Family Dinner

I have always been a fan of food. I like good food, I have begun to realize that what I like more than just good food is making and/or eating good food with good people.

I don’t really like eating when it’s just me. When alone, eating becomes just another function necessary to maintain quality of life. Kind of like brushing your teeth or taking a shower.

As a kid, mealtimes were always a production, and one that I hated being around for. Arguing over portions, fighting about who got to sit next to who, and other various things often made daily meals less than pleasant.

Now that I’m grown, I love making meals with friends and family.  I love planning dinner parties and get-togethers.  Even when I’ve been dirt poor, I’ve managed to throw together some pretty fantastic meals with some amazing friends.  I like the “throw open the cupboards and see what we can put together and call a meal” game.   Some of my best (and worst) recipes have been borne of those situations.

On Friday I went to Olive Garden with my sister, her husband, and some other friends.  My sister ordered their Steak Gorgonzola-Alfredo.  Yesterday as we were planning meals for the week, she decided she wanted to re-create her meal from the evening before. Since it turned out so well, I thought I’d share the victory with all of you.  I would also encourage everyone to plan a dinner party.   Have friends and family  over, make food together, eat together, and clean together. You’ll go home with good memories, a full and satisfied palate, and a happy pocket book to boot.

AND… make family dinner a priority.  The WHOLE meal.  It is hard to hate someone that you have to wash dishes with.

The Steak Gorgonzola-Alfredo Success

As a comparison I thought I’d include the photo and description from the Olive Garden website.  (Did you know they have recipes there!?)

Grilled beef medallions drizzled with balsamic glaze, served over fettuccine tossed with spinach and gorgonzola-alfredo sauce.

This is a bit of an involved meal, but the time spent is SO worth the finished product.  Here’s what we did.

1 London Broil cut into smaller pieces. (Meat aficionados will have our heads for that, but it was on sale.)  Marinate your steak for at least an hour in a mixture of Italian Dressing, Lemon Juice, and Rosemary (fresh if you have it.)  I’d do about 1.5 cups of dressing and 1-2 tablespoons each of the lemon juice and rosemary.  Cook the meat on a grill or in the oven to desired temperature. We baked ours in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, turning the meat once.

Boil 1lb fettuccine noodles.

You’ll add a balsamic glaze over the finished product. We used a 1/4 cup of vinegar and 1 tsp of sugar and let it reduce over low heat.

For your Alfredo sauce, start with 1 stick of real butter. Melt this in a sauce pan and add 1/2 a cup of cream or whole milk. Grate or add in about 8 0z of Parmesan  cheese.  Add more milk as needed to maintain a thinner consistency.  Add in 3 oz of Gorgonzola crumbles. Keep stirring the mixture to keep a smooth texture. Once the cheese has melted, add about 4 cups finely chopped spinach.  (We just grabbed a good sized bunch from the store)  Unless you’re working in a good sized pot, you’ll have to add it a cup-full at a time. Once the spinach has reduced into the sauce, add salt and pepper to taste and then toss the noodles in the sauce.

Place the pasta on a plate, and place some meat on top. Drizzle the glaze over the meat and garnish with fresh grated Parmesan.

The broccoli on the side  is a specialty of Pete’s. He sautes the broccoli in a bit of olive oil until just barely brown and then adds a little water and covers the pan for a couple of minutes, steaming the crowns until they’re not quite al-dente. Usually he just adds a bit of salt but tonight he tossed it with a bit of balsamic vinegar and it was soooo tasty!

Bon Appetit!

The Big Picture

The Big Piture

Up Close and Yummy

Up Close and Yummy

Family... Isn't it about.... Time?

Family, isn't it about.... Time?

Finding Real Food

I know, 2 posts in 1 week! If I post again this week, it might be a record.

A month ago I finally found the excuse that I needed to start eating healthier.   I found a doctor that leans more toward using supplements and lifestyle changes instead of a million and two prescriptions.  What we found is that, while I do not fit the clinical definition of Celiacs, I have functions in my body that do not work 100% right now, and the consumption of most grains slow and hinder the healing process.  I am currently trying eliminate corn, soy, and all grains with the exception of millet, spelt, brown rice, and any sprouted grains. It is amazing that in the 4 weeks since I began the program, I have become HIGHLY sensitive to the things I am trying to eliminate from my diet. If wheat and white rice weren’t enough, corn and soy byproducts are in EVERYTHING!!!  I have found that I cannot purchase anything at a grocery store that comes in a box, can, or bag.  I even found Sour Cream that had wheat or corn in it!!!

It has been VERY hard changing the way I think about food. For years I have had an unhealthy addiction to all the bad types of food.  I love to cook, and I tend to side with Julia Child who said something like, ‘You can never have too much butter.’   I love southern style cooking, and that is all breaded, fried, or smothered in butter.  I love all baked yummies, and I love, love, love chocolate.  Giving them up is not going to be easy, and chocolate will be the most difficult, but my health and ability to function without a headache are more important to me than any of the food.

I have discovered two really great things in this journey.

#1 – There is an entire world of possibility that opens up when I cut out the unhealthy food, and I don’t have to sacrifice flavor or eat salads every day.

#2 – The good food fills me up. Because my body has difficulty processing all the bad foods, it leaves me feeling hungry all the time. When I eat these new dishes that I’m discovering, I don’t have to eat as much to be satisfied, and besides it has SO much more flavor and I’m able to actually enjoy and savor each bite!

Now when I cook, I lean heavily on certain vegetables, fruits, and all-natural spices to add flavor and variety to my menu.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not 100% cured of my addiction to unhealthy food. I still eat pizza and taco bell every once in a while, but slowly, I am learning that I don’t want them. I don’t feel good after I eat them. In fact, it usually induces pain, depression, and extreme irritability, all of which I’d rather avoid.

As I rediscover food, I’ll post my findings, along with pictures, so that you can try them and see what the possibilities truly are!

These are a couple of recipes that I don’t have pictures for yet… I’ll add them when I get them.

PomGran Crisp

This is REALLY fantastic as a granola or crisp with your dairy of choice. Yogurt, milk, icecream… take your pick!

1 1/2 cup nut meal of your choice (I use 1/2 and 1/2 Pecan and Almond nut meal that I got at Sharp Shopper. Those of you who have food processors can grind your own. The nut is ground to the size of coarse sand.)
3 tblsp butter (Do yourself a favor, don’t use margarine. Go for the real thing, and if you have it, use coconut oil instead.)
3 tblsp honey (get local honey if you can)
8-12 oz or 2-3 cups of pomegranate craisins. (Other flavors are available… take your pick or use the original!)

You can add whole nuts and oats if you want. Since I’m not eating oats, that’s out for me, but I’m sure it’d be good.

Mix the nut meal and craisins. Melt the butter and honey and pour over the dry mix. Spread it all into a 13×9 pan and broil for about 3 minutes, stir, and repeat until the mix is as crisp as you want. Let the mix cool and store in a dry place. It should keep for a couple of weeks at least. If you want this to be more of a dessert, just mix the nut meal, butter, and honey and crumble it onto the fruit of your choice. Bake for about 20 minutes on, oh… 350 until it looks done.

Lettuce Wrap Tuna Burgers w/Summer Salad

Tuna Burgers

Makes about 6 small patties.

3 cans tuna, drained
1/2 small green pepper, diced very small
3 tblsp coconut oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice.
2 tblsp each of fresh squeezed lemon and lime juice.
Salt, Pepper, Garlic, and Ginger added to taste.
1 egg whipped (this is to help the patties stay together.)

Mix everything together, form into 6 coaster-sized patties and cook in a skillet.  Top with cheese if you want, I used mozzarella, but it’s just as good without.

Summer Salad

For this, I just chop up and add whatever vegetables I have in the house, however, I do not add lettuce of any kind. Below I’ve listed what I added this last time.

1 large slicing tomato, diced
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large squash, zucchini, and cucumber quartered and sliced thin

I also usually add
1 red pepper, diced
1 head broccoli, chopped small
2-3 stalks of celery chopped small

Combine everything into a bowl, stir and serve. Can be served inside the lettuce wrap with the tuna or on the side. Top it with dressing of your choice . I used an asian sesame dressing… a bit of soy, but I’m gonna try and make my own… I’ll let you know how it goes. Slivered almonds taste great too!

If you try these and make any alterations that are really good, let me know so I can try them!!!!