Sunday, April 30, 2017

TK: To-Go Breakfast Bars

I am one of those people who absolutely cannot skip breakfast. I have to have my 3 square meals a day or I will starve. The only problem with this is that my little family does not get out of bed until 8 am at the earliest, leaving me no time to make breakfast before we have to leave the house. (I understand the obvious answer here is to get up earlier...but abso-fucking-lutely not.) I usually make breakfast when I get to work, which is doable with my job, but I much prefer to just grab something quick. I flipped through Thug Kitchen and found this recipe for breakfast bars and thought maybe they're on to something here.

The fun part about these bars is that you can basically put whatever you want in them. Unfortunately for me, I did not have any dried cranberries (they suggested throwing some in there) and I think they would have really made a difference here. I did have dried banana chips and smashed those up in there, but they are missing something and I think that "thing" is flavor.

Mix, toast, stir and add and you press it all into a parchment lined 13x9. (The parchment lining is very necessary)


Then you toss it in the oven for about 25-30 and let it cool. Once you do that, put it in the fridge to harden even more then lift the parchment paper out of the dish and cut into squares (about 10).

The color is really lacking here and I don't like it

These are, as promised, an easy way to get in a quick breakfast that isn't drowning in sugar and fat. Again, my only issue is the lack of flavor and that's completely my fault. I encourage you to try it and add in what you like.

Recipe:

2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1/4 uncooked millet
1 1/4 cups chopped mixed nuts or seeds (I used almonds and sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup dried cranberries or other dried fruit (I used banana chips)
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup maple syrup (I used a combo of syrup and honey)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup coconut or olive oil (I used coconut)
2 tbs sugar (I used brown sugar)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350. Line a 13x9 with parchment paper. 
Heat a dry skillet over medium low heat and add the oats, quinoa and millet. Stir them around until toasty.
One that is done, toss the oat mixture with your nuts and dried fruit.
In a small saucepan, combine the syrup, peanut butter, oil, sugar and vanilla until warm and melted. 
Add the syrup mix to the oat mix and combine. 
Pour the mixture into a baking dish and spread around until even. Then make sure you pack it down really well. 
Toss it in the oven for 25-30, let completely cool then throw it in the fridge until cold. Cut into bars and keep in the fridge in an airtight container. 


Friday, April 28, 2017

SS: Tex-Mex Casserole

The other night I went to a charity event with my mother and my sister as a last minute thing. I already had dinner planned out and figured I might as well still make it since, well, the kids still had to eat. I got lucky in that this was quick and simple and, in true casserole form, took most of the time in the oven. Yay!

I love casserole dishes with pasta because the kids would eat pasta every day if I decided it should be so. It makes for a sure fire, no fuss meal every single time and God how I wish I lived in Italy. I feel like I would just fit in so well there. I mean, I could eat pasta and bread every day and then walk everywhere. (By the way, if that's not what it's really like - don't tell me. I need it to be that way.)

See the corn? I'm positive that's what makes it Tex-Mex.

Anyway, here's the recipe:

8 oz. whole wheat pasta
1 lb lean ground beef
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 (10.5 oz) can tomato soup
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15.5 oz) can corn, drained
1 (10 oz) can Ro*Tel (not drained)
1 (4.5 oz) can chopped green chilies (not drained)
2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheese (mexican blend, I was out so I used parmesan and mozzarella. whatevs)
1 diced tomato, for topping

Preheat the oven to 350. Coat a 9 x 13 with cooking spray
Cook the pasta. Drain and set aside.
Cook the beef, onion and garlic until the beef is done. Drain any excess fat and return to the skillet.
Add everything but the cheese to the skillet and mix together.
Transfer the mixture from the skillet to the 9 x 13. Sprinkle the cheese on top. 
Bake about 20 minutes, until hot and the cheese is melted. Top with diced tomato.

This was pretty damn good. I'll file this under "Kids will eat" and call it a day.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Creamy Potato Salad with Bacon & Roasted Mushrooms with an appearance by ST: Homemade BBQ Sauce

First, I'd like to clarify that there are 2 recipes here. No, there are no roasted mushrooms in the potato salad...although...I might dig that.

These two were my sides to go along with spontaneous brisket night from my earlier post. I was pretty excited about this potato salad because it makes a lot and I've been waiting for an occasion such as this so I could try it. I'm just going to come out and say that this did not disappoint. People ate this up like it was the ticket to everlasting youth. I got so many compliments on this and I don't know what it is that makes it so much different than any other potato salad out there. Collin swears it's the green onions, others swear the bacon makes all the difference, but whatever it is just know that it works.

I got one photo. One. 

Next up were the roasted mushrooms. This recipe calls for 1 lb white mushrooms and 1 lb cremini mushrooms. Now, I don't have any idea what a cremini mushroom is and I couldn't find them at the store, so I got 2 lbs of white mushrooms and called it a day. Spoiler alert: it made absolutely no difference. You want to know what does make a difference though? The fresh Thyme. Sometimes you can get away with the dried stuff, but trust me - you need fresh here. I wanted to eat the entire pan myself. My mouth is watering just thinking about it, actually. I'll give you this recipe, because it's easy and you need to try them:

Yummerz.

Recipe: 1 stick unsalted butter, melted, 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 tbs. minced garlic, 2 tbs. chopped fresh Thyme, 2 tsp. kosher salt, 1 tsp. pepper, 1 lb white mushrooms, 1 lb cremini mushrooms. Preheat the oven to 425. In a large bowl, combine the melted butter, oil, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and toss to coat. Spread them onto a rimmed baking sheet and roast, shaking occasionally (I forgot to do this part) for about 30-45 minutes until juicy and slightly shriveled. Bam. Done. Feast.

A close up of all their glory.

So you know how I mentioned before that planning things is my verb? Yeah? Now do you remember when I mentioned how a random crisis can really put me in a good mood? Well, in strolled the crisis right as the brisket was being cut: I forgot to buy barbecue sauce. 

Yes I, the planner of all things to be planned, forgot to buy the most crucial part of a barbecue. But did I let this small hiccup ruin things? Did I fall prey to the ridicule that floated my way? Ha! I threw my head back and laughed, because I knew I had seen a homemade barbecue sauce recipe in the newest addition to my cookbooks. Ten minutes later, we had hot barbecue sauce simmering on the stove and the evening was saved! That was also right around the time I almost gave peanut butter to my friend's son, who is highly allergic, but luckily I remembered in time and all was well. Just a reminder that no one is perfect, not even me. *sigh* 

*in a deep voice with a slight accent* BBQ SAUCE

Here is the recipe in case you're ever in a bind: 

1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (I probably only had a little more than 1/4 cup left in the bottle)
1/4 cup tomato paste (I did not have this and used ketchup instead)
1/4 cup honey
3 tbs. molasses (thanks to my Grandma's crinkle cookies I always have a jar on hand <3)
2 tsp. liquid hickory smoke (I did not have this, or anything like it, so I omitted it)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder (I was out of this, but did have dried chopped onions and I tossed some in)
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp chili powder

Combine everything in a saucepan, bring to a boil and let it simmer until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. It will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to one month. 

Now, I tweaked this to the taste of my company so feel free to do the same. All in all, it was a hit, people loved it, and my crisis itch has been scratched for another day. 





Wednesday, April 26, 2017

TK: Creamy Black Bean and Cilantro Dip and Pineapple Guacamole

Because Collin keeps a strange work schedule, I meal plan on Wednesdays instead of Sunday like normal people. So when Sunday evening rolled around (and I'm already in bed) and Collin announced that he wanted to smoke a brisket on Tuesday and have people over that evening I literally had to shove my entire meal plan aside and figure out what I was going to prepare last minute for company. Lucky for me, I love this kind of shit. Last minute planning is my favorite - and I'm really not kidding. I'm a planner. It's what I do, and if I'm being honest, I'm pretty damn good at it. As a matter of fact, if you really wanna get my motor going, throw in a crisis during a last minute event that I'm planning and watch me handle that shit. *sigh* It has been too long.

Anyway, before I get way too turned on, I decided on a medley of things from Thug Kitchen and Cravings. I did toss together a double batch of Chrissy's Secretly Spicy Deviled Eggs, but I won't post about those because I already have. Of course, those were popular AF and were the second things to go. Yes, they were second. To what, you ask? Read on:

The one thing that got the most raves was, shockingly enough, the Creamy Black Bean and Cilantro Dip from Thug Kitchen. I'm not kidding. Everyone commented on how good this was. My sister even liked this and she really can't stand cilantro. It's such a breeze to make, too. You throw a bunch of stuff in a food processor and it blends so beautifully and the flavors mingle so evenly that it really just tastes like bean dip from heaven:

Here is a close up. Now I know why the book didn't boast a picture.

Recipe: 2 1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 2/3 cans black beans, which is what I did), 1/3 cup veggie broth or water (I used veggie broth), 2 cloves garlic, juice of 1 lime, pinch of salt, 1/2 tsp chili powder, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1/2 cup chopped green onions. Throw it all in a food processor and go to town.

I decided to make 2 dips from Thug Kitchen, and I'm glad I did because the brisket took way longer than we thought and people were very snackish. The next dip I made was called Pineapple Guacamole. I felt I used too much pineapple as I did not measure anything out and eyeballed it all. I was in a serious rush and short on time so next time I'll remember to measure out the pineapple. However, this went just as quickly as the bean dip - if not quicker:

Dip is hard.

Recipe: 2 avocados, 2/3 cup chopped pineapple (I used canned), 1/2 cup chopped red onion, 2 tbs. cilantro, 2 cloves minced garlic, grated zest of 1/2 lime, 1 tbs. lime juice, 1/8 tsp. ground cumin, pinch of salt. I actually didn't mince or chop anything and threw it all in the food processor (except the avocado) until smooth-ish. I mashed the avocado in a bowl with a fork and added the rest of the ingredients until mixed. Delish.

Side by Side

So basically, if you want to impress anyone - anyone at all - you need these. Someone call the Queen of England and tell her I've got her next dip recipes for high tea. Wait - do they have dip at high tea? Someone get the Queen on the phone, I've got a game changer here.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Skinny Taste: Fast and Slow

I've been on vacation (I think I've mentioned that) and tomorrow I go back for my first whole week at work. Throughout this little break I have done nothing but eat what I want, when I want, and I haven't worked out in weeks. This has resulted in some very obvious poundage (on top of the extra poundage I had accrued since I stopped working out) and I know it's time for me to scale back and get my life back together. This also means I need to get back on seriously meal planning instead of ordering take-out from menus that were placed on my doorknob. I've also been flipping the pages of my cookbooks looking for something easy and appetizing to kick back into gear and it's just so hard. Then I  remembered scrolling through Instagram a while back and screenshotting a cookbook I wanted to try:

Voila! 

This cookbook features recipes that are 30 minutes as well as recipes for the slow cooker and *drum roll* they are all healthy! This is the answer to my lazy girl problems. I often flip through these books and wonder if I'll ever gather enough motivation to spark my own originality when I cook again. Eh, who cares. I did that shit up until now. My mind needs a break. 

This book is nifty. She adds in a little key chart:

SO convenient!

I love this. This makes my life even easier. By the way, if you're reading this and you buy me things - I want a pressure cooker/instant pot. 

And she adds the keys to the contents page of each chapter. LOVE.

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to let you know that I'm adding a new book to my rotation.

OH. I've been asked this a few times. Because I cook from a few different books, I put an abbreviation before the recipe name so you know which book it's from: 

TK - Thug Kitchen
SS - Skinny Suppers
ST - Skinny Taste

And if there is no tag before the name then it is from Cravings. :D


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Pineapple-Grilled Short Ribs with Sweet and Salty Coconut Rice

I have never found it necessary to purchase short ribs. I have never, to my knowledge, eaten short ribs and I probably could have gone my entire life without ever tasting them (and being quite OK with it). That being said, I had no idea what a flanken short rib was and really had no idea what they looked like. Thankfully, the Kroger I went to had ONE package of short ribs that actually said "flanken short rib" on it and it was the amount I needed. It was fate - except really. 

She suggests a 12-24 hour marination period and after last night's extra crispy almost-disaster, I did just that. As a matter of fact, as soon as I wrapped up blogging last night I got to work on these bad boys. Because marinating is literally letting meat soak in various spices and liquids, there is really nothing to elaborate on there and I'll move on to more important things.

Marination Station

Important things like, for example, the sweet and salty coconut rice. Do ya'll remember way back when I started this blog and I said that I absolutely had to make the recipe as-is? Well, I'm sure ya'll have figured out by now that I really can't be trusted because I fucked up again today by not double checking that I had all the ingredients. Can you believe I ran out of sugar? SUGAR. I had everything else: jasmine rice, salt, coconut milk, coconut flakes but not a spoonful of granulated sugar was to be found in my pantry. I then remembered putting sugar on my whiteboard grocery list outside my pantry door, but this did not change the fact that today I was sugar-less. Lucky for me, she does not specify what kind of sugar you need for this. It simply says "sugar" and nothing else. So, I am NOT cheating when I say that I used dark brown sugar (because, what do you know, I was also out of light brown sugar). Hashtag winning.

Oh, here is where I should also probably mention that I have never made a pot of rice (that wasn't instant) that came out edible. I swear I have cooked before and I am good at 95% of it, but rice is my nemesis. It's like it can smell the fear as I'm following the directions to the letter. Every. Time. Once, I attempted a pot of brown rice and it came out so crunchy I wondered if I had blacked out at some point and forgot to add water. That one still remains a mystery, actually. 

So now that you know my history, understand that I was very nervous while making this and checked, doubled checked, and checked again to make sure that I was doing this correctly. When all was said and done and the lid came off the pot it looked...creamy. But not bad. It did not "fluff", but after a good stir and a little taste I was certain that this was the end of my rice-fuck-up streak. Guys, this was amazing. AMAZING. And that was with dark brown sugar. I can only imagine how good this would taste using granulated sugar. I wasn't even mad that Collin was taking forever getting the grill ready because it gave me more time to eat this. 

Kind of looks like oatmeal.

And because I'm so thrilled this didn't come out crunchy:

There's one with the book.

As you can see, this looks a bit like oatmeal and/or brown rice because of my sugar choice, but fear not. It is as delicious as you hope it will be. 

So once the grill was finally ready, I forced Collin to read the recipe to make sure these were done right because the man has never met a rib that cooked in under 8 hours. However, he did as he was told and a few minutes later we had dinner:

Yeah I gnawed on it a little before I realized I should probably take a picture.

To summarize: these two were fantastic. Collin asked me to keep the marinade recipe and we chowed down. This is one of the most satisfying meals I have had in a while so do yourself a favor and treat yo-self.



Monday, April 17, 2017

"Everything" Chicken Sandwich Melts

This is one of those recipes that takes up more than one page, which means I was very reluctant to make it <--- that's the lazy girl in me. It doesn't matter that this looks amazing and every time I flip through to make something I think to myself "Why haven't I made that?" and then I remember it's because the ingredient list consists of 20 different items (yes, I counted). However, I am on vacation and decided there really wasn't a better time because I pretty much have nothing but time.

I should probably mention that the 20 different items are made up of mostly spices, making this much less complicated than I lead on. Basically, you toss some spices together in a few different bowls, coat the chicken, and fry away. It's really not that hard.

That being said, I have mentioned on more than one occasion that I do not...and I mean I do not, have any luck with frying meats. I tried to blame it on Chrissy at first, but if I'm being honest with myself I have to realize that this all can't be a strange coincidence. The failed fried meats all have one thing in common: Me. (Well... and this cookbook, but I'm looking past that). I will say that this is the first time I did not follow the recipe to the "T" in that I thought I had canola oil on hand, but I was mistaken. Because I did not realize this until the chicken was already coated, I substituted with what I did have...which was vegetable oil.

Now, I remember reading somewhere a while ago that different oils have differences when heated...something about how you should use this oil for that, etc. and there is a legitimate reason for it...OK maybe I don't remember exactly what it said, but it doesn't change the fact that I was aware that something could go wrong by switching up the frying oil. Are you sensing some foreshadowing here, because I'm laying it on pretty thick.

So I filled my pan with the oil and turned it onto medium heat as instructed. The moment I put the chicken in I knew it was over. They browned immediately. And then they got darker and darker very quickly, but I was determined to leave them in for the specified 2 minutes. When I took them out the breading was burned, obviously. The skeptic in me also just had to know if 2 minutes was enough time to cook them through, so I cut one open and it was perfect. Perfect. If it weren't for the burnt coating I would have nailed it.

This is about the time that Collin decided to waltz in and check things out, by they way. He actually told me to cut him off a little piece to see if it was still good and if you haven't noticed by now, Collin is a picky eater so this surprised me. I was even more surprised when he said it was good. Yes, you read that correctly.

Anyway, I turned the heat down to medium and tossed in the other two chicken breasts and they turned out a little less burnt...but not by much:

I ran out of tomato and cheese so the back one on the right is a little sad. Burnt and sad.


These just look hilarious. Here's a close up of one on my white plate.

No, that's not a burger. There is chicken under there.

And despite the singed outer layer, the perfectly cooked chicken underneath:

It makes no sense.

As far as taste goes, these were a bit too spicy to give to the kids so they had something else, but these were pretty good. I did dip mine in ketchup - it was pretty good that way actually - and Collin ate TWO of these. He even ate the tomato and I really thought he would pick it off because he doesn't particularly like tomato. 

What a strange dinner.