Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Asian Wraps

This post will be easy and quick because I have about 10 minutes before little people wake up!

Luckily this dinner was easy and quick... and perfect for the unbearably HOT, humid weather we have been having!

Asian Wraps
compliments of Ms. Jacqueline Gray :)

shrimp (or tofu) optional*
lime juice
soy sauce
assorted veggies (I did red cabbage, spinach, and shredded carrots)
fresh basil or mint if you got it
Flat Rice Wraps (apparently my grocery store is the only one on earth that doesn't carry them)
Rice Vermicelli

For the dipping sauce:
Hoison Sauce

Sauteed some shrimp in a bit of olive oil with lime juice, and fresh jalapeno. I cut the shrimp into little bit sized pieces.

While that was going I cut up the veggies and cooked the rice vermicelli! That stuff is awesome, it literally takes 2 minutes! Next time I'm just going to boil water in the microwave and then add in the noodles, just to make it super easy.

That was actually way too much rice vermicelli so I threw out about half of that and then mixed it together. It was kind of sticky, had to really work it in.

Then I threw the shrimp in, straight from the pan, so the hot olive oil wilted down the spinach a little. Add about a tablespoon of soy sauce and mix her up.

I LOVE THE COLORS! Eating colors makes me so happy. I just feel like I'm eating straight nutrients.

These were the only wraps I could find at Harris Teeter, but apparently you shold be able to find thin flat rice wraps in the Asian section at Shoppers, Safeway, Giant, and Wegmans... so like I said everywhere but where I went. Oh well, I made it work with these guys:

Put a few spoonfuls on your wrap and roll it up! I had no idea what I was doing, so don't worry if you don't either! I just did mine like a burrito.

For the dipping sauce, crush the peanuts with the flat side of your knife, and then mix them in with some hoisin sauce. Don't know why I put the rice vermicelli in this picture, but thats what it looks like if you were curious!!

Beautiful! And easy, and surprisingly really filling! I loved the red cabbage, it gave it the perfect crunch.

A close up...
Two other things I liked about this:
1. If your kids like dipping, or burrito type foods, these work. My younger one loooves to dip so he gave these a shot
2. This is one of those recipes that you can let sit. I hate things that have to be served immediately to taste good because I usually make dinner a couple hours before my husband gets home. This is actually even better after a few hours in the fridge!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

No Excuses

"That Girl Baby," as my sons call her (and as she will now be referred to on this blog) is now 6 weeks old! That means I'm 100% approved by the doc for runs. Darn! Yay, and darn. All at the same time. I decided Sunday night that if she slept well, I'd meet up with my sis-in-law and neighbor for my old usual 4 mile, 5:45 am run. I was secretly hoping I'd have a rough night, and therefore another excuse to not run, but lo and behold That Girl Baby slept like a champ. 7:30 to 5 am. Just enough time to wake up, feed/change her, put her back to sleep, and be out the door in perfect timing.

It went great! And by "great" I mean, I didn't want to die like I did last time! The hardest part is always making yourself get out the door, but once you "run" out of excuses and you just GO... there is never any regret.

Along the same lines, I had no excuse to not make a side to bring to a BBQ Saturday night even though I was tired and kind of wanted to "forget". I had a whooooole bunch of veggies from CSA that needed usin' up. I had about 20 mysterious huge leaves from CSA that I needed to use before they went bad but I had NO CLUE what they were.

Then I discovered... they were Collard Greens! Is it obvious I'm from the North? Virginia may be below the Mason Dixon Line, but let me tell you Northern Virginia is a whole different world, where the best Sweet Tea you'll find is at a McDonald's and there is nothing slow-paced about anything we do.

So after a little research, it seemed that most people made collard greens by braising them or slow cooking them because the stems are kind of tough. I had about 20 minutes before we were leaving for a friend's house so I tried to make the fast version. (See? Still thinking like a Northern Girl)

Here's how it went...

Quick Sweet and Spicy Collard Greens
adapted from Fine Cooking

10+ large Collard Greens leaves
3-4 slices bacon, chopped
A couple cloves of chopped garlic
1 tbl malt vinegar
1 tbl maple syrup
Red Pepper Flakes
Lemon Juice

So since I was a little scared these would turn out terrible I ADDED BACON! When in doubt, throw some bacon in there and everyone loves it. Proven fact.

To make this cook quickly, I cut out the stems from the leaves

Then piled up the leaf halves

Rolled them up like so

And cut them into "ribbons"

Oops, once your bacon gets crispy, don't forget to add garlic!

Then add in the collard greens and use tongs to toss them up with the bacon grease so that they can cook down. I didn't leave them in there too long though, just 2-3 minutes. Long enough to cook down but still be a bright, healthy looking green (makes you forget they are covered in bacon grease).
Next time I will remove bacon and garlic, let the grease drain on a paper towel, and saute the collards in olive oil instead, adding bacon at the end.

Meanwhile mix the malt vinegar, crushed red pepper and maple syrup

Transfer collard greens to a serving dish, and pour maple syrup mixture on top. Mix it all around! I topped with a squeeze of fresh lemon because it just felt right.

Did I do them right? I'm not sure, but they tasted good to me! Must have been the bacon.

Do you make Collard Greens? How do you do them?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Swiss Chard

More leafy greens from CSA... Swiss Chard. Instead of throwing it in this, my go-to swiss chard recipe, I tried out the recipe that the farm sends out with the weekly CSA boxes. It was easy, light, perfect for a hot summer night, healthy, and surprisingly filling!

Swiss Chard Wraps

Chicken breasts or tenders (olive oil, salt and oregano)
grape tomatoes, quartered
cucumbers, chopped
swiss chard leaves (1 per wrap)

I was pretty sure (ok, 100% sure) the kids wouldn't go for the wrap, but at least I could get them to munch on the individual ingredients while I made dinner! Nothing like hummus and a little iced coffee! (just kidding, thats my cup)

Brown chicken in a skillet with a touch of olive oil, salt and oregano

While thats cooking prepare your other toppings

Then to assemble the wraps, spread hummus on the swiss chard leaf

Add the other toppings (chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, feta and parsley), and finish by squeezing some fresh lemon juice all over the top... this is KEY! The feta is salty so you probably don't want to add more salt.

Wrap it up and enjoy!

I was a little worried my husband would murder these in 5 seconds then go raiding the fridge for a real dinner... but they actually filled us up! A little messy to eat, but the flavors were perfect!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Fish and "Chips"

I love Kale. I always think of it as this ultra super-food. Is it? I'm not sure. I know its really good for you, but in my mind I've elevated it to Popeye and his can of spinach status. So, when CSA delivered my huge FRESH beautiful bunch of Kale last week I was so so excited, because again, I'm a giant dork about this kind of thing.

But how many ways can you really eat Kale? I put it in this sausage soup (post to come) that everyone loves. But come on... you can add anything to sausage and it would be awesome. Then you can do the straight up saute in olive oil method and that's tasty too. But that's pretty much my entire repertoire when it comes to cooking with Kale.

So that's why I'm REALLY REALLY excited about this. KALE CHIPS!! You must make this. It's easy, it's tasty and it's got supernatural powers. I'm going to start taking little baggies of this everywhere I go so I can harness my inner Popeye and gain superhuman speed and strength in the face of my greatest opposition (the kids).

For the Kale Chips you need:

4-5 big handfuls of Kale, chopped into bite size pieces
olive oil, or just for today, "Olive Oyl"
salt (can substitue with lawry's or old bay too)
a salad spinner (yes, you NEED this)

And for the Fish you need:

Halibut or another white fish
... these are new at Trader Joes and I'm obsessed. Frozen , boneless halibut filets already in the perfect size pieces, for a very reasonable cost!! About $6 a package.

And the ingredients for frying -

Olive Oyl

1 egg

So for the Kale Chips, you have to clean the kale and then dry it WELL in a salad spinner. It needs to be perfectly dry for this to work. Then lay Kale flat on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and drizzle about 1-2 tbl of Olive Oyl over the top and toss well. Put in a 350 degree oven for 12-20 minutes. We'll check in at 12 minutes and assess from there. Keep reading, you'll see!

Meanwhile get your ingredients ready for the fish. Whisk the egg in one bowl, and add a mixture of 3 parts flour to 1 part breadcrumbs on a plate, with a bit of salt.

Lay your halibut pieces on a papertowel and blot dry so that they don't have too much water in them, or they'll be difficult to fry.

And heat enough Olive Oyl over medium high heat to cover the bottom.
Dip the fish in the egg

Then coat in the breadcrumbs/flour

Keep breading the fish pieces and your fingers will look like this.
Its gross but don't stop! Must...keep...breading.
When they are all breaded up (you can wash your hands now) put them in the pan

And fry on both sides. The best thing about this is that fish cooks FAST so its only about 3 minutes per side.
Check in with your Kale at 12 minutes! It should be bright green and if you poke it, it will be crisp like chips! Mine wasn't quite done so I put it in for an extra minute. If it starts turning brown, you've gone too far and they will be bitter.
When you decide they are done, take them out and add salt! DON'T add the salt before they go in the oven or they will turn to mush!!
I decided lemon juice was key to making this awesome. Drizzle a bit all over the Fish and "Chips."

EVERYONE loved this! The kids devoured the fish and even tried the Kale Chips!! ... Proof that Kale must really have supernatural powers!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Hill

There's a hill out of my neighborhood that is about a little over a quarter mile long. And it is pretty steep. There's no avoiding it, and it is right at the beginning of the run. So when I was pregnant I would tell myself as long as I could still run up that hill, I was still normal. A few times at the end I just ran up the hill and then walked back home... just to trick my mind into thinking I was still somewhat normal and not a couch-ridden, enormous invalid like I felt.

This morning I met my girlfriend for another attempt at a 3 mile run. HARD! SO HARD! Much harder than Saturday and gosh darnit, I'm going to blame it on a combination of that hill and my bad attitude. That hill just kicks you into high gear 2 seconds into your run. Then you feel the effects of it for the rest of the run! I honestly felt more out of shape today then I did running 39 weeks pregnant.

I've used this hill to somewhat gauge my level of fitness... some mornings Kate and I would run up at a sub 8 minute pace chatting the whole way, and other mornings like this one, I chugged up at over a 10 minute pace and then promptly stopped at the top, bent over with my head between my legs to ease the dizziness, and nearly vomited. True story.

Here is what's frustrating... I feel like since my belly is (mostly) gone I should be able to pick up where I left off running-wise. Okay maybe not exactly where I left off, but shouldn't it at least be a LITTLE easier to run without having a 15+ pound uterus sitting on my pelvis (or wherever it sits). Right??

This is me just being a whiner. I know over time it will get better, that hill will become less daunting, I'll be able to make a meal from start to finish without burning something, and I might even sleep again and improve my morning moods :) Ahh, one day.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Back to reality... Monday night was my first night in the real world. Meaning... making dinner with 2 kids who refused to nap afoot while my husbands still at work. I don't know what I was thinking? I should have re-entered this world the same way I did with running. Something easy, similar to a nice 3 mile jog with frequent rest breaks.

But earlier that day my mom had come to visit and she brought me some broccolini picked fresh from her garden and some cilantro pesto she made, also from her garden. I'm such a dork but that kind of thing really excites me. I immediately thought of this recipe I read a long time ago that I had been wanting to try, and I happened to have all the ingredients. I quickly scrapped the easy, tried-and-true, could-make-it-in-my-sleep, Kale Soup recipe I had been planning on and decided to make this instead. Bad idea...

Cilantro and Lime Rice with Salmon

2 tbl soy sauce
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime and about a tablespoon of the grated rind
2 tbl honey
2 tbl freshly chopped cilantro (I substitutued the pesto, but same thing)
1 tbl olive oil
1 small chopped onion
1.5 cups brown basmati rice
3.25 cups chicken broth
2-3 salmon filets (I used the frozen chimichurri salmon from Trader Joes - my favorite place on earth)
2 bunches broccolini chopped

So it all started out innocently enough... you can see the boys sitting nicely in the back eating their grilled cheese (I knew this meal wouldn't stand a chance with older boy). I thought I had about an hour before the baby needed to eat... at this point she was chillin.

And then at this point she's screaming. And this is about when I start losing it. Add the onion to olive oil in a saute pan. I was a little frazzled so I added about 3 tablespoons too much. Don't do that.
While that was sauteeing I mixed this real quick. Soy sauce, pesto (or just cilantro), honey,and lime juice and rind.
Sidenote* this marinade was so tasty and would be really good with grilled pork chops or fish!

Then add rice and broth. See, it sounds so simple when I'm typing this but I'm telling you it was chaos over here. chaos! At this point you bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and let the rice cook for about 30 minutes. Translation... rush the boys to a bath and nurse baby before rice burns.

And by the time I got downstairs the rice was definitely burned. Oh well, I almost threw it in the trash so I could collapse on the couch and eat ice cream instead, but decided to just keep going and see what happens. SO...
broil the salmon on high for about 10 minutes.

Add the sauce and chopped broccolini in with the rice and stir it around (heat still on low). Breathe, Recover. I mean, re-cover the pan. :)

Take the salmon out, flake it, and mix it in with the rice.

It was actually delicious, when I finally got around to eating it at about 9 pm. It probably wouldn't be too difficult if you're not a total scatterbrain like I am right now.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Spoiled Mom on the Couch

I haven't cooked a meal in 3 weeks, and I hadn't run in 5. I've been super spoiled, with such great friends bringing me meals nearly every single night! I'm a little scared that when I actually DO go back to planning and making meals again I won't remember how! When you're "in it," you don't realize how much work it really is. Planning and making meals every night was just so much a part of my daily life that I never thought much of it. Now that I've been "out of it" for a few weeks, I'm realizing how much work it really is to keep a fridge fully stocked and meals planned for a family-of-five, seven days a week!

This morning I dusted off my running shoes and met up with my local running club for their Inaugural 5k Run. Same as with my cooking, I was feeling rusty. My gait felt weird, my legs felt heavy, my lungs weren't yet acclimated to this incredible Virginia humidity. But a few things didn't change... the fresh air and the sunshine on my face felt just as rejuvenating as I remembered. My same group of girlfriends was there, incredibly supportive as always. Its one of the few times we can chat and chat and chat... with no interruption from kids!

So even though my pace was nice and slow and I stopped to walk a few times, it really didn't make a difference. I was just happy to be out there doing what I love again.

Tomorrow night I'm going to become reacquainted with my second love... food. Our CSA deliveries started up this week and I have a huge fresh bunch of Kale that is calling my name.