WHAT ARE YOU EATING? NOT BORING HEALTHY RECIPES

leaf stars

Courtesy; Fancypants

As the sands of time pass through the hourglass of life, I find myself trying harder to eat better.

I don’t diet because I have the rebellious tendency to defy them when they get hard or start to annoy me or when I just want a damned cookie. Plus, I don’t have food allergies, really and food and diet shame is a real pet peeve of mine. So I try to eat a sensible mix of things I want and things that I should eat prepared in ways that make me want to eat them.

It doesn’t seem so hard, but I get bored after a while. Bored, bored and so I have tools for when I start to get angry at the soup I’ve been eating all week and demoralized by salad.

It happens to the best of us. Food should not do this to us. Let’s not let food get us down!

Cooking Life Lesson the First: I shop Pinterest for not-boring healthy recipes when I am not bored. That way, when I am bored, I can find inspiration.

Second, I keep it lazy. Generally, when I have gotten bored, it’s because I have been preparing fancy meals at the end of long days and weeks and I am too tired to go on in this breakneck, fast-paced, dangerous way.

Third, leftovers. I want all the possible bang for my buck. This means at least a couple of lunches and perhaps something that can be incorporated into a new meal. Roasted veggies, simple proteins. CHIMICHURRI.

Here are some of my absolute favorite Not-Boring Healthy Recipes:


1. Super-duper Easy Broiled Pork Chops with Roasted Veggies and Chimichurri. (I tend to not take pictures of broiled pork chops, because I can’t make them look delectable, not even on Instagram)

I don’t remember where I got this technique and I know for sure it’s not something I thought of all by myself, but I am unable to find reference to it after some intense Googling and muttering to myself about pork chops in my cubicle.

Anyhoo, charming back story: My mother could not cook pork to save her life. It always, ALWAYS turned out tough and after years of trying, she gave it up. After my run-in with the most insanely easy technique ever (and alas, no one to credit), she still doesn’t make them. But I single handedly reversed years of terrible pork chop ju-ju and never got them wrong again:

  • Put pork chops (this recipe is for a medium-sized cut) in one layer on a baking sheet. I like to make a bunch at once.
  • Salt both sides heavily
  • Cover with plastic wrap and let sit while you prepare the rest of your meal (30 minutes to an hour).
  • Rinse salt off, pat dry, DO NOT season with salt. Pepper, maybe but no salt. Are you crazy or somethin’ ?
  • Depending on the thickness, broil for 8 minutes on one side and 12 on the other.
  • Let sit, covered with foil for 10 minutes.
  • Enjoy leftovers whole or chopped in salads, scrambles, sandwich wraps, stir-frys…I mean, really.

I know.

A recipe with built-in prep time is a beautiful thing. So meanwhile, we chop up some broccoli and cauliflower, beets, zucchini, whatever, but definitely roasted garlic. Roasted garlic is widely known and accepted to be the very best thing known to man.

  • Chop uniformily
  • Cover in salt/ pepper/ olive oil
  • Roast for 40 or so minutes at 350
  • Enjoy leftovers in salads, scrambles, sandwich wraps, stir-frys…And with that roasted garlic, you are only limited by your imagination. I can’t think of a time when it would be a bad thing to have around.

This last part only involves a blender. It’s chimichurri. Say it a couple of times, it’s really fun and it sounds remarkably like “chupacabra.”  Here is a precise recipe for you, but basically you:

  • Dump parsley, garlic, oregano, red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and olive oil in a blender and you blend.
  • Enjoy leftovers in soups and salads, over meats and veggies
  • If you’re not into chimichurri, try this fabulous Sweet Pea Spread as an alternative. I put it on the famous Crack Toast, but on pork chops, it is dee-voine! Similarly amazing is Karam’s Garlic Sauce if you are that lazy. Which I am. We don’t have a dishwasher.
Courtesy; Amazon.

It looks like this. Recognize. Courtesy; Amazon.

2. Smoothies. I basically eat the same thing for breakfast every day and you know how that can weigh on a person, so these are perfect for those times when you wake up and you are hungry but willing to go without breakfast because you can’t bring yourself to turn on the stove. DON’T GO WITHOUT BREAKFAST, DUMMY!

For dinner, I try to keep the sugar down because I have a hard enough time sleeping, but I get home too late and am absolutely not cooking, enter smoothies.

Courtesy; Thug Kitchen

Courtesy; Thug Kitchen

  • THUG KITCHEN is my spirit animal of recipe writing. Spinach Cooler.
  • 3 3-ingredient smoothies including one of my favorite breaky smoothies, the Banana/ Peanut butter/ cacao powder. I like to add spinach because I’m weird.

3. Brazilian Shrimp Stew. It’s wintertime and while this girl loves her some soup, I get bored and this stuff makes for awesome leftovers and soups are easy, so everybody wins. I like to add some plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.

Courtesy; I Breath...I'm HUngry

Courtesy; I Breathe…I’m Hungry

4. Hash. It’s hearty, it’s easy and it’s as healthy as you want it to be. I love I Breathe…I’m Hungry’s recipe for Chorizo, Kale and Sweet Potato. She has also re-ignited my love for chorizo, so for that I am forever in debt.

Courtesy; I Breathe...I'm Hungry

Courtesy; I Breathe…I’m Hungry

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WHAT ARE YOU EATING? THE CRACK TOAST EDITION

I am super excited about this week’s entry. There have been many firsts and I am anxious to share them with you. We will get to the Crack Toast in just a moment.

First, the Grande Dame herself, Boeuf Bourguignon! It’s Ina’s and it was delish! The perfect thing to make on a chilly Fall day. Some wine for you, some a lot of wine for the boeuf, some music and your house will smell fantastic. Hubbs wanted beef stew, which I don’t really care for (too many crock pot versions, I think), so I decided on this as the compromise. He has promised never to ask for beef stew again. Glorious over toasted crusty bread. In fact, I must insist that you only eat it over toasted crusty bread, which makes this an entire post about things to eat on crusty bread.

Objections?

I didn’t think so.

Courtesy: Food Netowrk

Courtesy: Food Netowrk

Next we have the new star of breakfast. Hubbs has always made “breakfast toast,” Toast with cream cheese, avocado, some garlic powder and Sriracha and eggs. But this, friends? This takes breakfast toast and elevates it into Crack Toast. Obviously, I do not mean that literally though you may consider some drastic measures to get your hands on more. Friends will definitely look at you like you have been holding out on them.

Let us first make the Sweet Pea Spread. It’s so easy and I had everything on hand already. Just look at how pretty this one turned out:

Courtesy: Tim van Poucke

Courtesy: Tim van Poucke

But then, we take us over the top. Smitten Kitchen took us over the top. I swear, her blog is the blog of my people only with better writing and commentary… Anyhoo, if you don’t already know, it is my pleasure to introduce you to the Crispy Egg! Brace yourselves, my loves. This is a game changer.

Courtesy Deb Perelman

Courtesy Deb Perelman

So for the Crack Toast, You will just spread some cream cheese on your toasted crusty bread, then the Pea Spread and then, dearests, the Crispy Egg.

Go forth and eat, my beautiful babies!

POTLUCK FINEST; SALAD ROLLS AND RICE CRISPY TREATS

It was a potluck, but also a wedding. I ruled out hot dogs and chips and potato salad. Not that I don’t have a mean potato salad recipe, but still…Maybe something fancier. Something that I didn’t have to babysit, something that didn’t require instructions.

Most importantly, something that didn’t require the use of the oven or the responsibility of grill supervisor on a hot August night. NOT HAPPENING.

T.Tseng/ Flickr

These were not them. Mine weren’t nearly so pretty.                                                                                    T.Tseng/ Flickr

Enter an adapted version of these Shrimp and Mango salad rolls. The mangoes at the store did not look very good. so I used papaya instead and they were lovely and tropical. I also threw in some sweet peppers and cucumber. So refreshing in this heat.

My god, the heat.

I also threw some of these salted brown butter crispy treats together at the last minute and they disappeared. A little more sophisticated than the usual, these were definitely wedding appropriate.

courtesy: Deb Perelman

courtesy: Deb Perelman

Splendid Table and Smitten Kitchen can ALWAYS be trusted with our potlucks and with our lives.


So, dearest readers, a few things to consider when signing that potluck list:

1. Time commitment; Exactly how long are you willing to spend on this dish when you take into account everything else happening in your life? How far in advance can you safely make it? If you are in the wedding, consider picking up a pie or a large order of Pad Thai (to be re-plated later) to maintain your sanity.

2. Season; Is it winter? Consider a croc-pot chili. Spring? How about a quiche?

3. Heating/ Cooling situation: Where are we having this little shindig? Will you need to bring your own cooler and ice like I did or will there be refrigeration? Be prepared to bring everything required to present and serve your dish. Do not assume that they will have extra serving spoons. Also do not assume that there will be enough room and outlets for a croc-pot, toppings, bowls and spoons.

4. Fussy factor: I REALLY, REALLY wanted to bring Elote but didn’t want to spend all of my time explaining to people how to put it together, nor do I think that a potluck dish should require instructions. I certainly wasn’t going to grill in my wedding best and I didn’t expect any of the other guests to have to work for my dish, so I scrapped it.

5. Easy to eat: Finger foods are a great way to avoid the messy nature of buffet-style meals and handheld items like burritos and handpies won’t monopolize the table space.

6. Is the recipe adaptable to a crowd? Figure on making enough pot-luck yummy for a quarter of those expected. There will be plenty of other food, but 25 salad rolls is still 25 salad rolls and that takes a time commitment.

Summertime Cooking Tips for the Very Lazy and Semi-Health Conscious

So my little chickadees, yesterday we discussed briefly how hot weather is the bane of my existence and how it renders me useless as a whiny, stomping child against the ever-nagging need to eat food.

It was 99 friggin’ degrees yesterday with the humidity at 60%. I know what you’re thinking;  “Perfect opportunity to have ice cream for dinner.” But dearests, I’m not supposed to. Hubbs was busy putting his new Ikea furniture together and had no time for making me food.

For unfair, unjust times such as these, I have devised a series of backups and cheats.

I call them; Summertime Cooking Tips for the Very Lazy and Semi-Health Conscious and I have helpfully separated them categorically into how industrious you are feeling.


Tips For the Uber Lazy.

1. Eat finger foods.  Ideally, you will want one of those plates with dividers, but you are an adult now. You can do whatever you want, remember? Mine look like this: Apple slices, peanut butter, some Boar’s Head lunchmeat, some olives, and some cheese.

2. You want ice cream but dammit, you have goals; Greek Yogurt, whatever summer fruit you have (PEACHES and BLUEBERRIES!), some roasted almonds (unsalted) or sunflower seeds (or, if you’re naughty, Trader Joe’s chocolate covered sunflower seeds-I DO WHAT I WANT!), chia seeds, honey.

3. Smoothies. Juices. If you plan ahead a little by doing your prep work ahead of time and cutting up your fruits and vegg, you can just start shoving things into a blender!

-Lazy Protip; Always accept the bounty of other people’s gardens. You never know when it will save you a trip to the store.

-Lazy Protip #2; For Father’s Day, I bought myself my husband a wonderful, thoughtful prezzie; A grill. This ingenious contraption allows the cooking to be done outside, by someone else, in the miserable heat of the day, even.


You’re willing to go shopping. But only in your pantry.

1. Half-Ass it: You may have heard Sandra Lee refer to this as “Semi-Homemade” but she also turns the oven on and we are not having any of that. Look in your pantry or refrigerator and take stock of your random food collection.  Make up some tuna salad. Eat it with carrot sticks.

Look, I didn’t say these were fancy, just easy.

2. The MacGyver lunch; Bring the makings of a salad to work, whatever you have. Mine looks like this on a good day: Torn lettuce. spinach, some cherry tomatoes and some sunflower seeds. Sometimes canned grapefruit or olives. Then at lunchtime, you go to the salad buffet and get your protein and whatever else, salad dressing and you save money (ours is by weight)!

Or you go and you get your tacos at the lunch cart and you dump them into your salad. You dress it with salsa. BAM! 100 awesome points for not eating the tortillas.

3. Popsicles. Make your own using fresh fruit and yogurt. Make ahead, pull out of freezer on a hot day. Eat as many as it takes.

4. Grill it. Cut up some vegg, wrap it in a tin foil tent with some garlic and spices and oil and then have Hubbs or whomever is nominated to be your slave that day put it on the grill along with the meat while you hang out inside, starfishing in the a/c.


You’re willing to go shopping. At the store. For exactly 5 items.

1. The rotisserie chicken is a glorious thing. Salads. Wraps. Finger food. Share it with your doggie, like I do.

2. Salad makings. You make the salad, someone else grills the meats. *Bonus- Pre-marinated, ready-to-grill meats.

3. The ready-made food counter. No one will judge you. If you are going to go to a store, go to the healthy one and to their ready-made counter and get a selection of salads and proteins. For when you are treating yo’self.

-Lazy Protip; It is more expensive, but sometimes, I buy the pre-shredded carrot and cabbage and garlic and things when prep work feels like too much…work.

-Not Lazy Pro-tip; If you are ambitious enough to go to the store on a hot day, then maybe you have it in you to go for a walk? There’s nothing like the summer heat for diminishing an appetite. By the time you’re done, you will only want a little something cold and refreshing. Like chocolate milk or yogurt.

Fewer dishes=Extreme laziness