Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What the doctor ordered

Chris and I some day.
 You know how we were hooked on “The Kennedy’s” on Netflix a few weeks ago, and became obsessed with Bobby Kennedy (so much so that we named a pie after him)? Well, there were only 8 episodes, so we had to move on. Yes, we still love RFK, but we had to find a new dinner-time show. Guess what?! I’m finally, 7 seasons later, on the “Grey’s Anatomy” train. Yep, it happened. (Although I do find it a bit odd that watching surgeries while eating doesn’t bother us…)

It all started because I had been watching the new episodes with Chris on Thursday nights, and curiosity started to get the best of me. Good thing we have Netflix, because over the course of six days now, I’ve been able to get half way through Season 2! Why didn’t I know it was THIS good?! Better late than never I suppose.

So all of this Grey’s has gotten me super fascinated with surgeons and surgery in general. I’m pretty sure I want to be and marry a surgeon now. They’re all that good-looking in real life, right?! On the show, each doctor has a different specialty. I thought about it, and I want to be the Chief of Surgery, and Chris wants to focus on Pediatric surgery. We’re currently researching possible financial avenues we could take to fund this career change. HA!

Other than our TV being stuck on Grey’s, it is also International Week at our house. My awesome Dad took me surprise grocery shopping the other day, so I took that opportunity to stock up! (We have WAY too much ice cream now…oops.) When we brought it all home, we hardly knew what to do with ourselves. Instead of going crazy and eating it ALL out of excitement, we decided to get creative and shake things up, all while conserving resources and stretching them as far as they can go. Check out our Meal Planning Google doc this week. Please notice the Food we have, Food we need, Katy needs, and Chris needs columns. It's beautiful.
Yeah, we like hot dogs on Fridays.

The 2nd stop on the International Train was Mexican Lasagna! We discovered this recipe on Pinterest (duh), and loved it. We changed a few minor details to make it our own, and now it’s one of our faves. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a Mexican fanatic nowadays. Lucky for me, Chris is too!

Anyway, It took about 10ish minutes to prepare (with my handy helper), and about 20 minutes to bake.

This week is all about being efficient with our resources, which means not wasting perfectly good food. We find ourselves re-buying things that we forget we already/still have (CARROTS, anyone?), so we took this opportunity to use some of our Mexican surplus. I’m the anti-hoarder when it comes to the refrigerator, so I was extra excited about this purge. We had 5 different half-eaten jars of salsa, 3 packages of varied amounts of shredded cheese, and 3 half-bags of tortilla chips! By the end, we reduced the salsa to 2 jars, cheese down to 1 bag, and the chips down to 1 (full, unopened from Dad). Yesss! Oh, and we have leftovers for lunch AND dinner. Muy Bien!

Also, I think it’s time that I mention how I really hate the c-word. Absolutely hate it. I hate saying the word, and pretty much don't. Oh, and the way it sounds…not good. When I hear the word, I picture a nasty, gray, unidentifiable mush in a pan at a church picnic. Yeaaahhh, yuck. So you will never see such a thing on this blog. I know, it’s weird.

Mexican Lasagna

  • Tortilla chips
  • EVOO
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Boneless Skinless Chicken breast
  • 2 Tbs Taco Seasoning (We used this reduced sodium mix)
  • 1 can Black Beans, drained
  • 1 cup Salsa (We mixed 3 varieties)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
**We want to try adding other ingredients like corn or spinach next time**

Preheat oven to 350.

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and garlic and sautee until soft. 

While that is cooking, cut the chicken breast into bite-sized chunks. Next, add meat and taco seasoning. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. 
Check out those great nails!
 Add beans and salsa. Mix well and continue to cook until salsa thickens.

Meanwhile, line the bottom of a large baking dish with tortilla chips, pressing down on them lightly to break them into bite-sized pieces. Next, add a thin layer of cheese. 

Spread the meat and bean mixture over the chips so that the pan is covered evenly. 

Top with another layer of slightly crushed chips followed by another layer of cheese. 

Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and gooey. 

Top with guacamole or sour cream, or anything else you can think of, and eat up (while watching Grey’s Anatomy).

Favorite parts of this meal:
  1. I felt like a surgeon while I was cutting up the chicken.
  2. We had chips and salsa time while it was baking.
  3. It freed up space in the fridge.
  4. We have leftovers for 2 meals.
  5. We hardly used our new supplies.

Once again, we were able to be gluten-free, have a delicious meal (3x), and save money! Cha-chiiiiinggg!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beads, rice, and everything nice.

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks filled with fun little holidays and plenty of excuses to celebrate. Last weekend, we had a little party for our friend J.Fal. He turned 23 this week. I made his favorite: Bobby Kennedy Pie. (He REQUESTED it...yesss!) 
Happy Birthday, Juicy J! We lurve you.
He and I also celebrated the 1st Annual Red-head Haircut Weekend.

Sundays are becoming my favorite days. This week, we continued our Atlanta brunching adventures at Zocalo in Midtown. It’s this cool little Mexican place near Piedmont Park. It was absolutely delicious. I really like trying new places, but I like it even more when the place is THIS good. I got the black bean cakes with roasted tomato salsa. YUM. And it was very reasonably priced, too. Chris and I both want to go back for lunch or dinner soon. Later in the day, my Dad came over to hang out, and grilled ribs and burgers for everyone. Such a fun day.
The fam.

I also had a fabulous President’s Day off on Monday. I spent it doing yoga, laundry, dishes, and taxes. It was great.

Then (Fat) Tuesday was Mardi Gras! What an awesome holiday. It’s all about the party…what could be better?! Shannon got a HUGE King Cake delivered straight from New Orleans to our office that morning. It certainly was pretty and smelled amazing. And was obviously full of gluten. Sad. Then I realized… traditional Fat Tuesday fixin’s are not GF friendly. In my pre-gluten-free days, I used to eat a huge pancake breakfast (dinner) on Mardi Gras with my family. Well, not anymore. But if you know anything about Chris and I, you know we’re festive. And we like to dress up and celebrate any chance we get. So we didn’t let a little gluten ruin our Tuesday of Fatness!

Upon further research on Pinterest and on Kroger’s sale flyer, we decided we could make Cajun Red Beans and Rice with smoked sausage! Thanks to Barb, we wore some beads and did things up right. It ended up being super cheap, and easy meal (except for a rice miscommunication), in a fat in a fairly healthy way. We find ourselves eating a lot of the same things, so it was fun to step outside the box. I think we’re broadening each other’s horizons, too (I’m turning Chris McBacon-lover into a sausage fan!)

Beach season is around the corner, so before we got started cooking, we did a little yoga DVD. We were feeling GOOD. 

We were so excited about this meal that we somehow managed to mess up cooking the rice. YEP, the rice. I’m still not sure where we went wrong, but we ended up with too much water, mushy, oatmeal-ish rice, and a difficult pot to clean. I don’t know. I trust that you all will be better direction followers than I was that night.

Here’s the recipe we used.

2 cups Brown rice
4 cups hot water
1 teaspoon salt
1 pkg Turkey Smoked Sausage (on sale!)
1 can red beans

Start with the rice. Pour the rice and the hot water into a saucepan, and bring to a boil. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low, and simmer for 30-ish minutes. Meanwhile, slice the sausage into thin pieces. 
Barb's beads and my yoga get-up
 Next, heat a skillet to about medium, and add the EVOO and the sausage, and add as much Cajun seasoning as you’d like. Cook for about 7 minutes, or until it is cooked to your liking.

Then, add the drained can of red beans to the sausage. Combine them and cook until warm. 

The rice should be done soon there after. Serve rice with sausage/bean mixture on top. Feel free to be a ragin’ Cajun and add more spice.

We ate off of the china and watched the first episode of “Downton Abbey”, and it was great. We felt fat and happy. We both decided that we enjoyed this meal so much (the taste and the price tag), that we may add it into the rotation. 

My first gluten-free Mardi Gras was fabulous. Although, I do think it's a little unfair that gluten-free folks have zero to no chance of finding the baby in a King Cake. Next year: New Orleans and maybe a GF King Cake.

P.S. Here's a little voo doo gem:

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Raising a glass...

All this cold weather has gotten me missing/looking forward to summertime. It’s my favorite season, and I think that is because all of my favorite memories seem to have been made during summers past. When I think of summertime, I think of camp and Braves games. For as long as I can remember, my summers have consisted of those two things, and I don’t want to think about a summer without them. My friends and I like to go to afternoon games, buy the cheap seats at Turner Field, and throw a few back while cheering on our Braves. So fun.

One thing I miss most about my pre gluten-free life is beer. Not necessarily the taste…it’s more about the convenience of it. And the cheapness! I used to love drinking a Bud Light or a Yuengling in one of those cool aluminum bottles at ball games. Parties are a little tricky too. No more drinking off of the community PBR keg. Mannnnn.

Anyway, I drink on. While sipping on cocktails isn’t the most convenient thing, there are ways to make it pretty simple/cheap. Basically, most liquors are gluten-free. Anything with wheat, rye, oats, or barley in the name is a no-no. Now I’m no bartender or mixologist, but here are a few of my favorite go-to quick cocktails/adult beverages.

1.     WINE: YES! All wine is GF (pretty much). So this is an easy one. Some of my favorites include...
Trader Joe's Charles Shaw blends. Around $2.99/bottle
Cupcake Vineyards. Around $7

Rex Goliath. $4-$6

Schmitt Söhne Riesling. $5-$9

2.     CIDER: I was never much of a hard cider drinker until I became gluten-free, and heard IT was gluten-free. It basically tastes like spiked apple juice, so its super drinkable (if you like apple juice). AND it comes in bottles like beer does, so I fit in with the crowd of beer drinkers. Here are some good ones…
Woodchuck Hard Cider. About $8/six-pack

Trader Joe's Newton's Folly. $5.99/six-pack
3.     GF BEER: Yeah, it exists. No, they’re not as good as the real stuff, but they’re not terrible either. These are the few I’ve tried…
Estrella Damm Daura (my favorite). About $8/four-pack
Redbridge. About $8.99/six-pack

4.     TEQUILA + CLUB SODA + LIME:I usually do a shot or two of tequila (usually silver) in a beer glass half full of ice, then fill the rest up with club soda and a splash of lime juice. I don't know the recipe, I'm just sayin'. 

5.     GIN + TONIC: Again, a couple shots of gin (any kind...usually cheap because gin can be pricey) in a glass with ice. Fill the rest with tonic.

6.     MIMOSA: Orange juice + champagne. This is my go-to brunch beverage!

7.     WHISKEY + GINGER: Although whiskey begins with barley, the distilling process removes gluten from the end product. I usually do a shot or two of whiskey in a glass with ice, fill it up with ginger ale.

All of these options, except maybe the GF beers, are common at most bars, which is great. They’re also common with regular gluten drinkers, so if you’re like me and don’t like the unique attention that being gluten-free brings, these drinks are perfect. So while nothing will replace ice-cold beers on summer afternoons at Turner Field, I’ll happily choose one of those fine options and move on (responsibly of course).


Friday, February 10, 2012

Keeping up with the Carrots

There was an interesting segment on the Today Show this morning about going/being gluten-free. It was pretty enlightening, so I thought I’d share:

We’ve recently been plagued with the “oops we already had some of that” mistake. We currently have 3 bags of carrots in our fridge. 3! It’s absurd. How did this happen? Well, I wouldn’t say I’m a HUGE carrots fan, but I like them in things just fine, and every once in a while by themselves. So one of our first Crock Pot meals was Pot Roast (we’ll blog about it), which called for 6 carrots. Turns out carrots don’t come single-ly at our grocery store, so we had to buy a whole bag of about 12 full carrots. Then, we needed another 1 carrot for our Quinoa burgers. Of course, we forgot we still had a big bag full, so we bought another one only to realize our mistake when we got home. We then acquired a bag or two of baby carrots from a party we had a while back. So, we’ve been overrun by carrots. The good thing is that they last a long time in the fridge, so we won’t waste them.

The other night, I decided to put a dent in our surplus by making a carrot side dish to go with our Teaspoon Tenderloin. I’d never actually cooked carrots before, so it was really last minute, but they turned out great. Thank you, Pinterest yet again.

  • A pinch of salt
  • About 6 full sized carrots
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • A pinch of black pepper

In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add salt and then carrots and cook until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain the carrots and add back to pan with butter, honey and brown sugar. Cook on low until a glaze coats the carrots, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

They added to our healthy, colorful meal and were even better the next day. We still have more carrots to conquer hopefully next week. 
P.S. We’re going to see TheYonder Mountain String Band at The Tabernacle this weekend! Check’m out.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Teaspoon Tenderloin

Wednesdays and Thursdays are traditionally later work nights for me, so cooking dinner is not something I feel like doing after long days like those. Let’s be honest, I never FEEL like cooking. I see it more as a chore or necessity, so last night was no exception. I worked pretty late, traffic was extra terrible, and I was not in the mood. But I was hungry, and we’d spent money (an impressively small amount) on groceries, and pork tenderloin was on the Google doc. I quickly remembered how stinkin' easy it was to cook, and my frustrations turned into excitement.

We found this recipe sometime over the summer (pre-Pinterest days) on, sort of went into it blindly, and came out huge fans. We’ve made this for our friends, and they love it too. They don’t even notice that they’re eating a gluten-free meal. So whenever pork tenderloin is on sale, we pull out this recipe. It was perfect for last night because it’s another dump and go recipe that requires zero cutting, slicing, mixing, etc. So that means little to no thinking, which is great after a long day when your brain is mush. All we had to buy was the pork, because once you buy spices, you have them forever, which is great. And we decided to re-name it Teaspoon Tenderloin because all you need is a teaspoon of everything.

  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • Salt
  • 1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic

Preheat the oven to 450°
In separate bowl, combine garlic powder, oregano, cumin, coriander, thyme and salt. 
Stacey gave me some fresh parsley, so I added some!

Stir mixture with a fork until all the ingredients are well combined. Add the pork to the bowl and rub the pork with the mixture over both sides, pressing gently so the seasoning coats the tenderloin. 

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive and the minced garlic and sauté, stirring, for 1 minute. Put tenderloin in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. The pork will have a nice crust. 

Transfer meat to a roasting pan and bake for 30 minutes. Slice and serve. 

We changed a few small details from the original recipe, but you get the idea.

We paired the pork with roasted asparagus (on sale), our favorite GF risotto (already had it), and glazed carrots (already had them). It was a delicious, balanced meal that was simple to throw together, especially with Chris (risotto-making Queen). Not to worry, we'll share our methods behind our side dish madness soon.

Needless to say, we ate off of the china and drank wine. We finished cooking just in time to enjoy “Modern Family” while we dined. The only negative about this meal was the seemingly daunting clean-up. Not to worry, Chris made a fabulous Grooveshark playlist, and we knocked it out no problem. I should mention that we’re both type A list makers who enjoy cleaning, so that helped too.

This Wednesday was a great one. I’m excited to make my co-workers jealous with these leftovers!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ode to Chick fil a

Yep, I'm in the advertising business.

We had dinner with our sweet friends, The Murphy’s, last night (Pinterest taco shells with all the fixin’s, YUM), so we didn’t have any leftovers for lunch today. That meant I could try Chick-fil-a’s new GRILLED chicken nuggets! Yep, gluten-free!

Chris told me about the new menu item last week, and they’ve been on my mind ever since. In my pre-GF days, Chick-fil-a was definitely my favorite fast food spot. Everyone loves Chick-fil-a Chicken biscuits and sandwiches, and of course, the waffle fries, and I was/am no exception. There’s not one very close to our house, so I’m usually not terribly tempted. Being gluten-free makes fast food a little tricky since everything is fried (breading is a no-no) or has a bun. So when I do venture to fast food these days, I get salads usually (and fries if they’re GF).

Nothing can replace the satisfaction of a Chick-fil-a combo #5…until now! When I got to work this morning, I already had lunch on the brain and went straight to the website to see if the rumors were true. AND Chick-fil-a’s website has a great page detailing their GF options. So, by 9:30am, I knew I wanted grilled nuggets, fries, and ice cream. (Yep, not very healthy today, sue me). Let me tell you, after MONTHS of no Chick-fil-a, it was so so so worth it. The nuggets were great with Barbecue sauce.

Are you hungry yet?

It seems like the grilled nuggets came about initially for the kid's meals, but you can replace the fried ones for the grilled nuggets on the regular menu, too. I think it's great that Chick-fil-a offers such healthy alternatives for kids and adults alike. You go, Truett Cathy!

So thank you, Chick-fil-a, for indirectly catering to your gluten-free friends and making my Wednesday! I'm going to eat my ice cream now.