Archive | November, 2012

Hearty Grilled Brie with Pear and Arugula Sandwich

30 Nov

It’s no secret I love grilled cheese sandwiches. Love them! Seriously, is there better comfort food on the entire planet? Don’t think so.

There’s no reason a grilled cheese sandwich can’t be a hearty and good-for-you meal. Like life, it all boils down to choices: use whole grain bread, heart-healthy oil, high quality cheese, and add some fruit/veggies.

Pear, Brie, and Arugula Grilled Cheese Sandwich

2 slices Dave’s Killer

2 tsp olive oil (for grilling)

2 oz Brie

1/2 cup arugala

1/2 d’anjou pear (or apple, if you prefer)

Smear of Dijon or honey (or honey mustard!)

Brush bread lightly with oil. Load up fixin’s. Grill over medium heat until the brie is melted and the bread is gold brown (about 3 minutes on each side).

059060062You know what would go great with this? A creamy butternut squash-based soup. For dipping. Oh, man. I guess there’s always tomorrow . . . 🙂



A Tale of Two Chickens

28 Nov

I was so very Little House on the Prairie yesterday. Spent the day smoking whole chickens, baking cornbread, tending the herd  children.

Let me start by saying, since acquiring a smoker, all I can think about is which things I would like to eat smoked. I think I might have a(nother) problem.

Also, the looks I got after exclaiming in Trader Joe’s, during a lull in the noise-level, “If it can be smoked, I’m gonna try to smoke it,” makes me think I need to think before I speak. However, it may have landed me a new friend or two. They will be disappointed, I think, when they find out I was talking about a carcass. Oh, well. Such is life.

Anyway, I had yet to smoke a chicken, so why not?

I found this recipe from Extraordinary BBQ recipe and followed it almost exactly.

Me, Monday night: “Wait, is brining overnight necessary? That’s a long time to wait for my delicious, delicious chicken.” SO I experimented: 2 chickens, exactly the same, prepped exactly the same way, except I only brined 1 of them.

*SPOILER ALERT: Brine the chicken. It’s immeasurably better: juicier, more flavorful, fall-off-the-bone amazing. I’ll have to do something else with the blander, drier chicken. Taco night again? Maybe.*

Note: That’s my garage fridge. I’m not, in fact, an alcoholic.

The Brine:

1 gallon water

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup iodized salt

Dissolve, add chicken, cover, and soak overnight.

The Stuffing:

2 yellow onions

4-6 cloves garlic

2 apples

Olive oil

Salt & Pepper

Chop, season, mix, stuff into chickens.

The Birds:

Rub chicken with olive oil

Season liberally with salt, pepper, and smoked paprika

Smoke at 250 for 3-5 hours (depending on bird size) until internal temp reaches 170.

Okay, it’s not EXACTLY like Little House on the Prairie. Close enough!

The smoking gives it that pink color. I wouldn’t poison myself (or you).

I have no words. So good. SO GOOD.

And only takes, what, like a day and a half?

It’s worth it.

Or you could just come over and join me for a beer while constantly checking the smoker temp + waiting the 5 hours for our feast.

You saw my garage fridge. Let’s get on it.

Roasted Butternut Apple Harvest Salad

27 Nov

It’s almost winter. Can you tell? I can. There are markers for such events.

It’s also the season of winter squash. I am also in love. With a lot of things, including this salad. And squash, obviously.

I seriously plan to eat this everyday for lunch until every last ingredient is gone. I think butternut squash is my new “sweet potato.”

Roasted Butternut Apple Harvest Salad

1 butternut squash

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1  red apple, cored and chopped

1 oz soft goat cheese (chevre)

2-4 cups arugula

3oz whole grain baguette, torn into bite-sized pieces

1-2 tsp (preferably local) honey

1-2 tsp Balsamic vinegar

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1/8 tsp each of the following:

  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chili powder
  • cinnamon

Cut squash lengthwise, spritz with olive oil, and season. Bake at 375 for 40-60 minutes, until just tender.

Add bread and apples to baking sheet during the last 15-20 minutes of squash cooking.

Remove, let cool, then peel skin and cube squash.

Toss it all together.

Drizzle with a little honey and balsamic.

That’s a boatload of veggies. And a serving of fruit. And whole grains.

Clean eating at its finest.

But now . . . what’s for dinner?

Thanksgiving Weekend Things (by iPhone)

25 Nov

My responsibilities.

Ellensburg bound, bright and early (ish.)

Eats & Drinks

Of course I made my special ‘taters.

Leftovers Sandwich. I WAIT ALL YEAR FOR IT.

“Moments to Remember 2012”

And back home. Well, after the North Bend Outlet Mall, Taco Time, and Ikea. SALES.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Who’s ready to lace up those runners and hit the pavement?







A Few Last-Minute, Waistline-Friendly Side Dish Ideas

22 Nov

Once again, I feel the need to tell you I am not cooking this Thanksgiving. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I’m a little bummed, because I freaking love being in the kitchen. I love having my house full of people I love. Heck, I even sort of love the clean-up: chaos to spotless is soothing to me. Is it weird that I love to see order restored?

Don’t answer that.

I’m not too upset though, because I did declare myself in charge of the booze. Pomegranate margaritas, anyone? This is your formal invite . . .

Anyway, you probably already have plans, menus, and prep done. But if you don’t or if you’re thinking you need just one more (light) something-or-other, I hope this helps. Also, these are great sides for any day of the week. Simple, clean, healthy, and cheap. Basically, everything you could ever ask for in a side-dish.

Simple Salad with Roasted Chickpea “Croutons”

Rinse, dry, season (i use a little olive oil and Emeril’s homemade Creole seasoning) and roast chickpeas at 350 for 15-20ish minutes until crunchy.

Whatever greens you want. You know how to make a salad. I’m just telling you roasted chickpeas are way better than croutons.

Sage and Garlic Smoky Sweet Potato Fries

Cut sweet potato into wedges. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with smoked paprika, minced garlic, and fresh sage. Bake at 450 for 15-25 minutes.

Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus

Self-explanatory. Bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes.

Garlicky Green Beans

Minced garlic, fresh green beans, olive oil. Saute over medium heat until just barely tender. Salt and pepper to taste.

Yes, I eat a lot of garlic.

Yes, I carry breath mints and perfume with me at all times.

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

Strawberry Orange Vanilla Protein Shake

19 Nov

Oh, Monday. You’re so chaotic. Why can’t you be more like Friday?

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet.

Like the following recipe:

Strawberry Orange Vanilla Protein Shake

1 cup frozen whole organic strawberries (Costco!)

4 oz organic orange juice

2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder (I use Trader Joe’s. Obviously. You may need to adjust depending on brand.)

6 oz water

1-2 tsp cold-pressed unrefined organic coconut oil

Put it all in the blender, Magic Bullet, VitaMix, whatever.

Blend until smooth.

Pour into Ball jar ’cause that what all the cool kids do, you know?

Drink it too fast because it’s crazy delicious and tastes like something you’d find in the mall food court.

Brain freeze.

Worth it.

Smokey White Bean Turkey Chili

15 Nov

Yep. I’ve already done the turkey thing this month and moved on to leftovers. I’m not hosting Thanksgiving this year, so who cares?

Next week you’ll be desperate to find a use for that 15 lbs of dry, bland white meat nobody touched.

Never fear. This chili is the answer to your problems. SO GOOD, in fact, your leftovers will be gone in record time. It’s smokey. And creamy. And ridiculously healthy, hearty, and filling. I want another bowl just thinking about it.

Smokey White Bean Turkey Chili

(Adapted from the Tasty Kitchen). Serves 6-8.

4 slices bacon, diced

About 6 cups shredded (or ground) skinless turkey breast (white meat! Healthy!)

1 large sweet onion, diced

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp chipotle chile powder

4 cups chicken stock

1 (14 oz) can fire roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

4 (14.5 oz) cans cannelini beans (drain 3 cans, reserve the 4th to use as a thickener.)

2 (4 oz) cans diced mild green chiles, drained

Cotija cheese and fresh cilantro for garnish.

In a large pot, slightly brown the bacon. Add onions and garlic, reduce heat to medium and saute until caramelized. Add chicken and all seasonings. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Add stock, tomatoes, green chiles, and the 3 cans of beans.

Put the last can of beans, liquid and all, into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Add to pot.


Under medium-low heat, bring to a boil, then simmer, uncovered for 15-20 minutes.

Serve with cojita cheese (salty, savory heaven) and a sprinkling of cilantro.

For those cooking for only 1 or 2: this freezes and reheats beautifully.

Mildy spiced. Warming. Comforting. Nutritious. Flavored with bacon.

And perfect for those days following Thanksgiving where you swear you’re going to get back on track . . . just in time for Christmas goodies.

*Trainer’s note: bust out a few squats, pushups, and/or burpees during simmer-time. Cool-down and stretch a little while you’re waiting for the chili to cool a bit. You won’t be (as) sore and you won’t burn your mouth. Win-win situation right there. You’re welcome.