had my aha moment, so it is all good.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Feeling the Season - Pumpkin Bars

I love this time of year mainly because I love pumpkin! I get excited over the Jamba Juice Pumpkin smoothie and the pumpkin frozen yogurt.   I got the urge to bake tonight and thought about doing my lemon bars but I wanted to make some thing with pumpkin.  So I thought what about pumpkin bars but more like a lemon bar.  I used my lemon bar base and a pumpkin pie like top.  It is awesome and I decided to share.  

Pumpkin Bars

Preheat Oven 350
Grease 9 x 13 pan

1 cup butter
3/4 cup flour

2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar (plus more for dusting)

To make crust:
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and confectioner’s sugar
Cut in butter until combined and crumbly.
Press mixture into bottom of pan.
Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly golden.

Pumpkin Filling:
2 large eggs
1 - 15 ounce can  pure pumpkin (2 cups)
3/4 cup cane sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Mix
1 cups (360 ml) heavy cream
1/2 cup half & half

Pumpkin Filling:
Whisk the eggs. Add the pumpkin, sugar, vanilla extract, spices, and salt and whisk to combine. Gradually stir in the cream. Pour the filling over the pre-baked crust and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the filling is set in the center. Remove from oven and let it cool.  When cool dust with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Greek Inspired Potato Salad

Some time back, the hubby and I went to France 44 for wine and cheese.  We were starving, so we picked up some lunch in the cheese shop.  I had an amazing sandwich and a potato salad that I started to dream about.   It had no mayo (a plus for me since I have a weird allergy to mayo) but was so full of flavors, I had to figure out how make it at home.    I think I have come close though I have omitted some ingredients due to the DFI sensitivity.   This is perfect for potlucks and picnics since there is no mayo and it is good ice cold or room temperature.   

Greek Inspired Potato Salad (recipe inspired by France 44 potato salad)

2 lbs new red potatoes
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of olive oil (this is an approximation since I eyeballed it)
6 oz Feta cheese
1/2 cup of Kalamata Olives (seeded and chopped)
1/2 cup fresh mint (torn leaves)
salt & pepper for taste

Boil the potatoes as usual (I add salt to my water).  When cooked (and not mushy) drain and add to icy water.  This will shock the potatoes and stop any additional cooking.

In a large bowl, add the zest, juice and olive oil.  Mix together.   Drain the potatoes and add to the lemon olive oil mixture.   Fold the potatoes until coated.

Next stir in the feta cheese, olives and mint.   Taste and add pepper and salt if desired.   If it seems dry, add more olive oil. 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Make It Easy

I really love to cook but when the day has been stressful and the weather is hot, the last thing I want to do is slave over a stove.   I will admit, I take short cuts.  Yes I buy fresh pasta rather than make my own.  I also buy frozen herbs.   I first found them at Whole Foods but thought they were way to expensive and then I found them at Costco for much lower price.   The Costco pack included garlic (x2), basil (x2), parsley and cilantro.

Don't get me wrong I prefer to use fresh ingredients but these come in a pitch and can save me from the temptation of ordering delivery.  Time and money my friends!

Here is something I made and it took only 15 minutes.  This is faster than delivery and much healthier.

Garlic Shrimp Linguine

1 pack of fresh linguine
1/2 lb of raw shrimp (already cleaned)
3 cubes of frozen Doret Garlic (equals 3 cloves)
3 cubes of frozen Doret Basil (equals 3 tsps of fresh)
tsp of red crushed pepper (use to your taste)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes halved
Olive Oil
salt & pepper for taste
Parmesan cheese for topping.

Follow the directions of the packet of fresh pasta for cooking.   Remember it takes less time than dry pasta.

In a saute pan, add the olive oil, garlic, basil & crushed pepper.  This will melt the garlic & basil & infuse the oil with the flavors.   Next add the cherry tomatoes.  Cook for a few minutes & finally add in the shrimp.   Cook until the shrimp is pink & cooked through.  As it is cooking if it looks dry add a little water.

Once the pasta is cooked add it to the pan with the shrimp mixture & combine the ingredients.  Serve with a topping of Parmesan cheese.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Springtime Risotto

I love when Spring begins to bloom.  The Farmer's Market started last week on the Nicollet Mall.  Although there wasn't much to choose from I was able to get some morels.  The hubby and I then went to Whole Foods in Edina (mainly out of curiosity to see the new store) and I was able to pick up some asparagus and ramps.   If you haven't used ramps before you need to go and get some.   I lovely them grilled and use the leaves to make ramp butter.  

So on Saturday night, we had good friends over for dinner.   Since I had these wonderful ingredients I decided to make a Spring inspired risotto.   Of course as I was making it I did say to the hubby "Risotto is usually a dish that gets Top Chef contestants eliminated."  Yeah no pressure for me!

The risotto turned out lovely and creamy so I felt this was a good one to share.

Springtime Risotto

1/4 lb Morels (though any mushroom would be fine)
3 good size ramps chopped including the leaves (if you can't find garlic and spring onions mixed would work)
1 supermarket bundle of asparagus cut in bit size pieces
1 cup Arborio Rice
1 cup of good white wine (I used a semi sweet Spanish wine)
2 cups stock (I used chicken since this was a side dish to chicken, I would normally use vegetable)
1 pat of butter
olive oil
1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese (grated)
salt and pepper for taste

In a large pan drizzle in the oil and butter (Adjust to the type of pan you are using). Add in the asparagus and ramps.  Saute for a few minutes then add in the mushrooms.   Season at this time with the salt & pepper.

When the mushrooms have slightly softened, add the rice.  Saute for about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add1 cup of the stock.  Stir until the liquid is absorbed.  Next add the 1 cup of wine and stir until absorbed (I add the wine in between the cups stock since it layers the flavor and you get more of the wine's fruitiness).   Add the final cup of stock and continue to stir until the rice has absorbed the liquid.  Test the rice to see if it is cooked as you may need to add some more liquid.

As the rice is creamy add in the cheese and a little more pepper.  Serve hot! 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Kale & Spinach Soup

I was reading an article on CNN.Com about this super food soup that had Kale and spinach and thought this sounded great.   I told my other half that I was thinking of making it and he made a face.   He stated that it might not be good.  I said it didn't seem any different than the Naked smoothie he liked.  But he pointed out the amount of juices added to sweeten it and not be so kaley or spinachy.    So I started to think about another soup I love to make from the Flexitarian cookbook.   I thought maybe I can combine the two recipes and come up with something that would be hit with the hubby and still have the healthy super food effect. 

Kale & Spinach Soup

1 large Vadalia onion sliced (this is a sweeter option)
3 cloves of garlic
3 medium to large carrots diced
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
1 clam shell of spinach
1 clam shell of kale (can be purchased at Whole Foods or by Earthbound)
1 32 oz box of vegetable low sodium stock
1/2 cup of basmati rice
1 cup of goat's cheese (optional if you are lactose intolerant)
salt & pepper to taste.

In a large soup pot, heat up the olive and add the onion, garlic, carrots and cayenne pepper.  Cook until the veggies are tender.  Add in the stock and rice.   Next add in the kale and spinach.  Let it wilt down.  Add the salt and pepper periodically to your taste.

Reduce the heat and let the soup simmer.  Approximately 20 minutes or until the rice is tender.

Turn off the heat and using an immersion stick, begin to blend the soup down.  If you are adding the goat's cheese add mid point of the blending.
Serve with a good bread and a squeeze of lemon juice to bring out the flavor even more.