Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Kale and Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

 Laziness.  Writer's block.  Lack of motivation.  Crazy schedules.  Eating out of the freezer. 


I know, excuses, excuses, excuses.   Bottom line - life has been a little crazy as of late.  We have been on the go, on the road, and more than a little sleep deprived. 

And I'm not lying about subsiding primarily on freezer food. The grocery bill has been a mere fraction of the usual, which has been really, really nice.  The good news is the freezer is bare and I have no choice but to get back in the kitchen; the bad news is I managed to spend all of the grocery savings at market in Atlanta.


This should come as no surprise.


One of the few things I actually whipped up during my hiatus that requires more than simply warming in the oven or on the stove is this orzo salad.  And that's only because it's almost easier and faster than reheating a meal from the freezer.  Not lying.

This orzo is really good as a side dish, or even for a light lunch or dinner.   If I'm looking for a meal with a little more substance and pizazz, I'll toss in some grilled chicken or shrimp, parmesan or feta cheese, and any veggies I can scrounge up from the fridge for a heartier dish.  

No matter how you serve it, I promise it's cheap, quick, easy, and delicious.  And did I mention healthy?  What more can you ask for in a weeknight meal?

Nada.


Kale and Orzo Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Serves: 6 to 8
Prep and Cook Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:
8-10 ounces of whole wheat orzo 
1 bunch of kale, chopped
1 cup of pine nuts
1 large cucumber (or 2 small), sliced and quartered
1 pint of grape tomatoes
1 bunch of dill, chopped
2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil + 1 tablespoon

Salt and Pepper to taste
Optional add-ons:  Feta, Parmesan, Shrimp, or Grilled Chicken

Directions:
Boil orzo according instructions on package.  When finished, drain orzo in a colander and rinse completely with cold water until pasta is no longer hot to the touch.  Pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix well to prevent sticking.    In a large bowl, mix orzo, kale, pine nuts, cucumber, tomatoes, and dill together.  In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil and the juice of the two lemons.   Pour dressing over the orzo salad and mix well.  Salt and pepper to taste. If you have the time, refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.


Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Luck & Money Soup

Why, hello there.


Long time no chat. 


Merry Christmas, sorry for being slack with the posts, Happy New Year's Eve, my resolution is to be better in the New Year, yada, yada, yada.


On a side note, I'm not quite sure how we've already reached the Happy New Year mark.  Where the heck did 2013 go?    

I guess time flies when you're having fun, or so they say.  We planned a wedding, I started a blog, we welcomed a new niece into the world, had a few parties, witnessed my sis exchange some vows, traveled to Vermont, bought a gym, got hitched, honeymooned, Chicagoed, and most recently, holidayed.  It was a damn fine year.

Bring on 2014.  


If you're looking for a head start on luck and prosperity in the new year (and let's be honest, who isn't),  I suggest starting the New Year with this soup.  Tradition says that pork and black eyed peas will bring you luck in the New Year and collards will bring you prosperity (they are green like money after all).  Even if you're not overly superstitious, why take the chance when it's as easy as making a pot of this yummy soup?

For an extra dose of luck, throw a clean half dollar in the pot before serving (or other clean coin).  The person who dishes up the coin is guaranteed the best of luck in the New Year.

Happy New Year!!


Luck & Money Soup 
Serves:  12 people*
Prep Time:  30 minutes
Cook Time:  2 1/2 hours
Total Time:  3 hours

Ingredients:
2.5 - 3 lbs pork tenderloin
1 lb andouille sausage, roughly chopped
1 bunch of collard greens, stems removed and chopped
4 cups of frozen black eyed peas
1 yellow onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced 
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of white wine
8 cups of chicken broth (I used 1/2 low sodium)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon thyme
1 tablespoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons paprika
5 teaspoons apple cider vinegar 
Garlic powder (to dust pork)
Salt and Pepper (to dust pork and to taste)

Directions:
Dust pork tenderloin with salt, pepper and garlic powder.  Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot (7 quarts minimum) over high heat.  Add two tablespoons of olive oil to pot, allow it to heat, and then add pork.  Brown pork for 4 minutes on each side for a total of 16 minutes.  Remove pork and tent with foil.  Add the andouille to the pot and cook about 5 minutes.  Remove andouille and set aside with pork.  Add diced onion and celery to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add white wine to deglaze pot and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add garlic, oregano, thyme, red pepper, and paprika.  Mix well.  Add pork and andouille back to the pot together with accumulated juices.  Pour in chicken broth and apple cider vinegar, followed by the collards and black eyed peas.  Stir.  Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer (low), cover with lid, and cook for about 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 45 minutes or so.  After 45 minutes of cooking, taste the soup (careful - it's hot!) and season with salt and pepper to your preference.  After about 2 hours (when pork is tender), remove pork, shred, and add back to the soup.  Serve soup with hot sauce, peppered vinegar, chow chow, cornbread, or even a good classic grilled cheese. 


*I purposely made a ton so that I could freeze the leftovers.  Halve this recipe or even quarter it if you want, but I don't recommend it.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Weekly Menu 12.15.13 - 12.21.13 and Weekly Wrap-Up


Weekly Menu

Sunday:  Dinner at Grandma's

Monday: Garlic Dijon Herb Salmon from Skinny Taste (recipe here)

Tuesday: Maple Mustard Horseradish Chicken with Roasted Green Beans

Wednesday:  Pork Chops with Ginger Apple Sauce from Ming Tsai (recipe here)

Thursday:  Spinach Lasagna

Friday: Kale and Apple Salad with Chicken, Feta and Walnuts from Health Recipe Ecstasy (recipe here)

Saturday:  Date Night



Weekly Wrap Up:

Adding the perfect ornament to pig lover's tree on Sunday.

Relaxing with these two on Monday.

Showing off my "baking" skills on Tuesday.

Showing off Scott's eating skills on Wednesday.

Loving the steady stream of Christmas cards on Thursday.

Hating my major blonde moment on Friday (including the city and state is kind of important).


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Grilled Grouper Tacos with Cranberry Salsa

After the Thanksgiving feasting and in light of the upswing in holiday parties, office parties, and endless supply of chocolates and baked goods, anyone else reaching for the sweater dresses in their closets instead of the tailored pants (and thanking the heavens for shape wear)?


Scared to try on your skinny jeans?

Wishing you were a yoga instructor so that you could wear yoga pants all day?  (I guess in that case, you'd be doing the yoga pants justice with your rockin' bod.)

Just me?  Great.


I'd be lying if I said I wasn't (a) adding an additional CrossFit workout to my weekly schedule, and (b) running out of dresses.

Rue La La is a Godsend, CrossFit is the devil.


To offset the holiday indulgences, we're making a conscious effort to make really healthy meals during the week.  Lots of lean meat, fish, soups, and veggies, and only small servings of healthier carbs.  

Leaving plenty of room for peanut buttercup stuffed chocolate chip cookies, peppermint bark, and fudge. 

These fish tacos fit perfectly within those parameters, and they even incorporate some classic holiday flavors so you don't feel like you passing on all the good stuff. 


I suggest chasing them with two pieces of marble fudge.

Grilled Grouper Tacos with Cranberry Salsa
Serves:  4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time:  8 - 10 minutes
Total Time:  30 minutes

Ingredients:
For Cranberry Salsa*
2 cups of fresh cranberries
zest of 1 orange + 1 whole orange (peeled, segmented)
zest of 1 lime + juice of 1/2 lime
1/3 cup of chopped cilantro 
1/3 cup of honey
1/2 red onion, diced
2 jalapenos (1 with seed, 1 without), diced
Pinch of salt

For Fish Tacos
2 1/2 pounds of grouper (or other white fish)
8 white corn tortillas
Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic 
Salt and Pepper
Lettuce, Greek yogurt (or sour cream), lettuce, Vermont white cheddar, and Cranberry Salsa

Directions:
For Cranberry Salsa
Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until finely diced (about 40 pulses).

For Fish Tacos
Heat grill to high heat.  Dust fish with Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic, salt and pepper.  If you can't find the Seafood Magic, dust fish with salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika.  Grease fish grilling basket and place fish in grill basket.  Grill fish 4 to 5 minutes per side or until it flakes easily with fork.  In last two minutes, grill corn tortillas about 1 minute per side.   Break fish up and assemble tacos; top with lettuce, Greek yogurt, cheddar, and Cranberry Salsa. 

* I purposely made extra salsa so that I would have enough to take to a friends house as an appetizer with chips.  Halve these ingredients if you don't need extra.