Tastes Better than It Looks

Hi Friends,

I have fallen in love my crock pot this winter.  I can’t believe I haven’t utilized this appliance more in the past.  It makes the apartment smell wonderful and is so easy to use.  It makes cooking meat a snap and leaves us with left overs to pack for meals on the go during the week. 

I bought some grass fed and finished stew beef at work this week and came up with this Indian inspired creation for the crock pot.  I realize the picture looks little unappealing but it is quite flavorful.

Indian Crock Pot Beef Stew

- 2 lbs lean stew beef

- 3 large carrots, chopped

- 2 medium potatoes, chopped

- 3 cups broccoli florets

- 12 oz jar Seeds of Change Madras Simmer Sauce

- 14 oz can diced tomatoes

- 2 large cloves of garlic, minced

- 1 inch piece of ginger, minced

- 1 jalapeno, minced

- 2 TB curry powder

- 2 tsp cumin

- 2 tsp coriander

- pinch of cayenne pepper

- Place all ingredients in crock pot.  (Don’t know if it makes a difference but I put the potatoes and carrots at the bottom of the crock pot).  Cook on low for 7 hours or until veggies are soft and the beef is fork tender.

Again, this doesn’t look like much but it is very flavorful.  I made quinoa in the rice cooker to serve with the dish.  After photography, Art suggested adding some mango chutney which gave a nice flavor boost.  I some to class last night for dinner and I think the flavors developed more in the refrigerator over night.

What is your favorite kitchen toy?  Mine might be a three way tie between the crock pot, Kitchen Aid and coffee maker.  Is that cheating?!

Later

Kate

Lentil and Barley Soup

Hi Friends,

I was perusing Clean Food by Terry Walters yesterday afternoon for Thanksgiving dessert ideas.  Don’t know why I do not use this cookbook more frequently!  Everything looks so good and the recipes I have made have been mighty good.  I came across her Goodness Soup recipe and knew I needed to make it.  I had about 3/4 the ingredients listed and decided to wing it with the rest.  I give you my version which I like to call Decentness Soup :)

Decentness Soup

- 2 TB olive oil

- 1 small onion, chopped

- 2 1/2 cups button mushrooms, chopped

- 1 1/2 cups celery, chopped

- 1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped

- 3/4 cup pearled barley

- 1 heaping cup green lentils

- 3 TB tamari

- 1/4 cup white wine

- 2 TB Herb blend from work containing tarragon, basil, onion and lemon peel

- 11 cups water

- 3 big handfulls of spinach

- ground black pepper to taste

- miso — optional

- In a large pot, saute onion and mushrooms in olive oil over medium high heat for about five mins.  Add carrots through lentils to the pot and stir.  Stir in tamari, white wine and herbs.  Add the water to the pot and bring soup to a boil.  Once soup is at a full boil, turn down heat to medium low and cover.  Let simmer for about two hours.  (You could cook longer than that for a thicker soup.)  Before serving, stir in the spinach and season with black pepper to taste.

- Waters recommends dissolving one tsp of miso in 3TB of water per serving of soup.  You can add the miso to the individual portions of soup immediately before serving.  I did this and would also recommend doing so.

This soup is the quintessential Minnesota-winter-warm-you-right-up kind of dish.  I would definitely make this again.  Both Art and I agreed that it was tasty and filling.  Plus with ingredients like lentils, barley, miso and veggies, it is a nutritional power house.  We have plenty of leftovers for the week and stashed a container in the freezer too.

Nugget 21

The Walking Dead.  Have you seen this show on AMC?  Oh my gosh is it addictive.  It is about zombies which is so not my cup of tea at all.  For some reason I have gotten really into this miniseries.  The suspense is crazy.

Have a great short week!  Anyone have fun plans for Thanksgiving?

Kate

You guys rock!

Hi Friends,

Thank you all so much for the thoughts you shared in yesterday’s posts.  It is comforting to read that some of you are going thru the same thing too.  Here are some bits of wisdom that I found thought-provoking:

 - u kind of learn to let it go and then BAM it hits you. its like a welcomed slap in the face lol.. i guess thats what happens when u clear ur mind.. u allow room for thoughts/new ideas/channels etcKelsey

- It’s never too late to change your mind or try something newSarah

- Sometimes we just gotta do what we don’t want to do until we have an opportunity to run with our dreams.Shawnee

- I think it’s exciting there are so many things you want to do! i’m sure when you begin pursuing one it will become more clear if that’s what you want to do or not- and good thing we can always change our minds later on and try something new! – Simply Life

- It is a horrible American lie that you have to do “something that you love” or “something that defines you.” You are not what you do. You are HOW you do what you do. Work is WORK. It should be 25% AWESOME 50%okay and 25% HARD. ALmost all people I know it was a gradual progression, myself included, and REALLY ABOUT TIMING. WHO you know, WHEN. So, be open and the best advice is, have a mentor you talk to about these things frequently…Special K

So with all of that, I am going to keep chill and wander down my path that until I stumble across the right opportunity.  I’m also celebrating know that I have crossed department director at a non-profit off my list of careers.  And Kelly, if I do open bakery, I am comforted to know that you would be my best customer :) 

I enjoyed yet another salad tonight featuring my mom’s sesame chicken.

Today’s mix featured spinach, broccoli, quinoa, roasted red pepper, feta, parsley, a blob of spinach dip and some balsamic.  Again, I don’t get excited by meat very often but this chicken does it for me.  I thought I’d share the recipe as it is so good.  It makes a big batch and has become a staple at family parties.  What is your favorite family recipe?

Mom’s Sesame Chicken

- 1/2 cup Olive Oil

- 1/2 cup White Wine

- 1/2 cup soy sauce

- 2 TB grated ginger

- 1 TB dry mustard

- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

- 4 cloves crushed garlic

- 1/2 cup chopped green onion

- 3 TB sesame seeds

- 2 whole chickens quartered (Mom uses chicken breasts only)

- Combine all ingredients but chicken in a large bowl and stir well.  Place chicken in a large ziplock bag (you will probably need two) and pour in marinade.  Seal bags and marinate in the refrigerator for 4-8 hours.  Cook chicken over medium hot coals for 15-20 min. 

I am currently working on this little dessert bowl of goodness.

 

I mixed a blob of plain of Oikos with some cocoa powder and stuck it in the freezer while I ate dindin, about 20 min.  Post dinner, I drizzled on a little Nutella and some chopped hazelnuts.  Yum!  Desserty but not too sweet.  The yogurt was just starting to freeze and take on a different texture.  I think it would have been perfect after another 20 min. 

Take care friends,

Kate

oh life

Hi Friends,

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do as a career.  I really  have no idea.  There are days I think I could be happy owning my own little coffee shop/breakfast place.  There are days I really want to become a license’s art therapist.  There are days when really miss dancing and teaching dance.  There are days when I really want to do nothing other than read good books, exercise, tinker around with art supplies, and prepare yummy meals.  Bah!

I know that I shouldn’t fret too much over trying to figure this out.  I know eventually opportunities will present themselves and my future will start to clarify.  But there are days when I see the haggard looking middle-aged woman checking people out at the grocery store and cross my fingers that I can get some direction soon rather than later.

For those of you who love your current profession, did you just  know that you were meant to do what you are doing? Or was it a gradual progression?  Those of you still searching, how do you keep the faith?

On a lighter note, I had two yummy meals today featuring leftover from the weekend.  Thank you Mom and Dad for sending me home with a cooler full of goodies!

Lunch today featured left over veggie tray veggies that my Mom picked up from the farmers market.  The snap peas were heavenly.  I ate them with my homemade roasted red pepper hummus and brown mustard.  I spread some homemade spinach dip on a slice of whole grain flax bread that is also from my Mother’s farmer’s market.  The bread is also amazing.  It tastes so much better than commercially manufactured stuff.

Dindin was a big junk salad featuring my Mom’s sesame chicken that the parents grilled for their guest that arrived on Saturday.  I don’t get excited for meat all that often but this is one meat item that I really enjoy.  I was glad there were leftovers as I missed it the first time.  The salad also contained spinach, broccoli slaw, feta, roasted red pepper, home-grown basil and parsley, green onion and balsamic vinegar.  I cashed out my bag of Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Chips and enjoyed some more homemade hummus.  YUM!

Dude, there is some sort of weird country music being played at loud level outside my house.  I can’t figure out where it is coming from but hope it doesn’t continue on for too long.  Country is the one genre of music that I do not enjoy so much.

Later

Kate

Miso Soupy Goodness

Hi Friends,

Lovely day in Minneapolis.  Yay!  I became fixated on making miso soup on Friday but didn’t want to due to all pricey ingredients that I would have to buy.  I decided to bite the bullet today and make some.  I created a bastardization of a few recipes and came up with this gem.

Miso Soup A La Kate

- 1 TB olive oil

- 1/3 cup chopped onion

-1 TB minced ginger

- 1TB minced garlic

- 1/2 block firm tofu cubed

- 1 TB soy sauce

- 4 1/2 cups water

- 1  cup sliced shiitake mushrooms

- 1 1/2 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms

- 8 oz frozen chopped spinach

- 1 1/2 sheets sliced nori

- 3 heaping TB brown rice miso, mixed with 1/2 cup water

- 3 green onions sliced

Sautee onion, garlic and ginger in olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Once onion softens, add tofu cubes and soy sauce and cook for another 5 min.  Add the next six ingredients (water thru miso) and stir.  Turn down the heat and cover the soup pot.  Let simmer for about 10 min.  Top soup with the sliced green onions.

I was very pleased with how this turned out.  I know it is not super authentic but it is quite tasty.  Plus I have leftovers!!!!!!  Yay!

Things I am thankful for/really like 

1.  Walking.  I have enjoyed long walks with great company both Saturday and Sunday this week.  There is nothing more pleasant than walking around with ones you love, discussing life, and enjoying the scenery.  (An iced americano with soy milk sure adds to the experience!)   I am very thankful that I have feet and legs that function and can carry me through out life.

2.  People.  I feel like this is on my list every week, but man do I have some great people in life.  Seriously!  Sometimes I don’t think I remember this enough and fail to look to them for support and companionship.  And it is not even that I need much more than a conversation or email to make me feel to connected to them.  So, friends, family, and blog friends,  you guys are awesome.

3.  School.  I am really loving it.  I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to study.  The pile of homework that I have neglected until now is staring at me.  Must get on that!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

Kate

More Randomness

Hi Friends,

I’ve got a bunch of scattered things that I feel like sharing.  But first I’ll give you the daily chow.

Breakfast Smoothie – 1 blood orange, 1/2 frozen banana, Unsweetend Vanilla Almond Breeze, 1/2 scoop vanilla hemp protein powder, flax and 3 ice cubes.  Topped with Kashi Go Lean.

Lunch Salad – sautéed tempeh, broccoli and onion.  a few sections of a pomelo and some random black berries.  Galeo’s Ginger Wasbi Miso Dressing.  An Earth Gains Thin Bun.  Randicious (thanks Cassie!) combo at its finest!

Dindin Leftovers – Reheated Veggie Chili with spinach.  Topped with goat cheese and crushed Food Should Taste Good Jalapeno Chips.

Random Thoughts to Share

- Citrus fruit is super good.  Both my blood orange and pomelo today were super tasty.  I guess that is the good thing about this time of year.  I haven’t tried pomelo before today and was pleasantly surprised.  The flavor was kind of mellow but nice. 

- I don’t know what the difference between sautéing and stir frying is.  I should probably google this ASAP if I want to retain my status as knowledgable about food.

- I love the foam roller thingy at the gym!  The BF recommended it  and I’ve used it the last three days at the gym after my workouts.  It hurts like a beast when I use it, but my legs feel so good the next day. 

- I am really excited for Valentine’s Day.  I have always been a fan of the day, even when I was single.  How can you not love a day dedicated to love, chocolate and flowers?!  The BF has agreed to see a dance concert that I really wanted to go to which is super sweet of him.

- Next week I am going to start working regular hours at the before school compliment to the after school program I have been subbing in.  I am pumped!  I am already thinking of curriculum ideas to do with the kiddos.  I’ll keep a few hours at the coffee shop in the afternoon.  I keep my free coffee perks!

- Thursday is the best TV night.  The Office and 30 Rock crack me up.  Do you remember when Thursdays used to be Friends and Sienfeld night?   I am happily seated on my couch with a mug of tea and square of Chocolate Love Extra Strong Dark Chocolate bar ready to be mindlessly entertained.  (Does any one else that good chocolate is on sale in the grocery stores due to the holiday?!)

Later gators,

Kate

Giggles

Hi Friends,

Before you start reading, head over to the Bake Sale for Hati ASAP!  There are some super yummy treats and all the proceeds go to the Red Cross to help Hati recovery efforts.  I am baking a batch of uber yummy oatmeal, craisin chocolate chip cookies.  Get your bids in now :)

Today was another packed day without any breaks.  However, I had the giggles all day long thinking about the fainting goats.  I kept picturing people at the coffee shop failing over randomly.  Kind of enjoyed it :)  Thankfully my day tomorrow will have a bit more space in it, which is nice.

Breakfast Smoothie – 1/8 a package of extra firm tofu, 1 cup unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze, 1/4 cup papaya, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/4 cup frozen pineapple, 1 TB ground flax, 8 almonds, and a good shake of ground ginger.  Very random.  I woke up feeling like a smoothie and just kind of threw things in the blender that sounded good.  Wasn’t the best combo ever but the tofu gave it a nice, creamy consistency.

Lunch – More left over Chicken Sausage, White Bean and Kale soup!  Topped with feta and sriracha with a side of carrots and mustard.

Dinner – Cheesy oats topped with sautéed mushrooms and spinach and an egg and egg white over easy.  The egg yolk boke all over the oats and made it extra gooey.  YUM!  I am currently enjoying a little peanut butter and chocolate chip pita warmed in the microwave for dessert.  More gooey goodness to satisfy my sweet tooth.

I feel like I am stuck in a bit of a food rut lately.  When I got home tonight the only two things I could think of making were protein pancakes or eggs.  Does anyone else get like that?  How do you break yourself out of it?

Later

Kate

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