Tag Archives: quick

Easy Shrimp & Green Bean Stir Fry

3 Feb

I rarely eat seafood, and I even more rarely cook it myself. But I was inspired the other night to try something new, so I stopped by Whole Foods and picked up some shrimp. And after reading the grossly-named but helpful book Gutbliss, I have been making efforts toward “clean eating.” According to the book, this means no dairy, gluten, sugar, artificial sweetener, soy, or alcohol. I did a 10-day cleanse and since then have been at least trying to consider clean food for a good portion of my meals. (It’s really hard for me to keep away from cheese and chocolate though!)

All this to say that in searching for a recipe for dinner, I wanted something that fit the bill for both clean eating and a quick weeknight meal. I’ve found that Asian-inspired stir fries are the best bet here.

stir fry 1

The BF and I both enjoyed this stir fry and agreed we should add it to our weeknight repertoire. It was not extremely flavorful, though I’m sure if you wanted it to be more so, you could easily add more garlic, ginger, and/or oyster/fish sauce. But I personally liked that there was enough of those flavors to be noticeable but not so much that you couldn’t still taste the natural flavor of the shrimp and vegetables.

Stir fries are the best because they’re so easily customizable, so if you’d rather have all broccoli and no green beans, or if you want to leave out the ginger, then just do your thing, you know?

FYI, this recipe made about 3 large portions for us — one dinner for the two of us and one leftover lunch portion for me.

IMG_3070

Easy Shrimp & Green Bean Stir Fry adapted from Food & Wine

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 green onion, chopped small
1/2 pound shrimp
1/2 pound green beans
1/2 head of broccoli, chopped
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
Salt & pepper to taste

Chop vegetables and prepare all ingredients before you begin cooking.

Heat a saute pan until very hot. Add the vegetable oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 10 seconds.

Add the shrimp and a pinch of salt. Stir-fry until the shrimp are just beginning to turn pink, about 30 seconds. Add the green beans and 2 tablespoons of the stock and stir-fry until the beans soften slightly, about 3 minutes.

Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of stock along with the oyster sauce and a generous pinch of pepper. Stir-fry until the shrimp are cooked through and the beans are crisp-tender, about 3 more minutes. Serve immediately.

IMG_3073

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from Twelve O Eight
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows Wild
Wonderfully Creative Wednesday from All She Cooks
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
Full Plate Thursday from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove

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Green Smoothies

17 Mar

If you’ve been following my posts about the CSA we’re doing, you know that I’ve been having these for breakfast almost every morning. And I haven’t gotten tired of them! They’re so easy and super fast. If you get bored, you can also add in new fruits, veggies, flavors, and other ingredients to the mix. Don’t be turned off by the idea of greens in your smoothie! When you add enough fruits, you don’t taste the greens at all. It tastes like a delicious fruit smoothie, and you get the added benefit of an extra serving of veggies. Kinda like those V8 fruit/veggie juice things.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned while experimenting with smoothies. It’s a lot, so if you’re not in the mood to read my dissertation, just jump to my recipe for a basic green smoothie at the bottom.

Mmm... green

Shopping & Prep

I recommend buying organic greens — since they don’t have a peel or skin, they can absorb a high amount of pesticides and chemicals. For other fruits and veggies, I refer to the Dirty Dozen list (a list of veggies that you should always buy organic). But mostly, I follow this rule: If it doesn’t have a skin (greens) or if I eat the skin (apples), I buy organic. If it has a thick peel that I don’t eat (bananas, citrus, avocado), I don’t bother with organic. I do buy organic dairy products (yogurt, milk, etc).

I have learned to prepare my fruits and veggies way in advance, which makes it a breeze (about 3 minutes) to prepare breakfast each morning. For example, my freezer currently contains a bag of diced fresh pineapple, banana slices, and apple chunks, and I have strawberries and blueberries in the fridge.

I have not bothered with any fancy equipment. I’ve read some blogs that say you need a super expensive blender in order to get a well-blended smoothie, but I’m not spending that much money. I use a knock-off Magic Bullet single-serving blender that my mom got me for probably less than $40. Maybe I’m missing out on incredibly well-blended smoothies, but I doubt it.

Greens

To ensure that your greens blend in smoothly, blend your greens with your liquid first, and then add the rest of your ingredients. You can use any kind of greens, but each is going to be slightly different.

When I get a big bunch of greens, I go ahead and wash them and store them right in my salad spinner. Then they’re ready for each morning, when I pull out a couple handfuls and rip them up just a bit while I stuff them into the blender.

I learned from a little internet research that many greens, especially those from the brassica/cruciferous family (pretty much everything on my list except for spinach and lettuce) have a natural chemical that can disrupt hormone function. This is really not an issue for most people because you’d have to eat a TON of greens every single day. But since I already have thyroid problems (and my spring CSA has given me almost entirely brassica vegetables), I was a little more concerned. The good news is that cooking them can help. So for brassica greens, I wash them, rip them up a bit, steam them, and then store them in a bowl in the fridge. Then each morning I can just pull some up and stuff them into the blender. Easy peasy.

  • Lettuce: Easiest to mask their flavor because they’re super mild. But of course, they also have the least nutritional benefits. If you’re really not sure about green smoothies, start here and work your way up to something a little more green. OR… this can be a great way to use up slightly wilted salad lettuce. I used butterhead, which was great. Romaine would be great too.
  • Spinach: A classic in green smoothies. More health benefits then lettuce but still an easy flavor to mask with fruits.
  • Kale: A standard in green smoothies. Super healthy! To prepare for a smoothie, I prefer to cut the stems out before I chop them up. If you don’t mind yours a little chunky, keep the stems. They’re edible and full of nutrients. When blended, you may see some flecks, but you won’t notice any chunks when drinking. Check your teeth afterward though.
  • Turnip greens: They blend really smoothly. They have a slightly more green taste, but not noticeable if you blend in stronger or sweeter flavors like banana and sweet juices.
  • Kohlrabi leaves: Same as turnip greens.
  • Collards: Same as turnip greens.
  • Beet leaves: Really mild flavor. A great way to use up greens that you usually throw away. They will turn your smoothie pink instead of green.
  • Mustard greens: No. Don’t do it. Gross.

Liquids

For the liquid, I started off with orange-peach-mango juice from Trader Joe’s. It was incredibly delicious, but a little too much sugar to start off my morning. As I grew accustomed to the green-ness of the smoothies, I started cutting back on sugars. Apple juice is a good option — it’s lower in sugar and acids. These days, I usually mix about half apple juice and half almond milk. Prune juice can also be a good option if you need some natural assistance in that department — just be careful not to overdo it.

For a thickener, I always include yogurt. With that addition and the fact that I don’t freeze all my mix-ins, my smoothie comes out more like the consistency of a drinkable yogurt than a frozen smoothie. I prefer Greek yogurt since it adds more protein to my breakfast, helping me feel fuller longer and have a bit more energy. And as with the juice, I started off with vanilla or blueberry and have gradually progressed to plain yogurt, with the goal of cutting out extra sugar.

Mix-ins

Any fruit is great. Banana is the best for masking other flavors, plus it makes your smoothie a little thicker and smoother. I use pineapple with almost every smoothie. I’ve also used strawberry, blueberry, apple, and clementines — basically whatever I have laying around.

I’ve also mixed in veggies, either in addition to or instead of the greens. Carrot is a great option — it goes well with apple juice and bananas. Mixing in a few leftover turnip pieces didn’t change the flavor at all but did give it a slightly powdery, grainy texture. Beets are good too — they go well with apple and pineapple.

Keep in mind that some mix-ins will change the color of your smoothie, if that’s the sort of thing that bothers you. Mixing warm (red, orange) and cool (green, blue) colors will usually result in a brown color, which isn’t particularly appetizing. Though sometimes I just do it and drink it from an opaque cup. Mixing cool colors (greens and blueberries) will usually result in a cool blue color. Just think back to your elementary-school paint palette, and you’ll be fine.

Green smoothie

Okay, that is way more information than I thought I would share, so if that’s too much for you, here’s a recipe. Just try it. You’ll be glad you did.

Green Smoothie

1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup packed steamed spinach or other greens (use 1 1/2 to 2 cups if not steamed)
1/2 banana, sliced
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
apple juice or almond milk to taste

Blend the juice and greens together until greens are thoroughly chopped.

Add the banana, pineapple, and yogurt. Blend until smooth.

Add more juice or almond milk until smoothie reaches desired consistency. Blend well.

After you try this, experiment a little! Add whatever you have and whatever you like. That’s the beauty of a smoothie — you can’t make it wrong. Enjoy!

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities

Herbed Salmon with Asparagus and Brown Rice

11 Mar

We just made a super delicious Sunday lunch. Pretty fancy, but it wasn’t much work. This would make a great meal for dinner guests.

We got a frozen salmon fillet from Trader Joe’s and thawed it out. The BF laid it on a baking sheet while I put together the herb blend. I was going for a similar idea as the Herb-Crusted Pork I posted a while back. In a small bowl, I mixed up some toasted chopped almondsdried rosemarydried thyme, and some sage. (Sorry I don’t have exact measurements here, I was just making it up as I went.) I added enough olive oil to give it a somewhat paste-like consistency. Then I spread it evenly on top of the fish. If it looks like it’s not enough, just make a little more.

Fish Close-Up

I set the whole pan in the fridge until we were ready for lunch. Then the BF popped it in the oven, and we baked it on 400 F for about 12-15 minutes. He covered it in foil while it baked so it would stay moist. If you like it flakier, you may opt to go without the foil, or to take the foil off in the last few minutes.

He also prepared a tray of asparagus seasoned with a lemon and garlic spice blend, and baked it right alongside the fish. That’s what made it so easy – they baked at the same temperature for the same amount of time, so only one thing to keep track of.

Asparagus

We served our fish and asparagus with brown rice. A delicious and healthy meal. Lunch is served!

Lunch

Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole

8 May

My mom is affectionately known as Aunt Dee Dee or just Dee Dee to all of her nieces and nephews. She is the fun, crazy aunt who not only lets you throw a ball in the house, but is often the one to initiate and participate in said indoors throwing game. I was jealous of my cousins as a teenager because at that age, I thought my mom was a way cooler aunt than mom. But now I have a little more perspective (and a little less attitude), and I more remember all the fun and crazy projects my mom cooked up over the years, which now loom much larger than the fights and arguments we were having when I was in high school. For example, my Double Dare birthday party was the coolest party of the 4th grade, complete with pie-throwing contests, tricycle races, and a relay race that involved massive amounts of butter, popcorn, Jell-o, and a Slip ‘N’ Slide.

My mom is also a pretty amazing chef, and it’s humbling to think back over the years at how she taught herself new skills in the kitchen. When my siblings were very young (before I was around) and our family didn’t have a lot of money, they ate a lot of casseroles, soups, and one-pot meals. They were classic, homey meals that were cheap and easy to put together, perfect for a mom working crazy hours with 2 small kids. But by the time I came along, my parents were a little more settled. My mom left work to stay at home with us, and our meals became more complex, fresh, and nutritious. By the time my little sisters were in the picture, the family was eating ethnic foods like Indian and Japanese, and our meals had a lot more fresh produce and a lot less cream of mushroom soup.

I think this trend is very interesting from a sociological standpoint, but I also think that from a personal view, I became very used to learning about food and trying new things. Now my mom and I swap ideas for new foods, new recipes, and how to use the massive quantities of rosemary she gets from the rosemary bush in her backyard big enough to hide two toddlers in (speaking from experience). I regularly call her for advice (“Mom, 10 people are showing up for dinner in 20 minutes, and I ran out of ___. What should I do!?” or “Mom, this chicken I just cooked is, like, gray… If I eat it, will it kill me?”), and I give her tips I pick up from health food nuts and farmers’ markets in my more liberal small town. My goal one day is to be able to take a quick glance into a pantry or refrigerator and put together a dinner plan, just like I’ve seen her do a million times. I’m not that comfortable or familiar yet with food, ingredients, and recipes, but I think I’m getting there.

When I was staring at the broccoli – this month’s seasonal produce – and trying to figure out what to do with it, I could not stop thinking about broccoli casserole. This is a huge throwback dish, something my mom made relatively regularly when I was a kid. I loved it so much, I think I even requested it as part of my birthday dinner one year. But as I explained above, our family has trended over time toward more nutritious foods, so this is a dish that my mom no longer makes or eats. It’s very unhealthy, especially since I only want it if she agrees to my request for extra cheese. Every year at Thanksgiving she proposes leaving it out, and every year my siblings, cousins, and I demand that we have it. It’s a Thanksgiving staple that I generally only have once a year. So she agrees to its presence at our Thanksgiving table, but one of us has to make it ourselves. It’s a very simple recipe that can be made in 15 minutes or less. So here it is… Dee Dee’s Broccoli Casserole.

Start with 1 bag frozen broccoli. Thaw it completely (on the counter or in the microwave) and chop it into bite-sized pieces. Spread it in the bottom of a glass casserole dish. Top with a layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese.

Broccoli and cheeseSpread a layer of cream of mushroom soup over top the cheese.

Cream of Mushroom SoupAnd now spread another layer of grated extra sharp cheddar cheese. Cover with plastic wrap, cut a slit in the center, and cook it in the microwave on high for 5-7 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the broccoli is cooked.

More CheeseI hadn’t made this in a long time, but I knew the cheese was the most important part, so I just kept adding some. I wasn’t sure how much was necessary. When I pulled it out of the microwave, it really just looked like a dish of cheese with a few broccoli bumps. I realized I went a little overboard, but obviously it was good because I tried to take a picture a few minutes later, but people were already digging in!

Broccoli Casserole

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Coconut Curry Chicken

29 Jan

Woo! Another dinner meal! Not baking, true, but a really beautiful dish that’s not too spicy and easy enough for a weeknight. This recipe, which I adapted from a recipe on allrecipes.com, served 2 — me and the BF. We generally don’t eat very much, so feel free to increase the ingredients here if you’re an average-to-big eater.

I started off by dicing up a couple chicken breasts and setting them aside. In a medium bowl, I mixed together 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, and 1 teaspoon curry powder. Basically, just add in whatever you have in your spice rack. If you’re missing one or two of these things, don’t worry, just go with what you have. I also added in a dash of salt and a dash of pepper. I threw the chicken into the spice bowl and tossed it around until all the pieces were well-coated.

I heated about a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and then browned the chicken. Once it was brown, but not fully cooked, I moved the pieces to the outside of the pan and added in 1/2 sliced onion, 1/4 sliced green bell pepper, 1/4 sliced yellow bell pepper, 1/4 sliced red bell pepper and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. (The onions and peppers were julienne cut. They were frozen from the leftovers of another dinner. It is not necessary to have different colored bell peppers — they all taste the same. So unless you have leftovers or plan on saving the leftovers from this recipe, just pick one bell pepper and go with it.) I cooked those till the onions became almost clear. Then I dumped in 1 can of diced tomatoes — you can choose whatever variety you like, but I usually get the ones that already have flavors roasted into them, like the one with basil, garlic, and oregano. I stirred everything up, turned the heat down to a medium-low simmer, and cooked everything for another 6-8 minutes. Then I stirred in 1/2 (8 oz) can of coconut milk. Another minute to heat it through, and I was ready to serve!

Cookin' Curry
I served it up on top of bowls of jasmine rice and served naan on the side. (If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s where you live, get your frozen garlic naan from there. It’s easy, cheap, and delicious. I guess if you’re crazy, you could find a recipe online and make it yourself.)

Dinner Is Served

How Sue Sees It:
– I personally thought this was a little bland, but super-flavorful foods tend to be my favorite, like Indian curries, so I think I’m just picky. The BF liked this pretty well.
– You can use regular or light coconut milk, whichever you prefer. Just be sure to shake it up before you open the can.
– Next time I will probably experiment with more healthful ingredients, like chickpeas, eggplant, cauliflower, green beans, etc.