Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What is Your Fueling Strategy

Check out my article about fueling strategies at RUN IT FAST.

A Runner's Favorite, Spaghetti

make a huge pot and freeze the leftovers

Making a big pot of spaghetti sauce makes me happy. I love the aroma of the sauce as it simmers and I can decide on the ingredients depending on what I'm in the mood for and what I have on hand.

Even though Hinson Lake 24hr was tough this past weekend, I'm recovering exceptionally well. I believe that cooking healthy and substantial meals is what contributes to my recovery going so well in addition to listening to what my body wants. Yesterday as I was grocery shopping, I was really craving homemade spaghetti sauce with ground turkey breast.

I have a few requirements for my spaghetti sauce and this never changes: Vidalia Onion, 1 bulb of garlic, fresh basil and oregano (sometimes add dried basil and oregano if I don't have enough fresh), red pepper flakes, and good quality canned tomatoes.  Otherwise, pretty much anything goes: ground turkey breast or meatless, carrots, portobello mushrooms, green or red bell pepper.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Red Risotto

Beth's Shrimp with Risotto and Red Peppers
My mom's write-up on my recipe that I "invented" many years ago. 

                 Despite the no-cheese-with-fish-or-seafood dictum of  the Chopped demagoguery, I love this dish devised by my daughter, Beth. Anyway, would those arrogant experts chop such a delicious dish as this even though its two components, one with shrimp and one with Romano cheese,  are prepared separately then only served together? They have done that. But I’ve decided they’re hypocrites. Watching a Chopped episode today, I saw one of the judges heap praise on a contestant who used the sardines from her food basket for a different spin on Caesar salad. And I thought, Wait a minute. Classic Caesar salad successfully combines – and I mean, really combines – anchovies and Parmesan cheese. Is that a culinary heresy?
                But I digress. Beth’s lively Red Risotto never fails to awaken my jaded old taste buds when the other members of my kitchen repertoire seem boring and bland (maybe I’ve gotten too accustomed to Mexican and Indian food to enjoy humdrum dishes anymore). Dried red pepper flakes perk up the the thawed-out Costco shrimp that have to stand in for the fresh-caught kind. And they do double duty in the sauté for the risotto. More red comes in to the rice mixture to as a counterpoint to the heat, in the form of  fresh tomatoes,  plus a handful of refreshing shredded basil, both of which are tossed in after the risotto has cooked to -- quoting the inimitable Rachael  Ray -- “hang out” for five minutes while the shrimp is grilled.
              For me, the dish is perfection as is. But last night, needing to use up some of the gorgeous red peppers I’d roasted, I added half of one to add a little sweetness. Next time, for a fifth red element, I may get carried away and add some chopped sun-dried tomato to the mix. Maybe I’m watching too much Chopped.

Beth’s Shrimp with Risotto and Red Peppers

½ lb. shrimp
juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 or 5 cloves of minced garlic
red pepper flakes to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
3 or 4 garlic cloves, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, chopped
red pepper flakes, to taste
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup Arborio rice
¼ cup dry white wine
3-1/2 cups vegetable broth
½ cup grated Romano cheese
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and chopped
handful of basil leaves, sliced
sprigs of basil for garnish
salt and pepper 
Marinate shrimp in lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and red pepper while preparing risotto.
Put broth in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. In a large skillet, saute onion, garlic, and red pepper with red pepper flakes in butter and olive oil in large skillet until onion is translucent. Add wine and cook until almost evaporated. Stir in rice. Add broth, about ¼ cup at a time, stirring constantly, over medium to medium-high heat. When broth is absorbed and rice is al dente, stir in cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Turn off heat, stir in tomatoes and shredded basil, cover, and let it sit for about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat lightly oiled ridged grill pan and grill the shrimp until done and slightly browned. 
Plate the risotto, top with shrimp, and garnish with sprigs of basil.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Love Colorful Food

On a regular basis, I feel extremely fortunate. Not only do I have a wonderful husband and 10 year old son, I have a great mom and dad. I can talk to my dad on the phone for an hour straight about running and I can talk to my mom for an hour straight about cooking and decorating.  In fact, we do this quite often. I will admit, however, that the content of the conversation with one parent rarely crosses over to the other parent!

My mom spent the first 10 years of life in South America (Peru and Venezuela). She loves Latin food. She has been making "Yellow Rice with Peas and More" for many years and it's a favorite of mine. One of the ingredients, achiote seed, is widely used in Latin America. It's readily available in the Latin America section of the supermarket and very inexpensive. My mother told me that in South America, cooks make a batch of achiote oil with the seeds and use as needed.

I added shrimp to my mom's recipe and it turned out quite well. If you need a "meat" in your meal and don't care for shrimp,  grilled chicken on the side or even in the rice, would be tasty too. 

Yellow Rice with Peas and More

3 tbs olive oil
1 tbs achiote seed
1 medium onion, minced
3 garlic cloves
2 cups basmati or other long grain rice (I used brown basmati but allow for more time to cook)
3 1/4 cups of vegetable or chicken stock
2 cans Rotele chopped tomatoes with peppers
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup frozen peas
1/2 to 3/4 cup ripe olives, sliced
1/2 to 3/4 cup stuffed Spanish olives, sliced
2-3 tbs capers
2 carrots, peeled and sliced.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add achiote seeds and cook until seeds are sizzling and oil is a rich gold color, about a minute. Remove from the heat. With a spoon, scoop up and discard seeds, leaving oil in pan.

Return pan to medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and carrots. Cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring, 1 minute, or until grains begin to look a little opaque. Stir in Rotele and cook 1 minute. Stir in broth, salt and pepper. Bring rice to a vigorous boil, then turn heat to low, cover pan, and cook about 15-18 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Gently add peas, olives, and capers. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.

*For adding shrimp: When rice is nearly cooked through and the liquid not completely absorbed, add the peas, olives, capers, and the shrimp. I placed the pot covered in a 400 degree preheated oven to continue to cook for about 5-10 minutes (until the shrimp is cooked through and the rice cooked) or you could do the same thing on the stove.

 Mango, Red Pepper, and Black Bean Salad

2 red peppers, chopped
2 mangos, chopped
handful of cilantro, chopped
1 stalk of green onions (scallions) chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (2 jalapenos are okay, too)
the juice of 2 limes
1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained well
1 medium onion, chopped
salt to taste

Combine in a bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Mango, Red Pepper and Black Bean Salad

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The ultimate Chick Food-Chicken Salad

Like most people who are not vegetarians, I love chicken salad sammies. But sometimes I want it and it just can't be made quick enough. I keep a very large bag of chicken tenderloins (from Costco) in my freezer. I do prefer organic chicken as a general rule but these are so quick and I think the chicken is decent quality (I hope).  

Pop about a dozen of the chicken tenders with some water or chicken stock (about 2 cups) into the oven on 400 degrees until the chicken tenders are cooked through. They take no time at all.  Pull them out and cut them up. I made this particular recipe using my food processor so they were easily thrown in with the herbs, celery, onion, and light mayo.

*The pate method is not how I would have made this when including grapes, but my son is ULTRA PICKY and processing it up pate-style made it so that the veggies were unspotted. Hey, do whatever you got to do to get those veggies in the little one's tummies. 

Once combined, whether chopped by hand or with the food processor, the worst part is waiting for the chicken to chill. My super fast method of chilling is sticking the chicken salad in the freezer. It is likely that it will be pretty nicely chilled and good to go within 15-20 minutes. 

My close friend Dena Cyr (and running buddy) loves to make chicken salad with mandarine oranges and pineapple chunks. My friend Michelle slow cooked a cornish hen for her chicken salad. Whatever you decide upon, please don't be like me and use whole wheat bread. Right Dena?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Polenta with Chicken Sausage and Peppers

I'm not going to post the recipe for this dish. It was mediocre. I added a few ingredients that I didn't care for and the flavor wasn't all that great. In fact, it gave me a little bit of heartburn.

 I'm practicing taking higher quality photos and still have a lot to learn.

On the back of the box of the polenta, there is a recipe for an appetizer of polenta, sausage and peppers. For a quick dish, brown some sliced chicken sausage, remove from the pan. Then, saute up some onions and peppers. Add herbs, tomatoes, or anything else that sounds good to you. Serve over a bowl of polenta.

You can add a variety of things to the actual polenta, such as fresh basil, parsley, spinach, parmesan cheese or even pretty much any other type of cheese that you like. Polenta is so versatile.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ravioli Soup

This is a variation of my mom's tortellini soup. Feel free to use tortellini or ravioli. The ravioli is kind of fun because when you cut a ravioli before taking a bite,  some of the cheese seeps out into the soup. 

I made this soup after running two back to back marathons, training for Hinson Lake 24 hour Race. From start to finish, the soup takes 30 minutes to make and clean up is minimal. My husband said that he was surprised that I wanted to cook after running two marathons but I didn't mind because it was so easy. I always keep carrots, celery, onion, and garlic on hand. And I "stock up" on chicken stock when it's on sale or I buy it in bulk at Costco.  I bought the frozen ravioli from Costco and used about half the bag. When I realized that I had some fresh spinach in the fridge, I was good to go to make this quick and tasty soup.

1 tablespoon olive oil 
pinch of red pepper flakes
1medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 1/2 cartons of vegetable stock or chicken stock
 fresh or frozen tortellini or ravioli-eyeball the amount, can use mushroom or spinach filled but I prefer cheese filled
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups fresh spinach, roughly chopped
Fresh basil and oregano, to taste (optional-I used fresh basil because I had some in the herb garden)
Chopped fresh tomato
Italian parsley, minced
Freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese
In a stock pot, heat oil and saute onion, garlic, carrots and celery until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add broth. Turn heat up to high, and bring to a boil. Add the ravioli and cook according to package directions. When tortellini is almost done add spinach,  herbs, and fresh tomato. Taste and adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Garnish with sprinklings of parsley and cheese.

Garlic bread: minced garlic (the microplane grater is ideal for really mushing up the garlic-learned this trick from Rachael Ray), dried basil, olive oil, and romano or parm cheese (again using the grater). Stick it in the broiler for 5-10 minutes. Watch it carefully!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Shrimp with Tomatoey Cream Sauce

 An unexpected improv night occurred last night and this one resulted in a tasty dish that the whole family really enjoyed-yes that includes my picky 10 year old son Grant. When he took his first bite, he initially faked a grimace that quickly turned into a big smile, big eyes, and a "Yummmm!"

I had to use half and half in this dish but at least it wasn't heavy cream. I don't think fat-free half and half would have made it as tasty and a little fat isn't going to hurt. Sometimes I think that we should worry less about how many fat grams goes into a dish and more on staying away from processed foods. 

I'll make this dish again and measure more precisely next time, but since this was improv night, my measurements will be approximate. I also chose to make a large amount for the purposes of leftovers so feel free to cut the recipe in half if you are only serving this for two people.

1 and a half-2 pounds of shrimp (peeled, deveined, and remove tails-I like Costco frozen shrimp)
1 and a half pounds of asparagus (cut three times-stems removed)
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1/8th tsp (or less) pepper flakes
1 large onion, roughly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, minced
a dash of dried basil
1/2 cup of dry white wine
the juice of 2 lemons
1 tbs of balsamic vinegar
a handful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup of half and half
4 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Start a pot of water on the stove to get ready to boil before you start cooking. I always do this so that I don't have to worry about the pasta not being ready at the same time as the sauce.

In a large nonstick skillet on low heat, add olive oil and onion and garlic. Gently saute until it starts to get soft. Add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, basil. Cook for about 5-8 minutes. You may need to increase the heat to medium or a little above to get it to start bubbling. Add lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and wine. Bring heat down and let it simmer. It can simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Place pasta in boiling water and make sure it's on it's way while you start the next step.

To finish, add shrimp, asparagus and parsley. Keep the heat on low and cover until shrimp is cooked through and the asparagus is soft but not mushy (if you are using especially thick asparagus, you may need to peel it and/or place it in the skillet a few minutes ahead of the shrimp). Then, add the half and half. The dish will turn a pretty pinkish peach color. Salt and pepper to taste.

Served with angel hair pasta but any pasta will work

Tell me what you think!