Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Waste Not, Want Not

I have a confession to make.  I am a food waster.  It kills me.  It gives me guilt.  It makes me hate myself.  But I do it a LOT!  I have really tried to be more conscious about my food planning so that I DON'T waste, but sometimes I just mess up and have to throw away food that I've let go bad.

I have done a few things to stop this terrible habit.  One thing, is I bought a juicer.  So any veggie or fruit that is about to spoil goes right into my juicer and I drink up the tasty, near rotten beverage (I kid...If it's really rotten, I toss it).  The other thing I've started to do is just cook everything in my fridge and put it all on a plate.  Like this little concoction that actually turned out to be a really good deconstructed Cobb Salad.

Here's What I Did:
Boil some eggs (Put eggs in a pot, cover with water and turn on high.  Once water begins to rapidly boil, turn off the burner and let eggs sit in the water for 15 minutes.  Peel and cut).  I cooked bacon (Heat oven to 400 degrees and cook bacon in the oven until crisp).  I sauteed mushrooms (melt coconut oil over high heat.  Add sliced mushrooms and cook until browned, about 8 minutes.  Salt & Pepper).  Then slice up any veggies you have (tomatoes, cucumber, etc.)  Add some greens dressed in a little olive oil and some vinegar (I used balsamic).

And there you have it.  A delicious lunch or dinner, hell, even breakfast.  And nothing went bad in your fridge.  And now you're happy because you're not wasteful.  Waste not, want not.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Poke Doke

Raw tuna is probably one of my top 5 favorite foods.  It's just so freaking delicious.  Take me to a sushi restaurant and try to make me order a sushi roll.  I don't need all that filler crap.  Just serve me up a filet of raw tuna and set me free!  (Here's another tuna recipe I made awhile back)

I first discovered tuna poke (prounced Po-Kay) on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. This dish is so easy to make and so rewarding.

Here's What You Do:
Go to a GOOD grocery store that you trust (Whole Foods or Fresh Market), or if you're lucky to live by the water, go to your local seafood shop and purchase a hunk of sushi grade tuna.

(And here's where sometimes it sucks to write a food blog.  You see, I try to provide you all with the information I like to know about food.  So in writing this particular blog, I looked up what parameters fish must fall under to make them "sushi grade" because I was curious myself.  And what I discovered was this.  There are none.  Nope...it's a marketing scam.  No one regulates it.  So go with my first recommendation of buying fish from somewhere you trust, like Whole Foods or Fresh Market.  Just look for a deep red color and make sure it smells like the ocean, but isn't fishy) 

Next, cut up your tuna into small squares.  Slice some green onion and cube some avocado.  I know you're not going to like the following, because there are no measurements, you just do it to your liking.  Just remember not to go overboard with any one ingredient.  What I did next was just sprinkled a little soy sauce, a little sesame oil, a little lime juice, some toasted sesame seeds, the green onion and the avocado over the raw tuna and lightly tossed it.  Now just give it a little taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary.  I like mine to be a little more on the sesame oil side, so I usually add in a little more.  If you want to spice it up you can add in some jalapeno or some sambal oelek.  You can also add some chopped cilantro for an extra layer of flavor.

Then, serve it on lettuce cups, or if you're like me, just break out some chop sticks and eat it right out of the bowl.  Yet another thing you can create at home that will be MUCH cheaper and more delicious.  I actually paid $12 for two healthy sized tuna filets.  So I made this Poke one day and I made some spicy tuna burgers the next day. 

Do it.  Fish-o.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Tuna Nooner

This, my friends, is probably my favorite comfort food of all times.  Tuna Noodle Casserole.  You either love it, or you hate it.  But for me, it's poor man's food at its finest.  It's noodly, creamy, cheesy, mushroomy.  My mom used to make it at least once a week when we were kids, and we looked forward to it.  We'd beg for her to make tuna nooner.  That's what we called it.  My sister secretly awaits for her hubby to go out of town so she can make this dish because he hates it.  When I'm having a bad day, it's the only thing that can pull me out of my funk.  It's good the old fashioned way.  But these days, with my refined taste buds (haha...that's a joke...there's nothing refined about me), I like to take it to another level.  Rather than open a can of cream of mushroom soup, I make my own cream of mushroom.  And I top it with breadcrumbs so that it has some crunch.  Because I love crunch.

Here's What You Need:
Package of egg noodles
2 cans of tuna, drained (I like tonno, packed in oil)
1 8 oz. package of button mushrooms
1/4 cup of flour
4 tablespoons of butter
2 cups of milk
Cheddar Cheese (as much or as little as you like, I like a lot)
Salt & Pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil  (and a little extra to drizzle over breadcrumbs)

Here's What You Do:
Preheat oven to 350.  Cook your noodles according to the package.  In a large sauce pan saute mushrooms in olive oil until browned.  Add the butter and flour to the mushrooms and coat everything evenly.  Cook flour for about 2 minutes.  Add in the milk and whisk like hell so you don't get any chunks.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add tuna, noodles and cheese and stir until everything is combined.  Place mixture into a greased baking dish and sprinkle breadcrumbs over the top.  Drizzle olive oil over breadcrumbs and bake for about 25 minutes until everything is brown and bubbly.

Then put on a pair of your comfiest PJ's (unless you're already in them).  Get yourself a big ol' scoop of Tuna Noodle casserole, and chow down while watching the smuttiest, mindless, crap you can find on tv (shouldn't be too hard).  If you need another helping, take one.  And I promise all your worries will tuna-melt away.  


Monday, March 03, 2014

Thighsman Trophy

I think I'm in love with chicken thighs.  And I am a total freak when it comes to chicken.  Before I make anything with chicken, I do minor surgery on my piece of meat.  I cut off weird tendons, skin, veins.  I throw away the majority of the piece of chicken before I cook it because it grosses me out.  I know, it's gross.  Chicken scares me.  But I'm not afraid of slow-cooking chicken thighs.  And I'll tell you why.  When you slow-cook chicken thighs, all of the things that freak me out about chicken disappear.  And they become tender pieces of delicious, flavorful meat that melt in your mouth.

And since I bought the bulk package of chicken thighs from Costco, I needed another recipe to slow-cook them, other than Coq au Vin.  So I tried this one.  If you are unfamiliar with the Pioneer Woman, I will say this about her.  I'm not the biggest fan of her show, just because it's a LITTLE cheesy for me.  But I love the way she writes and I LOVE her recipes.  Haven't met a bad one yet.  This one in particular was so good.  I love olives.  I love Spanish style food.  I put it over some couscous, another new obsession of mine, I had a delicious and healthy little dinner.

Rather than use a whole chicken, I used chicken thighs.  I didn't have a green pepper, so I used my organic red and yellow peppers from my Bountiful Basket.  I didn't have wine, so any reference to wine was substituted with chicken stock.  Instead of your regular run-of-the-mill olives, I used California green olives.  I'm obsessed with these too.  They have such a unique flavor.  Really meaty and buttery and not as olive-y as the ones with pimentos, although, I'm sure it would be delicious with those too.  I've never met an olive I didn't like.

Really great dish.  Lots of flavors.  Definite comfort food.  

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Coke O Van

(Believe me, this is an amazing dish...as in dinner party, impress your friends, dish)

Coq Au Vin.  Translation?  Cockerel (Chicken) in wine.  Pronunciation?  Coke o van.  There's your French lesson for the day.

My step-mother, Sue, is an amazing cook.  We are actually a lot alike in the kitchen.  We both like simple foods with great ingredients.  We both find cooking to be therapeutic.  We both keep clean kitchens.  We both love food.  We both like a glass of wine in our hand while we cook.  And I can't speak for her on this, but I would bet that her favorite room in the house is her kitchen.  I make a few of her recipes on a regular basis.  Many of them are my "go-to's" 

There's one dish that my dad ALWAYS raves about that she makes and it is Coq au vin.  I have never tried her coq au vin, but knowing her cooking, it is delicious.  And knowing my dad, he wouldn't talk on and on about something if it wasn't outstanding.  So luckily when he was here, we went to, yep you guessed it...COSTCO and he bought us some chicken thighs.  And so wanting to actually experience this coq au vin I have heard so much about, I decided to make it for dinner.  So I asked her to send me the recipe and she told me that it's actually an Emeril recipe.  And I love Emeril.  I have eaten at 3 of his restaurants, so if his name is attached to a recipe, I'll try it.  And if Sue swears by this recipe and uses it as one of HER "go-to's", I trust that it is wonderful.

Here's The Recipe:

Here's What I Changed:  
First of all, I halved the recipe.  Instead of 2 whole chickens, I used 5 chicken thighs, skinless.  I left out the shallot, just because I didn't have one.  Which is strange, cause I usually have a shallot sitting around.  Seriously.  I used crimini mushrooms instead of white button mushrooms, cause that's what I had. I used a Cotes-du-Rhone, cause it's one of my most favorite wines.  And then instead of serving it on egg noodles, I served it over mashed potatoes, cause I had a potato I needed to mash.   

It was beyond delicious.  The sauce is so rich.  Not heavy and gravy rich.  Rich in flavor.  This is a must try.  And a definite crowd pleaser.  So thank you, Sue.  Feel free to share more of your "go-to" meals!  I have yet to find one I didn't like!       


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Bountiful Baskets - Good for Memphis

So...A dear friend of mine turned me on to something GOOD!  Something REAL GOOD.  And I'm here to tell you about it.  It's called Bountiful Baskets.  It's a food Co-op that offers produce baskets, organic produce baskets, artisan bread, sandwich bread and tortillas every other week.  The goal is to offer more produce to families for less money.  And who doesn't like that idea?  It's a great idea.  Look them up.  Sign up.  And fill up.  This is what came in my first organic basket.  Look at those carrots!  And that kale!  And those heirloom tomatoes!

I was so excited when I got my basket home.  When I picked it up, I didn't really take the time to look at what I got, I just threw it in my bag and went home.  But I was pleasantly surprised when I unpacked it and found delicious heirloom tomatoes, kale, butternut squash, peppers, strawberries, apples, bananas, Brussels sprouts and a rutabaga.  Yep.  That rooty looking white veggie on the right is a rutabaga.  At least that's what I think it is.  And so that's how I treated it.

Here's What I Did:  

I peeled the so-called rutabaga.  It wasn't easy mind you.  That thing was a beast.  I then peeled a sweet potato that I had sitting around and I cut them both into 1 inch cubes and I roasted them with some olive oil and salt and pepper for about 20 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Meanwhile, I sauteed 2 pieces of bacon, cut up and set it aside when it was crispy.  Then I added some onion, garlic, jalapeno and mushrooms to the bacon grease.  Shut up.  Bacon grease is good for you.  At least it is if you tell yourself that it is.  I then added in my rutabaga and sweet potato pieces and sauteed them until everything was all nice and browned and crunchy.

Then I topped it with an over easy egg.  Yes, I'm obsessed with the over easy egg.  It's just so damn good.  And I need the practice on making them.  So give me a break.  Then I added in some green onion.  It was really good.  And thanks to bountiful baskets, I've crossed rutabaga off my MUST COOK list.

So thanks Bountiful Baskets!  Thanks for bringing such an amazing thing to Memphis.  Lord knows we need to introduce fresh fruits and vegetables at a lower cost to families in these parts!  Thanks for all you do.  Can't wait for my next basket of surprises!     

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Snow Day Short Ribs

I know it's not the prettiest picture...but this is meat people.  Channel your inner caveman

Well hello there!  I hope everyone is having an excellent day.  Shoveling themselves out of snow storms, trying out the newest in rain gear.  It's been one hell of a cold year.  We haven't gotten much snow in Memphis.  But it's been cold.  And when it's cold I want comfort.  And comfort to me is slow-cooked meat.

My dad came to visit a few weeks ago.  Anyone who knows my dad knows that the man is an avid shopper at Costco.  I mean, he's their most loyal customer.  As in, he will be in an unnamed grocery store's cheese aisle and decide that he's going to drive 20 miles out of the way to go to Costco for THEIR cheese.  Never mind convenience.  Costco's cheese is more economical, and just tastes better.  Costco really should consider him as their spokesperson.  He is their biggest fan!

On one of our Costco trips, we decided to purchase the boneless short ribs.  After looking at a ton of different recipes online, I realized that I could combine a few different recipes and have the perfect storm.  Ok, fine.  The perfect short rib FOR the perfect storm. So for those of you who are experiencing the crazy weather we've been having...stay warm, drive safely if you have to, or just stay home!  And make short ribs. 

Here's What You Need:  

Whole Shortribs  (we used boneless, but you could use bone in, I just find bone in to be ridiculously overpriced)
Salt And Pepper, to taste
1/2 cup flour for dredging
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil 
12 cipollini onions, peeled and cut in half
1 package of baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and cut in half 
4 cloves of garlic, minced 
1 cup Red Wine (I used a Chianti) 
32 ounces, Beef Stock
5 sprigs of thyme
2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Rosemary 
2 Tablespoons Grainy Mustard 
1 cup Heavy Cream


Here's What You Do: 


Preheat oven to 300

Heat olive oil in a heavy pot over high heat. Generously salt and pepper your short ribs. Coat each short rib in flour.  Sear all sides of the short ribs until nicely browned.  Remove the short ribs to a plate.

Add onion to pan and cook for about 3-5 minutes, just until they have a bit of brown on the outside.  Add in mushrooms and garlic and cook another 5 minutes.  Add in wine and beef broth and scrape up all the brown bits left behind in the pot. Add thyme and return short ribs to the pot.  Bring liquid back to a boil, then cover the pot and place into the oven for 2 1/2-3 hours.  I checked my short ribs at 2 1/2 hours and decided that they were tender, but another 30 minutes and they'd be perfect.  So I went the full 3 hours.
After they are finished, fish out the thyme sprigs and throw them away.  Stir in mustard, rosemary and cream and raise the heat back up a bit until the sauce has thickened.  It's not going to be a gravy, so if it's too thin for you, you can make a cornstarch/water mixture and add that to thicken it up more.

Serve short ribs over polenta.  I used quick cooking polenta and added in shredded Beemster cheese for an added treat (think really nutty parmesan cheese with an aged cheddar flavor - at least that's how I would describe it).  Another cheese my dad will travel far for.  Though, he lives in Pittsburgh, and he gets his cheese at the Pennsylvania Macaroni Company.  Which is about 20 miles from his house.  Maybe the man just loves his cheese.  Have cheese, will travel.  Love him.  Did I mention that he showed up on our doorstep with 5, YES, 5 blocks of amazing cheese (Stilton, Beemster, Asiago, Morbier and Piave - look em up if you've never had them)!   

Anyways, dad loved the ribs. And the best part?  The next day, you can make short rib tacos!  Here's to staying warm!