07 January 2015

Dishes with Dee: Host the perfect football party

Well, guys. The best time of year is quickly coming to an end. 
No, I don't mean Christmas.
I mean football season.

No other time is Sunday Funday more appropriate.
No other time is a grown man in face paint allowed.
No other time would you spend a small fortune on a plastic beer and sit outside in the snow for three hours.
Football is fun.

Let's face it though, you guys. Sometimes you think about the idea of going down to the game and you're like "#overit". Especially when you are still trying to pay off student loans and save money, and pay for that monthly membership to that boutique workout studio, and a trip to Spain because WANDERLUST

And on that weekend, I have the perfect solution for you: Chili Party
That's right, y'all. Football's most perfect pairing. (Besides beer. Duh)

So with a month left in the season, I present you a layout for the perfect football party.

First, you'll need friends. If you're worried about this step, take a page from my book. I basically bribe every one of my friends with food, so this party is key for that.

Next, you need recipes. Go pot luck, or do it all yourself. Do what works best for the people you're so close to that you you don't find it odd the exact same people are in 4 group chats together. I chose to do all the cooking, and I went with three very different options.

Then, buy beer. I hosted this little gathering in October, so I staged a pumpkin beer tasting and requested everyone BYOB to supplement. 

Lastly, have everyone over for an afternoon that will definitely give you the Sunday Night Blues.

One of the best parts of this event was that it was for my birthday. En lieu of gifts, I asked everyone to bring some cash and we raised money for the Adore-A-Bull rescue. (If you are looking, adopt one of their amazing dogs!) We played squares and I had jars set up around that my friends could stuff some cash in. We raised almost $150 and I was thrilled!

Miss Grace was so grateful for all of the money people brought for other furbabies.

I decided for the chili, I needed a chicken, a meat, and a healthy option, so I made a Crock Pot White Chicken Chili, Vegetarian Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Chili, and Chilindron, which is a Spanish style game stew.

Up first:

Vegetarian Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Chili

I make this recipe exactly from Ambitious Kitchen. I mean, I don't make a single change. She already does it perfectly. If you have a crowd that will just lose it over the vegetarian part, add some ground turkey. 

Second in line:

Crock Pot White Chicken Chili

This is an awesome recipe I got from my dear friend Chelsea. Be warned, it is not healthy.
But, big surprise, it was the first one gone.

Here's what ya need:
3-4 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cans of corn with liquid
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans of rotel diced tomatoes- chili ready style preferred
1 can of chicken broth
1 jalapeno seeded and diced
1/4 bunch of cilantro chopped (for topping)
2 packets of ranch dressing mix (YES)
1 brick of cream cheese (#YOLO)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili power
salt, pepper

And here's what ya do:
Season the chicken on both sides with salt and pepper and place in the bottom of the crock pot raw.

Then add corn, black beans, tomatoes, chicken broth, jalapeno, ranch dressing packet, cumin and chili powder. Stir well until all ingredients are combined leaving the chicken at the bottom. 

Place cream cheese brick on top, cover and cook on high for 6-8 hours. I find that about 6 1/2-7 hours is the sweet spot.

Remove the chicken to a plate and shred with two forks. Add back to the pot, stir everything together, and serve.



Now, this technically is a stew, but I had some venison in the freezer that I wanted to use, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Additionally, an authentic Chilindron doesn't have potato, but I feel like all good stews need some starch so I added one. You may leave it out if you prefer. 

Here's what ya need:
3 pounds of a meat of your choice. I used venison, but you could use literally anything. Rabbit, pheasant, chicken, lamb, beef... I mean, anything.
1 large onion- cut into 1/2 inch wedges
1 potato (sweet or Idaho) peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 c. button mushrooms
8-10 cloves of garlic- minced
1/2 c raw bacon- chopped
1 15 oz. jar of roasted red peppers- removed from oil and blotted dry, then chopped (If you want to roast the peppers yourself, use 5 or 6)
1 regular can of crushed tomatoes. (To keep with the smoky flavor, I use fire roasted)
2 1/2 c dry red wine
3 bay leaves
A sprig or two of rosemary (About 1 tbsp)- chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme- chopped
2 tsp smoked paprika
salt, pepper

And here's what ya do:

Cut meat into 1 inch chunks, salt it and set it aside to rest for about 20 minutes. Usually, this is when I do the rest of my prep.

Heat about a tbsp of olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat and brown the meat, agitating frequently. Be sure you don't overcrowd the pot, which can lead to steaming. Take your time and do this in batches. As you go, remove the browned meat to a bowl and set aside. You might need to add more oil to the pot between batches.

Next, add the onions to the pot with a little bit of salt and cook until they begin to sweat. Add a splash of beef stock to the pot and scrape up the brown bits stuck to the bottom. These have awesome flavor!

Once the onions begin to look translucent, add garlic, bacon, potato, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant. 

Then, turn the heat to high and add the wine, bringing it to a boil. You want it to really bubble here, as you're cooking out the alcohol. 

Once the liquid has reduced by half, add tomato, peppers, rosemary, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. The liquid should be an inch or so from the top of the meat. If your liquid is low, add a little stock.  
Cover and simmer over medium heat until done.

**Note: the cooking time depends on the kind of meat you use. I find that with venison, it takes about 2 hours, but if you're using something lighter, I would check it after about an hour**

I served this with a crusty bread.

This party was great. I mean, you really have to consider yourself lucky if you can spend the entire day with awesome people, eating good food, and watching your team win a football game.

Now, you have the tools you need. Invite your friends over before its too late! 

25 October 2014

The Cook's Critique featuring: Plated

Remember that time you had hours and hours with nothing to do and so you sat down and made a thorough shopping list with the exact quantities to portion out all your meals and not waste anything and have it all be healthy and delicious?
Me either.

Other than that one time last year when we tried to eat clean. Remember that? I told y'all to dedicate the time and plan stuff out? I bet you read that like "pssshhhhh, you cray"

I know, I know. I am.

I tend to get these ideas about how I could improve my life and then just throw myself at them. I'll wake up one day and be like "You know what would make my life so much better? Doing yoga for 30 minutes every morning before I get ready for work!" Which inevitably results in me twisted into weird positions while my dog tries to lick my face/sit in my lap/wrestle, and then I give up.
Or I'll be like "I am not going to dink any wine at all during the week" (bahahahahahaha).
The trouble is, quite plainly, that my life lacks a certain level of convenience that I think everyone craves. There exists a need for simplicity of routine. Especially on week nights when time seems to be scarce.

Without question the activity I spend the most time on is cooking dinner. Finding or coming up with the recipes, going to the store, preparing the meal: when all is said and done, I've devoted hours each week.

So, in a effort to simplify things, I've decided to give the folks at Plated a try.
Plated is an at home meal delivery service. You fill out the information, they send you the exact ingredients and recipes you need. To your door. In a lovely package.

This week I got my first box. I did a promotional trial, so I got to choose two recipes and they sent me enough to make two servings of each dish, and because of the promotion, I only had to pay shipping ($20).

This is your moment of glory. I love you, Plated.

The box is full of wonderfully fresh ingredients, all labeled and neatly packaged. It comes to you with plenty of ice packs to keep everything inside fresh. Not to mention, look how beautiful the recipe sheets are!

I chose mushroom-crusted flatiron steak with cauliflower mash and butter-basted redfish harissa, crispy kale and polenta. 

My box arrived on Tuesday and I opted for the steak first.

The recipes are wonderful. Everything is explained plainly. You never feel like you could be interpreting something wrong which provides a certain level of confidence that even those of you who don't spend quite as much time in the kitchen could make any of these like a pro. They provide some information in the form of a glossary and cook's tips, that I love. I'm hungry for any chance to learn something new!

On the whole, it took me more like 45 minutes to make this dish rather than the 20-30 that Plated estimates, but in all fairness, I'm stopping every so often to take photos, so that slows me down. This meal was delicious, and there was definitely enough food. In fact, I was able to divide this out into 3 meals, so I'm really looking forward to leftovers tonight!

I'm not going to post the recipe for this today. If you want to try it, you should head on over to Plated and get yourself a trial! (Provided they're still offering one). I am going to continue getting a Plated box, at least for a few weeks, and then I'll post my absolute favorites for you guys to try!

Check back for my thoughts on the Redfish later this weekend!

21 October 2014

Dishes with Dee: Autumn Quinoa

I got new boots!
I've been wearing scarves!
I guess it must be Fall, you guys.

Let's talk about all the reasons why Fall is the best, aside from the boots and the drink that elicits a cult-like following. There is football, pumpkin beer, pumpkin carving, pumpkin anything, Halloween, my birthday (the best part), drinks spiked with rum and that amazing smell Fall has. If you don't know what I'm talking about, you need to come experience Fall in the Midwest. Stat.

Also, there are roasted things. You guys- roasted things are e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. in Fall.
Roasting vegetables brings out their rich sweetness in a way that says comfort food without the love handles, ya feel me?

So, as I often do, I was day dreaming about food on my way home from work one night. It was the kind of day dreaming that has you turning the opposite way off your exit, heading into Whole Foods, and accidentally spending this week's wine allowance. (YeahRightLikeIPutAnAllowanceOnWine.) I wandered through produce with two things going through my mind:
1. Butternut Squash
2. Brussels Sprouts! 
So of course, I ended up with both in my basket. I started thinking about what flavors reminded me the most of my favorite season, and I ended up with an awesome collection of ingredients.
And then, Autumn Quinoa was born,

So here's what ya need:
2 c. cooked quinoa 
1 small butternut squash
1 bag of brussels sprouts
1 medium-large honey crisp apple
1/4 c. sun-dried tomatoes
1/8 c. toasted pecans
1/2 tsp cinnamon 
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp fresh sage
1 tsp fresh rosemary
2 Tbsp grated parmesan
A small dish of olive oil and a brush.

And here's what ya do:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with a light cooking oil. Wash and trim your brussels sprouts. To do this, simply rinse under cool water in a colander, pull off any outer leaves that are discoloring and trim down the stems. Take extra care to dry them, as they will roast better if they're completely dry. Then cut them in half length-wise. Peel and cube your butternut squash into about 3/4-inch chunks.
Click here to have Martha show you the easiest way to prepare a butternut squash.

2. Put butternut squash on the other baking sheet, brush with regular olive oil, and sprinkle with a little bit of salt, and cinnamon. Roast for about 30-35 minutes, agitating every 5-7 minutes. Place the brussels sprouts cut-side-down on one of the baking sheets and lightly brush with olive oil. I used some roasted garlic oil for these, but if that seems like it might be too rich, just go for regular. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast for 18-20 minutes or until you start to see them browning.

3. While the vegetables roast, chop the sun-dried tomato into about 1/2 inch length pieces, core the apple, and cut it into 1/2 pieces as well. Coarsely chop all herbs.
**Note: All three herbs can usually be found packaged together in a "poultry pack" of some kind rather than buying them each individually** 

4. Once the vegetables finish roasting, immediately add quinoa, brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sun-dried tomatoes, and apple in a medium bowl. Toss to combine. Then, stir in the herbs, pecans and parmesan. Plate and serve.

I served this with grilled chicken sausage.

***Note: Cook the quinoa in chicken stock for a more flavorful grain***

03 March 2014

Dishes with Dee: Open-faced Italian Breakfast Sandwiches

So it's Saturday morning.
You were kicking adult life's ass last night. You grabbed dinner with some friends at "Trendy New Tapas Place", had 2 glasses of wine, and then came home before 10:00 to watch Orange is the New Black on Netflix while you drank Sleepytime Tea and fell asleep before midnight.
Not only did adult you win at Friday night, but you woke up at 8:00.
You went to the gym!
You went to the grocery store!
You did a load of laundry!
And its only 11:00!

Get after it.

So, now what? That yogurt and protein bar you had this morning has stopped doing its job, and you want something that will keep the good vibes going.

The answer is simple: Open-faced Breakfast Sandwich.
One of my favorite things about these sandwiches is that there is very little cooking, so you can have them on the table in under 15 minutes. 
Plus, they look fancy for how easy they are, so they're always a crowd pleaser. 
Invite some friends over and share the love.
It doesn't matter what you put on one of these suckers, just as long as you cover the basics:
I'm talking meat, egg, good bread.
From there, you do what ever your together-twentysomething heart desires.

I posted before about open-faced breakfast sandwiches made with egg and salmon.
Still a favorite. 
But this time I knew what I had to do. And what I had to do was use prosciutto. 
1. Because I had some in the fridge (along with salami and capicola) 
2. Because, duh.

So what do you do when you have 3 kinds of Italian meats in the house?
Make an Italian breakfast sandwich, obvs.

Open-Faced Italian Breakfast Sandwiches

Here's what ya need:
1 loaf of bakery style Italian bread. Go on and get the good stuff. I got rosemary and olive oil from Fresh Market.
Red Onion
Buffalo Mozzarella
Italian meats- Use whatever you like. I used prosciutto, salami, and capicola because, meat.
Salt and Pepper, and a little bit of olive oil.

And here's what ya do:
1. Using a bread knife, cut yourself a few thick slices of bread. (I didn't use the end piece.) You'll need a slice for each sandwich. In my case, three. Slice the mozzarella, tomato, and onion. 

Note: Why don't you cut up those ends of bread into chunks, toss them with oil, and toast them at 350 for 5- 10 minutes to make some croutons? 

2. Drizzle the sliced bread with a little bit of oil (I used roasted garlic olive oil), and grill using a grill pan until slightly charred. About 3-5 minutes per side over medium heat. Check them as you go, flipping as needed.

3. While the bread grills, cook an egg for each sandwich, sunny side up. About half way through cooking, sprinkle with salt and fresh-ground black pepper.

4. When the eggs are finished, all you have to do is layer everything.
I went:

Make yourself a cup of coffee Bloody Mary and toast to your awesomeness while you soak in what it feels like to finally have your shit together.

Today, anyway. 

(1 slice of bread and 1 egg for each sandwich, and these serve as many people as you want.)

11 February 2014

Dishes with Dee: Baked Avocado with Chicken

So you know I've been busy when my blog posts come to a screeching halt.
Lately, I've had so much going on that I have barely had time to cook, let alone write about it.

Guys, blogging for a hobby is so much harder to keep up with than blogging for a job.
(Cue tiny violin)
Sometimes I get home and there is a sofa there.
And I can't even.
But, I cook and you all like to hear about it (I think) so here I am.

I've posted before about some go to meals for week nights when you are in a rush, like my kimchi and fried egg or chicken tostadas made with rotisserie chicken.

It is my firm belief, that while I love to spend hours in the kitchen sometimes, having some awesome recipes that get you in and out of there is crucial to your sanity.
Especially on weeknights. When you have to work out. And go to a charity meeting. And dog training. And it's Wine Wednesday (yes, its important).
Kitchen time takes a backseat to Wine Wednesday, amiright?

So adding to our growing collection, I offer you baked avocado with chicken. In fact, when you know you have a busy week, make one of these the day after the chicken tostadas so you can use left over rotisserie chicken.  Perfect for a super fast, tasty dinner on those nights where you want something healthy, but ohmigawd, everyone is going to at the wine bar in 20 minutes! skjfhauhvjd

Baked Avocados with Chicken

Here's what ya need:
1 just ripe avocado- halved and pitted
Shredded chicken
1 tomato diced
Shredded pecorino ramano
1/4 a shallot- sliced.
Salt and Pepper.

And here's what ya do:
Preheat the oven to 350.

Season avocado with salt and pepper, layer on chicken, tomato, cheese, and top with shallots.
Place in a baking dish and bake for about 10 minutes.
Literally, that's it.

Here it is in photos, y'all:

I make these all the time when I'm in a hurry. I have snap wear that is the perfect size for baking just a half for a quick pre-workout snack too.

Have this for dinner and get all your other "I totally have this adult thing down to a science" stuff done too.
Go on, super woman.

07 February 2014

Dishes with Dee: Quinoa and Steak Lettuce Wraps with Mango Salsa

I bet you thought we broke up, huh?
Don't worry, we didn't.

Big changes going on in CincyDee's world y'all.
I've been super busy moving and a few other things.
I'll tell y'all about it very soon.

But, I know that you are really just interested in the food right now.
I mean, looking back I have probably given you 2 or 3 recipes in like 2 months.
No good, y'all.

So I rarely eat beef. I don't know why exactly, because I like it, but I just don't like is as much as my other choices.
I mean, I will choose sushi over a steak dinner every time. Every. Damn. Time.
I just prefer fish.

Every now and again though I get a craving for some steak.
Now, we could go all steak house style and get pretty unhealthy with this.
Buttery mashed potatoes with heavy cream, burgundy mushrooms, roasted asparagus with bacon.
Believe me, I've made that meal.
And it is delicious. Add a stick of butter to wet cardboard and it will be delicious too.
But there are ways to have steak and not require a quadruple bypass.

Protein packed quinoa, a citrus and sweet salsa and some bibb lettuce make for a dinner that doesn't totally undo your entire week of salads and workouts.

Quinoa and Steak Lettuce Wraps with Mango Salsa

Here's what ya need:
1 mango- cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tomato- seeded and diced
about 1/4 a red onion- diced
1 jalapeno- seeded and diced
Juice of 1/2 a lime
about 2 tbsp. chopped cilantro (plus more for topping)
1/2 c. uncooked quinoa
1 c. chicken broth
1- 1 1/2 lb flank steak
2 tbsp tamari sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground ginger
1 garlic clove- minced
salt and pepper
1 bunch living bibb lettuce

And here's what ya do:

In a gallon size freezer bag, combine ginger, garlic, and tamari sauce.
Lightly season steak with salt and pepper and place in bag.
Close and massage to coat steak in marinade.
Let it sit in the fridge for at least 20 minutes and up to 4 hours.

In a small bowl, combine the first 6 ingredients and mix well.
Set aside.
Salsa's done, babe.

If you have never worked with a mango before, here is a great video from Martha Stewart on how to cut one up.

How to cut a mango

Cook quinoa in chicken broth according to package directions. If you make your own chicken broth ever, I definitely recommend using it for this! I did, and it was amazing.

Finally, cook your steak.
Remove it from the fridge about 10 minutes before you plan to cook it, so right before you start the quinoa.
Cook over medium-high heat in a grill pan until desired temperature.
Flank steak tastes the best at medium-rare, so about 4-6 minutes per side will work.
Note: the trick with steak is to only turn the meat once. Be patient, and let each side cook.
Turning too many times creates and searing effect and will cause the steak to cook very slowly.

Once cooked, let rest for about 10 minutes and thinly slice. Against the grain of course!

I do these DIY style, so I'll set everything out on the table and let each person make their own.
Just simply layer the quinoa and steak on a piece of lettuce and top with salsa!

These will serve 2-4 people, so call up some friends and cook 'em dinner!

Also, they're messy, so get the napkins ready and be prepared to have someone tell you that you have quinoa stuck to your cheek.

10 January 2014

Get Moving: Girls and their shoes.

Let's talk about fitness goals.
You've got all this awesome stuff going on lately.
You're trying to make the right choices in the kitchen.
You've been doing the 30 day challenges.  You keep doing them even when your arms are like jello.
So. Many. Push-ups.
You're getting out there, getting active, and seeing results.

Like many people, my goals have started evolving as I'm getting further into fitness routines and taking care of my over all health.

Don't worry, babes.  I'm not going to tell you about New Year's resolutions.
Frankly, I don't get them.
Just get up and do what you want to do.  You don't need a whole new year to start going after your goals, just to get your butt to the gym or start saving, or whatever it is you want to do.

But, I am going to talk about how things are changing for me.
What I want to get out of my workouts is different than it was six months ago.

Six months ago I wanted to get "toned".
I wanted a workout that wasn't too hard on my body.
Honestly, I wanted something that wasn't too challenging.
Something I knew I could do.

So, I signed up for 6 months at Pure Barre.
The workout I know and love.
Don't misunderstand me here, I think Pure Barre is a great workout if it lines up with your goals.
But, as time goes by, it just doesn't work for me anymore.

Now, I want to be strong.
I want to be fast.
I want to surprise people.

Being little, people always assume that I can't do things.
I want to prove them wrong.

So the first step for me was to challenge myself, and pick a high-intensity workout that pushes me to the limit.
I'm getting out of my comfort zone, and doing something I've never done before.
And I'm doing it alone.

Starting in February I'll be taking boxing classes at The Punch House, and I can't wait.
I'll definitely be sure and let you guys know how it goes.
It's guaranteed to be an adventure.

But before that, you guys:

I cannot even begin to tell you how badly I need new shoes.

My athletic shoes are terrible.

First of all, they're 5 years (at least) old.

Secondly, the heel cup on my right shoe is all smashed in.

Thirdly, I'm fairly certain they don't actually fit.

This is a real tragedy, you guys.  I sold fancy orthopedic shoes for five years in high school and college.  I should own the proper athletic shoes.
It's a disgrace.

So I started doing some research on it.  And by research I mean I asked a certain CrossFit guy what he recommends.  I want something that I can use for running but will also work well when I start boxing.

We landed on the Reebok Crossfit Nano Speed.

They're multi-purpose, light-weight, and durable.

But really, ugh, the colors.
They aren't the best.

But we're in luck!
You can design your own!

All the colors, girl.
I've gone a little freaking crazy with it and have 16 designs so far ( ! ) but here are some of my faves:

Mostly, I think the rainbow ones are obnoxious, and that's why I like them.
What do y'all think?

Oh, go ahead and design your own here.

Have fun, and let me know all about your favorite designs.