Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A New Favorite Snack- Plentils!

After deciding to cut back on gluten and dairy, I am on a mission to find snack foods that are better for me than the normal salty, fat-ridden things I usually go for.

While looking around at Natural Grocers today, I found these.  They are called Plentils.  They come in several flavors, but I chose the light sea salt variety.

They taste really good!  And I don't mean they taste good for a health food.  I mean they really taste good- addictive, in fact.

I can't wait to go back and try some of the other flavors.  If you want information about them, visit their website and find a store near you.  If you can't find one, you can order them online!

Keeping Up with the Garden

This is about the amount of stuff I get out of our garden every morning.

If I had a big family, I'd run through this stuff easily.  But I don't.

So it's about this time of year when I desperately comb Pinterest looking for ways to use summer squash and peppers.

So far I've been able to keep up.  I've been roasting the peppers and freezing them.  I've found enough summer squash recipes to keep my head above water.

I certainly don't want to sound as if I'm complaining.  After all, we plant the garden every year so we can get food out of it.  Sometimes it just seems so overwhelming to avoid wasting anything!

Our tomatoes aren't doing so hot this year.  I've gotten the handful of pear tomatoes you see in the picture, and our heirloom bushes have a few blooms on them.  Tomatoes seem to be the one veggie I don't mind having a ton of!  Last year I roasted and froze them, which means I had a great start on red sauces for the rest of the winter.

Every year we harvest, and every year we learn.  I really can't imagine not having a garden.  I know it would make life easier in several respects, but we'd miss out on the satisfaction of eating something we grew ourselves.

I think we'll keep plugging away at it!

Quick Breakfast and Some Dietary Changes

In addition to always being on the look out for summer squash recipes, I'm also constantly searching for quick, easy breakfast ideas.

As much as I hate to face it, school will start very soon, which means my days of leisurely cups of hot tea and late breakfasts are over.

This summer I've been trying to cut back on the amount of gluten and dairy I eat.  I have had numerous conversations with my doctor, and although I'm not allergic to either one, the inflammatory reaction caused by both of those types of foods can make life unpleasant.  Some of the aches and pains I contribute to getting old, could be mild reactions to gluten and dairy.

Now I will tell you right up front, I won't give either up entirely.  There are just some things that need gluten and a healthy dose of cheese (macaroni and cheese, anyone?).  But if they aren't necessary to the quality of the meal, I am trying to avoid them.

So I've been experimenting with some gluten and dairy free products.  The one I tried on this particular morning was Udi's Gluten Free Bagels.  I toasted one and then put a little dairy free cream cheese on it.  Then I put thin slices of cucumber, capers and sliced smoked salmon on it.

Was this as good as a deli bagel with lox and cream cheese?  No.  Was it pretty good and slightly better for me?  Yes.  I think this will become part of my weekday breakfast rotation.

It beats the heck out of almond milk and Cinnamon Toast Crunch. :)

Summer Squash and Corn Chowder

My garden is producing more yellow squash than I could possibly ever eat.  We have eaten squash in some form pretty much every day for the last week.

Because of this, I'm constantly on the lookout for new ways to use squash.  And when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it.

I knew from past experience that yellow squash and corn play very well together.  Making a soup out of them is a no-brainer!

I got this recipe from a blog called Cooking Classy. It was very easy to do, and the leftover soup just got better after sitting in the icebox overnight.  It made an even better lunch the next day!

The only thing I added to the recipe was a liberal dash of hot sauce.  I really felt that once the milk and cream were added to the soup, there needed to be something to punch through the richness.  I might also add some roasted poblano or even jalapeño pepper next time I make it.  And there WILL be a next time!

Oven Roasted Chicken Thighs

In my opinion, life would be bleak without roasted chicken.  It's one of those things that makes you feel better.  It makes you feel like a good cook.  And luckily, it's easy.

I usually by a package of 8 thighs and roast them all at once, then put whatever doesn't get eaten for dinner in the ice box for later in the week.

The prep is very simple.  I loosen the skin on each thigh, and rub down the flesh and skin with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Then I put a slice of lemon and sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme under the skin.

I put a thermometer in the largest thigh and roast them in the oven at 400 degrees until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees.

Usually my husband likes these with molasses bbq sauce.

I served these with corn on the cob and sautéed swiss chard.

Corn on the Cob

When I make corn on the cob, I always think of my mother.  She could sit and eat corn on the cob and nothing else for dinner.  Just make sure she had butter and salt, and she was good.

I am the same way.  To me, nothing says summer like a few ears of super sweet, tender, buttery, salty corn.

I make it the way my parents made it.  I bring enough water to cover the corn to a boil, then drop the ears in and add about a tablespoon of honey.   I cook it for about 6 minutes, then turn off the heat.  I let it sit in the water until the rest of dinner is ready.  Of course, it wouldn't be the same without some butter and salt!

Super Crunchy Tofu Tacos with Mexican Rice

This is one of those recipes that's a game changer.  Seriously.  I have been attempting to cut back on my consumption of meat, and tofu is something I turn to fairly often.  However, I'm not at all confident about how to cook it.  This will forever be my go-to prep method for tofu.

I can not take credit for the recipe.  As with most of the wonderful food that comes out of my kitchen, I found this recipe on Pinterest.  The name of the blog where this recipe resides is The Woks of Life.  After reading this recipe, I added the blog to my reader feed and have seen several other things I want to try.

The thing that makes this recipe so great is the absolute crunchiness of the tofu.  And the recipe really isn't fussy at all.

The basic technique is to cube the tofu, then marinate it for an hour or so in a combination of sriracha sauce and honey.  Then you coat the cubes with a seasoned cornmeal mixture and shallow fry them in a black iron skillet.  You don't even have to press the moisture out of the tofu before you cube it!

I ended up using the exact same technique on some cubes of mahi mahi (my husband doesn't like tofu), and the results were fantastic!

I served the tacos with some homemade pico de gallo (chopped tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, salt, lime, cilantro) and guacamole (avocado, lime, salt) and homemade refried beans (a drained can of pintos, sautéed with onion and garlic, then mashed with a potato masher).

The second part of the meal was a recipe of mine.  To be honest, there really isn't a recipe.  I knew I wanted some kind of rice to go with the tacos, so I made it up as I went along.

I have a rice cooker and I probably use it more often than any other appliance in my kitchen, except the blender.  I love being able to dump rice and liquid in it and not having to think about it again until the little alarm goes off.  It came with a little scooper cup, so that's how I measure the rice and liquid when I use it.

I put 2 scoops of jasmine rice in the cooker, followed by 4 scoops of liquid.  I wanted to give some basic flavor to the rice, so the 4 scoops were comprised of:  liquid reserved from a can of tomatoes and chicken stock.  I put a sprinkle of salt in, closed the lid, and walked away.

When the alarm went off, I started making the rest of the veggies to mix into the rice.  I sautéed some Vidalia onion until it was soft, then threw in some chopped Anaheim peppers I had roasted the day before (I have a bush in my garden that is spewing forth peppers faster than I can use them fresh) and a clove of minced garlic.  After that I added the tomatoes I had drained earlier and a few handfuls of frozen white shoe peg corn.  I mixed in probably about 3 cups of the cooked jasmine rice, then seasoned with salt and pepper.  It turned out wonderfully!  You could add any veggies you wanted.  I'm thinking yellow squash or other kinds of peppers, zucchini, peas- you name it!

All in all, this was a wonderful meal.  It will definitely go in the rotation of dinners when school starts.

Bedtime Snack

So.... the other night I was getting ready for bed.  When I walked out of the bathroom, this is what I saw.

Sometimes I just have to pinch myself, ladies.  There is so much awesomeness in this photo, it defies description.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Grilled Chicken with Fresh Corn Polenta and Zucchini Sauce

Some dishes are not very photogenic.  This is one of those dishes.  Or maybe it's just that I need to read up on food photography.  Whatever- this pic does not do this meal justice.  It looks like my dog vomited on a white plate, but please believe me, this is some good stuff!

The chicken part was insanely simple.  I defrosted 2 frozen chicken thighs in the microwave, then liberally sprinkled both of them with blackening spice.  I covered them with plastic wrap and put them in the ice box to hang out while I put the rest of dinner together.  I ended up throwing the chicken on the grill until they registered 170 degrees.

Now for the fun part...

I won't write out the whole recipe here, but go here to find it.  I did not make the full recipe because I was afraid if we didn't like it, we'd be stuck with it for a week.  Now, I wish I had made the whole thing.  The only substitution I made was using zucchini instead of the eggplant called for in the recipe.  Dev doesn't like eggplant.  I think it would be awesome, though.

I found this recipe on Food52- which happens to be one of my favorite places to find new recipes and techniques.

So, is this recipe a little fussy? Yes.  Would I come home after a busy Wednesday and try to make this for dinner?  No.  Was it worth the 20 minutes it took me to clean my food processor after I made it?  Yes.  Would I make it for dinner if Wills and Kate just happened to stop by?  Yes.

Seriously, if you love polenta, or just love corn, you need to try this.  I just used frozen corn, but it would be awesome with Silver Queen or Olathe Sweet corn.

As a side note, this dinner was also dairy and gluten free.  Just sayin'.

My Trip Home to Georgia

I didn't blog very much while I was gone.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  One-  I was too busy eating to stop and blog anything.  Two- I wasn't really sure what to say.

I've been in Colorado for 8 years now. You would think after 8 summers home, things would get easier.  But they don't.  I always have a great time at home- eating wonderful fresh seafood and spending time with friends and family.  I'm usually home for about a month, which is just long enough for my skin and hair to adjust to the extreme humidity.  It's also just enough time for me to realize just how much I miss home.

Homesick blog posts aren't very fun to read.

So what I decided to do this time around, was just link to my flickr account, so people can just browse through all the pictures I took while I was there.  The vast majority of them are food.  This shouldn't shock anyone.

That's about all I want to say about my summer trip home.
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