scenes from a (prep) sunday.

this past semester was crazy hectic. i was taking 16 hours of class credits (and research credit only made up 1 hour of those 16), which is nuts in grad school, AND i was a TA for 3 classes. that meant i was on campus for 10-12 hours every day (maybe i’m being dramatic, but one time i left after 8:00 on a Friday) and had tons of homework, studying, or grading to do each night. needless to say, i did not feel like coming home and making single serving meals for myself every night. instead, i did what the very thing i scoffed at for so many years – i started cooking for the week on Sundays.

don’t get me wrong – cooking for the week on the weekend is a great way to stay on a grocery budget, save time during the week, and eat healthy, but i never liked to do it because i loved making something different for myself every night. i hated the idea of eating the same thing every night during the week. i used to plan different meals to eat every night, which was fun, but also expensive and time-consuming. i knew that wouldn’t be feasible during a semester like the one i had, so instead i picked something to make for lunch and dinner on Sundays. usually i spent anywhere from 1.5 – 3 hours (i know!) on Sundays prepping and cooking, but it saved me SO much time during the week. i grew to appreciate the fact that i had something waiting for me in the fridge when i got home after a long day, and i used the time on Sundays to relax and watch TV while i cooked.

i decided to continue this plan of action through my first internship rotation, which is an hour away from my apartment. i’m looking forward to using lots of fresh summer produce to make single serving meals again later in the summer, but for these four weeks it’s nice to come home after my internship and the gym and simply reheat something from the fridge and plan how i’m going to wind down for the evening (usually a good book).

this week i decided to make BBQ chickpeas and crispy polenta bowls with brussels sprouts (leftover from the bag i opened last week for the pizza) and ranch hummus bowls for lunch, courtesy of halfbaked harvest (LOVE this blog!!). for dinner, i made two different options: the first is garlic rosemary white beans on toast, courtesy of rachel, and italian baked eggs by damned delicious. here are some scenes from my (prep) sunday:

 

 

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brussels sprouts, bacon, and blue cheese pizza with caesar dressing

like much of the food blogging world, i am obsessed with brussels sprouts, and frequently subject myself and people who eat lunch in my vicinity to their characteristic odor.  in fact, Betsy and Anna (my lab mates), often teased me for bringing smelly lunches; broccoli and hardboiled eggs were also common components of my lunches. i don’t think anyone can deny the charm of brussels sprouts, though – i can’t see why people wouldn’t want to try a vibrantly green miniature cabbage, although i was not subjected to boiled brussels sprouts when i was younger.  in fact, i can’t say i knew what a brussels sprout was until i saw it on a food blog.  unfortunately, i can’t remember the first time i tried a brussels sprout, but i know that i have gathered a few new admirers over the past few years.

my favorite method of preparing them is roasting them in a hot, 400 degree oven until they start to get crispy (and slightly stinky) after seasoning them with oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  i use both fresh and frozen brussels sprouts; obviously i prefer fresh (they get crispier), but i’ve found that partially thawing frozen brussels sprouts in the microwave, slicing them in half, and then roasting them gives almost identical results. more recently, i’ve started thinly slicing brussels sprouts as part of salads, most of which i’ve found on howsweeteats.com (jessica is my brussels sprouts inspiration – she does things with brussels sprouts that i never would have thought to try).

this week, i decided to try making a pizza with brussels sprouts.  admittedly, this is nothing new, but i decided to take a slightly different route than the typical brussels sprouts + bacon + cheese route.  i did use (turkey) bacon and cheese (blue + mozzarella + parmesan), but i also added some caramelized onions, red pepper flakes, and used jessica’s yogurt caesar dressing as the pizza sauce. i know, that may sound horrifying to many of you, but i love the intense, savory flavor anchovies lend to sauces and dressings.  using yogurt (or sour cream, in my case) keeps the preparation of this dressing quick and easy, not to mention lighter.  and really, does this pizza look so horrifying to you?? (my poor photography is a different story – excuse the blurriness) IMG_0256 this pizza would probably be more appropriate as a fall recipe, but i can’t eat with the seasons when it comes to brussels sprouts.  this weekend has also been unseasonably cool (a blackberry winter, as my grandmother, Grandmommie, called it), so i wanted to take advantage of the oven while i still could without melting in my tiny apartment. IMG_0261 i’m certainly looking forward to eating this masterpiece every night this week after i get home from my internship and the gym (while catching up on downton abbey – snobby british TV is my weakness).  and best of all, i’ll get to eat it in piece with no teasing from anna and betsy!

brussels sprouts, bacon, and blue cheese pizza with caesar dressing
serves 4-8

1 cup shredded brussels sprouts (15-20 sprouts)
1 medium vidalia onion, thinly sliced
5 slices bacon or turkey bacon, fried and crumbled
1-1.5 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp parmesan cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp garlic powder salt and pepper, to taste
2 tbsp canola/olive oil
your favorite pizza dough, store bought or homemade
jessica’s yogurt caesar dressing

preheat the oven according to pizza dough package/recipe instructions.  heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, then add onion slices.  season with salt and pepper, and stir until onions start to soften and turn translucent.  lower heat to low, then stir the onions regularly for 20 minutes or so until the onions start to caramelize.  put the onions in a bowl, then turn the heat to medium-low and add the bacon slices to the pan and fry until crispy and brown.  remove the bacon slices from the pan, then add the remaining tbsp of oil, turn the heat to medium, and add the shredded brussels sprouts.  season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes.  stir the brussels sprouts occasionally until they start to brown.  remove the sprouts from heat.

to prepare the pizza, spread yogurt caesar dressing as liberally as you would like (i like to save some for drizzling on reheated slices).  sprinkle some of the mozzarella cheese on top, then add the sprouts, onions, and crumbled bacon.  top with additional mozzarella cheese, blue cheese, and parmesan cheese.  bake pizza according to recipe/package instructions.  i like to broil my pizza towards the end of the baking time to get the cheese and crust nice and brown.

Baked Okra.

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baking vegetables is the easiest way to convert vegetable haters into vegetable lovers. i’m sure many of you have tried baked cauliflower, potatoes, kale, okra, etc., but humor me and listen to me beat a dead horse.  baking vegetables makes any vegetable taste divine, especially okra, which i eat like french fries (ie, with loads of ketchup).  i’ve been doing this for years, however i feel like my friends and family are just now starting to catch on (told you so!).  while fresh vegetables come out slightly more crispy, you can use frozen vegetables, too.  just toss your vegetable of choice in a bit of oil and spices, then bake at 425 degrees for 20-30 minutes, depending on the vegetable you’re baking.  be sure to spread the vegetables out; crowding them will just end up steaming the vegetables, which will keep them from getting crispy.

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panzella with tomatoes, feta, and sardines
source: the kitchn (http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-paximadi-bread-salad-with-tomatoes-feta-and-capers-recipes-from-the-kitchn-189938)
serves 6 – 8 (easily modified to serve 1)

today i used my last tomato in another mediterranean-inspired bread salad.  i suppose this could be considered too similar to the panzella i made on monday, but i found this salad to be more simple which allowed the flavors of the tomatoes, marinated bread, and sardines to really shine. sardines actually were not included on the actual recipe for this salad, only in the recipe picture, but i couldn’t help but think about how nicely sardines would look and taste on top of this particular salad. and let’s not forget, sardines are full of healthy fats and vitamin d (don’t pick out the bones! you really can’t tell they’re there, and that’s where all of the vitamin d is!), along with other vitamins and minerals like selenium and b12.

The Week of Tomatoes, Part 3.

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sweet corn succotash
source: the southern foodie by chris chamberlain
serves 8 (easily modified to serve 1 with a day’s leftovers)

although i used one of the fresh produce stand tomatoes in this recipe, i would say that the okra was the real star of the show.  frozen okra pieces would work fine in this recipe, but nothing beats fresh okra, which is what i used (i bought it from the same produce stand as i did the tomatoes). this sweet corn succotash was light, but flavorful and satisfying. i’m a sucker for dishes with a variety of colors, flavors, and textures, so this succotash definitely hit the spot. a pat of butter at the end made all the difference in this dish, helping all of the flavors meld together in a slightly creamy tomato broth.

The Week of Tomatoes, Part 2.

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panzella
source: the kitchn (http://www.thekitchn.com/weeknight-recipe-panzanella-61062)
serves 8 – 10 (easily modified to serve 1)

panzella, or bread salad, screams summer.  the day-old bread makes this salad not only rustic, but also more filling than your basic lettuce salad.  traditionally it is just made with bread, tomatoes, onion, and a simple vinaigrette, but the recipe i worked from included red onions (tip: soak red onions in ice water for ten minutes to get rid of the pungent bite typical of red onions), bell pepper, cucumber, capers, and feta cheese. i’m sure a traditional panzella salad is delicious, but this modified version was full of flavor from the salty bite of the capers and feta cheese, the fresh, crisp flavor of the cucumbers and bell pepper, the hint of sweetness from the tomato, and the tender, vinagrette-soaked bread.  make sure to let the panzella sit for half an hour before eating – it makes all the difference. all of the flavors mingle, and the crusty bread turns soft as it absorbs the vinaigrette and the juice from the tomato.

The Week of Tomatoes, Part 1.

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this weekend, i picked up six tomatoes from a produce stand.  i had the first one in a simple tomato sandwich.  just slicing the tomato and seeing the vibrant red color inside instantly reminded me why tomatoes from grocery stores are so subpar to fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes.  grocery store tomatoes are often picked before they’re ripe, which mutes their color and flavor.  fresh tomatoes are incredibly juicy, more sweet than acidic, and tender.  do yourself a favor this summer and head to a farmer’s market or stop by that produce stand on the side of the road you pass on the way home and pick up some tomatoes.  i’ve planned my menu for the week around my tomatoes, and i plan on posting everything i make with them, hence the week of tomatoes.

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tomato sandwich
serves 1

grab two slices of your favorite bread, some good mayonnaise (i like hellman’s olive oil mayo – it has less fat and calories than regular mayo and more mono and polyunsaturated fat), and a ripe, fresh tomato.  spread a generous layer of mayonnaise on both pieces of bread, then season with salt and pepper (very important!!).  slice the tomato thinly, about half a centimeter thick) and lay three slices on one of the bread slices.  sprinkle more pepper on the tomato slices, then top with the other piece of bread.  the tomato juice and mayonnaise will mix in the middle, so save that part as your last bite!

 

New York.

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some of my new york eats.

1. margherita pizza from pronto’s
2. lamb kofta burger and fries from 5 napkin burger
3. maple bacon cookie
4. lobster roll (my first! a dream came true that day) from the lobster place in chelsea market
5. peanut butter and jelly chocolate from chelsea market
6. chocolate fudge brownie ice cream from chinatown ice cream factory
7. corned beef and cabbage with a boiled potato from mulligan’s

when i go on vacation, nutrition tends to take the back seat, and i think that’s okay.  vacation is a time to try new foods and flavors, and really let your cravings be your guide.  if you’re craving a slice of margherita pizza with fresh mozzarella over pepperoni pizza, then go for it and the same goes for a craving for a fat burger and fries.

Today, instead of talking food, I’m going to talk about life.  Nothing deep or anything, but I think the last time I blogged about school and whatnot I was about to take Organic Chemistry, which was SO last fall.

Biochemistry is the new Organic Chemistry. Except at times I actually find Biochemistry interesting and directly relevant to Dietetics.  In the time I wasn’t blogging, I took Anatomy I and II and I loved learning about how the body worked.  I loved learning about hormones and enzymes and how macronutrients broke down, and so far, I see a lot of that in Biochemistry (hence, BIOchemistry).  Unfortunately, there is also the bioCHEMISTRY part, which means a lot of old equations from Chemistry II are reappearing.  None of that would matter, though, if I had a teacher like my Anatomy professor who drew out all all of his notes, complete with diagrams and charts.  Instead, my Biochemistry professor is an old (OLD), grumpy man who drones through 3 tot 4 pages of notes every day.

Let me put it this way.  He made one powerpoint for his entire half of the semester.  300 slides.  And he stops for no one, which means people take pictures of his slides because no one can keep up with him.  I already have more notes for this class than I do for classes at the end of a semester.

But, if there’s anything I’ve learned in my old, jaded, undergraduate age, it’s that the curve is a powerful thing.  I’ve made it through other hard classes, so I can make it through Biochemistry, too!

Last year the two themes of my food classes were management and education.  Two management classes (necessary, but boring) and two community education-type classes.  And obviously some other classes, too. Oh yeah, and a practicum at St. Mary’s Hospital.  So yeah, I ended up really enjoying the education classes, which was surprising to me, because I always pictured myself doing clinical dietetics.  Well, after working at St. Mary’s this summer, I realized that I really wouldn’t want to work in a hospital environment.  Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time at St. Mary’s because of my preceptor and the women she worked with, but I didn’t like the limited amount of time health care professionals got with patients.  It made it hard to effectively teach them anything.  The dietitian was never able to really get down and dirty with any patients about their diet, which is exactly what I want to do.  I want to teach people how to change their shopping and cooking habits to be more conducive to their health goals.  I love tinkering with recipes to make them healthier, and I would love the challenge of making recipes diabetic-friendly, or gluten-friendly, etc.  This epiphany led me to the decision that graduate school is the best option for me next year.  So, one of my big tasks currently is to find a professor that would want me to help with their research over the next two years.  I feel like I’m campaigning myself with the number of people I’ve talked to, but hey, whatever gets me into UGA’s grad school!

But back to my other classes.  I am also taking two classes for my Consumer Foods major: Cultural Foods and Nature of Foods. They are hands down my two favorite classes this semester, and even though they are for my Consumer Foods major, I think they tie in nicely to the Dietetics major, especially since I want to the education route.  Cultural Foods is obviously about people of different cultures eat, but Nature of Foods is sort of a follow up to that wonderful Food Principles class I took a couple of years ago.  We are learning about different cooking methods, sensory analysis, and how to alter recipes.

Another class I am taking is Micronutrients.  It goes over vitamins and minerals, and how they are used in the body.  It is also possibly the hardest dietetics class I’ve ever taken.

And finally, I am also taking Medical Nutrition Therapy I.  Even though I don’t really want to go down the clinical dietetics route, I am still excited to have that knowledge at my disposal.  A lot of what we will cover this semester has to do with gastrointestinal diseases, which will be cool.  This class really ties everything that I’ve learned so far together, including the non-dietetics science classes.

A couple of other things that are new this year include my job as the foodservice dietitian’s assistant, and my role as president of my college’s (Family and Consumer Sciences) honor society.  It’s weird being the president of something, but I’ve learned that I’m good at organizing and supervising (much like my dad), so I’m kind of excited to hone in on those skills.

I’m going to stop here for now.  I apologize for the lack of pictures and the multitude of text, but I enjoy sharing my school life, especially since my family reads this.  Have a good Labor Day weekend!

The past couple of weeks have been full of many firsts for me.  I wore a dress to school for the first time (thank you, job).  I bought grass fed ground beef for the first time (I made it into meatloaf).  I put on my big girl pants and took responsibility for my car’s maintenance for the first time.   As a result, I bought tires for the first time, and discovered that you can never really “just take your car to get the tires rotated.”

I also successfully made fried rice for the first time.  I’m sure this is a laughable accomplishment to many, but I’ve never had much luck with making really good fried rice (or tofu, now that I’m on the subject of perpetual cooking failures).  Perhaps it’s because I’ve never tried to use a recipe, but I could never get that signature slightly oily, yet still light texture of fried rice that I have in mall food courts, Panda Express, and any other Americanized Chinese restaurant.

Everything changed when I found this recipe.  I discovered that the secret to homemade fried is using day old, dry rice.  I’m not sure what it is about old rice that makes it perfect for fried rice, but it turned out perfectly.  It wasn’t anything too fancy, just some green onions, sauce, and my addition of diced summer squash and mushrooms.  Oh, and a fried egg on top.  With a drippy, yellow yolk that combined with the soy sauce mixture to create a delicious, creamy sauce that coated every rice grain.

I am obsessed with fried eggs with runny yolks.  Seriously, I think it is beautiful.

I know that’s not the most photogenic picture ever, but trust me, this recipe is inexpensive and easy.  White rice probably would have given me even better results, but I am a dietetics student, therefore I eat brown rice.  It has a nice, chewy texture, a distinct nutty flavor, and it’s packed with fiber.  Don’t get me wrong, white rice isn’t unhealthy, but brown rice is nutritionally superior.  It does take some getting used to, but I challenge you all to go buy a bag of brown rice instead of white!  That’s my dietetic tip of the day for you.

Also, egg yolks are in the clear, so don’t let me hear about you putting egg whites on top of this.  The drippy yolk is key!

So yes, go to that link and make this fried rice.  I have to get back to studying B12, B6, folate, and choline.