Sunday, December 14, 2014

Holiday Simmering Smells

Holiday Simmering Smells... So I know I'm odd man out here but I tend to hate strong smells, especially of the floral or sweet nature. They make me sneeze and give me a headache - which means we don't keep things like fresh flowers, scented candles, lavender soap, or smelly laundry detergent in our home. Of course the roomie loves these types of things so to get to some common ground around the Holidays I agreed to add some Holiday Smells to the place as long as I had control over the fresh ingredients that made said smell up. I happened to see a post recently on Half Baked Harvest which inspired this. I left out a couple of things either because I don't like them or didn't grab them from the grocery store but it was pretty simple and pretty yummy.

What I used:
1/2 bag of fresh cranberries (about 1.5 cups)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 small spoonful of whole cloves
2 cups apple cider
3 cups water
2 tangerines cut in half
2 small spoonfuls of vanilla extract
*original recipe called for 1 inch piece of fresh ginger (mine had gone bad), 1 vanilla bean (didn't bother looking for it at the store), 1 piece of pine from a tree (which we don't have and I don't love that smell.

Basically dump everything into a deep sauce pan or pot and then bring it to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and let it go as long as you want. On the Half Baked Harvest site she says she just turns it off and lets it cool over night then add a little more water the next day and let it simmer again for the smell on repeat.
Before adding the apple cider

Pre Simmer

Starting to simmer and give off a great smell

A few hours in

It smells really lovely in here, though for me the cloves are a little more than I love - I think the next batch I'd cut those down a little or even take them out. But the cinnamon and tangerine and cranberry and apple cider is just delightful.

Happy Holiday Smelling!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Chopped Salad

Chopped Salad... So I got home from a week of Thanksgiving gluttony and have approximately three weeks here in Chicago to get back in shape before I take on a week in Mexico over Christmas at a Culinary Villa and a whole week at home in California catching up on my mom's best dishes and some SoCal favorites.

In this three week span we also have have two visitors, one of which is my dad and that was a full 4 day eating extravaganza. The other my college roommate - we managed to be somewhat healthful while she was here, but it's definitely a distraction from the normal healthy routine.

All of that means that on the few days I have to make dinner and eat at home, I'm doing my best to be SUPER healthful. This chopped salad was one of those said dinners and actually seemed to be a hit with the roomie who isn't usually so keen on salads for dinner.

This one was both "light and hearty" as he actually quoted which I think speaks well to this one. It's simple and like he said, "light", however you don't walk away feeling starved. 

What I used:
  • Romaine - chopped into bite sizes pieces
  • 1 chicken breast - cooked and shredded
  • 6-8 slices salami
  • handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 4-6 mini sweet bell peppers chopped
  • 3-4 small Persian cucumbers chopped
  • fresh mozzarella balls (1/2 of a container)
  • 1 avocado in hunks
  • Homemade vinaigrette
The Dressing:

  • Olive Oil
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Grainy mustard
  • Salt & pepper
  • Dried ground oregano
Chop it all up and toss it together in a large bowl - simple as that!!!

pre toss

tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers

chicken & salami

fresh mozz & avocado