Friday, May 28, 2010

Summertime lunch

The other day, when the little guy and I were out running errands, I was **thisclose** to grabbing us fast food and going to watch planes land at the airport. But I resisted. Besides, he got cranky and needed a nap pretty much as soon as we got home. So there went that idea, but we still needed to eat.

His current favorite is cottage cheese and "sawbayuhs" (strawberries!), so that was easy enough to pull together. I gave him some pretzels on the side for crunch, and unearthed the last squeezable applesauce (from our DC trip) in the fridge. He ate everything except a few pretzels.

My own early-afternoon snack (I had more to eat later) was cottage cheese, fresh fruit, and some Canadian turkey bacon, which the little guy shared with me.

Fresh, light, and easy. Perfect for the record-breaking heat!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

OK, so these aren't the cleanest. But who doesn't need a "dirty" little treat now and then? ;)

This recipe caught my eye because it looks remarkably similar (taste-wise, anyway) to the chocolate-covered, peanut-butter-filled pretzel nuggets The H used to devour, but has since had to give up due to that pesky wheat allergy. I made them with a peanut butter whose ingredients list simply says "peanuts" and The H's gluten-free pretzels.

Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup finely chopped salted pretzels
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1. In a small bowl, mix pretzels with peanut butter. Freeze for 15 minutes or until slightly firm and partially frozen.

2. Roll filling into balls about (about 1 teaspoon each) and place on wax paper-lined baking sheets (I used two sheets of parchment left from baking cookies earlier). Freeze for 1 hour or until very firm.

3. Melt chocolate (I used a double boiler) and coat each ball. Refrigerate or freeze until chocolate is firm.

I doubled the pretzels--the pb mixture was really quite runny with just 1/2 cup. I attribute that to my peanut butter, which is always rather thin, even after refrigerating. I also needed another 1/2 cup of chocolate for the last step. I ended up with about 32 truffles... or "peanut butter crack clusters."

Work quickly when you're coating these! Again, it could've just been my choice of pb, but these started to thaw/soften very soon after being taken out of the freezer. Their swim in melted chocolate didn't do anything to keep them together, either. What worked best for me was to use two fondue forks for the dunking and transfer back to the baking sheets.

Mine certainly aren't as pretty as either online version, but they sure are tasty. I used a 1/2 Tbsp measuring spoon for scooping the half-frozen mixture and didn't waste time rolling them into bally shapes. Obviously...

Enjoy--and have a glass of milk and napkin handy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Honey mustard turkey meatloaf... on the grill!

Since it's been 9839654 degrees here for the past two days, with no indication of a cold snap, I decided against heating up the house with a hot oven today. And since I already had ground turkey breast thawed and didn't want burgers, I improvised and made, for the first time in my life, grilled meatloaf. Even The H would've liked it, and that's saying something when it comes to meatloaf.

I wanted to make everything outside, so the little guy could play and I didn't have to run back and forth between yard and house. Our dinner picnic was made up of Greek yogurt (for him), grilled sweet corn, foil-packet sweet-n-hot potatoes, fresh fruit, and this delicious meatloaf.

The recipe comes from a former acquaintance via my sister... I do not know the original source. I modified it slightly, shown in italics.

Honey Mustard Turkey Meatloaf
serves 6

1 1/2 pounds ground fresh turkey (1lb ground turkey breast)
1 cup bread crumbs (used oats, and not a full cup)
1/2 cup milk (omitted altogether--mixture was wet)
1/4 cup chopped onion (two handfuls of frozen minced onion)
1 egg, beaten (didn't beat ahead of time)
2 1/2 tsp yellow mustard
1 tsp poultry seasoning (used 3/4 tsp)
2 Tbsp honey (eyeballed it)
1 Tbsp brown sugar (subbed Sucanat)

1. Preheat oven to 350 (I used the grill). Combine 1 1/2 tsp mustard, honey, and brown sugar. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix turkey, crumbs, milk, onion, egg, 1 tsp mustard (I misread the instructions and put about 2 tsp in, but still made the reserved sauce as written), and poultry seasoning. Pat mixture into loaf pan that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (I divided it between three mini loaf pans that I had sprayed with grapeseed oil).

3. Bake 40 minutes, then spoon reserved mustard sauce over the top. Bake 10 minutes or until no longer pink (I cooked it over a low, indirect heat until it was browned at the edges and cooked through).

Altogether, these guys cooked about 40 minutes start to finish.

The potatoes got a little softer than I wanted, and pieces stuck to the foil, but they were still tasty--sweet with a touch of oomph from the cayenne I shook on them. The corn was simply divine. We cut it off the cobs to make it easier to eat.

This was... SO good. I've made the recipe before, as meatloaf muffins, but that doesn't count, because it wasn't nearly as good for whatever reason(s). I am glad I have two more in the freezer for another day!

Sam the ham was just happy to be in the yard with his family, soaking up the sun. :)

Happy grilling season!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hmm...what to eat?

The H is going out of town... surprise, surprise. So little guy and I are on our own Monday through Wednesday. Then we're all together Thursday (unless I run with the girls) and on Friday, we're heading to Traverse City for the Bayshore Marathon on Saturday. I'm running the half--so is my mom--and The H is spectating with my dad.

So here's what I came up with...

Sunday lunch - picnic at a park with friends; we grilled kabobs and I ate more chips and onion dip than a reasonable clean eater should. Oh, and then an ice cream sandwich. :)

Sunday dinner - Burgers on the grill, topped with feta and tomato-kalamata relish and served with grapefruit slices. Chickpea brownie for dessert.

Monday - I'd really like to take the little guy to the airport observation area, if the weather is nice. Looks good so far--sunny, mid-80s. Perhaps we'll bring a picnic, something simple like PB&J (on locally made multi-grain bread), yogurt, and fresh fruit.

Tuesday - Honey mustard turkey meatloaf, sweet potato fries OR corn on the cob...

Wednesday - Marinated shrimp and orzo with broccoli

Thursday - Spinach lasagna or fajitas...whichever one would make less, or more freezable, leftovers.

Friday - Pasta dinner with friends!

Saturday - Whatever I want, man, I just ran a half marathon! (Kidding... we're having a cookout with other people from the running group.)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Oh look, chicken and rice!

One of our favorite recipes for chicken actually came from a recipe called "Grilled Marinated Shrimp" on several years ago. The flavor of this marinade rivals that of shrimp skewers from well-known steakhouses, and is equally delicious on chicken or shrimp.

I had intended to eat shrimp and save the chicken for The H and the little guy, but since the shrimp shrunk more than I had intended, I had some chicken as well. Aren't my shrimps cute? The flavor on them was so concentrated.

When we were using this marinade multiple times a week, I'd shake up a big batch in a Mason jar and keep it in the fridge, pouring out what I needed depending on the meal. Our favorite way to enjoy it used to be on shrimp/veggie skewers that were served over--and eventually mixed with--orzo.

Grilled Marinated Shrimp (marinade only)

1 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp hot pepper sauce (I use Frank's RedHot)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp salt (1/2 tsp is more than enough)
1 tsp ground black pepper (I always use less)
2 lbs shrimp, chicken, or a combination

1. Combine marinade ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.

2. Place shrimp or chicken in a resealable container or zip-top bag and pour marinade over, reserving some for basting if desired. Marinate 2-8 hours.

Tonight I served it with a brown rice pilaf made with celery, onion, yellow and orange bell peppers, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and vegetable broth.

The veggie broth made up one-third of the 3 cups of cooking liquid. I added too much water, though, considering the rice wasn't *quite* a full 1.5 cups. Boo to smushy rice. But I did use up the ends of two separate bags of brown rice, so yay for that.

At the last minute, I also decided to use up the broccoli in the fridge and quickly sizzled it in my cast iron skillet with grapeseed oil, crushed red pepper, and lemon zest.

The zest was made possible by my endless freezer stash of really cool stuff. :D

I served a dish of strained plain yogurt--which becomes like sour cream--on the side because the spice level was pretty powerful.

We capped the evening with garbanzo bean brownies and some delicious Gevalia creme brulee decaf.

A funny little lunch

Today's theme seems to be "fridge clean-out" as evidenced by my lunch (and dinner--stay tuned)... two small slices of leftover black-olive pizza with a bulb of fennel roasted with onion and grape tomatoes. Odd, yes. Tasty? For sure!

Pizza alone sounded lonely, and I knew I needed more veg in my life. The onion was a natural choice, and the tomatoes were a last-minute inspiration. Why not? They're so pretty!

The best way to reheat pizza, in my humble opinion, is to bake it at 400* for 10 minutes, then keep it in the oven with the heat off for another 10. This re-crisps the crust, melts the cheese, and heats everything through almost as if it were fresh.

Today I tried something a little different. I stuck the two pans in next to each other for 10 minutes, then shuffled the racks around so the pizza was on the very top and fennel closest to the heating element. After 15 minutes I removed the pizza, added a handful of grape tomatoes to the fennel, and roasted for another 5 minutes.

And then I topped it all off with a garbanzo bean brownie. :)

Garbanzo bean brownies

Brownies from beans, again? YES! And I think I like these better than the black bean avocado version I posted not long ago. The texture is cakier, which is a mystery to me because they are wheat-free. I like the chocolate flavor a bit more in this recipe, too. Using chocolate chips (an allergen-free version from Enjoy Life) instead of cocoa powder is no doubt responsible for that. They are sweeter than the black bean recipe, probably also from the chocolate chips, even though they don't call for more than one type of sweetener.

Chickpea Brownies

1 1/2 cups dairy-free, grain-sweetened chocolate chips
4 large eggs
15 oz chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup agave nectar or 1/2 cup real maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Melt chocolate chips in a double boiler (improvise with a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water). Keep an eye on them--I was surprised how quickly they melted down!

3. Process beans and eggs in blender or food processor until smooth. Add melted chocolate, agave, and baking powder. Blend until smooth.

4. Pour batter into lightly greased 8x8 pan and bake 35-40 minutes.

I had too much batter to feel comfortable leaving it all in the 8x8 pan, so I took out 6 cupcakes' worth, and placed both on a large baking sheet just in case.

The cupcakes/brownie bites took about 30 minutes to cook, and I continued baking the rest of the brownies at least 15 minutes longer.

Perfect with a cup of coffee at my 10:00 snack break! Next time I will add nuts and/or more chocolate chips to the mixed batter, as I prefer my brownies with little extras like that.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Eating out: The Omelette Shoppe

Last Monday, the three of us had a lovely relaxing morning together, kicked off by breakfast at The Omelette Shoppe. It was my first time there.

Sadly (or not really, because I don't feel bad about it), cheap won out over clean and I ordered the Early Bird omelette special--one meat, one veggie, one cheese in a two-egg omelet with a side of toast and coffee or juice--for less than $5.

My omelette was made with ham, green peppers, and cheddar. A classic and delicious combo! The H and the little guy each had some as well, so I really only ate about 1/3 of what you see on the plate. I had one of the wheat toast halves, with some of the strawberry jam (it's not ketchup) you see on the left, and then most of the little guy's pancake. It came out looking like Mickey Mouse--I ate the "face" portion while he picked at the "ears" and ate the fruit that came with it. The H made short work of his hash browns and over-medium eggs (no toast, of course) and coffee.

The prices here were more reasonable than our other local breakfast go-to place, and I felt the food wasn't quite as butter-laden. I'd love to go back, especially considering the sizable menu and lots of tasty-sounding options.

The koi pond in the attached mall held the little guy's attention more than his Disney-inspired breakfast did. I know where we're going next time the weather doesn't allow us to be outside!

My breakfast kept me full until after the little guy was down for a nap--lunch was leftover lentil soup and a fresh mango. Nice and light!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A meaty month

Apparently May is "meat month" here in our household. The H has been asking for beef burgers lately, but I keep holding him off by making burgers out of beans and/or ground chicken. We've been filling in our menu with co-op bacon/pancetta, Canadian turkey bacon, the dregs of meat I've frozen from other meals, and protein alternatives like eggs or the quinoa in our stuffed peppers last night.

The last time I cooked actual chicken breasts is when I made these beauties more than two weeks ago. I have been wanting to hit up a local farm retail store, which I finally did with the little guy on Monday. There we stocked up with five packages of 1/3 pound beef burgers (a total of 5 pounds, or 15 pre-made patties), two pounds of ground turkey breast, and about 4 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast.

Tomorrow is co-op pickup night, so I just logged in to remind myself what I ordered this time--and there I saw one package of 1/4lb beef burgers (oops), a pound of stew beef, and two pounds of flank steak. Looks like lots of grilling in our future!

Speaking of which, I grilled up a package of the 1/3lb patties tonight after running. Oh.My.Goodness. I wanted to keep eating long after my patty--topped with cheddar, mustard, ketchup, and sliced pickle on an HFCS-free wheat bun--was gone. On the side, we polished off a personal watermelon and some tomato-feta-balsamic vin salad. Fantastic!

Gluten free pizza rocks

This was probably one of my better pizzas to date. And to think I wasn't even planning on this until two days prior, AND had everything I needed in the house already! Even better.

Base: Bob's Red Mill gluten-free pizza crust mix

Sauce: Jarred marinara sauce, to which I added dried basil and dried oregano

Toppings: mozzarella, pancetta from the co-op, kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, baby Portobello mushrooms, green onion

Outcome: Zero leftovers. The little guy ate almost as much as I did.

I made two smaller crusts out of the remaining dough, then topped and froze them (covered with foil) so we'd have a quick dinner for later in the week. They were dressed with nitrate-free turkey Canadian bacon, sundried tomatoes, pepperoncini, and kalamatas... and we ate them the next day. Yum!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Burn-the-house-down tofu

My poor baking sheets will never be the same. This is the first Clean Eating Magazine recipe in a long time that I can recall not enjoying. Did I choose the wrong tofu again? Have the wrong kind of broiler? Either way--it was passable but not a keeper. And since I'm not about only showing you the good/pretty/successful recipes, here's how it turned out.

Broiled Tofu
from Clean Eating Magazine, March/April 2010
Serves 4

1/4 cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
4 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 lb mushrooms (white, cremini, shiitake, or a combination of your choice), halved (remove stems if using shiitake)
Olive oil cooking spray

1. Preheat broiler. Position one rack 4 inches below heating element, and another rack in the bottom third of the oven.

2. In a small bowl, whisk broth, vinegar, mustard, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. Set aside 3 tablespoons of the sauce. In a large bowl, toss mushrooms with remaining sauce. Arrange mushrooms on a large rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

3. Cut tofu lengthwise into 6 slices and pat dry with paper towels. Cut each slice in half diagonally, making 12 triangles. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Arrange tofu on baking sheet and brush the top with half of the reserved 3 tablespoons of sauce.

4. Place sheet with mushrooms on bottom oven rack, and sheet with tofu on the upper oven rack. Cook for 6 minutes. Remove tofu (leaving mushrooms in the oven), turn pieces over, and brush with the last of the reserved sauce. Return tofu to top rack and continue cooking until tofu is dry and browned and mushrooms are tender, about 6 more minutes.

5. Divide tofu among plates and top with mushrooms. Drizzle with juices from baking sheet, and serve.

Umm, as you will observe, my sheet(s) have next to no juices with which to drizzle. I did the best I could.

Had the pieces not been partially charred, I imagine they would have tasted all right, but there was an odd *crunch* to every other bite that I couldn't place and didn't want to continue enduring. So I pitched the rest of my serving.

Please note, I thoroughly enjoyed my side of fresh mango. :)

Nutrition information per serving (3 triangles tofu, 1/2 cup mushrooms, 1 Tbsp sauce):
Calories - 180
Total fat - 7g
Sat. fat - 1g
Carbs - 11g
Fiber - 3g
Sugars - 4g
Protein - 18g
Sodium - 230mg
Cholesterol - 0mg