31 May 2011

Fast and nutritious dinners for busy people

I've been busy.  Like SUPER busy.  The kind of soul crushing busy that can only be tackled with copious amounts of caffeine and convenience foods.  Fortunately, my sorts of convenience foods are ones that I've either made myself previously or that can be quickly thrown together for a nutritious and tasty dinner.  Below are some of my go-to meals that I've eaten recently that are also relatively inexpensive.

Breakfast for dinner
Ottmer's Farm Eggs, Richardson Farms pan sausage

Nothing is faster than scrambled eggs.  Add in some toast and a handful of vegetables and you've got yourself a super quick and tasty meal.   Here is one of my favorites.
sauteed mushrooms and spinach: add some oil to a nonstick pan and heat.  Add in ~8 sliced button mushrooms with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook until the mushrooms are nice and brown.  Add in a handful of spinach (say half a bunch) and stir until wilted.  Remove from the pan to a plate.  Add in 4 beaten eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper and cook halfway.  Add in the spinach and mushrooms and cook the rest of the way.

If this sounds at all familiar, it's because I eat a lot of eggs.  They're filled with protein, inexpensive compared to fresh meat, and quick to cook.

Dinner Salads
Seafood Salad from Zed's

One of my favorite take out meals in Austin is the steak salad from Central Market.  It has steak (duh!), hard boiled eggs, bleu cheese, roasted tomatoes, and some lettuce.  It's filling and delicious and a good way to get a balance of protein, carbs, and fat.  The Caesar salad is also another classic dinner salad.  Add in some protein in the form of an omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish and you have a really healthy and satisfying meal.  Dinner salads are also good go-to meals because you can use leftovers from previous dinners to add to the salad.  My new favorite is a homemade taco salad.
Toss together some amount of leftover taco meat (I think I had like 1/3 lb the last time I made this) with a handful of shredded cheese, diced tomatoes, a dark green lettuce (not iceberg!), and anything else you have on hand (beans make a nice addition).  Serve with some crushed tortilla chips for added crunch and use salsa for the salad dressing because there is already fat there from the taco meat that you made... speaking of which...

chili and garlic porkbelly

I make a lot of breakfast tacos, which consist of egg, cheese, some protein (so meat or beans), salsa, and a tortilla.  Wrap it up in a tortilla and cook it in a pan to seal it.  Austin in famous for breakfast tacos, but usually they're not sealed.  This was not, however, my idea.  This was stolen from my favorite late night food stop in college, Menna's Joint. Granted, most of their menu is terribly unhealthy, but if you make these yourself, you can control the ingredients and sneak in some vegetables to balance out the carbs.  Lately, I've been picking up 20 packs of tortillas to make tacos for dinner as well. 

I admit to using a pre-made taco seasoning blend.  It's cheaper than buying all of the spices individually and I happen to really like one particular brand.  In lieu of this, you can use this taco seasoning blend, which is really quite delicious.  Make up a large batch and keep it on hand. 
1 lb ground beef (ground turkey or pork also work well)
1T+ taco seasoning (or to taste)
1/2 medium onion, diced
1-2 jalapeños, de-seeded and diced.
2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced
1-2 chipotle peppers, diced (optional)
salt+pepper, to taste

Add in ground meat to a pan and cook until thoroughly browned.  Remove the meat from the pan, leaving the drippings and cook the onions and peppers with a pinch of salt until the onions are translucent and soft (~5 minutes or so).  Add in the garlic and stir until fragrant.  Add the meat back in, as well as the taco seasoning and chipotle peppers, if using.  Let the flavors mingle over low heat for at least 10-15 minutes (more if you can stand it).  Serve with tomatoes, lettuce, beans, salsa, etc. with the tortillas.

Last night I made this recipe from the Kitchen Wench.  I happened to have pork belly on hand, but the recipe is, in principle, super adaptable and should be able to be made with just about any meat or even (gasp) tofu.  I served these with some cabbage and rice inside a tortilla.  Super yummy and super easy.  While gochujang is not the easiest to find ingredient (I got mine from a Korean supermarket), you could likely sub in things like sriracha which can definitely be purchased at HEB, or any other hot, garlicky chile paste.

Abbreviated Menu

Greetings from my bath.  I had an incredibly relaxing  three day weekend and I'm sad to see it go.  The only thing that eases the burden if going back to work is the fact that this week has only four days. I'm looking forward to being more productive than ever in both my research and in my kitchen.

Grass fed all beef hotdogs with jalapeño slaw and roasted potatoes

Salmon Caesar salad with homemade croutons and dressing

Korean chile and garlic beef with rice and a green vegetable

Poached eggs and potato and salmon hash

23 May 2011

Menu Part A Million

I feel like I should start posting my menus up more often because this means that I'll be held accountable somewhere to stick to them.  It turns out that when I announce something to Colby, it usually devolves into going out to eat nearly a third of the time and that's just silly.  I love to cook, so I'm not sure why I don't cook all the time.  I suppose it has to do with messy kitchens and paper writing.

I never quite realized that the most useful class I ever took at Michigan State was PHY 191, which was an introductory level physics lab.  It was mostly statistics in disguise and everyone openly loathed it.  And now, I'm reading through a textbook (the train book for all you physics nerds) to figure out how to prove to the world that my measurements aren't wonky.  Oh, John R. Taylor, you may be a total turd, but your error analysis writings are crystal clear.  This is actually on the back of the book:

I almost lit my copy on fire. Fortunately, I married someone who also possessed this textbook.

And to the menu:

Monday - Lemon-pepper cod with green beans
Tuesday - chickpea and spaghetti squash vindaloo from the freezer 
Wednesday - Ottmer's Farm eggs, pan sausage, toast
Thursday - Chris gets in, so we're going to go to Judge's Hill for their tasting menu
Friday - homemade fish tacos with jalapeño slaw

22 May 2011

pre-summer cocktails

I was on the phone yesterday from about noon til after 6 PM working on my paper.  It's not that I don't enjoy talking with my collaborators, it's that it was Saturday and I wanted to spend the day with Colby.  So to relax today, I went to my favorite east side coffee shop and stood behind someone who ordered a shandy.  I immediately realized two things a) there was no indoor seating, so we weren't going to stay and b) I needed to recreate this for myself.

1 part beer
1 part lemonade

mix all two ingredients.  Enjoy.

15 May 2011

Roasted Potato Salad

I'm bringing this to the food blogger potluck tomorrow.  Hopefully it'll go over well!

3 lbs potatoes, peeled, cubed, roasted
4 cloves garlic, oven roasted
1/2 lb bacon

1 c sour cream
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 lb green beans, de-stemmed, chopped into 1 in segments
2 green onions, chopped
1/4 c parsley, chopped
salt+pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

Set oven to 400.  Toss potatoes with salt, pepper, and olive oil.  Coat the garlic cloves with olive oil as well.  Roast the potatoes and garlic in the oven on a large sheet pan for ~30 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a knife.  Meanwhile, render the fat from the bacon and cook it until crisp.  Remove the bacon and chop.  Set aside.  Remove all but ~1 T bacon grease from the pan.  Saute onions with a pinch of salt until browned.  Remove the onions.  Add in an additional 1 T of the bacon grease and then add in the green beans and a pinch of salt.  Cook until tender crisp.  Squeeze out the garlic from the 4 cloves.  Mash it up and mix with the sour cream.  In a large bowl, gently combine all ingredients.  Season with salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.

08 May 2011

Ramping up

Seeing what this whole ramp craze is about... I sauteed the little bits in olive oil for a minute or two and then added in the leaves to wilt.  We tried it then and it was pretty tasty, but I'm not convinced it's $15/lb good.  Since the pan was hot and had some oil in it, I threw in an egg and fried it up to eat with the ramps.  Such a pitiful (though tasty) little bowl of food had almost a dollar's worth of ingredients in it.  I think that made Colby sad.

05 May 2011

Friday Eve Jam

This week has been insane.  I'm sort of surprised that I haven't exploded, but repeated listening of Easy Wonderful has eased the madness.  This is probably my favorite song on the album.