Thursday, September 29, 2011

One fish, two fish - revisited

So remember last week when I was so excited about my dinner that I didn't snap a picture before digging in? Well I re-made the same dinner (yes - even the side was so good!), and this time I did take a picture. So now that you know how to make parmesan breaded tilapia, here's what it looks like:

Fall-ing in Love

Friends, I've got to tell you something. In case you didn't already know, I have just the slightest obsession with all things Autumn. Really, it's just a little weensy thing, I swear.

In my office, we have your typical office supply catalog, drip-pot mud served up every morning, but I'll tell you what. Pour some pumpkin spice coffee creamer in there and I could drink a gallon of it. Really, it makes a world of difference. And you want to know something else ridiculous? I checked the expiration date on the bottle of creamer I picked up at the grocery store earlier this week. January. Do you know what that means? I can stockpile pumpkin creamer in my fridge and enjoy it all the way through January. Yes!  

Another love of fall is festivals and fairs! Get me outdoors in that crisp air and holy crap. You might need to put me on a leash. We've had some pretty soggy weather in Philly, and humid too. Gross. But the countdown is on. In two weeks, Ash and I go back to Raleigh, my old stomping grounds, for a long weekend at the N.C. State Fair! I think saying "I can't wait!" doesn't even cover it. He always makes fun of me for my lists, but I don't even care. I have a huge one started of alllll the things I want to do or take him to see (or favorite places to EAT!) while we're there. This post might be lacking in the visual stimulation, but you better believe I'll have some photo-packed posts after that trip. I'm already drooling thinking about the pulled pork sandwich I'm going to devour when we go to the fair on Saturday night. Whoa.

This weekend we were going to wander through Cabela's and then do some hiking at Hawk Mountain where, you guessed it, you can watch the hawk migrations, but Ash is fixing the front brakes on my car. Another weekend, I guess. We have a whole list of fall activities we're ready to enjoy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Apple Spice Bread

Last night I had a brilliant idea something along the lines of "I should make apple spice bread." As I said, brilliant. Okay, maybe not so much. It's no stroke of genius, but it's fall and there are apples and it's just what you should be doing on an autumn night - baking with apples and spices.

To my trusty Better Homes cookbook! (Imagine me blasting off toward the kitchen, something like Superman, but maybe with a wooden spoon or a whisk in my hand.) Oddly, the recipe for apple bread is the same that is used for zucchini bread. Hmm. If nothing else, I was going to use my all-time favorite banana bread recipe. Below you'll find the BH recipe, with slight adjustments to the amount of spices, mostly because I overflowed the measuring spoon...oops!


1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon (1.5 for me)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp nutmeg (1/2 for me)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (my addition - a must for all baking)
1 egg, beaten
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cooking oil
1 1/2 cups finely shredded, peeled apple*

*I cut mine into tiny chunks rather than pull out the food processor. It ended up being 2 cups, or 1.5 apples of the Pink Lady variety. I really wanted to use honeycrisp, but I only had one, and I wanted to be an apple purist. No mixing varieties.

Okay so I was being all Betty Crocker, getting my ingredients together in the separate bowls (see below) until I opened the cabinet to get the oil. Crap. I used the last of it when I made pumpkin bread a week or so ago. Just one more thing I forgot to put on the shopping list...uh oh. But! I did have just enough plain yogurt in the fridge, so I used that in place of the oil.


1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease bottom and 1/2 way up sides of loaf pan; set aside. (I made a dozen muffins instead.) In medium bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, baking powder and nutmeg. Make a well in center of flour mixture; set aside.

2. In another medium bowl, combine egg, sugar, shredded apple, vanilla extract and oil (or yogurt). Add apple mixture all at once to flour mixture. Stir just until moistened (batter should be lumpy). Spoon batter into prepared pan. I sprinkled the top of the batter with a cinnamon-sugar mix.

3. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on rack. And here's another thing - I didn't set a timer. Go by smell!

Another Meatless Meal

If I stick to the meal plan I've made for the week (well, the 5-day work week), I'll be eating meat one night, and fish another. The other days, my meals will have protein from soy or garbanzo beans. It's important to me to not only eat well for my body, but eat well for sustainability.

Tonight's dinner was another easy one with a Morningstar Farms product. I love their buffalo "chicken" nuggets, but the store where I did some grocery shopping over the weekend didn't have any. Bummer. Had to go with the plain old "chicken" nuggets instead. Throw 'em in the toaster oven on a sprayed baking sheet at 450 degrees for about 16 minutes. Flip 'em over once and let both sides get crispy.

I had leftover saffron rice from last night's tacos, so that was an easy side dish. Thanks to Ashley's garden, I had a fresh bell pepper for a veggie.

Fun fact: The past few photos I've posted have been taken with the Instagram app on my iPhone. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Less is More

Some nights, just as much as I love trying a new, elaborate recipe, I love falling back on something simple. Tonight's "simple staple" is vegetarian tacos. 

With a choice of white corn or yellow corn taco shells, I like the lightness of white corn. The two imitation beef products (soy-based) I use are either Morningstar Farms or Boca. Personally, I prefer Boca. It has the lightest flavor of seasoning already added to it, and it seems to cook better than the MSF product. To bulk the tacos up a little more, I made a pot of yellow rice. 

The ingredients and cooking instructions are as simple as they come. 

Rice: Get a box or bag of yellow rice; follow the cooking instructions on the package. One extra ingredient is a tablespoon of butter. 

Tacos: Spray a frying pan and pour desired amount of frozen "beef" crumbles in; cook on low to medium heat until the crumbles are heated all the way through. Sprinkle in a little taco seasoning if you want (I always keep a couple extra packages in my spice cabinet). Throw the shells in the toaster over at 250 degrees for about 5 minutes. 

Stuff the shells with rice, "beef" and cheese. Done and yum!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

One fish, two fish

In my extreme hunger and eagerness to eat dinner last night, I didn't snap any pics of the meal before we dug in...oops.

The last time I went to the co-op, I picked up a few different meats and fish for the main course of several meals. Last night's dinner was tilapia, which I think may be my favorite fish to prepare and eat. Because this white fish has such an un-fishy taste, you can prepare it so many different ways to feature the flavor of your ingredients. I decided to bread and bake.

I prepped by using two shallow dishes - one for a mixture of one egg beat with a couple tablespoons of milk (this was plenty for dipping two fillets). The other dish had a mixture of breadcrumbs and a few tablespoons of grated parmesan/romano cheese. I prepped a broiler pan by spraying the slotted tray with a thin layer of cooking spray, and nested it on top of the drain pan. After I dipped the fish in the egg mixture, I completely coated both sides in the bread crumb/grated cheese mixture, and placed on the broiler pan. Into the 425-degree oven for 20ish minutes it went, flipping the fish over halfway through. The breading was nice and crispy without drying out the fish. Perfection. I think I could have eaten both mine and Ashley's servings (shhh...).

Side dishes were steamed basmati rice (which you want to start before your fish, since it may take longer), and steamed broccoli (start the broccoli just a couple minutes before the fish is done). As always, I toasted the rice dry in the pan before adding the water. Let it boil for a minute, then reduce the heat and cover. With basmati rice, you'll notice a nice fragrance as the rice is cooking. It almost perfectly coincides with the rice being done.

I chose to mix my broccoli and rice and sprinkle with shredded Mexican blend cheese; Ash kept his separate and mixed hot sauce into his rice. We both had happy tummies after that dinner!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Food and Exercise

Now that I have an office job again, I've started packing smarter lunches and eat it throughout the day, rather than all at one time. My stomach is definitely getting used to it. I've been eating like shit. I partially blame it on Ashley because he's all about eating out (even though he really likes my cooking...he wants to give me "a break" it's something to do). The problem is we don't usually eat out places where you'd eat a real meal (umm...veggies?). It's usually more like bar food, cheesesteaks, etc. Blah.

I've brought an organic fruit strip, raw carrots and a piece of fruit both days so far. Yesterday I had some leftover saffron rice from the previous night's dinner, and today I have a container of plain organic yogurt with a scoop of Amazing Grass stirred in. Breakfast has been carbs (a couple of donut holes leftover from the weekend on Tuesday, and a bagel this morning). But mid-afternoon, all I can think about is what  I'm making for dinner. I definitely have to pick up some raw almonds or other type of snack to fill me up a bit more. I get in a routine of eating certain things, but it never fails that I get sick of eating it before I run out (hence, why there are so many Kashi bars in my cabinet and I always try to pawn them off on Ash for breakfast, haha).

A few weeks ago I made a big batch of turkey chili, and another of chicken soup. I have a few containers of each stored in the freezer, but then the hurricane hit and I ate all of those portions so they didn't go bad while my power was out for about three days. Kind of a bummer, but it's not like I can't just go get the ingredients and make that stuff again. I've also been thinking about longer-range dinner planning so I can get back into the habit of more streamlined grocery shopping. I don't mind going to the store a couple times a week to be sure that I have fresh produce, but going every other night because I realize I don't have all the ingredients I need to make dinner is pretty annoying.

Up until the past few days of non-stop rain, I had been taking the dogs on a short walk around a few blocks in the neighborhood once a day. Our forecast shows rain through the weekend, which is annoying when I depend on good weather to allow me to exercise. Aside from not being able to walk the dogs (which makes me feel bad for them), the rain also means I'm not walking to work, and that is just lame. It's only three blocks away! And really, I only have about another month-and-a-half of walking to work, because I wouldn't feel comfortable walking home after dark once we have the time change.

Here's to hoping we get a break from the rain and I can get in a decent grocery shopping trip this weekend!