Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Thursday

Breakfast and lunch were not that exciting today--greek yogurt with honey plus Fruit and Nut Granola for breakfast, then leftover Beef, Tomato, and Sweet Potato Stew and Quinoa Tabbouleh for lunch after my second CrossFit workout.  I had some more of that homemade applesauce for a snack.  But dinner was the main event!

First, I had marinated Damn Fine Chicken Wednesday night, which I've been excited to try. And wow, it totally lived up to expectations!  I am so excited to eat more for lunch tomorrow.

Next I made Oven Roasted Golden Beets--my first time cooking beets, which the kid's day care says she loves. 

Then I added steamed artichokes (I really can't get enough of them!).  It made a really colorful plate with the chicken and beets, and of course I finally remembered to take pictures of everything so the blog is prettier!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Wednesday

Not much to report today, no new recipes, but getting ready for more cooking later in the week.  Apple and Raisin Irish Oatmeal for breakfast, then I caved to the delicious aroma of Patxi's pizza for lunch at work (caved in the sense that I had brought lunch and instead paid for the pizza--I am trying not to assign value to the food itself except in terms of deliciousness!).  I met up with a friend for coffee in the afternoon and introduced him to the awesomeness of Zombie Runner--a running store in an old theater with the best espresso in Palo Alto.  He had a decaf espresso, I had a chai latte, and we split some mexican-style salted almond dark chocolate.

I stopped at a farmers market-style grocery on the way home for a few ingredients and the kid and I munched on fresh strawberries that were priced to sell (I love living in California!) while we shopped.  By the time I got home and marinated some chicken for tomorrow, I wasn't really hungry for dinner, so for the first time as long as I can remember, I skipped it.  Weird.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blondeez Intermittent Diary

Let's just call it what it is. ;)

Sunday I basically had one long meal, for the birthday party.  I snacked on things while I was cooking, then had leftovers for dinner, so I'll just tell you what I made for the party!  I made Baked Kale Chips as an appetizer, and guacamole (vague instructions below) that I served with salsa and tortilla chips also as a munchie snack. Then CJ fired up our grill to cook the marinated tri-tip (I bought it pre-marinated because it was on sale, actually cheaper than the same quality meat without marinade), Lemon Chicken drumsticks that I marinated the night before, and salmon fillets (loose recipe below).  I threw Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Bacon in the oven and then Broiled Zucchini, and only barely remembered to get out the Quinoa Tabbouleh I made the night before!

The cake was a gluten-free devil's food cake with homemade vanilla buttercream (recipe below), which my mom and I cut up into a duck, like she used to make me as a kid.  Ours looked like this, but there are lots of animal cut-up cakes here.  We paired it with vanilla bean ice cream and good company!

On Monday I had the delicious Apple Raisin Irish Oatmeal for breakfast after a short run.  For lunch, I met some friends at LYFE kitchen, where I had the grilled artichokes with lemon aiol, roasted beets & farro salad (organic field greens, whole-grain farro, roasted beets & fennel, oranges, walnuts, dried cranberries, pomegranate, red onion, basil, and maple-sherry vinaigrette) and a pineapple-coconut-lime cooler.  After the weekend of intense cooking I pulled out a carton of organic tomato soup and made grilled cheese using whole wheat bread and muenster cheese, and some baby spinach.  Plus birthday cake for dessert!

Today I polished off the birthday cake before I left for work, then had greek yogurt with honey as a mid-morning snack.  I went to my first official CrossFit workout at noon, then had leftover beef and sweet potato stew and quinoa tabbouleh for lunch.  When I got home I put artichokes on the stove to steam and fried up a few eggs for a very quick dinner.

Grilled Salmon (from a friend of my mom's)
Serves: however many you want
Cook Time: ~20 minutes
  • Salmon fillets (~4 oz. per person)
  • butter
  • soy sauce (I used wheat-free organic because one of my guests is celiac)
  • minced garlic
Lay salmon on a generously-sized piece of heavy duty foil.  Dot with butter and garlic and drizzle with soy sauce.  Wrap the foil to seal around the fish, then put on a hot grill for about 20 minutes, or until done.  The fish is basically steamed in its packet!

Guacamole (made up as I went along)
Serves: 6-8
Prep Time: 5 min.
  • 4 avocados
  • 1/2 jalapeno
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder (or minced garlic)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. lemon or lime juice 
  • salsa
Mash up the avocados and then stir in the rest to your own taste.

Buttercream Frosting (courtesy of my mom's brain)
Frosts one 9" round cake (double if you're doing a layer cake)
Prep Time: 4 min.
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 lb. powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2-3 Tbsp. milk (to desired texture)
Whip the butter until light and airy, then add most of the powdered sugar gradually, mixing slowly at first.  Alternate with the liquids as needed until you reach the desired texture.  You can add other flavors or colors to match your cake!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Saturday and Party Prep

I sort of made up for lost time today by spending most of it planning, shopping, and cooking!  My parents helped by entertaining the kid and acting as prep chefs.  Some cooking for today, some for the week to come, and a lot for tomorrow, when we're having a small family party for the kid's second birthday (around 20 people--yes, for my family, that's small!).  Among the guests we have two celiac, one allergic to eggs, a couple paleo fans, one who doesn't eat beef, and one who has problems with ulcers and heartburn.  So on the one hand, most of those food preferences go together.  On the other, it was a lot to think about.

I made a gluten free devil's food cake from a mix (pics tomorrow when it's frosted!) because I couldn't justify buying the ingredients for making it from scratch when I'm not likely to use most of them in the future.  The girl who is allergic to eggs will have her own vegan dessert, thanks to her mom telling me there was no need to try to make an egg and gluten free cake.

First thing, it was high time I made breakfasts for the week.  I cleaned up the slow cooker and made steel cut oats with apples and raisins.

As long as I was chopping apples, I also whipped up some homemade apple sauce on the stove.  The kid loves it and we're working on getting more fruit into her.

By the time those were done it was about time to start dinner!  I pulled out the paleo cookbook for Moroccan Chicken, and then because my parents and the kid are anything but paleo, we added some soft polenta made in the microwave, which was super easy.  And yummy!

After dinner, I threw together more food for tomorrow.  First up, Quinoa Tabbouleh, which I'm super excited for as it's a great high-protein carb with lots of veggies, and everyone except the hardcore paleo types can eat it.

Then I marinated some drumsticks and squeezed a whole lotta lemons (from my parents' backyard) so we can have fresh lemonade tomorrow.  Can't wait!

Irish Oatmeal with Apples and Raisins (America's Test Kitchen's Slow Cooker Revolution)
Serves 8
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 4 hours
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cups steel cut oats
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 lb. apples (3-3), cored and shredded
  • 1/2 cup dried apples, cut into 1/2 inch pieces 
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. salt
Melt butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat.  Add oats and toast, stirring constantly, until golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes; transfer to slow cooker.

Stir water, apples, dried apples, raisins, sugar, cunnamon, and salt into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until oats are softened and thickened, 4-6 hours on low.  Let oatmeal sit for 10 minutes; stir well adn swerve.  Oatmeal can be refrigerated for up to 4 days.  Reheat oatmeal either in microwave or in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.

Apple Sauce (The UltraMetabolism Cookbook)
Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 min
Cook Time: 40 min
  •  4 large apples (about 2 lbs.) cored and cut into chunks
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • small pinch allspice
  • 1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Place the apples in a large pan with the water.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium and cook the apples until they are soft, about 20-25 min.  When the apples are cooked, remove only the apples to the bowl of a food processor, fitted with a metal blade, leaving cooking liquid in the pan.

Bring the remaining cooking liquid in the pan to a boil over high heat until it reduces to about 1 or 2 tablespoons (it is like syrup).  Add the reduced liquid from the pan to the food processor along with the cinnamon, allspice, and lemon juice, and process to the desired consistency.

 Moroccan Chicken (from Whole9 Nutrition Guide)
Serves 2-4
Cook Time: 25 min.
  • 2 Tbsp. cooking fat, divided
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. saffron
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, halved
  • 3-6 sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 lb. diced chicken breast
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup kalamata or black olives
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Heat 1 Tbsp. of cooking fat in a large skillet.  Saute the onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, add the spices, and saute for another 2 minutes.  Add the artichokes and tomatoes, cook for 2 more minutes, then place the mixture aside in a bowl.  Add the second Tbsp. of  cooking fat to the skillet, then add the diced chicken.  Cook for 5 minutes, turning the meat often, until the chicken is browned.  Add the veggies back in, then add the parsley, olives,, and lemon juice.  Stir and cook until the juices reduce--5 to 7 minutes.

Soft Polenta in the Microwave (credit to my mom)
Serves 4
Cook time: 15 min.
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. butter
  • pinch fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tsp. blue cheese (or other cheese, or additional butter)
Combine water, cornmeal, and salt in a microwave-safe dish (at least 6 cups).  Stir and microwave uncovered for 5 min on high.  Stir well, cover loosely with a paper towel, and microwave for another 5 minutes on high.  Stir in butter, pepper, and cheese (or butter), then let cool and thicken for at least 3 minutes before serving.

Blondeez Not Daily At All Anymore Diary--Weekend Update

The week got away from me, in many ways, so I'll just catch you up on meals and recipes of note.  There weren't many.   Seriously, I was in survival mode this week.  But my parents arrived on Thursday to celebrate the kid's birthday, so we had a decent dinner that night!  I roasted a chicken and potatoes and steamed artichokes, then put together a salad with 50/50 lettuce and spinach, avocado, cucumber, and yogurt blue cheese dressing.  A bottle of chardonnay and we were a very happy bunch!  No recipes except for the chicken, which comes from my favorite basic, delicious food book.  How to Cook Everything is a great reference manual--I have often had a random thought or ingredient and looked up his instructions.  A lot of times I have another recipe in mind, but he explains technique with illustrations (like how to truss and carve poultry!) and has wonderfully simple recipes that can be dressed up or dressed down. 

Then last night my parents were at a cousin's for dinner so CJ made crock pot Beef and Sweet Potato Stew, which was a great and comforting meal after a long week.

Roast Chicken with Roasted New Potatoes (from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything)
Serves 4
Cook Time: 60-75 min
  • 6 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh (or 2 tsp. dried) herbs--thyme, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, or sage
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 whole (3-4 lb.) chicken, trimmed of excess fat, then rinsed and patted dry.
  • 1 1/2 lbs. waxy red or white potatoes, skins on a scrubbed (either baby/new or cut into chunks)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Mix together the olive oil, herb, salt, and pepper.  Place the chicken, breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan.  Toss half of the herb mixture with the potatoes and scatter them in the pan.  Begin roasting.

After about 20 minutes, take the pan out and spoon some of the oil mixture over the chicken and potatoes, then turn the chicken breast side up.  Shake the pan for the potatoes turn and cook evenly.  Roast another 7-8 minutes, or until the breast begins to brown.  Turn the heat down to 325 degrees F and baste the chicken again with the rest of the oil mixture.  Roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh read 160-165 degrees F.  Total roasting time will be 50-70 min.

Remove the chicken and test potatoes for doneness.  If the potatoes are not soft, turn the heat up to 425 degrees F and roast for a few minutes while the chicken rests.

Beef and Sweet Potato Stew (crock pot) (from The Paleo Recipe Book)
Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
  • 1 lb. beef chuck or otehr stewing cut, in 1-inch cubes
  • 3 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • pinch allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 large onion, cut in chunks
  • 1 can (28 oz.) tomatoes
  • 8 dried apricots, halved (optional)
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  • cooking fat (we used walnut oil)
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Heat a skillet over a medium heat, season the beef cubes to taste with salt and pepper and brown on all sides with some cooking fat in the hot skillet.

Place the browned beef, sweet potatoes, garlic, allspice, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, onion, and tomatoes in a crock pot and cook on high for 8 hours, until the beef is fork tender.  Add the dried apricots and cook, covered, for another 20 min until the apricots are soft.

Remove the bay leaf and cinnamon stick before serving with chopped parsley on top.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Monday

They day started out inauspiciously, with yogurt and honey and then lunch eaten quickly from the catered lunch at work.  But then dinner happened!  Dinner was a sweet potato, apple, and sausage hash and brussels sprouts with bacon.  A little pork heavy, but delicious!  I once again forgot to take pictures until after dinner, when I was packing leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.  Trust me, it was awesome.

Both recipes are from the packet of nutrition information that I got at my Crossfit intro class, so they are paleo-approved.  And they are also CJ and Blondeez approved!

Sausage, Apple, and Sweet Potato Hash
Serves 2-4
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 15 min.
  • Chicken or pork sausage
  • Cooking fat of your choice
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 red apple, diced
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper (I added more apple instead since I loathe it)
  • Fresh basil and thyme (I used dried and added earlier in cooking)
Heat cooking fat in a large skillet.  Add diced sweet potato and cook for about 10 minutes, until you can just pierce them with a fork.  Add apple, onion, and pepper and cook until tender.  Meanwhile, brown sausage in a separate pan, then chop and add to vegetable mixture.  Serve hot.

Brussels Sprout and Bacon Medley
Serves: 4
Prep time: 5 min
Cook time: 20 min
  • 5 slices bacon
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs. brussels sprouts
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
Heat a skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon until crispy.  Pat the cooked bacon dry and cut or crumble into small pieces.  Cook the chopped onion in the rendered bacon fat for about 2 minutes, until they soften.  Add the whole sprouts, stir well, and cook about 3 minutes, until they start to soften.  Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer and cover for about 10 minutes.  When cooked, drain remaining liquid and sprinkle with crumbled bacon.

After dinner CJ and the kid cuddled while I put together marinade for chicken drumsticks tomorrow!  Yum.

Cold Udon Noodles with Peanut Sauce and Seitan

I'm a huge fan of Isa Chandra Moskowitz, America's Most Awesome Vegan Chef. She has a rad website and has written several books. I own Vegan with a Vengeance, and tonight I made this delicious cold noodle dish from it. It's got lots of raw vegetables and the peanut sauce is so good I could eat it with a spoon. I will now paraphrase the recipe below.


Peanut Sauce:
2 t peanut oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2 T minced ginger
1 C water
2 T soy sauce
1 t ground coriander
2/3 C creamy natural peanut butter
2 T maple syrup
3 T rice vinegar
2 t chile sauce (I used Sriracha)

1 lb seitan sliced into 1/4" strips
1 T peanut oil
1 clove garlic
2 t soy sauce

To Serve:
10 oz udon noodles
1/4 C black sesame seeds
1 cucumber, halved across, sliced into matchsticks (I'm not too dexterous with a  knife, so mine were more like crudité.)
4 C mung bean sprouts
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 C scallions, chopped
Lime wedges


Make the peanut sauce:
In a small saucepan, sauté the garlic and ginger in peanut oil over low-medium heat. Add the water, soy sauce, and coriander and bring to a boil. Add the peanut butter and turn heat to low. Whisk until well combined. Mix in the maple syrup, vinegar, and chile sauce. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Make the noodles:
Meanwhile, prepare the udon noodles according to package directions. When noodles have cooked, drain in a colander and rinse with cold water until they are cool to the touch. Let them rest in the colander while you prepare the seitan.

Make the seitan:
Sauté the seitan in peanut oil for 5 minutes on each side until browned. Then add the garlic and soy sauce and cook for another minute or so.

The peanut sauce should now be at room temperature. Give the noodles a final rinse to make them cold and keep them from sticking together.

In the actual recipe, it is recommended to plate everything before serving on a big platter, which you could totally do, but a great thing about this dish is that it's fun to serve buffet style, so that everyone gets the perfect proportion of noodles to sauce to veggies to seitan. By the way, I hadn't had seitan before this meal. I liked it, but I think it expanded a lot in my stomach and did make me feel uncomfortable for a while afterwards!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Sunday

Today was supposed to be a whirlwind day of church and then a bike ride in Santa Cruz, but I have a big project at work that is going out the door tomorrow so we ended up canceling all of it in favor of making sure I had time to do everything well without being super stressed.  CJ was tired anyway, and the kid thought nudism was the word of the day, so it's just as well we only left the house to grocery shop.

In the morning I made myself a Nut Butter Smoothie with almond butter.  The kid was jealous and didn't want her yogurt--next time I'll have to make a double batch.  It isn't very photogenic, though.


I bought a bag of overripe bananas at a discount last weekend and they had just gotten to the "make bread" point today, so I also made a loaf of banana bread and then froze the rest of the bananas (halved and peeled) for later use in smoothies or baking.  I had the end slice when it was piping hot, and it was great on its own.


I didn't get lunch until late, but I made up for lost time by making a yummy egg salad.  No mayo or relish--this was the fancy stuff!  = P I ate it over salad greens as is my usual practice these days.  Another slice of that banana bread served as a sweet snack.


I decided we should have a light dinner after our late lunch, so I grabbed some organic creamy tomato soup while at the grocery store and added a salad of baby lettuces, avocado, cucumber, and turkey breast with a yogurt/blue cheese dressing.  I forgot to take a picture, but I packed the same thing for my lunch tomorrow so I'll snap one then!

Nut Butter Smoothie:
Serves 1
Prep time: 5 min.
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened plain soy milk
  • 1/4 sup soft tofu
  • 1/2 banana, frozen
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. almond butter or cashew butter
  • ice (optional)

 Combine all ingredients in a blender or in a cup using an immersion blender. 

Banana Bread (from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything)
Prep Time: 10 min
Cook Time: 1 hour
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed until smooth
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a standard loaf pan.

Combine dry ingredients well.  Cream butter and mix in eggs and banana until well-combined.  Add wet ingredients to dry, and stir until just combined.  Gently mix in coconut, nuts, and vanilla.  Pour into loaf pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until the top is brown and a pick comes out almost clean.  This will be moister than most breads.

Fancy Egg Salad (my own concoction)
Serves: 2
Prep Time: 10 min (not including boiling eggs)
  • 2 hardboiled eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 1/2 shallot, diced small
  • 2 tsp. fresh or dried dillweed
  • 2 tsp. capers
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil
Peel and dice the boiled eggs.  Add everything except the olive oil, then add olive oil until the eggs are moist enough for your taste.  Other things to throw in if you have & like them:  sundried tomatoes, fresh fennel root (diced small), olives, other fresh herbs.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Blondeez Not Quite Daily Diary Thursday--Saturday

Another busy couple days in the books.  I've been part time at my firm for a couple of years now and that means that it's more like a "regular" full-time job most weeks, but big things are happening in my cases so I've been putting in a little more time working than usual. 

Breakfast at home was yogurt with honey again.  Since I spend three mornings a week exercising with a friend at work first thing, I tend to buy/make enough of one portable breakfast and one to eat at home for the work week.  So you can probably guess what I ate on Friday morning, right?  I'll make a different kind of hot cereal and maybe do smoothies at home next week.

Lunch was leftover crab salad on a hoagie roll, since we were out of salad greens and I'm trying (not all that successfully) to make lunch my most substantial meal.  More granola for a snack, and the work day wrapped up before I could blink an eye.  By the time I got home, I was exhausted and then discovered we were missing ingredients for dinner.  So when CJ suggested pizza, I said sure.

Maple spiced oatmeal with currants kicked off the day, and after that the whole day sort of went to crap, food-wise.  I am not interested in turning this blog into some sort of food confessional, so let's just say I did some stress eating and none of it was delicious enough to mention.

I decided to have a little more substantial breakfast this morning because I went to an introduction to CrossFit class at 11, so I didn't want to be hungry.  The kid and I had a little picnic in the living room; I had yogurt with granola and honey, and the kid had whole wheat toast with peanut butter:

After my crossfit intro (lots of talking, some instruction on form, and then one cardio set that took me 10 minutes) I came home and had the last of my crab salad with avocado and mango.  Along with an enormous mug of water, that kept me going through hanging with the kid and doing a little work in the afternoon.

By the time dinner rolled around, I was getting really hungry, so I heated up artichoke mashed potatoes and added some nitrate free deli turkey, a green salad, and roasted broccolini (aka baby broccoli).  No recipes really, but the broccolini was new to me so I googled a bit and settled on roasting as the preferred cooking method.  I tossed the veg with olive oil, lemon juice, and Garlic and Wine Seasoning and threw in the oven at 300 degrees F for about 15 minutes.  Easy peasy!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Wednesday

Today was a busy day so food wasn't the first thing on my mind, but it's always back there somewhere.  I am a person who thinks about food often and fondly in myriad ways--always trying a new restaurant, finding a new recipe, thinking about modifying my approach to eating, or just thinking "I want chocolate."  I started out as a spectacularly picky eater, and just in the last few years have embraced many ingredients that would have wrinkled my nose before.  But I have always loved food in a visceral way.  I so enjoy the rituals of planning, shopping, cooking, and eating that I could never fathom giving that up, no matter what else I may change about how I do those things.   I know several people who say that if they could take a pill and get all their nutrients and forgo eating, that would be okay with them.  I believe them, but that is definitely not me. 

Over the years I have approached how to eat in a lot of ways.  I didn't think much about it as a child and even as a teenager.  In college the cafeteria was so vile (at least to my picky palate) that grilled cheese, frozen yogurt, and cereal were about the only edible options.  In graduate school, I learned to cook properly and began to appreciate a more diverse diet; I also went on my first weight-loss "diet" ever.  I've tried various nutritional approaches since then, some for health reasons and some as an attempt to control weight. 

Right now I'm an omnivore, trying to reduce the proportion of refined foods in my diet.  One reason that Ultrametabolism Cookbook is close at hand is that I recently tried the elimination program its author suggests, to identify food intolerances and sources of "inflammation" in the body.  I felt better and lost a significant bit of weight (according to the author, as a result of decreased inflammation and therefore better functioning metabolism) but it was too difficult to make everything from scratch--and like most diets, as soon as I stopped following the restrictive plan the pounds showed back up.  Still, I may go gluten and dairy free again soon to try to obtain the benefits I experienced before in the form of increased energy, reduced congestion, and clearer thinking.  In the meantime, I am focusing on eating as many fresh and unrefined foods as I can.


Enough rambling, on to the food!  My morning jog got cut short by some pretty heavy rain and achy feet, so I headed inside to warm up with more maple spiced oatmeal with currants.  A series of crises at work led to scarfing a small plate of tri tip, potato salad, and roasted summer squash in small spurts between 11:45 and 3 (the catered lunch at work, which I usually avoid but was thankfully okay since I had to cancel lunch with a friend).  By 3 I was hangry (so hungry I was angry!) so I dug into the fruit and nut granola.
CJ was in charge of dinner tonight, and he made Chicken Tagine in the crock pot.  It's another new recipe, and I was definitely pleased!  So pleased, in fact, that we scarfed it all down and I forgot to take a picture.  Sorry!  I finished the evening with some dark chocolate with sea salt and almonds from Chocolove to fuel a late night working after the kid went to sleep.

Recipe to be posted later when I the cookbook handy!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Tuesday

Do you ever get into cookbook ruts?  I planned this week's recipe basically using 3 cookbooks and a couple web recipes, so judging just based on this week you'd think I was obsessed with them.  I do love them, but I'll try to work in a little more variety as we go along.

I added local honey to a big dollop of greek-style yogurt for breakfast this morning.  Last week I finally broke down and bought some Fage 2% to see if it lives up to the hype (plus it was on sale) and it's definitely the best greek-style yogurt I've tried!  I was disappointed to learn that most of the commercial greek yogurts have artificial thickeners added instead of being strained, but the Fage is just milk and yogurt cultures.  It's pretty filling--I ended up eating my snack in the afternoon because I wasn't hungry midmorning.

Lunch was leftovers--drumsticks and artichoke mashed potatoes from Sunday and the last of the creamed spinach.  In the afternoon, I had a handful of Fruit and Nut Granola that I made this weekend, which I love.

Finally it was dinnertime!  I made Crabmeat Salad with Avocado and Mango, which has a citrus dressing instead of mayonnaise.  I think it's just gooey enough without being heavy.  Here is a huge platter waiting for dressing (I made a double recipe because I was feeding a crowd):

CJ and our guests ate it on hoagie rolls, Akira picked pieces out of a bowl with her fingers, and I had mine in a bowl over spinach:

I polished off the last of the Banana Spice Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze for dessert!

Crabmeat Salad with Avocado and Mango (modified from The Ultrametabolism Cookbook)
Serves 8
Prep time: 20 min
  • 1 lb. lump crabmeat (I use fake because I like to eat this often and I don't have *that* much money)
  • 1/4 cup minced scallion
  • 1/4 cup diced fennel
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 1 cup diced mango
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red pepper (I leave this out because it gives me indigestion)
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1 tsp. minced jalapeno
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 5 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. snipped chives
Flake the crabmeat into a bowl.  Gently fold in scallion, fennel, avocado, mango., red pepper, cilantro, jalapeno, and lime zest.

Combine the olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper.  Pour over the crab and gently mix.  Garnish with chives.

Fruit and Nut Granola (from The Ultrametabolism Cookbook)
Serves 12
Prep Time: 10 min.
Cook Time: 45 min.

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw Brazil nuts (I hate them so I use walnuts or hazelnuts)
  • 1/4 raw, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • pinch ground nutmeg
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 3 Tbsp. canned unsweetened lite coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. grapeseed or other neutral-flavored oil
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup dried blueberries
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
Preheat oven to 275 degrees F.

In a large bowl, combine oats, nuts, seeds, wheat germ, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, honey, and vanilla.  Drizzle over the oat and nut mixture and combine well.

Brush a sheet pan with oil.  Transfer the granola to the sheet pan and bake for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, until browned.  Remove from the oven and stir in the dried fruits.  Let coola nd store in an airtight container (refrigerate after 5 days).

Monday, April 9, 2012

Blondeez Daily Diary Monday

After a great morning bike ride with my workout buddy, breakfast was that maple oatmeal with currants again, eaten at my desk while prepping for a call:
Lunch was leftover rotisserie chicken and rice pilaf from a box. It's not all that healthy or delicious when I think about it, but I have warm nostalgic feelings from eating it frequently in college. I didn't have any veggies cooked so I supplemented with a salad from the office caterer--romaine with pears, walnuts, dried cranberries, pear vinaigrette, and a little goat cheese.
In the afternoon, there was a baby shower so I had some chocolate cake with banana filling--yum!
Dinner was a new recipe: Apple Soy Roasted Salmon. CJ (the husband) marinated it for an hour or so before I got home and then we threw it in the oven, some quinoa pilaf on the stove, and pre-packaged creamed spinach in the microwave. The one snag was that CJ mixed up tamari (soy sauce) with Sriracha [he had never heard soy sauce called tamari before so he guessed], so there was almost ten times the chili flavor there should have been in the marinade! I added more tamari as soon as we discovered the goof, and when I reduced the marinade to a sauce I added a big splash of coconut milk to temper the heat.
Quinoa pilaf in progress:

Salmon ready for the oven:
The final product, with toddler fingers ready to climb up and grab it from the counter!
Everything turned out pretty well, especially considering the recipe mixup! We'll have to try it again with the correct proportions of spices. CJ redeemed himself by suggesting piña coladas for dessert to cool our tongues!
The recipes:
Apple-Soy Roasted Salmon (from the Ultrametabolism Cookbook)
Serves 4
Prep time: 90 minutes including marinating
Cook time: 21 minutes
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 4 6-oz. wild salmon fillets
  • 2 Tbsp. wheat free tamari
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. red chili paste
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 4 lime wedges
Boil the apple juice in a small pan until reduced by half. Set aside to cool.
Place the salmon in a single layer in a shallow baking dish
Stir together the cooled apple juice, tamari, sesame oil, agave, garlic, ginger, and chili paste. Pour the marinade over the salmon and refrigerate for about an hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Before roasting the salmon, pour the excess marinade off the fish into a small pan. Bring the marinade to a boil over high heat and cook until reduced by half, about 7 minutes.
Place the salmon in the oven for about 7 minutes. Brush salmon with reduced marinade and continue cooking until golden brown and cooked through, about 7 more minutes. Before serving, brush again with marinade and garnish with scallions and lime wedges.

Quinoa Pilaf (from the Cancer Fighting Kitchen)
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 25 min

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. finely diced shallot
  • 1 fennel bulb, diced small
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced small
  • Sea salt
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 3/4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or mint
Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add shallots, fennel, and carrot, plus a pinch of salt and sauté until the vegetables start to sweat, about 3 min. Stir in the quinoa and spices, then stir in the broth and 1/2 tsp. salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover, and simme for about 20 min., until the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender. Fluff with a fork and add fresh herbs before serving.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lemon Olive Oil Cake

Hey tacqueaux, I'm super stoked about this blog as a place to celebrate our love of eating food and sharing our most delicious creations with each other. It's so important to have space on the Internet free of food policing and shame.

Okay, I'm going to get right to it with a cake recipe I made recently. I love lemon cake. I don't bake cakes often but when I do, it's lemon. My go-to recipe is the Blitztorte from my battered old copy of Joy of Cooking, but I wanted to try something new this time, and the idea of a cake made with olive oil was very intriguing. It also is made up of ingredients you probably already have.


3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 large lemon

1 cup cake flour (not self-rising)

4 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar


Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 9"x9" square pan with some oil, then line bottom with parchment paper. Oil parchment.

Finely grate enough lemon zest to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons and whisk together with flour. Halve lemon, then squeeze and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice.

Beat together yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until thick and pale, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add olive oil (3/4 cup) and reserved lemon juice, beating until just combined (mixture may appear separated). Using a wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture (do not beat) until just combined.

Beat egg whites with 1/2 teaspoon salt in another large bowl with cleaned beaters at medium-high speed until foamy, then add 1/4 cup sugar a little at a time, beating, and continue to beat until egg whites just hold soft peaks, about 3 minutes.

Gently fold one third of whites into yolk mixture to lighten, then fold in remaining whites gently but thoroughly.

Transfer batter to pan and gently rap against work surface once or twice to release any air bubbles. Sprinkle top evenly with remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until puffed and golden and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a thin knife around edge of pan. Invert pan to remove cake and peel off parchment. Cool cake for as long as you can stand it before cutting. This cake is delicious on its own but it gets really spectacular with the addition of a scoop of plain Greek yogurt on top, sprinkled with chopped almonds and drizzled with honey.

[Recipe adapted from one found on Epicurious, changed to reflect how I actually made it.]

Family Dinner Sunday

Hi blog reading people!  This is our first post (unless one of my co-bloggers types fast) and my first post for sure so I'll say a little bit about my food philosophy.  I am lucky to be able to find and afford many organic and natural foods.  I am a recovering vegetable-phobe discovering new ways to add them to my life, and loving it.  I have a sweet tooth that could turn a whole kindergarten class hyperactive so I will likely feature dessert here on a regular basis.  I love to bake my own bread when I have time.  I own a lot of diet/weight loss cookbooks, but I am not on a diet.  I often find myself adjusting recipes to add back healthy fats or natural sweeteners where it calls for artificial flavorings.

I had a cooking-intensive weekend, but it paid off today as I had a mostly stress-free dinner with my in-laws, not to mention plenty of other good food! 

I started my morning with Maple Spiced Oatmeal with Currants before taking my toddler to church for Easter services.  Even the kid liked it--she usually rejects oatmeal but she took a few bites of mine before requesting yogurt and a banana.  Also before we left, I got started on dinner--Lemon Chicken in the slow cooker.  When we got back home, my husband had just put Smitten Kitchen's Boozy Baked French Toast, which I threw together last night, into the oven.  Paired with some spiked coffee, it was the perfect way to relax and feel festive before my in-laws arrived for egg hunting and dinner.

Dinner was the aforementioned braised whole chicken, artichoke mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli with crispy prosciutto and balsamic vinegar (from Nom Nom Paleo), and wine--a nice California white blend.  I knew we would like the broccoli, but the potatoes were the hit of the table.  Even my father-in-law, who isn't a big potato guy, had some.  Finally, we topped it off with banana spice cake (bundt style) and cream cheese glaze, the leftovers of which I managed to photograph before my roommates gobbled it up.

I'll take more pictures in the future, but we just had the idea to start the blog tonight and I was so excited about today's food I had to share!  I've linked recipes above where I got them online, and the couple from cookbooks are below. 

Maple Spiced Oatmeal with Currants  (adapted from the Ultra-Metabolism Cookbook)
4 servings, 3/4 cup each
Prep time: 5 min
Total time: ~35 min
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup currants
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (original recipe calls for 1 tsp. maple extract)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • pinch allspice
  • splash whole milk (original recipe calls for unsweetened soy milk, optional)
Boil water in a medium saucepan.  Stir in oats and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the currants and cook for 10 more minutes, stirring frequently.  Add the maple, cinnamon, and allspice at the very end, and add milk as needed to achieve your desired consistency.

I immediately divided it into four containers and now I've got breakfast ready to go a couple mornings this week!

Slow Cooker Lemon Chicken (from Weight Watchers Slow Good Super Slow Cooker Cookbook)
Makes 6 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 3 or 6 hours
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
  • 1 (~3.5 lb.) chicken
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
Combine garlic, oil, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small bowl.  Rinse and pat dry the chicken, then gently separate the skin from the meat on the breast, thighs, and legs.  Rub half the spice mixture under the skin and half in the cavity of the chicken.

Heat and grease a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken breast side down and brown, turning frequently, for 6-8 minutes.  Transfer to a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker.  Add broth to the skillet and deglaze, scraping the brown bits from the skillet while the broth boils briefly.  Add 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice and pour the liquid over the chicken.  Cover and cook until fork-tender (3-4 hours on high or 6-8 on low).

About 20 minutes before cooking time is over, stir lemon zest into the remaining lemon juice and pour into the slow cooker.  Cover and cook on high until fragrant.  Transfer chicken to a platter and serve with the broth as a sauce.

(WW says to use low-sodium chicken broth, to discard the skin and wings from the chicken, and to skim any fat from the broth.  I have low blood pressure and don't keep low-sodium anything around, the broth didn't seem overly fatty, and my husband said "the skin's the best part!" so I didn't do any of that.)

Cream cheese glaze (borrowed from here)

  • 1 (4 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon butter, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rum extract (didn't have any so I used almond and vanilla)
  • 1 tablespoon milk
Mix all ingredients in a bowl. Heat in a microwave oven for 15 seconds. Drizzle spoonfuls over a cooled cake.