I’m baaaaack

Well, a couple of people asked me if I planned on updating my blog so today I got bored and decided to finally do it.

Last week, I made something from Pinterest and it actually turned out well.  A Salad in a Mason Jar. I made a couple and it was still delicious by the end of the week. I don’t have a link to the original pin that I saw, but there’s like 34234234 version so I don’t feel bad giving direct credit to an individual.

This version differs from my previous version slightly. I decided to make a blue cheese dressing and add some bacon so I am calling this my Cobb-ish Salad.

Cobb-ish Salad: Mason Jar Style

Serves 5 @ ~370 Calories (w/ Egg and  Lite & Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing ) According to MyFitnessPal

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 LB Chicken Breast, Grilled & Cubed
  •  Bag of Baby Spinach/Greens of Choices
  • 6 Crimini Mushrooms, Washed & Sliced
  • 1/4 Medium Red Onion, Diced
  • 1/2 Hot House Cucumber, Diced
  • 1/3 Bag Shredded Carrots
  • 15 Pearl Tomatoes
  • Yellow Bell Pepper, Diced
  • 4 Slices Thick Cut Bacon, Cooked & Crumbled
  • 5 Eggs, Hard Boiled*
  • Blue Cheese or Dressing of Choice (See Below for Lite & Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing)
  • 5 Wide Mouth Pint Mason Jars w/ Lids

Instructions:

  1. Season Chicken & Grill. I used the 21 Salute Seasoning from Trader Joe’s plus a little seasoned salt. I then grilled mine on my Staub Grill Pan. I let it cool before cubing to keep in the juices.Chicken
  2. Cook Bacon. I cooked 4 slices of Wright’s Thick Cut Bacon in the Over on 425 for about 15-20 mins. Until it was looking crispy. Then I put it on a towel to cook. Then I just ripped it into bite size pieces.
  3. Prep Veggies. I diced up my veggies making sure to keep everything in similar sizes. That’s not really necessary, but that’s just how I like it. After cutting all the veggies. I put everything onto a platter to make the assembly easier. Chopped
  4. Assemble Salad. In mason jar, add the dressing followed by the hardiest ingredient. In this case, I added the chicken next followed by the red onion. These will sit in each other and the chicken will soak of the flavor of the dressing and the dressing will incorporate the onion flavor and it will become more  awesome. Then I added the various veggies leaving the spinach for last. At this point, the jar will be pretty full so you have to back that sucker.Gathered
  5. Refrigerate. Stick the jars in the fridge and grab as needed. If you’re making a vinaigrette dressing instead the olive oil will get hard. In that case, soak in slightly warm water for a few mins then you can shake it up and it will coat the whole salad.  Then dump on a plate and enjoy. Done

*Note: I did not add the boiled egg to the jar. I plan to dice it up and add directly to my plate

Lite & Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing

(Adapted from SkinnyTaste )

Serves 8 @ 39 Calories per MFP

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup Crumbled Blue Cheese
  • 6 Oz Greek Yogurt, Fage 0%
  • 2 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Juice from 1/2 Jumbo Lemon or 1 Small Lemon
  • Garlic Powder, Salt & Pepper, To Taste

Instructions: 

  1. Mix everything until creamy & delicious.

There actually ends up being a lot of food packed in that little jar and the salad is very filling. It is also easy to grab and take for lunch.  Like I said, I made these last week and it was still fresh and crispy on Friday. You can also make so many different variations.

Foodie Pen Pal Reveal Day

So, two months ago, while surfing the blogosphere I stumbled upon this phenom called “Foodie Pen Pal”. This great gal, Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean, pairs up bloggers and readers every month. It’s like a pen pal, but with great little food finds. On the 5th of each month, Lindsay sends out the match list. You get two matches: one to which you’ll send a package and one from which you’ll receive a package (hopefully!).

After a disappointing first experience (never received a package), I gave it a second chance. So glad I did! This month, I wound up with two great ladies as my pen pals.

I sent my package to Marilyn from the great state of New York. You can check out her blog and package here. In her email, she indicated she loved cinnamon and nutmeg so I went with that as a theme.

I received my package from the wonderful Dawn from Alaska. Proving it’s a small world, Dawn’s mom lives in Abita Springs, Louisiana and we emailed back and forth the day after I blogged about Abita. She sent me some fantastic items: homemade cab jelly (saving for a party to serve over cream cheese per Dawn’s recommendation), granola, spicy chocolate, a couple of flavors of Justin’s nut butter and my absolute favorite thing: homemade coconut macaroons. She dipped the bottom in chocolate then drizzled with a blueberry sauce. I was sad when these were gone…luckily, she has the recipe on her blog.  Thanks again Dawn, it was great.

I plan to participate one more month, because I love shopping for new little things to share with others. If you’re interested, please visit the link above for Foodie Pen Pals.  But for now, I’ll leave you with some pictures of my items. (note, some are upside down, but i can’t figure out how to rotate)

Image

ImageImage

ImageImage

Squash, Squash, Squash…Everybody!

[Note, the title is supposed to be to the tune of that LMFAO song]

I love vegetables. There’s not a veggie I’ve tried that I don’t like… And I mean pure veggies, not coated in butter or sauce. Nothing beats a lightly steamed veggie with just a little S&P. Lima Beans? YUM! alfalfa Sprouts? More, Please! Brussels Sprouts ?  Double YUM!!

Despite my love of veggies, I’ve never really been exposed to different types of squash…The shapes kind of freaked me out and I just didn’t know how to cook them. The past few weeks I’ve gotten a variety of squash and it forced me to learn how to use them.

One of the last CSA boxes until late September: Includes lots of grape tomatoes, a huge spaghetti squash and a big juicy watermelon.

Butternut Squash

There were so many options, but I decided to make some “fries”. I peeled the butternut squash then diced as I would a potato. These were delicious kind of similar to a sweet potato fry, but with even more flavor. I ate these with some boiled fresh CSA corn (fresh corn doesn’t even need butter or S&P because it’s so sweet and juicy) and garlic rotisserie chicken  from Pronto’s.

Spaghetti Squash

I know a lot of people trying to lose weight have a thing for spaghetti squash, but I had never tried it. I cut in half then microwaved each half for about 10 mins until I was able to scrape the squash easily.  It took much longer than I read online, but that might be because I have a really cheap and dinky microwave. It looks like spaghetti and if you’re a volume eater like me, this will be really filling and low cal. I made some turkey meatballs with some shredded zucchini and added my favorite Mario batali sauce. Then I added a little freshly grated parm cheese and crushed red peppers for extra flavor — spaghetti squash is really bland.

Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs

Cutting squash is very hard. Make sure you have a really sharp knife. It’s a kin to carving a pumpkin. Likewise, you can use other parts of the squash for a snack. I roasted the seeds of the butternut squash like I would pumpkin seeds. I gave them a quick rinse, patted dry then placed on a baking sheet. I didn’t add any oil just stuck them in the over for about 5-7 mins. Once I took them out, I added a little bit of salt.  Since the butternut squash seeds are a little bit smaller than that of a pumpkin, they get a little more crispy. I really enjoyed these. The seeds of the spaghetti squash look just like pumpkin seeds, but I didn’t roast them because I was lazy.

A Lot of Work for a Little Snack

A New Take On Chili

In Texas, we love our chili.

After the first chill in the air, everyone breaks out the giant chili pots. It also brings back that great debate: beans vs. no beans.  Personally, I’m a little in different.

I know it’s not even remotely cold outside, but I decided to make chili this weekend. But instead of those traditional Texas flavors, I decided to put an italian twist on it. Plus, I was trying to use up ingredients I had on hand.

Megan’s Italian Style Chili

1 lb Ground Spicy Italian Sausage (If in links, squeeze out of casing but they do sell just the ground meat)

1 lb Ground Turkey (I used turkey, but beef is ok)

1 Jar, Mario Batali Arrabiata Sauce

1 28 oz Can Cento San Marzano tomatoes

2 Oz or 1 Serving Angel Hair Pasta

1/2 Large Onion, Diced

1 Green Bell Pepper, Diced

Handful Baby Carrots, Thinly Sliced or Shredded

2 Handfuls Cremini Mushrooms, Sliced (Thick, so they don’t over cook)

To Taste:

Red Pepper Flakes

Italian Seasoning

Parsley

Garlic

Salt & Pepper

Fresh Parmesan Cheese

(1) In a skillet, brown the italian sausage. It’s okay if it’s not completely cooked. It will continue to cook in the chili. In a 5 qt pot(I used my Staub croquette), brown onion. Add sausage, mushroom, tomatoes, carrots  and peppers to the pot over low heat.

(2) Brown turkey or beef in same skillet as the italian sausage. This will flavor the turkey with the leftover seasoning from the sausage. Add to pot with sauce. Add seasoning to taste, but remember the flavor will become more intense as it simmers. Break up pasta into at least 1/4’s. This will make it feel like you’re getting a big bowl of pasta, but you’ll be filling up on the meat and veggies rather than the pasta. Allow chili to simmer for at least an hour before serving.  Add fresh parmesan when serving.

Note: This made an obscene amount of chili. If you aren’t feeding a big crowd, I’d halve it or freeze it. I kind of made it up as I went a long and was shocked at how much it made. Plus, it’s very filling.

Here’s a tip: I don’t like that cheese in a green can nor the pregrated parmesan in a tub. Instead, I buy a nice wedge and keep it in the freezer wrapped in plastic wrap and then inside a freezer bag. The convenience of the cheaper stuff and the taste of the good stuff. Actually, I keep all my cheese in the freezer to keep myself from eating the whole thing. I have a problem. That’s why it’s fat girl with a little blog, not little girl with a fat blog🙂

 

I am loving this sauce from Mario Batali. The ingredients include: San Marzano Imported Italian Plum Tomatoes from Sarnese-Nocerino area in Italy, Fresh Onions, Fresh Carrots, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Capers, Fresh Garlic, Sea Salt, Crushed Red Pepper. That’s it. At $8 a jar, it’s pretty pricey but I’m willing to spend more for the quality. It doesn’t have a bunch of fillers. I’ve also tried the marinara, but I think this is my favorite of the two. There’s also an Alla Vodka sauce I’d love to try. ( I wasn’t paid for this or even given free sauce, but if anyone wants to send me some Mario Batali Sauces for free I’d gladly accept🙂 )

 

 

 

But I like it, I love it, I want some more of it…

This weekend, I had and ole friend come in town. We went bridesmaids dress shopping , visited a cool cake supply store [I bought some USA theme cupcake supplies that I hope to use before the olympics are over], and visited this giant knock off store. It kind of reminded my of the huge knock off stores in China, where I’m sure most of these goods are from there.  We went to Sam Moon because my friend is making a cool bouquet and wanted to load up on some supplies there. I don’t want to give away her details, so you’ll have to wait until next April. It’s going to be fantastic. I can’t show you what Laura got, but I can show you some of the cheap stuff I bought for my rodeo gear.

Rhinestones, “Leather” & Turquoise. #gonecountry #Texas

After our morning adventures, we headed to Reliant Center to check out the “Brothers of the Sun”: Tim McGraw & Kenny Chesney. It was a fantastic show, but really long. We got there around 4:30 just in time to see Jake Owen, but didn’t leave until after 11PM. We got our money’s worth, for sure. Walking into the show, my shoe broke…so long “gold balls”. It made me walk funny and my leg is still sore from it.

I like it, I love it, I want more Tim McGraw.

 

 

The One Without Fried Okra

I love fried okra. It reminds me of being a kid @ Luby’s. My mom would get these little fried pieces of green stuff and I just thought it was so gross. One day, I tried it and I fell in love. From the salty and crispy outside to the juicy inside, I can’t get enough. When I lived in DC, few places had fried okra. Except this TOTAL dive bar on Capital Hill called the Tune Inn. Many a good time were had there over grilled cheese and fried okra. A few years after I move back (which, I can’t believe i’ve been gone for 5 years, mind blowing how fast time flies), it was featured on the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives:

This video takes me back. I heard if burned down a few years ago, but that they were going to rebuild. If you find yourself in DC, itching for some fried okra definitely check this place out.

This past week, I had a bunch of okra in my CSA box. It had me totally stumped. Other than gumbo and fried, how do you eat okra?

The answer: Roasted!

I washed the okra and patted it dry then i sliced it into more uniform sizes.

Tossed it on a cookie sheet and sprayed with a little olive oil. Then I added my favorite cajun seasoning blend: Tony’s. Put it in the oven at 400 for about 7 mins until crisp.

I served it as a side with my italian chili. It had that salty & crispy texture (plus a little heat from the seasoning) that I like so much about fried okra, but  without the grease and regret.

The One With The BEST Chicken Salad

This week, I attempted to make mayo again.  The first time, I tried it by hand but being as that I have no culinary training, it ended up more like a dressing. It still tasted good in my tuna salad, but it wasn’t mayo. So, I decided to try again and I’m so glad I did. It turned out PERFECT. I used the recipe the blog The Clothes Make The Girl and it was so easy.[Note: I used a pasteurized egg to be on the safe side, because if you know anyone that has gotten Salmonella you know a little mayo isn’t worth the risk. TRUST ME. My mom got salmonella from peanut butter crackers back when that a big thing. It was awful.] I cracked my egg and let it come to room temperature in the food processor. I was a little nervous because I have a previous generation Ninja blender so the engine is on the top so I couldn’t leave the lid off and slowly add the oil. Instead, I dumped it in at 1/4 cup at a time and gave it a little whirl. Slowly but surely it began to take and I was so excited that it worked out.

At this point, I realized I was going to have real homemade mayo. So excited.

The Finished Product: Perfect homemade mayo.

Now, I’m not that big of a mayo fan, I actually prefer mustard. But, I do love me some chicken salad. Growing up, Chelsea’s Deli was THE place for chicken salad. If you got out of school early you were going there for lunch and when you got home from college this was the place you met your old friends. Well, I’m sorry to say, this is no longer the best chicken salad. Instead, that title belongs to Cormie’s Grocery in Lake Charles, LA. That fine chicken salad on fluffy slice of Evangeline Maid Bread is the stuff dreams are made of…seriously, it’s that good.

So, I decided to imitate it as best I could. I boiled a little less than a pound of chicken breasts then let them cool (did this while making the mayo). Then i tore it apart to get rid of those disturbing gummy parts in chicken and added to the food processor. I did about half up it pretty fine and the other half less to give it more substance. Then I finely diced a stalk of celery and a little red onion. Added some S&P and then some of my mayo and stirred it up. You want enough mayo that it is moist but not too moist. For me, I prefer it when it reaches a texture similar to that of raw cookie dough. But, that’s personal preference. Then I put it in the fridge to let the flavors meld together. It turned out delicious and as close to Cormie’s as I’ll get on this side of the Sabine. It made about 4 hearty servings.

The One With A Zucchini Bread Fail

In my last post, I showed you what I got in my CSA box this week. Well, it included two huge zucchini. These remind me of the summer between working in DC and starting business school. My Aunt Melinda and Cousin Nancy decided to do a big garden and sell their produce at a couple of local farmers markets. Well, it was usually me and Emily that ended up having to do the early morning selling. We definitely have some interesting stories from that summer. Here’s a few pictures from that Summer:

The Garden

Macomb Square

Flowers

Now back to the reason I’m here. Yesterday, I went to my dad’s house and we made some kabobs with some marinated steak and the green bell peppers, tomatoes and some crimini mushrooms I picked up at the urban harvest market yesterday. I didn’t take a picture, but I should have because they looked so pretty with all the colors. We also grilled the corn, my dad had this method he read in a bbq book where you wrap the cob in a damp paper towel then cover with foil. Some pieces got a little over done, but it was still tasty. Then we sliced two of the zucchini lengthwise and added a little olive oil and S&P. The whole meal was fantastic.  I still had some zucchini left so I decided to make some bread. I shred it up using a cheese grater and added it to the following recipe:

Fruity & Nutty Zucchini Bread

“Wet”:

1 Good Sized Zucchini, Shredded

3 Eggs

3/4 Cup Oil (you can sub apple sauce for 1/2 cup, then use 1/4 oil, but if you do the whole thing with oil it gets a little spongy)

2 Cups Sugar

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

1 Cup Crushed Pineapple

Dry:

3 Cups All-Purpose Flour

2 tsp Baking Soda

1/2 tsp Salt

1 1/2 tsp Cinnamon

1/4 tsp Nutmeg

1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1 Cup Red Currants or Raisins (Optional)

1/2-1 Cup Chopped Nuts (Optional)

Mix the “Wet” ingredients until incorporated. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients except for nuts and currants. Slowly add dry mixture to wet and stir until just incorporated. Add nuts and currants. Pour into at least two loaf pans or 24 muffin tins. Bake at 350 for around 40 or until an inserted knife comes out clean or the top isn’t jiggly.

Here’s where I made my mistake, I poured it all into one giant loaf pan because I was too lazy to make a batch of muffins. Well, it ended up taking like 2 hours to bake and then i couldn’t get it out of the darn pan. This is a warning, it looks really gross, but tastes awesome.

FAIL: Half stuck in bottom of pan

It still tastes yummy though!

What’s in the Box Wednesday

Not much to say today, but thought I’d share my most recent CSA box. This week I have a huuuuge watermelon, sweet corn, kale, zuchinni, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, micro greens, banana peppers and okra. I’ll be honest, I have no clue what to do with the peppers and okra. I’ve gotten about this many of the peppers the past couple of weeks and have been sticking them in a bag in the freezer until I come up with an idea. I also have several peaches, jalapenos and an eggplant from last week.