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Posts from the ‘the eats’ Category

How Many?

It is December. Also known as the month where I am too busy for words.

Trips to IKEA in the past week:  TWO

Trying to figure out WTF are we doing with the kitchen!?! This kitchen must die.

death to this kitchen

Inspiration…

ikea kitchen shopping

Come to me, wooden countertop. I love you.

ikea kitchen shopping2

Tristan: Currently thinking WTF!?! While contemplating the fact that we have to paint the ENTIRE house…

wtf

Veggies eaten: A GAZILLION

I have been trying to fight off the plague (aka one of the nuggets had strep – and I can NOT get sick this month!); so I’ve been fueling myself with goodness.

green smoothiesgrapefruitorange chix sesame kaletofu honey mustard saladrainbow dinner2bburgers ala jenny2

Miles on the treadmill so far this week:  TEN!

Sweat it out, baby. Sweat it out.

X-mas presents purchased:  ZERO

Send elves!

~

Thankful for Thanksgiving

So, Thanksgiving was a week and a half ago you say? Balderdash. I’ve never been one for the timely recap, so why start now?

I am still basking in the glow of my first Thanksgiving as hostess. Last year, I hosted our family X-mas dinner, and this year, Thanksgiving. Here is how it all went down…

Tuesday: I worked for 2/3 of the day, and then went to pick up my fresh local turkey (thanks Carl!). The weather was insane… 76*, and picking up my turkey for Thanksgiving? what the what?

crazy turkey weatherbeautiful treeme and turkey

This guy weighed 14.48 lbs., and cost an arm and a leg. Seriously, I never thought I would hand over that much cash for poultry. However, I’d do it again in a heartbeat (or rather, next year, come Thanksgiving). When the only meat I eat is local/humane, I knew it was time to step up and buy a local turkey – or pass on it, altogether.  I can’t recommend it enough. I say, know where your meat comes from. Or don’t eat it.

Wednesday:  I was fortunate to have the day off, and spent my time cleaning and doing a bit of cooking for Thursday. I made Ree’s make-ahead mashed potatoes, which I was thrilled to get out of the way. I also made veggie dip and hummus, and cranberry orange salad dressing.

mashed taters

Thursday:  The big day! I baked my apple pie bright and early, and then dealt with the turkey. It seems I didn’t get many pictures throughout the day, as I was busy being the cook/hostess. Oh, well. Maybe next year? Here is what I managed to capture (or holler at Tristan to take a pic of… flash pictures, I’m looking at YOU. *ahem*).

apple pie2apple pieappetizers tdaygoat cheese ball tdaytday saladturkey on platterwhole wheat rolls2

The majority of my meal, was local. Aside from the crackers, it was all homemade (and if I’d had more time, I would have made the crackers, too!). Most of my ingredients were purchased at my local Farmers Market… the veggies for the crudité plate, the cranberry pistachio goat cheese ball (Bosky Acres), the turkey, the potatoes (in both the sweet and mashed forms) the apples in the pie and salad, the herbs, etc. You get the picture.

Local.

Lovely.

After the big day, the rest of the weekend involved two days of well-deserved holiday relaxation, and one day of working on the new house…

Friday: Couch – meet Angie. Lovely. No Black Friday shopping for me. Crowds of grouchy, sleep-deprived, insane cheapskates don’t appeal.

Many episodes of Supernatural were viewed, with Tristan and Lilly by my side. (The show may be a little cheesy – but damn, those Winchester brothers are easy on the eyes, no? It’s one of my current guilty pleasures).

Supernatural

Saturday:  Another lovely lazy day. I had planned on getting several things accomplished, but staying in my PJs was just too damn tempting. (I NEVER get to have a lazy weekend – ever – so I decided to make it count).  I think we watched some more Supernatural, and I know I took a nap. It was all very exciting. (You might think I’m kidding, but sadly, no).

That night we had tickets to see Daniel Tosh at Ovens Auditorium here in Charlotte.  The opening act was Tommy Johnagin , who was absolutely hilarious. I might have enjoyed his set a smidge better than Tosh, even? I like Tosh well enough, but as I told Tristan… I only find approximately 85% of what he says, funny. If you aren’t familiar with him, his humor is VERY politically incorrect, and more than a little masochistic and homophobic. Wait, that doesn’t make him sound very funny, does it? He is, I promise. Much more of a “guy’s comic”… but still amusing, definitely.

tosh tixtosh

Sunday:  I spent most of the day Sunday on my feet, cruising around Lowes, picking out a new refrigerator, and dishwasher (thank YOU holiday sales), and finalizing paint colors for the new house*. I then put in a few hours at the new house*… generally up on a ladder, or down on my knees; prepping the walls to be painted. Muscles I didn’t know I even had, hurt this past week. Yeeouch.

* Yes, new house. Have I mentioned that yet? We’re moving in January. I think.

~

Bourdain and Ripert

Last Wednesday evening, I dragged Tristan to Good vs. Evil at the Belk Theater in uptown Charlotte for an entertaining evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert.

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It turned out to be a surprisingly intimate evening with the two chefs.

I was REALLY EXCITED about this show… as I have been a fan of Bourdain for years and years. I’ve read all of his culinary/travel books, the most recent being Medium Raw ; and am crazy about his show, No Reservations … Travel, drinking, swearing and great food? Seriously, what’s not to love? As for Ripert, I knew substantially less about him, other than what I’d seen on Top Chef and in relationship to his friendship with Bourdain. After this though, Le Bernardin is definitely on my must list for our next trip to NYC. (We’ll have to save up though – even to just do lunch! $$$). 

First off, they took turns interrogating each other in the hot seat. (The hot seat consisting of the rather crap folding chair they claimed felt as if  it was going to collapse at any moment).

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Bourdain was the first one out, he introduced Ripert and then proceeded to grill him on his culinary background, Le Bernardin and his dislike for fellow chef Gordon Ramsey. (Apparently Ripert, a Buddhist, thinks Ramsey is a meanie. He is not wrong).

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Then it was Bourdain’s turn in the hot-seat, where Ripert grilled him (mostly) on his slightly salacious past.  It didn’t take long for the f-bombs to start flying. Which I admit to loving about Bourdain.

“I sure as hell know…”

After the interrogations, they sat down together, Bourdain with a beer and Ripert with a Diet Coke (his choice of beverage surprised me). They mused about the current culinary “it’” movement of Farm to Table. They both have very strong opinions and aren’t afraid to express them.  It felt more like we were eavesdropping on two good friends having a conversation, rather than speaking in front of an audience.

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With an audience of food obsessives (and the person they dragged along with them!), this was a love fest. Most of us got the references they spoke of, and ‘celebrity chef’ slams.

Bourdain talked about how cooking should be a necessary skill that is taught to every child… along the lines of potty-training, learning to tie your shoe laces, riding a bike, etc. “Everyone should know how to chop a fucking onion” he said – to which I agree wholeheartedly.

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Bourdain slammed Sandra Lee (to many cheers!) and Guy Fieri . He spoke about his current “riff” with Paula Deen – and how she is the most dangerous woman in America. True, true. Cheeseburger meatloaf with a stick of buttah, anyone?

They touched on the topic of sustainable seafood (yet another reason I want an iPhone, for the Monterey Bay Aquarium app while dining out!)… Ripert advocated it, while Bourdain said he would eat the last Bluefin Tuna in the ocean if he could. Both commented that they had signed some sort of agreement to never eat shark fins. (Rightly so, the practice of harvesting the fins sounds horrific).  They discussed cheap food, fast food and the nastiness that is the McRib. They also spoke up for foie gras… apparently it is being done “correctly” here in the US, by the three farms that produce it.

Towards the end of the show there was a brief Q &A segment. Which was, I’m not going to lie, quite awkward. It didn’t help that the first guy up was clearly hammered, kissing ass, and talking nonsense.  Bourdain eventually told him to “fuck off” and called on someone else. (It needed to happen). It was disorganized, and could have used ushers manning the mic stations (or something like that) because well, yeah, awkward.

But all in all – it was a fantastically fun evening. I think it even inspired Tristan to want to learn how to cook, a wee bit. Which is music to my ears.

~

Simple Homemade Applesauce (Unsweetened)

This is my super-simple applesauce recipe…  Really, it couldn’t be easier. With less than 10 minutes of hands-on time, there is NO reason not to make this. Immediately.

(Full-disclosure – this recipe requires a slow-cooker/crock-pot).

applesauce1

 

Ingredients:

9 medium apples of your choice (preferably NOT Granny Smith – too sour!)

2 large lemons, juiced

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp. vanilla extract

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With so few ingredients, it is easy to double or even triple this recipe (just make sure your slow-cooker is large enough!). For a batch and a half, I use this red 4-quart slow-cooker with no problem. If I was going to make a double or triple batch, I would move up to my 6-quart cooker.

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This is an unsweetened applesauce, and Tristan and I both love the taste. The combination of the vanilla extract and the cinnamon actually makes it taste a wee bit sweet, I believe.

Directions:

Wash your apples, but don’t worry about peeling them.

Core the apples, using the cheat-method like me – cut all four “cheeks” off the sides of the apple, leaving the core intact ( and ta-da! a cored apple).

Slice or chop your apples into large chunks. (you certainly don’t need to waste your time being precious about the size or shape – it doesn’t matter at all).

Plop the apple slices into the slow-cooker, add the lemon juice, vanilla extract and sprinkle in the cinnamon.

Put the lid on, and set your cooker to LOW.

Cook on low for 5-6 hours, and enjoy the most amazing smelling kitchen during this time!

Once your apples are soft and juicy, mash with a potato masher, to achieve the applesauce consistency you desire.

Then, if you’re like me – whip out the immersion blender and go to town. It doesn’t take long. The skins blend right up, giving the applesauce a lovely hue, and TASTE!

I for one, don’t like the mouth-feel of cooked apple skins (eww), but I want the nutritional benefits of the skin. (And let’s be honest – I don’t want to peel that many apples, either!). So, I found a way to leave the skin on, while ending up with a smooth final product…  blending!

I use my Cuisinart immersion blender, but you could certainly blend the cooked apples up a blender, (working in batches), as well. Or, if you don’t have issues with cooked apple skins separating from the apple bits (again – ewww), just stop at the mashing step.

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We keep this in the refrigerator for about a week… IF it lasts that long. A week is about my standard time-frame for food safety and freshness, when it comes to home-cooking, it seems. This applesauce also freezes well, if that’s your thing.

Enjoy!

~

WIAW – Autumn In My Tummy

 WIAWbutton

It’s that time again…  What I Ate Wednesday! Better yet, the first one of the fall… Where every meal contained a winter squash! Pumpkin, butternut and spaghetti squash… oh my!

Breakfast…

iced coffee leavespump pie oiaj2pump pie oiaj1good to the last drop

Iced coffee, and Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats in a jar.

Mid-morning pick-me-up…

cuppa tea

A nice hot cuppa.

Lunch…

veggie-ful lunch

My Minestrone soup (contains butternut squash – recipe coming later today), raw veggies (carrots, cukes and peppers) and lightened-up hummus, with iced tea for hydration (and caffeine!).

Dinner…

spag cheese squash

Spaghetti squash, roasted with garlic and olive oil, with a simple marinara sauce and 1 oz of parmesan cheese. And an unpictured glass of vino, naturally.

Yet another day that I am so happy that I eat seasonally.

~

Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats

pump pie oiaj2

I made this for breakfast this morning, and it was so delicious, I just had to share!

In the mix:

1/3 c. milk of choice (I used organic 2%)

1/3 c. rolled oats

1 TBSP chia seeds

1 small banana (or 1/2 large), chopped

3.5 oz plain Greek yogurt (I used 2%)

1/16 tsp. cinnamon (or to taste)

pinch of salt

splash of vanilla extract

3 TBSP canned pumpkin

1-2 TBSP pumpkin butter (recipe coming tomorrow!) for the bottom

Mix all ingredients EXCEPT the pumpkin butter together. Spread pumpkin butter in the bottom of your vessel of choice (for me it’s always a pint Ball jar), and then pour in the overnight oats. Let sit to thicken (refrigerate just a couple of hours, or overnight).

pump pie oiaj1

This was amazing. And hey – I got my fruit and some veg in with breakfast! Win.

good to the last drop

Good to the last drop!

~

Weekends

Weekends always go by far too quickly. My life is busy, busy… and I look forward to my weekends, like a kid looking forward to Xmas.

Though I usually have so much that I want to accomplish, that they end up being just as busy as my weekdays… and… well… it’s just a vicious circle really.

However, this past weekend, I was able to take a well-deserved lazy day on Saturday. I had gotten off of work a few hours early on Friday, and was able to do my weekly grocery shopping, as well as a much-needed trip to Costco that afternoon. Then I came home and turned my kitchen into pumpkin-flavored heaven, as promised.

Pumpkin muffins (so moist and doughy!), pumpkin butter and pumpkin cream cheese. All made with real food ingredients, and respectably healthy.

muffs big and minipumpkin butter pump cc55

Put all three together, and you have a winning combination, as we happily discovered…

super deluxe muffins

Saturday morning was my usual ritual of Farmers’ Market and coffee…

sat am coffeefarmers bounty basket

I was thrilled to find GREENS at the market again… and (possibly?) went a little crazy, buying Collards (two types), and arugula! As well as 3 green peppers, breakfast radishes, and something called ‘Asparagus Beans’… (they look like Chinese Long Beans to me). I also bought some fingerling potatoes, eggs and some chicken breasts… as well as these super-cute itty-bitty tomatoes …

gorgeous tomspretty toms2

Awwww.

I returned home in a light drizzle, to find Susan and Victor (Tristan’s Mom and nephew) at our house, hanging out. After Susan and I caught up -we’re both quite chatty (much to Victor’s dismay – 12 year old boys get bored pretty easily around women); they headed out, and that marked the end of my productive day! The rest of the day was spent in sweats, on the couch with Tristan, watching the first season of Raising Hope on DVD, and taking a nap.  It rained, it poured, and we lounged. Fantastic. I didn’t even have to cook dinner, courtesy of Mellow Mushroom and my lovely boyfriend who went to pick it up.

We were excited for the premiere of Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin, and bought some Schweddy Balls in his honor. It didn’t disappoint! (The ice cream or the show!).

balls ice creamballs ice cream4

(If you don’t get that reference, I’m sorry, but we can’t be friends).

When it comes to relaxing, I’m normally such a guiltaholic (Tristan says it’s my Catholic school childhood!); but on Saturday I was able to take a step back, and not give myself a hard time for relaxing. I know I deserve it (always!), but sometimes it is honestly hard to let go.

Sunday morning I had a mini lie-in, and then a breakfast of coffee, local eggs and homemade pumpkin muffins.

Then it was back to the business of my weekend to-do list… multiple loads of laundry, and of course, keeping busy in the kitchen.

I turned these… applesauce1

into applesauce. (will post the recipe tomorrow)

And I  lightened up my favorite hummus recipe, by using some vegetable broth (not exactly authentic – but rest-assured there was evoo and tahini in there – just less of it – as I tend to eat hummus by the boatload).

Sunday night I made my Minestrone soup (recipe to come), and indulged in a giant bowl of healthy comfort food. Seriously, it is so GOOD. I’ve been eating it nonstop ever since.

I also enjoyed my first Schlafly Pumpkin Ale this weekend, as well (which came to me all the way from Illinois! More on that later).

 schlafly1

 

Do you find it easy to ‘let go’ and relax on the weekends….? Or are you a control-freak, like me? 🙂

~

WIAW–Nothing Fancy

Despite the fact that I did my “big” shopping last weekend (meaning $100+ at both EarthFare AND Trader Joe’s each; along with a basic HT run for $45), it hasn’t been showing in my food this week. Wha? Who knows. Call it busyness, laziness, and the desire to eat “comfort food”. Also, I seem to have forgotten how to buy vegetables at the grocery store, as opposed to the Farmers Market. The FM is a leeetle slow these days, being in that limbo space between summer and fall. I believe in buying seasonally (within reason), and am a bit stuck right now. So, don’t be appalled at the dire lack of green veggies here…

I. Am. Aware. Smile

This WIAW features a distinct lack of green veggies, and a low-key birthday celebration… enjoy!

 The past two mornings I’ve eaten this…

yogurt smoosh

In the mix:

Total 2% Plain Greek Yogurt

TBSP HoneyCrunch Peanut Butter (homemade)

TBSP Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (gift from Gram)

2 Mini Banana Oat Bran Muffins (homemade – recipe coming this afternoon!)

Sprinkle of chia seeds

As much as I love my yogurt smooshes, this is an unusual combo for me. I’m usually all about the fresh fruit and crunchy granola on top of my yogurt… but this is a nice compromise, before moving into my staple hot oats of autumn.

I’m still on the iced coffee, but foresee switching back to my beloved lattes and French press soon. Well… as soon as it ceases being 80-something degrees here every. damn. day!

coffee yogurt

Lunch has also been on repeat this week…

beans goat ricecakessweet pots

In the mix:

2 Lundberg Brown Rice Cakes

1/2 c. Refried beans

1 oz goat cheese

Cholula, salt, pepper

And…

leftover homemade sweet potato “fries”, with a big dollop of organic ketchup on top, served cold. (Yes, I like my leftover sweet potato fries cold. Always).

Where is the green!?!!?!?

Afternoon snack of a LOCAL apple (hooray for apple season!)

apple

Yesterday happened to be my Mom’s birthday. As my Dad was out-of-town on business, and Tristan was hanging with the guys, I took her out for a “nothing fancy” girls birthday dinner out.

dish

Our first stop was Dish  for a local OMB beer and veggie plates for both of us.

(I don’t have any pics from here, as it was exceptionally dark at our table).

I had the Three Vegetable Plate with…

Smoky Lima Beans, Mashed Red-skinned Potatoes, Collards (GREEN!!!), a deliciously fluffy biscuit and half a deviled-egg.

For dessert and coffee, we trekked over to Amelie’s

car brownie

Salted Caramel Brownie, anyone?

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Bella was there to greet us, when I dropped my Mom back off at her house. Cute puppy pics, just because!

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I didn’t get home until after 11pm, which is insanely late for me on a weeknight. (Oooh, wild-child!). Needless to say, I’m knackered today. ZzZzZzZzZzZz.

~

Babies Are Delicious

Er, Fudge Babies, that is. Don’t want you to get the wrong idea here.

Lucy over at Porridge & Parsnips  (btw – don’t you just love her blog name?), made a bunch of CCK’s Fudge Babies the other day. After reading Lucy’s post, I knew what I would be doing last Friday evening.

I bunked off from cooking dinner and sent Tristan to Mellow Mushroom (pizza for him, veggie sandwich and Greek salad for me), and then got to work deciding which variety of “baby” make. (I don’t read CCK’s blog, and was unaware of this phenomenon). I have however, made date balls before (which is basically what these are), but I called them Powerballs. Oh yeah. Anyway, I settled on the Samoa and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough flavors. The Samoas sounded the best to me, but I felt that I should make a non-coconut version for T to enjoy, as well. (Despite the fact that coconut is not his favorite food, he enjoyed the Samoas the best! Go figure).

I made a few changes with the Samoa Babies… namely that I added a handful of cashews to the mix (they were originally nut-free), and also I rolled them in shredded unsweetened coconut when they were finished. This was definitely not a mistake. And it made them so festive looking, to boot! Other than those little changes, I think I followed the recipes to the letter.

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This was a quick and easy way to get delicious treats in about 30 minutes. A messy hand, notwithstanding! ; )

~

Nacho Average Dinner

After seeing Kath’s Not Nachos post the other day, I found myself with a serious nacho craving last night. As luck would have it, we had tacos for dinner a few nights ago, so there were leftovers to incorporate; which made pulling my nacho dinner together a snap! Hooray for convenience, and not wasting leftovers!

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In the mix:

      • Trader Joe’s Baked Blue Corn Chips
      • Extra sharp white cheddar cheese
      • Seasoned black beans (leftover)
      • Ground (local) chicken (leftover)
      • Shredded romaine
      • Chopped mixed veggies (green onion, red onion, carrot and celery)
      • Cherry tomatoes (garden-grown)
      • Trader Joe’s Pineapple Salsa
      • Plain Greek yogurt

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This tasted fresh and summery, which was just what I wanted.

~