Cooking


Where the heck has she been for a WHOLE year, right?

Well, let me tell you!

BeachBoy and I turned off our internet connection and cable tv last year.  Yes, you heard me correctly.  We went a whole year without access to the outside world.  (Sure, we could’ve turned on a radio, but we don’t own one.)  I found it refreshing.  BeachBoy, a computer programmer, found it difficult. *Ahem* Care to guess which of us came up with the grand idea of doing without?

Fast foward a year…he got the gift of TV/Internet for his birthday.  How generous of me, right?  😉 

Anyway, here is our year in review. With the demolition and rebuilding of a (still unfinished) bathroom, a new roof which resulted in a fallen ceiling, repainting the exterior of the house, lots of trips, and  fun projects with my sister, it was a great year.  Gee, if we’d had the Net, I would’ve blogged about it! I guess I have some catching up to do!

Beachboy loves salad.   Well, he loves salad if it is comprised only of vegetables, that is.  By vegetables, I mean the ordinary ones.  Even the lettuce has to be simple. 

In an effort to be more reasonable about what we eat, I’ve been trying to cook more nourishing foods instead of just stuff that sounds good to us. 

That’s how all of the spinach ended up in the fridge.  Beachboy doesn’t eat spinach, but he did last night.  As he took his last bite of the salad, he said, “That was a very pleasant surprise!”  I wish you the same luck with your eaters.

Fruited Spinach Salad for Two

  • 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast– coat, dredge, and saute
  • Roughly 1/2 cup salsa (marinate chicken overnight and mix remaining salsa with honey for coating chicken)
  • Roughly 2 Tb. honey, divided
  • Plain bread crumbs (for coating chicken before sauteeing)
  • Fresh baby spinach
  • 1 small sweet onion (or red)
  • 1/2 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced and cut into bite size rectangles
  • 1 handful of fresh pecans, toasted (to be served warm)
  • Crumbled Feta cheese with Cranberries (You can get this at Kroger)
  • Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinegerette

At last, summer break is here!  To me, that means one thing: the gift of time.  Time to be a wife again. Time to be home. Time to get things accomplished.  Time to cook.

The great challenge we’ve discovered since moving here is avoiding the “Southern Comfort Food” trap, and boy is that tough! When you add that to the fact that life here moves at a slower pace, we’ve found ourselves expanding.

fried chicken

BeachBoy and I love to meal plan, but during the school year meals have to be fast.  It’s unusual for me to get home before 6:30, and when I do finally make it home, we’re both starving.  So, summer break is a long-awaited time of rest for us.  It affords us the chance to enjoy cooking and trying new recipes. 

Since I’ve been hitting the gym with a friend for the past few months and I’m trying to help BeachBoy along, too, my goal for the summer is to keep our meals light and healthy.  Heavy foods keep us from running in the evenings, which is not good!

So…here is the menu for the week, beginning on Thursday due to my shopping schedule:

  • Thursday- Spianch and herb salad tossed with strawberries, pepper jack cheese, and herb grilled chicken; half a baked potato each; squash casserole (because the one lonely squash was near death. ha!)
  • Friday- Tilapia with lemon parsley sauce over whole grain rice blend; italian style green beans
  • Saturday- Fiesta party with friends from church!
  • Sunday- Parsley chicken, fresh fruit, garden salad
  • Monday- Grilled pork loin with mango salsa; garden salad; sauteed zuchinni
  • Tuesday- Greek salad; mini grilled pitas with tomato and olive pate
  • Wednesday (meatless day)- 5 bean soup (crock pot day since I’m headed to work); french bread

(I suppose I should note that when we have chicken, BeachBoy and I split a breast.  On pork nights, we have one thin-cut boneless chop each or one thin slice of loin.  As for fish, we eat one filet each.  Limiting meats to decent portions is tough!)

Lu

BeachBoy doesn’t buy ground beef; he buys ground sirloin.  So, I took a huge leap of faith when I decided to try a new turkey burger recipe this weekend. 

I found this basic burger recipe online and added a few extras to keep it moist and convince BeachBoy that turkey can be even better than beef.

burger1

The recipe, created to be used for Weight Watchers users, called for topping it with only tomato and lettuce.  Blah! 

 

Turkey Burgers

  • 3/4 lb. ground white turkey (breast meat)
  • 1/3 cup shredded pepper  jack cheese (The real recipe calls for plain Monterrey jack….but pepper jack is SO good.)
  • 2 green onions/scallions, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper (I accidentally left this out.  Oops!  They were still yummy.)

Combine all ingredients except the cheese.  Mix thoroughly.  Then, blend in the cheese.  Form the mixture into patties (about 4).  Grill to yummy goodness!

burgers2

Extra Ingredients

  • Good buns, lightly grilled (They make or break the burger.)
  • 1 Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Romain Lettuce
  • Maple Bacon (2 half length pieces per burger)
  • Sliced Pineapple (Grilled and served warm)
  • Any remaining shredded cheese (because I just love it that much)
  • Special sauce

burger3

I wasn’t convinced that Beachboy would like the burger as it was prepared in the original recipe, so I added the above items.  For the sauce, I blended mayo, sour cream, green/red bell peppers, and a bit of pineapple juice.  The mayo and sour cream were about a two to one ratio, with mayo being the heavier amount.  I tossed in a handful of diced peppers and a bit of juice to thin it out. (simply because I knew we’d use less of the unhealthy sauce if it was nice and thin)  Together, all the extras added up to one REALLY juicy burger.

Please pass the napkins!

burger4

If BeachBoy, lover of all things beef, says it’s good, it must be!

For two and a half years now, BeachBoy has been asking for squash casserole. 

“What?” was my initial response.  For some time, he insisted that it did, in fact, exist.  After living in the south for a while, I was finally introduced to it, and much to my surprise, it was fantastic. 

This particular recipe was a part of the mini recipe book we get following the end of the school year banquet at work.  (That is always a treat by the way, since all the southern mamas make the food!)

I usually halve it for the two of us, and BeachBoy likes it with extra crackers as he is a crunchaholic.

We love that it’s fast, and I love the subtle sweetness that comes out when the squash is cooked.  Squash casserole- who knew!?

 squash

Yellow Squash Casserole

  • 4 cups yellow squash, sliced
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped

Combine the squash and onion in a large skillet.  Add a small amount of water, cover, and cook on medium heat until tender.  Remove from heat when finished, drain, and pour into a 9 x 13 baking dish.

Meanwhile combine in a small bowl:

  • 35 round buttery crackers
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I love sharp cheddar.)

Stir half of this mixture in with the squash and onions.  Then, in a second bowl, combine:

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste (I use about 1/2 tsp)

Mix the above mixture in with the squash, cracker, and cheese mix.  Then, stir in:

  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Top the dish with the remaining cheese and cracker mix.  Cube

  • 2 Tablespoons butter

and dot the top of the dish. 

 

Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until lightly golden.

There’s something about warm weather that makes me crave fresh fruit and veggies. 

I spent a large part of the evening filling my shopping cart with produce tonight and standing over the counter cutting it up for the week ahead.

Over the next two weeks, I’m ridding our home of all prepackaged or otherwise unheathly food.  (much to BeachBoy’s dismay, no doubt…)  We don’t keep much prepackaged food around, so the switch over will be quick.  I’ve declared this week and next week “Green” weeks in our house, where we will eat only fresh fruits and veggies, rice, and homemade bread products. 

I just couldn’t resist.  It feels so good.

Trust me.  Try it.

I must admit, with somewhat pink cheeks, that there were MANY vegetables I hadn’t heard of prior to moving here.  

Today, while visiting with my brother who was in town for a flight layover, I , I laughed at the fact that he, too, was a bit of a vegetable virgin.  As he asked what several of the vegetables on the menu actually were, I started to wonder how many I discovered during my first months here.

beans

First, there are the beans…or peas.  I had NO idea there were so many kids.

-Black-eyed

-Pinto

-Butter

-Lima and baby lima

-Purple Hull

-Black

-Red

Kidney

The list seems endless around here.  I always thought there were two kinds: baked and soup.  At least, those were the only two kinds served in our house!   I’m still trying to recover from the fact that they eat them with RICE around here.  There is something very strange about that.

greens

“What are those?” he asked as a waitress walked by.  Ahhhh, how could I leave out the greens.  I never realized people ate these, and I certainly hadn’t heard of them.  The only place I’d seen spinach was on old episodes of PopEye!

-Collards

-Turnip

-Mustard

 

turnip

Then, there are all of the other random veggie friends.

-Turnips

-Rutabagas

-Squash in so many forms and so often casserole

-Tomatoes, just sliced and sitting on your plate

 

 

So, how is it that I managed to escape the plight of vegetable consumption as a child?  My mother only made two kinds, as my brother and I laughed today: corn and green beans.  On occasion, she made a third, hominy, but as he said at lunch, “It’s really just another type of corn!”

This is the advantage of being raised by someone who doesn’t like veggies!   Thanks, Mom!

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