Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Savory Roasted Root Vegetable Hash

I didn't realize it had been since February since I last posted. I've made many changes in my life, mainly taking a new job in California and thus finished my cross-country move that was 7 years in the making. I'd set an intention to move to California for at least a year now, and for the move to finally happen felt miraculous. My work started right away, so I hit the ground running, having barely moved into my apartment. The move-in process has been slow simply because I've been working so many hours and have spent much of my weekend hours exploring my new territory and working on writing. Therefore, I have had little time to cook. I've only had my oven on a few times in the 2 months I've been living here, which is pretty ridiculous. I'm on the lookout for new food inspiration and I'm going to set a goal of posting more often. It should be easy to find food inspiration because California has amazing produce...what could be more inspiring? Plus I've met many new people who have given me new meal inspiration, such as this special Guatamalan breakfast with plantains cooked in coconut oil, eggs, crema, homemade refried black beans, and avocado. This meal is the definition of "stick to your ribs."


Even though I regularly take photos of food, they are greatly outnumbered by photos of my travels for work. I'm fortunate to go to Sonoma on a weekly basis (heartbreaking, I know...). The Napa/Sonoma area is so beautiful it's surreal. Even dilapidated barns peeking through the early morning fog are enchanting. Every view is worthy of a photograph.


Most of my breakfasts are something quick while running out the door and finished while I'm driving to work. On a recent less-than-full-tilt weekend I prepared a full-on breakfast with Trader Joe's sweet basil pesto sausages, eggs, avocado sprinkled with a little sea salt, and crispy roasted root vegetable hash. The hash was inspired by the spice rack I recently purchased, which had savory on it. Savory is a pretty obscure herb that kind of smells like pizza to me, so I wanted to try and meld it with other herbs. I think avocado is a requisite accompaniment to go with this herbed mixture of sweet and regular potatoes.



Savory Roasted Root Vegetable Hash
Printable Recipe

1 medium russet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium white or Japanese sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 medium red onion, diced
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 tsp dried rubbed sage
1/2 tsp dried savory
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Toss all ingredients together and arrange on a baking tray (foil covered, if you wish).
3. Bake for 15 to 20 min, then toss. Continue cooking 15 to 20 min more, or until the outsides of the potatoes are crispy and the insides are tender.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Ham and Spinach Crustless Quiche


I'm glad to have another recipe to post, because my appetite has been off this week due to a cold and/or allergies and I just didn't feel like cooking anything until this morning. I don't know what I got a hold of, but I've just not been feeling well. I probably haven't had much of an urge to eat because I'm so stuffed up that I'm afraid of suffocating while chewing because I can barely breathe through my nose. I suspect it's some random Texas allergen, or it's from a dusty day earlier this week. If you don't live in Texas, "dusty day" may seem like no big deal, but it can get pretty bad....and kind of reminiscent of a scary movie plot.


But I digress....thankfully this morning I felt like having a bit more substantial breakfast, which gave me the opportunity to cook the same quiche I made for breakfast on Christmas morning, which happened to be a big hit. This recipe is adapted from the Core Balance Diet book by Marcelle Pick. I was buying Christmas presents from a used/vintage bookstore, and just as I was about to check out I saw Core Balance and Are You Tired and Wired?, both by Pick, sitting on a shelf near the door. If you've been keeping up with me for a while, you'll know that I have just completed my Ph.D. I've never been so naive as to think getting a Ph.D. was going to be a cake walk, but now that I'm through it I definitely have been needing some TLC. The sprint to the end of defense/finishing my dissertation/and graduation were really challenging. However, I'm of the mindset that accomplishments that are the most difficult are frequently the most worthwhile! As part of my TLC regimen, I've been reading Pick's books, along with others. Over the course of last year, my sleeping had become erratic, my meal and exercise schedules were off, and I was working really long hours. So, based on my reading I needed to get my adrenal health and circadian rhythm back in order. Thanks to a variety of books, I've made some lifestyle and diet changes and I can tell I'm getting back on track. I'll put a list of links below. Another thing that has helped me is getting a Jawbone UP activity tracker. I love this thing! I'm really analytically-minded, so having data about my sleep, eating, and exercise/steps tracked is totally up my alley. It's like my little guardian angel...seeing it on my wrist helps me make healthier choices all day long. I was debating on getting a Fit Bit, but I read the Jawbone's sleeping is the most accurate of the activity trackers, which was important to me. I may have been happy with a Fit Bit, but I'm definitely pleased with the style (several people thought it was just a bracelet), the app, and the feedback I get from the Jawbone.

Helpful resources:
The Core Balance Diet
Are You Tired and Wired?
The Seven Principles of Fat Burning
Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome
How to Eat, Move and Be Healthy

Again I digressed!...Ok, back on track. The breakfast recipe I made was adapted from the Core Balance Diet book. The original recipe was Spinach Quiche, but I not only edited some of the ingredients but completely changed the cooking method. When I made this for Christmas, I figured my parents wouldn't be too keen on eating the cream in the original recipe, so I subbed cottage cheese, which worked perfectly. I also reduced the Parmesan--even thought I love Parm, my mom tries to watch her salt, so I substituted some of it for mozzarella, which isn't too high in salt. I also added a bit of leftover Christmas eve ham (now I used nitrite-free deli ham), which was a nice addition...and thankfully I didn't suffocate in the course of making or eating this breakfast.



Ham and Spinach Crustless Quiche
Printable Recipe

6 eggs
1 10-oz box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove excess water
6 tbsp cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup diced nitrite-free ham
1 small onion, diced
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-10" pie plate.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, then stir in spinach, cheeses, nutmeg, and salt and pepper.
3. In a small skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add ham and onion and cook until the onion is translucent. Fold into egg mixture and them pour into the pan.
4. Bake 30-35 min, or until solid in the middle and golden brown on the edges. Allow to set 5 min before cutting and serving.

Makes 3-4 servings

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Roasted Beet and Mandarin Salad

Since starting to eat according to a Paleo template July 2011, I have grown an appreciation for several foods that I didn't really care for all that much before. One of those much detested foods was beets! The first time I tasted a beet that didn't totally gross me out was in one of my guilty-ish pleasures, Terra sweets and beets chips. I started to like the sweet earthiness.

On busy nights during the week, I make a salad at the salad bar at the grocery store. They have several ready-made salads, and one I have fallen in love with is a baby beet salad. Sometimes they put orange wedges in it, and other times canned mandarin oranges. Truth be told, though I know they are in sugary syrup, I prefer the version with the mandarin oranges. The regular oranges are a bit pithy and flavorless. I know pre-made salads are sub-optimal because of the veggies oils in the dressing, but it's one of my allowances. I get so excited when I see this salad on the bar that I typically say "ooh beets!" out loud like a weirdo...I don't care I love the stuff! I have come up with my own version that I absolutely adore. It's pretty easy to make and is a perfect substitute for the store version. If you have disliked beets most of your life, like I did, you should give this one a try. The mandarins and balsamic dressing give the beets a lot of character and detract from their earthiness. Plus, roasting veggies takes their flavor to the next level. I really love the shades of red and pink in the salad.



Roasted Beet and Mandarin Salad
Printable Recipe

4 medium beets (about 1.25-1.5 lbs), scrubbed clean and greens removed
a little water
9 seedless mandarin oranges (aka: "Cuties" or "Halos")
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp pure maple syrup (optional)
 salt and pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
1 medium red onion, cut into slivers
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Roast the beets. There are lots of methods, and I used this one. I added a little water to the foil to keep the beets from scorching and to build up some steam. They took about 1.25 hrs (a good time for prepping other food for the week!). You could also steam them. Once they are cool enough to handle, cut them into chunks.
2. Meanwhile, juice one of the mandarins. Blend in the mustard, syrup, and some salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the oil. As an optional step, soak the onion slivers in cold water to remove some of their heat. Peel and section all the mandarins.
3. In a large bowl, toss the beets, mandarin wedges, drained onions, pecans, and dressing. Toss well and chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Maple, Balsamic and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin Medallions

I'm back with another recipe. Things have settled down since graduation, and now that I am done writing my dissertation I hope to get back to regular posting. With all the stress of finishing my Ph.D., I barely had time to think of new recipes. I've been cooking recipes from some of my favorite cookbooks in the meantime. I've also been working on organizing my apartment.

Tonight's dinner was inspired by a recipe I posted a long time ago, Honey-Lemon Glazed Pork Tenderloin Medallions. I was feeling kind of frustrated because I didn't have any breakthrough recipe inspiration for a while, but sometimes you just need to look back at what you've already done and tweak things a little bit. This version is a little more wintery, which is perfect because I think we're about to have some bad winter weather roll through my town....


Maple, Balsamic and Rosemary Pork Tenderloin Medallions
Printable Recipe

1 1-lb pork tenderloin, cut across the grain into rounds or large chunks
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp crushed dried rosemary
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.
2. Season the meat with salt, pepper, and rosemary.
3. Heat the oil and butter in the skillet until the butter melts, then add the seasoned pork pieces. Brown on the first side, then flip and brown on the second side.
4. When the pork is about 90% done, add the garlic into the bottom of the pan and cook until fragrant, tossing the meat with the garlic, about 2 min.
5. Add the honey and vinegar. Toss the pork in the honey and vinegar, and cook until the juice is nearly evaporated and a thick sauce glosses the meat.

Servings per recipe: 4

Monday, October 20, 2014

Breakfast Sweet Potato Boats



Typically I start a post saying something like "sorry I haven't posted in a long time, I've been busy working on my dissertation." Well, I'm pleased to announce that I've finished my dissertation, defended it, and passed so I'm officially Dr. Plank! Now I just need to complete writing my publications, graduate, and land my dream job (not necessarily in that particular order). 


Now I have a little bit more free time. I had my first weekend of food prep in a few months. I've actually been subsisting on foods that I prepped earlier in the year and froze, which worked out really well. Now I'm ready to get back in the kitchen. This weekend, I prepped some Thai red curry (which I am getting pretty good at...I found the secret is to not add the coconut milk too soon, otherwise the coconut flavor will cook out!), some enchiladas verde---well, basically the insides of the enchiladas that I baked as a sort of casserole. Finally, I made a recipe I've been wanting to try for a while! I saw a post on Pinterest which featured bread boats filled with eggs, sausage, and cheese. I wanted to make a Paleo version with sweet potatoes, which worked out perfectly! The scooped out sweet potatoes make the perfect vessel for eggs and sausage. You could top them with cheese a few minutes before pulling them out of the oven if you want a Primal version. They're pretty convenient too because they re-heat well and you have your starchy carbs and protein all in one. You could use larger potatoes for bigger appetites, but you will just have to cook them longer. One thing to note is that cold pre-cooked sweet potatoes worked out really well, because they are easier to handle than a hot potato and they stay intact a lot better when you scoop them out compared to a hot sweet potato.

Breakfast Sweet Potato Boats
Printable Recipe

4 sweet potatoes, baked in the skin and cooled...choose ones that are smaller and more round as opposed to thin and long sweet potatoes
4 oz cooked and crumbled sausage
1 sliced scallions
4 eggs, beaten


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cut a thin horizontal slice off the top of each sweet potato. Using a spoon or melon baller, remove some of the sweet potato flesh, leaving about 1/3" rim inside to hold the egg mixture. Be careful not to pierce through the ends or bottom of the potato. Reserve the flesh for another use (instant side dish for dinner the next night!)
3. Blend the sausage and scallion with the eggs. Divide among the potato shells.
4. Bake 22-25 minutes,or until lightly brown on top and the eggs have set.

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