Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Refocus

Well it has been on my mind for a while, but I think the time has come to transition over to a new blog. 

This blog has been so many things since it started. It's been my rant box, it's been my craft challenge, it's been where I learned to cook. But maybe what it was always missing was a focus. 

I was told once you shouldn't bother with a phd until you know what you are passionate about. That really stuck with me. It has taken a long time to figure out that I never really knew what and who I wanted to be, much less what I wanted a blog to be. But now I'm close to knowing. 

So bear with me over the next couple weeks, as I take a hiatus and determine what the new blog will be, what site it will be located on, and where I go from here. 

And as always, happy crafting. 
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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Kale Quiche with Sweet Potato Crust

Ingredients:
-1 medium but fat sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
-1 bunch kale leaves, stems and ribs removed
-12 asparagus spears, chopped
-1/2 C onion, finely chopped
-2 garlic cloves
-2 ounces feta
-6 eggs
-2 tsp paprika
-salt and pepper to taste

Grease a 9 inch baking dish and preheat your oven to 385F. Line the bottom with sweet potato slices. Cut some slices in half and line the edges as well. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, sauté the kale, asparagus, onions, and garlic in a little evoo or preferred oil. I used a teaspoon of olive oil and a half tablespoon of Serrano honey vinegar (Fustini's of course). Cover and steam until tender. 

When the crust is ready, add 2/3 of the veggies and half the feta. Whip the eggs and put half the eggs in. Add remaining veggies, eggs, and feta. Top with salt and pepper as desired. Bake at 350F for 35-40 minutes. 

I put it in myfitnesspal app and about half the quiche clocks in at 457 calories. HALF THE QUICHE! I feel awesome. I ate about a quarter of it. If I want to get back down to 145, I should be clocking in just over 1,300 calories a day if I don't work out. That in and of itself is motivation to workout a bit more because really...1300? That's it? No joy. Don't get me wrong I don't think I'm fat or anything, I don't hate my body or anything like that, but I do want to get a little healthier and used to a healthier lifestyle. I'm a big believer in getting used to something before you have to do it. Someday, I won't have a metabolism that makes up for my terrible habits, and then I would have to do major overhauls. 

I'm attempting to put my recipes in my app which is a slow process but it is cool to know what the calorie counts are on things I like to make. So far it looks like most of the things I've been making are right around 500 calories. That was a good thing to see, as I shouldn't have to overhaul things to terribly. 

Happy (healthy) crafting!




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Monday, September 1, 2014

Chicken Slaw Salad in a Spicy Peanut Dressing

Ingredients:
-4 ounces shredded rotisserie chicken
-1 small bag rainbow slaw
-1 C Greek yogurt
-1 C almond milk
-6 TB PB2 (powdered peanut butter)
-1/2 TB Siracha, plus more to taste
-1/2 tsp ginger
-dash soy sauce
-2 tsp garlic
-1 tsp evoo, flavored if desired

Mix everything except the chicken and slaw to form the sauce. Salt and pepper to taste, and add more Siracha as desired. The peanut flavor is rich so you will probably end up using a little more than what you might think, but start off low. I made the mistake my first time using Siracha of starting with a healthy tablespoon and that was quite the chicken salad let me tell you. 

But if you like your lips going numb, by all means start heavy. 

Once you have the sauce adjusted as you like, add it to a bowl with the chicken and slaw and toss to combine. Or start with a bowl big enough to toss the ingredients in and learn from my errors. 

The tiny bag of slaw is a lot more than it looks, so you will probably use all of the sauce. Stir it around well and taste, adding more salt or spice as needed. Refrigerate overnight. 

The boyfriend and I are going to try to eat healthy until Thanksgiving and the holiday season, and I am making it a point to make it as painless as possible. Healthy eating never has to be boring, and it also doesn't have to be complex. You can whip this sauce up in under five minutes, you can use one bowl if you start with a big enough one (I did not), and you can buy preshredded chicken from your deli at the grocery store and make it that much simpler. 

We got back a bit earlier than usual today thanks to traffic not being nearly as bad as when we traveled on the fourth. I crashed for a nap, as logging ten hours driving over one long weekend really caught up with me. We had stopped on the way home for just enough groceries for lunch tomorrow and a snack, and somehow this idea popped into my head. 

Why just enough for those meals? If you knew me, you would know I am the most irresponsible person ever in the grocery store. I. Love. Grocery stores. I love finding new things and concocting crazy ideas on the fly and I always buy too much. 

And then I waste it. 

And then I'm sad. 

But we had discussed the time I made shepherds pie with sweet potatoes (no crust) on the way back and how good it turned out. It was one of those things where I made it once and never thought about it again. As I picking up the ingredients I was thinking about other things I had not had in a while, and my healthy peanut sauce popped in my head. Over the weekend we were at a pitch-in with a lot of great salads, and that is how this idea spawned. 

We will see what kind of reviews the boy gives it tomorrow. So far I have had very good luck and excellent reviews on my healthy salads and dips, so I am quite hopeful. 

I got to do a lot of cooking this weekend, and I had a great time doing it. I'm actually not one for wanting to avoid cooking on vacations or mini-trips, and I love when someone will let me come in and commandeer their kitchen for a moment. My mom and my boyfriend's mom are awesome for this. They both consistently have excellently-stocked kitchens and never mind what new shenanigan I'm proposing. This time it was my Mexican street corn muffin, a hit with my mom and now with the boyfriend's family as well. 

It was also redemption for me, because last time I made those muffins I really screwed them up. 

Don't forget baking powder in muffins. It will haunt you. 

Luckily there's none of that in this recipe and it is pretty much no fuss no muss. 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Spicy Cherry Glazed Ribs

Ingredients:
Glaze
-1/3 c cherry balsamic vinegar
-1/3 C dried cherries
-1 Serrano pepper, finely diced
-2/3 C chicken stock
-1/2 c onion, finely diced
-2 garlic cloves
-2 tsp dark maple syrup, or a pinch of sugar for sweetness

-1 rack pork ribs, I used spare, salt and pepper and hit it with a dash of Worcestershire 

Ok first, you want to cook all the glaze ingredients in a sauce pan on medium until it reduces down a bit and the cherries are nice and plump. Don't get me wrong you can reduce it to your hearts content, but I am an impatient soul so you know I didn't make it over thirty minutes. 

When it is done, transfer it to a food processor and blend. It just occurred to me that I probably could have used my immersion blender. I really need to remember that I own that nifty thing more often. 

Anyway blend it up nice and good and put about 2/3 of the glaze on the ribs (split between the two sides). Wrap them in a foil pack and bake on 350F for two hours. 

Very very carefully remove the wrap (at least the top) and put the remaining glaze or desired portion of it on the ribs, in the meanwhile letting your oven heat up to 385F. 

Put the ribs back in the oven and let them bake uncovered another 20 minutes to carmelize and really get a crust on them. 

The thing I love about foil packing ribs is that they are fall off the bone tender when you pull them out. Yes they take a while and yes it has a lot of steps but this is probably the best rack I have made. They had a hint of a kick to them without being obviously spicy, which is the right balance that I like to hit. I like when spice sneaks up on you, but doesn't necessarily overwhelm you. In the back of your mind you know it's there but like any good dish it's so much more than just your face burning. 

I realized that I had already messed up my 52 weeks of wonderful initiative as I did not post last week. It's like my boss told me one day, sometimes life just gets in the way. 

After a whirlwind of shopping for a new car and driving all over creation, I did this week sign on the line and found myself in a brand spanking new Subaru Crosstrek. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm really not a fan of new cars usually. Why eat that depreciation when someone else could right? 

But the Crosstrek was the first thing I had sat in since the loss of my beloved old Durango that I instantly fell in love. It's kinda like when I met my boyfriend for the first time and I thought "yep, that one". But unlike a guy a car doesn't have a choice, so really the process is a lot less messy when you think about it...

Regardless, it took me three days from the time I saw it until I could bring it home. I figured I would catch all kinds of heck from my family, but for the most part they have been really supportive and impressed. 

The fact of the matter is, we spend tons of time in vehicles. Most of us commute around 30 minutes to work, we take trips in them, heck we even eat meals in them sometimes. So regardless of the fact that I did love not having a car payment for so long with the Durango, and would not have had one much longer with the jeep I just traded off, I just don't advocate for driving something you hate. 

I tested a CR-V, a RAV-4, and an Outlander. I was really bummed out, and didn't want to pay for six years on something that just wasn't meshing with me. The aforementioned boyfriend, who really is quite awesome, suggested looking at Subaru and we ran across a Crosstrek while scouring the Internet. After that, it was about three minutes in to the test drive that I decided "yep, this one". 

And like I said, cars are a bit simpler and you don't ever have to look nice or say clever things to get their attention, so this was right up my alley (hah, kidding, I attempt to look nice every now and then). So now me and the Subes (her nickname) are tearing up the roads and having a grand ole time. 

How does this have anything to do with these ribs? Well other than the fact that it made me forget to post last Sunday, essentially nothing. But I never promised that I wouldn't ramble. 

But seriously make these ribs and impress everyone you know. Or make them and don't tell anyone so you can eat them all yourself. I won't judge you. 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Raspberry Rolls

Ingredients:
-3 packs raspberries with 2 TB sugar, a dash or two of ginger, and 1/4C balsamic vinegar (I used Espresso bean by Fustini's) let them sit about 20 minutes and then mash
-2C AP flour, plus another 3/4 as needed
-1/4C sugar
-1 packet yeast
-1/4C milk
-1/2C water
-2.5 TB butter
-2 eggs
-optional almond butter
Icing:
-juice from mashed berries (strained)
-1 to 2C powdered sugar
-2 TB butter

Mix the flour, yeast, and sugar together. Warm the butter, milk, and water until its about 110-115F or so. Add that to the dry ingredients, adding eggs next. Add enough flour that it just forms a ball. It should be a sticky dough. 

Turn it out on a well-floured surface. Roll it out into a big square, the thinner the better. Spread the almond butter if you decide to use it and spread the raspberry mix on, draining as much liquid off as you can and saving it. Roll the dough up carefully and cut 1 inch slices off. 

Set the slices in a pan, I lined mine with parchment paper. Space them out as much you can and let them rise in a warm place for an hour. Preheat your oven to 350F and bake for 20 minutes or until they start to brown. 

Mix the icing ingredients and drizzle over when they come out of the oven. 

You could also just dust them with powdered sugar. I prefer icing any day. This dough is a great base for any cinnamon roll flavor you want to concoct because its friendly and only requires the hour of rise time. 

Until next time!

Happy crafting. 
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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Guinness Marinated Spicy Baked Ribs

Ingredients:
-1 rack of spare ribs
-1 bottle of Guinness 
-spice rub: 2TB chipotle pepper flakes, 2TB paprika, 2 tsp garlic, 2 tsp ground mustard, 1 tsp celery salt, 1 tsp minced onion, 1 tsp oregano

Make a foil pack and set the ribs on it. Pour half the beer over the top, season with spice rub, flip and repeat on the other side. Let them sit in the marinade refrigerated overnight after closing up the foil pack. 

Preheat your oven to 350F and bake the ribs for 2 hours. Remove from oven and turn heat up to 385. Carefully unwrap the pack cutting if necessary to expose the top of the ribs. Return to the oven for another 20 minutes to get a nice crust. 

Yes, really tasty ribs are really that simple. I like ribs that are fall off the bone tender, and typically will do them in a crockpot. But this spare rack was really inexpensive, and doesn't quite fit in my crock. I love pork cooked in Guinness, and I really think it works well here. The steam from all the liquid helps get the meat nice and tender, and the beer and spice rub work well together. 

I most certainly did not hear any complaints from my boyfriend, so I would say these were quite successful. It's nice to be able to get a full flavor meal like this without the sugar content in BBQ sauce. I would call it a win all around. 

Happy crafting!
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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Buffalo Wing Stuffed Peppers

Ingredients
-1 lb ground or shredded chicken cooked with cumin, salt, and pepper
-1 c chopped celery 
-1/2 c onion, diced
-2 cans green chiles 
-1/4 c Franks hot sauce
-2 tsp oregano
-2 bell peppers, halved and seeded 
-salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the topping ingredients together and season to taste. Stuff in the pepper halves and put on a baking sheet with a rim. 

Preheat the oven to 350F. Add a loaf pan half full of water and let it warm up about fifteen minutes before adding the peppers in. The steam will help cook the peppers and keep the filling moist. 

Bake for about 35-40 minutes. I plan on topping them with a greek yogurt bleu cheese dressing that is light and healthy. 

Happy crafting!
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