Pork Spare Ribs

Y’all, it’s been a minute, I know. This motherhood thing is… all consuming. It was all consuming when I was on maternity leave, and it’s all consuming now that I’m back at work. It takes up almost all of my ‘free’ time. I’ve written a few notes about it that maybe I’ll put up here, but they’re sort of the opposite of sunshine and roses, so we’ll see. But in any case, the lack of much free time means, among many other things, that food has defaulted to:

1) Convenience deliveries: HelloFresh, PrimeNow groceries, SmoothieBox (highly recommend all).

2) And/or (usually and) other people making it.

3) Or ordering in.

But occasionally I get it together enough to make something. Usually while watching the baby monitor like a hawk for signs that Gabriel is waking up from a nap:

We’ve had some spare ribs in the freezer from ButcherBox for a few months. Last time I tried to make ribs (my first time ever), I used a dry rub. I didn’t know any better. I don’t know if I’d ever even eaten ribs, though I’ve seen Dan do it plenty. They turned out… okay. Tough. Dry. Boo. So I’m trying a wet rub this time. I searched for a paleo recipe because that’s a shortcut for finding recipes with alternatives to (or no) sugar. I found this one from Every Last Bite. I was able to make the sauce while Gabriel played (and cried some) on the floor. I put it all in a medium pot and used my immersion blender to blend it together. Then I put that in the fridge (pot and all) until Gabriel was down for a nap, and then I was able to season and smother the ribs and set the crockpot to low for 8 hours.

I also used Gabriel’s nap time to make this BBQ sauce from Civilized Caveman, which I’ll use when I cook a 6 lb ButcherBox pork butt on Friday to make pulled pork. It’s a BBQ kind of day, I guess.

We went to a tree farm an hour away in the afternoon to take professional family photos (not a thing I’ve typically done, but why not with a 6 month old?) and get a tree! Fun. And the ribs were nearly done when we got home.

I popped them in the over per the recipe, and we enjoyed them with steamed broccoli and leftover rice from last night’s order-in from Himalayan House.

They were good! Better than the time I made the dry rub. Tastier and definitely more moist and falling off the bone. The flavor was good, spicy, a little sweet from the dates. Not sure it’s the same as commercial/ restaurant BBQ sauce if that’s what you’re expecting, but I wouldn’t really know since I’ve never ordered ribs before. I thought it was really good and am glad we have leftovers!

Advertisements

Jalapeño Popper Chicken Salad

In my last post (from over a month ago, yes), I mentioned that I planned to make Paleomg’s jalapeño popper chicken salad. It was so good, and SUPER spicy (I’m too lazy to take out seeds, and usually I like a lot of spice)! Definitely very different from the other chicken salad I re-made (non-Whole30 version)that week.

It seems to me like that last post was pretty recent, but it was over four weeks ago! Four weeks from now I will be a) 37 weeks pregnant, and b) moving into my new house! It feels like both of those things are really far in the future, but it will come before I know it! Hopefully kiddo keeps cooking until well after that to allow us time to get a bit settled before his arrival, but we’ll figure it out if that’s not the case. Other than that, the timing will work out pretty well. We’re awaiting the delivery of two furniture items (a couch from Crate & Barrel and a custom-made sideboard from Sandtown Millworks), both of which should be ready and delivered between our settlement date (a Tuesday) and the day we’ve hired movers (a Saturday). We’re also getting a chance to get blinds quotes (which means getting to go into our house a few extra times!) and should be able to get those installed in that same time period before we move in, also.

I packed my first three boxes today, of books. I plan to get rid of several broken items (an old, paint-peeling, wood-rotting adirondack chair; a Target bookshelf that is no longer all in one piece; a side table that is broken) in the next few weeks. Dan is ambitiously trying to sell our current couch and a few other items on Craigs list. The couch might end up being a dump item. It’s so old and gross. Blah, I can’t wait to be rid of it. And I’ll keep packing here and there, but the big push will probably be the last week of April and first week of May.

I haven’t been cooking a ton as it is, but it’ll definitely dwindle further over the next few weeks til we move. I AM hoping to cook up a ton of meals to freeze and make snack balls/bars ahead of kiddo’s arrival, but won’t start til we’re in the new house. Then I think the freezer will be the limiting factor. Or time. Eek!

Anyway – back to the jalapeño popper chicken salad. It was pretty easy, though there were a lot of steps and component parts. Unlike Juli Bauer in her nice and professional-looking cooking video, my jalapeños did not stay on the burner very well, so I kept having to fish them out of the flame with tongs. I also didn’t leave any bacon or jalapeño aside to sprinkle on at the end, as Juli suggests. I just threw it all in. As I said, it was quite spicy, but really tasty. And rich – a little goes a long way.

This Week’s Meal Plan

A quickie to report on what I plan to make and eat this week. Hopefully I’ll get a few other posts up this week, but we’ll see!

This week’s plan features a lot of chicken. I’m not sure I have this much chicken in the house, so I might have to buy some. I’d generally prefer to vary it some more, but these are what I want to make, so… here’s what I’m making! Other things I will eat because I have them: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, portobello mushrooms, arugula, sweet potatoes, red new potatoes, and avocados.

Sunday

Make:

  • Chicken salad salads (non-Whole30 version, so using dried cranberries and Greek yogurt from the original recipe)

Eat:

  • Whatever’s around! Plus, dinner at Woodberry Kitchen with Dan to celebrate my birthday. Can’t wait!

Monday (go to work day)

Eat:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt (maybe with almond butter and/or fruit), chicken sausage
  • Lunch: Chicken salad salad
  • Dinner: TBD
  • Snacks: Probably yogurt, maybe fruit, maybe some bars (Lara, RxBar, Epic)

Tuesday (telework day)

Make:

Eat:

  • Breakfast: Chicken sausage and maybe eggs (I’ll be taking my glucose challenge screening test, so I was advised to have a protein-heavy breakfast if I ate)
  • Lunch: TBD. Probably chicken salad salad
  • Dinner: Slow cooker buffalo chicken chili
  • Snacks: TBD

Wednesday (go to work day)

Eat:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt (maybe with almond butter and/or fruit), chicken sausage
  • Lunch: Chicken salad salad
  • Dinner: Pizza (I believe homemade by my book club hostess). Also some sort of dessert because it’s my birthday!
  • Snacks: Probably yogurt, maybe fruit, maybe some bars (Lara, RxBar, Epic)

Thursday (telework day)

Eat:

  • Breakfast: Egg sandwich: 1-2 fried eggs in butter with spinach between two pieces of toast, probably with cheese, hot sauce, and avocado
  • Lunch: Maybe leftover chili?
  • Dinner: TBD. Maybe salmon?
  • Snacks: TBD

Friday (go to work day)

Eat:

  • Breakfast: Yogurt (maybe with almond butter and/or fruit), chicken sausage
  • Lunch: Probably sweetgreen or Taylor Gourmet salad
  • Dinner: TBD
  • Snacks: Probably yogurt, maybe fruit, maybe some bars (Lara, RxBar, Epic)

Saturday

Make:

  • Jalapeno popper chicken salad from paleomg (yes, chicken salad twice in one week, but I’ve been wanting to re-make the one above for a while, and make this one. So that’s what I’ll do!)

Eat:

  • Oh who knows. But surely some of that jalapeño chicken salad.

Workouts

I’m only doing CrossFit anymore. And Barre3 classes. My prenatal yoga class ended and my birth class will now take the time of the prenatal yoga class, so I can’t sign up for the next session. Running is too uncomfortable. Other yoga is too lay-on-your-back or core or twist-intensive for my comfort. So, I’ll go to CrossFit at least 3x before work during the week, probably 4x, and will probably do at least one Barre3 workout.

Paleo Quiche

I’m kind of sort of back in the groove of weekly meal planning and prepping. I really lost it during my first trimester, and it just wasn’t happening with holidays, travel, etc. I’ve been mostly feeling a lot better since entering the second trimester, although I have felt a little more tired these past few weeks. And I’ve had a head cold for a WEEK at this point. I’ve never had a cold this long. I’m starting to feel like I’m never going to get better.

Anyway, I saw this recipe for paleo quiche from Paleo Running Momma recently, and I was excited to have every single ingredient on hand except for the breakfast sausage. So I bought some the next time I went to the store, as well as an extra butternut squash just so I’d still have one on hand. Which was a good call because it turned out that the one I already had had gone bad and squishy :-(. I hate wasting food.

I wouldn’t say this was a quick dish to throw together, but it wasn’t terrible. Like any real food meal, it had a fair amount of chopping and steps. But the end result is super tasty, and the butternut squash crust seemed to work out pretty well.

I only needed about 1/2 to 2/3 of my butternut squash to make the crust, so I chopped up the rest into chunks and roasted it with some beets and leftover red onion I had lying around, so I have that in the fridge. Also, the recipe called for 3/4 lb. of sausage, but I used the whole 1 lb. package. I had about 1-2 cups more filling leftover than would fit in the dish, so I saved that and ate it separately the next day (yum!). Also, as you can see from the photo, I used frozen Trader Joe’s brussels sprouts instead of fresh. I first microwaved them for several minutes (5?), then cut them in half, then roasted them per the recipe. They were still a little soggier than fresh ones would have been after roasting, but in the end, I don’t think you can tell the texture in the final dish.

I cut it into 6 slices instead of 8 (the recipe said it’s 8 servings), and I’ll eat this as a pre-made breakfast on days I don’t telework for the next couple weeks. (I didn’t go into work yesterday because GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN… so one more day of pre-made breakfast still in the freezer!)

For this week, I also have made (or planned to make):

  • Sizzing pork Greek salad from Melissa Hartwig’s new Fast and Easy Whole30 cookbook. I subbed ground beef instead of pork because I didn’t have any ground pork, and I added artichokes and tomatoes. This made more meat than necessary, so I have that leftover in the fridge for this week.
  • Mustard- and almond-flour- glazed flounder (the recipe called for salmon, which I though I had frozen, but it turned out I only had two tiny flounder filets in the freezer instead) and roasted potatoes and broccoli. The fish and roasted potatoes recipes were from RealPlans (which I signed up for again for three months).
  • Spinach Artichoke Chicken Bake, also from RealPlans (plan to make Thursday)
  • Deviled eggs and breakfast sausage (plan to make Saturday)

I continued to work out last week despite being sick, but this really has just dragged on and gotten worse. I didn’t work out yesterday, and today I won’t go to CrossFit, though I will go to my super relaxing prenatal yoga class that I started a few weeks ago. Hopefully I can get back to it tomorrow. I’m not feeling any better today, but I’m feeling… different. Less constantly runny nose, more coughing and pressure in my head and ears. So maybe that means things are progressing? We’ll see how I feel in the morning! In the meantime, I’ll keep drinking lots of fluids (including orange juice mixed with seltzer that has been a new craving of mine that I’m indulging… a lot).

Baby Food

This is not what you might think, from the title.

First, let me just acknowledge and move on from the fact that I haven’t posted since August. Clearly, other things have been my priority. That’s okay.

Moving on. In October, a colleague of my husband’s and close friend gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. This friend and her husband also have a dog that we often temporarily adopt when they are out of town, and they do the same for us and our dog. Their dog, Stark, has made an appearance in at least one previous post. I’ve never done this for friends before, but I decided to make several freezable meals for them so they would have easy food after the birth of their child. (So, not baby food – but food-for-parents-that-just-had-a-baby doesn’t roll off the tongue as well.)

I selected four recipes that I thought would freeze well and that would provide some variety. For them, I made four servings each, so 16 individually packaged meals in total. The recipes usually made more, so this was also my meal prep for the week! They were all recipes I’d made before, except one. I chose most from the Fed&Fit cookbook, because most of those package and freeze well, and I like them!

  • Lemony Kale and Sausage soup from Fed&Fit. I believe I added some potatoes and used both sausage and ground turkey (because I had it on hand).
  • Lagered Turkey Chili from Ali Larter’s Kitchen Revelry. I’d made this recently for myself (see photos below), and it was delicious.
  • BBQ Chicken Casserole from Fed&Fit. This was the one I’d never made before, but I thought it turned out great! Dan and I had 4 servings of our own from the recipe to enjoy, so it was great.
  • Tomato and Sausage Frittata from Fed&Fit. Easy and good. I made with chorizo.

Now, I don’t eat frequently with these friends. My husband spends more time with them (as I mentioned, the wife is a colleague of my husband’s). I’ve been to their house for a meal of grilled fish and another for a barbecue with hot dogs and hamburgers. I wasn’t aware of any major food preferences. However, after I was most of the way through making the meals, my husband informed me that he wasn’t “sure they ate much meat.” Hm. Well.

So, I wrote a note that I sent along with the meals when I gave them to them explaining what the meals were and that I mostly eat paleo-ish (lots of vegetables and meat) so that’s the way I cook, and that all of the meat was as high quality as we’re able to get. They did indeed eat them, but the wife told me later that she’d become vegetarian several months before. I’m not sure if she ate any or just let her husband, even though I think he’s eating mostly vegetarian also. Alas. I respect their decisions but also don’t feel bad about providing them super nutrient-dense meals (made more-so by the presence of high quality animal products). Lesson learned for next time though.

I didn’t take photos while cooking, but have some images of other times I’ve made a few of these meals.

Lagered Turkey Chili

 

Tomato & Sausage Frittata

img_2129

Eating In Japan (Japan: Part 3 of 3)

I’ve been thinking about how to structure this post. A day by day accounting of each meal? I sort of already did that in my Japan itinerary post, though without pictures of the food. Just highlighting my favorite meals? But even the not-so-favorite meals are still interesting and memorable. So you’ll get a mix.

First, a few thoughts on my personal approach to eating in Japan.

  1. Eat whatever is put in front of me. Why not? I’m probably not going to be able to ask what it is or ask for something different, so just go for it. This led me to eat a few things that I had never eaten before (raw horse meat, sea urchin), things I typically detest (shrimp), and things I don’t necessarily detest but just don’t… choose to eat because I like almost everything else better (squid, octopus).

2. Don’t be too precious or indecisive. By this I mean, I wasn’t concerned about finding the most authentic Japanese meal/experience or the best sushi or ramen. From everything I’d heard about Japan, it was all going to be good. Quality and service are very important and food is respected. I didn’t want to spend time perseverating over this option or that option. Plus, I don’t speak Japanese, and I wasn’t prepared to get uncomfortable enough to put myself in situations that might have been required in order to find the most authentic experience. So did we end up at a lot of safe, guidebook-recommended, English- and tourist-friendly places? Yes. Was it delicious? Yes. Was it the most authentic experience and the best food I could have had there? Probably not, but I was 100% okay with that.

3. Must haves. These included very fresh sushi (Daiwa sushi, check); conveyor belt sushi (place in Ueno, Tokyo, check); wagyu beef (Otsuko Steak in Kyoto, check); and ramen (multiple checks).

4. Try new things. I ate a lot of things I’d never had before, including the items listed above and most of the street food in Osaka. It also included:

  • Takoyaki: fried dough balls with octopus in them
  • Okonomayaki: savory pancakes containing almost anything – noodles, eggs, meat, sauce, green onion, cabbage, etc.
  • Japanese yam… paste? I don’t know what this stuff is called. We had it the first night in Tokyo at the Shinsuke izakaya with raw tuna. It was at the breakfast buffets in the Matsumoto and Yakushima hotels. And it was in this cold soba noodle dish at the cold soba and tempura restaurant in Matsumoto. It’s white (under the egg here) and had a sticky, pasty consistency and not a ton of flavor. I enjoyed it.fullsizeoutput_ae2d

So, we ate well. We didn’t fuss about it too much. My most memorable food experiences include (in chronological order):

  • Our first meal in Japan at Shinsuke Izakaya, obviously. It was our first meal! We each got a beer and we shared a sake. I don’t remember everything we got, but it included sashimi, the Japanese yam stuff I mentioned above, some pickled things. All in small dishes.
  • Daiwa Sushi. We didn’t have a super fancy sushi dinner in Tokyo, which we debated. But this was damn good sushi, worth the wait.
  • The izakaya, Soan Zama, in Matsumoto. As I mentioned in my first Japan post, we were the only customers, and the woman working did not know any English. There must have been at least one other employee cooking, but we never saw that person. We again each had a beer and shared a sake. We asked for something local. Dan ordered cold soba noodles and something else (I don’t remember). I ordered a set chicken dish, which I believe also came with rice, miso soup, and pickled vegetables. The woman watched us eat the whole time, essentially. Occasionally she would busy herself with something else, but mostly just watched us. We tried to just talk to each other normally, but it was tough. Still, the woman was adorable and the service and food so wonderful.
  • Dinner and breakfast at our ryokan, Shirouma-so, in Hakuba. Both were set course meals like I’ll show below for kawa doko. Both included whole fried fish, only one of which I ate the whole thing (head and all). Dinner also included a pot thing for cooking meat. It was clay maybe, and the meat cooked in liquid in a tray over a candle. When the candle was done burning, the meat was ready. We were told, if we wanted, to crack an egg into a bowl we had and dunk the meat in the raw egg before eating it. It was delicious. The meals also had miso soup, rice, and various pickled vegetables. Dinner had tempura vegetables and shrimp also. Breakfast had yogurt and melon and a crepe with a cooked but egg in it.
  • Eating in Osaka. I’ve already talked about takoyaki and okonomayaki, both of which we ate in restaurants in between strolling along the Dotombori canal and Dotombori street at night. The next morning, we went to Kuromon market and saw and ate a ton. There was so much food. The first thing I ate was a sort of meat and egg on a stick (pictured below). Then we got this cucumber salad with octopus in it (I mostly at the cucumber, Dan ate the octopus, but I did have a bite). Dan got this enormous scallop, which was cooked for him in butter over charcoal in its own shell. We ate eel, we ate eel over egg, we ate takoyaki, we ate a peach smoothie. And I’m pretty sure there were a few more things on sticks in there.
  • Kawa doko, eating on platforms above the flowing river, in Kibune. This was a set course meal. Dan and I were starving and both ordered the option with the most things. And beer. The meal included fish, sashimi, pickled vegetables, rice, miso soup, tempura, noodles, and probably other things I am forgetting. So many of our meals were like this in that they involve so many little, beautiful dishes – for the soup, for the rice, for the pickled vegetables, etc. It’s a lovely way to eat.
  • Lunch at the Kagoshima Toppy Hydrofoil port restaurant. Like a few other places we’d eaten (breakfast in the Shinjuku train station in Kyoto, lunch at Subaru Fifth Station on Mt. Fuji before hiking), we ordered via a machine that spits out a ticket, which you then hand to the hostess. In this case, the machine had no English nor pictures. But a poster next to it had pictures and prices, so we were able to figure out which button to push by finding the only one with the specific price of what we wanted. This place is memorable to me because it felt truly diner-like. Not run down, but sort of divey feeling. I loved it. Our ramen was sort of greasy and wonderful. Some of the other patrons were clearly also on their way to Yakushima (where we were departing on the hydrofoil from Kagoshima to) and were sort of hippy hiker-seeming. It just sticks out.

Finally, just a few other food/drink experiences worth mentioning, because I have the pictures:

  • Drink vending machines are everywhere. They have a lot of sugary sodas and coffee. And pocari sweat, a Gatorade-type drink that was really refreshing when we were walking around Kyoto!
  • Our first breakfast in Japan was at a fast food French cafe breakfast place. We got pastries with ham and cheese maybe, in rice flour dough. They were actually kind of delicious. (See above where I talk about not insisting on the most authentic experience.)
  • I did a tiny bit of research to find good coffee in Tokyo and found Nozy Coffee Roastery. I think these lattes were like $7 or $8 each. They were good, though, and much needed after walking a ton (this was the day of 33,000+ steps).
  • We shopped at 7-Eleven a few times (including for fruit and salad when I was really struggling! which they had! they have everything in Japan!), and they must have been running some sort of promotion. Twice, they motioned for Dan to stick his hand in this box and pull out a piece of paper. I forget what he ‘won’ the second time, but the first time was a bag of shrimp-flavored puffed starchy things. Dan ate the bag for breakfast the morning we left Tokyo.
  • Dan got green tea ice cream before we started on the Path of Philosophy in Kyoto when his blood sugar was dipping dangerously low and he was feeling hungry.
  • The food sold by vendors at the Gion festival celebrations in Kyoto was similar to the street food in Osaka. Lots of fried things on sticks. The lines were crazy.
  • Our lunch in Hiroshima. I need to go look up that name and I’ll update this. I had a nice meal of pork, rice, miso soup. The place was really cute and cozy.
  • For breakfast or lunch (timing was weird) in the Kagoshima airport on our way from Yakushima back to Tokyo back to Baltimore, I ordered something without having really ANY IDEA what I was getting. Turns out, it was this ground beef with egg ribbons. That looks like cheddar cheese, but it’s egg. And miso and rice and pickled vegetables of course. And, of course, our on-mountain ‘dinner’ at the Mt. Fuji hut at 3,400 meters. Not the tastiest meal ever, but it was food. Japanese curry (which was a thing), a sausage? patty, sausage links, rice, and pickled vegetables.

Hooray!

Chicken Salad Salad

Guys. I am so excited about the jar salads I made this week. They were so good.

We got home from Japan late Friday, so I had all weekend to meal plan and prepare food for the week. (Side fact: I’m doing another Whole30! My third. I started Monday, so this is only day 3. The last I did was a year ago. I’d pretty much decided to do it post-Japan even before I left for the trip. I’d been eating crap just because it’s there and not feeling great and not being mindful and just wanted to take time to be more intentional about my food choices. Actually, it’s about habits. I like to reset and reform good habits. Then eventually they wear away, and I come back to reset them. Anyway, and then, when I was in Japan, I was craving vegetables. I usually eat so many vegetables and could not find enough vegetables. I loved the food there, but I was very excited to come home and do a Whole30. We’ll see how long that enthusiasm lasts. :-). Anyway.) Instead of falling back on my default salads, I googled for some inspiration. I found this Chicken, Apple, and Pecan Salad from Damn Delicious, and it is damn delicious.

Chicken salad is still sort of a new thing for me. I had never liked mayo until I started eating frites several years ago (they were sort of a thing for a while, right?) and realized that aioli is mayo. So I started making my own. Store-bought mayo still just seemed unappetizing, but homemade was yummy. I used to make it with canola or vegetable oil, you know, before I knew better. Now that I limit those oils, I haven’t found a good way to make it anymore. I tried avocado oil once and really didn’t like it. However, I do like the Primal Kitchen mayo from Thrive Market made with avocado oil. I still don’t use it a lot, so it’s been sitting in my fridge for a while, and it was nice to find an excuse to use it.

To Whole30-ify the recipe, I did not use dried cranberries nor Greek yogurt. Instead, I used a little bit more mayonnaise and a lot more freshly squeezed lemon. Also, my experience with kale in jar salads is that it smells terrible after even a day in a jar (tastes okay, but coworkers give you funny faces), so I used spinach instead.

Ohmygod, so good. I took the picture below after my first bite while sitting at my desk at work because I was so excited.

For better or worse, it takes a while to eat. Not sure why – so many chopped up parts maybe. I was trying to eat really quickly at my desk in between two meetings yesterday. My coworkers were waiting for me to walk with them to the second meeting in another building. I finally had to give up and put some of it back in the jar to eat later. Probably better to not force eating so quickly anyway.

FullSizeRender-3