Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tom Kha Gai Soup

Tom Kha Gai Soup
I think I may have managed to perfect my at-home version of the popular Thai dish Tom Kha Gai Soup.

This soup is one of my absolute favorites. The richness of the coconut milk and the combination of salty, sour and savory with the gorgeous perfume of lemongrass makes this dish a heavenly comfort.

I almost didn't make this because I was missing one very important ingredient - the limes. 

And unfortunately, because I substituted lemon for the lime I didn't write down the recipe((

Go figure that it turned out amazing. But, no fear, I loved it so much I am going to be making another batch tomorrow and I will include the recipe then!


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Massaman beef curry

Massaman beef curry.

My ongoing project to perfect my favorite restaurant dishes is going along swimmingly!

My third attempt at making massaman curry was quite an improvement over the previous attempts.

I have discovered that fresh spices can make a world of difference.

Left to right: Red curry paste, cinnamon sticks, fresh green cardamon pods.

While I was able to find the green cardamon pods at a teeny tiny Indian market just round the corner, I could not find whole star anise anywhere. Oh, well I can just use the search for star anise as a nice excuse for exploring more local markets:-)

On to to the recipe:

Massaman beef curry 

Serves 4


1.5 lbs of beef stew meat
1 14oz can of light coconut milk
1 cup of water
2 small shallots, chopped
2 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 yellow onion, quartered
1 Tbsp of fish sauce
1 tsp of brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp of tamarind paste
3 Tbsp of massaman curry paste
1/2 tsp of red thai curry paste
2 cinnamon sticks
5 green cardamon pods
5 basil leaves
1 Tbsp of peanut oil


Combine the cubed beef with the 3 Tbsp of massaman curry and set aside.

Add oil to the pan or dutch oven over medium heat. Add in the cardamon pods, cinnamon sticks and red curry paste. Fry for about 2 minutes until the spices become aromatic.

Add in the chopped shallots and onion and allow to cook for another 2 minutes or until the onions are golden brown. 

Toss in the beef and curry mixture and cook for another 5 minutes. Then add in the rest of the ingredients and allow to simmer for 25 - 30 minutes. The curry is done when the potatoes and carrots are fork tender.



Friday, September 7, 2012

Lemony pasta with smoked salmon

Pasta with smoked salmon and lemon dressing.
I have been trying to eat salmon at least once a week but I am really hate how cooking fish (especially salmon) really stinks up the kitchen.

This week I decided to buy smoked salmon instead. While my favorite way to eat smoked salmon is on a bagel with lots of cream cheese - today I wanted something different.

I had lemon dressing left over from my last salad so I cooked up a serving of spaghetti and tossed it with a bit of olive oil and the dressing.

Best decision ever!

The lemon dressing really brightened up the flavor of the salmon. 

A simple and incredibly delicious dish. I love it when that happens:-)

Later today I am off to get ingredients to make my favorite curry - massaman.

Happy Friday all!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Yellow tomato and avocado salad

Yellow tomato and avocado salad.
I had a few things to work with when I went to make my salad for lunch.

From the bottom: lemon cucumber, avocado, yellow tomato and tiny San Marzano tomatoes.

For some reason my San Marzano tomato plant is only producing tomatoes about the size of my thumb. I was so excited to find a San Marzano tomato plant that I think I overlooked that the plant was not in the best shape.

The lemon cucumber has tons of seeds. 

I scooped out the seeds and was left with just the white part of the cucumber.

A quick chop and I assembled the salad. I added a bit of shredded chicken for protein, some black olives and a drizzle of homemade lemon vinaigrette.

The San Marzano tomatoes are so sweet and delicious I am quite sad that the plant is only producing one tomato a week.

Next year I will definitely plant at least three of them so that I have enough to can some tomato sauce.

The lemon cucumbers? Not my favorite - they taste like you dipped a regular cucumber in lemon juice (hence the name) but they have too many seeds for my taste.
I counted ten ears of corn on my small cluster of corn stalks!! I just hope it stays hot enough for the rest of September for them to ripen.


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chicken Tzatziki Salad

Chicken Tzatziki Salad with goat milk yogurt.
Last week I bought a large tub of goat milk yogurt. While I love the stuff I just don't normally eat yogurt straight out of the container so I still had most of the tub left.

I was using it as a vehicle for my Udo's oil and green powder but that was making a very small dent. 

So yesterday I noticed the lemon cucumbers (pictures of those coming tomorrow) that my neighbor gave me needed to be used up - enter chicken tzatziki salad.

I added enough yogurt so that there was plenty of extra creamy goodness to coat the lettuce.

The key to this recipe is to make the yogurt/lemon/cucumber mixture ahead of time so that the flavors have time to develop while it hangs out in the fridge.

Chicken Tzatziki Salad

Serves 2


2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
4 cups of spring salad mix 
1 cup of goat milk yogurt
1 lemon cucumber, chopped
1 tbsp of lemon juice
1 shallot, minced
1/2 tbsp of fresh chopped parsley
1 clove of garlic, minced
black pepper to taste
1 pinch of salt
1 small sweet red pepper, chopped


Combine the yogurt, cucumber, lemon juice, shallot, parsley, garlic, black pepper and salt in a bowl. Mix well, cover and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Just before eating, take the tzatziki mix out of the refrigerator. Chop the chicken into bite size pieces. Dice the sweet red pepper. Add the chicken and sweet red pepper to the tzatziki mix.

Add 2 cups of salad mix into each bowl and top each with 1/2 of the tzatziki mixture.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Gardens in bloom

My garden.
My garden has finally started to take off. When my complex put in some raised beds I jumped at the chance for some gardening space.

While they became available at the middle of July - which is really late in the growing season - I crossed my fingers and planted anyway.

Some of my neighbors who planted early in the season are now reaping an abundant harvest.

Yellow tomatoes.
One of my neighbors has so many yellow tomatoes this season that he has started giving them away.

I started making gazpacho which eventually turned into tomato and sweet potato soup.

Yellow tomato and sweet potato soup.

I sauteed a shallot with some olive oil and added in a pinch of basil, oregano, black pepper and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes.

They I added 5 chopped yellow tomatoes and 1/2 cup of chicken broth.

Everything simmered for about an hour then I added a 1/2 cup of chopped sweet potato and let it simmer for another 20 minutes.

A quick blend with the hand mixer and I had a wonderful creamy tomato soup with just a touch of spice.

It feels nice to be back to blogging!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Why my dogs think I'm crazy

Pork congee.
The dogs were very excited about their breakfast this morning. 

Yesterday was not a good cooking day for me. I attempted to make what was going to be cream of spinach soup but it turned out, well, let's just say that it went downhill in a spectacular fashion.

But early this morning I noticed (that for the billionth time) I was out of kibble - so yesterday's cooking disaster was magically transformed into a pork congee for the dogs.

Not really all that magical since I did have to add in a bunch of broth, brown rice, a pork chop and let everything simmer for a couple of hours:-)

But during those two hours the dogs got more and more excited.

This is a picture of Connor howling with joy and congee anticipation:

This is the look Abby gave me when I placed the dog bowls (now piled high with the fragrant congee) into the freezer to cool down.

She was not pleased...

Yes, my dogs think I'm crazy.
I had a simple stir fry for breakfast. I didn't feel like eggs this morning so I added in a Morning Star grill burger for a dose of protein.

Stir fry cucumber, carrots, celery and sweet peppers with a Morning Star burger.

I like my burgers topped with a dollop of barbecue sauce and some mustard.
Since my feet have finally finished healing - today I am going to start the Couch to 5K program. Not that I couldn't run a 5K right now but I am trying to re-establish the running habit more than trying to hit any time or distance goals.

So, wish me luck - and here are a couple more shots of the food this morning(and I might actually get some work done this morning since the dogs are currently passed out with food comas :-).

My breakfast is on the left.
 Sigh, the congee looks so much better than my breakfast.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Cucumber sandwiches

Cucumber Sandwiches.

I got to enjoy a wonderful barbecue at my sister's house yesterday.

She grilled sausages, beef burgers, hot dogs, turkey burgers and one special turkey burger (hold the teriyaki sauce) for me.  

I brought cucumber sandwiches. Why? I don't know - it just seemed like a good idea.

And it was very easy to put together - mix chopped watercress with cream cheese - slice English cucumbers as thin as you can - add in a bit of sweet red pepper and put it all together on slices of bread.

The best thing about the barbecue was the company - you really can't put a high enough value on great conversation. 

Night all!


Friday, June 8, 2012

Creamy butternut squash dressing (vegan)

Lately I have been on a coleslaw binge. I have had it with salad dressing or with a more traditional Vegenaise + white vinegar dressing and once with a drizzle of balsamic and olive oil.

But today's coleslaw turned out the best. I wanted a slightly sweeter version of traditional coleslaw and I decided to use the last of the butternut squash I had in the fridge.

Creamy butternut squash dressing.
I threw a few ingredients together, gave it a whir with the immersion blender and I ended up with a creamy, dreamy and sweet concoction that had a nice kick of vinegar. Yum!

The coleslaw mix can be anything you want. Today I tossed together green cabbage, carrot, mini sweet red peppers, celery and fresh parsley.

The most important thing about this dish? It is the dressing. 

And, since it is Friday and I am in a great mood because I am off to see Prometheus later tonight, I am going to give you the recipe:-)

Creamy butternut squash dressing

Serves 1


1/2 cup of cooked butternut squash
3 tsp of Vegenaise
1 tsp of balsamic reduction
ground black pepper to taste
enough water to create the consistency you would like

Blend until smooth. 

That is it! Easy peasy.

I used it as a coleslaw dressing but I think it would also be terrific on a regular 'ol salad.

Happy Friday everyone!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Easy black bean soup

Easy black bean soup.
Now that I am back to the low fat and lots of veggies diet, I always find it a challenge to create simple meals with tons of flavor.

This was a very simple soup to put together and it had a nice full flavor without being so spicy that it bothered my stomach.

I hope everyone is having a great Friday!

Easy black bean soup

Serves 2


1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
3 cups of chicken broth
1 Tbsp of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp of green chilis
1 tsp of molasses
1/4 tsp of cumin
1/2 tsp of coriander
1/4 cup of mushrooms, chopped
Ground black pepper to taste


Add all of the ingredients into a soup pan and simmer for 20 minutes. 

That's it!

Top with your choice of toppings. I added avocado, olives and Frank's Hot Sauce. 


Thursday, May 31, 2012

Baba ganoush with polenta crostini

Baba ganoush with crispy polenta.

I picked up the cutest little Indian eggplants at the store yesterday. The largest one was about the size of a tennis ball so I knew I would have to figure out a dish that would only needed a little bit of roasted eggplant.

Enter baba ganoush bites with crispy polenta.

I made a traditional baba ganoush but I went heavy on the garlic and lemon and light on the tahini and olive oil.

The bites got topped with a sprinkle of parsley and a slice of black olive.

These turned out great and I will have to remake them when I need an appetizer to bring to a party.

If you want to try making them you can find a great baba ganoush recipe here at Simply Recipes.

For the crostini - I made some polenta according to the package directions - then I poured it into a flat pan and let it cool. 

Then I inverted the pan over a cookie sheet and it dropped out in one piece. I cut it into small squares and put them in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

The dogs munched on some crostini sans baba ganoush:-)

Now I am off to take the dogs for a long walk - it is bright and sunny here today!


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Southern Style Breakfast

Smothered pork chop with home fries with sweet peppers.
This morning I was craving something smothered in gravy. Luckily I had a pork chop defrosting in the fridge.

After making the home fries with sweet peppers I pan seared the pork chop.

I was thrilled when I found a packet of McCormick's chicken gravy in my cabinet. While that warmed up, I browned some mushrooms and onions in a pan and then added them to the gravy.

This was sooooo good!

My tummy is complaining about the heavy meals lately - I will have to tip my diet back to the green side tomorrow:-)

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Buffalo burger salad

Buffalo burger salad.

People have been going barbeque crazy here at my complex. The mouthwatering smells waft through my open patio doors every evening and get my stomach growling.

So, today's lunch just had to be a burger. I combined some ground bison meat with 1/2 an onion (grated), some minced sun dried tomatoes, a pinch of sage and a pinch of thyme. 

At the last second I decided to put a chunk of cheddar cheese in the middle. This turned out to be a very good idea:-)

Gooey melted cheese!
I ended up eating it topped with onion, red pepper and liberal amounts of ketchup and mustard.

I know, I know - I have been neglecting the dogs a bit lately on the cooking front - so you will be happy to hear that they got their very own teeny tiny burgers (without onion or sun dried tomato).

Doggy bison burgers.
And, as per usual, the best photo of the day was of the dog treat.

I am still working on figuring out my BMR - I found three different formulas and each of them generate wildly different numbers.

If I use one formula it says I have a BMR of 2,200 which seems way to high and if I use another formula I have a BMR of 1,400 which seems a bit more reasonable. The third end up with a BMR of 1,600 which seems a good number on days when I get a lot of exercise.

My big weight loss push for June will have to wait until I figure out the BMR mystery...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Mini turkey meatloaf

Miniature turkey meatloaf.
Back when I made my Italian wedding soup, I had some left over meatball mixture.

I put the extra mix into a mini meatloaf pan and put it in the freezer to save for another day. And, of course, I completely forgot it was in there:-)

While I was clearing out my freezer today I found it in the very back and it made for a quick and easy dinner.

I mixed 1/4 cup of barbeque sauce and 1/8 cup of ketchup and slathered it on top before it went into a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Oh, wow, did it turn out nice and moist! And with some carrots and mashed potatoes it made for a great comfort food meal.

The mashed potatoes turned out pretty amazing too. I minced 2 garlic cloves and put it in a pan with some butter. When the butter became fragrant I added some boiled potatoes and mashed it all together with a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Happy Labor Day everyone!

Tomorrow I am starting a new eating plan - well, not really new - I am just going to try eating more regular/consistent meals while I try to figure out my Basal Metabolic Rate - more on that on Tuesday.

I have been using a fun new app for my Android called Calorie Counter by Fat Secret.  It has this really cool feature that reads barcodes and brings up the nutritional information. 

Night all!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Cravings - how to beat them

Home fries with crispy potato skins.
This morning I woke up craving potato chips. It was the kind of craving that I know if I didn't satisfy it, I would end up 2 hours later clutching a super sized bag of potato chips.

Not a good thing.

Since salt was out of the question, I thought about what else I craved about potato chips. I definitely wanted something that was crunchy but I also wanted some grease - the kind you only get when something is fried.

Enter the home fries.

No formal recipe today but this one is super simple.

Slice a large russet potato. Par boil the potatoes (this should take around 4-7 minutes depending on the size of the slices).

Drain the potatoes and cut them to the desired size (smaller if you want super crunchy - larger if you like them more tender).

Put some coconut oil in a pan and put on med-high heat.

Carefully place the potatoes wedges into the pan (mind any oil splatter) and let cook until golden brown.

I topped mine with paprika and parsley.

Craving successfully demolished? Check!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Italian wedding soup

Italian wedding soup.

Italian wedding soup - simple easy and satisfying.

What I like most about this soup is that is made in many different ways. Some people add in tomatoes, some drizzle in a cheese and egg mixture to create cheesy egg ribbons.

I picked up a bag of southern greens the other day and knew it would be perfect in the soup.

And I will also show you my favorite unsalted chicken broth:

This is the most full-bodied broth I have been able to find. Many of the others I have tried were more like flavored water - bleh. The Kitchen Basics brand is hearty - just as if I had taken the time to make my own chicken broth.

I put quite a bit of spice in the turkey meatballs and they turned out wonderful! I know a lot of versions of the recipe calls for the meatballs to be browned in a skillet - I didn't bother and I think it turned out great.

Italian wedding soup

Serves 2


For the meatballs:

1/2 lb of ground turkey
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup of bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
1/2 tsp of basil
1/2 tsp of oregano
1/2 tsp of black pepper
1/2 tsp of onion powder
1/2 tsp of dried parsley
1/4 tsp of red pepper flakes

For the soup:

 4 cups of chicken broth
1/4 tsp of onion powder
1/4 tsp of garlic powder
1/4 tsp of olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 cups of the greens of your choice, chopped
1/4 cup of orzo


Combine all of the ingredients for the meatballs and form them into small balls. Place on a plate and keep in the refrigerator until needed.

Add the oil into a sauce pan on medium-low heat and add in the garlic and onion powder. When it becomes fragrant add in the carrots and the broth. Bring everything up to a boil and then add in the orzo and drop in the meatballs. Cover, turn the heat to a high simmer and let cook for about 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, test that the meatballs are cooked through and that the orzo and greens are tender.

Serve immediately and top with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan.