Positively Porktastic

This weekend, I decided it was time to cook my ham.  I bought a smoked fully cooked ham right before Easter but ended up storing it in the freezer instead of cooking it.  This was the time to cook it.  I was craving a semi-traditional Southern Sunday dinner, we were having a friend over, and it was too warm for hot food.

So here’s the menu:

  • Brown-sugar glazed ham
  • Potato salad
  • Green bean salad

I started with the ham.  This was honestly the easiest part.  I cooked it as specified on the package until only 30 mins were left in the cooking time.  I took it out of the oven, and used a knife to score the exterior of the ham with a diamond pattern.  In a small bowl, I mixed 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, 1 teaspoon of dry mustard, and few tablespoons of ham drippings to create a glaze.  I then poured the glaze over the hot ham, turned the oven temperature up to 400 degrees, and baked the ham for the remaining 30 minutes, until the proper internal temperature was reached.

For the potato salad, I boiled 3 large red potatoes and 2 eggs until cooked throughout.  I diced everything finely and mixed with 2 sprigs celery (diced), 1/2 small orange pepper (diced), 2 tablespoons chopped parsley, 1 teaspoon dry mustard, 1 1/2 tablespoons mayo, and salt to taste.

The green bean salad was super easy too.  First, steam a 12 oz. package of fresh haricots vert (I get these from the produce section of the grocery store) for no more than 7 minutes.  Remove from steam and immediately immerse in ice water to stop the cooking.  Drain in a colander.  Mix the green beans with 1/4 Vidalia onion (thinly sliced), ~10 grape tomatoes (sliced in half), 1/2 cucumber (seeded and sliced).  Make a vinaigrette of 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon, salt & pepper to taste.  Pour over the green beans, mix well, and cool in the refrigerator.

Shrimp Noodle Soup

My preference is to whip up a fancy, multi-dish meal every night.  But if I did that, we’d be eating at 10 pm.  So I plan ahead (lots of Sunday cooking) and use shortcuts to feed us well during the week.  Last week, I followed a stressful workday with a trip to the grocery store (which was filled with snow hoarders).  I was beyond exhausted when I got home and just wanted something warm and comforting.  Thus, the shrimp noodle soup.

In a pot, I mixed ~2 cups chicken stock, 2 cups water, 1 sliced garlic clove, sliced ginger (same amount as 1 clove of garlic), frozen mixed veggies, frozen onion, and frozen kale.  I seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.  Once the broth was bubbling and the flavor was adjusted, I added 10 large shrimp (thawed) and 1/2 package of rice noodles.  Once the rice noodles softened, everything was served in a steaming hot bowl.

Note: If you don’t have rice noodles, just substitute with 2 packs of ramen noodles.  Don’t use the seasoning packet, just the noodles.

Happy New Year


Happy New Year to Everyone. I wish you a peaceful 2011.

Potato Salad

I’m not a potato salad fan.  The mayo, the blandness, the liquid collecting on the side after a day in the fridge… it’s just not my thing.  But we needed a starchy side for our impromptu BBQ…  And I had potatoes, eggs, and mayo…  So I whipped up a batch of potato salad that was quite yummy, it’s being added to the rotation.

Boil 2 eggs and 2 russet potatoes.  Cool, peel, and cut into chunks.  Mix with 2 tablespoons celery seed and 2 tablespoons finely diced red onion.  Mix together 2 tablespoons dijon mustard and 6 tablespoons mayonnaise (I used Grey Poupon and Hellmann’s).  Add to potato mixture and stir until well coated.  Serve chilled.

Curry Shrimp & Veggie Stir-Fry

This calorie counting thing is no joke.

If I’m home, it just involves a little advance planning.

If I’m on the go, it involves a massive amount of willpower, hunger pains, and a herculean amount of willpower.

After having a 1700 calorie dinner at a fantastic Mexican restaurant in San Diego, I was ready to do some redemptive cooking at home.  A quick survey of the fridge turned up shrimp, broccoli, and a yellow pepper.  Stir fry was the obvious choice but I just wasn’t really feeling the soy/ginger/sesame flavors.  So I pulled out the wok and decided to go Caribbean with it.

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 12 large shrimp (~1/2 pound)
  • curry powder
  • ground ginger (powder)
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 baking potato, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • ground cumin
  • 4 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 of a yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 cup tomato, diced
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk

Over med-high heat, heat olive oil.  Add shrimp and season liberally with curry powder (~1 tbsp), ginger, onion, garlic and cayenne pepper.  Once cooked through, remove shrimp and set aside.  Reduce heat to medium, add potato, water, and cumin (~1 tsp) and cover.  Cook for 10 minutes, until potato is cooked through.  Add broccoli and replace top.  Cook for ~5 more minutes, until broccoli is bright green but still crisp.  Increase heat to med-high.  Add bell pepper, tomato, shrimp, and coconut milk.  Add salt to taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Stir to meld flavors.

Serve alone as a one-pot dish or a pair with rice.

Makes 3 servings.  Total recipe is 681 calories, 20 grams fat, 85.9 grams carbs, and 50.1 gram protein.

Back to Calorie Counting

Calorie counting worked really well for me.  It helped me lose and keep off 12 love pounds and it has reset my idea of what enough food is even when I’m not actively calorie counting.  Now I still have 20+ pounds I want to lose, but those have been with me for years now they’re kinda like old friends so I’ve been less proactive about ridding myself of them.  But that ends now.  Milk has decided he wants to try calorie counting and it just seems natural for me to pick it up with him.

In the past, I used My Food Diary.  I like their service but there is a nominal fee where similar services are available for free.  Any fans of Sparkpeople out there?

With calorie counting my drinking is seriously restricted.  SERIOUSLY.  A glass of wine is ~100 calories.  And a mixed drink — forget it.  In fact, I attended a wine/cheese party while I was calorie counting last fall.  I didn’t eat at all that day because I needed to save up my calories.  Not one of my finest moments but…

Meat and starch quickly burn through my calorie allotment.  I need to find a good vegetarian or veggie focused cookbook for those who eat meat but want to eat less of it.  That helps with those 300-400 calorie meals.  Please leave any cookbook recommendations in the comments.

So everyone, please send positive thoughts and prayers my way.  I’ll have to deal with my own food restricted bad mood in addition to Milk’s.  We will stay focused on the end goal and push our way through.

Chicken Pot Pie

This Valentine’s Day, we decided to skip the restaurants and make dinner together at home.  After much contemplation we settled on making a chicken pot pie.  A survey of the internet turned up tons of recipes — Rich Chicken Pot Pie, Moroccan Chicken Pot Pie, and Marshall Field’s Chicken Pot Pie are just a few that I discovered.  None seemed to offer exactly what I was looking for – a family serving size pie with top and bottom crusts.

After consultation with my mom, we settled on a plan.

Ingredients

  • 2 bone-in chicken breasts with skin (about 2 pounds)
  • ground sage
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 9-inch pie crusts (I used Pillsbury refrigerated crusts)
  • 1 shallot, finely diced
  • 1 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1 large carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup frozen peas

Instructions

  1. Season chicken liberally with sage, salt, and pepper (being sure to get seasonings under the skin).  Place in metal baking pan and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Save drippings.  Once chicken is cool, discard skin and bones and chop into 1/4 inch pieces.
  2. Fill ungreased glass pie pan with one pie crust.  Prick with fork and place in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.
  3. In deep sided skillet, heat chicken drippings over medium heat.  Add scallions and saute until soft and translucent.  Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, and thyme and continue to saute until vegetables soften.
  4. Sprinkle flour into pan and stir until mixture is pasty.  Add milk and chicken stock and continue to stir.  Mixture will thicken.
  5. Add chopped chicken and continue to stir.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.
  6. Remove from heat and stir in frozen peas.
  7. Pour chicken mixture into pre-baked bottom pie crust.  Top with remaining pie crust and pinch edges to seal.  Cut slits into top of crust to vent and lightly coat with oil.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until crust is golden brown.
  9. Let sit for at least 10 minutes, then serve.

Blizzard Survival Guide

After being socked by 20 inches of snow the was quickly followed by another foot of snow, I’ve learned a few things.

  1. Shovels: You need a shovel for every available shoveler in your house, at least one back-up shovel, and repair tools (nails, screws, drill bits).   When shoveling feet of snow, something will break.  If you EVER want to get out, make sure you have the materials on hand to fix it.  You’ll need at least one shovel with a metal edge.When shopping, pay extra for things that are connected by rivets and multiple screws.  That $9.99 shovel you bought with two nails connecting the handle will die on the first day. Continue reading

Coffee Cake

I’m thinking of whipping up some coffee cake this morning.

I’ll use an old family recipe that I can’t share but click here for lots of recipes you too can use.

I’ll halve the recipe because I’m watching my weight and don’t want such a large pan of sweets around the house.  I’ll also press some chunky stewed apples into the top for a bite of fruit.  And instead of the crumb topping, I’ll use the hot buttered rum mix from yesterday and make a streusel topping by adding oats and flour.

It time for me to stop talking about I what I will do and to just do it.  Pictures will follow.

Hot Buttered Rum

Fix a mug of this to warm those coming in from Snowmageddon.

Cream together 1 stick unsalted butter, 2 cups brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and a dash of salt.  For each serving, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of mixture over med-low heat until sugar melts.  Add 1 1/2 oz. of rum and 6 oz. boiling water and whisk until smooth.  Add mixture to mugs and serve while hot.

For any remaining mixture, store covered in refrigerator or freezer until needed.  Mason jars are perfect containers for this.

Original recipe courtesy of Emeril