Thursday, March 31

Pasta with asparagus and egg

I got this recipe out of Martha Stewarts Everyday food April 2011 issue. I just thought it looked simple and elegant. As well as something a little different, vegetarian.

Salt and pepper
1/2 lb linguine (I only had angel hair)
1 large bunch asparagus
3 T butter
1/4 C Parmesan cheese
2 eggs

Cook pasta according to package, adding the asparagus in the last minute of cooking. Drain and return pasta and asparagus to pot with butter and parmesan. Toss until coated and add a little pasta water to create a thin sauce. Meanwhile, in a large straight sided skillet, heat 2 in water over medium until a few bubbles rise to the top. To poach the eggs crack each egg into a small bowl and gently pour into skillet. Cook until whites are set, about 4 minutes. Be careful, I overcooked mine and didn't have much a runny egg. With a slotted spoon, transfer eggs on top of pasta. Sprinkle with parmesan if desired.

Salmon patties and brussel sprouts

Im not sure what sparked my memory but this recipe is from my childhood. Im sure my mom loves that Im trying to make things that she always used to make us. I invited both of my sisters over and told them that salmon patties and brussel sprouts were on the menu. When I told them that they both thought they were being punished or something. But I made believers out of them. I do have to give Lee the credit for making me even try brussell sprouts in the first place.

I cut off the ends of my little cabbage patch brussel sprouts (thats what they remind me of) and then cut them in halves. Peel off and discard any yellowed or browned leaves. Dont throw away the yummy green leaves that fall off while trimming though, they are my favorite part. I threw in some baby carrots for fun and sprinkled with EVOO, salt, and pepper and popped it in the oven at 375 for about 30 minutes.

The picture doesnt do them justice. The black looking pieces are your loose leaves and are crispy pieces of EVOO and salty goodness. Yummy! 

Now for the salmon patties. I cant decide how often I will make these, they were just okay. I think with more practice and tweaking they will be better. Its hard to taste because the mixture has raw egg in it so its a guessing game. 

I mixed 3 cans of salmon, 2 eggs, 1/2 C breadcrumbs, and 1 T chopped garlic and formed them into patties. I used too much oil and wish I would have just coated the bottom of the pan.

I heated the oil to medium heat and made sure it was bubbly before dropping them in. I just waited until they were golden brown before flipping them, about 3 minutes a side. 

Mango, Orange and Banana

Finally a smoothie thats not PINK! 

2 C frozen mango
1 banana
1 large orange
1 C chobani non fat plain yogurt
1/2 C milk

Wednesday, March 23

Spicy Meatballs

Ive discovered that I'm often inspired by date night dinners. Lee and I went to Buca di Beppos and we had spicy chicken rigatoni. Yum! Ive been trying to play with more flavors in efforts to get away from all the salt and cheese. Roaming through the grocery store I noticed some spicy ground sausage on sale. I picked it up and threw it in the freezer for a rainy day.

My sister bought me the coolest Christmas presents. A year subscription to Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Magazine. Picking through my April issue inspired me to follow half of the 'Siracha marinara and meatballs' recipe and be inspired from our rigatoni. I followed the recipe for the meatballs swapping the ground pork for hot sausage.

1 lb ground HOT sausage
1.25 lb Jennie O ground turkey
2 C fresh spinach chopped in processor (or 10oz frz)
1/3 C dried bread crumbs
2 large egg whites
3/4 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
cooking spray
Sauce- can of crushed tomatoes and
1 jar Prego veggie smart smooth and simple sauce
1lb pasta (your choice)

 Place pork, turkey, spinach, breadcrumbs, egg whites, oregano, 1 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper in a large bowl. Get your hands clean and ready to get messy. Meanwhile, start cooking your pasta.
 Roll into 1 in balls and arrange on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil until golden brown, 10 minutes, rotating sheet and meatballs halfway through.
Simmer the tomatoes and Prego sauce and then add the meatballs to cook for an additional 5-10 minutes.

Strawberries, Peaches, and Bananas

Ive been trying to recreate the kind of smoothie that I would buy at a fabulous Jamba Juice or somewhere amazing like that. This has been the closest thing and I'm quite proud of how tasty it is. I also bought this fancy $7 reusable cup for my morning smoothies. I make it the night before and then I am good to go. Smoothies can also last up to 2-3 days in the fridge so its been a good plan so far.

2 C frozen peaches
2 C frozen strawberries
2 bananas
1/2 C low fat milk
16 oz chobani nonfat vanilla yogurt
 (I never really measure things so this is me estimating)

Sunday, March 20

St. Patricks Day

 I was out grocery shopping the weekend before St. Patty's day and came up with the brilliant idea of making corned beef at home this year. Last year we went out and had the normal St. Patricks day dinner and a green beer. This year I was so pumped to try it on my own. Needless to say I had about four days of this excitement brewing inside of me giddy to try this yummy dish with a whole day stamped to it.

Well I thought I was just going to throw everything in the crock pot and have Lee turn it on before work. I didn't plan very well and lets just say that didn't happen but Lee reassured me as I was falling asleep Wednesday night that he had it all covered. So the next day I texted him at lunch, obnoxiously wanting to know how my big dinner idea was turning out. I just wanted some details! Lets just say he got the gist of how excited I was. Well since he didnt want to listen to how excited I was I  turned to my cousin/friend/coworker (frousin) and invited her and her husband over for an impromptu dinner. 

This is what I came home to... and a big case of beer!

 My sister just so happened to call and I, with all of my excitement, said 'hey do you want to come over?' And with that we had two more dinner guests.... and another trip to the grocery store.

Here I was thinking we had a whole pot full of food and Lee says umm were going to need more. This is when I realized how much more he knew about this than me! He reminded me how he used to make this all the time at his job in high school.  So I quickly ran up to the corner and grabbed another head of cabbage, a bag of potatoes, and another four pound brisket. I will tell you that I learned from my mistakes of just grabbing a piece of meat before checking them out. Our first batch, pictured above, was DELICIOUS! Our second however, was way too fatty. I didn't take the time to pick out a good piece, bummer.  Ive always been intimidated looking for what parts of the cow to buy! Or whatever kind of pork/beef/shoulder/ribs/ground round... the list goes on for me. Yes, yes I'm well aware that pork and beef are from two different animals, I just don't understand the cuts and I'm scared of the meat counter. 

Luckily our guests were coming for a late night dinner and arrived just in time for the second batch. Lets just say it was a fun night and you don't need to go to the bar to get a green beer.

Monday, March 14

Sister time

My sister has been coming to visit weekly now because I am a perfect stop in between work and her masters class. We normally cook dinner and watch the biggest loser. Today we were quite proud of what we accomplished, giddy actually. I had frozen tilapia, frozen green beans and didnt know what to do. So I used my allrecipes app on my phone and came up with this:

Garlic Parmesan Orzo


Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

Impressive, right!?! We even decided to get fancy with our plates! I also wanted to share some of the little things that we tweaked and some of my favorite things that I used while cooking. 
Defrosting food in the microwave is a pet peeve of mine so we put the frozen fish in a plastic bag and filled the sink with hot water. It only took about 10-15 minutes to thaw. Both recipes called for a lot of butter and we got away with only using half of the called amount for the orzo. Next we swapped out the parsley and used a trader joes favorite:
I think these 1tsp cubes are awesome! They also have them in cilantro and garlic.

The fish was almost done, and we forgot about the green beans. Luckily my fancy steamer had them ready in just 3 minutes in the microwave. (Trader Joes frozen green beans taste very close to fresh!)
 Props to pampered chef...and sister talk! 

Saturday, March 12

Berry smoothie

With some time on my hands (or procrastinating laundry) I decided to fiddle with some things in the kitchen. Lee and I have been trying to get more fruits and veggies in our diet lately and less enriched carbs.  I decided to throw some things in my Magic Bullet and see what happened.

First, I knew I had some of that greek yogurt that everyone has been raving about and then I added some frozen mixed berries that I had stocked in the freezer from Trader Joes.

Does anyone else have problems with their magic bullet? Every time I use it I just get annoyed. Yes its easier to grab and clean but I have to stop every 5 seconds because it smells like the motor is burning and then it doesn't do a good job of mixing things through.  Next time I think I will just use the blender.

Any who, I dumped the yogurt and frozen berries in and it was super thick so I added about 1/2 C of milk.  It turned out pretty good but very seedy from the berries so I think I will go for peaches, strawberries, and bananas next time. I might also try adding a scoop of protein powder and having it for breakfast on the run in the morning or maybe make a bigger batch and leave it in the fridge.

Unexpected dinner with the Mother in law!

I got home from work and Lee mentioned that his Mom was stopping by to pick something up on her way home from work. I started to freak out a little bit because I had nothing planned for dinner and was in no mood to cook. He told me not to worry and that she wasn't even going to eat here.

Sure! A knock on the door startles me from my 'recovering from crazy children coma' on the couch. She's 20 minutes early, and one of the first thing she asks us is our plans for dinner. Lee didn't want to go anywhere and she didn't want me to have to cook anything. Of course my wonderful husband said "Joy can just whip something up."

An hour ago I would've been mad at him for saying that. But the way he said it with such confidence made me feel loved and that he trusted my cooking abilities. And so I pulled something out of my back pocket. I knew the ground turkey was already thawed and I went from there...

.5 lb  ground turkey
1 Tbs crushed garlic
2 C asparagus, chopped
2 cans crushed tomatoes with garlic and basil
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 box tri color rotini (16 oz)

Bring water to a boil and stir in the pasta.  Meanwhile, brown ground turkey, garlic, and onion in the pan. Add the tomatoes and give it a good stir. Add asparagus, cook until tender. Pour sauce on top of pasta and I topped mine with salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese.

I was quite proud of myself and even got to use one of my fun serving bowls that I registered for. I also must add that I love my MIL and her laid back nature. She has always made me feel apart of the family. Sadly, my pictures got deleted and I was so excited to share them. Bummer.

Sunday, March 6

Towel wedding cake

One of my closest friends is getting married this June and I decided to pull out all the stops for her shower gift. You see I never labeled myself as creative, that was always my sister. But after teaching PE for three years, I realized I don't give myself enough credit. Not to toot my own horn, but my kids love me and I'm always pulling things out of my back pocket for them to do. 

Awhile ago I was at my sisters house and she had the coolest shower gift on the table for her girlfriend. A towel cake!  I thought I would never be able to pull it off. Well thanks to a quick google and a little improvising it was a success.

I used 2 bath towels, 2 hand towels, 2 wash cloths, ribbon, and a fake flower.

Fold the towels in half and then half again

  Line them up and start rolling. It was easier than I thought, just hold the two edges when you get to the second towel. 

 I tied a smaller ribbon around it to keep it tight, and then added the larger purple for the bridal colors. 

  I only tied a bow at the bottom layer because I thought three bows would be a bit much. For the top two I just tucked in the edges and spun that part to the back.

I found this flower at Michaels for only 2 bucks! It was easy to poke through the middle, I didn't cut it because I didn't have strong enough scissors. 

 One of my joyous moments came when I remembered I wanted to regift a 3 piece luggage set that I had tucked away in the closet. YES, everyone regifts! Plus, I thought this would be perfect because my bride didn't register for any luggage.  Whew, I almost totally forgot that I wanted to give that to her. Well somehow I pulled another one out of my back pocket. I covered up the stem with some tissue paper and I fulfilled my bridesmaid duties of an awesome present!

Friday, March 4

Anything with an elastic waist band

One of the best things about my job... sweat pants! AMAZING! I even prefer them over jeans. I dont know how people wear normal clothes all the time. All I have to say is "I'm sorry because that must really suck." The fact that I can just grab a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and throw on a hoody and have a great day at work is magnificent. Another reason why I hardly feel like a grown up.  On the brighter days of teaching PE, I'm just a big kid playing along with them.

T-shirt- $10
Sweat pants- $20
Hoody- $30
Tennis shoes- $100
Wearing them to work everyday- PRICELESS!!!!

Tuesday, March 1

Sweet and Salty

I grew up on air popped popcorn with melted butter on the stove. Mmm, I can smell it and hear my dad yelling "Who wants popcorn?" Recently I have learned how to cook it on the stove. To my surprise I like the taste better than the air popped and definitely healthier than the microwave. The other night I found myself wanting something sweet and salty and googled kettle corn recipes. I was excited because the only thing different than the stove top was adding in some sugar. So I tried it, it wasn't perfect but for a first attempt it was good enough to eat.

I normally just put a little bit of veggie oil in the bottom of a medium sized pot on medium heat. I drop in 3 or 4 kernels and wait for the oil to get hot and the kernels to pop. Once hot stir in the sugar and the kernels. I gave it a good stir for a minute or so then put on the top and shook it until the popping slowed to a few seconds apart. I'm still playing with the amount of sugar. It called for the same amount of sugar as kernels (1/2 C of sugar, 1/2 C of kernels). I cut the sugar in half and it was still to much for me. Be very careful not to let the sugar burn, just keep shaking and pour into a bowl right after the popping slows. Top with salt if you'd like, or not.

1/4 C veg. oil
1/4 C white sugar
1/2 C unpopped kernels