sometimes onions fly

I figured that it was about time for me to come clean with you guys.

I am not a clean cook.  In fact, I am a downright messy cook.

I can dice an onion with enthusiastic speed. 

I can eyeball out an accurate tablespoon of olive oil. 

I can handle three or four pots at once.

Hm.  I could probably even chop an eggplant with my hands tied behind my back.  Maybe. 

But please don’t ever ask me to keep my kitchen clean.  It just isn’t going to happen.

In my kitchen, carrot peels cling to the wall before plummeting to the earth. 

Pepper seeds sprinkle themselves across the butcher block. 

And sometimes, onions fly.

Now, before you start envisioning a dreadfully messy kitchen, I should point out that it’s not like my kitchen is always messy.  After dinner, it becomes rather spotless.  You’d barely believe that there was ever a moment of chaos, just 15 minutes previous.

Even still, I did seriously consider making “maintain a clean kitchen environment while cooking” as my New Years Resolution.  I envisioned myself twirling around a completely spotless kitchen, making both mom and martha proud.  

Not a speck of tomato sauce on anything (or anyone, for that matter.) 

But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this wasn’t such a good idea.

I kind of like being a messy cook.  It’s my time to just let loose.  To peel a carrot with reckless abandon.  To chop an onion like its my duty.  To let the pans sizzle and fry.

Really, now, you’ve got to admit.  Sometimes it feels good to get a little messy.  Sometimes it feels good to just let things fly.

Ratatouille—recipe taken from Everyday Food by Martha Stewart

I’ve always thought of “Ratatouille” as being a difficult (and maybe a little prestigious) recipe.  And yet, after finally overcoming my fears and just making it already, I can honestly say that there is nothing to be afraid of. 

Ratatouille is, very simply, a vegetable stew that is most commonly made with a mixture of tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion and seasonings.  It comes together relatively quickly and aside from some vegetable dicing, most of the work is hands off. 

This recipe is delicious when served as is, with a hunk of crusty bread.  Or served over brown rice.  Or whole wheat pasta.  It would even make a lovely filling to your soft wrap at lunch, when topped with a sprinkle of goat cheese.  This recipe makes a lot, so you will have plenty of chances and opportunities.

  • 1 can (28 oz) whole peeled tomatoes
  • 4 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb. eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • coarse salt and pepper
  • 2 large yellow onions, diced large
  • 1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
  • 2 bell peppers, seeded and diced large
  • 2 large zucchini (1 lb total), diced large
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 T. fresh oregano
  • 2-3 T. red wine vinegar
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Place tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet and use your hands to break tomatoes into 3/4 inch pieces.  Drizzle with 2 T. olive oil and bake until thickened, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1/2 tsp salt.  Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out any excess liquid with a paper towel.  In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat 2 T. olive oil over medium.  Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft, 5 minutes.  Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf, and oregano to pot.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer.  Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, 15 minutes.  Season to taste with vinegar, salt and pepper.
  4. ENJOY! 😀

Question: Are you the cleanest of cooks or do you typically make a mess? 

Grapes ‘n’ Oats

Here it is!! :mrgreen:

Grapes ‘n’ Oats

  • 1/4 c. each oatmeal and oatbran
  • 1 c. milk + 3/4 c. water
  • 1/2 [very] ripe banana
  • 1/4 c. wheat bran (stirred in towards end)
  • 15 grapes (chopped in half, saving a few for the top…stirred in towards end)

I loved it!

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I took your words of encouragement and just went with it (although I wish I would have read about the brilliant idea of adding ginger to the mix…there’s always next time!)  I stirred the grapes into the oats towards the end of cooking, which was just enough to get them hot and juicy, without letting them overcook.  I loved the tartness next to the sweet banana.  Mmm…

I finished up so much homework last night, that I was able to take advantage of a very full and complete workout this morning.  Starting with 30 minutes of arms and abs, I then transitioned over to the gym for some cardio.  I’m discovering early on, that my secret for staying motivated at the gym is by mixing things up!  While the occasional 30 minutes of elliptical won’t kill me, I crave variety. 

Today I did 1.5 miles on the ellliptical, then went directly to 10 minutes on the stairmaster (I was sweating bullets on this thing!) and finished with 20 minutes of walking on the treadmill at a 7% incline.  It was not running, by any means, but it did keep me interested and I got a good, sweaty workout that left me feeling refreshed. 

I also just found out that there are two open swimming lanes available almost all of the time.  I am not a swimmer (at all!!) but I would love to get some cardio in that form too.  Working out in the water is such a low impact way of staying fit. 😀

When I came home, I was starving and broke into a juicy orange and some pistachios.

All I wanted for lunch was a big ol’ salad, so that’s what I went with.

  • mesculin greens
  • 1 carrot
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • black olives, sliced
  • green olives
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 c. cottage cheese
  • dressing: 1 tsp each olive oil and balsamic vinegar

I finished off the last of the Annies’ whole wheat bunnies too. 

+ dessert

This afternoon I made a favorite yogurt snack of plain yogurt, 2 T. crushed flax, 1/2 a whole wheat pumpkin muffin and about a tsp of peanut butter.  I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.  This snack does *not* get old. 😀

 

I order Everday Food by Martha Stewart, and there’s a big pile of them in the magazine rack.  Most of them have gone completely untouched!  Which is a shame, because there are a ton of creative (and tweakable) recipes in there. 

Tonight on the menu?

“Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower”–modified just a bit, by cutting back on the oil and skipping the step of adding vinegar to the veggies (sweet potatoes do not need vinegar, in my opinion 😉 )

  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into medium bites
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T. red-wine vinegar
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
  • 1 c. low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1/2 T. cold, unsalted butter

1.  Preheat oven to 450.  On a baking sheet, toss sweet potato and cauliflower with 1 T. oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast until browned, 25-30 minutes, flipping once.

2.  Heat 1/2 T. oil over medium low.  Season chicken with salt and pepper.  Cook until golden and cooked thorough, 30-35 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Transfer chicken to plate and cover with foil.

3.  To the skillet, add broth, thyme, and 1 T. vinegar.  Cook over medium high, scraping the browned bits, 3-5 minutes.  Return chicken to skillet and stir in butter.  Flip chicken to cover with pan sauce.  Serve chicken with veggies and pan sauce.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everyone–everyone!–loved this meal.  It was so simple to put together too, and tasted absolutely delicious.  The extra bit of butter in the pan sauce gives such a rich flavor that will make you swear this is gourmet. 

Next time, I think I’ll double the recipe so that there are leftover veggies and chicken for sandwiches and freezing.

+ dessert…chocolate with bits of coconut throughout.  Yum!  I only have one chocolate left from my Valentines stash!  It’s going to have to be savored. 😉

I have a busy morning planned tomorrow.  But it’s a fun busy, so I’m excited. 😀  It will involve shopping, starbucks coffee, snowman making, and Tae Bo with the sis (a little nervous about that, I have to admit…haha.)

Have a very happy weekend!!!  

Question: (I hope you’re not sick of snow questions yet!)  What’s your favorite snow activity?  I don’t know why building snowmen has to stop after a certain age.  I mean…really!  (a) It’s a workout for the arms and (b) it’s just plain fun! :mrgreen:  Aside from that, I love just taking a walk out in the woods during a snowstorm.  It’s absolutely gorgeous out there!