6.22.2011

Day 9 of 365- Chicken Fajitas

I remember distinctly the first time I had chicken fajitas. It was way back in my childhood on a hot Arkansas summer evening. My parents put The Beatles "Yellow Submarine" on for us, we laid on the carpet, tanned legs sprawled out in front of us, and ate chicken fajitas with crunchy iceberg lettuce. We were exhausted from a full day under the sun in our pool. What fun days those were, not a care in the world. This is the kind of meal that can be eaten on a paper plate with a plastic fork. It's also one of the rare occasions I like to use iceberg lettuce. This is my current creation sparked from that memory:)


CHICKEN FAJITAS
Fire Roasted Bell Peppers & Onions - Pre cooked frozen - Trader Joe's
Shredded Chicken- ( Baked the night before )
Lawry's Chicken Fajitas Spices
water

CORN SALAD:
Fired Roasted Corn- frozen- Trader Joe's
Feta cheese
Juice of a Lemon
Mayonnaise
Creole Seasoning
Kosher salt
Pepper

SIDES & TOPPERS:

Refried Beans

Iceberg Lettuce
Cheddar Cheese
Sour Cream
Flour Tortillas






It's just a summer kind of day...



Day 8 of 365- Broiled Asparagus with Steamed Carrots & Brown Rice



Broiled Asparagus with Steamed Carrots & Brown Rice

asparagus
olive oil
juice from a lemon
kosher salt
pepper

baby carrots
1 TBS butter
kosher salt

brown rice
water
chicken bouillon

blanch the asparagus in boiling water for about 2 minutes
remove from water and chop the ends off
spread out single layer on a cookie sheet
paint with olive oil
sprinkle with lemon juice, kosher salt, & pepper
broil in oven on high flame for 4 minutes
flip over then put in for another 4 minutes
let cool & serve

meanwhile, have the rice and carrots going

put the baby carrots in a pot with a little water ( 3 TBS )
and butter ( 2 TBS)
cover and cook on med to low until desired tenderness
shake pan every now and again to stir
the steam will cook the carrots

cook the brown rice according to the instructions
add the bouillon to the water before rice for flavor

serve on plate



REMARKS: This was a meal I could throw together without much thought. We make it all of the time, and the kids love it. It's healthy and easy. Richie wasn't home and I had to feed the kids. I despise fast food, so easy does it.


Day 7 of 365- White Fish over Spinach & Mushrooms

Father's Day Lunch :) - Invented by Kristy


White Fish over Spinach & Mushrooms

olive oil
1/2 onion chopped
1-2 TBS butter
1 package organic white mushrooms
white wine

3 cloves garlic
2 TBS honey
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup water
1 bunch fresh spinach

white fish ( frozen )
capers
lemon pepper
kosher salt

start to sauté the onions in the butter & olive oil
sprinkle salt on the onions
when they are starting to soften, move to side of pan
add the mushrooms sliced
don't crowd the mushrooms ( per Julia Child )
I usually keep the mushrooms single layered and turn when golden
when mushrooms are close to ready, add a couple TBS white wine
let simmer, add salt & pepper
set aside

in same pan, add garlic chopped with olive oil
add honey and lemon & let it caramelize a bit
this step is delicate as you don't want the honey to burn
add the water and cover and reduce heat
prepare fresh spinach
add to pan and quickly stir, cover, & check
the whole cycle should only be about a minute
you don't want the spinach to wilt too much
spoon on to the plate
add the mushroom mixture
put in a warm place like oven on low

in same pan prepare fish
cover in lemon juice salt, lemon pepper, & capers
cook on high for about 3 minutes each side
place on plate over the spinach & mushrooms

REMARKS: Amazing. I felt energized, and I really enjoyed the honey in the sauce for the spinach. It tasted incredible. Don't over cook the fish. That could be an easy mistake causing it to be too tough.

6.21.2011

Zucchini-Quinoa Lasagna


Kristy has asked me to share this recipe. I feel honored that she is letting me guest post on her blog. I hope you try it and like it as much as I did. I started with a recipe in the July/August issue of Vegetarian Times and added the “ricotta” because I can’t imagine a lasagna without cheese. It turned out really good - much closer to the original than I thought it would be. I also put it together the night before I cooked it, so a day melding in the refrigerator may have helped the flavor.

Enjoy -
Jamie (the big sister)



Zucchini-Quinoa Lasagna



2 Large or 3-4 small Zucchini, cut lengthwise into ¼ inch-thick slices
1 25oz. jar marinara sauce

Ground beef substitute:
1 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
¼ cup finely chopped onion
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

Ricotta cheese substitute:
1 14oz package firm tofu
2 Tbs Olive Oil
2 tsp onion powder
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
½ tsp salt
Water, as needed for consistency

1. Place zucchini slices on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and let stand to release moisture. Blot moisture from zucchini before using.

2. Bring broth, quinoa, onion, and oregano to a boil in saucepan. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer about 25 minutes or until al liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and stir in basil and parsley.

3. Blend (or smash with a fork) Ricotta cheese ingredients together. Add extra onion powder, salt and nutritional yeast to taste.

4. Spoon about 1/3 cup marinara sauce over bottom of 8x10 baking dish. Layer zucchini slices in bottom of pan. Spread ricotta cheese on zucchini slices. Spread quinoa mixture over ricotta, then spread marina over quinoa. Continue layering zucchini, ricotta, quinoa & marinara to create lasagna.

5. Bake 30 minutes at 400 degrees, or until zucchini is tender and top is bubbly. Let stand for about 15 minutes before serving.

6.18.2011

Day 6 of 365- Cobb Salad


Cobb Salad

1 bunch romaine lettuce
15 cherub tomatoes
5 strips bacon ( day before )
10 slices turkey lunch meat
4 hard boiled eggs ( day before )
1 avocado
6 TBS soft blue cheese
2 TBS ranch
2 TBS olive oil
kosher salt & pepper

rinse lettuce & strain water
rinse & chop tomatoes
chop bacon
chop lunch meat
toss
add chopped eggs,
chopped avocado,
& blue cheese
toss with olive oil & ranch
salt & pepper to taste






REMARKS: This was a very fresh & semi-light lunch. One of my favorite classic salads.

6.17.2011

Day 5 of 365- Orzo Pasta with Broccoli


Orzo Pasta with Broccoli

5 strips of bacon
1/4 large onion
orzo pasta
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3-4 cloves garlic
2 broccoli crowns
1-2 TBS olive oil
crumbled feta
kosher salt
chicken bouillon

cook bacon according to package instructions
drain oil, but leave some chunks, etc.
remove bacon
simultaneously start water for the orzo
add about 1 TBS bouillon to water
chop the onion & add to the bacon pan with a bit of olive oil & salt
add the slivered almonds
add the garlic chopped
let simmer
rinse and chop broccoli
raise the pan heat to high
throw water tossed broccoli into pan to create steam & cover
steam for about 10 min until broccoli is slightly crunchy still
add orzo & chopped bacon
stir up & serve with sprinkled fresh feta


REMARKS: I invented this completely on my own. It was a great dish. Full of flavor, however, I'd like to see how the orzo tastes without the bouillon added to the water. I felt a bit hungry afterwards too. Maybe it would make a better pasta salad as a side.

THOUGHTS:

Maybe I'll figure out how to do all of the shopping in one day someday. ( my 4th trip to the store this week )

The grind:

Day 4 of 365- Free Day

In & Out Burger
:(


6.15.2011

Day 3 of 365- Mexican Taco Stew

I tried this dish because I had ground turkey meat in the freezer, then I browsed through the Whole Foods recipes and came up with my own (what I had to work with) version of it. Ryder did 80% of the cooking.


Kristy's Variation of Mexican Taco Stew

1/2 lb ground turkey meat
1/2 large onion
1 TBS olive oil
garlic seasoning
fresh thyme ( from my herb garden )
1 cup Herdez casera mild salsa
1 cup frozen white shoepeg corn
1 16 oz can chicken broth

barley
chicken bouillon

baby carrots
kosher salt

chop the onions and then start to sauté
add a bit of olive oil & kosher salt

in separate pot, make the barley according to instructions
I made 1 cup barley/ 2 cups water & added 1 TBS chicken bouillon to water

in another pot steam the baby carrots with a TBS butter & touch of water & salt

add the ground turkey to the onions and brown with salt & garlic seasoning
add the salsa & let it thicken slightly
then, add the remainder of the ingredients up to chicken broth
cover & turn heat up a bit
let simmer until the barley is ready
combine ingredients
serve with the baby carrots





REMARKS:

This by FAR exceeded yesterday's dinner. I felt great after eating it. And, it was loaded with flavor. I highly recommend. The kids LOVED it too.

THOUGHTS:

I just had yesterday's dinner leftovers for lunch & it is AMAZING served cold with Parmesan. Way better. So it's basically a pasta salad dish in the end.

I just discovered the "Whole Foods App". Then, I decided to browse on their web-site as well. Looks like I'll not have to look elsewhere. They have like 1,780 recipes all of which look delicious. Wow, I'm so new to all of this researching. There is such a vast world of possibilities out there. I would never have to repeat a meal again in my lifetime. Ha ha. Although I'm sure I will want to.


6.14.2011

Day 2 of 365- Zucchini & Yellow Squash Spaghetti With Garlic White Wine Sauce


Zucchini & Yellow Squash Spaghetti w/ Garlic White Wine Sauce

1 TBS butter in pan
Sliced baby carrots- start to saute
Chopped 1/4 large Onion- add to saute
add kosher salt
3 cloves Garlic- chop up & add to saute
cover pan
Add 2 Zucchini- 1 chopped, 1 grated
Add 1 Yellow Squash chopped
uncover & saute on high heat adding olive oil
Add about 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
Let it cook a bit
Add Lemon Pepper & pepper & Salt to season
Simultaneously boil noodles to al dente
Add Noodles
Continue to cook adding the seasonings to flavor
Serve covered with Fresh Parmesan






REMARKS:

This was delicious; however, it wasn't one of those real special meals that make you feel energetic after eating. It was mediocre in my eyes. The kids liked this better than last night's. I can do better. More research...

THOUGHTS:

So I've budgeted $300 for this week's groceries bill. Let's see. Obviously I am feeling overwhelmed. But one thing I keep telling myself is that if I take it one day at a time, it should all just pan out naturally. Just visualize a great healthy meal, then do it. But it's a bit more complicated than that. My goal is to do 1 shopping trip a week if possible. Maybe 2 for some fresh things that might go bad in a whole week's time. If my planning is right, I should be able to do it all on one trip I hope. I'm sick of running to the store 3-4 times a week with the kids, etc. It's purely a waste of time. So I am trying to figure this out... Went to Ralphs again today. With the 3 kids. Ryder threw a tantrum in the entry/ exit of the store, I sent him back to the car with Timothy. I rushed frantically around the store with Penn in the backpack carrier, grabbed some essentials, spent $60, came home with not a lot to work with still. :(

Brainstorming:

Healthy things I know we eat a lot and like... Sweet Potatoes, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Carrots, Asparagus, Spinach, Zucchini, Cucumber, green leaf lettuces, Sprouts, Tomatoes, Onions, Avocados, Whole Green Beans, Salmon, Chicken, Tuna, Brown Rice, Multi-grained breads, Apples, Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons.

Ideas from M Cafe ( A cafe on Melrose that we love and it's very healthy )...
-Adding roasted nuts to salads..
-Using chick peas..
-Make a variety of fresh vegetable dishes & have in fridge all week for snacks, side dishes, etc.

I've started a sort of inventory list of our staples, extras, rotating items, etc. I'll touch more on it later.

thoughts to be continued...

6.13.2011

Day 1 of 365- Baked Chicken, Broccoli, & Brown Rice

The state of the refrigerator and kitchen when I got home. Ryder's shoe had gum on it, so I tried the old peanut butter trick.


Leftovers...

Well today I spent the 1st 2 hours after I picked up the kids pondering what to make for day 1 of the challenge. I realize that I hate this... There must be some sort of an easy solution. What could I make, what should I make, how would I make, what would I make?? Well, first, what do we have, second, what would everyone like/ agree on, etc? Realizing we're out of apple juice, I haul everyone over to Ralphs . I spend about $12 on random things. Oh, the horrible shopping dilemma. What to pick up at Whole Foods. What to get at Trader Joes. The amazing deals at Ralphs. I hope I don't over buy and things go bad. Then, baby food, snacks that are healthy, but that they will eat. Oh, and the budget:(. Right now there are so many trips to the store like the one this afternoon. And they are not too fun either. Ryder throwing in the mini cart or car everything "he" thinks we need. Then batting my eyelashes at the clerk when I explain that we really don't need the 17 items Ryder brought up to the register. Then, everyone has their special wants... The favorite bread, the applesauce with the waffles, the I only like the pizza from Trader Joes but only the small ones, if it's Ralphs I only like the DiGiorno but only if it's pepperoni. But the health factor.. and I was also going to try to get creative. And the question is still... What should we have for dinner? 6 o'clock frantically feeding Penn baby food ( sweet potatoes, squash, and tzatziki dip ( for whatever reason he loves it ), so he won't cry, and still the mystery of what I should make. Timothy pulls out fruitloops of the cupboard saying " I'm just gonna have this". That's it, I better figure it out quick. Leftovers.. I've failed on Day 1. I guess I need to put more planning into this.


Baked Chicken ( Organic/ Free Range )

Pre-heat oven to 375°
wash chicken
remove giblets
3 cloves of garlic chopped a bit & placed inside
salt & pepper
bake breast side down for 30 min
turn over
breast side up for 1 1/2 hours


Garlic and Broccoli

Chop broccoli
put olive oil in a pan
a couple cloves of garlic
rinse broccoli
put in pan when garlic is golden
leave a bit of water on rinsed broccoli
the steam will cook the broccoli
cover & steam on low/medium
approx. 10 min
shake pan to stir occasionally


Brown Rice

1 cup brown rice
2 cups water brought to a boil
1 TBs chicken bouillon
bring to a boil
then cover & simmer for 45 min

These dishes were leftovers, and I didn't reheat the chicken. The children were not too impressed. I felt a bit bad. I had high hopes, but low results:(





The 365 Day Challenge. "What Should We Have For..."

"Today is my mother's birthday. In honor of her and the many meals she put on the table for her family of 7 every day throughout my childhood, I have come up with a challenge to myself. I only hope to be as creative and efficient as she was. From home made bread to oatmeal patties to roast with potatoes and carrots, we'd all gather around the wooden table and share stories of our days over dinner. It brings a tear to my eye as I reminisce about my upbringing. She is an amazing mom, I am so grateful for her, and I wish to pass down the love and care to my boys."

Starting Date: June 13th, 2011- June 13th 2012

PURPOSE: To satisfy my urge to create and to prove to my competitive self that I "do" love to cook and to prove to my husband that "yes I do" have an interest in cooking.

GOAL: To overcome my back-off on cooking, become more in control with regards to shopping, cooking healthy, and feeling less pressure with regards to it. I find that the thought, "What should we have for..." is about 80% of the actual challenge. Shopping, preparation, cooking, etc. is the easy part.

ASSIGNMENT: To cook a different/new meal or at least dish every day for 365 days. Primarily it would be a dinner, but lunch can work for this if need be. I also must take a polaroid of the final product. I can add in-between shots if I choose. Then, I must make a blog entry labeled under my "food & wine" section as well as my "I to Cook" section. The blog entry will feature the meal title, picture, and recipe as well as any troubles, thoughts, etc. It will also feature how people liked it or didn't like it, suggestions, etc. The 365 day challenge will also show grocery lists, prices, places I shopped, etc.

RULES/ PROVISIONS: I am allowed 104 free days. On a free day, which I'm allowed 2x a week approximately, we can either go eat out, make something we've already had, serve leftovers, throw in a frozen dish, let someone else cook, etc. These days are there for me to rest.



6.08.2011

A Beach Pregnancy Shoot

I just wanted to share a few shots from a shoot I did of Mo Pearson in April. Styling by Cameron Richardson. Lighting help by James Biondi. Thanks all for a wonderful day!