Sunday, July 29, 2012

Food Obsession

Well, my food obsession certainly lives on and I feel so much better for it!  Even though this new way of eating hasn't been by choice (I mean, who *choses* to feel sick?), it's been a fun food adventure and cooking rediscovery.  I'm even down 25 pounds which is still a surprising but nice side effect. :)

Grocery shopping has gotten easier and goes more quickly again now that I am not reading every blasted label and know what I can get that is chemical-free.  Our grocery budget has gone up, of course, since I am cooking 5-6 nights a week now instead of 2-3 but we are saving more because we are not eating out as often.  But I am also cooking smarter as well, making meals that are large enough for leftovers for lunch as well as another meal later in the week.

I have made so many wonderful things but I always forget to stop and take a picture when it's done because I am just so excited to eat it.  I remembered today, though! :)

I am downright addicted to making vegetable gratins right now.  My favorite combinations have a base of sauteed mushrooms and onions and a top of sliced tomatoes, drizzle of olive oil, sprinkle of basil and freshly grated Parmesan.  This particular one also has sliced potatoes, sugar snap peas, and corn with a bit of fresh grated Monterey Jack cheese in the middle.  Just layer and bake for 60-75 minutes at 350F.  The nice thing is you can take just about any vegetable combination, layer them with a bit of cheese, and voila! A tasty side dish! 
I decided to make a whole chicken in the crock pot instead of heating up the entire kitchen by roasting it in the oven.  This is what happened when I simply put it on the platter to cut apart.  It was literally fall-off-the-bone tender!  I didn't even have to touch it with a knife. :)  The nice thing about whole chickens is there are enough leftovers for 1 or 2 more evening meals during the week.  Later this week I will be be making Chicken Panzanella which I adapted from one of my many cookbooks
I've also discovered a new breakfast that I am absolutely in love with/addicted to... and I know I am probably the last person in the free world to have discovered this but better late than never, right? :) 

I'd actually heard of overnight oatmeal before but the idea of it just simply did not appeal to me.  But a glorious blog where the author turned me on to the idea with her many, many posts featuring this morning dessert.  As usual, I took her recipe and tweaked it to make it my own. :)
Sashi's Overnight Oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • Frozen or fresh fruit (my favorite is 4 frozen whole strawberries and 1/4 cup blueberries)
  • 1/4 plain granola
Mix together the oats, yogurt, milk and honey in a 2 cup mason jar.  Stir in the fruit, put the cover on the jar, and keep in the fridge until morning.  Just before eating, stir to mix the fruit in with the oatmeal then stir in the granola for crunch.

One of the best things about this breakfast is that I can easily bring it with me to work.  I just mix in the granola when I get there and eat it at my desk.  Some mornings, this quantity a little too much for me but other mornings I gobble it right up so I usually make this same amount each night since I don't know how hungry I will be in the.  I stay full until lunch, though.  I have to say that surprises me.  I forgot my oatmeal the other morning so had a couple of eggs and bacon from the cafeteria at work (my old usual breakfast).  A couple hours later, I was famished!

To quite a friend, "And what did we learn?"  I had always believed, as I was told, protein keeps you full longer.  Obviously, though, that wasn't enough.  The overnight oats have protein in the yogurt but I am also getting fiber which also fills you up, calcium, and the goodness of fruit. :)

I'm still working, slowly, on that project I posted about a bit ago.  I'm just so food obsessed right now that I spend a lot of time reading cookbooks and food blogs and just books about food in general.  That might be a future post. :)

I took a nap on the sofa in the sitting room the other day and woke up to see 2 of my 3 babies napping with me. :)
The big grey flufflord is Rustle (yes, the verb, not the noun) and the little black princess on her blue pillow is Sidia (short for Obsidian).  They have an older sister named Libby (short for Little Bit but aka Libberoni).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Pizza In My Tummy Makes Me Happy

Last night, I made homemade pizza from scratch... from the crust on up. The only thing I used that was purchased and used as-is was the turkey pepperoni.  Okay, I didn't make the cheese (yet) but I did grate it!  LOL  Freshly grated mozzarella is so much nicer than the preshredded stuff...I had no idea what a difference it would actually make!  (I do have more to say about preshredded cheese but I will keep that to myself. :)  If you are really curious, just do a search on Google about preshredded cheese.)

Here are my 'zas:

For both, I made yeast-free pizza crust.  It was a little bitter but I've since figured out that it was because my flour is old.  The one on the left has my homemade pizza sauce, turkey pepperoni and cheese.  The one on the right has homemade BBQ sauce, leftover roasted chicken from Sunday, onions, and cheese.

Here are the recipes I used for the sauces and crust:


Sashi's Pizza Sauce

Ingredients
  • 12 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 29 oz can tomato sauce
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Directions

In a large saucepan, saute garlic in oil until tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes or until sauce reaches desired thickness. The longer you cook it, the thicker it will get.

Sauce may be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for a month. Thaw for a day or 2 before use. Yield: 5 cups


  
Sashi's BBQ Sauce
(adapted from this recipe*)

Ingredients
  • 28oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 c balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 c blue agave (or brown sugar)
  • 1/4 c Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
Directions

In a medium saucepan, whisk it all together and heat on med-high until it boils, stirring frequently.  Lower to med-low and let simmer for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Then bottle and store in your fridge.

*Her recipe called for a couple dashes of liquid smoke.  I can't have nitrites so I had to keep it out of mine.  It would probably taste amazing, though!



Yeast Free Pizza Crust
(I adapted this slightly this from easypizzacrusts.com)

Ingredients
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup water (more if needed)
  • 1 Tbsp cooking oil
Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare pizza pan by spraying with non-stick cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add liquids and mix with hands to incorporate dry ingredients. Add more water, a tablespoon at a time, until it is well mixed and doughy.  It should not stick to your hands.  Knead dough by hand 6-8 times inside the bowl. Pressed by hand on the prepared pizza pan until it is the desired thickness.  (Alternatively, you could roll out on a floured surface first then move it to the pizza pan but I am lazy.  LOL)   Add favorite sauce and toppings. Bake at 400 degrees for 18-20 minutes, depending on crust thickness.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Farragut almost and verragud food

Hubbyman and I decided to take one of our random roadtrip this weekend.  As I was searching for a name within a decent driving distance, Farragut, TN jumped out at me and made me giggle.  I kept saying "Farragoot ees verra guud" (is very good).  It amused me, at least. :)

I have been having issues with food over the past month and a half or so* so I knew our usual tradition of fast food and snack food was just not going to be an option.  So I made us breakfast for the road as well as a picnic lunch and a few snacks.  A bit more work but definitely worth it in the long run!  We ended up just short of our destination because it took a lot longer than we expected to get there taking the back roads.  But we were still gone for almost 12 hours and had a really nice time spending the day together, driving around, talking, and looking at scenery. 

Here are a few pics from our day:

Breakfast on the road: toasted English muffin, Canadian bacon, fried egg and cheddar.  This was actually his; I made mine with nitrite-free ham instead of the Canadian bacon.  I wrapped them in foil and kept them warm in the oven until we were ready to go and then put them in an insulated lunch bag.  MUCH better than an Egg McMuffin from McDonald's!  Cheaper, too!

This is what most of our trip looked like. :)  Lots of trees and curvy roads!  I made several curvy jokes (in reference to me) during our trip as well. ;)

The sky was so pretty...it was fun watching the clouds during the more flat drives.

This was behind the toilet in the ladies' room at one of the gas stations we stopped at. :)

We're geeks.  We *had* to stop at this thrift store just based on the name since "Logan's Run" is one of our favorite classic sci-fi movies.  LOL  This shop was actually to help support a local pet rescue so that was a double bonus.

They didn't have any clothing that interested me but their homemade displays cracked me up.  Someone has a good sense of humor there.

Such a cheeky display! I didn't get a pic of my haul but I walked out with 2 cookbooks, a pair of meat forks, and a pair of crystal cat figurines that the cashier tried to steal. :)

More road, trees, and clouds

This dam was kind of cool... and instigated a lot of bad dam puns. :)

When we finally found a good spot to stop to eat our picnic, it started to rain so I had to assemble our sandwiches sitting in the front seat of his car.  That was not fun but the result was tasty!  BLT on toasted 100% whole wheat with a touch of mayo.  His was on toasted white bread since it's what he prefers.  I had everything made ahead of time and just had to assemble them.  The bread didn't get soggy that way. :)

My baked potato salad that I came up with in response to someone who said they didn't like potato salad. :)  It's just baked potatoes cut into pieces, uncured bacon bits (same kind of bacon I used in the sammiches above) and homemade ranch dressing.

By the end of our trip, I was really done with all the trees... and road... and sky.  LOL 

* At the end of May, I started getting sick whenever I ate.  It'd either hit me during my meal or right after and it was nasty.  Horrible stomach cramps, nausea, gross parts which shall not be named, etc.  You get the idea.  There were certain meals, though, where I was fine so I started tracking what was making me sick.  Basically, if it came in a box or was processed, it was the culprit.  So I've started changing my lifestyle to include "real foods."  If my 9-year-old nephew can't pronounce it, I'm avoiding eating it. 

There are exceptions to this, though, but they don't seem to be making me feel sick.  One is my diet soda.  I am addicted to Sprite Zero and Cherry Coke Zero.  I still drink them but I have reduced my intake drastically.  The other is bread.  Store bought bread is going to have chemicals in it to prolong its shelf life and I have no interest in making my own.  There are no stores or bakeries even remotely convenient to me that would have 100% "real" bread (the nearest is over 16 miles away and have hours not meant for night people).  I have found a store brand organic 100% Whole Wheat, though, that I love even though it still has a few preservatives in it.  The ingredient list is short and simple otherwise so that will work until I can get a breadmaking machine. :) 

This new way of eating requires more work so I have been spending my Sundays in the kitchen to prepare for the week but I feel so good.  It's worth it for me.  I've even lost 20 pounds since the beginning of June which is just a bonus side effect.  I am not forcing Hubbyman to make changes, but I will only cook one dinner.  Fortunately, I am a good cook and he has not complained about the less convenient dinners being set before him.

I have always loved to cook and I have a renewed passion about food now.  Don't be surprised if there starts being more food pictures and recipes, etc. on here. :)