Tag Archives: Whole Foods

chowder. drunken roasts and daring greatly

4 Oct

OK. SO I REALLY should be writing a paper right now, on infancy cognition and object permanence, but taking a break for the blog seems like such a much better idea! I mean how many observation papers do we have to write? They all seem to encompass the same points. Drilling it into us I guess so we can be the best child care providers ever since we go into therapy, teaching, etc. Anyways.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” Brene Brown, from Teddy Roosevelt’s 1910 speech

These last two weeks I’ve not only dived head first back into working with the lovely gals and school, but into Brene Brown’s book, DARING GREATLY. This book is changing my life. You should read it! It’s changing my life. Really. Everyone goes through ups and downs in life, but it’s always nice to know that someone is there with you along for the ride. Brene is great at that. She makes you re-realize (is that a word!?) that you are human; and lately, since turning 30, I have been on a gratitude journey about realizing that I am lucky to be here, human, loveable and everything happens for a reason. BECAUSE it really does.

I have a couple days off of work so I’ve been doing some discovering in the kitchen again. I feel at home when I am cooking, just like I do when I go to yoga class (thank you CorePowerYoga). Soup has really been my thing the last few months. Don’t ask me why. I’m known as the “cupcake queen” by my family, but for some reason I’ve become the soup nazi. That’s all.

SPICY ROASTED CORN CHOWDER WITH BUTTERNUT SQUASH

Ingredients:

  • 5 slices applewood-smoked bacon
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 pound butternut squash, cubed into small piece
  • 1 pound frozen roasted baby corn kernels, thawed (Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 1/4 cups half and half
  • 1 quart chicken stock (homemade if possible or organic/free range)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh savory herd
  • 1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s taco seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • more salt and pepper to taste

In a dutch oven, or large pot, chop and add your bacon to medium/high heat. Cook the bacon until crisp. Take the bacon out of the pot, leaving the lovely bacon fat and drain on paper towels. Chop your onion and add the chopped onion and half of the cubed butternut squash. NOTE: Trader Joe’s, Whole foods, lots of places now sell butternut squash already cut and prepped, this is GREAT! Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, pepper, chopped thyme and savory and cook the veggies for about 10 minutes or less until soft.

In your blender, while the veg cooks, add 1.5 cups of the corn and 1 cup of the half and half to your blender NOTE: you can use coconut milk if you do not eat dairy, it’ll be just as yummy. Place the corn and milk in your blender and blend until fairly smooth. Add the rest of your milk, a little salt and pepper and blend. Pour into your pot over your veggies. Mix together. Next, add the chicken stock, taco seasoning, parsley, the rest of the squash and simmer. The simmering will thicken the soup a little and cook the rest of the squash. Add your bacon back to the soup. NOTE: If you do not like spicy, this soup would be just as lovely without the taco seasoning. ALSO, if you want extra flavors, you can add black beans, sweet potato, anything goes really. This is a Fall soup with a southwestern twist!

Ladle into bowls, top with sliced of fresh avocado, tortilla strips, whatever you’d like! The avocado is nice because it adds a little cooling element. ENJOY!

POT ROAST WITH ROOT VEGGIES AND CABERNET

  • 5 lbs of beef roast (I got mine at Trader Joe’s…I know, not grass fed, but good on a budget and it was a GREAT cut of meat)
  • 3 cups cabernet (feel free to DRINK the rest of the bottle)
  • 1/2 a bag of baby carrots
  • red or yukon gold potatoes, halved
  • 1 onion, chopped into large pieces
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes diced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh savory herb
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Wash, prep and cut your veggies. In your crock pot, add a layer of onion, potato, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Next add your beef roast, then top with the rest of the veggies. The amount of veg you use will depend on the size of your crock pot, so section those out accordingly. Pour the wine, salt, pepper, and savory herb in.

Cook in low for about 6 or so hours. Honestly, you could leave this go while you’re at work and come home to dinner! Your house will smell lovely! The roast is done when it is able to be broken up with a fork. Plate up and eat! The potatoes are good with a little added salt, pepper and a small knob of grassfed butter (Kerrygold). The lovely sauce and juice from the meat can also be made into a gravy by take about 2 cups of it and adding it to a sauce pan. If not gluten free, add a tablespoon regular flour and mix until thickened, add salt and pepper to taste. IF gluten free, add a tablespoon or more, until thickened, of coconut flour, salt and pepper to taste and then pour your gravy over your meal! YUM!

for bean’s sake and some life lessons

23 Sep

Who is ready for FALL!? This girl. I love cold weather. I like big fluffy vinyasa scarves, hoodies, pumpkin EVERYTHING, runs that you aren’t dripping with sweat, walks in the leaves…..I love everything about Fall. I love that soups, stews and baking are now the thing and yummy warm food coating your tummy. Fall is where it’s at in my book.

This week has been amazing, hard, fun, eye opening and crazy all at the same time. I’ve learned a lot of life lessons this week and honestly. I’ve had a GREAT week with the little ones I nanny for and they are the joy of everyday, that’s for sure. I have no qualms about my childcare and cooking abilities! But, it’s those little other things in life that I sometimes am too hard on myself for. Take running, I’ve kind of taken a step back from it so I need to get back at it in full gear for the 15K and then the Disney Half so….basically…get it, girl! It’s amazing how a surgery can change your life. I used to be a eensy weensy teeny little runner and gymnast, now I am trying to get back there after being not able to workout for 6 months due to my surgeries last year. Oh well…. I LOVE running, so it’ll happen!!!

I am reading a new book, that you all should, called DARING GREATLY by Brene Brown. She is amazing. It’s all about vulnerability and how to basically love ourselves and not worry about being vulnerable or too hard on ourselves. This book totally came out at the right time.

With that being said, curling up in bed, with a hot bowl of stewy soup and this amazing book with brownies cooking in the oven….I mean sounds like heaven right!? So here goes, some yummy, gooey almond butter swirl brownies, navy bean, spinach and bacon soup and then kale salad. I wanted to post this kale salad because it is simple and I eat it quite a few times during the week. It’s a great way to get lots of vitamins in and just some yummy veg!

KALE CARROT BEET AND PEA SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups kale, washed and patted dry with a paper towel
  • beets, however many you’d like (I have about 3)
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

This is SUPER easy! In a small bowl, squeeze the juice from your orange, add your olive oil, salt and pepper and wisk to emulsify. Set aside. Take your kale and toss with one tablespoon of the olive oil and orange liquid, set aside. Then, take your frozen peas and run them under hot water until defrosted. Take your shredded carrots from your fridge, or shred your own carrots, about 1-2 carrots will be great. Next, either you can roast your own beets, or buy them, already roasted, peeled and cut from Whole Foods.

To roast your own beets:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Remove the tops and the roots of the beets and peel each one with a vegetable peeler. Cut the beets in 1 1/2-inch chunks. (Small beets can be halved, medium ones cut in quarters, and large beets cut in eighths). Place the cut beets on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice with a spatula, until the beets are tender.

After this is done, put them in a large bowl and add the orange juice and olive oil vinaigrette you just made. Let them sit and soak up the goodness!

After the beets have cooled, assemble your salad. On a plate, Put down your kale down on the salad plate. Next add your shredded carrots, beets on top of that, then your peas. DEVOUR the goodness!

FUDGY YUMMY GLUTEN FREE BROWNIES WITH A NUT BUTTER SWIRL

  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, or extremely dark chocolate, or super natural bitter chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce, unsweetened and not the cinnamon kind
  • 1/2 cup nut butter of choice

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8×8-inch metal baking pan across the bottom and up two opposite sides with parchment paper or spray it with olive oil cooking spray or grease it. I greased my pan with a little coconut oil. You can use whole almonds and add them to a food process with the rice flour and pulse until the nuts are finely ground. If using almond flour, mix it with the rice flour. Set aside.

Place the chocolate, butter and salt in the top of a large double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir frequently until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the bowl and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the honey and vanilla. Stir in the applesauce. Add the almond and rice flour mixture and stir until moistened, and then mix briskly until really well combined.

NOTE: You can make these without the nut butter. You can add nuts, more chocolate chips, the sky is the limit!

Take your nut butter of choice. I use almond butter or a nut butter that has a bit of sea salt in it. You can find GREAT nut butters with sea salt at Trader Joe’s. That way these aren’t overly sweet. This is a peanut butter and almond butter mixture, but feel free to use just almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter, sun butter, what have you. Place it in a microwave safe bowl and microwave it for 30 seconds so it gets a little gooey and creamy. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly. Spoon dollops of the nut butter onto the brownie batter. Using the spoon, swirl the nut butter into the brownies. This is done the easiest by taking the spoon and bring it down the length of the batter, then across and keep doing it until you like the swirl. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until the brownies are slightly puffed all over and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out moist but clean. Cool and get your EAT on!

NAVY BEAN AND SPINACH SOUPY STEW

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 lb grassfed pork bacon, about 8 slices of thick cut (or regular if you prefer and don’t care about where your meat comes from)
  • fresh savory herb
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cans organic navy beans
  • 1 can organic black beans
  • 1 quart of homemade chicken bone broth or organic free range chicken broth
  • 2 handfulls of fresh spinach (or KALE!!!!)

Slice and cube your bacon. In a dutch oven, place your bacon in on medium high heat and cook until brown. While the bacon is cooking and browning and smelling lovely, you can cut your veggies. You want to have uniform cuts so that the mirepoix (fancy French word for carrots, celery and onion, the base of LOTS of dishes) can cook together and soften. Add your onions while the bacon is cooking and let them soften in the bacon fat. Add your carrots, celery, chopped savory herb (if you do not have this or can not find it, just use fresh thyme, rosemary, another type of savory tasting herb), dried thyme and the black pepper and cook until the veggies are soft, but that the carrots and celery still have a little crunch.

Drain and rinse your beans. You want to rinse off the starchy liquid that they come canned in. Add your beans and cook for about 2 minutes so the beans are warm. Add your chicken broth and simmer until bubbly. Add your salt and pepper to taste and continue to simmer. With soups I’ve found that adding the salt last, and letting it cook a bit before tasting, helps out a lot. If you add too much salt, there’s no going back. So add a little at a time. Plus, for this recipe, the bacon adds a bit of a salty smokey flavor (DELICIOUS), so you want to hold off on the salt until you’re ready and the flavors have simmered. So basically, add about a 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt at a time, let it simmer, taste it, then add more if needed.

Take your spinach and put in as much as you want. I used about 2 large handfull, maybe 3. Let is cook down  a bit in the soup. Bowl the soup up and eat nice and hot on a cold blustery day!

You could also add KALE to this. And for those doubting kale, and my love for it. Here’s a great infographic!

http://nutribulletblog.com/all-hail-kale/

simple flavors jamming together

3 Sep

This week has been all about discovering what I do and do not love, so naturally, I decided to work with some simple flavors and a big fat grill today. It’s been an interesting week looking for a new job. I went on random interviews and loved all of them, but the choice right now is, what do I want to do. Right now, I’m not sure, so experimenting in the kitchen gave my mind some time to relax from graduate school and job hunting.

I had a massive batch of super ripe strawberries that needed to be used, so I decided to hop over to Whole Foods and get some pectin and jar up some yummy jam, but make sure that it was simple and wholesome. I never realized how easy it is to make jam! Can you believe from masher to jar it took about a half hour!? So simple. For some reason I always thought jam was a lengthy process. Super jazzed that it was so quick and easy.

For dinner, I decided to go with some simple flavors. I had chicken drummies (which also is what we call Dexter Doodle Puppy) in the freezer from U.S. Wellness Meats. I don’t know if you’ve heard of U.S. Wellness meats, but they are grass fed yumminess that you order online and the prices are unbelievable!

I picked up some sweet potatoes, for a healthy super food starch and hericot vert. I love hericot vert (for those that need the translation, hericot vert are green beans, and yummy ones at that). So here is my homage to simple flavors on the grill. By the way, sweet potato is a GREAT superfood for puppies and they gobble it up!

JAMMY JAM JAM

Ingredients:

  • two large pints of strawberries
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 3/4 cup sugar in the raw
  • 1.5 tablespoons pectic (I got the all natural, no preservative, no sugars pectin from Whole Foods)
  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon

Easy Peasy:

Wash and hull your strawberries. Take your orange and slice out the sections. Pour the strawberries and oranges in a large dutch oven. Turn the heat on medium to warm up the berries/oranges and start mashing away! Mash to your heart’s desire. Some like chunky jam and some like smoother jam. Once they are all mashed, turn the heat up to high and mix in the honey and sugar and mix until well incorporated and dissolved. Add pectic and bring to a boil. Boil all together for 2 minutes on high, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat off, ladle into your jars, cap the jars, let them sit until at room temperature and you’re done! You’ll hear  a pop after about a half hour meaning that the jars sealed. This makes about 1.5 jars of jam, or 2 small jars. You can put it in the fridge and use it over the next few weeks. YUM!

CHICKEN DRUMMIES HERICOT VERT AND SWEET POTATO MASH

Ingredients for sweet potato mash:

  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon grass fed butter (Kerrygold or regular butter if you aren’t into grass fed)

HEAT UP THAT GRILL! Turn the grill and place it on high. Take the three sweet potatoes, prick them with a fork and wrap them in foil. Place on high heating grill for 1 hour. These are what take the most time. The drummies and sweet potatoes will cook together at one point, so the rest of the steps are below.

Ingredients for chicken drummies:

  • 6 chicken drummies
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic
  • 1 tablespoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion
  • 1 tablespoon oregano

Ingredients for hericot vert:

  • hericot vert, about 50 beans, or a small bag
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • splash of balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Take a gallon sized large plastic bag and pour in the chicken drummies. Pour in all of the ingredients listed above; olive oil, salt, pepper, dried onion, oregano, parsley, balsamic and work for a couple minutes so it is all mixed well and coating the chicken. Place in a glass bowl in your fridge, or if cooking soon, place on your counter for the meat to marinate at room temperature for at least an hour. If placing in fridge, it can marinate for up to 24 hours.

After the sweet potatoes have cooked for about 45 minutes, place the chicken drummies on the grill. They take about 8 minutes on each side, but you can determine based on your grill temp since this is a dark meat. Your grill should be placed at medium heat now. Therefore, the sweet potatoes can still cook and the drummies can cook evenly. Pour the leftover marinade on the drummies and save a bit for when you turn the drummies over.

After about 8 minutes, turn the drummies and pour on the rest of the marinade. Take off your sweet potatoes and set them to cool. Once the sweet potatoes are cool, peel off the skin and cut off the nubby ends. Mash the sweet potatoes with a fork and add the butter, salt, pepper and honey. Cover with foil to stay warm while the hericot very cook.

Take the drummies off of the grill and place under a foil tent to finish steaming and stay warm. To prep hericot vert, wash and cut off the ends. place on foil, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper, balsamic and a nice lump of stone ground mustard. Pack them all up in the foil and place on grill. These take only about 6 minutes. Carefully open up the packet and mix the green beans so that the warm mustard coats them all. I like my hericot very al dente, where they are bright green and hot, yet not fully cooked so they have a nice snap!

PLATE YOUR FOOD AND EAT!

for the love of cheese

30 Aug

I have a serious problem. It’s called food.

I love food. I love looking at food, buying food, shopping for food, cooking food, it boggles my mind how I am not morbidly obese with the amount of time that food takes up my thoughts. BUT, that is what makes a good chef, cook, grillmaster, teacher, learner, what have you. I’m telling you, there should be an “AA” group for grocery shopping addicts. I can wander around a grocery store for about 4 hours, even if I only need to buy one thing. Today, I spent 2 hours in Whole Foods, to come out with some grass fed butter, a large hunk of mild cheddar, and a kombucha.

My life is changing in big ways. THIRTY is about a week and a half away for me and I am in a transition period in my life. I am in graduate school going into Developmental Therapy in hopes to use my love for food to help children of all backgrounds, needs, abilities and allergies find their inner chef in a therapeutic way. I am currently jobless and taking this time to discover who I am and what I want. Clearly I need to work during graduate school, but right now, I need to find a good fit. Who knows, maybe this blog will take off and I’ll get rich and famous! (RIGHT)

I cook so often and am asked so often what my recipes are that it’s time to take action, dudes (and dudettes). I do not generally use a recipe and a “pinch, handful, pour” is my method of measuring, but it’s time I write down the things I make and use the inherited tool of “throwing something together out of nothing” to make others happy, comforted and learn about what is and is not good for them.

Pictures will probably seriously lack until I acquire a good camera and am able to take pictures step by step throughout the process, but you’ll get the idea.

Take potatoes for example. Such a staple of cooking for so long, you can make them a million ways, boil, bake, you name it. They are a great starch for when you need some carbs, and are great for those of us that do not eat much bread or pasta. With that being said, I did make pasta tonight. My friends LOVE the mac and cheese I make, so I decided to give it a gluten free spin and use rice pasta and use some coconut milk instead of all regular milk and boy is it good.

So here is the start of my dangerously awesome love for food.

TOMATO, POTATO, CHARED CORN AND BASIL SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag fo fingerling potatoes (I use the bag of super teeny ones from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 container of cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 corn on the cob. Boiled or grilled, then slightly charred. Corn cut off of the cob (if not able to find corn on the cob, regular frozen corn or Trader Joe’s charred frozen corn works)
  • 1 container of ciliegine fresh mozzarella or a whatever fresh mozzarella you have (you can make your own, which is a lesson I plan on teaching on here later)
  • 1.5 cups good quality olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon stone ground mustard, dijon or what have you
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and more to taste as needed
  • fresh basil

For the “main ingredients”:

In a large pot, salt water and toss fingerling potatoes in, cut in half lengthwise. Boil for about 5-7 minutes until fork tender. You do NOT want to overcook these or else you’ll have mashed potato salad. Drain the potatoes when done cooking. While the potatoes are cooking, cut your tomatoes in half, lengthwise and toss in a large bowl. Cut the mozzarella in quarters and toss in with the tomatoes. Toss in your roasted and charred corn. (If corn is frozen, cook until just cooked, warm, but not over cooked.)

For the vinaigrette:

Pour olive oil into a small bowl. Pour in balsamic, mustard, salt and pepper. Wisk until combined well. This should thicken and create a emulsion. Taste for salt and pepper content, add more if necessary. Pour vinaigrette over potato, tomato, corn and mozzarella mixture. Toss together and let sit while you get your basil ready.

For the basil, grab the large leaves and flatten them out. Layer them on top of each other, one by one, from the largest leaves until the smallest. Roll them into the shape of a cigar. The cut on a bias. This is called chiffonade. Below is a GREAT video to help teach you this technique.

Sprinkle basil on the your salad, toss again and EAT! This tastes even better after it sits in the fridge for a day or two.

BROWN RICE BLUE MAC AND CHEESY CHEESE

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of Trader Joe’s brown rice penne (I’m telling you, this is the ONLY brand that doesn’t taste god awful and actually doesn’t turn into mush while boiling)
  • 16 ounces (or more if you’d like) of good quality mild and/or sharp cheddar cheese. The blue cheese adds enough sharpness where mild should do
  • 3 ounces blue cheese, or to taste once it is melted in the bechamel
  • 4 cups good quality whole milk (I used 1/2 coconut milk, 1/2 whole milk as well, unsweetened, but if you do not like the taste or coconut milk, do not use it, any unsweetened milk will do)
  • 1.5 tablespoons grass fed butter (Kerrygold, or if you are not into that, use regular butter)
  • 1 tablespoon spelt flour (or regular white flour if you are not gluten free)

For the pasta:

Preheat ove to 350 degrees. Bring a pot of pasta water to boil, making sure the water is liberally salted. This is the only time you can season the actual pasta. Cook until al dente, about 5 minutes or so, because the pastawill cook in the bechamel in the oven.

For the bechamel sauce:

Bechamel is a fancy term for “white sauce.” It’s the base of Alfredo, mac and cheese, creamy sauces. Take your butter, in a saucepan, and melt it down. Add the spelt flour, or regular flour, and whisk until it forms a thick paste. Add your milk and bring it to a boil and then turn the heat off immediately. You do not want your milk to burn, that tastes seriously disgusting.

Add your shredded cheddar cheese and mix until incorporated and melted into the sauce. Add your blue cheese and mixx well. All of the cheese should be melted. Add your salt and pepper and then taste the sauce to see if more salt or pepper is needed.

Pour drained pasta into the sauce and mix well. Now, either pour this in a dutch oven to bake (I like using the cast iron Le Cruset) or put it all in a greased, glass, baking dish. Top with extra shredded cheddar and blue cheese and baked for about 20 minutes. For extra crunchy, bubble cheese on top (I like my cheese to have some crusty caramelization on top), turn your broiler on high and watch the cheese get oozy, bubble and crispy. Cool and EAT EAT EAT!

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