Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Dinner’ Category

My reason for coming home on the weekends= free beer.

JUST KIDDING! But coming home to a sinfully delicious and hoppy Middle Ages Wailing Wench beer adds incentive. My real reason for coming home a second weekend in a row is to celebrate my best friend’s birthday!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM!!

My mom will be another year wiser this Sunday, but because my brother and I have work/school on Monday morning we will be celebrating by going out to dinner on Saturday evening. We are going to a French restaurant that she picked out and I am BEYOND excited! I’ve never been to a French restaurant and I cannot wait to engage in a new cultural experience (complete with a nice Bordeaux wine of course 🙂 ).

I drove directly home after work today and sipped on a much appreciated beer with my dad as my mom prepared dinner. For dinner we had grilled steak with oven roasted potato wedges and an iceberg wedge salad with goat cheese and tomatoes in a red wine vinaigrette. Dinner was also served with a touch more beer. IT’S SO GOOD, I SWEAR!

I’m not a huge steak person, however; from time to time I CRAVE it and nothing else will do. I haven’t had red meat in a while and lately my meals have been fairly vegetarian, so I was long over due. I topped my steak with a bit of A1 Steak Sauce and had an abundance of ketchup on the side for my potato wedges. Home cookin’ at its finest! Thanks mom!

After dinner I proceeded to clean the kitchen. Fun Fact: I’m a freak about cleaning the kitchen. It doesn’t even have to be my own. I have been known to  obsessively do the dishes at dinner parties.

When I finished, I desperately searched the freezer for my favorite mint chocolate chip ice cream but there was none to be found.  I debated baking brownies but it was nearly 9pm. What is a girl with a sweet-tooth to do? IMPROVISE. I mixed ~1/3 cup Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt with 1 heaping tsp of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder and then added a mound of chopped strawberries and cinnamon to the bowl. Not quite ice cream but still delicious!

I’ve been awake since 5 AM and I’m exhausted. I think a ritual Farmer’s Market Saturday trip is in store for tomorrow (weather permitting), so hopefully I’ll be meeting you at the market!

Happy Weekend!

Nora


Advertisements

Read Full Post »

GROATS! What a funny name. Kasha (aka buckwheat groats) is a cereal commonly consumed in Eastern European countries. Although it is classified as a “cereal”, it can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. After some research, I found that one popular way to prepare kasha is a dish called Kasha Varnishkas, which is composed of  sautéed onions, brown gravy and bow tie pasta.

I have been wanting to cook with kasha for a while now and after mulling over the savory idea of Kasha Varnishkas, I created kasha and smoked tofu lettuce wraps. I’m not sure where I came up with this dish but I am so glad that I did!

I’m going to add this to my recipe section (sorry I haven’t been updating this!) but just to give an overview:

I toasted the kasha in a skillet and added it to a pot of simmering chicken stock (use vegetable stock to make this a truly vegetarian dish) for about ten minutes until the liquid was absorbed. I sautéed onions, red bell pepper, button mushrooms, broccoli and zucchini in olive oil and finished the vegetable mixture with lemon juice and cracked black pepper. I wanted to keep the flavors of this dish clean to really highlight the nuttiness of the kasha. I added 1/4 of a block of Soy-Boy smoked tofu at the very end and filled a few sturdy romaine leaves with a bed of shredded carrot and the kasha and smoked tofu mixture.

Essentially this dish was a fun new take on stir-fry, not to mention it was fun to eat and extremely satisfying. I loved nutty flavor of the kasha combined with the sweet onion and vegetable mix. The tofu was awesome! It reminded me a lot of smoked mozzarella cheese. When I come home at the end of a long day the last thing I want to do is turn my hot oven on or fuss with a frozen protein. I’m not a vegetarian, however; I love tofu and tempeh and these are great easy sources of protein to have on hand!

Experimental Kitchen,

Nora

What unusual ingredients do you cook with or want to try?

Read Full Post »

Dinner tonight was something that I had been dreaming about all day: Grilled Brown Sugar Barbecue Salmon, Grilled Corn on the Cob and Tomato-Cucumber Salad with Feta Cheese. Before I get into the details, let me just say that this meal was heaven on my palate.

During the Summer I have uncontrollable cravings for barbecue sauce. When the weather breaks the 80 degree mark I simply cannot get enough barbecue sauce in my life. I went to the grocery store last night to do a quick “in-and-out” trip to pick up a few staples for the week (is it even possible to do a quick grocery store trip?). Per-usual, I ended up doing a few laps around the store to browse all of the wonderful products that I did not need to buy. My eye caught a new Brown Sugar Barbecue Sauce and temptation struck. I did not need the sauce but my mind started going wild with thoughts of beautiful grilled dishes that it would be PERFECT for. I couldn’t resist, I was sold.

I think that salmon is a fish that is enhanced by just a touch of sweetness. One of my favorite ways to prepare salmon is with a mixture of whole-grain Dijon mustard and honey. I thought that a brown sugar barbecue sauce would have a similar flare and decided that the first way I wanted to use my new sauce was paired with this succulent fish.

I pre-heated my grill pan (and coated with non-stick cooking spray) to a medium heat and brushed one side of my fish with a light coating of an herb-infused olive oil. I placed the fish in my grill pan olive oil coated side down and waited about 3 minutes until the color slightly changed and it had a light, crispy coating. I brushed the top side with the oil before flipping and continued to cook the fish until it reached the internal temperature of 130 degrees (I use an electronic meat thermometer. I find when you cook your protein to the proper temperature that it has the perfect flavor and consistency.) When the fish was done cooking I brushed the top side with an even coat of the barbecue sauce.

My fish was moist on the inside with a good crunch on the outside. The barbecue sauce was a nice compliment to the fish and it was love at first bite–brown sugar barbecue sauce + salmon= match made in heaven.

For my corn I simply coated each side in a light layer of my herb infused oil and grilled it for about 10 minutes (start the corn before the fish!), turning every few minutes.

My cucumber-tomato salad was simple yet elegant. I used about 1/2 of a cucumber sliced into 1/4 inch pieces and quartered, and a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes. I drizzled the mixture with in olive oil, white wine vinegar and cracked black pepper and tossed to coat. I finished this salad with feta cheese. It was cool, crisp and sweet; an easy and refreshing summer salad combination.

I paired my meal with my new favorite summertime wine: Kendall-Jackson 2008 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay. I have found that this wine works nicely with grilled foods, especially ones incorporating a garlic based barbecue sauce 🙂 .

YUM.

Lately the  the recipe section of my brain has been going wild.  I have a few new things I want to try in the next few days so stay tuned!

Inspired,

Nora

What is your favorite sauce?

Read Full Post »

Yesterday was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining, the temperature was in the upper 70’s and there was a consistent mild breeze. My parents and I thoroughly enjoyed the weather along with some amazing food.

After a little bit of this…Two pieces of this Calamata Focaccia and Wake Robbin Cheese.We were ready to sit down for dinner: grilled rosemary pork tenderloin, mixed green salad with a blend of cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and cucumber and steamed broccoli paired with  Diseno 2007 Malbec.Along with fresh herbs pressed on the pork, my dad also puts fresh rosemary right on the charcoal so that it infuses into the meat…delicious!

We were pretty full after dinner and decided to fill our glasses with a splash more of the Malbec and go for a walk around the backyard.After our “garden tour”, we each had a small piece of the brownies I made the previous evening and called it a night.

This morning we woke up at 7am to attend church and came home for our Sunday morning ritual: breakfast, biscotti, cappuccinos and the newspaper. My dad made an omelet for my mom and himself but the strawberries in our refrigerator were calling my name. I compiled a bowl of Plain Chobani Greek Yogurt, sliced banana, strawberries, cinnamon and had half of a chocolate-macadamia biscotti on the side (the other half was used for dunking into my cappuccino…aka the proper way to enjoy biscotti!) This biscotti was so rich! Initially I thought it was chocolate-almond but it ended up being packed full of macadamia nuts! It had a hint of orange zest in it, which made for a nice contrast to the espresso.

With a happy belly I’m off for a day that includes a nice country run, reading and a family BBQ for my cousin’s birthday.

Have a Relaxing Sunday,

Nora

Do you have special weekend traditions?

Read Full Post »

After work today I came home for Memorial Day weekend to spend time with my family. I was so thankful for this break because between graduation and the start of my internship I haven’t had time to relax and unwind. It will be a weekend filled with good food and even better company; my favorite way to spend down time.

Since I was going away for the weekend, I needed to clean out my produce closet. I hate letting food go to waste and had an ample supply of produce in my refrigerator, therefore; lunch today was a simple salad with a tuna topper, Dr. Krackers and strawberries. My salad was composed of 1 romaine heart, 1/4 red bell pepper, 1-2 inches of cucumber, alfalfa sprouts and a handful of grape tomatoes. I prepared a package of tuna with balsamic, Dijon mustard, 1 stalk of celery and chopped kalamata olives. On the side I had a serving of Dr. Krackers and the remainder of my fresh strawberries.

After a long day of work, I made a 1.5 hour drive home and was greeted with a Middle Ages IPA beer. I love this beer, it has an incredible “hoppy” flavor and rich mouth-feel. For dinner my parents prepared grilled chicken, corn on the cob and a mixed green salad with cucumbers, tomatoes and blue cheese paired with  Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc. This meal was the epitome of summer: simple, crisp and fresh. Some of my favorite childhood Summer memories revolve around grilled foods and soft serve ice cream.

Dessert is ALWAYS necessary, so as a ‘thank you’ for the thoughtful dinner my parents prepared, I teamed up with my good friend Betty Crocker and baked a batch of brownies. My mom added peanut butter cup sundae ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry for brownies a la mode. Did I mention that I LOVE coming home? I had such a nice evening catching up with my parents.

Family Gal,

Nora

What are your favorite family memories?

Read Full Post »

I love to cook but at the end of a long day I want a meal that is easy to put together. When I am pressed for time I often resort to throwing whatever vegetables, proteins and grains I have on hand into a bowl and call it a ‘big salad’. These dinners are okay once in a while, but they are boring and not something I consider a “real meal”. I have had a few of these throw together dinners this week and decided it was time to reconnect with my inner chef and get in the kitchen.

For dinner tonight I made Pan-seared Tilapia in a Lemon-Dill Butter Sauce and  Crunchy Broccoli Salad with Orange-Curry Yogurt Dressing.

When pan-searing, it is important to have everything together before you cook the protein: “mise en place”. Before heating the pan for my fish I assembled the broccoli salad, prepared the fish and set out the lemon-dill butter and herbed olive oil for the finishing sauce.

For crunchy broccoli salad I combined about 3 TBS- 1/4 cup of plain low fat yogurt, the juice and a few segments of 1/4 of a navel orange, curry and cinnamon to taste. I added a large bunch of chopped broccoli, celery, dried cranberries and roasted almonds to the the sauce and placed the mixture in the fridge to chill while I cooked the Tilapia.

To prepare the Tilapia, I lightly dusted both sides of the fish with a pan-searing flour and cracked black pepper. I added about 1-2 tsp of olive oil to a sautee pan over a medium heat until a faint smoke appeared around the edges of the pan (You want to maintain a light smoke around the edges of the pan. If it becomes too smokey, adjust heat!). I placed the Tilapia in the pan for about 3-4 minutes per side until it was slightly golden and crispy. When the fish was finished I turned the heat off and added 1 tsp of an herbed oil and 1 tps of a lemon-dill finishing butter to deglaze the pan and create a butter sauce to spoon over the fish. This method generates a moist fish with tons of flavor!

It was a simple, elegant and refreshing dinner to have at the end of a long (and hot!) day. It was exactly what I was craving. Speaking of cravings, on the way back from my from my work trip we stopped off for soft serve!! Ice cream is my all time favorite food, and in the summer my ice cream of choice is soft serve chocolate-vanilla twist. Naturally, I always have to add rainbow sprinkles to make it a true summer treat! I was a very happy girl. Loving Summer,

Nora

What are your favorite Summer foods?

Read Full Post »

Dinner last night was simple and satisfying. For some reason warm weather always makes me crave grilled items and fresh produce. I marinated a chicken breast in barbecue sauce and grilled it on my cast iron skillet. I wish I had access to a real grill but my make shift grill pan over an open flame is the next best thing! My chicken was perfectly moist and delicious. On the side I had a rather big salad of mixed greens, alfalfa sprouts, button mushrooms, garbanzo beans, red bell pepper, grape tomatoes and feta cheese. I dressed this salad in a homemade mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard and cracked black pepper. This dressing was so good that it caused an epiphany: If you have the time, MAKE YOUR OWN SALAD DRESSING! My dressing was the simple and the perfect consistency, really highlighting the crisp vegetables.

Once again, I had strawberries on my mind for dessert. I found a Jell-O pudding in the back of my fridge that I’m pretty sure was expired (gross, I know) but it looked okay so I decided to eat it anyways. I topped it with strawberries and whipped cream. NOTE TO SELF: BUY ICE CREAM ASAP!

I woke up this morning with an odd craving for cold cereal. I assembled a bowl of 1/2 cup Go Lean Crunch, 1/2 Cup Heart to Heart, 1 sliced banana, sliced strawberries, 1 TBS ground flax, cinnamon and 1 cup vanilla soy milk.
It was my first day at my internship so I was rather excited this morning. I debated bringing lunch because of my financial situation, however; because it was my first day I wanted to scope out the scene and try the cafeteria. I had a turkey, lettuce, red pepper and mayo sandwich on a whole wheat pita, a side salad with raspberry vinaigrette and an apple. It was pretty good and only set me back about $4 but I’ll probably pack a lunch from now on. It was another intern’s last day with the company and the department had a send-off for him after lunch. I was really excited because it was complete with CAKE! I had a small piece of dense yellow cake with white frosting (I made sure to get an edge piece for the extra frosting 🙂 )

After work I went to the gym. I knew that I wouldn’t be getting home for dinner until about 7pm, so I planned a head and packed a pre-gym snack and an easy dinner. I had a Tropical Fruit Tart Larabar around 4pm. It was such a nice treat for a hot summer afternoon and fueled my workout. I did about 40 minutes on the precor machine followed by crunches and arm weights. I always thought that I preferred morning workouts, but I really liked how it broke up my day. It was relaxing, and having dinner already prepared was KEY!

When I got home dinner was waiting for me. Last night I realized that I had a portabello mushroom cap to use so I created a stuffed portabello mushroom with couscous, spinach and feta cheese topped with grape tomatoes and more feta as the main component of my meal (I’m planning on some simple sides to accompany this dish but took this picture last night.). To prepare, I cleaned the exterior of the mushroom with a dry cloth (aka paper towel), discarded the stem and gills of the mushroom and brushed the outside with a mixture of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dried basil and cracked black pepper. I then placed the mushroom cap side down on my cast iron grill pan, added the remaining vinaigrette mixture evenly into the belly, grilled it until tender and let it rest on a plate before adding the filling.

For the couscous, I placed 1/4 cup dry whole-wheat couscous in a bowl, added 1/2 cup of boiling water and let it sit about 5 minutes before fluffing and allowing it to cool. I added a handful of freshly chopped baby spinach, about 2 heaping TBS feta cheese and cracked black pepper into the couscous and mixed to combine. I placed this mixture in the mushroom cap and finished it with grape tomatoes and more feta cheese.

My internship is absolutely amazing! I feel so lucky to have found a position in the food industry incorporating aspects of social media and marketing. I am extremely passionate about food, family, healthy living and social media (obviously!) and can’t believe that I was able to find an involved internship composed of all these elements and more. I don’t want to go into details but today I was able to learn about and work on projects that dealt with iPhone apps, Twitter and blogging. Seriously, someone pinch me!

Working Girl,

Nora

What tips do you have for balancing work, exercising and healthy eating?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »