Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Eyelash in your food?

Have you ever gone out for dinner and found a foreign body in your food? Hair, eyelash, spit? Should it be in there? Probably not. 
That's how I feel about processed foods. 
There's absolutely no reason for food to have MSG, high fructose corn syrup, modified food starch, 'natural flavors'...none. 

That's just me.

Stepping off my soap box...
So today's meal is Black Bean Burgers! I love, love, love 'em. My husband? Not so much. I wanted to order it when I went Max & Erma's, but I looked online prior to it's nutritional content. Ouch. That's what I'll say:

Serving Size: Portion as served
Total Fat: 28 g
Saturated Fat: 4.3 g
Cholesterol: 20 mg
Dietary Fiber 9.3 g
Sodium: 1495 mg
Calories: 649
Calories from Fat: 252
Carbohydrates: 79.1 g
Protein:: 32.7 g

So here's how I made it husband-friendly.

Black Bean Burgers a la Matt (makes 4 burgers)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbs garlic powder or 3 cloves minced
1 egg or 1/4 cup egg beaters
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs cumin

Preheat oven to 350. In a bowl, smash the black beans with a fork. Then add all the above ingredients. I tend to eyeball my bread crumbs, because I find that too little and they don't keep a nice shape. If you plan on making the burgers ahead of time and freezing, then you could probably go with 1/2 cup. Otherwise, stick with 3/4 cup. 

Using your hands, make the mixture into 4 patties. Place onto a tinfoil covered cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, flipping over about half way through.

To make this pleasing to my husband, I sautéed onions and mushrooms until caramelized. I then topped his burger with swiss cheese and the onions and mushrooms and served it on a toasted Arnold. 

For me, I just like plain 'ol ketchup. And only Heinz. Is there any other brand? (It's the Pittsburgher in me.)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Chicken Tettrazini and Banana Bread

Chicken Tettrazini! I'm so super excited for this one. It's SO super delicious and the perfect comfort food.

Back when I was a kid it was an easy casserole for our Mom to make and I remember it fondly. I, of course, have changed the original recipe to my liking since I'm such a stubborn and picky eater.

Chicken Tettrazini
1 or 2 chicken breasts (you can also use turkey breasts, but I find it to be too dry)
1 can of cream of chicken soup (I use the 98% fat free kind)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 package of frozen peas (I LOVE Bird's Eye super sweet peas)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (must be sharp)
1 package of cooked spaghetti noodles (I actually prefer capallini. It's just a touch thinner than spaghetti.)
Assorted spices

Preheat oven to 350. While preparing the pasta, in a saucepan, add in about a 1/2 inch of water, crushed pepper, garlic powder and pepper. Cube the raw chicken and add to the simmering water. Cook until the outsides are no longer pink and strain out the remaining water.
In a large (and I mean large) bowl, mix in all other ingredients starting with the liquids first, then adding the cheese and peas, then chicken, then add the cooked pasta.
Pour contents into a large greased casserole dish and cook for 35 to 45 minutes, until bubbly.


My husband just loves banana bread. Every time my sister comes by, he'll say, "So when are you making me some more banana bread?" So finally I decided I had to figure out how the hell to bake it.

My first attempt was a few weeks ago. He said it was ... good, but not Carly's. Ouch. So I tried again. I pulled this recipe out of my head, so thank GOD I wrote it down. Because he loved it.

Banana Bread:
1 cup white unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 tablespoons flax seed
3/4 buttermilk (I use the powder and reconstitute it. It's MUCH healthier. And it keeps longer than fresh.)
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs (I used 1/2 cup egg beaters)
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
dash of salt
6 super-duper over ripe bananas

Preheat oven to 350. In a large mixing bowl, mix bananas into a pudding like consistency. Add in flax seed, eggs, butter, baking powder, butter milk, salt and brown sugar. Mix for 3 minutes on high. Reduce speed to the slowest setting and add flour.
Pour into greased bread pan and set timer for 1 hour and 5 minutes.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Stuffing and Chicken

I love good comfort food. I have been making stuffing and chicken for a while now. All you need is your trusty crockpot and you're good to go! I used to make this with Stove Top, but alas...

Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate(Vitamin B1), Riboflavin(Vitamin B2), Folic Acid), Degermed Yellow Corn Meal, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Onions*, Salt, Contains Less Than 2% of Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and/Or Cottonseed Oil, Vital Wheat Gluten, Yeast, Celery*, Parsley*, Maltodextrin, Monosodium Glutamate, Spice, Sugar, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Turmeric, Cooked Chicken and Chicken Broth, Annatto (Color), Artificial Flavor, Natural Flavor, With Bha, Bht, Citric Acid, and Propyl Gallate As Preservatives *Dried

Stuffing and Chicken:

Crockpot portion:
2 chicken breasts
*1 zucchini shredded (with skins on)
shredded carrots (I use a whole bag of the matchsticks, or shred 4)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup cheddar cheese

Combine all ingredients into crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

45 minutes prior to serving, prepare the stuffing:

1/2 loaf of bread cubed (I use TJ's white wheat bread, it crisps up well)
2 tsp sage
1 tsp ground thyme
1 tsp marjoram (if you don't have it, don't freak out. I've used oregano before and hardly noticed)
1/4 cup butter melted
chopped celery (to taste...I don't like a bunch, to be honest, but it does give a good flavor)
dried minced onion (to taste)

In a pyrex pan, coat with Pam and place bread cubes in. Mix in all other ingredients, being careful to coat all pieces, but don't go crazy. Bake in oven at 375 for 25 minutes, or until the top layer is toasted (but not burned!)

Prior to serving, place stuffing on top of crockpot mixture. Don't do it too soon, otherwise the stuffing will absorb all the liquid in the crockpot, making it mush.


*Last night I didn't have zucchini, so I used broccoli florets instead. It tasted just as good!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

make tonight a tuna night!

Yah, and it was delicious, too. Ahi Tuna. Let me start by saying that I'm NOT a huge fan of fish. In fact, I pretty much don't like it...ever. If it is a steak-like, non-fishy-tasting, firm fish, then I'll give it a go. I enjoy shark, swordfish and tuna steaks. I buy my tuna at Trader Joe's and they assure me that it's wild caught and sold of free trade. TJ's hasn't let me down yet, so here's to hoping!
Here's how I made this meal:
The rice was cooked in low sodium vegetable broth and I added a hint of lemon juice.
The green beans were steamed. Nothing fancy.

Ahi Tuna Steaks:
thawed (if previously frozen) Ahi Tuna
fresh lemon and limes (one of each should be fine)
2 tbs low sodium soy sauce
oregano to taste
garlic powder to taste
a little water

Cut the lemon and lime in half, then squeeze one half of each fruit into a bowl. Save the other halves for later. Mix in all other ingredients. Using a brush, add the mixture onto the tuna. If grilling, put on aluminum foil, if broiling in the oven, put on cookie sheet and aluminum foil (it makes for easier clean up and less likely to burn/stick). Slice up the lemon and lime into rounds, and place on top of the tuna to bake. Depending on how you like your tuna done, I cooked mine for about 10 minutes on each side, reapplying the marinade and the lemon/lime rounds after flipping.


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What the Army taught me

I run 4 times a week, but I wouldn't call myself a runner. My idea of a 'runner' is someone who puts in 20+ miles a week. I put in about 10+. I'm not killing my knees, hips, legs...for a title. But for those that truly are runners, I applaud you. And I'm a tad jealous.
I go to the gym 5 days a week, but mainly I do cross training. I put in 30+ miles a week in on the bike, no sweat. But not running.
For example, yesterday, I was at the gym with Matt, we biked 5 miles, and I only ran 1. (The kids didn't seem like they'd cooperate much longer than that.) I did some weights and called it a day.
A typical day at the gym consists of 45 minutes of cardio and the remaining 15 minutes (because that's all I'll get out of Claire most days...an hour) I'll putz around and do weights and ab/core exercises. Easy enough.
A friend of mine asked me today what to do about shin splints. She says she runs down hill a lot during her regular running route and wondered what to do different.
When I was training to leave for the Army, I started running. And oh. my. god. did I get shin splints. I was in misery. I thought I'd never make it through basic. But I did. Because of our cross training and good shoes.
The Army isn't stupid. They know how to train a soldier correctly. And while I did break my hip, prior to that, I was in solid shape. And my shin splints never once acted up.
Here's how we did it:
We had organized workouts 6 days a week. Monday through Saturday. Sunday is the day of rest, you know. Every other day was either running or conditioning. On days we'd run, we'd run a few miles, but sometimes in between miles, we'd stop and do something different. For example, we'd run a mile, then bear crawl for 50 feet, sprint a 1/4 mile, then job the remaining miles. But first and foremost, we'd ALWAYS warm up appropriately.
There's the kicker.
And I still don't do that correctly.
Prior to running, especially on our 7+mile days, we'd stretch and start out at a fast walk, then jog, then run. We'd pace ourselves...and then when we were coming down to the last half mile, we'd jog again, then end with a fast walk. Every time.
I also think it was the shoes. When we first got to reception, we had to get fitted for running shoes. And it wasn't just your regular trying on shoes, it was standing on a clear box while this 'specialist' measured and poked and prodded, getting our perfect shoe.
After a long run morning, we'd all get ice packs to put on our shins. Regardless if we were hurting or not. Heat after running is really bad for your muscles, believe it or not. It's suggested to take a colder shower after working out. So we'd sit in front of our barracks, icing down our legs, then off to the showers, where they controlled the thermostat and wouldn't allow hot showers.
Mean? Perhaps. Smart? Definitely. Controlling? You bet.
So I look at my workouts now, and what the Army taught me. Well, too much to really mention here...but still. The Army taught me to warm up properly, give each workout your best, be mindful of every footfall, and cool down.
Warm up. Cool down.
The Army's motto is, "Hurry up and wait." Yet, with working out, they tell you to take your time. Warm up properly, cool down right. They don't want anyone passing out, breaking things, or getting hurt anymore than your mother does. At basic they are investing a lot of money per soldier to come out and fight later. It makes sense they'd teach us right.
So next time you start your workout, be mindful. Warm up. Stretch, jog slowly. When you're done with your intense workout, cool down right. Don't make me go Drill Sergeant on your ass.