Dining

Potted Chili

Posted on December 3, 2015. Filed under: Dining, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

Sorry, couldn’t figure out a good pun for that one.

Shawn and I went ice skating last night, Valpo put in a rink and I really wanted to check it out. She had been skating about 3 times before, this was my only second time. But, I didn’t fall, so it’s all good. I didn’t even hold on to the wall…that many times haha.

I had been wanting to make a chili pot pie for a while. I thought a warm chili with a corn bread crust would be the ultimate comfort food. I also wanted to do a vegetarian version because meat is just expensive. This meal (Ok, more like the next 5 meals..there’s a lot guys), plus a week of groceries was just over $50.

I wanted something that would be filling, warming, and healthy. Hard order to fill, maybe. I decided to use sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts, asparagus and a bunch of beans. Those are pretty much all my favorite vegetables that I cook.

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Vegetarian Chili Pot Pie

This recipe is so very easy and can be made in a crock pot, prepped the night before.

Here’s what to get from the store:

Sweet Potatoes
Asparagus
Brussles Sprouts
Tomato Sauce
Shallots
Jalapenos
Pinto Beans
Chickpeas
Blackbeans
Cornmeal

Vegetarian Chili

2 Sweet Potatoes
1 Bundle Asparagus
10-15 Brussles Sprouts
1 Shallot
2 Jalapenos
30 oz tomato sauce
1 Cup Water
1 Can each, pinto, chick peans, and black beans
Salt, pepper, curry powder, paprika, cayenne, turmeric

  1. Dice the vegetables and layer in your crock pot. Char the jalapeno on your burner before dicing. Cover with the tomato sauce and water, then add the spices and stir.
  2. Cook on high for 3 hours, or low for about 5. Taste to adjust seasoning. Near the end, add the beans.

Drop Cornbread Biscuit Crust
(Based off Martha Stewart)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup shredded cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Transfer to a food processor, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs with a few larger clumps remaining.

  3. Add the cheese and pulse some more.
  4. Pour in milk; using a rubber spatula, fold milk into dough, working in all directions and incorporating crumbs at the bottom of the bowl, until dough just comes together. The dough will be slightly sticky; do not over mix.

For the Pot Pie
Vegetarian Chili
Drop Biscuit Dough
  1. Pour the chili into small bread pans or ramekins. Place the biscuit dough on top in little mounds. The dough will spread out as it cooks.
  2. Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet and bake at 375 for about 15 minutes, or until the biscuit dough is starting to brown.

I hired 2 new stage managers at Gorilla Tango and I’m pretty proud of myself. This isn’t the hardest production stage manager position, but I actually enjoy the added responsibilities. I feel so lucky that I found what I was meant to do with my life. I know so many people who may never find that, even though I really do hope everyone gets to feel the rush and joy of doing something they truly love.

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Don’t Nuke It!

Posted on May 27, 2015. Filed under: Dining | Tags: , , , , |

Leftovers are those things that sit in plastic containers in your fridge until you decide to eat them or throw them away. A lot of times they don’t warm up correctly; they get gummy or soggy. I used to be one of those who would get left overs from a restaurant and then forget to eat them, mainly because I knew they were going to be gross if I threw them in the microwave.

Since I changed my eating habits, I’ve used my microwave one time since Feburary. It was to melt butter for a recipe, but I realize I can do that on the stove. I’m about ready to clean the thing out and take it to Goodwill. Eating left overs shouldn’t be about eating some partially warmed up kind of soggy or dry item. It should be about breathing new life into something that was eaten before. That means no microwave. Your skillet is going to be your new best friend.

Yesterday, I made some caprese skewers with shrimp and tortellini.  (See the post). And, like always, I got ingredients for about 3 or 4 people. I didn’t feel like making the skewers again, but everything I used yesterday is great for a simple pasta dish. The only thing that wasn’t used in yesterday’s recipe was some diced onion and dry white wine. That’s it. It was made all in one skillet in about 30 minutes. Don’t use this recipe as an exact, use it as a suggestion to help you fix your boring left overs. Believe it or not, you can even use ideas like this to breath new life into restaurant left overs.

Caperse Tortilli with Grilled Shrimp

Here’s what to get from the store:

NOTHING! (Duh)

Left over Caprese Tortellini

Shrimp
Day old Torellini
Diced onion
Cherry Tomatoes, halved
Fresh Mozzarella
Dry white wine
Basil Pesto
Garlic Aioli
Salt and pepper

  1. Saute the diced onion in some olive oil and baslmic vinegar until fragrant. Add about a quarter cup of dry white wine and the tomatoes and let reduce.
  2. While the sauce is reducing, take the shells off your shrimp and put them back in the marinade. When you have enough (you’ll have some left over) throw them in the saute pan and cook until pink. Add the tortellini and saute until warm. Add a spoon full of basil pesto and toss to coat. Add the mozzarella right as you plate and stir so it melts slightly. Top with some garlic aioli.

When I was a kid, I was pretty out of shape. The first time I threw out my knee I was in middle school trying to get into a back bend from lying down. I wasn’t embarrassed (I don’t seem to get embarrassed) luckily, but I kind of always thought I was going to be a couch potato.

Even though I’m much healthier and at a perfect weight for my height, the chunky out of shape girl is still in the back of my head. I’ve been working very hard to forget what I looked like 15 pounds ago, but it’s hard. This is something that happens to anyone who goes through a transformation. While I wasn’t obese, at 145 pounds in high school, I was pretty big for my frame. It’s a hard thing to get over.

My body image is a LOT better, though. Most of that comes from feeling great on the inside. I had a regular I hadn’t seen in a while asked me if I have been working out and eating better, so I know I physically have changed. And, I can see it, my arm muscles are pretty cool looking now and I can actually see 2 of my abs!

For all of you out there who have it worse, you’re not alone. But your mental picture of yourself is very important. Trying to forget the past is hard, but the fit person you want is inside of you, don’t give up.

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Dress it up

Posted on February 8, 2015. Filed under: Dining | Tags: , , |

If you’re friends with me on other social media, you know I was on vacation in Florida last week. One of the hardest things on vacation is keeping up with a healthy diet. The first thought on the road is to eat whatever is easy, or you figure “why not, I’m on vacation”. I get it, trust me. Vacation was always the time to just let go and do things you don’t normally do. But, my friend and I were also trying to do our vacation on the cheap, so constantly eating out was less of an option. One of the best things we did was find a place to stay with a kitchen . This allowed us to get healthy foods for most of our meals, along with saving some money.

One of the things we got was a frozen pizza from Walmart. Now, I know you’re thinking that’s not healthy, but we got a plain cheese pizza that we added things to. We had gotten things to make salads; spinach, peppers, ect. We threw that on top with some salt, pepper and crushed garlic and a boring frozen pizza turned into a yummy veggie pizza with some health value.

On our last night we made pasta, which turned into an adventure because our available pots were one skillet and the smallest sauce pan possible. We ended up boiling the pasta right in the skillet then using the same skillet to heat up and doctor the sauce. I’m not a huge fan of canned pasta sauce; it never has the right flavor for me. We sauteed some garlic with spinach, red pepper, lemon juice and lemon zest before adding the sauce. In retrospect I would have added more lemon zest because the lemon flavor didn’t come out too much, but the canned sauce picked up some of the added flavor.

What I’m trying to say, with this random ramblings, is that it is possible to go on your vacation and still be healthy. Sure, we ate at both Disney parks we went to, but we made sure to eat something healthy at where we were staying. Epcot ended up being easy because we had some fantastic options in the around the world part (along with some wine for me!)

So, go ahead and indulge a little bit, just make sure to make sure it has a bit of a healthy element.

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But how Easy is it, Really?

Posted on September 14, 2014. Filed under: Dining |

So many inventions in the world come from the need for convenience; cars, phones, computers, the internet, fast food. I get it, going through the drive through is fast and you have no clean up. I used to love going through the fast food lines, mainly because I could stop somewhere when I was on the way to a rehearsal or another job. But, after not going out for food almost at all in the past few months, I’ve actually become pretty disenfranchised with the whole fast food life. Every time I get something, I’ve been disappointed, so why go back? Cooking for myself has made me appreciate a lot more about food and how it makes me feel.

Cooking from scratch isn’t easy in any way shape or form, you have prep work, cooking time, and clean up time. For some dishes you can take over two hours to make. But you know what? You can cook in bulk, put some of that stuff in the freezer, eat it for a few days. You know exactly what goes in the dishes you make and now matter what you make, it will ALWAYS be healthier. I’m a big advocate of making everything you can from scratch. You want that pie? Make the crust, at least you know there’s no chemicals.

I talk about this quite a bit, but I feel like I’m living proof that cooking for yourself is so much better. Yesterday I made myself apsaragas and sweet potatoes with brown rice and quinoa. I hadn’t eaten that many veggies all week and let me tell you, I had so much energy at work and didn’t get hungry part of the way through like I do if I had eaten something different.

I’m not saying I’m perfect, I got Pizza Hut last week. But, I felt kind of gross after two slices. I should have just made the stuff, but I didn’t want to. It was convenient, but a really bad idea. But hey, you live and learn. It’s ok to do that every once in a while, but not all the time. Learn to cook from scratch, give yourself just a week of cooking every meal for yourself, I promise you that you’ll never want to go back.

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Fad-y living

Posted on August 21, 2014. Filed under: Dining | Tags: |

One of my regulars came in for lunch yesterday, and I gave him and his buddies their normal drinks, Pepsi and a water for 2, just a water for the 3rd. The one sat down and said “Oh, I just quit” and handed his Pepsi to his friend. He then went on to order the most boring thing you can get: a salad with no dressing, grilled chicken tenders with no sauce and a side of celery. When I mentioned it, he said he was going Paleo. When I laughed and said it was another fab diet, he claimed it’s not a fad, it’s how the cavemen ate, it’s way before fad.

Now, I don’t know too much about the Paleo diet, what I do know is it is supposed to be how the cavemen ate. My biggest issue with that is the recipes that I’ve been stumbling on for Paleo food is NOTHING like how the cavemen ate. How do I know? The cavemen only ate what they could get from where they were living; plants that were in the area that they knew were safe to eat, and whatever animal they could kill and get meat out of. A lot of the times, the meat wasn’t cooked. Yup, that’s right, RAW meat. You want to eat raw meat? No. This is why this diet is a fad, it worked for someone who wrote a book and claimed they based it off of some ancient diet. Now, that being said, this diet seems to follow the way I like to eat in that it does focus on actual food, not pre-packaged “health” bars or meal replacement supplements.

I’m not a stranger to fad diets myself. My senior year of high school dad went on the South Beach diet, and I decided to join him. The South Beach is similar to Atkins in that it gets rid of all carbs and sugars, but South Beach lets you add healthy sugar back in. The first day was AWFUL. I had been living on Mountain Dew, Munchies and free KFC for probably the past year. I was working, going to school, in band, orchestra and theatre, I was a busy lady. After the first week of agony (and super sleepy-ness due to lack of caffeine) I ended up doing alright. I think I lasted a few months, probably until I got into my freshmen year at Ball State.

While I don’t advocate this diet, it did help me change a bit. I used to have a really big sweet tooth, but now I can’t eat that much candy and the like anymore (I still like to bake it though!) and I do opt towards food with less processed sugar. But, as I said in my last post, Forget the Process,  it wasn’t until I stopped eating all the really processed food last September that I really started feeling amazing.

Fad diets can be great only if they give a person a basis to live their lives in a healthy manner, but a lot of them don’t. Before you try one of them, take a look at what happens when you go off the diet. Did other people gain the weight back? Did they know how to eat without the guidelines? If you answer no to those questions, move on, eat some strawberries and find another one that will help you. Eating food is about fueling yourself to be the best person you can be, not any other reason.

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Do you need any more proof?

Posted on April 24, 2014. Filed under: Dining | Tags: |

For the past couple of months, I’ve been eating more home made, almost all vegetarian meals. I was letting myself eat some of the bad stuff (processed) at work about once a week, and I was holding my weight at around 120, which at my height is a perfectly good weight. Well, last week I was in tech and having to run straight from work, which meant I went off my diet and had a lot more to eat at work than normal. Now, I could’ve made salads to take to work, I know, but I knew eating at work would be easier. I had actually been eating the healthier options at work, grilled chicken tacos, fish tacos, and salads, so I thought I would be safe. But, add in Easter I jumped up 7 pounds in a week. That’s not normal!

I’ve put myself back on my diet, spinach and kale salads every day with other good foods mixed in, but no more bdubs for a few weeks at least. I’ve already dropped 2 pounds since I switched back. Many people say that not all calories are the same, and I feel like I’ve proved that. I can eat a huge bowl of salad or brussles sprouts and it will be more bennificial to me than the same calories in something processed.

Since I’ve been eating so much less processed foods, I’ve been feeling a lot better. Last week I was exhausted all the time, couldn’t stay awake if I wasn’t running around at work or in rehearsal. I just finished a whole bowl of my salad (and when I say whole bowl, I mean a mixing bowl) and I feel ready to take on the world.

Balance in food is just as important as balance in life. Now that I’ve eaten my salad, I know I can have something unhealthy, but I really don’t want it. There really isn’t a set diet that anyone should be following; just make sure you balance out your life. If you want the pizza for dinner, eat the salad for lunch. If you want beer later on, drink water all day (and that will help with a hangover!) If you want ice cream, just eat a few spoon fulls and add in some really sweet fruit. The idea if you want to be healthy is don’t eat to much of anything. Too much sugar is bad; too much salt is bad; too much vitamin B can be bad. It’s really not that hard, don’t eat too much of one thing; only that way can a person feel better about their health.

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I’m sick, so soup?

Posted on March 26, 2014. Filed under: Dining | Tags: , , , |

When I’m sick, I want two things, flat Sprite from a bottle (it’s weird, I know) and potato soup. Normally I’ll get the cans of Cambell’s chunky bacon and potato soup and call it a day. But, for some reason, in my congested haze, I decided I HAD to make my own soup. What started as just using a recipe from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, ended up being a soup I made all on my own. I wasn’t going to change her recipe, but I forgot the bacon and only bought half the amount of broth I needed, so I had to improvise. My improvise ended up being a bottle of New Belgium 1554 black Lager, and it totally worked. So, here is my recipe for Beer Potato Soup!

 

Beer Potato Soup

6 potatoes, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
4 pieces of celery, chopped
4 oz vegetable broth
1 12 oz bottle of beer
1 cup milk
3 tbsp flour
1 cup heavy cream
Siracha
1 cup shredded parmesean
kale
Seasonings: salt, black pepper, red pepper, ground mustard, paprika, parsley

  1. Saute the carrots, onion, garlic and celery with all of the seasonings in a large pan with olive oil, until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the potatoes, and saute, adding more paprika.
  3. After about 5 minutes, add the broth and beer and bring to a boil. Cover and let boil, stiring every few moments until the potatoes are cooked through.
  4. Whisk the flour and the milk together then add it into the soup, making sure to incorporate.
  5. Take about 2/3 of the soup out of the pot and add it to a blender, or a food processor, and blend until smooth. Add it back into the rest of the soup. Add the cheese and the cream, then taste.
  6. Tear the kale and stir in
  7. Add more seasoning if needed, then finish with siracha, mixing in at the last moment. Serve with shredded cheddar and your choice of bread.
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Sweet Startch!

Posted on March 8, 2014. Filed under: Dining | Tags: , , |

I’ve been trying to diversify what I’m eating, because my salad can get boring (no matter how yummy it is). So, when I went to the store the other day, I picked up some brussles sprouts and sweet potatoes. My resulting dinner tonight was pretty fantastic, sorry there aren’t any exact measurements, but it delicious!

Veggie Saute
1 sweet potato, cubed and skinned
1/2 red onion, chopped
10 brussles sprouts, halved
4 cloves garlic, smashed
Handful of Kale
chickpeas
Olive oil
Basalmic Vinager
Dill
Paprika
Honey
Salt and pepper

  1. Saute the sweet potatoes in some olive oil with salt, pepper and vinager. Once they have been cooking for a few minutes, add the sprouts and stir. Cover the pan, stiring every once in a while until the potatoes start to soften and the sprouts start to brown.
  2. Add the onion and garlic along with the spices and honey, cook until the onions are transluent. Add the kale and cook until it shrinks. Add chickpeas and cook for another moment.

 

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Balance

Posted on March 5, 2014. Filed under: Dining | Tags: , , , , |

Life is all about balance. Work and play, awake and sleep, good and bad. I’ve been re-balancing my life, mostly with my food. When Matt and I were having our issues, I lost a bit of weight. When we started working things out, I didn’t really want to gain it back, and I started taking control of what I ate. Before, he and I would eat a lot of take out, a lot of fast food late and night, I didn’t want to do that because it made me feel like crap. Now, if we do eat out, it’s at a restaurant that has less processed food. I make most of my meals with fresh veggies, and it’s showed. I have better energy and I know what I’m eating is making my health all over better. I still eat the bad stuff, too, though, because that’s the balance part. I’ll let myself eat the bad food, only if I eat something good first. The healthy food fills me up much quicker and it keeps me from eating a lot of the bad food.

Something I’ve been eating pretty much every day is a salad that I’ve called my “Super Healthy Salad.” It’s filled with super foods that are filled with vitamines. It doesn’t really need a recipe, but I’m going to tell you how to construct it.

Super Healthy Salad

Fresh KaleFresh Spinach
Cucumbers, chopped
Strawberries, chopped
Red onions, chopped
Raw pecans
dried Cranberries
Cooked quinoa or chickpeas
Balsamic dressing (below)

  1. Rip the kale into bite sized pieces, add to the bowl with the spinach, cucumbers, strawberries, onions, pecans and cranberries and quinoa or chickpeas if you want them. Season with salt and pepper, and a little garlic powder. Pour on the dressing.

Balsamic Dressing

  1. Mix equal parts of olive oil and Balsamic vinegar. Add a splash of either fresh lemon or lime juice with salt, pepper, and a little honey. Wisk to incorporate. You can use right away, or store room temperature. It will separate, but you can mix it back together very easily.
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De-constructed?

Posted on August 10, 2013. Filed under: Dining, Uncategorized | Tags: , , |

So, I’ve had this idea for a while for a basil pasta ravioli with an asparagus filling, sounds awesome, right? Well, I tend to forget that I’m just bad at dough, and I should stick to the basics before I try the complicated stuff, but I never listen to myself. Anyway, my “ravioli” turned out to be a bit thick and deconstructed, but everything else about my dish was fantastic. I made a home made red sauce that is to die for and the filling, oh the filling was perfect. I’m thinking about getting some lasagna noodles and making rolitini out of it later. Now, my sauce recipe is huge because I made some extra to freeze, so if you want to make it for yourself, just make less than what I did.

Basil Pasta

3 cps flour
2 large eggs
3 tbsp water
1 tps olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
5 fresh basil leaves, chopped

  1. You can either mix this by hand or use a food processor, I used the food processor. Mix all in at the same time until a ball of dough forms, you made need to add more water, I did.
  2. When rolling the dough, start thick and slowly work it out thinner until it is almost paper thin
  3. Either use a ravioli form or just free form it, and put the filling in the middle.

Asparagus Ricotta Filling

1 bunch asparagas1 15 oz container ricotta
Red pepper flakes to taste

  1. Cut the woody parts of the asparagus off and boil them until soft. Put them into a food processor and cut until they have the consistency of baby food.
  2. Remove from the processor and mix with the ricotta and pepper flakes. Put the filling in your dough, and boil.

Red Sauce (The big batch!)

1 large sweet vidalia onion1 large red onion
2 green peppers
6 cloves garlic, smashed
5 basil leaves, chopped
28 oz can tomato sauce
28 oz can crushed tomato
3 tbsp oregno
Salt and pepper to taste
olive oil
Balsamic Vinagar

  1. Combine the onions, peppers, and garlic, oil and vinegar in a pot, saute until the onions are translucent, but not caramelized.
  2. Add tomatoes, basil and other seasonings, bring to a simmer and let it simmer covered for about 20 minutes, stiring every once in a while.
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