Salmon, Chicken, and… Snowzilla

Okay. I’ve gotten way behind, and I pretty much stopped doing the BA Food Lovers Cleanse recipes. I ended up with a lot of leftovers, then Dan and I went out of town last weekend, and things just sort of fell apart from there. But I’ll share a couple more.

First though – Snowzilla 2016 is upon us. Luckily, we have tons of food. We got a farm box delivery this morning on top of all the vegetables we already had. Tomorrow is going to involve roasting vegetables and soup-making, for sure. I’m defrosting some chicken, some fish, and I’m stocked on nut butters for the duration :-).

So, it feels like weeks ago now, but I made the Salmon with Cucumber Sauce and Carrot Salad with a side of Garlicky Bok Choy on a week night. IMG_8739Wait, it was weeks ago. Anyway, they both seemed like fairly simple recipes, but somehow, the meal ended up not being ready til 8:45 pm, and I am usually heading toward bed by 9. To be fair, I don’t usually get home until 7:30, and then I have to take the dog out, change my clothes, etc… so it probably didn’t take that long to make. I just remember feeling rushed when I finally sat down to eat it. I did get to use my new mandoline for the first time, though, to make that carrot salad. That was fun, and a little terrifying.

Instead of saucing the salmon with cucumber-yogurt sauce, I sauced it with cucumber-no-yogurt sauce (still doing that whole #Whole30 thing…). It was good! I think the carrot salad was the star, though. But everything was tasty.

Next up was the Turkey Breast with Roasted Broccolini… which I made with chicken breast instead. I went to Whole Foods to shop for the next several BA FLC meals and picked up bone in chicken breasts for the Oven-Roasted Chicken with Grapes (which I never made and don’t think I will, because I’m currently defrosting that chicken and intend to use it for soup tomorrow instead, and I ate all the grapes today! Oh, but now we’ve got those 6 shallots… hm). I looked for the requisite turkey breast, but all I could find were breasts that had been brined in a variety of flavors, all of which included sugar! There may have been some that were not brined but that were also not bone-in, but I particularly wanted the bones… so I opted for another pack of that bone-in chicken breast instead. Turned out great! The broccolini was so good. I love roasted vegetables.

Guided by the BA FLC meal guide, I also made a side of Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Garlic and Chili, which is basically my favorite food ever. This has been in the BA Cleanse before. Love. I eat a ton of sweet potato fries anyway, but going that extra step to add garlic and hot sauce (or cayenne pepper, or ancho chile pepper, or whatever pepper) – boom. Amazing.

And finally, I made the Bistro Salad with Roasted Vegetables, which is probably my second favorite food ever. Roasted vegetables and a runny, poached egg? Yes please. For about a week there, I basically made roasted vegetables every day and just added to the container of leftovers in the fridge. I did make some special for this meal though, including the carrots and celery root (couldn’t find parsnips, sadly – I’ve looked twice now in the past few weeks. Is there a parsnip shortage??). This was my first time cooking with celery root! Fascinating. And delicious. Anyway, super easy, yummy recipe. Time-consuming due to the vegetable chopping and roasting, but you can do that while watching Netflix. Worth it.

Oh wait, I did make one more. Sea Scallops and Celery Root Lemon Salad. IMG_8781I got to use my mandoline and cook with celery root again (actually, no cooking involved, the celery root was raw). This one was quick and easy. The celery root salad was really great. I would make that again. I should make that again. Yeah! I’m going to make that again. Soon. After the snow melts.

And, okay guys, I’ve been reading a few tips about food photography. Enough to know that I am doing it all wrong, but not enough to convince me to change my ways quite yet. But wait for it. Maybe it’s coming.

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New Year, New Eats – Mahi-mahi and Lamb

So, I’ve been busy cooking and prepping and cooking some more. The BA Food Lovers Cleanse seems to be a little easier this year. I mean, I’m not doing the whole thing by any stretch, so that makes it much easier. But the recipes (mostly dinners) that I am doing seem easier. Fewer ingredients, less chopping. Some of them still take a long time, but there’s less active time.

The first BACleanse meal I made was mahi-mahi without the beans (#Whole30 and all that), which I’d never cooked before, and a side of rainbow chard with mushrooms. The mahi was good. I’ve never loved chard, and I’m afraid I didn’t wash mine enough, so it tasted sort of grainy. But the mushrooms were delicious. It doesn’t look very appetizing in pictures, unfortunately :-(.

Next up was the Moroccon lamb with pomegranates. The recipe called for lamb shanks, but I could only find lamb shoulder. Google told me that they are both tougher meats that do best with long cooking, so I figured they were similar enough. I bought the shoulder.

Side note 1: I have only somewhat-recently begun eating significant amounts of meat, and apparently it hasn’t been long enough to learn the different types of meat and cuts and what’s good for what. But now, thanks to the Food Lovers Cleanse, I know this about lamb at least.

Side note 2: I learned several years ago that, according to the Environmental Working Group, lamb has the highest environmental impact of the meats Americans typically eat. So my husband and I generally avoid it. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve only had lamb a few other times in my life. I remember trying a ‘lamburger’ at… I think the state fair?… in second grade. And maybe one or two other times. However, the whole reason I like doing the BACleanse is  to try new things… and let’s be honest, I like having a schedule and sticking to it. To a fault.

So back to making the lamb. Shoulder instead of shanks. I really wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do to the meat. I trimmed off most the fat and cut the meat from the bone (which I don’t think would have been necessary for shanks, but seemed to be necessary for what I had), and saved the bones in the freezer for making bone broth sometime soon. And, instead of braising it in the oven, I used my brand new slow cooker that my sister gave me for Christmas. And then left the house to go to yoga.

The pomegranate juice and seeds in this made it really fruity and sweet – in a good way. I’m not sure if this is what was supposed to happen, but my dish resulted in more of a stew than anything else, and that’s how I’ve been eating it. I still have one serving frozen in the freezer. Yum.

I made both these dishes on a weekend (Saturday and Sunday nights). That was especially important for the lamb, which required several hours at least to braise/slow cook. I think I slow cooked it for about 3 or so.

I’ll write about the other dishes I’ve been making in a later post, which will probably be less exciting because I have been forgetting to photographically document my process for most of them.

New Year!, Curried Meatballs, #Whole30, and #BACleanse

2016 is officially underway! Celebrations are over, but it was fun!

Last weekend, right after making my Brussels sprouts salad, I moved right into making these curried meatballs from Bon Appetit, using my brand new blender and just totally getting a kick out of it. The meatballs were super tasty, and I still have a lot saved in the freezer for future enjoyment. I defrosted some yesterday and ate it last night with roasted vegetables!

Version 2

The sauce in my version is not as smooth as the version in BA’s photo. I probably could have blended it for longer and got a creamier consistency. Also, I used a full 28-oz can of Cento crushed tomatoes, rather than 14.5. I couldn’t find a quality brand that’s only 14.5 ounces. I did only use part of the can at first, but then I figured, whatever, just throw the whole thing in.

I tried the sauce after blending (so after it had simmered 25-30 minutes) but before adding the lemon, cayenne pepper, and salt near the end. It tasted a little bitter, and I was concerned. But after I added those last three ingredients, it was magically better. I think it was the lemon. It was amazing. So last night, when I reheated previously-frozen leftovers and there was a little bit of a bitter taste again (that’s the best way I can describe it), I put some fresh lemon juice on there, and voila. Better.

Oh, also, I used dried ancho chile instead of chile de arbol (which I couldn’t find), which might have contributed to that slightly bitter flavor – it’s deeper and more smoky.

My recipe made 22 meatballs, which I think will be about 10 servings for me. I’m about halfway through them, now. It’s true that some of the meatballs have broken apart in the sauce, but I wasn’t that careful in trying to avoid that when stirring, packaging, thawing, serving, etc.

So on to my next two topics. I will continue to eat my remaining five servings of this dish (with relish) over the next week or so despite the fact that (as I recalled last night when eating some of it), some yogurt was used in the making of the meatballs. And yogurt is not compliant on the #Whole30 program, which I’m doing for the month of January! I decided that I think the amount is small enough per serving that I’m okay with it.

I began eating somewhat Whole30-compliantly last June (at least, compared to my previous diet), but I’ve never followed it completely. The holidays were fairly lax (remember those pumpkin lattes I mentioned in my last post?), so I’m using January to reset and really follow the whole program.

It’s funny. I didn’t realize that my diet had become generally paleo until the past few months (because I wasn’t that familiar with what a paleo diet was), even though that was generally the way I was mostly eating. (Luckily, since realizing this, I’ve discovered that there is a whole blogosphere out there [and Instagram, and podcasts, and all the other stuff] supportive of Whole30 and paleo eating. Reading all these blogs has made me question what I’m doing with my own, but whatever. My goals are not to be a famous blogger or recipe developer, just to document.) My plan, even after the #Whole30 is over, is to keep mostly eating that way. I’ve been very pleased with the effects its had on my eating habits, my body, my athletic performance. And those things have slid backwards over the holidays, which again, I’m fine with… but now I want to get back to it. So #Whole30 reset!

Which brings me to my final topic – the #BACleanse! I’m still excited for the Bon Appetit Food Lovers Cleanse, which I mentioned in my first post. And, contrary to what I’d feared, BA is not just relying on their new Food Lovers Cleanse cookbook – they’re still doing a 2016-specific program online. Hooray!

Since not all of the recipes are #Whole30-compliant, I printed out the PDF of all the recipes and marked which ones are (or could be). Since it’s very time-consuming to follow the #BACleanse entirely, on schedule (I think I’ve only done that once – 2014 maybe?), I’m not concerned that I won’t be able to make every meal. Tonight’s dinner will be mahi mahi. I’ll probably post for that. Below is a picture of yesterday’s shopping trip in support of #Whole30 and the #BACleanse. I think this should get me through… Wednesday. Ha.

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Hello. And #BACleanse

Hi. This is my first post. I don’t want to belabor that too much, so I’ll just jump right in. My first several posts will be about eats and other things over the past year, just to start with a little content, the first of which will be jumping back alllll the way to Januarys gone by and the Bon Appetit Food Lover’s Cleanse.

Yum. I have done (with varying levels of commitment) the BA Food Lover’s Cleanse for the past three or four years, and I can’t wait to do it again in January 2016. Because, although it is really a lot of work (and dishes – oh, the dishes), it is delicious and fun and makes you feel good.

So, as I enter the holiday season (dun dun dun) and all the treats it has in store (Thanksgiving is this coming week!), let me take a moment to remember – and share with you – some of my favorite dishes from previous years of the BA cleanse, many of which I have continued to make. Many of these are from the 2014 Cleanse, which I really did completely. Last year I was not as committed…

  1. Spinach, Tofu, and Shaved Carrot Salad with Sesame Dressing and Spiced Pepita and Cashew Crunch

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I am not a photographer of any sort, and certainly not a food photographer, so we’ll all just have to deal. I recommend going to the link above to see BA’s photo of this dish, which is much nicer than mine, but I think posting their image here would break a law. Anyway. This is such a delicious salad, made especially delicious by the Sesame Miso Vinaigrette and the Spiced Pepita and Cashew Crunch. Swoon. This salad made me realize that I do actually like carrots in salads, but only if they’re shaved. More work, sure, but a vastly improved experience all around.

2. Roasted Butternut Squash, Green Lentil and Brown Basmati Pilaf, and Kale with the Greenest Tahini Sauce

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You’ll notice if you go to BA’s photo that their portions do not all run into each other and look much more dainty and refined than my mishmash here. They either downsized for the photo or used bigger plates, or I am a piggy (no comments, please). Anyway, I have continued to make butternut squash this way since. It’s nothing revolutionary, but always nice to have a recipe to check, and the Aleppo pepper is tasty. This red pepper walnut relish was used throughout the cleanse on various dishes (omelette, roasted tofu – another favorite dish, photo below) and is so good. And the green tahini sauce could be consumed in massive quantities, so be careful.

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3. Orange Date Muesli with Coconut and Cacao Nibs – I haven’t made this in quite a while, and that’s really too bad. I don’t toast the coconut. Just make it as easy as possible.

4. Beet and Arugula Salad with Quinoa, Avocado, and Sunflower Seeds

5. Black Rice with Hazelnuts – because, hazelnuts.

And…. so many more. I’ll stop there. Enjoy. Now I’m really looking forward to January…!