Tag Archives: food

Lover of Leftovers

1 Aug

Time. There are 24 hours in every day, but sometimes it feels like less.  So when I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Cooking big is a time saver. If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week. But even quick week night meals can provide leftovers for another meal.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  You can enjoy them for a second meal as is, but they can also be used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes to work with me for a quick lunch at the office.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal to power it up. Quinoa is a plant based protein loaded with beneficial amino acids. It was a satisfying protein and grain breakfast following an early morning workout at the gym.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added plant protein to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  The next day goat cheese was a wonderful addition to a “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday brown bag lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this to drizzle over veggies going into the oven to roast.  Homemade vinaigrette is super flexible and great to have around. It is a delicious way to add a wonderful layer of flavor to most anything.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing salad. I also threw in some of that leftover quinoa so it was a complete meal.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome salad! The added quinoa was the perfect protein for this dish.

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, with a bonus of shredded chicken. (Nonleftover: frozen cauliflower). This made a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower cooked up quick in the microwave. It was tossed together with the chicken and pesto for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what ends up on your dinner table!

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Naughty In Charleston

27 Dec

Sneaking off to Charleston, South Carolina is one of my favorite things to do when I get the chance.  Everybody has places that cleanse our mind and free our spirit.  In addition to my house of worship, Charleston does that for me.  My breath slows, my mind calms, and my priorities shift. I love it there.

The history of the city is fantastic.  It is an old port city and definitely, like all old cities,  has a naughty side.   But the history, showcased in but not limited to the architecture, is beautiful.  Walking around the city taking in the historical churches, centuries old residential homes, and cemeteries of yesteryear take you back in time.  An appreciation for the present can be felt by stepping into the past.

That is an amazing part of Charleston, but I digress.  Being a foodie is reason number one to love Charleston.  It is a wonderful culinary destination.  You can go the budget route and find great food at reasonable prices.  After a long morning of walking around Charleston, grabbing an inexpensive lunch somewhere is easy to do.  If you are lucky, squeezing in an afternoon nap is a decadent treat too.

Refreshed from a little power snooze, there are a number of places to enjoy roof top cocktails, some tapas, and a blazing sunset that produces every color in the rainbow.  After the sunset, wander down just about any street.  Stop in one of the many fine restaurants for a dinner that will knock your socks off.  It is a great way to end a day in Charleston.  But how should the day begin?

Starting the day with naughty is a delightful beginning to any day in Charleston.  Take a walk down King Street, and you will enjoy world class shopping.  But do not be distracted for long before breakfast or you will walk right by the most naughty place in all of Charleston. Glazed Gourmet Doughnuts. This place is a show stopper.   Oh yeah.  Slow down, take a big whiff, and your nose will guide you.

This is a place to relish the delightful gourmet doughnuts, the friendly service, and the oh so yummy  treats.  And yes…go all the way and get a glass of whole milk to wash down that doughnut.  Go all out naughty.   As I said, Charleston feeds my soul. In many ways. Sometimes being naughty can be so good.

A bacon maple donut...this is pretty naughty-and happily so!

A bacon maple donut…this is pretty naughty-and happily so!

Love. The real soul food.

31 Aug

School is back in session.  Football has started.  That means one thing…summer is rolling into fall.  When seasons change, it’s a new beginning of sorts.  Mother Nature freshens up her Earth.  Time to refresh the soul as well. I reflect on the past, and think about how to improve my future. My journey to love, loyalty, forgiveness, and appreciation continues, as does the journey to discover myself. A goal for my journey is to make it a joyful one. As I sit back and marvel at the obstacles I have overcome and the resulting  strength that has grown within, gratitude washes over me.  So I must say thank you.  Again and again.  There is no denying the gifts.

Thank you to those who told me I couldn’t. From you I am learning that I can.

Thank you to those who gossiped. From you I am learning how to hold my friends dear, and how important it is to keep my mouth shut.

Thank you to those with no faith. From you I am learning that God is central in my life, and that my faith runs deep.

Thank you to those who told me that I am weak. From you I am learning inner strength and confidence. You allow me to dig down to discover that I am stronger than I ever imagined.

Thank you to those that told me I was ugly. From you I am finding my inner beauty.

Thank you to those that put up barriers in my life. From you, I am learning to tear down walls and fight for what I want.

Thank you to those who told me that I am not a good mother. From you I am learning that my commitment to motherhood is beautifully imperfect, and perfectly loving.

Thank you to those that put me second (or more accurately third, fourth or fifth) . From you I am learning that God puts me first.

Thank you to those who are loud and demand attention. From you I am learning the value of being quiet.

Thank you to those who create drama in my life. From you I am learning to truly appreciate peace.

Thank you to those who have that overpowering sense of entitlement. From you I am learning to humble, see the good, and appreciate the little things.

Thank you to those who told me to quit. From you I am learning perseverance.

Thank you to those who brag. From you I learning to be modest.

Thank you to those that lied to me. From you I am learning the importance of the truth.

Thank you to those who are false and phony. From you I am learning the importance of being genuine.

Thank you to the people who showed me kindness not because I am needy but because you are good. Thank you to those who extended generosity, for you have enabled me to more openly give to others. Thank you for those with whom I share friendship, prayerful faith, and comforting touch not only in times of need, but in all times.

Thank you for those of you that protect me not because I am weak but because you are loyal. Thank you to those that share their strength with me when I have none. For you give me the power to be a pillar of strength to someone else. Because of you I can extend the generous love you have shown me to others. After all, it is in giving that we receive.

I am no different from anyone else. I have been hurt. I have felt the pain of deceit, the heart break of cruel disloyalty, and the sting of failure. From that I rise up.  I give thanks to those by my side, and for those that have turned against me. From everyone whose life has touched mine, I continue to learn to love. It is easy to be thankful for the great people in your life and to love them. The challenge lies in loving and learning from those that hurt us.

This blog addresses mostly food. Today it is about fruits. The fruits of the spirit. Food for the soul.  After all, we should strive for progress, not perfection.

The Art of Layering

26 Feb

Layering is important.  I grew up in the midwest and made it through countless winters there, so I know a thing or two about layering.  When it is so cold that the moment you walk outside your nose hair freezes (and it aint pretty!) you learn about the importance of layering.  That brings me directly to another point.  Fashion goes out the door when the temperature is below zero, the furnace doesn’t shut off, and it’s just plain cold.  Which works for me.  I seem to have missed the “fashion” girl gene anyway.  So I layer for reasons not related to fashion…my sister got that gene!  She always looks cute.   Me?  Well, lets just say I try.

I apply most of my sense of layering to food, of course!  As a (self proclaimed snobby) foodie, I like to layer flavors when I cook.  What does that mean?  I add ingredients slowly while cooking if the recipe and time allows, perhaps with a soup or a sauce.  When pinched for time, a sauce can be thrown together quickly.  However, if time allows, layering food flavors while cooking is worthwhile.

Secret tip: throwing a parmesan rind into a sauce or soup early on to simmer adds flavor.  I love this tip.  Not only because of the amazing flavor that this imparts, but the premise is wonderful when cooking.  Layers.  Like a cake.  And using every single part of food.

Valentine Cake

18 Feb

Food is center stage in my home many days. Well, family is really front and center, but the kitchen is truly the heart of our family home, and we hang out there often. When I say that food is important to my family, I don’t mean constantly eating junk food. Taking the time to prepare healthy food with family is enormously rewarding. It is a family value and time well spent together in a warm comfortable and accepting environment.

We have great meals and nutritious food, but we have loads of fun too. I enjoy cooking, but am not much of a baker. I can sure improvise though. And have a blast. My kids do too! I love to cook, but the teeny tiny side of me that bakes rears its ugly head every now and again. Not really one for cookies, I turn to making cakes with the children. We put a spin on it though. We will make fun cakes for most any occasion!

Make a round cake and a square cake.

Make a round cake and a square cake.

When I make cakes, I use a high quality cake mix. Those work just fine for non bakers like myself. But I always make the

Cut the round cake in half.  Place half on 2 sides of the square cake.

Cut the round cake in half. Place half on 2 sides of the square cake.

  frosting from scratch. I learned how to make out of this world frosting from my mom. She    very wisely advised me to “always make a little too much frosting by accident”. Was she ever right! I was never voted Prom Queen, but when I make frosting I am Prom Queen for a moment..the most popular girl in the kitchen! What do I mean by popular? Let me tell you!

When I bust out my frosting, a line forms in the kitchen. Kids. Denis. His mom. More kids.  Everyone lines up to grab a spoonful of frosting before it makes its way to the cake. Everyone but my youngest son that is. The baby of the family (I am one too!) is a scrappy bunch. We learn survival of the fittest at a very young age! Anywhooo, my son doesn’t grab a spoon and stand in line. Nope, not him. The moment he notices a naked cake cooling on the counter and a stick of butter softening nearby (a main ingredient in my frosting), he loudly calls the beater from the mixer. Now that is the holy grail when making frosting, let me tell you! He is a

Then frost your cake with love!

Then frost your cake with love!

smart kid. No line, no waiting, and a solid guarantee of a good dose of moms incredible buttercream frosting. Yup, that’s my boy!

But I digress! Back to the cakes. I do not have lots of room in my kitchen for a bunch of specialty cake pans. So I improvise. I make 2 round cakes, or a round cake and a square one, and cut it to fit the occasion. I have also made a rectangle cake for my sons, and with colored frosting made everything from a football field cake with action figures to a construction site cake with matchbox bulldozers. So much fun, and the creativity flows. Food should be fun, so go have a blast!

So why blog about making a valentine cake right after Valentines Day?  No, I have not been hitting the cooking wine today.  It is    because I don’t celebrate Valentines Day.  Well, at least not on February 14th that is.  I celebrate it all year.  I detest the idea that there is “one day of love” a year.  Nope,  I am not having any part of that.  I live more of a robust life.   I tell people I love them every single day.  Genuinely.  Confidently.

Yep.  I say I love you every day to the people in my life, not just on February 14th.  The calendar does not define any “day of love” for me because it is every day.  So make valentine day cake.  Any day you want.  And tell the people in your life you love them 365 days  a year.  It is great for the spirit, the soul, and a full happy heart.

Love the food…hate the breath?

13 Oct

I love great food.  And I eat just about everything, mostly in moderation.  Nothing beats an iceburg wedge salad with blue cheese on it.  Or a garlic infused roasted chicken.  But holy cow…that kind of eating can sure lead to some serious bad breath!

We have all done it. Cupped our hand from our mouth to our nostrils and huffed out.  Then breathed in deep. And thought “Is it bad?  Can I tell if it is bad?  What if I can’t tell!”

The anxiety of the possibility of bad breath is just too much, and we cannot resist the temptation to see four ourselves if, indeed, we have bad breath! But does this method work? Can we smell our own bad breath? Well, our nose is connected to our mouth, so this method is probably not effective.  We filter it out!

I think we all remember one teacher from grade school with the condition. They used to get right up close and personal, then whisper something discreetly. Man, a kid could just pass out from that blast of bad breath sent in our direction! Have we forgotten the juvenile nicknames for teachers possessing this affliction? Who can forget the 5th grade social studies teacher “Horse breath Hoffman” (my apologies to all horse lovers to whom this unfortunate nickname might offend).

As a mother, I know that I have been guilty of bad breath too. Driving carpool in the morning is not glamorous. I am certain that helping a kid get buckled in after a nights sleep, a cup of coffee, and no time to get a toothbrush in my mouth had to just about make my kids eyes roll into the back of their head! I guess none of us can escape bad breath every now and again.

Bad breath has a medical name. It’s halitosis. The word is as unpleasant as the condition. What causes it? Is it chronic?  Bad breath has many causes that range from offensive food to poor dental care. Eating strong foods such as garlic and blue cheese can contribute to bad breath.

Bacteria growing on the back of the tongue is also a major cause for halitosis. So is dehydration. It is a fairly common problem and can be chronic, meaning it is constantly present. Luckily it is preventable.

Good oral care helps rid our mouth of offensive breath. Brush and floss often. And don’t forget to brush your tongue too, all the way to the back of the tongue. Yes, your gag reflex may kick in, but try to do it anyway! Bacteria grows in our mouth, and good oral hygiene can get rid of halitosis causing bacteria.

Chewing gum can also help get rid of bad breath, in part because it stimulates saliva production. Drinking more water and staying properly hydrated can help prevent or get rid of halitosis too. The dentist is another great resource for helping get rid of bad breath.

So back to determining if we can smell our own bad breath. We may not be able to do it by cupping our hand from our mouth to our nostril, but there may be another way. Lick your wrist. Wait a few seconds. Smell it. That may be a good indication of what your breath smells like. So enjoy your garlic and blue cheese, drink some water, go to the dentist, and lick the back of your hand! Then sniffffffff!

Quirky

12 Jun

Everyone has their food quirks.  Something that makes our food distinctly ours.  My oldest son?  He likes what I call a “naked” sandwich.  No condiments.  Bread, meat, maybe a little lettuce or banana peppers from a jar.  That’s it.  I say eeww to that.  Too quirky.  I simply cannot eat a naked sandwich.

And ketchup.  Does it go on the pile of fries, or next to them to be dipped?  Or do you forgo the ketchup all together and go for the European way with mayo on those fries?

Then there are hot dogs.  Kind of a sacred food for this Chicago girl.  Being of german heritage with Chicago as my home town, no hot dog is edible without that bright yellow mustard slathered o it!  In fact, I am into a Chicago Dog all the way.  That includes mustard, celery salt, peppers, tomato wedges, and never ever ever does a Chicago dog done right include ketchup.  In fact, just forming that last sentence, the very thought of ketchup on a hot dog made shivers go up my spine.  No kidding

And Rice Krispies are not at all edible unless there is a ripe banana (no green whatsoever!  It must be soft, yellow and well on it’s way to brown!) cut up in neat little slices plopped into the bowl of  snap! crackle! and pop! in milk on my breakfast table.  But my friend will not eat Rice Krispies unless they are mixed in with a heap of melted marshmallow.  It’s just his thing.

Being a foodie, I, of course, will try just about any food prepared any way.  But I must hail back to my roots and recognize my quirks.  Deleveloped somewhere along my forty-something years of eating, I am not certain quite how my quirky food habits formed, but I allow them air time.  I embrace them.  I also very much enjoy hearing and observing others food quirks.  We all have ’em.  They are fun, and distinguish us from one another.  As in all things, I celebrate differences.  I find differences in food preferences, eating habits, and individual quirkiness intriguing.  Interesting.  Thought provoking.  Fun.

Try all foods, expand your palate, but for comfort…embrace your food quirks!