Tag Archives: dinner

Back in the Saddle Again

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The second day of January reminds me a little of Ash Wednesday after a gluttonous Fat Tuesday.  New Year’s Day usually involves trying to remember resolutions and finding the jar of aspirin to calm that raging Champagne headache.  But the second day of January usually entails gym memberships and healthy diet plans.  Today I was thinking as I start this new year how I need to get back in the saddle on things, especially my diet.  I don’t really worry too much about the holiday season, especially the two weeks my children are home from school because staying on track with a body-healthy diet takes up time and energy I don’t have to spare. Perhaps you are “Supermom” or “Superdad” and can do this, but this mom is realistic and knows where to pick her battles.  Kale smoothies and beet juices are not going to be one of them.  And thankfully the gym stays in my normal routine because it is the only place in town with a kid-friendly “parental reprieve” for stressed-out moms and dads.  So I know when the walls are crashing down at home I can always turn to my window of “free” time at my gym.

Now that the holidays are officially over I decided today would be the perfect opportunity to work my way back into cooking the foods I love because in a couple of days my kids will be back in a routine and life will calm down for a while.  One of my dear friends gave me a cookbook for my birthday.  Now I love a new cookbook, especially one that involves mind, body and soul.  It just makes me want to go home and start whipping up dish after dish.  This cookbook, entitled “Eat Yourself Calm,” by Gill Paul, teaches what foods are considered calming to the human body based on whatever ailment you may be suffering.  It explains what superfoods, minerals and vitamins are great to help with issues ranging anywhere from depression to headaches.  When I first got the book I flagged several recipes to try and tonight I cooked the lamb stew.  According to the cookbook (co-written with a nutritionist), the ingredients in this recipe are linked with easing depression, sleeplessness, headaches and low energy.  There are definitely a few of those I have experienced recently and on a rainy night, the stew sounded comforting.

The recipe called for lean lamb stew meat, lamb stock (which I used homemade beef broth), beans, canned tomatoes, garlic, shallots, bouquet garni, flour (which I swapped for brown rice flour), sea salt, black pepper and cherry tomatoes.  One thing you need to do when you cook stew meat, especially lamb, is to simmer it for a while on a low heat.  This is where the stock or broth came in because I used it to help tenderize the meat after browning it in the skillet for a few minutes. Although the recipe called for beans, I decided to omit them for the simple fact I did not have any at home.  I also swapped out the green beans for Brussels sprouts for the very same reason.  The lamb is supposed to aide in breathlessness, the sprouts handle concentration and forgetfulness and the tomatoes help relieve headaches.  I poured the finished product over some brown basmati rice and was really surprised how light the stew was, considering how thick and hearty it appeared to be in the end.  The brown rice I used is supposed to help with several factors, including low energy, mood swings, depression and even sleep problems.

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I am excited to try out a few more recipes in this cookbook and to maybe gain a few ideas for making up my own meals to get myself back on track with a calm and healthy lifestyle (or at least aim for that most days!).  Whatever your resolution may be this year, I highly recommend buying a cookbook to help jump start your goals or to give you some inspiration in the kitchen.  And remember you can always change up ingredients in a recipe to make it fit your lifestyle, so don’t be scared to experiment!

Cheers to a healthy and happy 2017!

 

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Going Rogue in the Kitchen

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I have always been one of those individuals who will try anything once, at least when food is involved.  One of my favorite things to eat in the culinary world is sushi, but it is also the one thing I have never even dared tackle in my own kitchen.  About a month ago I was checking out at my local grocery store and noticed a young couple behind me.  On the belt stacked neatly beside my dividing bar was an entire collection of items they planned on using to make sushi.  A thought suddenly poked into my brain; if these 20-somethings could make sushi at home then why on earth could I not do this myself?

I tried not to be obvious as I threw sideways glances in their direction, taking note of all they were going to use-sushi matt, sushi rice, seaweed papers, ginger, veggies and tuna (which was frozen).  Hmmm, I think I could definitely do this.  Surely if I can bring two healthy children into this world, I can whip up a few rolls in my kitchen, right?

So I decided last week would be the time to try it.  My household was sick (I felt the need to wear a surgical mask 24/7), so I knew going out to eat would not be an option.  Normally when I cook in the kitchen I tend to go a little rogue.  I don’t necessarily follow recipes.  I might use them as guidelines, but I always change up ingredients or add extra spices my family likes.  But sushi, well, let’s say I didn’t have the guts to fly by the seat of my pants on this one. I needed a recipe, and a simple one.

One of my all-time favorite chefs is Giada de Laurentiis.  I love all the fresh ingredients and simple steps she uses to create her dishes.  Now that I had thrown down the gauntlet to myself to make this dish, there was no turning back.  I fired up my computer, logged onto the Web and searched Giada’s recipes.  Aha! I found what I was looking for-salmon hand rolls.  Even though I new I was going to switch the vegetable ingredients on the recipe (I had some in my fridge that needed to be used) there were still a few items I needed from the store.

Ingredient list in hand, I perused the seafood section of the store…no sushi-grade salmon (I live in Missouri, enough said).  But there WAS frozen tuna, which is what the young couple had purchased for their sushi.  I grabbed two small steaks from the freezer and threw it in the cart with the rest of my purchases.  The recipe called for asparagus, but I knew I had red bell pepper, carrot and cucumber at home.  Why buy more items when I needed to use what I already had in the fridge? I was going rogue on sushi now.

Here was my sushi 101 checklist (rogue-style):

-Frozen Ahi Tuna steaks (about 4 oz each)

-Fresh flat-leaf parsley or cilantro

-Short-grain brown rice (you can also use white rice version)

-Sushi matt

-Seaweed papers

-Pickled ginger

-Soy sauce

-Toasted sesame oil

-Wasabi powder

That afternoon, recipe in hand, I julienned my ingredients and cooked the sushi rice accordingly.  I defrosted the tuna in cold water in the fridge, which is how you should always defrost your seafood to avoid spoiling the meat. This usually takes several hours, depending on the size of your fish.

Once everything was ready, it was time to start rolling.  Sushi matt in hand, I started to assemble my ingredients one-by-one.  Giada’s tips were easy to follow and it only took me about 20 minutes to make six or seven rolls.  This gave me enough time to pour myself a glass of vino and whip up a quick meal for the kids (they are not sushi eaters).

A few pictures to show you:

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I have to give my better half some kudos on this adventure in the kitchen.  He loves sushi, but has never ventured to eat the homemade kind.  He didn’t even bat an eyelid when I told him what I made for dinner.  He just grinned and dug in like it was a plate of steak and potatoes.  All in all, the sushi was a success, and now I know I can make my own rolls at home.  The world is my oyster when it comes to this area of cuisine…wonder what I will make next?

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Not bad, huh?  If you are feeling adventurous in the kitchen, here is a link to Giada’s salmon hand rolls:

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/fun-salmon-hand-roll-recipe.html

Even though I changed the ingredients, it gave me a good guideline to follow for my first sushi-making experience.

As I mentioned before, this recipe lends itself for some wine.  So here is my wine recommendation to have with your own homemade sushi.  I would opt for a sauvignon blanc when it comes to this type of dish.  These wines are crisp and clean, so they won’t distract from the flavors of whatever roll you are making.  Even if the sushi is spicy, this is still a great wine to pair.  Tyler Florence, in conjunction with Robert Mondavi, has a great sauvignon blanc on the market that only costs between $15 and $20, depending on where you buy it.  I found it at my local grocery store.  You will taste grapefruit and sweet lemon, but the wine is very balanced and smooth.  For more information you can look up Tyler Florence, or visit www.wine.com.

Until next time, cheers!