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Flatbread Pizza and Zoodles

HI there blog readers – congratulations on making it through the first day (and night – almost) of the work week! I felt like I needed a pat on the back for making it through the day.

The weekend was a good one (although it went by waaaay too quickly, as they often do). Saturday was fun, but hot and I got a lot of reading done (I finally finished The Goldfinch – which I felt was a big accomplishment!) and errands (haircut and gym). On Sunday it was a beautiful day out – and the temperature was a lot lower, it was a comfortable day. Perfect for cleaning the house and my messy room. Cleaning, laundry and organizing myself took me nearly all day.

I had a yogurt in the morning for breakfast, and by 1 o’clock I was very hungry. I did not want to stop cleaning – and I quickly thought about ordering pizza. But then I got to thinking – could i make something homemade instead??? I looked around and found flour, eggplants, crushed tomatoes (canned) and shredded cheese… I realized I had the ingredients to make a flatbread pizza of sorts!

I found one of my Jacques Pepin cookbooks More Fast Food My Way (where I knew his great recipe for flatbread resided). This recipe is so wonderful and easy.

Jacques Pépin’s recipe for flatbread:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/3 teaspoon salt

1 cup water plus 2 tablespoons more for steaming the bread

1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions:

combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Add the 1 cup of water and mix together with a sturdy rubber spatula to create a thick, gooey dough (it will be gooey!!)

Spread the olive oil in a cold 12 inch non stick skillet. Add the dough to the skillet. Dip the spatula into the oil in the skillet and use it to press on the dough to flatten it in the skillet, and spread it out as much as you can.

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(The oil will prevent the dough from sticking to the spatula). Add the 2 T of water to create a bit of steam and get the bread cooking. Cover with foil and place over medium high heat for about ten minutes. The water should be gone and the dough should be frying at this point. Reduce the heat, and using a fork, turn the bread over. Cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Uncover and set aside to cool a little in the skillet.

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Really – it’s that easy!

I cut up and salted some eggplant. Once the bread was done, I got out my grill pan and started grilling the eggplant:

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I spread some crushed tomatoes on to the flatbread and turned my oven to broil (low if you have the option).

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Once the eggplant was grilled until it was tender, I layered it onto the flatbread. I sprinkled everything lightly with cheddar cheese (because that is what I had!) and put everything in the oven. In five minutes it was ready to eat!

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This “pizza” was delicious and I was kind of impressed that I made it on the fly!

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Today was Monday. I did not sleep well, but some how managed to drag my tired butt out of bed this morning at 5:30 to start my day. I was well prepared for work – all of my healthy food was packed, and my clothes were laid out for an efficient morning. (that’s always a good thing!) I made it through my day, and I got to the gym. I came home, showered and got into the kitchen to start dinner.

Tonight’s dinner is thanks to Skinnytaste.com – one of my absolute favorite websites for healthy meals. Tonight we had Kung Pao Chicken with Zoodles on the menu. Do you remember zoodles?? Zucchini noodles – one of my favorites!! So instead of noodles or rice with the chicken you have zucchini noodles. Tonight was the first time I tried out my new spiralizer. Let me tell you – this is one of the best things I have in the kitchen now! It made these beautiful zoodles:

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Everything came together so nicely and mom and I loved this dinner. You can find Gina’s recipe here .


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Because we had more than 6 ounces of chicken and a couple of extra zucchini, we made more than two servings. I’m taking some for lunch tomorrow. This was a really great dinner. I timed how long it took us to get this from prep stages until we sat down to eat – one hour. I think next time it will take a little less – because this time I literally had to take the spiralizer out of the box and wash it before using it.

The final product was very pretty and really tasted just great and fresh. We loved it!

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Ok, I must sign off for now – in hopes that tomorrow is a better day than today! Happy cooking everyone – and if you have not made zoodles yet – what are you waiting for!? :)

Greetings Blog Readers:

I hope the first days of September have been kind to you! I don’t know about you, but for me the days after Labor Day are still all about a fresh start and getting back into routines. I always feel like September is more of a new year than January 1st! How funny.

The last few days I have been concentrating on getting back into my healthy routines. Packing healthy foods for breakfast, lunch and snacks, packing a gym bag so that I get a workout after work on all days that I do not have after work plans. it takes a lot of work and time to be this organized and by Friday I could really feel the effects of all of this work – not to mention that I have to wake up a full hour earlier than I have been this summer to get to work at a decent time!

A few days ago I switched my breakfasts from light English muffins (high fiber, protein and low sodium) and nut butter to a Greek yogurt and apple slices. Sometimes I add a 1/3 C of Kashi Go Lean Crunch.

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It has gotten me through until lunch on some days and on other days I need to have a 100 calorie pack of almonds to get me through until my lunch break.

Lunches this week have mostly been salads, but I’ve added a few whole wheat crackers and a babybel cheese – some days I have more apple slices or carrot sticks. It’s been a good lunch – and by having such a fresh salad and using local produce, I feel like I’m hanging on to summer while I can!

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In the salad mix: grated carrot, tomato, arugula, avocado, grilled chicken.

In the last week I got to the gym three times – which was my goal. Twice this week I had over 15,000 steps on my fitbit! Once this week I was able to take a quick walk before heading in to start my work day. I took a walk every day during lunch. This week was one of the hottest of the summer!!!

Over Labor Day weekend I spent a couple of days on Martha’s Vineyard. Sadly, my first trip to the island all summer. But I made the most of my few days. I walked around my favorite towns, did some shopping, took some photos:

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I just loved these tiles and can’t wait to incorporate some into my house some day soon!

On Saturday night I had lobster for dinner and it was great (and just a little messy):

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Besides lobster, my other dinners lately have been on the healthy side. After the gym sometimes I would pop over to Whole Foods and pick up dinner:

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(this dinner was grilled salmon, garlic green beans [they are amazing!! crunchy and flavorful - one of my favorite things to pick up from WF.] and kale ‘pad thai’ – I also love this side because it is all vegetable and no actual noodles! My philosophy on Whole Foods dinners – if I take the time to go to the gym, and if it is going to be almost 8pm when I get home from my long work day, I’m 100% ok stopping by WF to pick up a healthy dinner for myself even though it might cost me a little more than if I made it myself.

On other nights I would go to the gym and come home to a wonderful dinner waiting for me:

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Grilled chicken breast (thanks to mom) locally grown tomatoes (delicious!!!! My favorite thing about late August, early September!) and nutty brown rice (that I picked up on my way home from the gym) what a perfect dinner!

By the time Friday night rolled around I was totally out of gas. Sadly, I had no energy for the gym – I had meant to pick up an iced coffee on the way home in hopes it would power me to the gym but I never got around to it. We didn’t have much food in the house, but we had enough to make salads for dinner and they were delicious.

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Yellow pepper, tomatoes, cucumbers, hard boiled egg and mixed greens. A half slice of sour dough bread on the side.

Now I am off to organize myself for the work week ahead. What am I going to pack for lunches this week!? How can I get a head start on healthy dinners for the week? How can I organize my gym bag for the next couple of days and be efficient. Stay tuned. Let’s see how this second week of September goes!

Mix and Match

The last few days have been a mix and match of lovely dinners, make shift lunches and one of my favorite things during the work week – tasty leftovers!! 

On Sunday I made a go to lunch – an egg, tomatoes and cheese wrap! This lunch is so simple, tasty and satisfying. Even better for some,  it takes only about ten minutes to make! This is a great treat for kids, too.  Here is what you need to make this lunch – which actually can be lunch, breakfast, dinner or a snack at any time of day! 

 

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An egg, a tortilla or a wrap, tomatoes (these are small tomatoes, I used one and a half and ate the rest!), cheddar cheese or another type of cheese and I personally think a good hot sauce makes the wrap – but of course it is purely optional. (If you don’t like hot sauce, salt and pepper your egg while you’re cooking it!) 

Tip: heat your pan and butter (I use brummel and a little cooking spray) before you put your egg in. Do not over cook your egg! 

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Put your cooked egg directly onto your wrap which will melt the cheese, add the tomato and hot sauce: 

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I added a few red pepper flakes, too… wrap it up and enjoy!

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After enjoying my lunch, I ran some errands. I am so happy that my day included an extended stop at one of my favorite culinary stores in Providence, Stock!  If you ever know someone that needs to get a gift for me – send them to Stock. I did a lot of poking around on Sunday – but I was able to resist a lot of things…. until I came across one thing I just had to have

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I could not resist – obviously!  There were plenty of other things I wanted to purchase for my kitchen as well, but I will save that for another day… if you are on the East Side of Providence (or just in the area at all) I highly recommend stopping by Stock – I know you will find something to make you happy! 

On Sunday night I made a fun dinner. I grated carrots and chopped parsley to get started: 

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I had two pieces of fish, and I crusted them in potato flakes, a little panko and parsley and seasoned with freshly ground pepper and a dash of salt.  I mixed together fresh, roasted corn, jalapeño, roasted fingerling potatoes, carrots, parsley and seasoning to make a fresh salad. It all came together very well: 

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When it came to dinner, there were no leftovers to speak of… so for Monday at work I packed some random things and felt like I was having a picnic in my office – not a bad feeling for a Monday, I guess. 

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Lunch consisted of: carrot sticks, apple slices, a Chobani 100, a mini babybel cheese and a couple of whole wheat crackers. On the side, a lemon seltzer which was very refreshing, especially after my lunchtime exercise. 

On Monday morning I decided it was time to get back into my “routine” which consists of eating healthy (which I have been doing for the most part) going for my lunchtime walk (which I have been doing), and going to the gym after work (which I have not been doing much – but I have been going outside for a few short runs a week). All day at work I would remind myself, “You are going to the gym after work.” In case I ran the risk of forgetting. 

On my way home I had a protein drink because I was hungry and wanted the energy to get through my first gym workout in a while.  Once I got to the gym, I did the elliptical machine for 30 minutes and some weights. I felt really accomplished getting to the gym for the first time in a long while – and I was surprised by how busy the gym was on a beautiful day in August. (You have got to hand it to the avid, healthy gym goers!) 

Dinner on Monday night was very easy and that helped get me to the gym. I got home after 7 o’clock and not having to think about dinner was a wonderful and helpful thing. I had left over Skinnytaste Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken. I heated up the chicken, heated up two tortillas and made my soft tacos in just a couple of minutes: 

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(I added some of the corn salad from the night before, too) It was a great dinner and I felt like I deserved it after a workout. I actually am excited to get back to the gym – which is surprising! I am definitely going to remember how nice it is to have leftovers during the work week – especially in September because everything always seems hectic in September. Everyone is back to school and back to work so doing everything takes longer, it seems!I can see that cooking a couple of times a week and having leftovers a couple of times a week will be a big page in my play book coming up. 

The last couple of days have been a culinary whirlwind. I am signing off for now to plan the next couple of days – stay tuned and happy cooking!

Julia’s Zucchini Gratin

This week started out with a great Italian ragu – but quickly turned back to some good old fashioned French Cooking!! (My favorite!)  The other day I discovered an old favorite from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume II thanks to Food 52.   I love Food 52 especially for their timely recipes. It is August in New England and zucchini is soooo plentiful around here! Thankfully, Food 52 posted Julia’s recipe for Tian de Courgettes au Riz which translates to Gratin of Zucchini, Rice & Onions with Cheese. How good does that sound!? 

Whenever I make a Julia recipe, I really have to concentrate. I wanted to take photos, but it just did not happen. But I did come out with a most amazing zucchini gratin!! It was one of the best things I have eaten in recent and not so recent memory.  It took a long while, but I hope when I make it again I can cut down on the time and be more organized and hopefully take a few photographs. If you love zucchini and parmesan cheese – MAKE THIS TODAY!

Julia Child’s Zucchini Gratin – Recipe Found on Food 52

Ingredients:

About 2 pounds of Zucchini (I used four medium zucchini)

1/2 Cup plain, raw white rice (I used Jasmine rice because that is what I had on hand!)

1 Cup minced onions

3 – 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2-3 Large cloves of garlic, smashed & minced (I used 3 cloves because we love garlic!)

2 Tablespoons flour

About 2 1/2 cups of warm liquid – This is basically all of the zucchini juice you get from ringing out the zucchini and the rest milk and a tablespoon or two of cream is the mixture that I made!

2/3 Cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese

salt, pepper

6 – 8 Cup flame proof baking and serving dish about 1 1/2 inches deep (I did not have this, so I made due with what I had on hand – it was fine!)

Instructions:

1. Cut off the ends of your zucchini and wash the zucchini thoroughly. 

2. Grate your zucchini using a box grater. 

3. For every two cups of grated zucchini, add one teaspoon of salt and mix together in a medium sized bowl.  Transfer the zucchini into a colander and place the colander over your bowl.  Let the zucchini drain for 4 minutes or so. 

4. While the zucchini is draining, you want to quickly blanch your rice. Put rice in boiling and salted water for 5 minutes.  Drain and set aside. 

5. After zucchini has drained, squeeze a little bit dry and taste it. If it is too salty you can rinse some of the salt off. I didn’t add a whole lot of salt to my zucchini, so I was happy with the taste (in fact it tasted perfect to me and I ate a little more of it raw!) Continue to squeeze your zucchini over the bowl to drain your zucchini – you need to reserve this zucchini juice for later!  Place the drained zucchini on paper towels to dry. 

6. Heat up your large frying pan with 3 tablespoons of olive oil – have your pan on medium heat.  Once the pan is hot, add your onion and cook for 8 – 10 minutes, the onion should be fully broken down, translucent and starting to brown.  

7. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees

8. Stir in the zucchini and garlic. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes. Continually toss and turn, zucchini should be tender at the end of the 5 -6 minutes. 

9. Sprinkle in the flour, raise heat slightly and cook for two minutes stirring so the flour is mixed well, and smooth. (No lumps please!) 

10. Remove your pan from the heat and gently stir in the warm liquid (you can warm this liquid on your stove or you can warm it in the microwave – but you do not want this liquid hot, you don’t want your milk to curdle!) 

11. Return to moderately high heat, bring to a simmer – stir constantly so milk doesn’t scorch on the bottom of your pan. After the mixture comes to a simmer, remove from heat again and mix in your rice and all but two tablespoons of the grated cheese.

12. Turn mixture into your buttered serving /  baking dish. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons on top of mixture.

13.  Place your dish in the upper 1/3 of your oven. Bake at 425 until the top of your gratin is browned, bubbling and it looks like the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. It will make your kitchen smell amazing!!

My end product was a huge hit at my house!

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So, my gratin was not quite as browned as I had wanted – but two hours after starting this recipe I was so hungry. The rest of our dinner was ready to go, so I served up the gratin, too. I didn’t plan everything out perfectly – and my chicken breasts were cooking at 350 degrees for 35 minutes before I put the gratin in. Next time I’ll try to coordinate a little better! 

I served chicken breast coked in white wine, lemon juice, rosemary & thyme with the gratin, as well as fresh and local tomato slices and rosemary bread. It was  all so delicious – a go to dinner in our house from now on. 

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The next day we ate breakfast late – so it was more like a brunch. I made spinach and parmesan omelets with a side of gratin. Even though the omelet in this photo was not perfect, it was very well received:

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The sous chef and I ate this gratin until it was gone. I cannot wait to make it again – it might seem like a lot of work, but trust me it is completely worth it!! Go ahead and try it! Happy cooking!

 

A Change of Dinner Plans

As I was driving to work today, I was so excited about receiving my second shipment from Plated this afternoon.  I planned my evening in my head. Because I would not have to go to the grocery store or think much about dinner, I could go for a run after work and throw in a load of laundry. Perhaps I would even get some other things done, too. The post-work part of the day was my oyster, or so I thought.

When I got to work, I checked my phone as I settled in for my day.  Oh no!! I saw an email from Plated saying that my shipment was being sent to the wrong address!  Over a week ago I had signed on to my plated account and changed my shipping address to reflect where I would be during the week. I was so sad – and after a phone call to Plated, we ascertained that we would not be able to fix the problem today. I received helpful customer service but I was disappointed that even though I had changed my address days before, it was not reflected in this week’s shipment. NOTE: If you do decide to use Plated, and change your address – it only affects your shipments from that point on. Not a shipment that you have already ordered and paid for. I guess that makes sense? But I thought  I was all set because according to the website, my address change had been processed.

Just like that my day had changed. I had to think of what to make for dinner – which only bothered me because I was really excited about already having everything planned out, both menu and ingredients.  Thankfully, I am almost always thinking about food – so I had a great idea.  I had recently come across a recipe for Bucatini thanks to Bon Appétit and I had been craving it ever since I had seen the beautiful photograph and read the recipe. I was not going to make Bucatini, but something close. My own take on Bolognese… or something like that!

But before we skip ahead to dinner – here is a brief recap on other foods of the day.  I was at work for a couple of hours before I got around to breakfast. I took five minutes out of my morning to prepare a healthy breakfast – a whole wheat English muffin, a tablespoon of cashew butter and a handful of fresh blueberries.

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At noon, I walked to get a sandwich for lunch. I ordered a fresh turkey wrap with lettuce, tomato, red onion, cucumber and a thin slice of swiss cheese. I also picked up an amazing bag of rosemary and olive oil potato chips. The chips were so flavorful – but they were also a little rich (I guess I do not eat real potato chips all that much…) so I ate half the bag and gave the rest to a friend. We both agreed that they were amazing potato chips – definitely worth the splurge as long as I forget how much I like them!

 

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After work I started my commute home. Thankfully Whole Foods is in the middle of my drive, so I stopped to pick up a few ingredients for tonight’s impromptu dinner. By this point I was pretty excited about what I was making – but I also opted to not get every ingredient I would normally use, because I was not going to have all day to cook my sauce. I skipped carrots and celery.  I did pick up a small onion (because I had half of an onion in the refrigerator at home – which would not be enough) another garlic (because I have an awful habit of picking up one  head of garlic every single time I am in a grocery store – even if we have garlic at home. Why do I do this!? I must have a fear of being caught without garlic… I feel the same way about onions and San Marzano tomatoes!)  I picked up just over half a pound of Whole Foods 93% lean ground beef…. and two cans of San Marzano tomatoes, even though I knew I only needed one. The other would live in the pantry for a week or two…

Once I got home, I put away the meat. I ate a couple of Stacy’s baked pita chips. I had not eaten since lunch and I was forcing myself to go for a run and while I like running on an empty stomach, I find it hard to run when my stomach is grumbling.  I had to force myself to go for a run today. I really wanted to read, or sit on the couch, relax before starting dinner. I thought about just doing a load of laundry and watching tv. But instead, I got ready for my run. I told myself – Just run for 20 minutes. That is better than nothing.   I was hoping that if I started running, I could push myself to do more than twenty minutes. Luckily, that worked. I ran for 28 minutes and felt a lot better and accomplished after.

Back to the bolognese!!  This is probably not a typical bolognese and maybe I should just call it a red meat sauce or a ragu.

 

Bolognese Sauce 

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

1 T olive oil

Butter (unsalted, about a tablespoon)

4 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

1 28 can of whole tomatoes (I always use San Marzano)

1/4 C white wine

.65 pounds of lean ground beef

Finely grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

basil

salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

To start your sauce, add about a tablespoon (or a little more) of olive oil to your pan, turn your burner’s heat to medium. Heat the oil while you chop up your onion. Once your pan has heated up nicely, add the onion and a pinch of salt to the pan. Stir the onion occasionally. Smash and mince your garlic – I used four cloves.  Once your onion has started cooking, add your garlic to the pan. Once you add the garlic, you have to stir frequently so the garlic does not burn. After a minute, add your ground beef, breaking up the meat with a spoon once it is in your pan. Add one tablespoon of butter. Let the meat brown. (this will take a few minutes) Once the meat is browned, add one 28 ounce can of whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes. Season ingredients with a 1/2 T of crushed red pepper flakes and freshly ground pepper. Add two tablespoons of tomato paste.

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Stir to make sure the tomato paste is incorporated evenly in your other ingredients. Bring to a simmer. Once everything is simmering let it go for 30 seconds or so. Bring down heat to low, and continue to cook the sauce. Add 1/4 C dry white wine. Add a tablespoon of thinly sliced fresh basil. Taste your sauce and see what you think!  Season with salt and pepper if you think it is necessary. Add 1/8 – 1/4 cup of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Stir everything together. Add a tablespoon of basil pesto if you have it – if you don’t that is totally fine.

Once all of the ingredients are in the pan, I like to cook the sauce on low for at least twenty minutes – but you can cook it longer. If you want to keep all the liquid in the pan, cook it with the lid on. If you need to evaporate some of the liquid, leave the lid off. If you ever need to add more liquid to your sauce, just reserve some pasta water once your pasta is cooked – it is a great addition to your sauce.  Once our pasta was ready and our zucchini was steamed, I served everything up.  Once I had the plates made, I garnished with more freshly grated parmesan cheese, a little basil and freshly ground pepper. The end result was pretty, flavorful and delicious.

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Tonight it feels like fall instead of a summer evening in the middle of August – but I am not complaining! I loved having this hearty dinner tonight, especially after a post work run. I was so glad that I forced myself to go out and hit the pavement. This dinner was a sweet reward!

I must say, cooking a couple of nights with my Plated box really got me back in the mood to cook and be creative at dinner time.

On Thursday, I decided to cook halibut. I found a simple but wonderful recipe on Epicurious and I had almost all of the ingredients at home already – sans the fresh, wild halibut.

Mom was already at Dave’s Marketplace (one of our favorite still local grocerys in the area) and was able to pick up fresh, wild halibut. (You should always try to get WILD fish and stay away from farm raised whenever possible. If farm raised is the only option at a market I am at, I will often decide to not get fish at all and go with another organic protein.) Mom picked up half a pound of halibut which was plenty for the two of us. Halibut has some healthy traits and it is so easy to prepare in a healthy way (grilling!).  Halibut is low in cholesterol and might be able to help lower your cholesterol when eaten regularly (once a week or so). It is high in protein, low in fat (especially saturated fat) and has healthy omega three essential fatty acids (so a lot of the fat that it does have is good for you!) Halibut is a good source of potassium, magnesium, phosphorous and B vitamins.  It is thought it might be able help to prevent some digestion cancers as well as ovarian cancers.  

 

Before heading home for the day, I changed into my running clothes for my fourth run in the last seven days. I only did two and a half miles, but it felt great and I was really glad I had literally forced myself to go – it was definitely not something I was eager to do at 5 o’clock on Thursday. Afterwards, I felt wonderful and accomplished.

Once I was home (and showered) I got right into the kitchen to start dinner. I whipped up the lemon basil vinaigrette: 

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I unwrapped the halibut, seasoned it with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. I heated up my grill pan. Once the pan was at a good temperature, I took it off the burner, sprayed a little Trader Joe’s olive oil cooking spray directly on the pan and put it back on the burner. I added the halibut (skin side down) and topped it with the vinaigrette:

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I let the fish cook for five minutes on one side, and then I flipped it over. I am always excited whenever I can use my favorite fish spatula – let me tell you! 

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I cooked it for another five minutes on this side, and added some more vinaigrette. While the fish was cooking, I popped the baked zucchini fries into the toaster oven – they were left over from last night’s Plated wonderful meal. I also had red cabbage leftover and I sliced up some locally grown tomato for another side.

 

Everything came together wonderfully and the end product was both beautiful and delictable! 

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Grilled Halibut Recipe, adapted from Epicurious:

Ingredients: 

The juice of one lemon

Lemon zest from one lemon

two tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced 

4 tablespoons of thinly sliced fresh basil (think chiffonade here!) 

1 tablespoon drained capers (but it’s ok if some of the caper liquid gets in there – it will add flavor!) 

half a pound of fresh halibut, skin on. You can cut it into pieces, but I left my halibut whole and cut it to serve after it was finished cooking. It’s up to you!

Freshly ground pepper and kosher salt, to taste 

Instructions:

Heat your grill pan over medium high heat.

Quickly whisk together your lemon juice, zest, garlic, olive oil in a small bowl.   I added a small pinch of salt into the vinaigrette and some freshly ground pepper. At the same time I seasoned my fish with freshly ground pepper on both sides. Spray grill pan with some cooking spray if you want to (I don’t think it’s necessary). Put your piece of fish on the grill pan, skin side down. Add some of the vinaigrette to the top of the fish. Cook for at least 5 minutes on this side, flip fish, and cook for five more minutes. Depending on the thickness of your piece of fish, it may take longer to cook. Flake off a piece of the fish – if the thicker parts are white, (not clear and pinkish) then your fish is cooked. 

Transfer your fish to serving plates or a platter. Quickly whisk your remaining vinaigrette together again, and add remaining mixture to the cooked fish. Enjoy! 

Plated: A Review

A couple of weekends ago the Sous Chef and I were going through a bit of a culinary crisis.  

We make a lot of chicken in this house. Usually we make chicken breast because it is a lean source of protein. I do not really eat a lot of red meat or pork, and a lot of the time I do not have time to get access to the best fresh sea food (and I refuse to settle when it comes to fish!) so we are stuck with chicken breast. A few times this summer we have ventured out and cooked chicken thighs – and the thighs did have a wonderful, rich flavor… but still, at the end of the day, it was still chicken. 

But we were both sick of chicken. I was almost ready to give up cooking! I just couldn’t figure out what to do. I could not taste chicken again for a while, this I knew for sure. On the way home from work that Monday, I stopped by Whole Foods and bought ingredients to make turkey chili. It was a hit, and was definitely something we had not made in a long while. I love chili because you do not have to eat it right away. I was able to keep it on the stove top for an hour while the flavors came together to something wonderful, as I did other things and waited for the Sous Chef to come home from his day job. We had dinner and it was an easy clean up and we had leftovers for a couple of days – perfect for the work week. But you cannot eat turkey chili every day. 

I still found myself at a loss. I had seen lots of advertisements and offers to try Plated. I finally bit the bullet and signed up. I would be getting my first delivery just the day after I signed up – and I was really looking forward to seeing how this new service went. 

Our box was due to arrive on Tuesday, and that day I found myself really excited to get home and cook – which was a welcome change!  I also felt like I had more time to do other things that I needed to do, since I did not have to search through all of my recipes to find what I wanted to cook and I did not have to budget time to get to the grocery store. I felt like I had at least an hour of bonus free time, a feeling I never have during the work week. I decided to make the most of this – and I went for a three mile run after work, instead of just getting in the car and driving home. I felt like this was a great use of my time, and if I can do something healthy and stress relieving while using the Plated service, it might be worth it. 

When I got home I found all of the ingredients nicely put away in the refrigerator (by my mom who had been home when the Plated box arrived). The recipes were on the cutting board in the kitchen. I quickly reviewed both recipes and decided to go with the hanger steak and arugula salad with a tomato and goat cheese strata. Wow! I never have such options just walking in the door without doing any of the additional prep work.  This was fantastic!

First, I got out the ingredients I needed for dinner: 

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I loved how nicely everything was packaged – and the most important thing that I loved right of the bat, the knowledge that I would not be wasting ANY FOOD!  So many times in my house I will buy a BUNCH of cilantro, or parsley or another fresh herb when I need a grand total of three or four tablespoons. Sometimes I will need 1/3 of a cup. But often, so much of the herbs go to waste, even if I store them properly in the refrigerator (wrapping herbs in a paper towel will often keep them fresh for a longer amount of time).  I hate throwing away food (garnishes, mostly) – but sometimes I do, especially when I am cooking for two. 

When I opened the bag of herbs, I was taken and (for some reason) surprised by how wonderfully fresh and vibrant the basil and chives smelled. I was instantly reminded of how much I love chive. (Mental note – I must plant chive next year – I have had it in my garden in the past, and it has done wonderfully well – but this year I did not grow any and it has left quite the void in my culinary life.) 

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The basil was a little browned – but that was to be expected since basil bruises so easily. I tossed just a couple of leaves away, and replenished with the basil I had growing out in my backyard. I washed all of the herbs and arugula. I chopped the chive, and tasted as I went… they were delicious! 

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And then I got down to the nitty gritty … and the photos stopped for a bit.  

This is the one thing I will say about Plated.  You have to like to cook to use this service. This is not a thing where you open up your box, put one thing on the grill or pan and your dinner is done. There are steps, there are ingredients, and there is work to be done in the kitchen as you make your meal and after – the clean up can be a bit intense depending on ho many bowls, cutting boards, etc that you use in the process.  Not to discourage you from trying Plated – but just be prepared to put in some work to get your amazing dinner!  That being said, I loved every minute of it.  While I was cooking, I also enjoyed knowing that I had spent the free time I gained from using Plated the best way possible – by exercising and enjoying myself. 

I made the herb vinaigrette dressing, I put together the goat cheese and heavy cream mixture for the strata, and I cooked hanger steak! 

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This steak was a wonderful, lean cut of meat.  I cooked it to about medium, there was still pink in the middle. It was wonderful.

The finished product was such a lovely dinner. My mom and I were both so pleased and we could not get over how much we loved it.

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We also had a lot of leftovers!  I packed a lunch for the next day with arugula, hanger steak, herb vinaigrette and some tomato. Mom had goat cheese and tomato strata for the next day. I was surprised (and thrilled) by how generous the portions were! 

My lunch the next day was the talk of the office: 

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(Possibly because most people were surprised to see me eating steak – and loving it so much!) 

The next night we had another Plated meal on the menu. BBQ chicken burgers with cabbage and baked zucchini “fries”.  Mom and I cooked this meal together. It was another intense meal, but because there were two of us it did not seem as complex as the night before. We had a lot of fun making the meal… 

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Zucchini fries covered in egg and panko, ready for the oven! 

I love the way the small ingredients come in their perfect packages… I re-use the containers with screw tops for dressings for my lunches now.

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I hate touching raw meat, but I’ve been doing it for the sake of these meals – because they are wonderful and creative. I cooked our chicken burgers and used my meat thermometer to make sure they were at 165 degrees before I took them off the stove top. 

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The end result – another fun, creative and delicious meal that we enjoyed. It was a lot of fun cooking together, too! 

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If you have the budget for Plated and the willingness to cook and try new ideas, I would definitely recommend Plated.  I loved the ease of not having to think about what was for dinner and not having to shop for ingredients. I thought the instructions that each meal came with were perfect and lovely – with the colored photographs that are included. Each meal was easy to make, but it does take time. From start to finish (not including eating of course!) I would say that you need about one hour of your day to do a Plated meal. It is a lot of fun and I recommend it! Find more about Plated at their website: https://www.plated.com/

Happy cooking!

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