Sunday, October 28, 2012

Leftovers for Lunch

Thursday night I put a turkey breast in the crockpot with some lemon slices. Friday night we had it for dinner - sliced up with cranberry sauce, roasted potatoes and steamed zucchini with mushrooms on the side. But we still had turkey remaining.

Some of that turkey went into turkey salad - some veganaise, diced onions, mustard, craisins and walnuts - to eat with crackers. Yesterday was Make a Difference Day and along with Gannett employees across the nation, I did my part. We were cleaning up a park and lunch was served, but without knowing WHAT would be served, I had to come prepared with my turkey salad, crunchmaster crackers and an apple. They had hot dogs and potato chips, but I was glad for the food I brought as well.

After the turkey salad, we still had about 2 thick slices of turkey left. So for lunch today we had turkey tacos.

Leftover Turkey Tacos
Cooked turkey breast, diced - I had about a 1 or 1 1/2 cups
1 small zucchini, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 small onion, diced
1/4 cup salsa
1/4 cup whole kernel corn
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
1 cup refried beans
corn tortillas
shredded cheese (optional)
guacamole, salsa,  sour cream for garnish

Warm olive oil over medium-high heat in large skillet. Add bell pepper, onion and zucchini. Saute for about 3-5 minutes. Add turkey, corn and salsa. Cook another 3 or so minutes until everything is warm. Add cilantro and mix well. Turn heat down to low until you are ready to serve.

Warm refried beans. Warm tortillas in oven or in microwave. Layer beans, turkey & vegetable mixture and other toppings in the tortillas. Eat.

I also made some baked brown rice this morning. I made it with onions, fines herbs and mushrooms. I think I'm going to use the baked brown rice recipe to come up with a rice pilaf that will go well with the Thanksgiving meal. Since I will be missing out on stuffing this year, I would like to have an alternative.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Crockpot meals for a lazy weekend

It’s been a crockpot weekend. We didn’t have too much planned this weekend – Annyka’s last soccer game some grocery getting and picking up my sister at the airport. My sister, lives in Montana most of the year. She works in Yellowstone National Park, but in the fall she gets about a month and half off and she usually comes home to Indiana for that time. Annyka has been excited to her Aunt Leigh Ann for a while and I like her being home as well even if I don’t see her that much (because she stays at my parents while she's home). 

Annyka and I decided to hit the Aldi and see how much of our groceries we could get there. I stocked up for about a month on our staple canned goods (tomatoes, beans and a few veggies), snacks, cereal, lunches for Annyka and a few other fun items too – like garlic and pepper infused olive oil. In a couple weeks, I’m going to do a vegan challenge, but in the meantime I have a few meatier meals planned so I bought a roast and a turkey breast. 

Yesterday I made “refried” beans (a misnomer since they are friend even once, let alone refried) in the crockpot. And today – Italian beef. I was happy to find a good 3-lb roast and mild peppers at Aldi. This morning I put the roast in the oven and this evening I’ll probably broil some polenta to go with it. 

Italian Beef
2 Tbsp Italian seasonings*
1 Tbsp white sugar*
1 Tbsp salt (add more to taste) *
1 Tbsp onion powder*
1 tsp black pepper*
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 oz mild peppers
6 oz sweet roasted red peppers
1 small onion, diced

Place onions in the slow cooker. Place roast on top of onions, fat side up. Pour peppers, with the liquid over roast. Sprinkle seasonings over the roast. Pour a little water – about a cup, over the roast. Place lid on slow cooker. Cook on low about 6-8 hours. Turn off slow cooker and let roast sit for about 30 minutes before slicing or shredding. Makes great sandwiches on good Italian bread…which I will not be doing! This is a great meal to make for a crowd. 

*The original recipe I used to use called for a packet of dry Italian dressing mix, however, many of them have undesirable ingredients so I had to figure out what combination of seasonings worked instead. You can always use a packet of dressing if you prefer.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Some days are easy; some are not

Most days I’m a champion of food. Most days I am excited about trying new things and thinking outside of the box to find solutions to the challenge of eating without gluten, dairy, eggs, yeast, etc, etc. 

But some days I’m nearly brought to tears by the challenge. Today is one of those days. Annyka had to take a shower this morning and an extra person in the one shower we have usually sets us a few minutes behind. We still got out the door, but I didn’t have time to get anything for breakfast for me. But I thought, “that’s okay, there will be something I can grab in the cafeteria at work.” They usually have fresh fruit and individual hot items like hashbrowns and sausage. 

But then I got stuck behind not one, but two trains as I entered downtown – 12 minutes of waiting on trains. And when I got work, there were no breakfast options left. No fruit. No hot items. There were prepared breakfast sandwiches…which are absolutely no use to me. The cook was making breakfast casserole, which, of course, is mostly egg with some cheese and maybe even bread thrown in. 

So I checked the vending machines. Granola bars – nope. Donuts – nope. Fruit pies – nope. Oh wait, they have little bags of nuts…aaaand they’re peanuts, so – nope. And the tears start to prick behind my eyes. 

Please get better, Friday. We only have to get through today.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Chicken Nugget Time!

I've been wanting to try GF chicken nuggets again for a while. Last time I made them, I used Rice Chex crumbs for the "breading," but they were a little bland. The most recent recipe I found for nuggets uses a GF flour mixture with spices and coconut oil. They turned out looking and tasting quite good. Annyka thought they needed salt & pepper, but I don't think they did. I dipped them in some sweet chili sauce from The Ginger People and had potato wedges and roasted asparagus on the side.

A successful and relatively easy meal on another busy night. Tomorrow I have get my hair cut after work. I pretty much took this week off from working out. I was too exhausted at the beginning of the week, and the rest of the week was just too busy. At least I got Fit Club in yesterday.

Gluten-Free Chicken Nuggets
1 lb skinless chicken breast, cut into nugget-sized pieces
1/4 cup GF flour
1 tsp Seasoned Salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Mix flour with seasonings. Place chicken in a bowl. Sprinkle flour mixture over the chicken and toss. Drizzle nuggets with coconut oil and mix to coat lightly. Bake in a preheated oven at 450 for about 13-15 minutes. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

The joys of parenting

It was a busy weekend…again, but this time not all of it was fun and games. Saturday was soccer in the morning (Wilson scored on an assist from Annyka!), then we picked up Annyka’s best friend and met some other friends at ZooBoo. Annyka’s friend slept over and we went to the Y to swim on Sunday. And then it happened. My worst nightmare as the mother to a child with thick hair – lice. I found them on Annyka Sunday afternoon so that has hogged up all my time for the past two days. But this is about food, so lets not talk about that anymore. Ick. 

Earlier in the day Sunday (well I actually started on Saturday with the bean soaking), I made some white bean chili – I thought it would be nice to have ready for when we returned from swimming. And it was. The kids made faces at it, but all proceeded to actually eat it so it couldn’t have been that bad!

My soup, this time, actually came from a gluten-free soup mix from Jungle Jim’s but I found a recipe with a few tweaks that I think will yield similar results.

White Bean Chili
1 lb large white beans, soaked overnight in water, drained
6 cups chicken broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, chopped (divided)
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies
1 can chopped artichoke hearts
2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1-2 cups cooked quinoa ( I used leftovers from the night before)

1 Combine beans, chicken broth, garlic and half the onions in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are very soft, 3 hours or more. Add additional water (or watered-down broth), if necessary.

2 In a skillet, sauté remaining onions in oil until tender. Add chilies and seasonings and mix thoroughly. Add to bean mixture. Add chicken, quinoa and artichokes and continue to simmer 1 hour. Check seasoning, Add salt or other additional seasoning if necessary.
3 Garnish with cilantro, chopped fresh tomato, salsa, chopped scallions, and/or guacamole. Serve with fresh warmed flour tortillas or tortilla chips.

Yields 8-10 servings

Yesterday while I cleaned and did laundry ALL. DAY. LONG. (I was too tired to work out) I also made polenta in the crockpot. I've been wanting to try this out for a while because I really love polenta and it can be so cheap made from scratch.

It turned out to be pretty dang easy and it tastes great too. We're having some tonight as a "pizza."

Slow Cooker Polenta

2 cups corn meal
8 cups water (or broth)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp basil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
1-2 tbsp  olive oil or butter

Stir corn meal and water in 6 quart crockpot. Add garlic, basil, pepper and salt. Cook on high, covered stirring occastionally (every 15 minutes or so) for 1 1/2 hours. Add sun-dried tomatoes. Turn heat down to low and cook another 2 hours. The polenta should be nice and thick, but you can still stir it. Add olive oil or butter and stir well.

You can serve the polenta right away if you like it creamy, or you can put it on a cookie sheet or in "tubes" of plastic wrap to store it in the fridge and prepare it later. It will thicken as it cools. I like it best broiled so it's crispy around the edges.

This recipe made enough for one whole cookie sheet and two tubes (at least 3 meals worth). Tonight we'll be topping the cookie sheet polenta with marinara, baby spinach, portobello mushrooms and onion and sticking it under the broiler. I'm really looking forward to it!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Fun with Jungle Jim's specialities

We tried out our Jungle Jim's goods this week in a variety of ways. Wednesday we had pasta with marinara sauce, chopped portobellos (from the Scratch & Dent section) the rest of the family tried out the various cheeses we bought.

Last night I made sweet bell peppers (also from the Scratch & Dents) stuffed with brown rice, ground beef and salsa.

Tonight we had black & white quinoa with tortilla encrusted tilapia topped with pineapple salsa. We had steamed broccoli on the side. It turned out delicious.

I took about two cups of crushed tortilla chips, about 1/3 cup of masa harina (corn flour), about a teaspoon each of black pepper, paprika, ground cumin, garlic powder and onion powder. I did not add any salt since there is salt in the chips. I pulsed all these ingredients in the food processor until they were pretty finely ground.

I took some frozen tilapia fillets and cut them in half to make them a little easier to handle and dipped them in some coconut milk before dredging them through the tortilla mixture. Then I placed them on a cookie sheet greased with coconut oil.

I baked the fish at 425 for about 20 minutes, then finished it for a few minutes under the broiler. I'm sure some cheese would have been good sprinkled on the top as well, but I didn't do that. I did top it with some pineapple salsa I bought at JJ's though. Lastly I made a mix of the regular and black quinoa and served the fish over that.

It was a good, satisfying dinner...and the kids even liked the fish.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Jungle Jim's recap

I’m giddy from my trip to Jungle Jim’s last night. We spent more than I had originally planned, but we got lots of fun things and I’m feeling inspired again to plan dinner menus so we’ll still call it a win. 

I’m not sure that we’ll trek that far out of the way to go to the new store, but I do like it a little better than the other location. The newer store, near Eastgate Mall in Cincinnati, is bigger and brighter, giving it a much more spacious feel. We were there for about three hours. We kept thinking we had seen everything, then we’d realize we still hadn’t even seen the cheese or produce yet!  The various ethnic food sections are much larger and easier to navigate compared to the Fairfield location, however, they do not have the character and whimsy. 

One of my favorite things I wish I had come prepared for was the Colonel De Gourmet Herbs & Spice store inside Jungle Jim’s. As someone who mixes many of my own seasonings to avoid preservatives and gluten, I could have gone to town in there.  However, I didn’t even know what I needed so I left empty-handed. That will be on my to do list the next time we spend a little extra time in Cincinnati. 

As it was, we still came out with things I’m excited to whip up in my kitchen. We always try to get a few new items and pick up some of the harder to find loves we’ve discovered in the past. This trip included new things to try: Bunderberg Ginger Beer (from Australia), Pomegrante Molasses (from Turkey), Lentil Crisps (a gluten-free snack!), red pepper relish (from an Amish company), black quinoa (and regular), amaranth, rice flour. We also picked up some things that are harder to find here at home: falafel mix, Hornsby hard cider, Le Village sparkling juice drink, Food for Life brown rice wraps, mango candy and some bell peppers from the “Scratch & Dent” area that were on clearance 4 for a $1. Scott also got three new cheeses to try with the kids (yeah, we spent $25-30 on cheese!). 

The Bunderberg brought back fond memories of my trip to Australia and the molasses will be used to make some marinades and salad dressings. I loved seeing some of the local brands I can only find at the Pogue’s Run Grocer or Green BEAN Delivery at Jungle Jim’s as well. 

We also picked up some of our favorite, and more unusual candies - I got some good dark chocolate bars, one with chipotle chili. It’s an interesting experience – you can’t taste the heat of the chili, but you can feel it in your mouth like an afterthought. Scott also got “bug suckers” for his coworkers – suckers with actual insects inside. He got a meal worm, cricket and scorpion. Eww. We also got Wilson some licorice candy from Germany.

Friday, October 5, 2012

It's soup season!

Vegetable soups are a lot like chili - you can make it many different ways.

Tomorrow I'm going to put some in the crockpot for dinner - it will feature ground beef from Green BEAN Delivery, spicy hot V8 and a little red wine. And of course, the typical vegetables: carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, onions, green beans and mushrooms.

Vegetable Beef Soup

1 lb ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 coins
1 can cut green beans, drained
2 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp basil
1/2 cup red wine
3 cups spicy hot V8

Simmer on low in crockpot about 8 hours.

A V8 Discovery

First, the vegetable beef soup was just meh to me. Nothing wrong with it, but not quite what I was hoping for. Maybe it was overcooked in the crockpot. I don’t know. But it was just okay. We’ll still eat it, but the next time I’ll probably do it on the stovetop. 

I had a little bit of spicy hot V8 left from the soup, so I decided to use it with the brown rice I made for dinner tonight. Tonight I threw together a veggie stir-fry (bell pepper, onion, zucchini, grape tomatoes and mushrooms) using my fajita seasoning with brown rice and refried beans. So it spice up the rice a little bit, I replaced half the liquid for the brown rice with V8. I also threw a little bit of minced garlic and cilantro in with the rice. It was very good…but I was pretty pissy when I realized I left the mashed avocado I had prepared in the fridge when I put the leftovers away! 

So that’s today’s contribution. 

Scott and I are going out of town for the weekend, so we may discover some new restaurants in Cincinnati, but no new recipes. We will be hitting up my favorite grocery store – Jungle Jim’s – though so who knows what exciting things we’ll come home with. It won’t be mustard this time.