Thursday, June 23, 2011

what we've been eating...

Eeep, it's been a long time since I posted anything. I've admittedly been in a bit of a funk and just haven't felt like writing :/

Okay, so here's a question. This past week, I switched up my grocery shopping a bit. Normally, Mike and I go shopping and we get what's on our list (the staples) and then kind of wander around and buy what sounds good to us. This time, I picked out recipes first - and then went shopping according to what ingredients I needed for the recipes. I spent $185. For two of us. I almost fell over at the check-out.

Do you find that it's cheaper to plan out recipes and then buy? Or the other way around?

A few things we've been eating:

Grilled Tuna, Ginger-lime Carrots, & Green Beans

Tuna steaks with a tasty marinade (see it below), simple green beans with olive oil, salt and pepper, and this awesome recipe for ginger-lime carrots. You know those glazed, really buttery carrots that are not exactly good for you? This is a lighter version, with a kick from some sriracha. A keeper for sure!

Grilled tuna marinade (from

2 tablespoons dijon honey mustard
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar or white vinegar (I used my peach balsamic, actually!)

Pounded Walnut Strozzapreti & Veggies

Last night we had pounded walnut strozzapreti (recipe here) with some sauteed zucchini and grape tomatoes. The pasta was really good, despite the fact that Mike hated on me a bit for how fattening it was ;) My point of view? It's full of good-for-you fats like walnuts and olive oil. Not the type of recipe I'd make every day, but every once in a while it can't hurt!

Tomato, Mozzarella & Basil Salad

My lunch a few days ago :) Fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, lots of pepper, and some olive oil with my peach balsamic vinegar. Soooo yummy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

i don't even like broccoli

...but there's one recipe for broccoli I do like, and Mike's mom introduced me to it! Broccoli is the only vegetable I don't like, but for some reason, when you roast it, I'll eat it. I don't know why. It still tastes like broccoli, looks like broccoli...yeah, I dunno.

In any case, I roasted it with the lemon olive oil I bought earlier today. OH. MY. GOODNESS. So tasty.

We also had grilled chicken which was marinated in the peach vinegar (also purchased earlier!), lemon olive oil, Dijon mustard, herbes de provence, garlic powder, salt & pepper.

And then we had dessert. We never have dessert. Today, however, I found a recipe for chocolate truffles. I had to make them, or else I would just fall over and die. Yep. They've got about 50 calories each, and are super good. It's posted after the broccoli (that way you need to look at something that's good for you, first!)...enjoy!

Roasted Broccoli

1 large bunch of broccoli
4-5 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground pepper
3-4 garlic gloves, sliced

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spread the broccoli on a cookie sheet and toss with the olive oil. Add the salt, pepper, and garlic. Roast for 20-25 minutes - you want the broccoli to be crisp and slightly browned. When it comes out, sprinkle a little more olive oil and some lemon juice. Mike's mom always adds pine nuts, which are sooooo yummy on this, but I didn't splurge on them today :)

Weight Watcher's Vanilla Fudge Truffles (recipe from here)

2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup(s) unsweetened cocoa
1 cup(s) powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup(s) low fat cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Reserve 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder on a sheet of wax paper. In a food processor or in a medium bowl, with an electric mixer on high speed, blend remaining ½ cup of cocoa powder, powdered sugar, cream cheese and vanilla extract.

Drop cream cheese mixture by rounded teaspoons into reserved cocoa powder, making 24 truffles; roll into balls, and refrigerate until firm, about 1 to 2 hours. Yields 1 truffle per serving.


It's the little things in life. I just found white peach balsamic vinegar and lemon olive oil at our grocery store. It may have made my day.

I came home and made a deeeeelicious salad: spinach, beets, walnuts, blue cheese, and a simple oil and vinegar dressing made with my two tasty finds.

comfort food

I don't remember the last time I made a dinner that lacked something green. I feel kind of guilty about it. Every once in a while, though... you gotta have some comfort food.

These honey-ginger chicken fingers were inspired from this recipe at Tasty Kitchen and I've been waiting to try this potato recipe from one of my favorite websites, Noble Pig. They're salt and vinegar potatoes with rosemary - definitely a recipe I was anxious to try! The chicken fingers were hands down some of the best I've had. I made a honey mustard mayo dip to go with it. Definitely something I'll make again!

I'm so, so, so bored. I'm ready to be (gasp!) back to work, and doing my normal things. Unfortunately, I know my body isn't ready. I'm still overdoing it some days - yesterday, for example. And then I wake up feeling like I'm 80. Not good times. I do think that I'm going to head to the gym today (No one freak out, okay?) and walk on the treadmill.

To keep me entertained, here are some recipes I want to try in the near future:

(Healthy) 5 Minute Chunky Monkey Ice Cream

[from Smithfield]

Creamy Mints

Meyer Lemon Mousse

Fleur de Sel and Caramel

Aw, crap. Are you sensing a pattern here?

Monday, June 13, 2011

summer is here :)

A few yummy things I've been eating lately...

Tomato & mozzarella sandwiches
...with lots of freshly ground black pepper :)

Strawberry Spritzer

5-6 ripe strawberries
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
splash of white grape juice
sparkling water

Muddle the strawberries and add the rest of the ingredients...mmmm!

I found this link today: 101 Simple Salads for the Season - there are so many great ideas here. I want to try tons of them!

my first (successful!) attempt at ribs

I had to run to the store today to get stamps and a few other essentials, and I can't help but wander around a bit when I'm at our grocery store. It's a wonderful place to waste money and time. They had baby back ribs on sale today, which kind of intimidated me...but I went for it! I also grabbed a bottle of Fisher & Weiser's Original Roasted Raspberry Chipotle Sauce, which Mike and I noticed the last time we went grocery shopping. It was a little pricey so we decided against it...though I notice that when I go to the store myself, I end up with a lot of the other items that have also been placed in this category.

I came home and researched the best method to make ribs for approximately an hour. One of the good things about being off of work due to this surgery is that I can do things like dedicate an hour to finding the best way to cook ribs.

I am by no means a rib expert, but here's what I came up with:

1 whole rack pork baby back ribs
1 cup brown sugar
5 tablespoons Morton & Bassett Cajun Spice blend, though you can use any combination of spices that you'd like
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon onion powder

1. If the ribs have that gross membrane on one side, remove it.
2. Prepare the dry rub by combining the brown sugar, cajun spice blend, salt, and onion powder. Rub the mixture all over the ribs, pressing down a bit to make sure it sticks. I cooked these ribs on a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet, so at this point you can stick them on the rack (put down some foil on the cookie sheet to keep it clean) - cover with plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
3. After they marinate, let the ribs sit at room temperature for about an hour. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
4. Remove the foil from the cookie sheet and fill it with about 1/4 inch water. Cover tightly with foil, and bake for about two hours.
5. We then moved the ribs to the grill and grilled them with some of the raspberry chipotle sauce, which was reeeeeeeally tasty.

I've been wanting to try this ribboned asparagus salad from smitten kitchen for so long, and I thought tonight would be a good time to try it. The cold, crunchy salad was great with the ribs, and the simple dressing is right up my alley.

We were stuffed :) definitely a yummy dinner!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

sheep cupcakes?!

OH MAN, I just found a link that shows you how to make marshmallow sheep cupcakes.

I totally want to make these for our sheltie club's Christmas party or something!

a few inspiring things

I haven't driven anywhere since my surgery, and I've been extremely bored the past few days. I've looked at a lot of blogs. These are a few things I found that stood out - enjoy!

Infused Sugar

I really want to try this! It sounds like a wonderful, simple idea.

Rainier Cherry Muddler

I can't even put into words how much I want to try this right now.

Dried Strawberries


green olive and almond tapenade

I'd like to start off by apologizing to my mother. Mom, I know you've been proud of me up until this point in my life, and I'm sorry to let you down. But I'm posting a recipe that has olives in it. I hope you can forgive me.

I was in the mood for a salty snack today and decided I'd try to make some tapenade, which is one of my favorite things - but have you ever seen it in the grocery store? It's so expensive! I'm also on an almond kick lately. They've got a ton of health benefits, so I've been adding them wherever possible. I thought the combination would be pretty good, and I was right.

Green Olive & Almond Tapenade

1 cup green olives
1/2 cup almonds
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
pepper, to taste

Throw it all into a food processor and combine.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

i love my grill (and my grill master)

Tonight we had turkey burgers. Here's the thing. I love ground turkey. I use it all the time, and I think that everyone else should, too. In fact, I have never bought ground beef. Isn't that weird?

A 4 ounce serving of ground turkey has about 160 calories, whereas the same serving size of ground beef (85% lean) has about 240. I think that's a significant difference! And when you can have a burger with yummy toppings for about 230 calories, even better.

I had some pesto in the fridge as well as some red peppers that we needed to eat, so the burgers (that I found the recipe for here) were topped with roasted red peppers and a pesto mayo that I mixed up. One of my earlier posts includes how to roast peppers. As for the pesto mayo, I just used a 1:1 ratio, and added some black pepper. There's also some feta and fresh greens on 'em. :)

We had a salad alongside, with a balsamic vinaigrette. This recipe is kind of just estimates...

Balsamic Vinaigrette

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
salt & pepper

I added a tag cloud to the blog. It shows up on the column on the left side and categorizes all of the posts. If the text is a larger size, it means that I've blogged more about that category. I'm also working on changing the recipe index page. Since I added the tag cloud, I'm changing the recipe page so that it organizes by type, not ingredient. Just an FYI!

Monday, June 6, 2011

what we've been eating...

So far, we've grilled out both nights this week. By that, I mean Mike has grilled both nights this week, and I've watched. :)

No picture from yesterday (I know you guys love my crappy pictures!), but we had chicken with an awesome marinade. I'm all about making my own marinades and try to stay away from pre-made junk, but I am obsessed with McCormick's Grill Mates Tomato Garlic & Basil marinade. It's soooo good. I also had Mike grill some asparagus that I had seasoned with some salt & pepper - then I drizzled some lemon juice on it. So simple, but so good. I love the flavor that grilling adds to vegetables.

Tonight we just had beef tenderloin on the grill and then some oven roasted potatoes with red peppers. I drizzled the veggies with some canola oil, herbes de provence, salt and pepper and roasted them for about 45 minutes at 425 degrees. It was a yummy dinner.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

patience is a virtue

I just wanted to write a bit about my recovery and how I've been feeling. This has truly been a learning experience for me, though like everything else that's hard, I know I'm becoming a stronger person because of it all.

The most difficult thing about post-op has been the fact that I have clear cut limitations that will remain until I'm six weeks out. Regardless of how I feel, I can't bend, twist, or lift. That's rough - do you know how many things in the world weigh more than five pounds? I generally do things really fast and I try to be as efficient as possible. This surgery has made me slow down and take my time, which I suppose isn't a horrible thing. And maybe I'll have a more toned butt after all of this because I'm doing a lot of squatting.

I'm calling my doctor tomorrow because I'm hoping to get an appointment sooner than the current one I have scheduled at the end of June. I know I can't push myself here, but prior to the surgery, he mentioned going back to work part-time four weeks after my surgery date - I'm optimistic that with how I'm feeling, that could happen.

I was terrified before this surgery. It made me want to throw up. It basically was my worst fear come to life. I'm proud of myself...this was a big decision for me and I'm so glad I went through with it.

Today I told Mike, "You know, I don't think my back hurts," which sounds like an odd thing to say because God KNOWS I'm sore as hell. But I actually don't think the pain I've had every single day for so long is there - and that is an amazing thing.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

a delicious summer treat.

As a warning before you read on, I'm writing this post in the process of baking this recipe so I have absolutely no guarantees.

I think I mentioned in my last post that my mom brought over a ton of food for the two of us upon my discharge from the hospital. Included were some reeeeally yummy looking fresh apricots...even in my drug induced state I knew I wanted to make a tart, is that sad?

I'm waiting for my dough to chill at the moment. A note about this recipe: if you decide to make it - it says to add 1/8 -1/4 cup of water. I at first added the 1/8 cup, let the dough chill, and then took it out to roll and it crumbled everywhere (sad). So...this is round two of my dough chilling, because I added about another 1/8 cup and stuck it back in the fridge. I have absolutely no prior tart experience and I have no idea if this is going to totally ruin the tastiness that I have such high hopes for.

Okay, fast forwarding...

I think it turned out!

Anyway, here's the recipe!

Apricot Tart (from here)

Short Crust Pastry:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, and cut into 1 inch pieces
1/8 to 1/4 cup ice water

Apricot Filling:
1 1/2 pounds fresh ripe apricots (8 large or 14 small apricots)
1/3 - 1/2 cup granulated white sugar (or to taste)
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 cup chopped pistachios or almonds

Short Crust Pastry: In a food processor, place the flour, salt, and sugar and process until combined. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal (about 15 seconds). Pour 1/8 cup water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube until the pastry just holds together when pinched. Add remaining water, if necessary. Do not process more than about 30 seconds.

Turn the pastry out onto your work surface, gather it into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for about one hour to chill the butter and allow the gluten in the flour to relax.

Once the pastry has chilled, remove from refrigerator and place on a lightly floured surface. Roll the pastry into a 13 inch square. To prevent the pastry from sticking to the counter and to ensure uniform thickness, keep lifting up and turning the pastry a quarter turn as you roll (always roll from the center of the pastry outwards to get uniform thickness). Transfer the pastry to a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Cover and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the apricots.

Apricot Filling: Wash the apricots. Cut the apricots following the suture from stem to blossom end and then up the opposite side. Gently twist the two halves of the apricot and it should easily separate. Remove the seed and cut each half into two or three wedges (depending on size). Place the wedges of apricots in a large bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Then add the granulated white sugar and toss gently to combine. Arrange the apricot wedges evenly on the pastry (cut side up), leaving about a two inch wide border. Scrape any remaining sugar from the bowl and sprinkle over the apricots. Gently fold the edges of the pastry up and over the apricots, pleating as necessary. Make sure to seal any cracks in the pastry.

Bake the tart in a preheated 405 degree F oven for about 35 - 45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Garnish with chopped pistachios or almonds. Best served warm, with vanilla ice cream.

Makes one - 11 inch tart

Friday, June 3, 2011

i'm alive!

So my surgery was a week ago today! As I mentioned before, I had surgery on my spine to hopefully decrease the amount of pain I'm having due to scoliosis and a generally pretty messed up back. I was able to find two amazing doctors who were confident that they could help me by doing a spinal fusion.

I was presented with two options: an XLIF procedure, and a normal spinal fusion.

There was a pretty significant chance that for a few reasons, my doctors would be unable to perform the XLIF. They wouldn't know if they could do it until they started surgery...luckily, they were able to!

A more minimally invasive procedure is obviously preferred, so I was really happy that they could do the surgery this way. I'm in a lot of pain, though, and can't even imagine what my recovery would be like if I had a regular surgery - so I'm counting my blessings!

I'm not able to lift anything heavier than five pounds, or bend, or twist. Which means I'm pretty useless. I'm also super bored. Hopefully as I feel better, I'll find more stuff to keep me busy that doesn't involve a lot of moving around...I'm going to go crazy!

Mike has been working from home to take care of me, and so since I was feeling a little better today, I made us breakfast this morning. Last week, my mom brought us approximately 300 pounds of food from an amazing Italian deli - we had some yummy leftover ham and a lot of arugula, so I made a frittata. It was tasty! Easy, too...I wasn't exactly up for anything super intense :)

Arugula & Ham Frittata (you could put pretty much anything in this, though)

6 eggs (I used 5 egg whites and 1 whole egg)
2 tablespoons milk
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups arugula (or spinach, or anything else you have on hand)
1/2 cup chopped ham (I think prosciutto would be amazing in this, or smoked salmon!)
1/2 teaspoon herbes de provence
salt & pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a pie plate with non-stick spray.
2. Chop the garlic and saute in olive oil over medium heat for about a minute, then add arugula and saute until wilted. Set aside.
3. Combine the eggs, milk, ham, salt, pepper, herbes de provence, and the arugula. Pour into pie plate.
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes.