Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Product Recommendation: Arnold Sandwich Thins

Bread is not my favorite food.  While I love nice bread like foccacia and sourdough, I would not shed a tear if I never touched the store bought pre-sliced bread ever again.  In come Arnold Deli Flats.  My mom started buying these a couple of years ago and I was instantly hooked.  They are whole grain, they are the perfect size, and they actually taste really good.  They are healthy containing only 100 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein.  I use them for sandwiches, turkey/tuna melts (flip them over so the crust is on the inside and they toast easier), and for hamburger buns.  I think Pepperidge Farm makes a similar product, and if you have not tried either, I highly recommend giving either a shot.

(image courtesy of google images)

Monday, August 29, 2011

Dinner in 10 Minutes: Turkey Burgers with Salsa Verde

This summer, I have eaten a lot of turkey burgers.  I buy them from Costco in bulk.  The patties are 1/3 lb. made of all white meat and you throw the frozen patties on a George Foreman grill and they are done in 7 minutes.  Really convenient since I am famous for forgetting to thaw meat. 

Anyways, the one thing I don't like about the pre-made frozen patties is I can't add much to the meat--you might remember my turkey salsa burgers from last summer.  However, I found a solution.  Right before I added the cheese, with about a minute and a half left on the grill,  I poured a bit of salsa verde on the burger and put the cheese over it.  I held the top of the George Foreman grill over the burger so the cheese could melt.  It was delicious and really easy.  You could try it with just about any kind of salsa or maybe even a barbecue sauce.  Serve these with some steam-in-the-bag veggies and you have a really quick and healthy dinner.  You can also buy the pre-made frozen turkey patties in just about any grocery store.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Healthy Tip: Add Quinoa to Your Salad

Lately I have been eating a lot of salad.  I usually have one with dinner or lunch and sometimes both.  My salads are simple--containing whatever veggies I have on hand and dressing. While salad is healthy and a great way to get your veggies, it is not very filling.  If it is filling, it is probably full of cheese and other things that defeat the purpose of eating salad.  In comes quinoa.  The other night I had some leftover and decided to add it to my salad.  Quinoa is a great source of protein and fiber, two things that make you feel full and satiated.  Quinoa has a grainy flavor, but it is by no means overwhelming, but fairly subtle.  The texture is a bit like cous cous.  I really liked it in my salad and will be adding it in the future.  The salad below contains spring mix, quinoa, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers and a bit of Greek style feta dressing from Trader Joe's.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Muffin Tin Eggs

I know these sound weird, but I had to post about them because they are so unbelievably easy.  I am a big fan of hard boiled eggs.  I like to have them around to grab for breakfast on my way out the door and sometimes I will eat one right before a bike ride.  I like to call them nature's protein bars as a single egg has nearly 13 grams of protein.  The problem with hard boiled eggs is that I run out and forget to make more.  In come muffin tin eggs.  A facebook friend posted the recipe and I was inspired.  They are so simple.  Pre-heat the oven to 350 degees, spritz the muffin wells with some non-stick cooking spray, and cook as many eggs as you would like.  Cook for 15-20 minutes. By the time I am done getting ready for work, I have breakfast.  They have the consistency of a hard boiled eggs.  I added a little bit of ham and topped each egg with half a slice of colby jack cheese.  You could get creative and maybe add some veggies, different kinds of cheeses and maybe even some cooked bacon. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Shrimp & Goat Cheese Pizza with Red Peppers and Grape Tomatoes

One of the easiest meals I make is homemade pizza.  Usually for me it involves a simple crust (Betty Crocker & or Pillsbury) some Contadina pizza sauce, a little mozza and then whatever else I can find in the fridge.  I have to say this pizza turned out especially good because I happen to have leftover shrimp and goat cheese in my fridge.  I felt like I was eating out, even though I was home.  I know the crust looks kind of funny--I struggle with all things dough related.  This was the first time I used the Pillsbury brand that is located in the refrigerated section.  The crust tasted awesome, but it was a bit hard to work with as the dough kept on tearing.

1 container of Pillsbury pre-made dough
1/2 cup of pizza sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
2 oz of crumbled goat cheese
10-15 small shrimp, tails removed (from shrimp cocktail)
handful of grape tomatoes, cut in half
1/2 red pepper, chopped

1) Preheat your oven to 425 degrees (or whatever your chosen dough requires).  In the meantime, grease a pizza pan and work the dough into a round pizza shape on the pan.  I tend to work with the dough--meaning if it goes weirdly in one direction, I just roll with it (note--the pizza is shaped like a Pokemon).

2) Spread the sauce on the pizza.  I tend to like a lot of sauce, feel free to use more than the suggested amount.  Next, add the toppings.  Spread them out evenly.  Next cover in mozza and goat cheese.  I tend to go light on the mozza--I prefer more toppings and sauce to cheese. 

3) Bake for 15-17 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Farmer's Market Salad with Herbed Goat Cheese

I made this fresh and delicious salad for a lunch date with a friend.  I just finished what was hopefully my very last test before getting my license to practice law and it was a cause for celebration.  It was a beautiful day and lunch was enjoyed on a sunny deck and the salad accompanied with a delicious sparkling wine--a Cava, in honor of my friend who had just returned from Spain.  I call the salad Farmer's Market Salad because the potatoes, green beans, and cucumbers are all from the Minneapolis farmer's market.  While I list tomatoes, green beans, potatoes, red pepper and cucumber in the ingredients, you should feel free to choose whatever veggies you like.

3 cups of Spring Mix (or whatever greens you choose)
4 oz. of grape tomatoes quartered
1/4 cup of boiled fingerling potatoes (I used the leftovers from this recipe)
1/2 cup chopped cucumber
1/2 red pepper cut in large chunks
1/2 lb. of steamed green beans (steam for 3-5 minutes)
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 Tbs. of fresh thyme

2 Tbs. of balsamic vinegar
5 Tbs. of EVOO
1/2 tsp of dijon mustard
1 tsp. of fresh chopped thyme

The directions are pretty simple for this recipe. If you serve the salad as a meal, it will serve about two. If you serve it as a dinner salad, it will serve about 4-6.  Divide the ingredients among the plates.  The goat cheese crumbles should be shaken with the chopped thyme.  For the dressing, in a small bowl I would add the vinegar first, followed by the thyme and mustard--then drizzle the EVOO in, stirring vigorously.  I would let your guests dress their salad to their liking. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Blog is One-Year Old!

Well--I have officially been blogging for one year! Time flies when you are having fun.  I have had an absolute blast sharing my cooking experiences with all of you.  When I started, I know more than a few people told me I would blog for a few weeks and then drop it.  I am glad to prove those people wrong.  I have learned a lot and I still have a long ways to go.  Thank you for your support and here is to another year of blogging!  Here are a few of my blogging goals for the next year:

-I want to post more often and more consistently.  I have struggled with this one a lot more lately (life has been crazy), but it is definitely something I want to make more time for. 

-I want to tie my blog to more forms of social media.  I am hoping to have an active Twitter account in the near future and I want to make a Facebook fan page.

-I want to work on my food photography.  I just have a point and shoot camera--it does the trick, but I really need to have optimal conditions to get a half-way decent picture. 

-I want to have more interactive readers.  I love hearing from you guys! If anyone wants to do a guest post, just say the word! I also love comments, suggestions to improve my recipes and even some ideas on what you guys would like to see more of. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Helpful Tip: Pack Your Lunch

When I first started working in downtown Minneapolis, I was eating out almost every day.  It just seemed easier, it required hardly any effort or planning and I could find plenty of salads and soups that I really enjoyed.  However, one week I kept all of my receipts and at the end of the week I had spent nearly $60 on eating out.  Multiply that by 4 weeks--and I was almost spending $240 a month on eating out.  I started to think about all of the things I would rather spend my money on.  Additionally--while I felt like I was being healthy by eating salad and soup mostly, there is often a lot of extra things in salads and soup that can make them really bad for you.  Now when I am away from the house at lunch--whether it be at school or working, I pack my lunch.  It does require some planning and preparation, but I save a lot of money by doing it.  Here are some things I do to make packing a lunch easier:

-I pack my lunch the night before, so I can just grab it on my way out the door.

-I plan and have a good idea what my lunch will consist of at the beginning of the week.

-I take some time, usually on Sundays to make things for much lunch.  This might mean chopping up veggies and portioning out dip made with Greek Yogurt or even ranch.  It might mean putting pasta salad or soup in tupperware.  I also might boil half a dozen eggs as they make either a great mid-morning snack or are great for lunch. 

-I have stuff to make sandwiches on hand--usually deli flats, cheese and turkey from Costco.  Each sandwich costs about $0.75 and are pretty healthy too.  I also try to have Kashi granola bars, yogurt and string cheese on hand because those things are easy to grab.

-I try to eat meals that will create leftovers that can be eaten for lunch. 

-I try to switch things up and create variety.  It is boring eating a sandwich every day.  Sometimes I will make a big salad or take soup instead.  I also try to eat different kinds of fruits and veggies and switch up the kind of snacks I bring. 

-I pack myself a treat in my lunch--sometimes it is fruit snacks in the shape of sharks (yes, I am a child sometimes and my mom never packed such things in my lunch when I was little) or oreos. 

-I allow myself to eat lunch out every now and then.  It is a nice treat once and awhile.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Marvel Bar & 1029 Bar (aka Smack Shack Lobster Rolls)

Lately I have been on a mission to try Smack Shack Lobster Rolls.  The food truck is in downtown Minneapolis during the week and a couple of Fridays ago we tried to make it and missed it by ten minutes.  Never fear--Smack Shack Lobster Rolls are served at the 1029 Bar on the weekends.  Last night we went, but not before stopping for a cocktail at the Marvel Bar.

What is the Marvel Bar?  It is the newest bar in downtown Minneapolis, located in the heart of the North Loop.  I saw a friend rave about it on Facebook, so we decided to check it out.  They have a number of signature cocktails on their menu--and we loved the two that we tried! There are a few places in the city that claim to have awesome mixologists--La Belle Vie and Prohibition to name a couple.  Frankly, both places serve drinks that are far too sweet for my taste and I struggle at either to find something that is not going to give me a sugar high.  That is definitely not the case at the Marvel Bar--I had a drink called Ever After.  It was made with Gin, Pinot Blanc and two other things that I can't remember, but all you really need to know is that it was fantastic. It was definitely not too sweet, and it was light, but still had a bit of body to it.  Charlie had a deuce deuce made with whiskey, and he loved it. I did not try it because I am not a fan of whiskey under any circumstance.  Anyways--not only were the drinks great, but the bar is beautiful.  From the walls to the floors to the bar itself--everything just really works.  It has a modern feel, yet you can still see a lot of the elements of the old building in it.  Definitely check this place out.  I can't wait to go again and next time I will go on bike as it is right off of the Greenway. 

After the Marvel Bar, we ventured across the river to the 1029 Bar.  I honestly have to admit there may have been a bit of culture shock as the 1029 Bar is just your run of the mill neighborhood bar, complete with bad karaoke and pull tabs.  However--we each had a lobster roll and it was amazing.  There was a generous portion of lobster and the cucumber, lemon and tarragon just gave it an incredibly fresh taste.  I wanted to order another one!

Anyways--all in all, a great night in Minneapolis.  Definitely check out Smack Shack Lobster Rolls and the Marvel Bar, you will not regret either.  In fact--do it all in one night, just like we did and you will see two very different sides of Minneapolis.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Fingerling Potato & Green Bean Salad with Lemon and Herbs

On Saturday I made it to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market and purchased some itty bitty fingerling potatoes and some fantastic looking green beans.  I wanted to create a summery dish that used both of them so I used Foodily to search for some recipes.  I chose this recipe from Epicurious, making a few changes along the way.  The salad had a light lemon flavor and the green beans and potatoes tasted fresh--it is amazing how different the farmer's market goods taste!  The potato salad was served along side a delicious fish recipe my fellow blogger friend Robin made. 

1 lb. fingerling potatoes (or baby reds)
1 lb. green beans
1/4 cup EVOO
2 Tsp of lemon zest
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used Italian parsley & thyme)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
salt & pepper to taste

1) Scrub the potatoes and put the potatoes in a large pot.  Fill with cold water and a few sprinkles of salt and bring to a boil.  After about 15-20 minutes, check the potatoes to see if they are done.  They should be soft, but not mushy.  Rinse in cool water and put in a large bowl.

2)  Bring 3-5 inches of salted water to a boil and then toss in the green beans.  Boil for about 3-5 minutes, then rinse in cold water and set the green beans aside with the potatoes.

3) Now mix your dressing.  In a small bowl, add the EVOO, lemon juice, lemon zest, herbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well and then drizzle over the potatoes and green beans.  The salad is best served at room temperature, but should be refrigerated if you are not serving it right away.