Cheese Tortellini with Melted Goat Cheese & Sauteed Broccoli Rabe

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In my last post, I described a pretty easy way to cook broccoli rabe (blanching it in cold water, and then sauteing it in olive oil).

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You can then use that broccoli rabe to make this dish.

It’s super simple:

You just boil the tortellini (I used an 8 oz package of fresh Bertoli tortellini, in the three cheese flavor):

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Then you drain the pasta in a colandar.

Next, slice a log of goat cheese into thin medallions and then spread them out evenly, stirring gently so that they begin to melt.

Then add the broccoli rabe, and voila!  You’re done.  Easy side dish.

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Great tips on meal-planning from The Kitchn

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One of my ultimate food-goals is to become amazing at meal planning.

However, I still have a ways to go, so here are some really helpful tips from The Kitchn!  It’s a great site for all things cooking-related– I definitely recommend checking it out.

Some key points from this article that I found really useful:

“Plan just a few meals for the week.

Instead of cramming the week full of elaborate meals, focus on three to four dinners. Leave a night on the schedule for eating leftovers and plan at least one meal that you can cook without a recipe.

Shop for staples.

In addition to shopping for specific meals, make sure you have a few staples that you can turn into dinner without a recipe, like eggs for a quick omelet or a can of black beans and tortillas for crispy tacos.

Double one dinner.

Take one recipe and make it two times; eat one for dinner this week and freeze the other for your future self.”

There are more tips there if you want to check the article out!

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By the way– I’m trying to post more often on my multiple blogs.  One of the reasons I post so infrequently is that I’m a perfectionist, so I don’t post until I’ve been working on something for way too long!

On this blog and my other sites (Sunlight in Winter and My Sacroiliac Joint Saga) I’m going to start experimenting with different formats of posts, including shorter posts to highlight an article or a concept that resonated with me.

I’m curious to see what kind of responses I get.  Hope you enjoy!

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Steak Bibimbap (HelloFresh)

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Of all the Blue Apron and HelloFresh recipes I’ve ever tried, this steak bibimbap recipe might just be my favorite.

According to HelloFresh, bibimbap is a traditional Korean dish.  The name literally means “mixed rice,” and rice and mixed vegetables generally form the base of the dish.  They suggest adding a fried egg on top.

The particular recipe they sent me involved marinating the steak in a mixture of ginger, onion, soy sauce, and sugar to thicken it.  Obviously I can’t give you the whole recipe here, so check out HelloFresh for the full details).

Basically, you saute the mushrooms, scallions, and zucchini in olive oil, before combining them with rice and the cooked (chopped) steak.

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It was a really tasty dish, without too much effort, and with ingredients you might already have in your kitchen.

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The only change I would suggest is that you use low-sodium soy sauce– I felt my dish was a little too salty in the end.  I’ll be making that switch next time, but I definitely plan to make this recipe again and again!

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“Pickling” the scallion greens in white vinegar to make a garnish

Banana, Peanut Butter & Almond Milk Smoothie

Such a long title for this post… but such a delicious smoothie!  It seriously tastes like a dessert, although the only real sugar comes from the banana.

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All you need are 3 ingredients:

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I LOVE the Califia coconut-flavored almond milk.  The coconut just adds a little extra something.

Blend together:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 medium or large banana

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(Just a little side note: be sure to use enough almond milk, because otherwise the smoothie will be very thick and difficult to swallow!).

Once blended, you can pop it in the freezer for a few minutes, if you prefer a slightly frosty treat.  So good!

 

 

Chicken Pot Pie with Sage Buttermilk Biscuits & Red-Top Turnips (Blue Apron)

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Honestly, I usually have a hard time getting excited about chicken pot pie.   It’s so… blah.  I never really got what the big deal was.

However, this chicken pot pie recipe from Blue Apron was different.  The vegetables were so crisp and fresh; the flavors cleaner somehow.

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All the ingredients, as they came packaged.

The recipe differed from traditional chicken pot pie in several ways.  For one, instead of a “pie” crust, the chicken and vegetable “filling” cooked on the bottom, while buttermilk biscuits steamed on top.

It also used turnips in the place of potatoes, which gave it an interesting earthy, bitter flavor.  I really wasn’t familiar with turnips before this, but now I feel like I finally get why people cook with them.

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Cremini mushrooms
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Carrots, celery, and sage

I also found the recipe’s use of sage to be interesting.  Half of the sage was mixed in with the vegetables as they cooked, and the other half was actually mixed right into the biscuit batter.

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Buttermilk biscuit batter, with pieces of sage stirred in

Obviously I can’t give you the whole recipe here (you can find it on the Blue Apron website), but basically, the vegetables and sage were first cooked together, and then shredded poached chicken breast was added.

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I wasn’t really familiar with the concept of poaching before (with the exception of poached eggs, which everyone’s heard of).

Basically, to poach the chicken breast, you put it in a pot where it’s covered by 2″ of water, bring it to all boil, and then turn the burner off and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

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I think I left mine in for too long (it looked a bit overcooked), but I can see how poaching is a quick and easy way to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Then you can add it into a larger dish, where it will pick up more flavor without dictating how long the other ingredients have to be cooked.

My “after” picture didn’t really come out so great (need to invest in a better camera!) but I can tell you that the dish came out tasting much better than it looks here!  Cremini mushrooms, red-top turnips, and sage and buttermilk biscuits for the win!

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Romina’s Homemade Pesto

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One of my cooking goals is to become more comfortable with the general principles of how things are made.   To be able to throw something together like pesto without having to check a recipe first, or to understand the ingredients well enough in order to figure out my own creative twists.

My roommate made an amazing pesto today.  She loosely followed a recipe from the Food Network, but improvised a little.  Obviously I can’t give you the whole recipe here due to copyright concerns, but I still documented the process so you can get the general idea!

So: We started with fresh basil from our lovely basil plant.

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Basically, the recipe involves throwing the basil into a blender along with cheese, pine nuts, garlic, and olive oil.

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We used Parmesan cheese, although the recipe actually calls for pecorino cheese, which as I understand it is similar to Parmesan but a little sharper.  We’ll have to try that next time.

And then, we blended it:

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Voila.

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The dietary triggers lurking in carbs

ImageThis is probably the single most important thing people with digestive issues need to be aware of.

Your body can make all the enzymes it needs to completely break down protein and fat.  Carbohydrates, on the other hand, are a lot more difficult for the body to digest.

Our bodies don’t make all of the different enzymes we would need to break down every different subtype of the carbohydrates we eat.

You know what can break down the types of carbs that our own enzymes can’t? You guessed it—our gut bacteria.

This is why, when you eat large amounts of certain carbohydrates (beans, anyone?) you end up experiencing some…uh… flatulence. Gas is produced when the bacteria in your large intestine break down the carbohydrates that your digestive enzymes were unable to break down in your small intestine.

This isn’t to say that all carbohydrates are bad. There are many subtypes of carbohydrates that we can digest. And even among those that we lack the enzymes for, you might find that some of them don’t bother you.

Here is a list of the different subtypes of carbohydrates that we humans can’t digest on our own.   Again, you don’t want to automatically write off all of these. Instead, you would want to be keeping a food journal so you can keep track, over time, of what you ate and how you felt.

–Lactose. Lactose, as many people know, is the sugar found in milk and other dairy products.  We don’t normally think of dairy as a “carb,” but milk is actually full of sugar.

Babies are born with the ability to digest lactose: their bodies produce the necessary enzyme, which is called lactase.

But as many people get older, their bodies stop producing lactase, which means that milk sugar starts reaching their large intestine as food for the bacteria there.   This can result in lots of gas and potentially diharrea.

–Fiber (aka cellulose). Obviously, having some fiber is good, even necessary for your health. But I think pretty much everyone has a limit, where they know they’ve had too much fiber. And for people with irritable bowel syndrome, that limit can vary pretty widely.

–FODMAPS – a specific type of carbohydrate found in many plant foods that causes rapid growth in gut bacteria. While of course we need our gut bacteria to survive, rapid growth can result in gas and bloating. Recent research has suggested that IBS sufferers can benefit from limiting or eliminating FODMAP-containing foods. Check out these articles from About.Com and Today’s Dietician for more.

–Raffinose. This is the sugar found in beans which causes all the gas. It’s common knowledge that beans are the “magical fruit” that make you “toot,” but did you know that raffinose is also found in foods like peanuts and soybeans? (And that you can take an enzyme supplement such as Beano to help yourself digest foods like peanut butter?)

I will be discussing these concepts in more detail in the future– just wanted to get this list out there for now.  Hope it’s useful!

P.S. I felt kind of bad choosing a picture to use in this post.  I’m not saying not to eat any carbs at all– just to be aware of what’s in them!   The picture of this bean dish, which looks absolutely lovely, is courtesy of Elana’s Pantry (a great site which you should check out!).