On the Go

Wouldn't you know it that the five days following the launch this blog, I have had only one night on which I had time enough to really cook! The day after launching the blog I received emails and phone calls from people full of positive reactions to the blog, people were excited, and I could not wait to get cooking and deliver something spectacular! But alas! It could not be! Here is what my week looked like:

Monday- arrived home at 5:20, needed to eat supper and leave again by 6:10

Tuesday- arrived home at 5:20, needed to eat supper, change clothes, and leave again by 6:12

Wednesday- I cooked, and believed I was on to something truly great, but while still quite good, the flavors did not come together quite right, it needed something . . .

Thursday- arrived home at 5:00, needed to leave by 5:45 to go to a cooking class on sourdough (the class and the food was soooo good! I can't wait to share some of it with you sometime soon so find some sourdough starter!)

Friday- arrived home at 4:00, Scott asked me to play tennis with him, got back at 6:00, needed to shower, eat supper, and leave by 7:15 for our tango lesson, yes, tango, and no, we're not that good . . . yet!

So there went the week! At the beginning it, I was dismayed I would not be cooking as much as I wanted but then I realized, this is life.  This is the reality for many people, especially with kids, and that often you just need make things up on the fly and have it ready in 20 minutes or less. So I took it up as a personal challenge to make good, complete meals in a small amount of time. The following meals do not have any meat that needs to be cooked (as I find this takes me the longest), no baking time in the oven, are reasonably healthy, and taste great!

Monday's meal:
Herbed Omelets

I used to think eggs were boring and rather tasteless and would only be in the mood for them for breakfast on certain occasions. That was before I tried Ina Garten's Herbed-Baked Eggs. When you add garlic, thyme, rosemary, and parsley (plus a sprinkling of Parmesan) something happens! Suddenly eggs are sophisticated. I love it! I applied these herbs to the omelets I made on Monday and served them on grilled toast with Moonblush tomatoes and crumbled goat's cheese sprinkled on top. Mmm-mm good!

Serves 2

3 eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. milk
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
1/8 tsp. thyme (dried or fresh)
1/8 tsp. rosemary (dried or fresh)
1/2 Tbsp. fresh parsley or 1/2 tsp. dried
1/2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan
Appropriate amounts of omelette fillings such as sauteed onions or leeks, sauteed mushrooms, sauteed peppers, spinach, bacon, sausage, ham, smoked Gouda or cheddar, etc.
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a skillet, sprayed with a nonstick spray, over medium to medium high heat. Combine the garlic, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and parmesan in a small bowl. Crack eggs into a medium bowl, add milk and beat. Pour half of egg mixture into skillet and tipping the pan to distribute eggs evenly over the pan. Sprinkle half of the herb mixture over the eggs along with salt and fresh cracked pepper followed by the fillings. As the omelette cooks tip the pan and lift up the edge of the omelette on the lowest end of the pan allowing excess uncooked egg to drain under the lifted part of the omelette and be cooked. You do not want all of the egg to be completely cooked as then the omelette will be dry. When the omelette is beginning to brown on the underside carefully fold the omelette in half and allow to cook through for a minute or two more.

Tuesday's meal:
Chipotle Salmon Stir Fry with Mango

Normally I like to season things myself, but when I'm in a rush that is the last thing I want to do as my mind just goes blank and all I can think of is "Quick!!" For a fast-fix meal pre-seasoned tuna and salmon (in little aluminum bags found near the canned fish in the grocery store) are great, as they provide flavor and protein! For this meal I found using a mango that was just turning ripe raised it to another level as the chipotle seasoning is hot (at least to me ;) and the mango bites were a welcome counter-balance with it's tart-sweet, cool, refreshing taste (fully ripe mangos are very sweet with no tart).

Serves 2

1 pkg. Chipotle Mango Salmon
1 barely ripe mango pealed and diced*
2 cups stir fry vegetables (I used broccoli, onion, and shredded carrot as it's all I had on hand)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. cilantro
cooked rice or other grain if desired

Heat a large skillet with the olive oil over medium high heat and sauté vegetables (if using onions start with these first and add the rest of the veggies once onions become transparent). Once vegetables are cooked add salmon, soy sauce, lime juice, and cilantro and cook until the salmon is heated through, about 3 minutes, tossing and stirring often. Serve over rice/grain if desired.
*To "peel" and chop a mango stand it up on its end and turn it so it looks like an oval with the longer axis perpendicular to you (when you look down it should look like this: O ).  Place knife on top of the mango, in the middle, parallel to the long axis and angle the knife so you will cut down the right side of the seed/pit inside.  Follow the curve of the seed as you cut.  Repeat on the other side.  With one half of the mango cut a checkered pattern into the flesh, being careful not to cut through the peel.  Invert the peel so that it is concave and all the cubes you cut into the flesh stick out and spread away from each other.  Slice off cubes from the peel.  Tadaa! Diced mango!

Friday's Meal:

Springtime Pasta with Fresh Vegetables and Pine Nuts

There are times when what I crave, above all else, is fresh food. Not just fresh in the meaning of fresh ingredients (though this is a necessity for my craving), but fresh in that by eating the food you feel freshened up, renewed. It feeds my soul and just makes me happy when I eat it.  It is not heavy, but light, clean, delicious. I desire it most in springtime, after a long cold winter of heavier meals with blah vegetables covered over with sauces and whatnot. This "fresh food" results when all of the individual ingredients of the meal shine on there own and a very minimal amount of things have been done. I really feel rather virtuous when I prepare a meal like this. Not just because I'm doing a good thing for my body, but because, laugh if you will, I know that I am being faithful to the integrity ingredients. I show respect and let them stand on their own so they can flaunt their own individual, unique flavors. I do not compromise them. For this particular dish I heightened the freshness even more by adding the juice and zest of fresh lemon. The result? A smile on my face from the first bite to the last.

Serves 2
You may want to snag your hubby or roommate to help chop veggies if pressed for time!

1/3 lb whole wheat rotini
1 head of broccoli chopped into bite-size pieces
1/6 of a red bell pepper
1 large red baby potato, 1/2 inch dice
Extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
1/2 lb fresh green beans, ends trimmed and sliced into 2 inch pieces
1 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
optional: red pepper flakes

Preheat oven to 400F
Keeping the veggies separate (due to their different cooking times), toss the broccoli florets, the potato cubes, and the red pepper wedge with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place each veggie in its own area on a cookie sheet and place in the oven, tossing them after 10 minutes so they cook evenly.  Roast the red pepper, skin side down, for 10 minutes, the broccoli for 18, and the potatoes for 20 minutes or until done.  After the red pepper strip is roasted, slice it into smaller, bite size strips.

While vegetables are roasting, bring a pot of water, seasoned with about 1/2 tsp. salt, to a boil and cook pasta to al dente, for about 6-7 minutes.  While pasta is cooking steam the green beans over top the pasta water in a matching strainer/steamer with lid until cooked, about 4 minutes.  Alternatively, steam green beans over separate pot or in microwave.  

Toast pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until fragrant--careful not to burn!

When the pasta is done drain the water and put the noodles back into the pot.  To this, add the veggies, 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and zest.  Taste, add more oil, lemon, or S & P if needed.  Plate pasta and sprinkle on the toasted pine nuts, grated parmesan cheese, and, if using, the red pepper flakes.  Enjoy!!