Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's For Lunch?

I dont think I am all that bad about making the same dinners over and over again, but when it comes to lunch I do repeat the same pattern over and over again. Leftovers from the night before or a sandwich/salad. I don't actually mind it all that much, but I am not only cooking for myself so I try really hard to make sure my husband does no get the same packed lunch with him to work every day.
And I bet I am not the only one that have difficulty having to come up with something new for both dinner and lunch so will share a few of the greatest hits I have made lately.
What about You out there? What do You prefer for lunch and what criteria does a nice lunch have to live up to?
For me, it has to store well. 
At the moment I have the luxury to be able to make my husbands lunch box in the morning, so everything just have to get through the morning, but once I get back to school/work I will have to do things that will store well over night.
Second it has to be filling but no heavy. Don't you know that feeling after lunch where you just want to take a nap if you had a stew or a greasy burger? I rarely get that feeling if I eat a salad...

I think these 3 options checks both boxes as well as being tasty.

White Bean Cheese Muffin, Fried Egg and Curry Fried Chickpea Salad

White Bean Cheese Muffins

200 gram ready to eat white beans (quite sure most beans will work here)
1 big carrot - grated
1 Egg
1-3 Tbsp Whole Wheat Flour
Salt, pepper and a herb (Rosmary, Thyme or Sage works well)

Oil for the muffin pan

Cherry tomatoes
Cheese (I used good quality Mozzarella Cheese)

Heat the oven to 175C.
Blitz all the ingredients together and adjust the consistency with the flour. You are looking for a thick porridge consistency.
If it is to dry you can add milk or water.
Grease the muffin pan with oil - even if you use the "easy slip"  kind I would grease it because the isn't any fat in the "dough".
Top every muffin with cheese and tomato and perhaps some of the herbs and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until firm and golden on top.

These muffins freeze really well but I would reheat them after freezing them. They do keep well in the fridge.

Curried Chickpea Salad

Ready to eat Chickpeas
Carrots, cut into chucks
Onion, sliced
Spinach, washed and spinned
Curry, Salt and Pepper

Heat up the oil in a pan and fry the curry for 1 minutes or so. Curry always taste best if it is fried in fat since that realizes the fat soluble flavors.
Add the onions, carrots and chickpeas and fry until the onions are clear.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Put the spinach in a bowl, add the slightly cooled ingredients from the pan and toss.  

I choose to serve this up with a fried egg - sunny side up - but it would taste great on its own. 
I have packed fried eggs in lunches before but if you think it is to messy opt for a soft boiled egg instead.

Baked Sweet Potato With Mexicans Inspired Kale, Corn, Black Beans And Beef Stir Fry

I felt so great and healthy eating this. The flavors were balanced and the colors just made me happy - don't you agree?

If you are serving this as a lunch I would definitely make it the day after I had served baked sweet potatoes since that is the part that will take you the longest.
My husband got this for lunch and apparently could not cope with the long line in front of the micro wave and reported that it tastes really well cold - very  nice to know when talking about lunches.

1 baked sweet potato (one big one was enough for me and hubby to share)
Ready to eat black beans
Kale, washed and sliced however you like it
Freash or tinned tomates, chopped
Onions, sliced
Corn (I perfer fresh of the cob but frozen and canned will do fine here)
Cumin, Cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, sugar and fresh coriander
Minced beef (can easily be left out)

To serve - Fresh coriander, lime and/or greek yoghurt

The baked sweet potato
Just in case you have not baked a sweet potato before, it is basically the same as baking a regular potato.
Rince the spud and wrap in tin foil - I like to add a bit of oil, salt and pepper an well.
Bake in a 200 C hot oven for a least 1 hour, sometimes more, depending of the size of the potato.
I like my baked sweet potatoes to be fairly soft, but if you like it any other way go with your instinct.

The stir fry
Fry the onion and the minced beef in a little oil. I used some already cooked leftover mince from the night before and actually very little of it. 
It gives a very nice beefy flavor, but the vegetables are the stars here and you already get proteins from the beans so it is optional.
Add the kale, corn and black beans and fry until the kale has has wilted.
Add the tomatoes and season. I like this one to have a bit of a kick, but you might not agree. 
I only add a pinch of sugar to bring out the tomato flavor. You do not want it sweet, especially because the sweet potato is sweet enough.

If you have any other vegetables in the fridge - by all means - add to the stir fry. Bell peppers would work well, so would carrots and zucchini.

Kale Salad With Carrots, Oven Roasted Chicken And Crispy Parma Ham - Hummus And Vegetables - Baked Berrie And Bread Pudding - Greek Yoghurt with Berries And Ceriel - Peanut Butter Banana Sandwich

Now you are probably thinking - what the heck kind of a head line is that?
Well - this is what my husband would eat during a day at work. People who knows my husband will have noticed that he eats ALL THE TIME. Not a lot at a time, but little meals very often.
I do the same - but since I eat alone most of the time, people just don't notice.
This works really well for me. It rearely get too hungry and make poor food choices and I don't have huge up's and down's during the day due to blood sugar spikes.
If you feel this is something you tend to do, you should give it a go.
You might look at the headline or the picture and think "that take way to much time to prepare" but with good routines and a bit of planning its not that much work.

Kale Salad With Carrots, Oven Roasted Chicken And Crispy Parma Ham

Kale, washed and spinned dry
Vinaigrette of salt, pepper, olive oil and lemon juice
4-5 slices of oven roasted chicken
Carrots in small chances
Crispy Parma Ham

First add the kale to a roomy bowl and add the dressing. Massage the dressing into the kale for as long ad you have time to - at least for 1 minute.
This brakes down the though texture of the kale and makes it smooth. 
The hard texture is also one of the reasons why kale is a good choice for a salad you need to make the day before - it will hold up with our getting soggy even after adding the dressing.
Once your kale is smooth and silky top with the other ingredients.

Berrie And Bread Pudding

This is kind of a mix of french toast and bread and butter pudding.
I think I made it as a late night snack or a breakfast and just decided to send the rest with my husband to work as a treat.

Slices of whole grain bread (stale is best)
Vanilla extract
Berries (fresh or frozen)

In an oven safe dish add some berries. If you got a sweet tooth or just some very sour berries add some sugar.
Make a mixture of milk, honey, vanilla extract and eggs. 
Rip the bread into big chucks and place them on top of the berries and poor over the milk/egg mixture.
You want to make sure that the bread can soak up most of the milk/egg mixture so you might want to mix it up or push the bread down.
Put a few dots of butter on top (and perhaps some sugar) and set aside for as long as you got time for - preferably 20-30 minutes but I have let it sit as little as 5 minutes.
Then bake it all in a 175C hot oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
It keeps well a few days in the fridge.
This treat tastes really really good with apples and raisins as well.


Ready to eat chickpeas
Greek yoghurt
Olive oil
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Blitz the chickpeas in a blender and add olive oil and greek yoghurt until you get a smooth texture. Add the rest of the ingredients to taste.

Serve with a drizzle of olive oil on top and a dash of smoky paprika and eat with sticks of vegetables.

It is really easy to prepare beans and chickpeas your self and they all freeze really well. I really recommend you to take the time once in a while to soak the beans over night and cook them in salty water for 1-2 hours instead of buying the tinned versions.
It is cheaper and you get less sodium.
But if this step is what is holding you back from using beans in your cooking go ahead and buy them tinned.
They are filled with fibers and are a good source of protein - really good reasons to include them in your diet.

The snacks are kind of self explanatory so I wont tell you how to make them, but a good idea is to take a day in your week to prepare them so they are easy to grab on the go.
Here are some of the things I would recommend to have on hand.

Vegetables sticks. If you for some reason don't use them as snacks you can always use them in your cooking and cut down on the prep time.

Ready made bags with a mix of nuts, dark chocolate or dried fruits. I try to keep one of these in my car/handbag at all times so I am not tempted to buy something I shouldn't just because I am on the go.

Hummus and other bean mousses. They last a week in the fridge easy and you can flavor them in different ways so you don't get bored. I like roasted pepper hummus!

Greek yoghurt (or regular yoghurt/Skyr in Denmark. The small tubs make an easy "on the go" snack if you have a bag of cereal with you. And at home I would eat it with honey and almonds, fresh fruit/berries or flavor it with peanut butter or vanilla.

I always keep peanut butter on hand. It is great in smoothies and dressing, but most of all it is such an easy snack. Try it the traditional way in a sandwich with jam (I prefer fresh berries or banana instead) or use it as a dip for apples or vegetable sticks. My all time favorite is peanut butter with chunks of 70% dark chocolate to dunk my apples in.

Salmon Burger With Rice Vinegar Marinated Vegetables And Salad

Ok - this one is not really anything amazing or complicated but some days you just can't handle anything else and this was kind of a "what can I whip up with what I have" day.
And it checks a lot of the boxes. Protein - check (and checked one of the "fish 3 days a week" box as well). 
Whole Grain - check. 
Vegetables - check. 
Sometimes that is enough.

Salmon burger

Salmon fillet
Spring onion
Salt, pepper and lemon juice

Blitz the ingredients together in a blender and for into patties.
If you can't get them to hold together - try adding an egg.
Cook on a skillet - not to much heat and not to long. If you are starting to get that white stuff coming out of the fish (you probably know what I am talking about) it is a sign that the fish has gotten to much heat to fast - As you might be able to see on the picture that happened to me.
So don't overdo it!

Marinate thinly sliced vegetables(I used radishes and carrots, but cucumber and zucchini would also work well)in rice wine vinegar with a bit of salt, sugar and pepper for at least 10 minutes.
Serve it as a side to the salmon patty in a whole wheat bun with some salad.
The sour moist vegetables was enough for me this day, but avocado or mayo would really put the "dot over the i" here.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Something Fishy And A Snack

Who knew that it could be this hard to take decent pictures? I have made lots and lots af great healthy foods lately, but the picture part is really the problem.
It is mostly at dinner time I make something new and interesting - lunch are often just leftovers or I double whatever I make for the husband to bring in his lunch box.
But at dinner time I am tired, hungry and the light is awful which all in all sums up to me (and the hubby) not at all being in the mood for waiting another 30 minutes until we get to have the, by then, cold dinner.
If anyone out there has any tips - please feel charitable and share!
Well enough complaining, more recipes!
Apparently we have had a bit of fish lately as you see from the pictures and it all turned out great!

Pea Purée, Potatoes, Parma Ham Wrapped Cod And Balsamic Reduction

This was really easy to make and it came out perfect.

Pea purée
Peas - fresh or frozen
Water/chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
Lemon juice

Heat it all up - do not boil it for a long time, you get gray peas and you lose some of the taste.
Put the peas in a blender and hold some of the water back. Blitz until you get a texture you like - ad more of the water if you think it is to clumpy.
Ad lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

The Balsamic Reduction is made by slowly cooking Balsamich Vinegar until it is reduced to a sirupy consistence.
Scrumpsius but most cheap balcamics are made with sugar, so only use to garnish.

Parma Ham Wrapped Cod
Parma Ham, enough to cover the cod
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

It is basically as easy as it looks.
Heat up the oven to 200C and while it is heating you add a little salt and pepper to the cod, wrap the Parma ham around it and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.
Pop in the over for 15 minutes and squeeze some lemon juice over it.
Serve with small potatoes and a side of green salad for some more veggies.

Emptying the cabinets

This meal was basically made up from what I had in the fridge and the cabinets on one of those days where you just don't want to go to the store.
Not at all new or extraordinary but it tasted great and just wanted to make the point that you can make something healthy if you just make sure you have good things on stock.

Tuna salad
Canned tuna
0%fat greek yoghurt
Pickled cucumbers
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Mince the capers and pickled cucumbers and mix in with all the other ingredients.
Serve on a bed of lettuce.

I had some potatoes left over from the cod meal and some broccoli that I just heated through.
The rest of the leftover Parma ham was also fried nice and crispy on a pam with a bit of olive oil. Pat it with kitchen paper if you want the excess oil of before serving it.
I had a couple of tomatoes left, a bit of mozzarella and a lot of fresh hers and voila - a tomato salad god a bit more interesting.

Chicken, Sweet Potato Fries, Eggplant Purée And Orange Salad

The chicken was just a basic oven baked chicken - nothing fancy. Just oil, salt and pepper and in the oven at 200C for 1 - 1 1/2 hours depending on the size.

Oven-baked Sweet Potato Fries
Sweet potatoes - about 1 - 1 1/2 per person.
Olive oil
Salt, pepper and cayenne pepper/hot paprika if you like.

Sweet potatoes must be one of the single best thing that I have discovered in the states. I have had them back in Denmark, but the first time I tried a sweet potato fry I was in heaven. 
And the baked variety comes pretty close.

Peel, or don't - up to you, the sweet potatoes and cut the into thick fries. Add them to a plastic bag with olive oil and shake. Then transfer the potatoes into another bag with flour, salt, pepper and some cayenne pepper/hot paprika and shake well.
Bake in the oven in a single layer at 250C for 45 minutes.

Eggplant Purée
1/2 an eggplant
Olive oil 
Lemon juice
Salt an pepper

Cut the eggplant in two down the middle and coat one half in olive oil and bake in the oven until it is very soft and the skin peels off easily.
Add the eggplant flesh and the rest of the ingredients to a blender and blitz until smooth.
You can add a bit more olive oil and perhaps some tahini if you have some.
Is sprinkled some toasted sesame seeds on top when it was served.

Orange Salad
A couple of oranges
Red onion
Salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil
Lemon juice

Cut the peel of the oranges and slice it into bite size pieces. Slice the red onion finely, ditto the parsley.
Add the last ingredients to taste and you got yourself a salad.

Peanut Butter Balls & Prune Balls
I think it explains itself, but the peanut butter balls are on the left and the prune balls are on the right ;)

When we are on the go or just want something sweet to snack on these are great to carry with you.
They are high in energy and fat, so I normally eat two with a glass of milk.
First time I made them we liked the peanut butter ones best but this time we liked the prunes ones best.
I think I put too little honey in them this time.
I didn't meassure the amounts so I am giving you ball park numbers.

Peanut Butter Balls
A small jar of peanut butter
Oats - about 100 grams
Honey - to taste
Dark chocolate 70% or above
Butter - optional
Graham cracker crumbles for decoration - optional

Blitz peanut butter and oats together until smooth. Add a pinch of salt and honey until slightly sweet.
Mealt the chocolate. A bit of butter can make the chocolate easier to work with.
Form small balls - about the size that you would be able to eat in two bites.
Dip the balls in the chocolate and sprinkle with the graham cracker crumbles if you feel like it.

Prune Balls
Prunes - about 500 grams
Almons - about 250 gram
A peeled orange, if the consistency is to lumpy
Dark chocolate 70% or above
Butter - optional
Unsweetened coconut shavings

Blits the almonds and prunes and add either the whole orange or just the juice if you need to adjust the consistency and a bit of salt.
Then the process is the same as the peanut butter balls. Roll to balls, dip on chocolate and dip in coconut shavings.

They are addictive! I think I might need to make some more soon.

Monday, July 15, 2013

A lot of cooking, not enough blogging

Yearh - been cooking a lot but haven't really been taking enough pictures of the food lately.
Not really in the mood and not happy about the pictures.
Guess I need better equipment and more practise. 
But have a few recipes to share with you all and am still aiming for low on fat and high in taste.
Since we are not all in need of watching our weight, you really should add the extra fat when suggested in the recipe if you are so lucky.

Cod with parsnip mash, baby potatoes and ginger soy glaced brusselsprouts
Not my best presentation, but this tasted great! 

I really don't like brussels sprouts but know that they are SO good for you. So when I found a cheap bag of them in the grocery store I was up for the challenge. I found this recipe in a food magazine and made slight changes.
This actually turned out much much better than I anticipated.
The salt in the soy and the ginger really compliment the fish and the brussels sprouts.

Recipe for 2 persons

White fish - I think I used cod but I imagine that catfish would work really well

Baby potatoes

1 big or 2 small parsnips
8 brussels sprouts


Start out by peeling and chopping up the parsnip so it will boil quicker. Remember to salt the water well. Even though it is good to watch you salt intake, water for boiling any vegetable should always be as salty as the ocean to get the right flavor.
If you are thinking of making less dirty pots to wash - boil the potatoes and parsnips together and simply extract the potatoes when done.
Then turn your attention to the horrible task of getting the brussels sprouts ready - Hate that part as well.
Not a favorite vegetable as your can hear.
But it is important to peel all the outer layers of and cut some of the steam so you get a beautiful little gem.

In the original recipe, some of them were slices and some peel into petals. The petal part did not work out that well for me, but if you got the patience it looks really neat when serving.
If you don't like raw cabbage, blanch them shortly at this point.

When the parsnip is very very tender, drain the water and pure with some butter/oil and whatever water is left in the pan.
The amount of butter depends on your conscience and you would be surprised how big a difference just one tsp will make flavor wise - I used around 2 tsp.

Cook the fish to the instructions of your fish monger. Mine got around 10 minutes in the oven with just salt and pepper.

Heat some soy sauce, some finely minced ginger and perhaps some butter to a pan and simmer so that the flavors marry.
When you are happy with the taste, add the brussels sprouts and heat them through.

Arrange it all on hot plates.

This tasted so good that I even want to buy more brussels sprouts!
I might add some lemon juice to the soy glaze next time.

Chicken and fennel stew

Easy and fast stew with fennel, peppers and chicken

I have been craving anything licorice lately - probably a danish thing. We love licorice! In candy we like it strong, almost hot and with a taste of ammonia.
It sounds so weird when I write it - but if you are ever in Denmark or in the surrounding countries look for danish licorice and ask the store personal for the strongest variety!
You probably wont like it, but then you know what I am talking about.
I can't get anything like it over here - but I can get the taste of licorice and without the guilt and sugar in the form of fennel!


1 small fennel
1 onion
1 red pepper
Chicken breast
1 can of tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Oil for sautéing

Chop up all the ingredients into what ever size you like and sauté them in the the pan - starting with the onion and chicken.
When they all got a nice color add the tomato and cook until everything is tender.
Add salt and pepper to taste - perhabs some smoky hot paprika for a little kick.
If you are doing the "no carb" thing, then just serve as is but fluffy rice or fresh bread goes wonderfully with this.

Scallops, brown butter and celeriac in two ways

The butter really makes the diffferance here so I decided to make it a starter
Butter makes everything taste good, but browed butter is amazing. It makes it taste almost nutty.
There is apparently a whole science behind browning butter - as there are with most french cooking technique - but I don't have the patience.
So I simply just slowly heat up butter in a pan until it goes golden brown. But please feel free to look into more correct ways of approaching it.

For this lovely and very filling starter you will need:

1/2 a celeriac
3 big scallops per person
Browed butter

Peel the celeriac and slice it. One of the slices you cut into shapes - I used an apple corer to makes rounds - looking back squares might have been a nice contrast to the scallops.
These shapes can be baked in the oven or fried in a pan until they goes crisp to add a crontraste to all the soft ingredients in the dish.
The rest of the celeriac is boiled in salted water until very very tender.
Then purée with some brown butter - you actually don't need a lot to make it taste great but it will only make it better.
Once all of these elements are readdy to plate up, fry the scallops about 1 minute on each side with a bit of the butter in the pan.
If you have any butter left over, drizzle it on top of everything when you serve it.

White fish, baby potatoes, bacon, apple sauce and celeriac squares
It might sound strange but this combo is actually really good.

This recipe is actually from back when CT was still covered in snow this winter and for me it is a true winter dish, even-though is isn't all that heavy as most winter dishes.
Winter is the time to eat Cod and I just love the taste of Cod and bacon together. Another thing I love with bacon is apple! So I decided to try it all together.

Apple sauce
Apple - cored and peeled
A splash of water
Salt and sugar to taste

Basically you mix the ingredients together and cook it over low heat until you are able to much it. 
That's it!

Fry the bacon in a pan or in the oven with thyme until it is crisp. If you don't mind a bit more fat in you dish - save the bacon fat and roast the parsnips in them. If there is still more bacon fat left - add it to the apple sauce.

Cut the parsnips into small squares and fry them until they are nice and golden.

Boil the potatoes until the are al dente with lots of salt in the water.

White fish - skin on.
Make sure that your piece of fish is very dry before you add it to a hot pan with butter and oil.
Make sure that the skin is nice and crispy before you turn it over.

I can really recommend drinking a glass of very cold, not to dry, white wine with this.

Hopefully I will finally keep my promise about not waiting this long before I blog again - until then - keep cool :)