Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Keep smiling

Ravings: I hate that I've been gone this long, but I've been sick. Really sick. Like not eating for three straight days sick. You know it's bad when I can't eat. anything!

This in turn, puts me incredibly behind at work. So cut me slack.

While you are waiting for me to get my shit together, go read this Everywhereist post. She has a way with words, doesn't she!

Cravings: I have literally had dry toast and tea for the past 3 days. I got nothing!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Demand real food!

Ravings: Have you heard the news about the “test tube beef?” Does this terrify everyone else as much as it does me? I’m not a scientist, but from what I understand it’s grown from cow stem cells in a laboratory. That can’t sound appetizing to anyone, right. But what if they decide not to tell us? There is so much going on in the food industry that we are not aware of because the government has decided it’s “not in our best interest” to know the truth. Scary in and of itself, but we’re only talking about food labeling right now. We already have genetically modified corn taking over the food industry, genetically modified soy is not far behind, and now we will have lab created beef. Where will it end?

As a result I am buying more and more organic products, and doing a ton of research about what’s not on the label. I would encourage everyone to get informed about what they are eating and feeding to their families. Just because it's not on the label doesn't mean it isn't in the food.

Cravings: I have 2 meals to share today. There wasn’t much cooking going on this weekend because we were so busy.

Grilled pork chops with peach blueberry sauce and Roasted beets and parsnips

Grilled pork chops (or pan fried to be more precise)

2 center cut pork chops (any cut will work though)
1 Tbsp Jason’s spice mix (recipe to follow)

Rub pork chops with the spice mix and grill or pan fry. We pan fried them.

Peach blueberry sauce

½ cup red wine
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
1 cup frozen peaches (or fresh if in season)
½ cup frozen blueberries (or fresh)
1 Tbsp cherry balsamic vinegar (regular will work just as well)

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and warm, mashing fruit when it gets soft.

Roasted beets and parsnips

4 beets, peeled and chopped (I had gotten yellow beets, but any will work)
4 parsnips, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp Jason’s spice mix
2 Tbsp olive oil

Mix all ingredients in broiler safe casserole dish. Stir to coat and then broil for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are done but not mushy.

Jason’s Spice Mix

1 Tbsp dried sage
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried thyme
1 Tbsp ground mustard
1 Tbsp black pepper
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients together. He was so proud of this spice mix that I just had to name it after him. He was going to come up with a name like Emeril’s Bam mix, but I think he got distracted by the yummy food smells!

Then last night was dig for something to eat because I didn’t make it to the grocery store. What did I do this weekend? I feel like I was so busy but nothing got done!

Taco Bake... 2 ways!

Venison Taco Bake

1 lb ground venison meat (or ground beef)
2 Tbsp dried onion (mostly because I didn’t have any onions)
2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix (recipe to follow)
½ can diced green chilis
¼ cup water
2 cups frozen corn
1 heaping Tbsp Sante Fe cooking cream (I had this because I had a coupon, I’m sure you could omit this 
          and just use more taco seasoning mix and sour cream or greek yogurt)
½ can enchilada sauce (which I will figure out how to make one of these days)
3-4 corn tortillas (depending on the size of the casserole)
1-2, chopped tomatoes
Sour cream or Greek yogurt to garnish

Brown the venison or ground beef, then add the dried onion, taco seasoning, green chilis, and water. In a separate pan, sauté the corn in a bit of olive oil until warmed, and then add the cooking cream and stir until it’s incorporated.

To assemble the casserole, put a bit of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of the casserole dish, then lay down a tortilla and top with the ground meat, another tortilla, more enchilada sauce, the corn and half the tomatoes, another tortilla, the rest of the enchilada sauce and tomatoes. You can do as many layers as your pan will allow. I had plenty of meat left over, which went into the freezer. Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of sour cream or greek yogurt.

Two bean taco bake

This is exactly the same recipe, except that I substituted 2 cups of black beans and 2 cups of kidney beans for the ground meat. CJ loved it and Jason even loved both versions!

Taco Seasoning Mix

½ cup chili powder
¼ cup onion powder
1/8 cup cumin
1 Tbsp granulated garlic
1 Tbsp paprika

I know I’ve shared this before, but because I haven’t cataloged the recipes yet, even I couldn’t go back and find it. I promise I will work on that soon!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Simply Love

Ravings: Did everyone have a great Valentine’s Day? I did. It was wonderful, although I’m sure my definition of wonderful is not the same as everyone else’s. Isn’t that what makes life so interesting though! Jason and I are frantically trying to move. Meaning we are trying to get out from under the deep end on our mortgage so that when we try to sell, we don’t end up being homeless as a result.

Sidebar: What pisses me off about all of it is that I did the right thing. I got a house I could truly afford, with a smart, sensible loan, and have paid my mortgage fully and on time every month. I have lived in my house for almost 12 years and, made thousands of dollars of upgrades and am still completely upside down! My neighborhood has deteriorated to the point that I don’t even like being outside, and we just want out.

Back to Valentine’s Day: Given our current goal and my obsessive need for a budget, we agreed not to buy gifts, cards, or anything really to celebrate the day. I awoke that morning to a sweet kiss, a huge bear hug, and a joke about VD. Gotta love my husband! We then went off to work like normal. After work, we made dinner together, laughing and joking, and then sat down to a really nice meal with CJ and a friend of his. It was simple and sweet and perfect.

Cravings: And here is our meal for Valentine’s dinner.

The menu included:

  • Grilled Filet Mignon with Magic Sauce
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Apple, Onion and Cheddar Gratin
  • Chocolate Mousse Frosting

Grilled Filet Mignon

We got some awesome filets on sale at Earth Fare, so Jason just simply grilled those on our indoor electric grill.

Magic Sauce (found on Pinterest from

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 medium cloves of garlic, smashed into a paste
1 well-crumbled bay leaf
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon + fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Gently warm the olive oil over medium-low heat in a skillet or pan, until it is just hot. When hot remove from heat. While the oil is heating, lightly pound the rosemary, thyme, and oregano in a mortar and pestle. Stir the paprika, garlic, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and salt into the oil. Then add the bruised herbs and lemon juice.

Roasted (Glazed) Sweet Potatoes

4 sweet potatoes, chopped
2 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
1/3 cup maple syrup
¼ cup chocolate balsamic vinegar (you can use regular)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp sea salt
1 tsp chipotle powder
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp blackening seasoning

Chop the sweet potatoes and spread them on a roasting pan. Mix all the other ingredients together in a bowl and pour over sweet potatoes. Roast them for about 20-25 minutes until soft and beginning to carmelize.

Apple, Onion, and Cheddar Gratin

1 sweet onion, quartered and sliced
Same amount of apple, chopped (I left the skins on)
½ Tbsp dried thyme
½ Tbsp black pepper
4 Tbsp butter
1 cup milk
3 oz cream cheese
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

Saute onion and apple in 2 Tbsp of the butter until softened a bit,then add the thyme and pepper. Put into a baking dish. In the same pan, melt the other 2 Tbsp of butter, then add the milk and cream cheese. Turn the heat down and stir until the cream cheese is melted. Add the cheddar cheese and stir until melted. Pour that over the apple and onion mixture and bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes. (This turned out a bit runny, so next time I will add some flour to the butter and milk mixture before adding in the cheeses to see if that will thicken it up a bit.)

Chocolate Mousse Frosting (from Chocolate Covered Katie)

1 can coconut milk
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Sweetener to taste (I used ½ Tbsp powdered sugar and ½ Tbsp regular sugar)

We garnished with sliced strawberries, a few dark chocolate chips and a chrusciki or angel wing.

Open the coconut milk, and leave the can (or transfer to a bowl) uncovered in the fridge overnight. (Don’t shake the can before opening.) It should get very, very thick. (If it doesn’t, you’ve gotten a bad can that won’t work for the recipe. I highly recommend Thai Kitchen, or especially Thai Kitchen Organic.) Once thick, transfer to a bowl (you can opt to leave out the watery bit at the bottom of the can, if you want it even thicker) and whip in your cocoa, vanilla, and sweetener with a fork, or even beaters if you want to be fancy. (For the photos on this page, I didn’t use beaters. But I did pipe the mousse out using an icing tip.) Stored uncovered in the fridge, the mixture gets even thicker.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Infertility! Does that make you uncomfortable?

Ravings: I read an article this weekend about the taboo of infertility. It really made me sad. Not sad for me because I suffered through it, but sad for the world that we still create an atmosphere where people are ashamed of not being perfect and afraid to reach out for help. Way back then, it was one of my reasons for doing the blog. Not specifically about infertility because I didn’t know I was (infertile, that is) until after the attempts at artificial insemination, but about the lack of information and support that women and men face in baby-making. I am still shocked at how uncomfortable this conversation makes people, even more shocked than I am by the judgment that occurs about artificial insemination or in-vitro fertilization. At least those are active decisions. Infertility isn’t something someone chose or even caused. It just is, like brown eyes or black skin.

I admit that I participate in this at times. While I'm pretty open about the journey that I've been on, I do tend to make light of it in social situations. Clearly there are times that are not appropriate for discussing it, but I feel this need to protect others from the uncomfortableness of it even when it would be appropriate. I wonder what would happen if when the next time someone asks me if I have kids, I respond with "No, I'm infertile." I think I'm going to try it!

Cravings: In my 5 minutes a day of spare time, I am working on cataloging the recipes. Please, be patient. I promise it will happen one of these days.

I did actually make a wonderful potato corn chowder this weekend, but I left my ipad at my sisters and have none of the information with me, so I owe you a recipe from the weekend.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My new horizon

Ravings: So I’ve started my own business. Sort of. I’ve technically had a private practice for close to 10 years. I just never advertised or had a web site or a business name, etc. Thanks to my awesome sister, I officially have a name and a business logo.

She had it professionally designed for me as a gift! Told you she is awesome!

And now I also have a Facebook page for my business. I will also be developing a website in the next few months. And when I say I will be developing a website, I actually mean my sister will be designing it for me. She has her own business doing just that. She is full of awesomeness.

We both have this trait of taking on way too much!

Cravings: Because I haven’t been posting every day, I have a few recipes to share! Before sharing them all I have to tell you that I tried a new technique; caramelizing onions in the crock pot. While the ease of the process was super and the outcome was great, it took WAY longer than I had anticipated and it smelled up the house. This wasn’t a hit because the raw onion smell was pretty overwhelming at the beginning. It didn’t bother me as much as it did Jason, but he was sick and he couldn’t stand it. In fact I had to turn it off the first night because he couldn’t sleep. I did a few batches and the latter method is my favorite. I used regular yellow cooking onions and sliced up about 4 of them. I started them on the stovetop, sautéing them in a bit of olive oil until they were soft and translucent. Then I put them in the crockpot with a couple tablespoons of butter, cooking them on low for about 18-20 hours. We stirred them a few times, but not much. They weren’t completely caramelized, but I intended on freezing them so a bit under was ok with me. I froze them in ½ cup amounts in freezer bags.

Now on with this week’s recipes:

Roasted Veggie Pasta

Whole wheat pasta
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow squash, sliced
1 zucchini, sliced
½ eggplant, chopped
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 container (3 cups) Pomi diced tomatoes
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 Tbsp onion powder
½ tsp dried tarragon
Shredded mozzarella cheese to top
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

Cook pasta according to package directions. Put veggies, oil, basil and 1 Tbsp oregano in a casserole dish and cook at 450 for about 10-15 minutes until roasted. For the sauce, combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion powder, tarragon and the rest of the oregano in a saucepan and cook through. Assemble and top with mozzarella cheese and fresh basil. Pour a glass of red wine and enjoy!

Round Steak over polenta with green beans

1 Round steak
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp dry rub (I used a blackening spice mix)
1 cup polenta
4 cups water
½ cup milk
½ cup shredded Jarlsberg cheese
1 package frozen green beans
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ sweet onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, sliced

Marinate the steak in the soy sauce, worcestershire sauce and dry rub for a couple hours. I then used an electric grill set at sear for 2 minutes on each side. I wanted it on the rarer side. Note: this steak was pretty tough and chewy, although it had great flavor.

To cook the polenta, bring the water to a boil, stir in the polenta, cover and simmer stirring frequently until thick, about 15 minutes. Then stir in the milk and cheese.

For the green beans, start by sautéing the onions in a bit of olive oil until they start to get soft. Add the garlic and the green beans and cover to allow the beans to thaw and begin to warm, about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Then add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally until everything is hot.

Assemble by topping the polenta with the steak and green beans. Serve with red wine, of course!

Andouille sausage over brown rice

1 package andouille sausage links, sliced
1 package Konriko Wild Pecan Brown Rice
1 Tbsp butter

Greek Inspired Salad

I adore this brown rice. It’s one of the few package rice mixes I still use. Someday I may try to figure out how to replicate it, but for now it’s a nice easy go to meal.

Sauté the sausage until it’s browned. Cook rice according to package directions. I served it with a replica of the Greek Inspired Salad I posted on 1/24/12.

Caramelized Onion and White Bean Soup

½ cup caramelized onions (the ones from the freezer)
2 cups cooked white beans (also from the freezer)
4 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup cream of whatever soup mix (from One Orange Giraffe blog)
Grated cheese to garnish

Add onions, beans and broth to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add dry soup mix and cook for 5 more minutes until thickened. Serve with grated cheese and crusty bread.