Tag Archives: easy meals

The Best Cookbook You’ve Never Read

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I have absolutely know idea how I came across Jules Clancy’s blog The Stone SoupWhen I did, I wasn’t reading it regularly; but suddenly something clicked!

I may or may not have mentioned that over the past year I’ve been checking out one cookbook from the library per week in an attempt to cook more and learn how to cook better. But I also know that when I’m really busy working, the last thing I want to do is think about what to make and spend the time in the kitchen concentrating on making something new, with the risk of it not being a winner.

I do like to try new recipes and styles of cooking. When I have the time and the energy, it is a fun thing to do! But other times, I want something quick, tasty and healthy. I want something that requires minimal effort, but is still satisfying. Is that too much to ask?!

Enter the cookbook:

Every single recipe in this cookbook offers variations, so this one is for everyone. 

~ Vegetarian or Vegan? She’s got you covered with substitutes.
~ Carnivore or Paleo? She suggest add-ins for those vegetarian dishes!
~ Dairy-free? You’ll get some great ideas for what works best in each recipe.
~ Don’t like or have an ingredient? Perfect swaps are suggested!

While I’ve been perusing cookbooks from my local library before I make the decision to buy, my library did not have Clancy’s cookbook on hand. So I bought it out right.

How do I  know that you’ve probably never heard of this cookbook?

It only has 39 ratings on Good Reads! Also, it was published in Australia and Great Britain. At first glance, you might look through it and put the book back down when you see measurements in grams and milliliters instead of our U.S. measurements. But don’t let that deter you! The conversions are simple and the recipes are forgiving.

Obviously, you can easily look these up on your own; but these are the basic, most used measurements and items you will need to know to use the book:

  • 500 g of meat = approximately 1 lb
  • 400 g can of diced tomatoes, etc. = standard U.S. 14.5 oz can
  • 180 g cooked rice = approximately 1 cup
  • courgettes = zucchini
  • aubergine = eggplant
  • coriander = cilantro

So put it on a post-it in the front of the book and forget about it!

How can I claim that this cookbook just might be THE BEST?

When I started reading it, I found that I had thumbed through a few quite a few pages and noticed that there was not one recipe that I would not makeI couldn’t believe it. Jules {can I call you Jules, now?!} notes variations at the end of each recipe that I couldn’t find an excuse not to make each one. That is, until I got to a recipe that called for tofu. I knew I wouldn’t be making that Japanese Kettle Soup… that is until I read the variations at the bottom!

It’s now on my list! I suddenly realized that I didn’t need to flag each recipe that I might make someday. I was willing to make them all! Instead I flagged recipes that I had the ingredients that I could make now.

You know the story of Julie and Julia? Well, I’ve never seen the movie nor read the book, but I understand that the protagonist attempts to make all of the recipes from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. While that sounds incredibly daunting to me, I think I can do this with Jules Clancy’s 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes.

I’ll be making notes of my variations and posting on the blog my findings! I was intending to do the first few in this post, but it’s getting rather long… so we’ll save that for the next one. In the meantime, you can check out The Stone Soup blog to view the recipes and tips Jules has posted there and sign up for a free e-cookbook.

If you want to join me, here are a few links to where you may able to find 5 Ingredients, 10 Minutes:

Enjoy!

What’s the best cookbook you’ve read?

Cheers~
Carrie

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This Week: Cooking with What’s on Hand

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So, I didn’t get my usual Monday Food & Fitness post up that I link to Running with Racheal.

planning

I guess that weekend out of town ended with a lack of planning for the week. Now it’s time get creative and use up what we have in fridge and  pantry!

What do I know?

Meals

  • I have bread in the freezer and peanut butter in the fridge. Looks like it’s going to be a week of PB Toast breakfasts!
  • I put together some Quick and Easy Bowls for lunch this week based on what I had on hand. The rest will be leftovers
  • I have three days to cook dinner this week.
  • One of those days is just for me – I was considering this Strawberry Caprese Pasta Salad. Then I realized, we don’t have strawberries. So I may just make some Tilapia Topped with Tomatoes with this Zucchini and Onion Saute that always reminds me of Provence.
  • I have pork chops, green beans and ground beef in the freezer.
  • Worst case scenario, if I don’t get to the grocery store, we’ll be eating pork chops and green beans one night and Chocolate Chili another. Although, Rob has given me the go ahead on this One Pot Cheeseburger Skillet {I can’t call it a casserole or he won’t eat it!}

How’s that for last-minute planning?!

Fitness

I had some trouble with my back this weekend. Sleeping and getting out of bed has not been easy. So I’ve decided to take the doc’s advice for the next couple of days.

  • Tuesday – PT Exercises & Walk
  • Wednesday – PT Exercises & Walk
  • Thursday – PT Exercises & Run (if feeling okay, otherwise, walk)
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – PT Exercises & Run
  • Sunday – PT Exercises & Walk

What are your favorite go-to meals when you don’t get to the store and can only use what you have on hand?

What’s the best and most creative dish you’ve come up with doing that?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Post-Op Foods & Saga Hill Cooking Class

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I’m putting together a grocery list of items I need to buy to have on hand after my surgery. They are warning me that the pain killers are going to have some side effects, in which plenty of fruits and vegetables should help do the trick. 😉 Also, since my husband does not cook, I want to have some easy, fast – meaning 5 minutes or less! – healthy go-to meals and snacks so he doesn’t bring me take-out every night. {Although it’ll be nice a couple of times!} I may be off of work for up to two weeks; but even if I’m not, I want some easy things to grab so that I don’t make any poor choices out of inconvenience. Planning ahead and taking out the guesswork, ya know?

I do know that I could do a few make-ahead meals, but with the pain I’ve been in, it just sounds exhausting at the end of the day. Even after sitting all day, my legs feel like they can’t take any more. I have been cooking a bit, but not enough to put that much effort into it.

Here is my list of meal and snack ideas and the corresponding list of groceries that I will need to shop for since they are not currently in my pantry:

Meals & Snacks

  • Egg Bagel Sandwiches {aka 90-second Breakfast Sandwich}
  • Lean Cuisine Frozen Entrees  – I always have a few of these in the freezer. I don’t eat them everyday, only when I’m in a pinch. My favorite? Salmon with Basil!
  • Chipotle Black Bean Burgers – Currently in my freezer. I can just pop them between a bagel thin and or smear on some guacamole.
  • Healthy Choice Country Vegetable Soup – I know that we are talking a lot of sodium here, but it’ll be an easy way to get in some needed veggies
  • Peanut Butter Toast
  • No Hassle Fruits – see grocery list below.
  • Magic Smoothie
  • Fiber One Brownies
  • Veggies and hummus
  • Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Hard-boiled eggs

Grocery List

  • Bananas
  • Grapes
  • Clementines
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Carrots – cut and put in baggies or containers
  • Cucumbers – cut and put in baggies or containers
  • Bell Peppers – cut and put in baggies or containers
  • Hummus
  • Spinach
  • Eggs
  • Lean Cuisines
  • Healthy Choice Country Vegetable Soup
  • Wholly Guacamole or Avocado

To prep

  • Make sure dishes and ingredients are reachable from hip to chest level
  • Cut veggies
  • Hard Boil Eggs

That should be it! This also serves as a reminder if I find myself thinking that there is nothing to eat in the house. I can come back to this past to read about my available options!

But of course, Rob, I won’t mind a little takeout now and then, or even a little ice cream. 😉 I’m just trying not to go overboard while I’m immobile!

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Food Journal for Thursday:

Breakfast

I was running late, so I made a 90-second Breakfast Sandwich to take in the car (not pictured because, uh, I was running late). But if you want to see a photo or learn how I heard about these, click here. Approximately 300 calories with blueberry bagel thin (sweet and savory sandwich!), one egg, and one ounce cheddar cheese.

At work – 2 cups of black coffee with a piece of Dove Dark Chocolate (the one with almonds). Isn’t this message appropriate right about now?

Thurs-Choc

Lunch

Salad

Salad with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, chopped carrots & celery, chopped almonds and avocado

I put the avocado in the container the night before and squeezed a bit a lime juice over it, but it still browned. It tasted fine, though. And that little jar is leftover from a Love with Food sample. Guess what I put in it? Leftover Balsamic Glaze from my Avocado-Bruschetta-Mozzarella Chicken dinner. I used it as my salad dressing!

Afternoon Snacks

Banana (not pictured).

Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Kind Bar courtesy of my February Foodie Penpal. 😉

Kind

Peanut Butter and Dark Choclate Kind Bar

Last night, I went to a Saga Hill Cooking Class with some friends. Knowing that we probably wouldn’t eat until later, I snacked again after work. I had an apple with some Biscoff Spread. Then I went to a small wedge of double cream brie. It could have turned into an all-out binge, but I stopped myself and called my mom instead.

Dinner

When we arrived at cooking class, we poured ourselves some wine. I started with a glass of white, but it was too warm, so I switched to red. For $15, wine is unlimited for the evening. My friend Jen was driving and I could no longer be on meds before surgery, so I took full advantage! Actually, I was a little apprehensive on how I would hold out for the evening. By this time of night, I’m usually just wiped. Luckily, from where I was sitting at our table, I could sit on the stool or stand up whenever I needed to.

I lost count of my wine, but I think we concluded that I had five of their bar-sized glasses. This is equivalent to probably 2 and 1/2 to 3 glasses the size that I would have at home.

In the past three classes I’ve done at Saga Hill, we usually don’t eat until she’s done her explanation of what to expect and have cooked our first item. However, this time she served us little dishes of jambalaya right away!

Jambalaya with Smoked Sausage

Jambalaya with Smoked Sausage

This class was All About The Pig. I thought this would be a good one to give me some ideas and what else I could make for Rob. We learned about pre-packaged bacon versus pork belly. We cut the pork belly into lardons and sautéed them in a little oil. We then learned how to make scrambled eggs the correct way! You should not beat the crap out of thembut should be patient and guide them to ebb and flow in the pan. We finished the eggs with some chives and butter and served them with the bacon and toast:

Scrambled eggs with lardons and toast

Scrambled eggs with lardons and toast

I don’t know if I can ever eat packaged bacon again! Next up, we made our own sausage. Chef Marianne taught us that sausage is made of one-half pork belly and one-half the middle section of the pig (the loin). We each got some raw ground pork and were able to make our own sausage in a way that could easily be replicated at home. We were given ingredients such as thyme, fennel, cayenne, nutmeg, maple syrup, chedder, etc. and were told to be creative. My sausage included fennel, cheddar {like I would have done anything else!}, with a pinch of cayenne, and some salt and pepper. We rolled them in plastic wrap and poached them for four minutes in boiling water. While that was going on, we were served some pork carnitas on a small baked corn tortilla. (Not pictured, the wine must have kicked in at this point.) The carnitas had a great warmth of spice and were uber-flavorful. They were topped with some sour cream and cilantro.

After our sausages were poached, we browned them in a little bit of oil:

Medley of Sausages

Medley of Sausages!

Since there were six of us at our table, we cut each sausage into six pieces to try a little bit of each creation! Here is what my plate looked like:

Sausage bites with potatoes

Sausage bites with potatoes

To be honest – I loved all of them! Each sausage had a very distinct, unique flavor! And each time we tasted one, we could figure out who made it. It was a fun guessing game and a test of our taste buds.

Then we finished off with dessert – which had nothing to do with pork. We learned how to section/supreme citrus. We put Lynn at our table to work and they turned out beautifully!

Thurs-Citrus

One of the chefs gave her the wonderful compliment that in all of his years as a chef, he’s never seen in any kitchen a more beautifully sectioned/supremed selection of citrus!

We each had to make and flip our own crêpe. For some reason, this was a challenge for me. I could get it out of the pan, but not flipped over. One of mine landed on the floor. I guess I just don’t have that flick of the wrist! The citrus {lemon, clementine and grapefruit} ended up in the pan with some sugar and after reducing, some brandy was added to flambée the mixture. We topped our crêpes with the sweetened and flambéed citrus, folded them up and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Thurs-Citrus Crepe

Overall, it wasn’t a low-calorie day. However, I’m glad that our portion sizes were small enough at the cooking class that we didn’t get overly stuffed. And it was still enough to feel like you’d had a good meal!

When I got home, I started to eat a double cheeseburger because Rob had brought home an extra and I didn’t want it to go to waste. WHAT?! What kind of thinking is that? I had already had plenty of food. Lesson learned. I have to eliminate that kind of thinking.

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What easy, fast, healthy ingredients, snacks and meals would you add to my post-op lists above?

Cheers~

Carrie