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Archive for the ‘projects’ Category

fabulous end to the day

My mother asked my sister Laura and I to speak at career day where she teaches. We agreed to and it was fun. It’s actually the same high school that I attended and where I met Pat.

I described being a chemist in the same room where Pat and I flirted during physics. Very surreal.

Laura, my mom, and I went out to lunch. I gave Laura a ride back to her apartment. We both live in Chicago, but she is much closer to lake Michigan. We took advantage of the lake shore path and ran a couple miles (we are doing a half-marathon in August!).

A perfect day. What could possibly make it better?

Making home-made pasta into lasagna!

Laura made the dough using the recipe book that came with her Kitchen Aid mixer. I rolled the dough out into sheets.

beautifully rolled out sheets of pasta

beautifully rolled out sheets of pasta

She cooked the sweet Italian sausage in a little olive oil while prepping the ricotta and mozzarella cheese.

ricotta filling

ricotta filling

delicious sweet Italian sausage

sweet Italian sausage

Delicious!

perfect lasagna

perfect lasagna

(I took the pictures with my cell so they are a little blurry….)

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A couple years ago I got the book The Good Home Cookbook: More Than 1000 Classic American Recipes. It describes itself as having the recipes you would have learned from your grandmother. I think that it has a lot of recipes you would imagine your grandmother would have made. (One of my grandmother’s made a hambruger and mashed potato casserole with ketchup that I never tried-her cheesecake was phenomenal though.)

One of the quicker recipes is an oven fried chicken that uses mustard to coat the chicken. I get home earlier than Pat and usually have dinner done shortly after he gets home. I was going to make it after I did a couple quick sets of strength training exercises when Pat came home early. He kept asking about dinner so I handed him the cookbook. He did a great job (while asking many questions).

The oven is preheated to 400F. It’s best to start by putting grain mustard into a bowl. Panko crumbs, salt, pepper, and herbs of your choice (oregano this time) go into a different bowl. A sheet pan should be oiled or sprayed with oven spray. For 2, one large chicken breast cut into chunks works.

prep work

prep work

The chicken is dipped into the mustard and coated, then transferred to the bread mixture, and finally placed on the pan.

ready to go into the oven

ready to go into the oven

The pan goes into the oven for 20-25 min (really depends on the size of the chicken). The chicken should be flipped half-way though.

delicious and quick

delicious and quick

Dinner was done just as I was finishing my work-out. Delicious and I only had to yell suggestions out in between sets.

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Improv Pasta

So I stared into my cupboard and fridge for inspiration for dinner the other night. I noticed we had pasta. I love it and you can do a lot with it, that would work. I saw an once of cream cheese leftover in it’s wrapper and a partial jar of roasted bell peppers. Ah ha! I sort of remember an Ellie Krieger show where she made pasta sauce with feta and roasted bell peppers.

I decided to get the water boiling for the pasta. Then, I cut the cream cheese into junks and threw it into the food processor.

cream cheese and bell peppers

cream cheese and bell peppers

I added the bell pepper pieces and processed it all together.

After the pasta finished cooking, I drained it and tossed it with the sauce. I grated a little parmesan over the top and called it good.

quick and delicious

quick and delicious

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One Week Update 1

Thur night I made a white chicken chili for dinner and substituting pearl onions for regular onions and adding red pepper flakes instead of jalapenos. On Friday, I had a cake tasting for the wedding and a dinner tasting so I didn’t buy extra groceries (well I bought some butter cookies at the bakery) but I did eat outside food.

The cake tasting was actually pretty delicious. I picked chiffon cake, buttercream frosting, and lemon mousse filling. The reception hall does the catering and they had a tasting night. It wasn’t really so much as a tasting as a full dinner with all options and an open bar. (I had a tequila sunrise-it has orange juice so it’s good for you, right?)

So after 2 days, no grocery shopping but I attended tastings and bought bakery cookies.

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One week

I saw ‘a week without shopping‘ on eGullet. Basically, eating out of your pantry and skipping your usual trip to the grocery store for one week.

I normally grocery shop once a week. Sometimes it’s a big trip and I stock up on pantry items. Other weeks, it’s mostly meat or poultry and fresh produce.

It sounds like a good idea to save money and to not waste what you have. Plus I think I could get Pat to go along with it.

A few months ago I read Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet and really enjoyed it. A couple journalists decided to only eat food grown in a 100 mile radius of their home. Overall it worked out pretty well although they did actually loose weight at first. They started in winter and it might have been easier to start in the spring or summer so they could can and store food for the winter.

I like to try to eat locally. I enjoy hitting the farmer’s markets and there some great ones in Chicago. I think you can really get the most nutrients out of vegetables and fruit the fresher they are, besides the greeness of it all. However, Pat pretty much flat outside that completely converting to the 100 mile diet wouldn’t fly. He rarely has that strong an opinion about groceries so I let that go.

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Last week, I threw together a home-made macaroni (really penne) and cheese.

I felt like I didn’t have any food in the kitchen (it’s been amazingly cold and snowy in Chicago so I haven’t been out grocery shopping in a while). I started thinking and I did have little bits of a few cheeses, milk (skim, nothing fancy), half a stick of butter, flour, frozen veggies, and 3/4 of a box of penne.

I started a roux with a tablespoon of butter and flour.  I added a cup of milk. (The last time I made this, I did 2 cups of milk to 1 tbsp of butter and flour but I wanted more liquid since I was baking that and this wasn’t going to be a casserole.)

I cooked the pasta with some frozen broccoli while I was adding about 1 cup of grated cheese (white cheddar, sharp cheddar, parm, and Gruyere) to the thickened sauce.

I grated a tsp of nutmeg and about 2 tsp of sweet paprika to the sauce. I drained the pasta and poured the sauce over it.

A comforting meal with almost no groceries when there is  knee deep snow and a -16F windchill.

comfort food

comfort food

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After trying WW chocolate cakes, I picked up Hostess’s Chocolate Zingers. They seem to be the closest.

Unlike WW which comes 6 individually wrapped cakes per box, the Hostess cakes come 3 to a packet. It’s very hard not to eat 3 at once which I suppose is in favor of WW if you are watching calories.

The Zinger was good. It seemed moister but not anymore chocolatey than the WW. It did have cream filling which was great.

Hostess Chocolate Zinger

Hostess Chocolate Zinger

Calories-150 (440 per package)
Appearance-7/10
Taste-7/10
Satisfaction-6.5/10
Overall-6.8/10

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