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{July 9, 2011}   YDFM Lovefest

I can’t even begin to tell you how great it is to live back near Your Dekalb Farmer’s Market. Not only can you get $150 worth of groceries for $60, but it also has such a huge variety of food! I’ve been going to YDFM each weekend and have been happily up to my eyebrows in fresh produce. This has, of course, inspired me to cook.

This morning, I noticed that I had several bananas and two mangos that were super ripe (and on the verge of being over ripe). What to do? What to do? Oh yeah, let’s make something. G is working tonight, so I sat down and Googled “mango banana” to see what kinds of recipes were out there. I found a few that looked good and prepared for greatness.

All decked out in my favorite apron (pardon the mess on top of the fridge, cabinet space is limited).

The first recipe is for Banana Mango Bread. I didn’t have any walnuts at the house, so I used sliced almonds. I also made mini-loaves instead of making two big loaves so that I can give them out at work next week. Other than those two tweaks, I used the recipe as is and man is it good. It’s so moist and flavorful. I could have eaten the batter raw…and maybe I did, but that’s neither here nor there. See how well they turned out:

Delicious Mango-Banana Loaves, hot from the oven!

I still had one banana and one mango left on the shelf that needed using, so I whipped up a batch of Mango-Banana Frozen Yogurt. I peeled and pureed the mango and banana and mixed it together with one container of 0% fat vanilla Greek yogurt, one teaspoon vanilla and two tablespoons of honey. I poured that mixture into the ice cream maker and voila!

Healthy and delicous!

Needless to say G will be one happy boy when he gets home tonight. Do you shop at the farmer’s market? What has it inspired you to make?

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G and I spent last Sunday basking in the sun and splashing around in the saltwater pool at my parents house as we celebrated family day at the Davis ranch. Mom, being the talented lady (gifted with forethought) that she is, smoked a pork shoulder the day before so we had some good eats. More importantly, we had leftover smoked pork.

I was sitting at work yesterday thinking about said leftover pork when it occurred to me – I could make pork tacos!!!!!!! I always suspected I was a genius, but now I have proof:

Barbeque Pork Tacos with Avocado and Slaw
served with sweet potato fries and baked beans

So, here’s how I did it:

Step 1: Make coleslaw (shredded cabbage, shredded carrots, sweet pickle relish, mayo and apple cider vinegar)

Step 2: Chop Avocado and toss with lemon juice

Step 3: Slowly cook pork in a frying pan on low heat with Stubb’s Sweet Hickory Bourbon Barbeque Sauce

Assemble tacos and serve with Bush’s Bourbon and Brown Sugar Grillin’ Beans (doctored with whole grain mustard) and Alexia Waffle Cut Sweet Potato Fries

G and I are stuffed and happy. Genius I tell you.



Well, it’s finally happening. G is going to school. In just a few short years he’ll be Nurse Horney and we might even get to see each other more than two nights a week. Hurray!

Since he had freshman orientation yesterday (as a non-traditional student, he’s got ten years on most freshman, but I’m confident he can fit in), I wanted to cook something special to celebrate. So….I made something up. That’s right. I cooked most of it up in my little noggin’ and the rest improvised on the fly.

It was pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. Try it. I’m having it leftover for lunch today. Oh, p.s. due to the butter and cheese it’s probably not “light” or “super healthy,” but it was a celebration, yo.

Shrimp and Grits a la Beth on the Fly

Ingredients
1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 pint heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 package fresh spinach/arugula mix (Organic Girl brand)
1 tbs olive oil
salt to taste
pepper to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1 splash of white wine
1 tbs or so tomato paste
butter, your choice how much
4 servings grits
extra sharp cheddar cheese, as much as your little heart desires

Rough Directions
1) Cook grits according to package directions.
2) While grits are cooking, heat olive oil in a large pan and lightly saute garlic.
3) Add tomatoes and cook for two minutes.
4) Add spinach/arugula mix and cook until wilted.
5) Remove spinach/arugula mix from pan and set aside.
6) Saute shrimp in same pan, adding salt and pepper to taste.
7) Pour liquid from spinach/tomato mixture (by now it has pooled in the bottom of the dish you are keeping the mixture in) into pan.
8) Add one or so tablespoons of tomato paste, a splash of white wine, a grind or so of black pepper and a generous knob of butter.
9) Cook the sauce on low until it has all come together and the alcohol has cooked out of the wine (not a lot of sauce, and it’s thickish and tart).
10) By now your grits should be ready. Add some butter, as much shredded cheddar cheese as you like and black pepper. Stir like the dickens.
11) Place some grits in each dish. Put a pile of greens/tomatoes on top. Pile shrimp on top of that. Drizzle with sauce (just enough to be pretty). Enjoy!!



After gorging on delicious eats this past weekend when G and I went to Savannah for our anniversary, I made a run to the grocery to prepare for a week of healthy eating. En route, I decided that I wanted to make a soup. So, in my head I hodgepodged together a recipe from several different soups and thought myself a genius. The following is what happens when a genius f’s up.

I get home, chop up some onion and garlic and get it sweating in my soup pot with some sea salt, cracked pepper, cumin and smoked paprika. So far, so good. I slice up some turkey kielbasa and some baby bellas and add them to the pot. Yum. In go two Ugly Heirloom tomatoes roughly chopped, one can of black beans (strained and rinsed) and one can of cannellini beans (strained and rinsed). You’re with me so far, right? Everything looks good. And then….I add WAY TOO MUCH BROTH. Only I don’t know it yet.

I let the soup cook and I think, hey, that looks a little thin. So, I take my stick blender to it and blend it halfway. Still looks thin, but now it has odd lumps. Then I blend it all the way. Now it’s thin and grainy. Hrm…OH, I know. I’ll add broken up whole wheat angel hair. Done. Cooked. Yeah…maybe I should have broken it to pieces that fit on a spoon since this is soup and all. Too late.

So, I ended up with a soup that tastes good, but has a strange texture and is awkward to eat. Win? Lose? Dunno. But at least I wasn’t hungry after I ate it.



You know what? No more excuses. I know I missed a week. It was a hell of a week. That’s just going to happen now and then with the new overwhelming amount of work in my life.

That being said, this week I was mightily inspired by good friend (and margarita drinking cohort) RouxBarb. Back in March she posted a blog entry (you do read her blog, right? it’s hilarious!!) about spaghetti squash. I’ve never tried spaghetti squash before, but it sure looked good and in general I am a lover of all things in the squash family (yellow, acorn, butternut, zucchini, you name it), so I decided to give it a try.

G and I were both home last night for the first time in about a week, so while I was at the grocery preparing for the nephews’ visit this weekend, he got some pork going in the oven and threw the spaghetti squash in the microwave for me. I finished the squash up when I got home (recipe here) and voila:

It was awesome. So good, in fact, that G ate all of his before he even started on the meat. A boy eating all his veggie before his meat? Now that is a major compliment. Thanks, RouxBarb for lending me this tasty, healthy recipe and opening my world up to spaghetti squash. I see a lot of it in my future.

p.s. Go Braves!
p.p.s. I put on old jeans this week ~ 20 lbs down, 20 or so more to go!



Dear World,

You’re welcome.

Love,

b

That is exactly how I feel about this week’s creations. Based on my past experience with frozen yogurt from a recipe, I created my own two flavors this week. I have literally knocked it out of the Froyo park. For realz. I’m dying. It’s so good. AND there’s no refined sugar – just natural sugars. AND there is protein – Greek yogurt is chock full of protein and other good stuff. Score. Winning.

Book club loved it. I loved it. Hopefully G will love it. And hopefully you will love it!

Sigh. I’m totally blissed out.

Flavor One — Gingersnap

2/3 cup molasses
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
2 cups non-fat, vanilla greek yogurt
2 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks

Whisk together molasses and ginger until combined. Add yogurt and whisk. Fold in egg whites. Pour into ice cream maker.

Flavor Two — Peanut Butter

2/3 cup honey
3/4 cup fresh ground peanut butter
1 pinch sea salt
2 cups non-fat, vanilla greek yogurt
2 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks

Whisk together honey, peanut butter and sea salt. Add yogurt and combine thoroughly. Fold in egg whites. Pour into ice cream maker.



I know. Week 37 is missing. It’s time I let you in on a little secret. You see, for the last month or so, my boss has been out of the office for personal reasons. This means that I have been thrown into the deep end of trying to do a two person job (and learning how to do half of it). It’s made cooking a low priority and left almost no time for updating you folks. I feel like I’m finally starting to get the hang of things, so hopefully I’ll be up and running on a regular schedule of posts and edible experiments soon.

In the meantime, it was BFF Lauren’s birthday this week. As I’ve mentioned she’s adhering to the Clean Food movement (no processed sugar and no white flour). So, for her work birthday party I wanted to make a treat she could eat and not feel guilty about. I bought a Clean Food cookbook and found this recipe: Mixed Berry Couscous Cake.

Cake isn’t exactly the right way to describe it. BFF Lauren, RouxBarb and I all three bandied about different terms (cheesecake? bread pudding? polenta-esque?). Whatever you want to call it, it’s served cold, slices like a cake, is sweet (from fruit juice and maple syrup) and dense and pretty darn good. I can’t see it replacing cake in my world, but it’s a good alternative when you want something high fiber and healthy.

b



Yes, I know week 34 is missing. But trust me, you SO don’t want the recipe I tried last week. It was bad…and boring. I’ll spare you recipe 34.

That brings us to recipe #35. In my quest to become a thinner, healthier eater (i.e. stop conducting my life like it’s a food free-for-all) I’ve been seeking out healthier recipes and even looking into several healthy food movements. BFF Lauren has been practicing Clean Eating since the beginning of the year and has had great overall health improvements and successful weight loss. This inspired me to do some internet and periodical investigations and I came across this recipe from Clean Eating Magazine (which BFF Lauren swears by): Guiltless Chicken Parmesan.

Now, the last two weeks have been unusually busy for me at work so G did the cooking and we did take a shortcut or two (used a jar of organic sauce instead of making our own), but we kept to the spirit of the recipe. It would have been fabulous had I not hated the flavor of the particular sauce that we used. I’ve even bought my very first Clean Food cookbook.

I have yet to decide if I am going to wholeheartedly embrace the Clean Eating lifestyle, but reading about the movement has definitely given me some good ideas of simple changes I can make to improve the quality of the food I put into my body and it gives me an excuse to tweak recipes. So, for now, bye-bye white flour/white pasta and hello whole grain!

As an update, my new healthier eating and actually exercising (starting slow on the exercise, but remaining steady) have netted me a 7-10 lb weight loss thus far and I’m not quite a month in. Hopefully I can keep this train moving and still bring you delicious recipes!



{February 18, 2011}   33 Years in the Kitchen – Week 33

Don’t worry, I haven’t been wasting away on this diet not making any delicious recipes. In fact, I’ve been trying to cook even more! It’s just been a busy week with some long at work hours so I’ll make this short and sweet. Here are a couple of new healthy recipes I’ve been trying:

Chicken Breasts with Tomatoes and Olives served over whole wheat cous cous with arugula. This was extremely flavorful and filling.

Cuban Chicken Pizza. I 86’d the jalapenos and used 2% colby jack and threw out the idea of cilantro altogether (yeah, yeah, I’m tweaking again) and although delish (we’ve had it twice) couldn’t eat an entire serving.

And then there was some frozen yogurt experimentation. I used the same recipe from the Honey-Lemon experiment from last week, but substituted the lemon with a half cup of pomegranate juice. Heaven.

And then BFF Lauren’s wife Melissa mentioned a craving for banana pudding ice cream…and so began the best frozen yogurt making experiment ever.

2 cups vanilla greet yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon honey
3 mashed bananas
2 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks

you mix the first four ingredients together and then fold in the egg whites. pour into your ice cream maker. and when it’s almost finished churning throw in several handfuls of baby vanilla wafers.

OMG. So. Freaking. Good. Do it. Now!

That’s all for today, but I’ll try and come up with something new and exciting and healthy next week…we’ll see if it tops Banana Pudding Frozen Yogurt, though…



I never thought this day would come, but here it is. Sigh. I am dieting. Now, I don’t mean a fad diet or South Beach or anything crazy like that. I’m just trying to be more sensible. And stop bad snacking. And stop drinking calories. And exercise. Yeah, exercise. Stupid mortal enemy always finds a way to get back into my life (grumble grumble grumble).

Don’t worry, though. This won’t affect you. Why not? Well, because I am still eating sensible and healthy dinners (we all know I’m obsessed with Cooking Light) AND because I get a cheat day every week so you can still expect some decadent dishes thrown in the mix.

To that end G and I were trying to think of a healthy dessert that we could keep around the house (in lieu of the homemade ice cream and cookies and such that we normally indulge in). G had the idea of frozen yogurt and I started searching the internet. I ended up on Yogurt Everyday’s recipe page and picked Honey-Lemon Frozen Yogurt.

Now, we all know I’m a fan of tweaking recipes so I substituted 2 cups of 0% fat plain Greek yogurt for the 2 cups whole milk plain yogurt that they call for in the recipe. So basically my yogurt is just as delicious as theirs, but has less fat and more protein (go Greek yogurt go!). This frozen yogurt tasted so good we could hardly keep our fingers out of the machine while it was churning. I mean, for realz. This stuff is deliciously tart with great texture and a subtle sweetness that had me just over the moon last night while watching the Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl (I cheered for the Packers because I like cheese).

Now, here’s a bonus recipe. Saturday night co-BFF Abby, super fun friend Jessica and I met up at Abby’s house to play with her new Xbox Kinect and her adorable bunny Henry. Our secret agenda, however, was to attempt to duplicate Murphy’s recipe for Brussels Sprouts. I think we did a pretty good job:

Operation Brussels Sprouts

1 Bag of Brussels Sprouts
1 Orange
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbs olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
salt/pepper

Wash and halve the sprouts and place in roasting pan. Then zest the orange. Toss the sprouts with zest from the orange, juice from half orange, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic cloves salt, and pepper.Place in the oven at 425 for 45 mins stirring once. Once you remove sprouts from the oven, squeeze the other half of the orange over them and toss to coat.

These sprouts ended up super delicious. We used the exact same ingredients (minus the garlic) on some tilapia that we baked at the same temp for ten minutes. The fish was served on top of the sprouts. This dish was yummy and healthy!

Enjoy and wish me luck!



et cetera