94 days later…

…I’m hoping very much that my Hobby Hiatus is over. 

To back up where I’ve been…shortly around my last post (February 27!!!!), I had a mishap in the kitchen while slicing zucchini for my dinner that left me with the tip of my thumb missing…(Sparing you the details, my boss told me that’s what I get for putting vegetables on my pizza)…which left me at no motivation to try anything, or get creative.

I was still making meals, but I was using standby recipes which are delicious, but not post-worthy.  The excitement of using winter vegetation had worn off, and I was looking forward to eating lighter food, however, such fruits and veggies that time of year are relatively expensive (reads: out of my part-time budget).

So instead of looking up recipes and trying new things, I really started job hunting…which I should have been doing all along, but that’s a different story.  Unfortunately nothing big has panned out yet, but I’m still very hopeful! So hopefully next winter’s eating wont be so boring…luckily now I have a whole year to plan for it!

So this is my re-introduction; now that the delicious crops of the spring are starting to come in great abundance (and my thumb is completely healed!).  While I never got away from eating healthy foods, I did buy and consume foods that I said I wouldn’t out of necessity.  Now, I am going to, as much as I can, stick to the local foods, and where I can, non-proccessed foods and at the very least, avoid foods with ingredients I can’t pronounce, which should be easy since CSA season is upon us!

What are you most looking forward to eating this summer??

Welcome Back && Happy Eating!!

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Week #s 7&8: a dip and a sauce

Well Hey There!  It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted last but that has not stopped me from meeting my goal of trying one new recipe a week.  Granted, they have been some last-minute decisions, but still very delicious and worth posting.

Week 7: Eggplant Dip | Jenn tested, Paleo approved.
Ingredients: Eggplant, minced garlic, diced onions, salt and pepper.  Peel and dice the eggplant, toss with salt and pepper (and olive oil if you choose) pop in the oven at 400° until the eggplant is tender and browned.  In the meantime saute the garlic and onions; once thoroughly sweated through, combine garlic and onions with eggplant in a food processor/blender, add more S & P to taste.  Combine until smooth, enjoy with some crusty bread, or if you’re also eating Paleo, carrots and celery.  I also used it on pizza in lieu of sauce…VERY good!

Week #8: Sweet & Sour Sauce — Homemade!
This dish was made as an added bonus for a meal I made for a local/organic/whole foods dinner party a few of my Sage Alums decided to get together.  All the food was delicious, and I can’t wait to do it again!

For this party, I made veggie/Boston Lettuce.  The “filling” was sautéed Julienne carrots & celery, combined with sautéed onions & garlic, seasoned with Salt, Pepper and Soy sauce…once the veggies were cooked down, I added 3 whole eggs to combine the mixture and help it “stick” together (and give it some heartiness).

The SaSS was so easy to make and takes only 6 ingredients!  Rice Vinegar,Brown Sugar, Ketchup, Soy Sauce, Cornstarch and Water.  I didn’t add pineapple to mine, however that will be a step I don’t leave out next time.  The SaSS is very potent with vinegar, so I ended up adding more brown sugar, which made it delicious, not healthy…but definitely homemade!  I might even try maple syrup next time, or maybe Agave Nectar…something more natural.

These past 2 weeks has been a few of research for me, for jobs and other hobbies, which I’ll post about later!  I’m off to go organize the “black hole” office…we’ll see how far I get. 

In the meantime, HAPPY EATING!

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Week #6: Cheesy Risotto

This week I decided to make a new recipe with my near and dear (NCLP) CJ.  My inspiration came from a few when I was up in Burlington, my great friend Marissa made a us dinner…spinach and tomato risotto with chicken sausage.  The meal was delicious and I felt like a big pig because I ate sooo much!

Until recently, I really never had a good grasp on what risotto actually was…I knew it was a lengthy process, and that last year on Next Food Network Star, Wolfgang Puck (a big-wig in the food industry) ended up embarrassing  a contestant, Jill, because she, somewhere along the line, messed up the risotto she made to be judged. Mr. Puck brought Jill back into the kitchen during the middle of the critiques to show her the correct method. Super intimidating, especially since a professional Chef couldn’t make the dish.

But Maris made it beautifully and took the scariness out of making it.  2 stools and a glass of wine made the making of the dish go by very quick.  For those who aren’t familiar with it, the basic process is as follows: heat up some olive oil, add the veggies—sweat the onions and start cooking the garlic; at the same time heat up the stock/broth of your choice.  Add in the dry Arborio rice and stir so it’s coated in some oil.  Add wine to start breaking down the starches of the rice.  Once the wine is absorbed/ evaporated, add in the broth one ladle at a time, allowing it to completely absorb before adding in another ladle.  Towards the end of the broth, taste the rice to make sure the texture is a consistency you like, add more broth if necessary.  Mix in any cheese at this point, and stir in any vegetables that just need to be heated through.

I decided to make this Cheese Risotto as a side dish for kabobs CJ and I made.  In true Kaitlyn-style, the recipe calls for Gruyere and Taleggio cheese, neither of which I could find at Hannaford’s, or probably afford, so I instead used a shredded Italian blend that lent itself to being super creamy and actually with complex flavor since it contains 4 different cheeses (Mozzarella, Provolone, Romano & Parmesan).   I didn’t take any pictures…the colors didn’t make for an appealing picture, but I plan to try out other new risotto recipes soon so I’ll take pictures of the process then.

Risotto does take about 45-60 minutes from start to finish, depending on the heat you use, etc.  I absolutely enjoy any time in the kitchen so the time isn’t too daunting, I hope so much that you give it a try, google the flavor your looking for and I’m sure there will be a risotto recipe out there for you!  For me, the cheesy risotto resembled my mom’s homemade mac & cheese; I think this will quickly become a comfort food favorite.  My only tweaks would be 1) to make sure I don’t over cook the rice (I think I did this time, it was slightly on the mushy side).  2) The recipe calls for a total of 10 ounces of cheese, I’d like to play around with the types of cheeses, but I would also probably cut back on the amount I put in, it was on the borderline of taking away from the delicious rice.

A big shout out to Mollie & Bojo for being so patient while we made this, and to Jillybeans-I hope you at least enjoyed the leftovers since you couldn’t be with us. 

Happy Eating!!

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Week #5: Black Bean Burgers

I’m going to try to keep this short.  I made and tried a couple of new things this week but didn’t feel like any of them were post-worthy, so I figured I’d try something tonight.  However, the Saturday laziness has consumed most of my day and I was more tempted to place an order for delivery than get off the couch to use the food I already paid for.

I rummaged through my fridge and cupboards and found mostly cheese and pasta, yet was not in the mood for any of that.  In the back was a can of black beans and thankfully I remembered this recipe for BBB’s my Gram found and forwarded to me; it requires 2 things 1) Black Bean, 2) a bit of flour. That’s it.  Smush it together, form it to a patty and cook in a saute pan to put a crust on it.  We added diced onions, peppers, corn, chopped broccoli, red pepper flakes and garlic to the black beans and served on a bun with homemade ricotta.

The picture doesn't do the deliciousness justice.

 This recipe has been Kait tested, Nick approved. I absolutely encourage this for those nights when you don’t have a lot of time for a big meal…super easy & filling.

Enjoy the night & have a fun Superbowl Day!

Happy Eating 🙂

 

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Week #4: Spinach-Artichoke Dip

This weekend I’m up in the great city of Burlington, Vermont, visiting my sisters and finally doing something that has been 3 years in the making! (I’ll divulge next week)  I got up here on Friday evening with plans for a homemade meal for the 3 of us!  When we were finally all together, we came to the conclusion that we needed to be healthy since the week had kind of gotten away from us, but we were still going to have some fun food.

The meal started out with a kale salad, not with salad dressing, but with smushed avocado and fresh lime juice. Raw kale has a different texture if you haven’t had it before…in my opinion it’s more chewy than spinach, and definitely more so than regular lettuce. However, the nutrient benefit is so great, especially when combined with the good fats from avocado & micronutrients of the lime.

Green & Good!

The next course was a 100% whole-wheat homemade cheese pizza. I didn’t take a picture of it because, well, I’m sure most people know what a cheese pizza looks like.  It was super delicious, and my sisters approved!

A couple of hours later we decided to indulge some more with a delicious new recipe for an old favorite! Spinach Artichoke Dip can now be found at every restaurant and in the frozen aisle at your local grocery store…but have you ever looked at the “extra” ingredients? The salt, the fat, the preservatives?  This recipe makes about 3 cups of dip; it’s tasty and filling, but not enough to weigh you down (and regret eating way more of it than you should have).  You’ll need:
2- 15.6 oz cans of Artichokes, drained & rinsed
1-  Brick of Frozen Chopped Spinach, thawed
1-  8oz Brick of Neuchâtel Cheese (1/3 fat Cream Cheese), softened
3/4 C Greek Yogurt
1C Mozzarella Cheese
1-3 Garlic Cloves (Optional, or add more if you love garlic!)

Once the brick of spinach is thawed (or microwave it for 10 minutes, place on a plate with paper towels to absorb some water), squeeze to remove excess water.

Place all the ingredients in the food processor; pulse to combine.  Scoop into an oven safe dish and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes until the ingredients are melted.

Never going back to another version.

We served ours with slices of multi-grain baguette and sliced apples…and later tortilla chips when we ran out of the other good stuff.

This morning Alicia made some delicious whole wheat pancakes complete with a fruit salad! Off to a good start for the day, we’ll see where it leads 🙂

I hope you enjoy your weekend!
And as always, Happy Eating!

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Week #3: Cheese and a Soup

Part I: Cheese
A few months ago, a friend told me she made her own cheese for dinner, a cheese called Paneer, which is used for Indian dishes.  I was very intrigued, but shied away from trying it myself because I knew it had to be more difficult than she made it seem. 

Then last week my friend Noelle sent me a link she came across to do homemade ricotta cheese.  After hearing her rave reviews, I had to try it, so I went out and bought the things I needed to accomplish the task!  The basics: bring milk & heavy cream to a boil, add an acid and let it sit for a bit, then strain it through cheese cloth to allow the solid chunks (curds) to separate from the liquid parts (whey).  I used lemon as my acid, and added more than the recommended amount to curdle the milk, thus giving my ricotta a lemony flavor.  I don’t have any pictures, but can assure you it looked the same as the store-bought stuff, but had a fresher taste! 

I have been adding it to my pasta with tomato sauce-which again, gives the whole dish a refreshing twist because of the lemon in the ricotta; tomorrow night I’m going to try a spinach dip.  I’m still in the process of thinking of something to do with the whey (waste not, want not–or however that saying goes!).

Part II: Soup
“Loaded Baked Potato Chowder” to be specific, from the Pampered Chef website; you can find the recipe here*.  I wanted to make this because Nick and I love NE Clam Chowder, however I don’t have the money to make that at home…I do however, have some money to buy potatoes and use some of the extra cheese we have on hand and create something new and different from twice baked potatoes.  The chowder recipe was super easy to make, and even not using “fat-free” ingredients, it’s relatively good for you–giving you some fats and a serving of dairy.

I tried to stay away from the bacon, but ended up adding it in. Real bacon does add to the flavor of each bite.

We used cooked bacon and broccoli as toppers, which made for a delicious mid-game snack while watching the Patriots & Ravens game (yah, I admitted it–I watch some games).

That’s all for this week–we’re having appetizers for dinner which I’m really excited for, bad food, in moderation, is good for the soul. 🙂

Happy Eating, Everyone!

(Side note: all milk used was produced by Battenkill Creamery, potatoes were from Denison Farm…my little budget tries its hardest to buy local where possible, but chooses Hannafords & USA produced when it’s not)

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Week #2: Wonton/EggRoll Wrappers

I am always looking for a good way to use up some of the last little bits and pieces of meals I’ve made throughout the week…typically my go to is just a smorgusborgh with a little bit of everything.  Fun to eat, but at the same time, doesn’t necessarily use up everything.

I also use pizza as a go-to, especially to use up my remaining veggies before they go bad and I waste them.  This is good because even if I’m out of sauce, garlic and olive oil is a great base of flavor for whatever you put on top! Unless of course I’m out of mozzarella cheese, then I’m back to square one.  In that case, I boil a bit of whole wheat pasta and throw everything together.

Now, I’m adding egg rolls to that roster of “fridge-enders”.  The inspiration came from my sister, who made a pork/cabbage/carrot/ apple and maple syrup egg roll.  A craving hit and I had to do something similar.  I didn’t have egg roll wrappers, but it wasn’t worth the trip to the store (it’s too cold out for unnecessary trips!).

Therefore, I googled it…and came across this fun new blog site, as well as the recipe for wonton wrappers!  The recipe was super easy to make (4 ingredients!) and to boot, I was finally able to utilize my new pasta roller!  The recipe calls for 2 cups flour*, 1 egg, 1/4-1/2 c water and 3/4 tsp salt. 
*I used 1 C Unbleached AP flour and 1 C 100% Whole Wheat Flour.

To clean out my fridge, and create my filling, I pulled a 2 handfuls of kale, 1/4 bag of shredded carrots, 1/4 bag whole cranberries, 1/2 apple, onion and a clove of garlic.  Instead of sauteing, I steamed the veggies in a pot and ran it through the food processor quickly. 

Half of the dough made 6 egg rolls.  After filling them, I rolled them up and baked for 20 minutes at 400°.  I served them with a side of greek yogurt mixed with maple syrup:

Not the eggrolls I'm used to!

 All-in-all a great week 2 recipe!  And the best part-the combinations are endless!Next week has a couple of occasions to catch up with friends which luckily doesn’t mean jumping off track and losing the ground I’ve gained this week.  Did you try any new food/recipes/combinations this week???

Happy Eating!

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