Healthy Excuses

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My sister is getting married in less than a month now so I am using that as my excuse as to why its been 19 days since my last post. Between the Bachelorette party and planning it has taken up some of my free time. Oh and I am making her wedding cake, well wedding cake topper, so that’s time consuming testing recipes?! I know an excuse is an excuse and I need to post more. I think the real reason I haven’t posted as much is because I’ve been eating much healthier because of the wedding. With my sister exercising and dieting, I find myself doing the same. Once again the wedding is the main culprit.

Since I have been eating healthier I’ve been looking for exciting healthy recipes for lunches or dinners and I stumbled across this one the other day. Joy the Baker is a food blog that post all kinds of food and she shared this deconstructed spring roll recipe. I didn’t follow it exactly but close enough. I love this recipe because it is a lot of food but not a lot of calories, full of flavor with the peanut sauce and just plain satisfying. Try it out this week for lunch or maybe add some tofu to make it for dinner.

This is my first seriously heath conscious recipe post on my blog, what has the world come to. Don’t worry things aren’t changing much, headed back to Europe for July so I will be posting many more travel stories soon.

Deconsructed Spring Roll

Veggies you like, I included…

Cucumbers

Carrots, sliced with a peeler into ribbons

Bean sprouts

Pepper

Lime

Saifun (bean thread noodles)  (ride noodles also work)

Peanut sauce

Chop veggies. Cook noodles in boiling water and let sit for 20 minutes then strain and rinse and let extra water strain. Put all together in a bowl and enjoy!

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Catch of the Day- Sydney Fish Market

 

Fish markets don’t stand a chance next to Sydney’s. The Sydney Fish Market is the second largest fish market in terms of variety outside of Japan.   It is unlike any fish market I have ever been to and my dad as well which says something.  The Sydney Fish Market is a warehouse with one main isle down the center and shops on either side.  One thing that makes it special is that it sells more than just fish.  There are six seafood retailers, a bottle shop, fruit and vegetable market, bakery, sushi bar, restaurant and gift shop.  I finally stopped in the gift shop this time and got a kangaroo cookie cutter.

You walk down that main isle and you are stunned by everything you see around you.  It’s busy and you want to go in everywhere and you don’t know what to choose.  Once you have chosen the venue you want its time to buy the seafood.  You can either buy cooked things like prawn and lobster or there is a bbq that has standard seafood or you can choose from the raw seafood and have them barbeque it for you. If you are an oyster lover like myself they have many oysters to choose from and at a very good price for Sydney.

There are all different kinds of fish; whole fish, small fish and everything in between.  One thing I found that I had never heard of before the market was a Moreton Bay bug or also known as the Bay lobster. They are named after Moreton Bay in Queensland Australia.  They look the just the tail of a lobster.  They are similar to taste as a lobster but not as rich and sweet and they are missing the melt in your mouth goodness.  Definitely try them but if you are as much of a lobster fan as I am I don’t think you will be switching over.  Sorry bugs.

After a delicious meal on the picnic tables by the water, I always head down to the fruit market and get a chocolate covered strawberry.  It is the perfect ending to the perfect, fresh, right off the boat seafood meal.

 

 

 

 

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In The Land Of Oz

I made it to Australia with only a little bit of trouble of being delayed one day, and my friend got on her flight on her first try so things were looking good.  She’s a flight attendant so she flies stand by as well so that fact that we both made it here was pretty awesome.  I’m not holding it against, however my tone may sound, but she got first and I didn’t.  Add to that a room that is awesome, basically on the beach, celebrating my birthday down here, enjoying the food and of course getting started at my internship I would say I’m things are off to a good start.  In the pictures below you will see our place, the Thai we had, the egg yolks that are an incredible bright orange from our eggs benedict and views from Coogee beach.

Here are a few pics from the first couple of days.  Stand by there will of course be much more!

 

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Meal From The Land Down Under

 

If you have been following my blog you should be no stranger to the term the “no plan plan”, but if you are new let me explain.  It has basically been an idea or outline of a plan I had for the next year of my life after graduating.  So far I have been right on track and everything I hoped would happen has.  I just finished up my internship in Dallas and with this internship ending I began to walk on the path labeled unknown on the “no plan plan” map. I’m going to share two details with you before I tell you the final no part of my “no plan plan” as the final detail is the farthest I ever planned, I guess you can say I think like the Mayans.

My older sister Kara introduced me to the wonderful country of Australia when I was 18 when I visited her on her study abroad.  It was my first real experience with a foreign country as an adult, or someone who could start to really understand the different culture.  I fell in love and have been back every year since.  So of course I wanted to have going back to Australia as a part of the “no plan plan.”

Now this brings us to the magazine Time Out.  When I was taking my food writing class in New York the Editor of the Eat Out section of Time Out New York came and spoke with our class.  I immediately went out and bought the magazine and just loved it. I knew instantly I wanted to work for this magazine.

So I knew I loved Sydney and I knew I loved Time Out so I began my search of attempting to intern at their company.  I applied a year ago and since then have been in touch with four different people and different departments.  I would get enough of a response to stay faithful but nothing strong enough to have confidence that it would work out.  Then my sister told me the best advice; call them! Stop emailing and pick up the phone.  So I planned out the time difference and skyped Time Out Sydney and what do you know they answered.  The next thing I know I was having an informal interview and setting up the dates I would start.  I got off the phone and couldn’t keep my feet on the ground!  The final piece fell into place for me with this internship.  I’m so excited and nervous to start.

To end this post I am including a recipe I received from one of my friends in Australia, Lucy Bardwell.  I’m calling in Australian Bolognese.  Make it for dinner it is simply delicious and your kid’s will like it as well.  It has grated carrots in it because Lucy hated carrots as a kid so her mom hid them in the sauce that way.  Oh and don’t worry it does not have vegemite in it.

 

 

 

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Australian Bolognese

I’m including the amounts I used but I made  this for three people and there was a good mount of left overs so use your best judgment and factor in the amount of people you are serving.

1 lb Minced meat- (aka ground) turkey, lamb, beef- this was a special dinner so we bought filet mignon and then my uncle cut it into tiny pieces- see pic below

14 ounce can of tomato sauce

14 ounce Can of diced tomatoes

Little can of tomato paste

1 Onion

3 Carrots

8 ounces of mushrooms

15 basil leaves

2 capsicum- pepper- any color works

¼ cup red wine of choice

Chop the onions and sauté on medium heat for about five minutes then add the pepper sand sauté together for another 10-15 minutes.  Then add the mushrooms and cook for about 10 more minutes.  Remove the vegetables and set aside.  Brown the meat then set aside, leaving the juices in the pan.  Put the vegetables back in the saucepan and then add the graded carrots and the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and the tomato paste in.  Cook for a few minutes stirring together.  Add the meat back in and the basil.  Add some wine and bring the sauce to a boil then reduce to simmer for 10 minutes.

I served this Bolognese with fettuccini and simple garlic bread! Enjoy mate!

Jamming Beets

 

The only time I really ever ate beets growing up was in a Greek Salad, which fyi should not be in a Greek Salad.  I studied abroad in Greece so I have the scoop on what a real Greek salad consists of; cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, feta and olive oil.  So I don’t really know how the American version of a Greek salad came to be.  The vegetables in Greece are so fresh and seriously those were the best salads I’ve ever had. Anyways back to beets, which are the star of this post, even though they are not supposed to be in a Greek Salad I have always loved them.  They don’t have that strong of a flavor but I think the thing I like so much about them is their texture.

Living with my dad this summer I was able to eat a lot of his new recipes he has learned since I went away to college and he found a beets recipe that is amazing.  It is beets with raspberry jam. This recipe is so simple and delicious, but making it even better, it’s extremely nutritious.

This recipe can be used as a side dish or even as a dessert.  I have had it both ways and everyone loves it.  One little thing to know before cooking beets; they stain things very easily.  Make sure to wash your cutting board or your counter, immediately after if it gets on it, and even your hands.  If you do that then you won’t have any problems.

How to Bake a Beet

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Rinse the beet with cool water, trim the stalks down to about 1 inch long. Pat dry, then wrap in tin foil twice.  Place on baking sheet and bake for one hour until the beets should be tender and fully cooked.  Let cool for 10 minutes.  Remove foil and take damp paper towel and rub off skin (it will come off very easily).

Beets with Jam

Once all the skin is removed cut into bite sized cubes.  For two beets add 1 tbs of raspberry jam.

Beets with Jam for Dessert

Whip crème fraiche till light and airy.  Add vanilla to taste.  Dollop on top of beets.

 

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Falling for Pumpkin Lasagna And Baked Apples

It’s November and I’m in full-blown pumpkin mode.  Every time I look for a recipe recently I’m looking for something that includes pumpkin; whether it is the star or just a team player.  I’ve been making a lot of desserts with pumpkin so I decided it was time to switch it up and make a savory meal.  When you think of savory, hearty and delicious what comes to mind?  Well what came to my mind was lasagna

and then I found a pumpkin lasagna recipe; it was meant to be.

I was so intrigued by the recipe because it looked like a typical lasagna recipe except you add pumpkin so I didn’t really know what to expect.  The end result was beautiful lasagna with just a little bit extra of the lighter than air texture of the ricotta with a touch more sweetness from the pumpkin. I don’t think I would’ve been able to tell that there was pumpkin in it if I didn’t know I put it in there.  My suggestion would be to use two cups of ricotta instead of two and a half cups and then make it one and half cups pumpkin puree instead of just two.  Let me know if that brings out the pumpkin flavor more.  With that being said this lasagna was very delicious and that hidden pumpkin flavor really was the thing that took this lasagna to the next level so try it out!  Don’t worry the other squash will forgive you for ignoring them.  They know its only two months of the year.

I said I was going to try a savory recipe with pumpkin instead of my typical pumpkin dessert recipe but I didn’t say I completely over looked dessert! My sister found an awesome baked apple recipe.  Super easy and delicious.  This meal is the definition of a fall meal!  I even bet people will be “falling” over each other to get to it ;).

 

Pumpkin Lasagna Recipe

 

Baked Apples Recipe

Photos courtesy of John Tagle

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No Rat in this Ratatouille

 

I have wanted to make the infamous French ratatouille since I read the book Lunch in Paris.   Elizabeth Bard wrote a great book about her time in Paris and between chapters she shares her recipes, one being a ratatouille recipe.  Literally this is my dream book; what could be better than pages filled with her tale of falling in love in Paris divided by pages filled with amazing recipes!  But I guess if I am being a little more honest with myself I have wanted to make this dish ever since I watched the Disney movie Ratatouille!  I was also super excited to make this because I have never cooked with saffron.  Saffron is the dried stigmas from the flower saffron crocus.  Saffron has long been the most expensive spice by weight and is native to Southwest Asia.  I found joy in asking my typical pilot dad, meaning cheap, to go pick up the saffron.  I’ve heard Giada and Ina from the Food Network tell me frequently how expensive this spice is but that is just a must in certain recipes, but when I got the call from my dad asking me how much I thought this .06 ounce jar of saffron cost I was shocked that is was $16.

 

Ratatouille is a traditional French dish made up of stewed vegetables from Nice.  This recipe was seriously great and easy to make! You know how you get a little ahead of yourself when cooking a recipe for the first time and start sweating the onions way too soon because the red peppers haven’t had enough time to sit for the skin to start to peel? Yes I’m speaking from experience but this recipe is so simple because you add an ingredient then let it sauté for 10 minuets which is the perfect amount of time to get the next ingredient ready!
This dish was bursting with all the juices of the vegetables and dripping with flavor.  This dish was a perfect side for a summer night.  Absolutely no complaints!

Elizabeth says it only gets better as it sits so I was so excited to have it for lunch the next day but being a pilot’s daughter I’m never in one place to long and forgot to take it for lunch on my way to the airport. So my dad got to have it all to himself, I guess that is karma for making him buy something that almost gave him a heart attack because of the price!

Summer Ratatouille

Secret ingredients: a good pinch of saffron at the end, and, “if the vegetable lack sunshine,” a cube of sugar.  I add the sugar anyway—because who couldn’t use a little extra sunshine?

1/3 cup olive oil (don’t skimp, you can’t add more later)

2 ½ pounds onions (7-8 medium) thinly sliced

1 ½ pounds eggplant (2 small), cut into vertical chunks about ½ inch by 2 inches

1 ½ pounds sweet peppers (3 small; 2 yellow, 1 red), seeded and sliced

1 pound zucchini (4 small), quartered the long way and cut into thirds

2 pounds sun-ripened tomatoes (6 medium), coarsely chopped, with their juice

5-6 sprigs fresh thyme

2good pinches saffron (1/4 teaspoon)

1 cube sugar (a scant teaspoon)

Warm the oil over medium heat in your largest frying pan.  Add the onions.  Sauté, stirring occasionally until they are wilted and just beginning to color (about 25 minuets).  Don’t skimp on the time here, as the onions need to sweeten; they provide the base for the whole dish.

Add the eggplant. Stir to coat.  Sauté 10 minutes.

Add the peppers.  You might need to lower the heat to maintain just a bit of a sizzle.  Sauté 10 minuets.  The peppers will release some water, which will start the sauce.

Add the zucchini. Sauté 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and fresh thyme.  Heat until the tomatoes release some juice.  Dissolve the saffron and sugar in the sauce.  Cover cook for 10 minutes.  Leave to cool.

Ratatouille tastes even better the next day.  You can use it as a side dish, pasta sauce, filling for a quiche or an omelet, or over quinoa for a full vegetarian meal.  It freezes beautifully, so make a few batches in the summer, before the tomatoes disappear.

Yield: Serves 8

Tip: Buy 2 smaller zucchini (or eggplants), instead of 1 large one.  Smaller veggies have less water and a more concentrated flavor.

 

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Not Your Average Spaghetti

It is beginning to feel like spring. Well, sort of but if we keep our fingers crossed it will finally feel like spring in Michigan next week!  Spring makes everyone excited to go outside and eat fresh food that is light and full of flavor.  As college students, we’re always looking for the quickest, easiest and cheapest meal for dinner.  What is cheaper than spaghetti?  Let me tell you- squash!  Well spaghetti squash that is! It is an oval shaped yellow squash that when cooked turns into strands resembling spaghetti.

This week my roommate and I decided to cook up spaghetti squash.  This recipe is an original recipe that I came up with and is perfect for this time of year.  When I think of spaghetti I think of cold nights and warm noodles that make me so full I’m in a food coma.  Well this is a lighter version and super figure friendly!  This meal is one you could make for anyone and really wow them with your cooking skills and knowledge!

Ingredients

½ onion cut into long strips- I used Spanish but you can use whatever looks best to you!

4 garlic cloves minced- Ann and I love garlic so we used a lot, but I would say 2-3 is fine.

8 oz of mushrooms chopped in bite size pieces

2 cans (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes

12 basil leaves- cut into ribbons

½ cup good red wine

Salt

Pepper

Olive oil

Directions

  1. Cut squash in half length wise, remove seeds. In baking dish fill with water 1 ½ inches deep and place squash with the inside facing down.  Cover with plastic wrap and microwave for 15 minutes.  Repeat with other half.
  1. In a large skillet put in 1 tbs of olive oil and onions and sauté till onions become soft and translucent about 10-15 minutes.  Then add mushrooms and sauté till brown and smaller in size. Add garlic and cook for 3 minutes.
  1. Now add the cans of tomatoes, basil, and wine.  Bring to a boil then turn to simmer to the let the sauce reduce.  Add ½ tbs salt and ¼ tbs of pepper.

  1. Hold the squash with a towel and use a fork and begin to pull the strands of squash.  Scrape as much as you can off and into a bowl.

  1. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.