Thursday, September 30, 2010

Roast Chicken Soup

So in the past 3 months I've roasted AT LEAST 10 chicken... AT LEAST!!! And not to toot my own horn but...

TOOT TOOT!



I've become pretty DARN good at it.

But I digress. This blog is not about my ability to roast chickens, but about the application of roasted chicken in life. See, if you roast a chicken, there are soooo many meals you can get out of it. I ate it as was for two meals ( also shared with some friends). I chopped some of it up and topped a wonderful spinach salad with it. And when the chicken is close to done but not quite, my FAVORITE part comes. ROAST CHICKEN SOUP! See, in the fall, I can't help myself. I LOVE soup! I fixed chili the other day. I ate quite a bit and froze two containers. And now that I got to the carcass of my chicken it was time to make my famous chicken soup.

Roast Chicken Soup
Carcass of a Roast Chicken (recipe in "Leftover Days")
with some of the meat still on it
about 1 cup of Great White Northern beans
3 Carrots
(Celery)
6 small creamer potatoes
1/2 a sweet potato
2 fresh cayenne peppers
Green pepper
(Fresh Ginger)
(Fresh Rosemary)
(Green onions)
chopped red onions
Garlic
(Lemon)
Kosher Salt
1 cinnamon stick
Dried Rosemary

Now the key to this soup is... The ingredients in the () are the ones I stuffed in the cavity of the bird when I originally cooked it. Don't discard those. That intensify the flavor of the soup.

DIRECTIONS:
Rinse the beans and soak them overnight. (Well i actually soaked them for about 24 hours.)
Boil the carcass (and leftover meat and veggies) of the bird in just enough water to cover the bird. Cook on medium heat for about 30 mins. This allows the meat to come off the bone without the whole carcass falling apart.

SIDEBAR: Last time I made this soup I boiled the carcass and put all the ingredients in and cooked the whole soup with the bones in. This makes it easier for prep because the meat falls off the bone and into the soup. The hard part it, when eating it you're constantly spitting out bones because the chickens vertebral column falls apart and all the tiny joint bones that you can't see to take out are still in there. so you can choose to do it either way. If you keep the bones in, you'll get more meat AND more flavor.

Scrape the rest of the meat off the bones (as much as you can get) with a wooden spoon. Throw the carcass away.
Boil for about 30 mins more 
Rinse beans again, cook them  (I used a slow cooker) in the chicken stock (just the stock. set aside the meat and veggies)
Once beans are done, return the meat and veggies to the pot.
Chop all other chop-able ingredients and add them to the pot. Put the cinnamon stick in too.
Season to taste with salt and rosemary
Cook over medium heat for about 2 hours.

YUM!!

Happy Eating
~M~

***Picture to come***

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect (I hope)

So I wrote a pretty phenomenal variation (of a theme) for two pianos. Scored it and all. It's BEAUTIFUL, if I do say so myself. The software that I use for the notation has the ability to playback the music and it's AMAZING... I'm so happy because I can just see the progress in my composing.

BUT...
I CAN'T PLAY IT!!!

I mean I been sitting here for hours trying to lock this into my fingers with minimal success... Sigh. I mean who writes a composition they can't play.

So...
I'm just taking a little break from it, because I read somewhere that the best way to learn something is to forget it. Because somewhere in your brain, if you forget something and relearn it there are triggers that help it stick. So... while trying to forget to learn this piece, I'll just blog about it... I TOTALLY wish this had audio cuz I would let y'all hear a little snippet. OKAY... Back to practice.
~M~

So I went to the farmer's market... AGAIN (I'm hooked).

I didn't have anything in my house to make a meal of. Really all I had was rice, which don't get me wrong... I can make a meal of rice because I LOVE it! But I'm tryna to keep my diet balanced... ya know
So, I tried to plan a couple of quick meals to put together for the day. Didn't come up with anything concrete, but I headed to the farmer's market anyway, thinking I'd get some inspiration from what I saw.  I also needed a few ingredients for Tomorrow's Chicken soup.

I found out that Wednesday is the day to shop there (or so I think) cuz the food people were delivering fresh items. Fresh produce, there was fresh bread on the racks... so I bought a loaf. and it felt real soft. I got excited. But out of the wonderful things I bought at the farmer's market... I fell short of my goal. I still didn't have any cohesive or well balanced meals.

So I did something that's TOTALLY outta character for me...
I went to Earth Fare...

No, going to Earth Fare is not out of character. HOWEVER, I have to pass my school to go to Earth Fare and since I knew I was gana need food for the rest of the week I knew that whatever I bought I was gana have to drive BACK past my school to go home and put items in the fridge then prepare meals real quick then go to school. I almost gave up and decided to make today a fast food day (BLECK!!!) But... I went to Earth Fare.

I saw some AMAZING things (bought some of them), and for lunch today I settled on a wonderful Turkey Pastrami sandwich with a side of vegetable chips. IT WAS DELIGHTFUL! The bread had such a sexy velvety texture and the veggies I added to it gave it a zip that you don't find in an ordinary deli meat sandwich.


Turkey Pastrami Sandwich
Bread (I used fresh made whole wheat)
Turkey Pastrami
Muenster Cheese
Course Ground Spicy Brown Mustard
Baby Spinach
Red Pepper
Red Onion


YUMMM!!! The spinach instead of lettuce really does wonders for upping the nutritional value and adding a flavor twist. Try this sandwhich today. Quick, easy, tasty and healthy.

Happy Eating

~M~

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My Addiction

I won't lie. I've gone from the ocassional hit, to the social binger, to being completely addicted.

My addiction:

FOOD!!!

Don't confuse that with an eating addiction. It's not. I eat just as much (or as little) as the next person. But I can't stay away from food related things. Whether I'm browsing my fav websites (allrecipes.com, epicurious.com, foodnetwork.com) for recipes, reading articles about what's new in the food industry, online shopping for new cookware, stopping in to my local farmer's market... WHATEVER IT IS! My life has become consumed with food. How am I gana get my next hit.

I had Cheese Grits for the first time this morning. When I was growing up, all hot, grainy meals were meant for cereal, and therefore sweetened so I have been used to sweetening my grits and pouring milk in them. YUMMY!! But lately I just been cooking them and eating them with just the dash of salt I use to cook them. No further seasoning. But today, I bought some cheese for my chili and since it was on the counter when I made my grits, I thought... WTH... why not.

It was pretty tasty. Nothing spectacular tho.

BUT I DIGRESS!!!

I'm a foodie at heart. And I spent my last 8 dollars this afternoon at Earth Fare on my way to work because of it... After spending 8 this morning at the Farmer's Market. But I got THE most DELICIOUS sweet and juicy Mango out of my excursion.  I had the remains of a bag of baby spinach in my fridge and I was tryna come up with a lunch out of the little bit of food in my house (grocery shopping time). Well I can always do a spinach salad. So easy to make. I just take baby spinach, add a fruit (peach, strawberry... whatever I have on hand) add some nuts (walnuts, almonds.. kinda depends on what fruit I use or what nuts I have on hand) add some feta cheese and a vinaigrette (usually raspberry). VOILA!! So filling, so tasty. The different flavors, from savory to sweet; the different textures... everything plays together and it's sooo amazing.  So I had the spinach and feta cheese, but no fruit. So I go to the farmer's market to get a peach but they only sold them in cups of about 5 and I didn't want to spend that much money. They also didn't seem ripe. But a sign for $1.99 caught my eye. And a beautiful mango. I touched it and it felt so good. The perfect blend of softness and firmness. So I bought it... and cut it... and took a bite and my taste buds had an foodgasm...

Spinach Salad
About 1 and 1/2 cups baby spinach
Some leftover roast chicken (recipe at "Leftover Days")
about 1/4 of a mango cubed
tomato basil feta cheese
raisins
almonds
Pomegranate Vinaigrette

This is not it... This is another one I made like it but
No chicken
Sub pecans for almonds

Happy Eating

~M~

Monday, September 27, 2010

I went to the farmer's market today...

After my post about the frankenstein produce (Read: What are they putting in my veggies???) I decided that I would no longer buy produce from the conventional supermarket. NOPE! Earthfare for me.  And buying groceries for a week would now be out of the question. Because my food will die before the week is out. This leaves me in quite the pickle...

With me being in school full time AND working full time, my schedule goes something like this.

8am - Wakeup
7:05 shower
8:20 dress and prepare my clothes for PE and my work clothes
8:40 Cook 3 meals for the day and prepare 2 snacks
9:30 pack everything I'm going to need for the next 15 hours (literally)
9:45-9:50 rush to school to make it in time for my 10:00
10-2 Classes
2-3 Practice piano and/or score music (I'm a music major)
4-Midnite Work

So how the flip can I shop for groceries every day. I mean, yeah maybe I could skip my practice time (BAD BAD BAD) and go to the store, but the travel time (and gas) towards my job to buy the food then back past the school to my house then back (the opposite direction) past the school to my job... It's not efficient, and very near impossible.

SO WHAT DO I DO!!??!

I had to make an unfortunate run to Wal-Mart this morning for an unfortunate reason and a light switched on in my head.


I (COMPLETELY) forgot. The farmer's market is literally around the corner from my house! So I went to the farmer's market cuz I had some beans cooking in the crock pot and some ground turkey thawing in the fridge and I wanted to make chili, but had no peppers, no tomatoes, no garlic, and none of the goodies that makes chili... well... chili.

THE FARMER'S MARKET IS LIKE
HEAVEN
on
Earth!!!

Everything was so fresh and so cheap and so organized and the lady was so sweet and kind. And look at this HUGE garlic I bought.


I put the one on the right for a size comparison. The one on the right is two cloves of garlic. The huge one on the left, well that's just one! I got some FRESH cayenne pepper. I haven't finished the chili yet (It's a two day process..) But when I do, I'll give you the recipe and the results.

But I digress...

THE FARMER'S MARKET!!! (I'm in love!)
I'm definitely gana make some lasting friendships with the owners there cuz I WILL be there at least 3 times a week if not more.

~M~

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Leftover Days

Every now and then I have a "throw in the pot" meal, where I just throw whatever in the pot that is starting to lose it's freshness. Money is tight round these parts, so I can't have my food going bad!!!

So this weekend, I decided to roast a chicken, and for my sides I threw in the pot all of the veggies I had in my veggie bin. My task, use the rest of a bunch of green onions, some ginger, fresh rosemary, some potatoes, some celery, some carrots, half a red onion, about 3/4 of a red pepper, 1 tomatoe, half a cucumber, half a head of cabbage and some turkey bacon. WHAT A TASTY TASK!!!

For starters, 3 of the best smelling cooking fragrances are Celery, Onions, and Ginger...

BUT...
I digress

Roast Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Veggies

On Hand:
1 stalk (?) fresh rosemary
some fresh ginger
a few stalks of green onion
1/3 of a fresh lemon
a few stalks of celery
a few carrots
some red onion
about 4 or 5 baby red potatoes
Some Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Paprika
onion powder
black pepper
dried Thyme


So I chopped the green onion, ginger and lemon. Rubbed the inside cavity of the chicken with some kosher salt and some black pepper and stuffed the green onion, ginger, lemon and rosemary inside. Rubbed the whole outside of the chicken with Kosher salt, then mixed all of the above listed spices in a bowl and rubbed them on the chicken. Wrapped it in Saran Wrap then put in the refrigerator over night. Next day I chopped the sliced the celery, carrots and red onion and layered them in the bottom of a 9x13 glass pan. I put the chicken breast down on top of the veggies. Sliced the red potatoes thinly with skin on and layered them around the bird. Sprinkled kosher salt and balck pepper on top of the potatoes. Covered the whole thing with foil and cooked for about 1 hr and 15 minutes. Turned the bird over (breast up) and cooked for 10 more mins to brown the breast. Removed the bird from the oven and let it rest for about 15 mins.







 Spicy Cabbage with Bacon

On Hand:
About half a head of cabbage
about 3/4 of a red pepper
4 strips of turkey bacon
a yellow onion
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Cayenne Pepper


So I thinly (very thinly) sliced the cabbage. Set aside. Slice half the yellow onion. Slice the Red pepper. Chop bacon. Pour olive oil in a pot. Saute the onions and red pepper together. Add kosher salt, cayenne and black pepper to taste (it's supposed to be spicy so add A LOT). Add chopped bacon. Then add cabbage in batches making sure to thoroughly mix the cabbage with the pepper sauce. Steam on medium heat for about 10 mins. Turn off the burner and let the steam and residual heat cook it the rest of the way. (If you like softer cabbage you can cook it longer).







Tomato Cucumber Salad

On Hand:
1 tomato
half a cucumber
about 1/3 a red onion
Raspberry Vinaigrette

So I just sliced the tomato. Sliced the Cucumber. Sliced about 1/8 of the red onion. Mixed in a bowl and added about 3 TBSP Raspberry Vinaigrette.








And for Dessert....

Oatmeal raisin cookie bars w/ White Chocolate

I followed the recipe on the Quaker Oats box top, halved it and instead of making cookies (because I couldn't find my cookie sheet) I pressed it into a well oiled 8x8 square glass baking pan. I sprinkled some slivered almonds on top and baked at 350 for 35 mins. When the bars cooled slightly I cut them and took them out the pan. I melted some white chocolate and drizzled it on top. YUMMMM!!!!


Happy Eating

~M~





Thursday, September 23, 2010

What are they putting in my veggies??

Better this...

OR....

THIS




The choice seems obvious huh? I mean who wants rotten produce??

I DO!!!!!!
And No, I'm not gross or anything. Hear me out.

I spent many years shopping at Wal-Mart solely. I mean, it's a one stop shop. Everything from food to Oil Change you can get at Wal-Mart. But they started pissing me off so I started shopping Publix. Now mind you, Publix produce is PHENOMENAL! (or so I thought).

So this past week, I did my produce and meat shopping at Earth Fare, (read "My Accidental Experiment" for details.) I bought food for a week. Now this is not remarkable. I usually buy food for a week. Because I know the food will keep for a week and I won't have time through the week to shop so that's perfect. But I digress.

I got halfway thru my week and noticed that a lot of my produce was starting to look a little iffy. (sad face) I didn't want it to go bad, and I was also confused... WHY IS MY FOOD GOING BAD SO QUICKLY...  But then I thought, "Why shouldn't it? In fact... hold the phone... Why has the food I've gotten from Publix and Wal-mart seemed to be everlasting even though it was labeled perishable? WHAT ARE THEY DOING TO MY PRODUCE???"

See, on farms, they pick their food every day. In other countries they go to the food markets EVERY DAY. They do this because FRESH FOOD IS PERISHABLE!!! It shouldn't shock me that my food is going bad. It should shock me when it lasts. And furthermore, I can't IMAGINE what the stuff they put to preserve my fresh veggies is doing to my insides.

YUCK!

I want my food to go bad. Well, in an ideal world I'll eat it all before it goes bad. But just in case I fail to, I want to know that it will go bad. Bump that plastic food.

~M~

Edible Sound

What does food and music have in common, you ask?

And to that I reply...

What Doesn't go with Music??

So Anyway.

I had an AHHH-Mazing Musical cooking/eating experience this morning and I've been DYING to share it, tho I doubt that ANYONE would be as excited about this as I am.

So there are Three basic Elements of Music...

RHYTHM
HARMONY
MELODY



The basic building blocks if you will...

But I'll get to that later.

So I'm cooking breakfast this morning. Got some bacon sizzling in the pan (Turkey bacon of course... say no to the oink! lol). I crack open an egg...

LISTEN

(tap, tap, crack, plop)
As I that I started to notice a rhythm. And my sizzlin bacon was accompanying the piece.

I whisked the eggs...
(sh sh sh sh sh sh sh sh)

and suddenly all around me, everything I did, everything I cooked, every sound that was made became part of my delicious symphony.

BUT THERE'S MORE

My Breakfast

I made Bacon Egg and Cheese sandwhichs on Olive Batard, Grits, and I had Canteloupe. And this is where my musical dining experience takes flight.

Rhythm - In my opinion the most fundamental of the elements of music. This one has threads in each of the others. Rhythm can be indicative of the beat, there is the rhythm of the melody and there is harmonic rhythm. I'm not gana give you a music theory lesson right now just take my word for it. Today, I think I'll liken my grits to the rhythm of my meal.

Harmony - Where different tones sound together at the same time to make a richness of sound. Each tone has it's own quality and when they come together they enhance and complement each other. Harmony makes for more interest in a particular piece of music. It's what makes the music sound thick. My sandwich will by the harmony.



ARE YOU STILL FOLLOWING ME!?!?!
Melody - Very simple, very sweet. Usually the focal point of the piece and also the most memorable because it's easier to sing along with. My canteloupe will be the melody.

And my food made a symphony in my mouth

So I chose the grits because Carbohydrates are supposed to make up 55% of your nutritional intake for the day and based on my meal plan for today I had about a meager 10-15%. So, I added grits. That's only a sidebar. But as I was eating I was thinking (about music of course) and all these thoughts rushed to my mind. I'd take a bite of my sandwhich and these 4 different flavors and textures would play with my tongue. They'd each take turns doing a solo and then melt back into sync with each other, enhancing each other and making beautiful harmony. And I'd take a spoon full of grits. It really just felt like it supported my whole meal. It provided me with the heartiness. In the same way that carbohydrates give the energy the fuels your day, the grits can be related to the energy that drove my symphony. It gave my other meal components something to play off of. And that sweet melody of canteloupe on top of it all...

~M~

Monday, September 20, 2010

Honey Lime Tilapia with Ginger Glaze

I made a phenonmenal Honey Lime Tilapia with a Mango and Black Bean Salsa once. I couldn't remember what I did nor did I have the ingredients but I wanted to make a Honey Lime inspired Tilapia so... I did. And it came out SPECTACULAR and it was sooooo easy to fix. So I decided to share the recipe. Sorry no pics this time.

Ingredients

Tilapia Fillet
Fresh Lime Juice
Honey
Fresh Ginger Root
Fresh Garlic
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Olive Oil

(No measurements. All depends on how much you want to fix and the desired intensity of flavor)

Instructions:

Squeeze the lime juice into a bowl. Mix in the honey. Thinly slice the ginger and garlic and put in with honey lime mixture. Pour over fillet. Sprinkle salt and pepper on top. Cover bowl with Saran Wrap and refrigerate overnight.

To Cook: Pour olive oil into a pan over medium to medium-high heat. Sear each side for about 4-6 mins a piece. Remove the fish from the pan and pour the leftover marinade into the pan. Cook for about 1-2 minutes or until carmelized. Pour over top of fish. Serve with Rice or whatever your favorite fish side dish is.

Happy Eating.

~M~

Sunday, September 19, 2010

My accidental experiment

So I was told that shopping the exterior of the grocery store rather than the aisles is not only healthier for you but less expensive.  Well, that seems logical enough I suppose so I never questioned it. But I also never tested it. Until Friday. Let's just call it an accidental experiment because I didn't set out to test a theory.  I made my meal plan for the week, then wrote a shopping list according to it and set out to Earth Fare. For those that don't know, Earth Fare is a FABULOUS health food supermarket. EVERYTHING in the store is fresh Fresh FRESH!

Earth Fare's Philosphy:
Earth Fare sells foods that are as close to the ground as it gets.

So none of their foods have hydgrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, no HFCS, artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners, no antiobiotics, synthetic growth hormones or animal by-products in the feed for the meats... you get the picture. Heaven on earth in the form of a grocery store.

As you can also guess, Earth Fare is EXPENSIVE! Once I  shopped there and then found everything cheaper at Publix so I took everything back to Earth Fare. LOL! But I digress.

So as it turns out, most of the things that were necessary for my meals for the week were found along the exterior of the story. I had a cart full of fresh produce, 1 whole chicken, 4 chicken legs, two breasts, a tilapia filet, some fresh peanut butter. I had granola and MUCH MUCH MORE. I had enough food to make 3 square meals and 2 snacks every day for a week. Checked out at $100. PHENOMENAL. Then I head to Publix to buy a few prepackaged necessary items. Turns out that everything I bought at Publix was from the aisles (as opposed to the perimeter.... directly contrary to my shopping at Earth Fare experience). The only difference was, I got like 20 items. So I'm thinking, I just spent $100 dollars at Earth Fare, surely I won't exceed $50 here. But much to my shock and chagrin, I spent... ONE HUNDRED WHOPPING DOLLARS!!!

WHAT WENT WRONG????

Well, let's look at the facts.

Earth Fare
  • A more expensive store
  • Shopped Exterior
Publix
  • A less expensive store
  • Shopped Interior
Both
  • Spent $100
So..... My pretty educated guess is that shopping the exterior of the store really is cheaper.

~M~

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Out of the Box Easy Mac

Kraft Dinner.

You take and boil the noodles, pour the powdered cheese in them and some milk and Voila! Dinner in no time. They got even more fancy with the pouch of already ready cheese you just pour on top!  It's an easy meal to fix when you're low on time, low on energy or both.

THE PROBLEM:

It's rather low on taste. And I for one, don't prefer the texture of those noodles. I mean, sure, you can season up some easy mac and make it amazingly edible.  But for those of us that like to treat our palates well, allow me to introduce to you an easy, no fuss, high flavor low intensity homemade version of the easy mac.

Ingredients:

Elbow Macaroni
Spices: (You can alter spices according to taste)
-- Salt
-- Black Pepper
-- Cayenne Pepper (I like a little spice)
-- Dried Basil
-- Dried Oregano
-- Dried Rosemary
-- Onion Powder
-- Nutmeg
Cheese: (Use whatever Cheeses you like)
Evaporated Milk

Instructions:

Pour water in a saucepan. Add all your spices. Bring water to a boil. Add Macaroni. Cook approx 8 mins or to your desired texture. Drain Macaroni. Put Macaroni back in pot and back on stove over low heat. Gradually add cheese while stirring pasta. As cheese starts to melt, slowly add in evaporated milk. Keep stirring gently. VOILA!!!


Now... Notice, I didn't have ANY measurements. Why? Because it's all up to taste. You can add as much as little of the spices as you choose. As much cheese as you want, the more cheese the cheesier the macaroni. And the milk, you just add until it's the desired consistency.  This Out of the Box Macaroni is just as easy to make as the bland stuff, but you have soooo much more control over the flavor, the freshness and your ultimate satisfaction.

Happy Eating
~M~