Easy meatloaf and green beans dinner

meatloaf and beans
You know those crazy weeks that leave you totally frazzled and all you want to do is get back on track and reset expectations? But that’s just sooo sooo hard?  Instead you say, “tomorrow I’ll work out, cook healthy, and get to bed on time, but for tonight, it’ll be take out and a trashy movie”?  Yea, this was soo me last week.  Justin was away on the west coast and I used it as an opportunity to see some friends out of town and be super duper lazy.

So when life was supposed to return to normal, I struggled like nobody’s business.  This meal was my attempt to get back on track, and it worked.  It was easy enough of a meal to make, and homey enough to be exactly what we needed to get us back on track. It took about 15 minutes of touch time, exactly what I needed.

Easy meatloaf and green beans dinner
(serves 2-3)

For the meatloaf:
1.5 lbs of ground beef, veal, and pork, combined
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
2 tbs ketsup
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 jalepano pepper, thinly sliced

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Combine all ingredients together in a bowl. Form meat into a meatloaf shape and place in an oven safe pan.  Bake for 45-55 minutes.

For the beans:
3 cups green beans
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp chili oil
1 tsp soy sauce

Bring a pot of water to boil.  Place green beans in the boiling water, and cook for approximately 7 minutes, or until beans begin to soften.  Remove from heat and drain water.  Place cold water in the pot as to stop the cooking process, then drain.  Add salt, oil, and soy sauce to pot, and mix well.  Serve as a side.

meatload whole

food on,
– shirley

spanish style couscous with carrots, peppers and chorizo

couscous

I don’t know what it was about last week, but I was feeling lazy.  Unusually lazy.  It may have been the 3 day weekend that proceeded it, the cooling temperatures that had me wishing I could stay in bed all day, or my out-of-state 8am meeting on a Friday. Ew.  My laziness kept my workouts and runs to a minimum, and my desire to cook was lacking as  well.  While at times like this I am tempted to eat out, I try my best to avoid this, because, well, food at home is much cheaper, and quiet often, tastier.

Not only was I able to whip this up very quickly, it also used a few random items I had in the fridge. It made a great filling side to some chicken I made, and I made a whole box of couscous, so we had some left over for lunch the next day. In case you’re wondering about this couscous versus the smaller kernels of couscous, I prefer this kind, known as Israeli couscous, because in my experience it feels heartier and stays moist.

Spanish style Couscous with carrots, peppers and chorizo
(makes 3-4 servings)

3 oz. dry chorizo, cubed
1 cup carrots, shredded
1-2 sweet (or regular) pepper
1 jalapeno pepper
1 package couscous
1/2 tbs adobo seasoning
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the couscous according to package directions.  In a saute pan, with about 2 tbs of olive oil and under medium heat, cook together the peppers, carrots, and chorizo.   Cook until the pepper and carrots begin to soften and brighten, approximately 10 minutes.  When the vegetables and chorizo are cooked, add cumin powder, adobo seasoning, paprika, and salt and pepper.  Add to couscous and mix well.

couscous2

food on,
– shirley

eggplant, halloumi and tomato bites

eggplant, halloumi, tomato bites

So in the last week or so, everybody has been saying how excited they are for fall.  I’m tempted to join in, but I am resisting.  I know that as soon as the temperatures fall 10 more degrees, the leaves start changing colors, and I shiver on my way to work in the morning, I’ll be wishing it was still summer.  So for now, I’m holding onto summer as much as possible, and that includes this recipe, which is super fresh and uses local and organic eggplants and tomatoes.

I mentioned (my obsession with) halloumi cheese on the blog about 2 months ago.  They have it at Trader Joe’s now, for about 60% cheaper than what I used to get it at Whole Foods for. Total win in my book.  About a month ago, TJ’s was stocked out and I was afraid they were getting rid of it for good.  Thankfully it reappeared, but now I buy a pack every.single.week so I don’t regret it as much if it disappears again.  If you haven’t tried it yet, do it.  Trust me!

This is a super easy recipe and this is a perfect summery snack, or, like in my case, a refreshing side to dinner.

Eggplant, halloumi and Tomato Bites
(makes approximately 6-8 pieces)

1 small to medium sized eggplant
1 package Halloumi cheese
1 tomato
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
oil for frying

Bring oil to high heat.  Peel the eggplant and slice into thin, 1/2 inch thick slices.  When oil is hot, dip eggplant in egg mixture, then into breadcrumbs, and place in oil for frying.  When bottom is browned, about 4 minutes, flip over and repeat.  Remove from oil onto a paper towel. Repeat with all eggplant slices.  Slice tomato slices into 1/4 inch thick slices.  Slice Halloumi cheese into 1/4-1/2 inch thick slices, approximately similar in size to your eggplant.  Place cheese in a sauté pan under medium heat.  The cheese will begin to soften as it cooks.  Flip over after approximately three minutes, and remove from heat after another 3 minutes.

Arrange the bites so that the eggplant is at the bottom, then the cheese, and finally the tomato.  Serve immediately because the halloumi cheese tastes best when it is hot and soft.

halloumi eggplant tomato bites2

Food on
– Shirley

corn and zucchini fritters

fritter

I hope that you guys had a good labor day weekend.  Labor day weekend is bittersweet for me, since it marks the end of the summer.  Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about the idea of wearing leggings and boots, drinking hot chocolate and eating anything apple, and spending time outdoors apple picking and hanging out without immediately sweating.  But, the end of summer means no more bumming on the boat or by the beach. Or enjoying some locally grown vegetables, some of my favorites being zucchini and corn.

So I made this last week as I realized that not many more of these meals will take place before the end of summer.  I do enjoy latkes and fritters, but mixing the corn and zucchini together definitely kicked this up a notch.

Corn and Zucchini Fritters
(makes about 8 fritters)

2 ears corn, cooked
1 zucchini
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1  jalapeño pepper, cut into thin slices
salt and pepper, to taste
vegetable oil for frying

Cut the corn off of the ears.  Coarsely grate the zucchini by hand, collecting all of the grated zucchini in a bowl.  Add about 1 tsp salt to the bowl.  Mix well, then allow the zucchini to sit for about 10 minutes.  Following 10 minute wait, drain well. Spread the zucchini onto a kitchen towel.  Twist the towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible.  Transfer the zucchini to a bowl and stir in the  jalapeño slices , egg, bread crumbs and salt and pepper until the mixture is uniform.

In a pan, bring about 1 inch of vegetable oil to medium-high heat.  Once oil is hot, spoon about 3 tablespoons of fritter mixture  into the skillet, spreading into 3-inch circles with a fork.  Add about 4-5 fritters to the pan, depending on size.  Reduce heat to medium heat and cook until the undersides are browned, about 4 minutes.  Flip the fritter over and cook until the undersides are browned, about 4 minutes more.  Transfer the fritters to a paper towel to drain, and season with salt.  Add more oil to the skillet as needed.

veggie on
– shirley

back to basics: pickles

pickles
As I mentioned here, I was incredibly excited to see pickling cucumbers in my csa share a couple months back.  I have a ton of great memories from time spent with my grandparents.  Since my love for my food is only second to the love of those around me, it’s no surprise that many of my memories have to do with food.  The giant salads my grandfather used to make (as a kid, it was the only salad I would eat), the pitas with chocolate spread I could eat at their house (because my parents tried their best to keep us eating healthy when we were at home), and of course, my grandmother’s pickles.  She spoiled me rotten by making pickles from scratch.  There was always a jar of pickles in the fridge for me to pick at when we went to their house.

Since I finally had pickles that were up to par at home, I eat them as a snack, serve them as a side to sandwiches or burgers, and even added to a salad to give it a bit of a kick.

Pickles
(Makes 2 jars)

3 pickling cucumbers, cut into slices or long strips (quarters)
4-5 sprigs dill
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tbs red pepper flakes
2 tbs salt
2 cups white vinegar
3 cups water

Boil the water and set in the fridge to cool.  In 2 mason jars, place cucumbers and 1 sprig of dill each.  Chop the rest of the dill finely.  Once the water has cooled, mix together the vinegar, water, salt, garlic, dill and red pepper flakes.  Pour the mixture into the mason jars.  Close the jars tightly and place in the refrigerator.  Allow pickles to sit for approximately a week before using.

pickles

– food on,
Shirley

carrot cake

carrot cake

I think this is the first cake I’ve made in…um…ever.  As sharon said, I am not patient with measurements and preciseness, so I quickly learned that my baking should be limited to the occasional batch of muffins, banana bread, or cookies.  But, I was feeling a little adventurous last night, there was a soon expiring block of cream cheese in the fridge, and I was looking for a way to use a whole bunch of carrots I got from the csa this week.  Not to mention carrot cake is J’s favorite.

So I checked out a few recipes online and proceeded to make a carrot cake!  I (for obvious reasons) have a pretty simple baking setup and don’t have two of any of my pans to make a layered cake.  I just used one round ~13″ pan and was able to get a pretty thick cake out of it.  And it came out tasting great!

Carrot Cake
Adapted from Betty Crocker (bettycrocker.com)

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup apple butter
3 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped walnuts

For the frosting:
1 pkg (8 oz) light cream cheese, softened
3 tsp milk
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Heat over to 350°F.  Grease bottom and sides of one large cooking pan or two small pans with butter and flour lightly.  In large bowl, beat sugar, apple butter and eggs with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Add flour, cinnamon, baking soda, vanilla extract and salt. Beat on low speed 1 minute. Stir in carrots and nuts and pour into pan(s).

Bake cake for between 30 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean (large pans will take closer to 45 minutes, smaller ones closer to 30 minutes).  Remove cake from pans and allow to cool completely.

In a bowl, beat together cream cheese, milk, vanilla extract until smooth, then gradually add in powdered suger.  Frost layers of the cake and sides and tops of cake.  Garnish with chopped walnuts, if desired.

cutout carrot cake

cake on
– Shirley

sunday funday: fish tacos

fish tacos

A few years ago, J and I took a vacation to Cabo San Lucas.  To say that I love Cabo would be an understatement.  It’s a beautiful town (the very southern town/tip of Baja California), the sights are gorgeous, the water is beautiful, and the locals are incredible hosts.  The city is definitely tourist driven, so J and I quickly ventured outside the main streets to find some more local and authentic spots.  We are always in the hunt for these when we travel because it usually means that the food is more reasonbly priced, tastier, and we’re able to experience the true local culture and flair.

In cabo, I remember two places that were exactly like this.  The first was a taco stand right next to the fishing wharf, and the second was a small restaurant a few blocks from the main street. Both had some great tasting, seafood tacos.  And of course, in both, tacos were about a dollar a pop.  Can’t beat that.

So when we got back from Cabo I knew I had a new mission: Recreate those tacos pescados (fish tacos).  I did some digging around and have been making these ever since. I’ve made them with both tilapia and mahi mahi and it’s really a toss up.  Add a little cheese, cabbage, salsa, guac, sour cream, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and I’m instantly back on the warm, beautiful streets of Cabo.

fried fish - tacos

Fish tacos
(serves 3)

2 filets of white fish, tilapia or mahi mahi work best
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup your favorite beer, mexican beers work great
3-4 cups vegetable oil
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup cheese
8-10 corn tortillas
favorite garnishes, including guacamole, salsa, and sour cream
a squeeze of lemon

In a bowl, mix together the flour and beer.  The consistency should be like that of pancakes.  I’ve found that I usually end up with a little more liquid than flour to get to the right consistency.  Be patient when mixing because of the foaming of the beer.

Rinse the white fish with a little water and dry on a paper towel.  Add a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon to each side of the fish, and slice into one inch wide segments.

Heat a pan with the oil on medium-high.  Add a little drop of batter into the oil to ensure it is hot enough – the batter should immediately float to the top and sizzle.  Once the oil is hot, place the fish strips into the batter, ensure each piece of fully coated.  Lift out of the batter and allow to drip for a couple seconds, then place into the hot oil.  Cook for approximately 3 minutes, or until browned.

Assemble the tacos by placing one to two pieces of fish, a little cheese, shredded cabbage, and as desired, guacamole, salsa, and sour cream.  Finish with a squeeze of lemon.

food on,
– Shirley