Friday, February 11, 2011

Quick, Easy, Healthy

During the week, there are some days (believe it or not) when I just don't want to invest an hour into making dinner.  Last night was one of them.  I had a recipe bookmarked that looked good, but turned out to be really quick and cheap to boot.  These Falafel burgers were excellent.  The tahini sauce was a great condiment.  I  also added some fried halloumi with black pepper.  By the way, if you've never had halloumi, you are so missing out.  How can you go wrong with fried cheese?

  So, no, I am not a vegetarian, which is the question I get when ever I've told someone that I've made a  batch of bean burgers (it actually does come up in conversation. I think I need to get out more.).  I try to make a conscious effort to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meat and dairy.  After reading a few really informative books like The China Study and Skinny Bitch and watching movies like Food Inc., I have dallied in veganism and vegetarianism here and there.  I still struggle with milk (if  you're interested here's why).  I think food is an extremely personal choice though, and I have no problem with people who eat meat and dairy.  I still do, I just try to make sure it's as local and organic as possible.

Stepping Out Of The Kitchen......

and on to the treadmill.

 Random songs on my running playlist:
  • What's My Name - Rihanna
  • Rolling In The Deep - Adele
  • Talkin' 2 Myself -  Eminem
  • Jesus Walks - Kanye West
  • Teenage Dream - Katy Perry
  •  Imma Be - Black Eyed Peas
  • Dancing On My Own - Robyn
  • Me Against The Music - Glee
  • Swing, Swing - All American Rejects
  • Universally Speaking - Red Hot Chili Peppers

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Full Plate

It's been a busy week.  Two birthday parties, eye exams, packing up to move, studying for my UK citizenship test, training for my half marathon in June, and keeping my title as Domestic Goddess and Mother Of The Year.  Phew.  I'm tired.

I did manage to fit in a trip to Jamie's Italian in Oxford.  I have to apologize now.  I get so excited when I go there and they put my plate down in front of me, I forget to take pictures.  It was fantastic.  Simple, good quality, real food.  I also love that I'm contributing to Jamie Oliver.   He is my food hero.

We started with Mushroom Bruchetta, and mixed olives.  The mushrooms were grilled with thyme, lemon and garlic and placed on top of a crusty piece of olive oil soaked, garlic rubbed, toasted ciabatta bread.  The olives blow me away every time.  I HATE olives.  These olives are amazing.  They are bright florescent green and apparently from Puglia, Italy.

For our main dishes, Carlos got the burger with truffle and Parmesan fries.  While we were looking for a place to park that night, we stopped the car next to the restaurant to give our friends a call to say we were there, and I saw these burgers through the window being delivered to various tables.  They looked amazing.  He said it was one of the best burgers he's ever had.

I had the Mushroom Panzerotti, which was like big mushroom and ricotta stuffed ravioli.  I also had simple green salad on the side with a buttermilk dressing.  Very fresh and super yummy.

 For dessert, Carlos got the special tiramisu.  It was flavored with an orange liqueur and chocolate.  I had an espresso and dark chocolate tart.  Extremely rich, and not very sweet.  I loved it.

It was also Super Bowl Sunday and even though I was gonna be in bed (11am -4am over here in the UK), I couldn't let the occasion pass without making something for  Carlos to take to his party that night.  I was really excited about this recipe.  It was one of those desserts that is so rich and sweet that after a couple of bites you know you should stop, but you can't.  I give you Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip  and homemade Football Cookies.  I made three flavors of the dip: Snickerdoodle, Double Chocolate Fudge Cookie Dough, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  The cookies were perfect for dipping into this dip.  They weren't very sweet at all, so you had a nice balance with the dip.  My football shape turned out kind of goofy (they DID look like leaves), but hey, I cut them free hand.  You can't buy american football cookie cutters in the UK.  Just not gonna happen.

The cookie tray came home empty, so I'm guessing the guys like it.  I'm glad I sent it out of the house, 'cause I would have eaten most of it myself.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Friday Food

Fridays are my favorite day of the week.  I love having the whole weekend to look forward to.  My husband works from home most Fridays, so I get to see more of him.  It is also the day when I really get my cook on.  I work on Saturdays and Sundays, so I like to make sure the fridge is stocked with easy, good food that my husband and the kids can eat while I'm not around.  Friday night is  pizza night.   I  like to try out a new dessert that night too, to kill the craving I may have been having all week for cheesecake or brownies.   This Friday I made Jenna's Heath Bar Blondies,  this AH-mazing pizza (best one I've made ever),   I tried my hand at making some baguettes, and for a change, I made meatball hoagies to go with our pizza.   Think I might have a tendency to put a little too much on my plate (excuse the pun)?

I had originally intended for the baguettes to go with the hoagies, but I didn't read the recipe properly (such a rookie mistake!)  and had to send the husband out for some at the store.  I missed the part where it said the baguettes had to rise in the fridge overnight.  We have a lot of bread at my house now.  Never a bad thing.

I wanted to do something a little different with my meatball hoagies.  For some reason, I always end up with half a tub or pesto lingering in my fridge after I've bought it for a recipe, so I thought I'd make Pesto Meatballs.  They turned out really good.    A subtle flavor of basil and garlic, with pine nuts and Parmesan running through the meatballs.  They were very tender too.  I'm definitely keeping these in my recipe rotation.

Pesto Meatballs

  • 1.5 lbs ground turkey
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1/4 tsp marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 heaping Tbsp pesto

Preheat oven to 280C (350 F). 

Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Shape into meatball shapes and put in a lightly greased baking dish.

Bake for about 25 minutes.  Done.  

The possibilities are pretty endless with these guys.  I made hoagies with this marinara sauce.  I added mushrooms and green bell pepper and I loaded up the hoagies with grated mozzarella.  

That's the incredible pizza and my pesto meatball hoagie.

Yep, that's beer in the wine glass.  I'm not be pretentious. The bottles these ales come in are so big, I'd be asleep by 8 if I drank a whole one myself.  So we split one, and now it's a Friday night tradition.  We try a different one every Friday night.  Yeah, it's the little things that excite us now.  Thanks, kids.  

Anyhow, I digress, the meatballs.  We had a lot of meatballs in marinara left over (yay for leftovers!) as you can see....

Looks kinda weird in the pic. Trying to work on the camera issues.

I can see spaghetti and meatballs in the very near future.  You could also make some pretty cool little appetizers with these.  Hunks of mozzarella, fresh basil leaf, cherry tomato and a meatball on a toothpick.  Super Bowl snacks?

Friday, February 4, 2011


Today I 'ave mostly been eating (Harry Enfield sketch reference) Southwestern Quinoa Salad and a Black Bean Burger, topped with avocado and cheddar.  I also had 2 apples.  Needed to refuel after my run this morning.

I have some awesome recipes coming up.  It's Friday, that means pizza night!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Super Bowl Eats

Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching.  It's one of the days that I yearn to be back in the US sitting on a couch with my family watching the game, eating and drinking beer.  In the past, my husband and I have stayed up (OK, he has, I usually conk out around half time) to watch the game, which usually starts  around 11 PM till 4 AM here in the UK.  I love football, but I love food even more.  The Super Bowl is just the excuse I need to make some of my favorite appetizers and party foods.  Here are a few of my favorites:
and a few of my own:

Hot Crab Dip
  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 6.5 oz can crab meat
  • 2 Tbsp chopped white onion
  • 1/2 tsp cream style horseradish 
  • 1 Tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 Cup toasted slivered almonds
Mix the first 6 ingredients and top with almonds.  Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 20 minutes.  Serve with crackers.  A classic.

  • 2 lbs ground beef
  • 1/4 Cup chopped parsley
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 chopped white onion
  • 2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 Tbsp water
  • Chili Sauce and Grape Jelly (could use blackcurrent jam in UK) OR
  • Barbecue sauce
Mix all ingredients except oil, water and sauces.  Grease a baking sheet with oil.  Shape mixture into meatballs and bake at 180C (350 F) for about 25 minutes or until browned.  Once cooked, place meatballs into a saucepan and poor over the chili sauce and grape jelly (together), or BBQ sauce.  You will need to use the whole chili sauce and jelly, or BBQ sauce bottle.  Add the 3 Tbsp water and mix.  Serve warm.  

Last year, I made these for dessert, and they were amazing.  I think I may need to make them again.  Have I mentioned that i'm training for a half marathon in June?  For real.  I think I'd be in trouble if  I wasn't.

Go Packers!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Most Amazing Naan Bread Recipe

Some of you may already know this, but curry is the official national dish of  Great Britain.  Most Brits don't have pizza night, they have take-out night, a.k.a. curry or Chinese food, usually on  a Friday or Saturday night.  I was recently asked to try out one of the curries in a range we may carry at my work, and I jumped at the chance.  You see, I made some home-made naan bread about a week ago, and have been dreaming about it ever since.  This was  just the opportunity to make some more.  And it was just as good this time.

Naan Bread

  • 1.5 Cups (12 oz) warm water
  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3.5 Cups (476 g) strong white bread flour 
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp Nigella seeds 
  • 1 Tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 bulb of garlic
  • 4 Tbsp room temp butter

Sprinkle your yeast and sugar into the warm water and let sit for 5 minutes to activate.
It should look something like this after 5 minutes.  Nice and foamy on top.

Next, add half your flour and salt and mix.  Add your Nigella seeds and cumin seeds (both available at most supermarkets in the UK, definitely online in the US).  Add the rest of your flour and begin kneading the dough for about 5-7 minutes, or until the dough is really smooth and elastic.   Transfer your dough to an oiled medium sized bowl and cover with cling film.  Set in a warmish place, I suggest the counter top nearest your oven. 

Let the dough sit for a good 2 hours.  In the meantime, turn your oven on to 200, and drizzle a little olive oil over your garlic bulb in a pie dish.  Roast the garlic for around 30 minutes, or until a fork easily sinks into the garlic.

After your garlic has roasted, and your house WILL smell amazing, let it cool.  Once cooled squeeze the garlic from it's skins into a small bowl and mix and mash it with the room temp butter.  Set aside.

Once the dough has risen the full two hours, it should look something like this.

Preheat your oven to 230.  Now divide your dough into 4 equal parts.  Flatten and shape the dough into 4 naan shapes. Gently poke your fingers into the dough to create dimples on the surface.  Place on ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 10 minutes.  

Brush your garlic butter on the tops of baked bread and grill for 3-5 minutes.   Eat warm and smile.

Naan bread is super versatile, too.  I  like to make pizza with left overs the next day.  It's also good with scrambled eggs for breakfast, and torn up to dip into hummus.  As with most things, home made naan bread knocks the socks off store bought.  

Recipe adapted from Eat, Run, Live.