Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Butter Makes Everything Better

Butter Makes Everything Better... I have always been a butter lover. When I was little my dad used to tease "do you want some bread with your butter?". I am notorious for a small morsel of bread and a big slab of butter, because seriously, what is better?

Despite my love for butter being profound, I generally try to steer clear of using it often at home or in my regular cooking. I usually use grape seed oil or olive oil in it's place for normal weeknight dinners but over the past couple of days I've snuck in some butter instead and my oh my it is lovely.

On Sunday afternoon I was cooking up a storm - chicken/kale/white bean soup for a week's worth of lunch as well as beef/veal/pork meatballs and tomato sauce for 2 dinners. I took a break for lunch and decided to ladle myself a bit of the soup, but I really needed something else. GRILLED CHEESE. And what better way to fry up the perfect crispy crunchy grilled cheese but to add a heaping portion of butter to the pan. Yep, it was perfect.

After posting a quick insta of my delightful and Dahlicious Sunday lunch I noticed a comment from an old friend mentioning that organic grass fed butter is actually quite good for you. After a little research I do see that there are a number of health benefits and am going to be on the lookout next time I head to the store!

In the meantime I buttered up another meal - I just couldn't help myself. Last night between post work day yoga and an evening call with my team on the other side of the world, I prepared a quick but PERFECT meal.

I started with salmon, a really beautiful piece from wholefoods - skin removed. I laid it on a piece of foil with a tiny drizzle of oil, a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper, a big squeeze of half a lemon's worth of juice, a few sprigs of parsley, and a PAD of butter. I folded that bad boy up nice and tight in a little pouch and in the fridge it went until it was time to roast.

Meanwhile I popped a scrubbed & poked baking potato in the oven at 425 and set it for 60 minutes. When the timer had about 20 minutes left I added my salmon pouch to the potato in the oven as well as a little foil pouch of asparagus to steam along side.

When the time struck zero I was left with the most moist, decadent, flaky salmon I have ever made. Not to mention a super perfectly cooked potato with crispy skin and fluffy insides. The asparagus was good too, but let's be honest I just needed it there to feel like I wasn't just consuming fat and starch.

needless to say the meal was Dahlish - super simple but done just right. Hope everyone is having a fabulous week of eating

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Arugula Salad with Baked Feta

Arugula Salad with Baked Feta... So the insanity is officially behind us, for a few brief weeks until the Holiday's kick in. Wedding season 2014 came to a beautiful close with two weddings near and dear to our hearts. They were both extremely different and extremely lovely and while I am sad that they're over it will be nice to settle back into life here in the increasingly chilly Windy city.

After weekends of stuffing my face with local delights and fabulous wedding meals, I am going to attempt to get on a health kick. Although a few special birthdays in the month of October (cough cough mine and the roomie's) are lending to a few more carbo-loaded meals out than are ideal when one is trying to be "good".

In any event, on the off night where we are actually eating at home and not celebrating someone's yearly milestone, we are eating LIGHT! Perhaps to the dismay of the other mouth I feed... but I think I will let that be his problem.. at least I warn him with my handy dandy weekly chalkboard menu on the wall.

Tuesday night was one of those I just got home from yoga at 7PM and am ravenous and must eat NOW sort of nights. So lucky for me the dinner I planned to throw together was quite fast.

A simple Arugula salad with a side of baked Feta.

For the Feta:
Slice a block of feta in half so you get two even, thin squares of cheese. Drizzle liberally with olive oil, a bit of cracked pepper, and a sprinkle of dried oregano. This should be in some sort of pyrex or other baking dish - best too if you can add something else in there like little tomatoes to roast or marinated artichokes, or kalamata  olives (or all three!). I didn't have a ton on hand and went the bare and simple route. Cheese and oil and seasoning. Pop that bad boy in the oven at 350 for 20-30 minutes. It will get lightly gooey but still very much keep it's shape. It is a Dahlicious side, great on some yummy crusty bread, or the most perfect topping ever on a homemade lamb burger. Just sayin.

Pre Bake

Post Bake

For the Arugula Salad:
I made a quick dressing of oil, balsamic, grainy mustard, salt, pepper, and crushed dried oregano. I added that to a big bowl of arugula and then added my toppings. Grilled shrimp which I had marinated in lemon, hunked avocado, and pomegranate seeds.

Super simple but got the job done, plenty of protein, lots of flavor between the salty tang of the feta, the creamy avocado, and the sweet pomegranate, and most importantly that night - FAST!


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Turkey Meatballs Two Ways

Turkey Meatballs Two Ways... To expand further on my hectic October, let me just tell you that I am in plan ahead mode right now. This weekend's grocery trip was all about strategy and making the most of the 4 days I am home this week to be healthful in my eating habits before a fun filled wedding weekend in the desert. I figured that Turkey meatballs would be the perfect way to do some time saving for dinner prep later in the week, as well as the perfect solution for lunch. I will say I think by the end of this week I may be Turkey meatball'd out for some time, but that's OK!

On Sunday I decided to make two dozen turkey meatballs, half of which would be Italian style and half of which would have an Asian influence. I'd save 8 of each for dinner on Monday & Wednesday (that means 4 each for the roomie and me) - then the additional 8 meatballs (4 of each kind) were split among my 4 lunches this week:

Italian Turkey Meatballs (from this Turkey Meatball Soup Post):
Makes a dozen slightly larger than a golf ball

  • 1/2lb ground turkey breast
  • 1/2lb ground turkey thigh
  • 1/4 cup bread crumbs (I use panko)
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • large palmful of chopped fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper

Add the bread crumbs to the beaten egg and let sit until it turns into a paste - a few minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients, give it a big squishy mix with your hands. On a nonstick baking sheet lay out your meatballs (I also recommend doing this near the sink where you can occasionally run your hands under water to help keep the meatball forming process from getting too stuck on your fingers).

Pop them in the oven at 350-375 for about 30 minutes.

Italian Meatball Mix

Italian Meatballs Pre Bake

I'll be serving up these bad boys with Dream Fields pasta in Rao's marinara sauce with sauteed kale for a super quick dinner between a haircut and packing on Wednesday night.

Asian Turkey Meatballs:
Makes a dozen slightly larger than a golf ball
1/2lb ground turkey breast
1/2lb ground turkey thigh
1/4 cup bread crumbs (I use panko)
1 egg beaten
2-3 cloves of garlic minced (I used a garlic press)
Tablespoon (guessing) of grated ginger
Large palmful of chopped green onion
Dash of soy sauce
Tablespoon (guessing) of Hoisin
*Note you can use any Asian sauce/seasonings the soy sauce & Hoisin were just what I had on hand. You could also use fresh chopped mint or cilantro for herbs, or Sriracha/chili flakes for some heat!

Use the exact same process with the bread crumbs and egg, then add the other ingredients, give it a mix and cook similarly to the Italian Meatballs. 350-375 degrees for about 30 minutes.


Asian Meatball Mix

I used the Asian inspired meatballs last night to make a brown rice bowl with sauteed kale, teriyaki mushrooms and the meatballs. Inspired by this Pinterst recipe that I've been mulling over for a while.

Asian Meatballs in the container, kale, soyaki sauce, brown rice, green onion, mushrooms!

Sauteed Mushrooms in Soyaki sauce, Meatballs added in to steam & heat!

Brown Rice Bowls

To continue with my meatball overdrive I portioned out two a day to pack with the rest of my lunch this week, which consists of grilled red and yellow bell peppers, grilled zucchini, and grilled broclini. So lots of veggies. Lots of Turkey Meatballs. So far so good, all has been Dahlish... but I am sort of starting to count down the minutes until Thursday night when I can stop eating turkey with every meal.

Lunch Veggies Pre Chop Pre Grill

Grillin Indoors

Finishing off in the oven

Monday - Thursday Lunch!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Planning Dinner

Planning Dinner... I've gotten a lot of comments over the 2+ years with this blog from friends and family who either say "I'm just like you I plan everything on Sunday" OR more commonly "Wow you plan down to that level of detail on SUNDAY?".  Whichever statement  you identify with more, I hope you find this post interesting in some regard.

I'm a type A Planner which I am sure is evident by now, so I like getting things buttoned up at the end of the weekend for a big week ahead. I'm not married (though I do have one of those roommates who is also your significant other aka a second mouth to feed), and I don't have kids - so although my weekly responsibilities are most likely at an all time minimum compared to my life ahead, I still have lots going on. For starters I have a full time job that takes up more time than a full time job (woo hoo coconut water!), I am a devoted yogi and currently on this "Fall" Challenge in which I need to attend 21 classes in the 31 days of October, I'm a regular attendant of out of state weddings (Including two awesome ones this month, back to back weekends on opposite sides of the country - woo hoo to being a MOH!). Needless to say I've got stuff going on all week and I like to feel prepared because it takes the anxiety away (sort of) later in the week when I at least know I have time carved out to squeeze in a healthful homemade meal.

So without further ado (and further comments on my busy personal life) here are some examples of weekly meal plans as of late. I try to cook at home 3- 4 nights a week & I try to center the meal around a protein and make sure there are at least two sides usually either 2 veggies or a veggie and starch. You can see there are a lot of redundant staples and then a few new ones in there! Also note that as the week progresses and taste buds start screaming the meals get tweaked.

Week 1:
Night 1 - Chorizo & White Fish Stew
Night 2: Roasted Chicken with Brocolini and Sweet Potatoes
Night 3 : Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs with Brussels Sprouts and Corn on the Cob

Week 2:
Night 1: Old Bay Cod with Kale and Roasted Potatoes
Night 2: BBQ Slow Cooker Chicken with Green Beans & Sweet Potatoes
Night 3: Bunless Turkey Burgers with Baked Beans & Asparagus
Night 4: Grilled Italian Sausages with Sauteed Bell Peppers, Onions, and Broccolini

Week 3:
Night 1: Grilled Steak with Roasted Cauliflower & Asparagus
Night 2: BBQ Ribs with Green Beans
Night 3: Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry with Brown Rice
Night 4: Bell Pepper Tacos

Week 4:
Night 1 - Salmon & Broccoli 
Night 2: Cauliflower Pizza with Prosciutto & Arugula Salad
Night 3 : Slow Cooker Mexican Style Shredded Chicken with Black Beans, Kale and Avocado

Some of these links are to these exact dinners, some of these links are to similar ones. Hopefully you all find this helpful or interesting and are inspired to come up with some Dahlicious weekly menus yourself (or copy mine!)