a chilling discussion

My sister and I have a lot of fun with food.  Cooking.  Eating.  Discussing the pros and cons of fresh vs. dried basil.  Things of that nature. 

So on one random winters night, when we found ourselves right in the middle of some deep, serious conversation on what we should make for our girls night snack, we decided to buy frozen brussels sprouts.  The urge came after spending—oh, I don’t know—a good ten minutes in the frozen isle at the local grocery store.  “What are you in the mood for?  Chocolate?  Ice cream?  Something salty?”

I honestly can’t remember who first entertained the idea, but somehow we ended up leaving the store with two growling stomachs and a big bag of frozen brussels sprouts.  Life, you know, doesn’t always make sense.

It makes me cry to this day to think about all the things that went wrong that night.  First, the obvious.  Who buys frozen brussel sprouts?   Better yet, who buys frozen brussels sprouts for a girls night snack?

But the real crying shame was what we did to those poor, innocent sprouts.  We boiled them.  They never stood a chance.

Thankfully, the $1.25 bag of frozen brussels sprout was redeemed tonight.  Apparently, roasting isn’t just for fresh things.  Which makes it very nice for keeping a few extra veggies on hand, while still keeping the grocery bills in a normal range. 

I served the brussels sprouts with one of my current favorite sweet potato recipes. 

Unfortunetly, I didn’t change a thing  from this Moosewood Restaurant’s Cooking for Health recipe, which means I can’t share all the details.

But stay tuned.  This recipe opens up a world of delicious possibilities

Roasted Frozen Brussels Sprouts

I think it’s a shame that I don’t eat more frozen veggies than I do.  Especially the unsalted ones that have remained untouched by creamy sauces or fake yellow cheese products.  Frozen products can be even healthier than their fresh cousins in the produce isle!

They’re cheap.  They’re affordable.  And when they’re cooked just right, they can taste quite delicious.  The crispy texture of brussels sprouts is saved in this easy-do recipe.  At less than half the recipe, you can enjoy brussels sprouts any time.  Enjoy!

  • 1 bag of frozen brussels sprouts
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Dethaw sprouts in fridge overnight.
  2. Heat oven to 425.  Spray cooking sheet with cooking spray.  Cut sprouts in half and place cut side down on cooking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Bake for 20-25 minutes, flipping once halfway through.  ENJOY! 😀

Question: Do you eat mostly fresh vegetables and fruit or do you gravitate towards the frozen varieties?

something from nothing

My dad is normally the one who takes on the duty of “cleaning” out the leftover turkey or chicken.  He patiently plucks out each and every last piece of juiy meat from the bones.  Leaving nothing to waste—absolutely nothing.  Supposedly he picked this trait up from his mom (my Memere.)  She had the knack for making something from nothing.  For example, after a lobster dinner (lobster was cheap back then, you know) she would take any “throw away” lobster shells, clean them out further, and produce a mouthwatering lobster stew for the following day.  And so, from one generation to the next, this trait has been passed down. 

This past Thanksgiving, I felt quite honored to take on this highly important task of cleaning out the turkey.  And aside from asking the obvious question—why is there a whisk on my head?there was also the question of what to do with the leftover bones and those bits of meat that refused to come off the bone. 

The answer?  A homemade turkey stock, of course.

The bones—and those last peices of stubborn meat—hold a whole lot of flavor.  Together they make a broth that will wow your tastebuds, making you wonder why you ever bought chicken stock from the store in the first place.  Oh…right…probably because there isn’t always a bunch of chicken bones just sitting in the freezer at any given moment.  But this just gives you good reason to make a homemade stock whenever you can, so that you’ll always have it on hand for that opportune time. 😀 

The nice thing about making a broth from scratch is that you have complete control over what goes in and what stays out.  Personally, I like to keep things simple with the basics.  Garlic.  Carrots.  Celery.  Onions.  A few seasonings.  When all is said and done, after the broth has been drained and just the juices remain, you have the liberty of creating whatever soup suits your fancy. 

Since there was a big bag of leftover turkey meat, turkey stew seemed like the obvious choice.

With a whole wheat rosemary scone (click for recipe) on the side. 

These are quick and easy to make, and are wonderful served warm with soup or toasted and spread with butter and jam.

So there you have it.  The last of the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers.  With a closing reminder to always hold on to those scraps of meat which might normally face the trash.  You just never know how they might get put to use. 😉

Turkey Soup

This is a two step process, but you can definitely make the stock ahead of time and freeze for later.  It’s really nice to have homemade stock on hand, whether you decide to use it in a turkey stew or as a flavored broth to cook your rice, quinoa, or homemade stuffings. 

Some people will freeze their stock as icecubes so that it can be used in smaller amounts.  I tend to freeze it in bags of 2-4 cup servings depending on what recipe I plan on using. 😀

Stock:

  • leftover turkey or chicken bones with some meat still attached
  • onions, sliced
  • celery, cut into large slices
  • carrots, cut into large slices
  • a few clove of garlic, crushed or minced
  • oregano
  • thyme
  • pepper or a small handful of fresh peppercorns
  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot.  Pour enough water to cover at least 3/4 of ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and continue cooking for 1-2 hours.
  2. Take off the heat, allow to cool, and either use immediately or refrigerate/freeze for later use.

Soup:

  • turkey or chicken stock
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • cooked turkey meat
  • oregano, thyme, garlic, and other seasonings
  1. Place stock, carrots, potatoes and preferred seasonings in a large pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook until vegetables are tender but firm. 
  2. Add turkey meat and continue cooking until heated thorough.
  3. ENJOY! 😀

Question: Are you meticulous about putting anything and everything to use?  What are some of your favorite ways to use up the last of the last of the leftovers?

in the groove

I never set the alarm last night, as I was hoping to either (a) wake up naturally or (b) sleep in, thereby skipping my anticipated morning workout.  I had a doctors appointment at 8, so either way would have worked out just fine and dandy. 

I wasn’t expecting to wake up at 6 though.  But I did.  And I took advantage of this fact by pulling myself out of bed and staying true to my workout plans. 

Starting with a whole wheat bagel.  And topped with PB&Company Bees Knees peanut butter and almond butter.

And dipped and dunked into a mashed, warmed banana with cinnamon for a sweet bite.

I can’t think of anything that works better in my body for prerun fuel than a bagel with nut butter and a banana.  I cranked out 4 miles without the slightest hint of a cramp or side stitch.  And my legs felt fresh and rested from not running yesterday. 

Felt.  So.  Delicious!

Post-run snack: 6-oz plain yogurt with crushed flax and granola

The leftovers were pulled out of the fridge for a delightful, deckside lunch. 

Minestrone soup. 

Whole wheat bread, toasted, with a pat of butter.

A side salad, drizzled with olive oil.

Deliciousness!

Afternoon Snack: kashi crackers and almond butter

Sometimes I want to spend hours in the kitchen.  Simmering, sauteeing, blending, and whipping.

Other times (ahem…today), I simply want something…well…simple.

I literally spent all morning, afternoon and evening doing homework.  It was fun and interesting, but by 5:30, I was so ready to step away and get my mind back to normal.  Most of the homework right now has to do with carbohydrate exchange counting, for patients with diabetes.  I realized that I had been focusing on this for too long, when I started to count the carbohydrates of my own meal in my head.  Time for a break? 😉

Dinner came together in a breeze, thanks to leftover pasta salad, a lonely veggie burger, and some raw veggies (most of which are fresh from the garden!)  Simple.  Delicious.  Exactly what I wanted. 😀

Upcoming Weekend Plans:

  • Homework! Homework! Homework!
  • Yoga on Saturday, Run on Sunday
  • Finish a presentation that’s due for Monday
  • Cookout at Nicole’s house
  • Local craft fair!

 Let’s do the FRIDAY DANCE! :mrgreen:

Question: You have one word to describe your personality.  What is it? 

lucky leftovers

(appropriate title for Friday the 13th?)

I opted to delay breakfast for an hour this morning, after deciding that a full meal at 5:30 would leave me starving by 8.  I don’t mind throwing in a snack here and there to tide me over, but I don’t want to be scarfing down lunch by 10. 😉

I snagged a date, guzzled some water, and carried on with every other morning ritual.  By the time I was finished, there was a good 30 minutes left for me to enjoy breakfast.  This worked out so perfect.  I’d much rather be eating breakfast at 6:30 vs. 5:30. 😉

Another beet green smoothie in a bowl!!  This time I added in 1/2 a frozen banana and topped it off with a sprinkle of Natures Path Pumpkin Flax Granola.  Delish. 😀

On the side, a whole wheat english muffin smeared with Teddy pb.

Natural lighting is so much nicer, but unfortunately, it was still pitch dark out this morning due to the cloudy overcast, so breakfast was eaten indoors. 😉

A packed morning snack: peach and almonds

Thank you all so much for all the great tips and advice for helping me become more green when it comes to packing my lunches!  I think I need to plan a shopping trip to Target soon, and stock up on some tupperware containers, in a variety of sizes.

Today, I didn’t use one plastic bag for packing lunch, and I was pretty proud of that fact.  I’m well on my way to becoming an earth friendly lunch-packer. :mrgreen:

Salads are my favorite go-to lunch choice.  They always taste so fresh, crunchy, delicious.  Very refreshing.  Today’s combo included all the basics (tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms) plus some garbanzo beans, a drizzle of EVOO and a sprinkle of sea salt.  On the side I had some kashis, which fit perfectly in my little canning jar. 😀

Dessert!!

Notice anything missing?

Yes, that would be a fork.  I completely forgot to pack along a fork for my salad, which resulted in my running to a local cafe to ask (or…beg) if they would please let me have a fork.  I think the girl felt sorry for me, and she was kind enough to send me away with two. 😉

Last day of orientation today!!

These three days have absolutely flown by.  The preclinical training begins on Monday, and I have a massive amount of organizing and homework to do over the weekend.  I’m actually really excited for it all.  It feels good to be back into a routine, and I love filling in a new planner and organizer. 

On the way home, I decided to make a pit stop at Starbucks for a grande iced soy misto.  For money purposes, I can’t let this starbucks thing become a habit, by the way.  But it was definitely a fabulous treat for the 2 hr. drive home. 😀

Leftover pizza should never be microwaved.  Ever. 

If you think that’s a bold statement or happen to feel offended, don’t be.  I’ve been known to throw leftover pizza into the microwave too.  Or eat it cold, which is a pleasure in and of itself.  But, really, if you want to experience leftover pizza as if it was just freshly made that night, you need to heat it on a pan.

Like so:

I simply place the slices on a nonstick pan at medium heat, cover it, and let it heat up for a good 5-10 minutes. 

Crispy.  The crust is so, so, so crispy.  And the cheese melts right into the dough.  It’s perfect.  And that is why it’s the only way that leftover pizza should ever be reheated. 

I added some spinach to my pizza for some extra flavor and veggies.  Simply dethaw the spinach in the microwave, drain the liquid and chop it up a bit with a knife.  Then—voila!  Spinach pizza. 

I followed my dinner with a brisk 2.5 mile walk and 20 minutes of yoga.  After sitting down all day, it felt absolutely delicious to s-t-r-e-t-c-h and walk.  Delicious!

So excited for the upcoming weekend!  Tomorrow I’m going over Nicole’s house for a cookout/bbq with friends, and I offered to make a dessert and bring some hummus & veggies.  Any brilliant dessert recipes?? 😀

Question: What is your favorite way to eat leftover pizza? 

Do I need this?

Do I need this?  No, seriously.  Do I really need this?

Every year, I make a new resolution.  I know some people aren’t into this sort of thing.  It never really happens, they say.  You’re only setting yourself up for failure.  I kind of, sort of, partially agree.  But at the same time, I love the idea of setting new goals.  The idea that something wonderful—life changing, even!—has the potential to be achieved.

And that is why, when 2009 rolled into 2010, I made the pact with myself that I would always ask myself one question before purchasing anything.  Do I need this?

All in all, I try to be careful with where the money goes.  For example, I will never—never, never, never—throw food away unless it’s moldy, smelly, or past the point of safety.  Today I made the discovery that freezing overripe bananas can come in super handy…

 

 Did you know that a frozen banana works just as well as a fresh banana in a morning bowl of oats?

It’s true.

I think I was a little over excited about this idea, as I marveled over the way my oats came out fluffy, sweet, perfect.  It tasted a little like banana bread in a bowl.  Not bad for an almost over ripe banana that might have otherwise been thrown away.

Score one for my New Years Resolution!

 

 Breakfast

  • 1/4 c. each of oatbran and wheat bran
  • 1 very ripe banana, frozen
  • 1 c. milk + 3/4 c. water
  • toppings: Galaxy Granola, chia seeds and peanut butter
  1. Place the water and milk in a saucepan with the frozen banana and bring to a boil.  Add oatbran and place timer for 4-6 minutes.
  2. Halfway through cooking, when oatbran begins to thicken, add wheat bran and stir, stir, stir.  Mash up that banana a little with the back of your spoon.
  3. When cooked to perfection—however you most prefer—pour into bowl and add your favorite toppings!!!

 

I also like to make heaping salads full of leftovers.  You know, things like the last remains of a salsa jar.  The last carrot and mushroom.  A few garbanzos.  A couple Wasa’s, way back in the closet.  Things like that.

It makes me feel economical.  Money-wise.  On track with my New Year’s Resolution.

 

 And then there are those times when I’m walking through Whole Foods or Trader Joes, with a growling stomach and a slowly deminishing resolve to stay on budget.  Each isle asking me that one haunting question:

Do you need this?  No, seriously.  Do you need this?

I firmly stood my ground until walking past the nut butters.  When asked that one question, I said YES! to the almond butter.

And a YES! to the medjool dates.

I honestly don’t know how these two items snuck into the cart, but they seemed necessary at the time.  Like water on a deserted island, you know? 

Okay, so my effort to stay on budget could use a little tweaking.  I didn’t really need the almond butter and I certainly didn’t need the dates (gasp).  But I came to the conclusion that being money-wise is a little like a smart, healthy diet.

Balance.  A little give and take.  Learning to say no to some things, yes to others, and knowing that it’s okay to include your favorite things now and then. 

And some dinners are just so darn cheap that they completely make up for it.  Black bean burgers, for example!

 

 I followed my basic recipe, except I used 3 T. of worcestershire sauce instead of just the one.  It was delicious, and I didn’t need to buy a thing for it from the grocery store.  Cheap, cheap, cheap!

And deliciously nutritious.  Obviously, that is just as important. 😉

On the side, there were sliced veggies from the garden, some sweet potato fries, onions and lots of ketchup.

 

I highly recommend this recipe, whether you’re attempting to find more affordable meals, tasty vegetarian options, quick lunches-to-go for salads/sandwiches, easy dinners for busy nights, or even if you’re just looking to include more beans into your diet.  Whichever the case, this recipe is one of my personal favorites.  😀 

Question: What are some foods that you like to splurge on?   What are some of your favorite, most afforadable meal & snacks?  I love splurging on good nut butters and yogurts.  Other than that, I like to cook vegetarian meals in between meat meals in order to keep costs lower while also including many of the health benefits. 😀

It’s Wednesday

Honestly, I’m kind of embarrassed to let you in on today’s eats.  There is no explanation for my odd choices, the strange combinations and the obvious lack of aesthetics.  But if I was allowed to use one word—just one—to give you an excuse, this would be it: Wednesday.

I don’t know what it’s like at your house, but over here, Wednesday is the day when the refrigerator begins to closely resemble an old ghost town.  If you’re lucky,  you might find a lonely raisin sitting at the bottom of its container in the pantry.  And maybe—maybe—there’s a slice of cheese or two still left in the deli drawer of the refrigerator.  But I won’t even mention the vacant veggie drawer.  Or the freezer for that matter (I think my dad is more then ready for a restock of meat in this house!)

So there you go.  That is my excuse.  It’s Wednesday.

At least I managed to find this sitting way back in the closet:

Who knows how long it’s been there, but desparate times call for desparate measures. 

  • 1/3 c. Hodgson Mill Multi Grain hot cereal
  • 2 T. wheat bran
  • 1 c. milk + 1/2 c. water
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • toppings: banana slices, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 T. Galaxy Granola and a scoop of chunky Teddy Peanut Butter

This reminded me a lot of oat bran and was absolutely delicious.  I don’t know why I haven’t used this up before now!

Morning Snack: the very last grapefruit and the very last of the almonds

I scrambled through the fridge in search of the last remaining vegetables and managed to put together a green salad for lunch.  Even when the fridge is seeing the worse of days, there always seems to be a carrot and a bit of red onion way down at the bottom somewhere.  It’s something I can pretty much count on. So on top of the mixed greens, I sliced a carrot, diced some red onion and threw on a sprinkle of sunflower seeds for good measure.  Along with 1/2 c. garbanzo beans and the last two end slices of a German dark wheat bread, this became a decent lunch.  Not pretty.  But decent. 😉

Pink Lady!

And this final picture?  This is literally the last of everything.  The last fruit (i.e., a mango split with dad.)  The last vegetable (i.e., roasted broccoli.)  The last slice of Trader Joe’s whole wheat sourdough bread with a bit of butter.  The last two eggs with a bit of sliced mushrooms and more red onion.

Now that the fridge is completely emptied and the last raisin has been eaten, I can refill with new grocery items.  Wednesdays may be frightening, but Thursdays (aka, shopping day) offer that bit of light at the end of the tunnel. 😉

post dinner sweetness: slice of homemade whole wheat chocolate chip banana bread (same picture as yesterday but consumed before a new pic could be snapped…oops!)

And there you have it.  A peak into another one of my typical Wednesdays, when my economical, waste-not-want-not trait comes into full swing.  It’s not always pretty (and sometimes it’s scary), but I find a great satisfaction with clearing out the fridge from top to bottom. :mrgreen: 

Question: Do you enjoy using up the very last of any remaining leftovers?  Are there any foods in your house that you refuse to run out of?  I refuse to run out of peanut butter.  This would warrant an emergency run to the grocery store. 😉