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SamCyn’s Juicing Adventure: Day Four

07/26/2011 1 comment

It was really tough for me to get out of bed on the morning of day four.  Basically, way before Sam’s alarm went off at 5:30am, I had already been awake for quite some time.  Normally, I would get up at 5:30am to make some coffee for us both.  However, now that we’re on this program, there was no coffee to be made and in addition, I had the day off.  Hence, why get up, right?

Well, that was a big mistake, because in turn it just made me feel really sluggish.  It’s like the more my mind shouted, “get up”, my body replied, “oh, but the bed feels so good”.  Finally, at around 8:ish my mind won the battle and I got out of bed.  Now, when I was in my twenties, that was considered early, but now that I’m a lot a little older it’s considered way late.

I checked my tongue and the white fuzz is pretty much all gone (yipee!).  However, I just felt awful, I had no energy and my mind was in a fog.  I thought to myself, this sucks, I’ve got to do something. 

So I made myself juice # 6.

I liked this juice just as much as juice #5, if not a little better (despite the beet).

Once I had my glass of juice, I was ready for some exercise.  Thus, I went for a power-walk and did some Pilates when I got home.  Wow, that made me feel a whole lot better.  I no longer felt lethargic and I was awake, which enabled me to go about my day taking care of the things I needed to do.

For dinner I baked some eggplant with onions and garlic, which I sprinkled with a lemon-olive oil dressing and served it atop some arugula and spinach.

Though the pictures don’t do this meal any justice, I promise, it was really tasty.  Just the smell of the garlic and onions was driving us (me) crazy.  My goal was to get the eggplant a bit crisp and browned, but instead it came out soggy.  I’ll have to research on how to get this effect.  However, If any one of you know, please feel free to share :-).

In order to change we must be sick and tired of being sick and tired.  ~Author Unknown

Juice #6

Yields about 2 quarts

4 granny smith apples

1 beet

5-6 celery stalks

4 medium carrots

ginger (approx. thumb size portion)

To prepare:

Wash all veggies, cut apples in half, insert into your juicer.  Enjoy!

Roasted Eggplant and Onion

Yields approximately 2-3 servings

1 medium eggplant

4 garlic cloves

1 large red onion

Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing

1 1/2 lemons, juiced (next time I’ll use just one)

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Approx. 4-6  basil leaves, finely chopped

Approx 4-6  parsley stalks, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon mustard powder

To prepare:

Preheat oven to  400 °

Peel skin from eggplant and slice into medium-thin pieces.  Slice garlic and onion into large chunks.   Spread on a two-quart baking dish, whisk together all the ingredients for the dressing and sprinkle over ingredients.  Bake for about 10 minutes, then at 500 ° (I was trying to get it brown and crisp) for about 5 minutes.

Serve over some fresh spinach and arugula, sprinkled with any leftover dressing.  Enjoy!

As I’ve mentioned before, I am journaling and sharing this experience just to make myself accountable.  I am not a doctor, or a professional in the field of nutrition.  Therefore, I DO NOT, I REPEAT, I DO NOT RECOMMEND ANYONE TO FOLLOW WHAT I’M DOING.  If you’re interested in fasting, detoxing, juicing, etc., please consult your doctor.

Thank you!

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Toad in the Hole – GCC: Menu 31

05/02/2011 1 comment

 

I completely broke the recipe and suggested sides “rules” for this week’s Gutsy Cooks Club choice, Toad in the Hole.

Toad in the hole is a traditional English dish consisting of sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter, usually served with vegetables and onion gravy.  The origin of the name “Toad-in-the-Hole” is often disputed. Many suggestions are that the dish’s resemblance to a toad sticking its head out of a hole provides the dish with its somewhat unusual name.

Personally, I don’t get it…but hey, maybe I’m just not that “brilliant”.

Now, nothing against the English and their food, but I decided to take this dish out of England and put it in Italy.

Why, do you ask?

A) Because I had some ingredients that needed to be used.

B) My husband is Italian and I can never have enough Italian ;-).

And finally…

C) Because I can.

First up was making the batter, which included flour (I used whole wheat pastry flour), salt, milk and eggs…sound boring to you? it sure did for me, so I added the following:

  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp each of fresh rosemary and parsley
  • 1/2 cup of Parmigiano-Reggiano

Secondly, place sausages in an oiled baking dish and bake for about 5 -10 minutes at 425°. 

I elected to add some garlic, onion and green pepper to bake along with the sausages (I used hot chicken sausages).

Lastly, reduce the oven temp to 400° and pour batter around the sausages and continue baking for approximately 30 minutes, or until batter is golden and crisp.  This is to be served hot. 

I served up the “toads” with some homemade baby portobello mushroom sauce and parmigiano.

What was the end result you ask?

Well, let’s just say Sam and I agreed “Italianizing” (is that even a word??) this dish was a good idea.  Otherwise, it would have been way too bland. 

Who knows, maybe if I had stuck to the recipe and served it with an onion gravy or mustard sauce (some of the suggestions) it would have been really good. 

However, to be honest with you, with all the recipes on my “to do” list, I doubt we’ll ever find out.

Ladies and Gentlemen…this concludes this week’s Edible Adventure.

“If God had intended us to follow recipes, He wouldn’t have given us grandmothers”. ~Linda Henley

Mushroom Risotto – GCC: Menu 21

02/22/2011 6 comments

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always heard that risotto is a difficult dish to make.  Needless to say, I was both excited and a little apprehensive about making this week’s Mushroom Risotto, but definitely up for the challenge. 

Risotto is a class of Italian dishes of rice cooked in broth to a creamy consistency. The broth may be meat-based, fish-based, or vegetable-based; many kinds include parmesan cheese, butter, and onion. It is one of the most common ways of cooking rice in Italy.

As you may already know Sam L-O-V-E-S mushrooms and was really, really looking forward to this dish.  So there’s no way, I could let this one slide (not that I wanted to).

Ironically part of my “difficulties” was not so much in cooking the risotto, as it was in posting about it.

First and foremost, I was entertaining 17 guests over the weekend and though it crossed my mind to include the risotto as part of the menu, due to the “attention” that’s required in making this dish, I didn’t think it would have been such a wise choice for a risotto novice like myself.

Secondly, despite leaving work a little early to cook the risotto, it was too late to photograph the finished product in natural light.  I figured, no big deal, there’s enough left over (to make risotto cakes, yum) that I can shoot pictures in the morning before going to work and post from the office (hopefully none of my colleagues are reading this ;-)).

Sounds like a good plan, right?

It would have been perfect, if I had not forgotten the cable that connects my camera to the office computer (DUH!).

The one thing I can say about making risotto (at least in my one humble experience) is that it’s a high maintenance dish that demands love & nurturing and can be therapeutic in the making.  

Because it requires constant stirring for approximately 25-30 minutes, it’s not something you want to make if you are either impatient or in a rush.  So make sure you’ve got some good music playing and if you happen to be alone, don’t need to go to the bathroom :-).

I started out by reconstituting a package of dried wild mushrooms and reserving the stock for the risotto.  Then I cooked the wild mushrooms, along with white mushrooms in butter with salt and pepper for about 10 minutes.

 

Sautéed an onion and a few garlic cloves in olive oil & butter for about 5 minutes, added the rice and cooked for another few minutes.

Then the loving began….

I poured a ladle of hot chicken/mushroom stock to the rice and stirred until absorbed.  This process was repeated every 2 – 3 minutes, until I was able to see the rice had a creamy consistency and upon tasting, the texture was soft, yet al dente (about 30 minutes).   

Stirred in the mushrooms and parmigiano-reggiano, removed from heat, sprinkled on some fresh parsley and served. 

This was just DIVINE! This dish is sophisticated, yet comforting. The creaminess of the rice combined with the earthy, buttery mushroom flavor, blended with the sharpness of the parmigiano-reggiano makes you fall in love. 

In fact, I think I’ve just given Sam another reason to love me ;-). 

The love and nurturing required is soooo worth it…certainly one to be shared with family and close friends.  

Ladies and Gentlemen…this concludes this week’s Edible Adventure.

“When you make a risotto you should be in perfect harmony with yourself. You shouldn’t be nervous or angry. It’s a ritual that is going to give you so much pleasure later that it’s worth spending fifteen or twenty minutes over a hot stove stirring very slowly. It can be like seducing a woman. She doesn’t know you, and you need to work things out with her slowly—meeting, flirting, getting to know each other, and wanting each other. That’s what a good risotto is all about. It’s the dish of romance. If you rush it’s never good.” –Pino Luongo
 

Mushroom Risotto

Adapted by The Kitchen Bible Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cups arborio or carnaroli rice
  • 6 cups vegetable stock or water, kept simmering
  • 4 tbsp butter, diced
  • 1lb (450g) cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Add the rice and stir for 2 minutes.

2. Gradually add the stock, about ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly, waiting until it is absorbed before adding more. Continue in this manner for 25 minutes or until the rice is barely tender and has a creamy consistency, adding water if the stock has run out.

3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes or until the mushrooms have browned and the liquid evaporates.

4. Stir the mushrooms into the rice and turn off remove from the heat. Stir in the cheese and serve immediately.

Scallop & Pesto Crostini – GCC: Menu 20

02/14/2011 3 comments

As I perused the Illustrated Kitchen Bible cookbook looking for recipes to choose for this month’s Gutsy Cooks Club, the Scallop & Pesto Crostini immediately caught my attention.

Scallops, one of my favorite in seafood (particularly sea scallops), paired with basil pesto and a sun-dried tomato paste? Hmm, I thought this sounds yummy, don’t you think?

Not only is this dish simple to make, it’s great as an appetizer or light dinner with a salad.

Typically the scallops and pesto are served on toasted slices of Italian bread, such as Ciabatta.

However, my Sammy was busy working on our future herb & vegetable garden (he’s such a good guy), got hungry and ate half of the Ciabatta that I was supposed to use for not only this dish, but for the french toast I was LATE in making for breakfast…You can’t blame the guy, can you?

Therefore, I pan-fried some polenta until crispy, made my own basil pesto and sun-dried tomato paste.  Cooked the scallops in olive oil, with some lemon and salt & pepper and in no time we had these.

These are a winner for us both…though we liked it on the polenta, next time we’ll have it on Ciabatta.

“Scallops are expensive, so they should be treated with some class. But then, I suppose that every creature that gives his life for our table should be treated with class.”  Jeff Smith (The Frugal Gourmet)

Ingredients

  • 12 slices Italian bread, such as ciabatta, about ¾ in (2cm) thick
  • ½ garlic clove
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 sea scallops
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp store-bought pesto
  • 2 tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
  • 12 fresh basil leaves, to garnish

Directions

Prepare ahead

Step 1 can be done in advance.

1. Preheat the broiler and position the broiler rack about 6in (15cm) from the source of heat. Broil the bread slices in the broiler until toasted golden on both sides. Rub one side of each slice with the garlic clove. Brush the garlic side of each slice with about 2 tsp olive oil.

2. Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the scallops, sprinkle with the lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until cooked through and tender; keep hot.

3. Spread one half of each toasted bread slice with pesto and the other half with tomato paste.

4. Cut each scallop in half horizontally and put 1 scallop half on top of each crostini. Grind black pepper over the top. Serve hot, garnished with basil leaves.

Spicy Shrimp Gratin – GCC: Menu #17

01/24/2011 3 comments

One of the things I love most about being part of the Gutsy Cooks Club is that when I invite guests over, choosing what to cook is a “no brainer”.  Furthermore, not only do I get to test the recipe on my man Sam, I also get a broader opinion from my guests. 

So when I had my family over this weekend, I served the Spicy Shrimp Gratin. 

Gratin is a widely used culinary technique in food preparation in which an ingredient is topped with a browned crust, often using breadcrumbs, grated cheese, egg and/or butter. Gratin originated in French cuisine and is usually prepared in a shallow dish of some kind. A gratin is baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish.

In this case, the Spicy Shrimp Gratin recipe from the Illustrated Kitchen Bible cookbook, contains Gruyère cheese and it also contains heavy cream.  Now, If you recall from my Chicken à la King post, Sam and I are not fans of cream dishes (unless of course, it’s ice cream ;-)).

However, we do like shrimp and my friend Monica loves Gruyère cheese, which I don’t think I’ve ever had before, so despite the cream issue, we were very eager to try this dish.

This is an easy dish to make & doesn’t require a lot of time….As long as, you don’t buy shrimp that needs to be peeled and deveined (I was being frugal).  Unfortunately/fortunately, my Sous Chef was busy doing things around the house and I got stuck doing it alone *pout*,*pout* (it’s definitely worth paying the extra couple of $).

Ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 lb (675 g) large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • juice of 2 limes
  • few drops of hot red pepper sauce
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 2 red onions
  • 3 hot red chiles, seeded and minced 
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  •  3/4 cup shredded Gruyère 

 To prepare:

  • Toss the shrimp, lime juice, and hot pepper sauce in a bowl and let stand for about 15 minutes.
  •  Position the broiler rack about 8 inches from the source of heat and preheat the broiler. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. 

By the way, I didn’t use olive oil, I used bacon fat.  I had decided to add bacon to this dish (besides garlic, a lot of dishes go better with bacon). 

  • Add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the chiles (I used mild chiles) and garlic and cook about 5 minutes more, until tender.

  • Spread in a large, ovenproof serving dish. Drain the shrimp and arrange over the onions. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour in the cream sprinkle with the Gruyère.

  • Broil about 5 minutes, or until the shrimp turn opaque and the cheese is golden brown. Serve immediately.

In my case, I baked for 15-18 minutes @ 400°, then I sprinkled with some fresh parsley and bacon and broiled for about 3 minutes.

I served it with pasta, a salad and sliced baguette.  The bread came in handy for sopping up the cheesy, cream sauce.  I think adding the bacon was definitely a good call on my part (yes, I’m patting myself on the back). 

It turned out to be a real crowd pleaser, which is always my ultimate goal.

Ladies and Gentlemen…this concludes this week’s Edible Adventure. 

“Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sautee it. There’s, um, shrimp kebabs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, pan fried, deep fried, stir fried. There’s pineapple shrimp and lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich… That’s, that’s about it.”
 Mykelti Williamson quotes (American Actor, b.1960)  Character: Bubba Blue quotes.

Potato & Parmesan Cakes – GCC Menu#16

01/18/2011 4 comments

Out of the three choices we had for the Gutsy Cooks Club menu #16, the Potato & Parmesan Cakes were the most appealing.

Okay…that’s a lie.

The Profiteroles were also appealing, but lack of time (and a bit of laziness & intimidation) got the best of us :-).

The Potato & Parmesan Cakes were simple enough to make, but a bit on the bland side as far as ingredients went, so after boiling and mashing (I don’t own a potato ricer) the potatoes, I elected to add a few of the following extras: 

  • Onion & garlic (finely chopped)
  • Fresh parsley & oregano
  • Crushed red pepper
  • Virgin olive oil

After mixing the potatoes, parmesan, egg yolk, salt and pepper and above mentioned additions, I made little cakes and placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet.

Baked at 450° until they had this beautiful golden brown color, approximately 25 minutes.

Sam and I thought they were really tasty!

We liked the crispness without having to fry them and adding the red pepper flakes offered a nice little kick.  We also like the diversity of these potato cakes and how they can be used as a backdrop to a whole range of ingredients. 

Ladies and Gentlemen…this concludes this week’s Edible Adventure. 

“Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food, For wisdom and guidance, for all these are good, but don’t forget the potatoes.”  John Tyler Pettee, ‘Prayer and Potatoes’

Spinach Blue Cheese Pesto

01/13/2011 2 comments

I’ve got a lot of favorite foods! One of them being Pesto.  

Pesto is a sauce originating in Genoa in the Liguria region of northern Italy (pesto alla genovese). The name is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare) which means “to pound, to crush” in reference to the sauce’s crushed herbs and garlic. This same Latin root through Old French also gave rise to the English word pestle.

What I love most besides the delightful taste of fresh ingredients, is the diversity of this sauce.   Pesto can be topped on meats, fish, pasta, potatoes, baguette slices…you get the picture, right? 

I’ve made basil pesto numerous times, but lately I’ve been wanting to try a different variation. Hence, last night I made a Spinach Blue Cheese Pesto.

Ladies and Gentlemen, this stuff is GOOD!

It was a symphony of flavors, with each ingredient randomly playing a solo act…one moment blue cheese, the next garlic, then walnuts, then spinach.  Sam just kept spooning it out of the food processor, I was afraid it wouldn’t make it to the dinner table.

Spinach Blue Cheese Pesto

I don’t measure when I cook freestyle.  Thus, the measurements below are approximate.

  • 9 oz. bag of fresh spinach
  • 1/3 cup blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  1. Combine the spinach with the walnuts in a food processor and pulse a few times.
  2. Add the garlic and pulse a few more times.
  3. Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is on.  Once you have poured all of the olive oil, stop the processor and scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula.
  4. Add the blue cheese and pulse again until blended.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve over anything your heart desires.  We had it on chicken, but look forward to having it on grilled steak.

If you try this at home, please let me know your thoughts. Enjoy!

    “There was a Young Lady of Greenwich,
    Whose garments were border’d with Spinach;
    But a large spotty Calf,
           bit her shawl quite in half,
    Which alarmed that Young Lady of Greenwich.”

Edward Lear, English artist, writer; known for his ‘literary nonsense’ & limericks  (1812-1888)