Truffled Cauliflower Puree

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Wait! Don't go anywhere.  Hear me out.


Trust me, I know what at least half of you are thinking.  Cauliflower.  Gross. Eww. Yuck. No way, no how.  I know because I am one of you.  Hell, I am the driver of the "I hate cauliflower" bandwagon, except for in this one instance.  I have found there is an exception to every rule. 

I have despised cauliflower since I was a wee tot.  Many a night was spent sitting at the dinner table alone long after everyone got up and retired to the living room for an exciting hour of MacGyver because I refused to eat my cauliflower.  And do you know what happened back in the day if we refused to eat something?  No privileges, no TV, no dessert, and the ole' "I bet you'll be hungry for breakfast" was always thrown out there.  I sound like my grandma (minus the TV part).  



The fact that my mom adores cauliflower never helped my protests.  You give her a salad bar, and she is oohing and awing over the cauliflower, the three bean salad, the garbanzo beans, and the minicorns.  Meanwhile I am making a bee line to the bacon bits, croutons, blue cheese and banana pudding.  What? You weren't aware the lettuce cancels all the other calories out?  Consider yourself schooled.


Let me just say this cauliflower is different.  First and foremost, it involves truffle butter.  Truffle. Butter.  I should just stop here.  I need not say more.  If you have not experienced truffles (and we are not talking chocolate, we are talking fungus), there is no time like the present, my friend.  They are earthy, buttery, rich, exotic and decadent.  But in all honesty, no description could ever give a truffle's flavor the justice it's due.


To the cauliflower and truffle butter, you add a splash of cream, a little garlic and a dash of salt and pepper.  That is it.  I am going to go out on a limb here and proclaim this truffled cauliflower puree trumps any mash potato under the sun.  Is this a bold statement?  Yes.  Is it true? Without a doubt. 

Allegedly, its healthier too. But do you really care about that when truffles are involved?  If so, let me be the first to tell you your priorities need realigning.

I did not develop this ingenious combination on my own (obviously, considering my disdain for this atrocious vegetable).  Our favorite restaurant in Pawleys Island, Chive Blossom Cafe, served a steak special over truffled cauliflower puree a few weeks back.  I threw caution to the wind and took a bite.  I was instantly converted to a lover of cauliflower puree.  I was also hell bent on reproducing the dish. 


I did a damn fine job if I must say so myself.

Truffled Cauliflower Puree:
Yield: Serves 4
Prep Time:
25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients: 
1 head cauliflower
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
4 garlic cloves
1.5 tbsp cream
3 tbsp white truffle butter (only ingredients should be truffles, butter, and maybe mushrooms)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:
Remove leaves and stem from cauliflower.  Cut into 4 pieces.  Add cauliflower to pot with stock and garlic.  Bring to a steady simmer.  Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes, or until tender.  Remove cauliflower and garlic from pot with slotted spoon and add to a blender and food processor.  Add cream and truffle butter.  Blend or process until smooth (about 30 seconds). Salt and pepper to taste.   Serve, preferably under a juicy filet mignon and garlicky sauteed spinach.  Or eat directly from the food processor with your finger, either way.

Don't worry,  I have not abandoned ship.  I still despise cauliflower prepared any other way.

On the Mend

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Don't let these puppy dog eyes fool you...


King is feeling much better.  He does have an ear infection, but he is on meds and on the mend.  Icing on the cake - we have slept through the night for the past two nights.  Win.

Today's work out looked like this:

1. Bench Press /Chest Supported Row Circuit:  After warm up, 3 sets alternating, less than a minute rest in between sets
     - Warm Up:  Bench Press 45 lbs x 10
                          Chest Supported Row Bar x 10
     - Warm Up:  Bench Press 55lbs x 10
                          Chest Supported Row Bar x 10
     - Warm Up: Bench Press 65lbs x 10
                         Chest Supported Row Bar x 10
     - Work Sets:  Bench Press 75 lbs x 6
                           Chest Supported Row 50 lbs x 10
            


2.  Incline Press/Lunges Circuit:  3 sets alternating, less than a minute rest in between sets
     - Incline Press 55 lbs x 10
     - Walking Lunges 10 per leg with 15 lbs in each hand

3.  Single Arm Row/L Sit-up/Glute Ham Raise Circuit: 3 sets alternating, less than a minute rest in between sets
     - Single Arm Row 25 lbs x 15 per arm
     - Glute Ham Raise x 15
     - L Sit-up x 15

Confession:  My arms felt like noodles at the end.


My sister Amber joined our 6 a.m. workout. See her back there mastering the back raise??  So proud of her!


And just to prove to you King is back to his normal self, my workout ended with me trying to catch my breath and King in my lap as usual. 


Does anyone else have an 110lb+ dog that believes he or she is a lap dog??



Orange-Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Let's talk about my sentiments for Asian influenced food, shall we?

I. Love. It. 




What's not to love?  Fried Rice.  Delectable.  Mongolian beef.  Delightful.  Teppanyaki.  Delicious.  Spring Rolls.  Devious.  Those out of this galaxy edamame truffle dumplings served at Buddakan in NYC.  Decadent.

Okay, I am out of descriptive adjectives that begin with "D" (and I have know clue why I whose "D").  But you catch my drift.  Asian inspired dishes are the bomb (do people still say that, or did I totally just lose cool points?).   The exotic names, the flavor explosion, the tasty fortune cookie at the end that is only right if you want it to be (or is that just me?) all keep me coming back for more.  And the chopsticks.  How freaking fun are chopsticks?  A constant challenge of me against the food.



So, I ask you, what's not to love about the majority of Asian food you can find in today's restaurants?   Oh yeah, the 5,954 calories and 368 fat grams packed into one dish.

Seriously?  That would take me 5 hours and 39 minutes on the treadmill (I Googled it).  Ain't nobody got time for that.  And, as a general rule, I prefer not to run unless an ax-murderer or Bigfoot is chasing me.

I decided to take one for the team and lighten things up a bit.  This stir-fry is chock-ful of crunchy eggies and lean chicken.  It is seasoned with a happy balance of orange and ginger.  It is sauteed rather than fried - zero flour or cornstarch involved here.  And it is served over the Dr. Oz approved brown rice.

Yes, it has sodium and a bit of sugar from the OJ and the marmalade, and, well, there is the brown sugar.  But it is certainly a far cry from the 5,954 calories you would consume if you stopped into your local Hibachi restaurant  or picked up takeout from your neighborhood Lucky Panda.  And, it is man approved.  Scott loved it.  You can thank me later.

Orange-Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry:
Yield: Serve 6-8
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes


Ingredients:

2.5 lbs chicken breast (or boneless skinless chicken thighs if you want some actual flavor)
4 cups of broccoli crowns
2 red bell peppers sliced
1/2 lb snow peas
1 cup of julienned carrots
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger 
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (depending on your spice preference)
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3/4 cup orange juice
4 tbsp. orange marmalade
3 tsp. brown sugar
3 tbsp sesame oil

Directions:
Cut chicken into uniform 1 inch pieces and place in bowl or plastic ziploc bag.  Mix garlic powder, ginger, red pepper flakes, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, orange juice, orange marmalade, brown sugar, and 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a saucepan.  Pour 1/2 of the mixture over the chicken and let sit for 20 minutes (up to 40 if you have the time).  Heat remaining sauce over medium heat, bring to a simmer stirring occasionally.  Once sauce has reached simmer, reduce to low heat.   Heat wok or large skillet over medium high heat.  You'll want to cook chicken in batches as you don't want to crowd the pan and end up with steamed rather than browned chicken (it took me 2 batches with a large bottom skillet).  Add 1 tbsp of sesame oil to skillet or wok.  Add chicken and don't disturb for four minutes.  Stir chicken for another 2 minutes, or until largest piece is no longer pink.  Remove and keep warm.  Add remaining sesame oil and vegetables to wok or skillet and cook for 4 minutes stirring regularly.  Add chicken back to pan and pour sauce in.  Allow chicken to reheat for 2 minutes or so, stirring often.  Serve over brown rice. 

Runnin' on Empty

Monday, February 25, 2013

Last night I may have gotten .2 seconds of sleep.  This "little" guy was tossing, turning gnawing and scratching all night long.  I huffed, I puffed, I tossed, I turned, I tossed my pillow at him in frustration.  Nothing worked.  He didn't sleep a wink, and neither did I.  Scott went downstairs around 2:00 a.m, but swears he didn't get any sleep either.  I am not buying it.  He managed to escape the wild banshee.


When I dragged myself out of bed this morning, it occurred to me that I needed look King over to see if I could figure out what was causing his restless distress (nine times out of  ten he is just restless because he didn't get enough energy out in the day).  It turns out he has one severely irritated ear. 
 
And its official, I am the worst dog mom ever.  I immediately smothered him with hugs (much to his dismay) and told him I was sorry for the pillow incident.  He should be on the way to the vet now with Scott to get checked out. I am praying for an easy and quick remedy.
 
Needless to say, the lack of sleep left me dragging at the beginning of my workout, but I managed to focus my energy and make it through.  My workout looked like this:
 
1.  Squats:
     - Warm up:  45lbs (bar) x 10
     - Warm up:  75 lbs x 10
     - Warm up:  105 x 5
     - Work Set:  110 x 6; repeat 3x
 
2.  Step-up/Lunge and Dumbbell Press Circuit - 3 sets alternating, less than a minute rest in between each set
     - Step up and lunge combo with 10 lbs dumbbells in each hand x 10 per leg
     - Dumbbell Press with 25 lbs dumbbells x 15 
 
The Step-up/Lunge Combo looked like this.  



3.  TRX Leg Curl and TRX Row Circuit - 3 sets alternating, less than a minute rest in between each set
     - TRX Leg Curls x 15
     - TRX Rows x 20

The TRX Leg Curls look like this. 



This is King's "Thanks for being impatient with me when I don't feel good" face.   Bad dog mom.




Lemon Herb Pork Tenderloin

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I suppose you have heard; pork is the other white meat.  If you haven't, please tell me what rock have you been living under for the past thirty-something years.  I just aged myself.  Fantastic.



Have I told you my feelings for white meat - chicken breast, turkey breast, pork tenderloin?  Blah.  Boring.  Ho hum.

Here's the conundrum.   Generally these cuts of meat are (a) relatively cheap, and (b) relatively healthier than their pigmented counterparts.  Damn.


So, I have decided to suck it up, be an adult about it, and do what is fiscally and dietarily responsible.  Except that, much like a kid drowns his or her vegetables in ketchup or cheese, I insist on drowning mine in herbs, zest, and maybe a heavy pour splash of wine.  What?  Nobody's perfect.

When it comes to the herbs that you desperately need to add some spice to your life, there is truly no comparison to fresh herbs.  A majority of them are pretty low maintenance if you plant them in the ground.  And if you don't have ground to plant in, you can always plant them in pots on your porch or outside your front door.  My entire front porch is covered in herb pots (mainly because I have been too lazy to put them in the ground, but this is about to change my friends!).

Confession time. I don't exactly have a green thumb.  In fact mine is the opposite of green,  black maybe?  I am really bad at keeping herbs and other plant life alive.  My only saving grace?  My sister Amber owns Nitty Gritty Nursery and Edible Garden in Murrells Inlet.  On more than one occasion, I have begged her to drop off an herb I was counting on for a recipe on her way home from the nursery after I realized my once thriving plant was dead.

She is a life saver.  I am a plant killer. 



Bottom line, this recipe will make your forget you are eating blah, boring, ho hum white meat.

Lemon Herb Pork Tenderloin
Yield: Serve 6-8
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30
Total Time: 45 minutes


Ingredients:

 2.5 lbs pork tenderloin (mine were two loins to a pack)
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 bunch thyme
10 sage leaves
5-7 rosemary sprigs
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp. yogurt
Glug of white wine

Directions:
For marinade,  combine lemon juice, salt, pepper, garlic powder, thyme leaves (no stems), rosemary (no stems), sage leaves, olive oil, yogurt and wine in a food processor or blender.  Process for 25-30 seconds.  Put pork tenderloin in glass dish or ziploc bag.  Pour in marinade.  Let sit for 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Remove pork from marinade and place in a greased oven safe dish.  Roast for approximately 30 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.  Broil on low for approximately 5 minutes to brown the top (because, lets be honest, pinkish-whiteish baked pork is not particularly appetizing).  Serve.

Weekly Menu 2.24.13 - 3.2.13





Weekly Menu:

Sunday:  Filet Mignon with Truffled Cauliflower Puree

Monday:  Edamame and Shrimp Succotash

Tuesday: Chicken Stuffed with Roasted Red Pepper and Mozzarella

Wednesday: Brown Rice Penne and Meatballs   (Bolognese sauce recipe here)

Thursday:  Buttermilk Chive Roasted Chicken with Green Beans

Friday: Lowcountry Boil with the Family for Uncle John and Jill's Birthday

Saturday:  Dinner in the Inlet for Jill's Birthday

Blood Orange Mimosas

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Because it's Saturday...

Because you were able to find blood oranges...

Because it is February 23...

Because you had an incredibly long week...

Because it's nasty and rainy here in coastal South Carolina...

Because you'd rather sit on your tush and watch a movie than do any one of the million chores you should be doing...

And, most importantly, because it's National Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day (you can't make this stuff up people)...

Make these.



Blood Orange Mimosas
Yield: 6 mimosas (or one in my case) Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
5 blood oranges 
1 bottle champagne



Directions: Juice oranges.  Divide juice equally among 6 glasses.  Top with champers.  Cheers!!

 
Don't forget to give your pup a biscuit!



We're Going Prowlin'

Friday, February 22, 2013

Name that movie...
 

Image via Google Images

GREASE 2!!  I am unashamed with my lifelong childhood obsession for this 1980's musical masterpiece.   I would watch this movie over and over as a kid.  I knew every line.  I sang along to every song.  I wanted to be Michelle Pfeiffer (that hasn't changed - she is freaking gorgeous).  I wanted to date a T-Bird.  And I most definitely wanted to participate in the Rydell High talent show as a "Girl for all Season".  How awesome were those costumes??  Sorry Rotten Tomatoes, but you got this one all wrong. 
 
Given their propensity to skip gym class and smoke cigarettes, I don't think the prowlin' from today's work out was what T-Birds had in mind.
 
Today's work out looked like this:
 
1. Kettle Bell Swings and Pull ups Circuit (4 rounds):
     a.  25 Kettle Bell chest level swings with 50 lb bell; 5 assisted pull ups
     b.  25 Kettle Bell chest level swings with 50 lb bell; 6 assisted pull ups
     c.  20 Kettle Bell chest level swings with 50 lb bell; 7 assisted pull ups
     d.  20 Kettle Bell chest level swings with 50 lb bell; 8 assisted pull ups

 
I intentionally omitted my pull ups shot. Lets just say I need to improve maintaining a straight form.  I was all over the place. 
 
 
 
2. Overhead Press and Back Raise/Glute Ham Raise Circuit (4 rounds):
      a. 10 overhead presses (45 lb bar); 6 back raise/glute ham raise combo;* x 4

*The back raise/glute ham raise combo is just 1 back raise followed immediately with one glute ham raise. The combination is 1 rep.


 


And the portion of the workout that inspired this post's title, and equates to my own personal hell...
 
3.  Prowler AMRAP Challenge - 5 minutes total
     a.  Push prowler high handle 15 yards; push prowler low handles 15 yards; rest 10 seconds; repeat.
 


If you have never heard of the prowler, Google it.  The Internet will tell you the prowler sled is one of the best conditioning tools out there - that it will burn fat, build muscle, increase overall strength and improve your mental toughness. 
 
 
 I will tell you it is a modern day torture device.  But it works.  5 minutes of prowler pushes feels like the equivalent of a 5 mile run after a complete lower body lift day. It's a guaranteed love hate relationship.  If you have a prowler available, use it.  Your derriere will thank you.
 
Meanwhile, Mom was getting some assistance from King with her back raises. I think that qualifies as cheating.




Walker Grace

Thursday, February 21, 2013

2013 is proving to be a milestone year for my family.   You may have have seen my previous post that my older sister, Amber,  is getting married in June.  Scott and I are  getting married October 25th in Asheville, North Carolina (aww yeah!). And, my brother, John, and his wife, Morgan, are expecting their first child in early April.   

Morgan's due date is April 8th, but I am selfishly praying for an April 1st birthday so Walker can share a birthday with her most favorite aunt and her great grandmother Jewel (dad's mom)).
 
Yes, I am an April Fool's baby, and yes, my name is April.   You see, I was predicted to be a boy.  My parents really wanted a boy.  They already had a girl.  My mom was confident she was carrying a boy, although no tests were performed to confirm her hunch.  My grandmother Jewel even went so far as to quilt me a red choo-choo train blanket.  Needless to say, I came into this world in a blaze of shock and awe and without a name.  Obviously, my mom was not feeling particularly creative that day.  

Kidding Mom (not really).
 

So to help Morgan and John get ready for their bambino, Mom, Amber, Morgan's best friends Jill and Michelle and I threw Morgan a baby shower last Saturday.   

From left to right, Michelle, Morgan, Jill and yours truly. 



You see all of the amazing cute and crafty decorations below?  I can claim none of them.  Those are the product of the uber talented and crafty Jill and Michelle.


You see that adorable crystal mobile hanging to the left in this picture of Morgan and big sis?  Can't claim that either.  That is Amber's creation.  She was apparently blessed with all of the creativity and talent in the family.


Notice the adorable baby clothes with the crab and the starfish applique in the picture below (and all of the embroidered clothes and accessories in all of the pictures)?  You guessed it, not my handiwork.  Those are are from my mom's line of baby clothes and accessories Palmetto Baby Designs.


So what exactly did I contribute to this shower you might ask?  Drunken Pimento Cheese and Mimosas.


You heard me right, my contributions to a baby shower consist of booze and boozy food.  And boiled shrimp.  Who doesn't love a delicious shrimp cocktail? With a Mimosa (or two).

More on the food in a minute.




Jill came up with the cutest idea.  All guests were asked to fill out a card pre-printed with spaces for to write predictions about the baby such as the due date, eye color, weight, and length, etc.  There was also a space on the back to offer baby Walker advice.  


Once guests filled out the cards, they attached them to a "tree" that served as a center piece for one of the tables.


This is by far one of the most thoughtful and meaningful activities benefiting the parents to be that I have seen at a baby shower, and this ain't my first rodeo people.  I can't wait to read those cards.

As for the food, where do I begin?  There were so many delicious "horse dervies"- chicken salad phylo cups, pigs in blankets, BLT bites, lemony cheesecake spread, cucumber sandwiches, shrimp cocktail, meatballs, Drunken Pimento Cheese (yea baby), cake ball truffles.



And the crème de la crème, my mom's breakfast casserole.  This is the stuff diets are cast aside for people.
 

And, of course, some non-spiked beverages for those so inclined (not my doing).


The turn out was a perfect mix of friends, Morgan's family and our family.

Below is a picture of my "sister from a different miss" (cousin) Jillian Leigh and my Aunt Terri.  Jill and I are only a year apart, so we grew up as sisters.  I love her more than my luggage.




After the bellies were full and the mimosas were empty (literally, they were a hit), we moved on to the presents.  I must say, Miss Morgan racked up!  I am fairly confident she got everything on her registry and them some.


However, in my humble (yeah right) opinion, the best gift of all was a hand crocheted blank from my Grandma Dorie (mom's mom).  Grandma has crocheted all of here grandchildren and great grands blankets. I can't think of a more special gift.

Needless to say, Morgan was in shock and so touched by the special gift.


An at the end of the party, Kona stopped by to police the party and ensure none of the guests had gotten out of hand with the spirits.

You see that stink eye??  She is definitely judging...


 
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