Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Salmon with Roasted Brussel Sprouts

This is a really weird week for me.  I only teach 3 out of the 5 days because tomorrow there is an ACT for the 11th graders so I am just proctoring and on Friday we have Student Led Conferences where students present about themselves to their parents.  It is a nice change of pace, but it gives a weird momentum to what we are working on in class.  Because of this, on Thursday, we are doing a "fun" activity where students are going to work in teams to investigate a "murder."  The idea is you can figure out the time of death of a body based on its rate of cooling.  I'm pretty excited to 1. see the students act out the murder story and 2. see them work together to solve a real world situation with math! 

Also, we are TEN DAYS away from closing and moving into our condo.  I can't believe it is finally so close! We have boxes EVERYWHERE (which Benny and Nigel are big fans of) and we still have so much more to do.  I am so excited!  

I just adore brussel sprouts.  They are super fantastic.  I was never a fan growing up because my mom didn't like them either! Now, both of us love them!  Go figure!

This dish is super duper easy to make and it has become one of my go-to dinners for a weeknight when I don't have a ton of time or feel tired after school.  All you do is throw everything onto a pan, stick it in the oven, and I make enough for a couple nights so that I have another dinner or lunch for school!  

Salmon with Roasted Brussel Sprouts

2 pieces of teriyaki glazed salmon (5 oz each)
1/2 lb. brussel sprouts, halved
2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 400 and line a pan with tinfoil.  Lightly grease the tin foil
2. Place salmon on the pan and brussel sprouts around the salmon.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Drizzle with honey, mustard, and lemon juice.
3. Cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the salmon is done.  About halfway through, toss the brussel sprouts around so that they flip and don't stick. 

Enjoy :)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Marathon Training Monday: 18 Miles

Ouch.  This run was tough.  I mean it's 18 miles and that is just plain tough, but for some reason my legs just felt super exhausted the entire time.  That being said, I finished, I ran 10 minute miles the whole time, and I made it through despite my tired legs.  This makes me feel super confident about the race ahead of me.

I'm not sure I would have run continuously had I not had a group to hold me accountable.  Plus, it helped that my running buddies were all going to brunch after the run.  So, long story short, I ran for delicious brunch.  And, the brunch totally delivered.

This week the mileage really increases again.  I have 6, 8, 5, and 14.  This is also the week before "peak week" where you run a ton and end the week with the big 20 miler.  I can't believe I am at this point again!

In other marathon news, I GOT INTO NEW YORK!!!! I am super freaking pumped.  I can't believe it!  I entered my name into the lottery months ago and I found out that I am in! So, on November 6th, I will be joining the thousands of runners who flock to NYC to run through the 5 boroughs!  I am so excited :)

I am also pretty jazzed about the fact that I just got some new shoes and a bunch of new gu gels for all my crazy running.  I have also stopped going to my boot camp class because it was just too much.  I'll pick this up after the race on April 30th, but until then instead of more legwork, I am doing lots of stretching and resting when I am not running all over the place.  With the marathon only 34 days away I want to make sure I am doing everything I can to get ready and not hurt myself!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Triple Mustard Chicken and Brussel Sprouts

Today is Good Friday and I am pretty sure I am the only teacher in Chicago working today.

With that being said, I also only have about 1/2 my students in class today.  So, today is a pretty silly day.  The students are catching up on any work that they have going on and I have been able to catch up on all of my grading.  It is a nice and relaxing day, but I am really excited for it to be over.

Tonight, Wisconsin is playing in the sweet 16 basketball tournament.  I am not a huge sports fan, but since I went to Wisconsin for college and my cat is named after one of the players I am pretty excited.  We have big plans to order in some delicious pizza and then just sit around and watch the game.  I can't wait!

Last night, I made this delish chicken dinner.  I am trying to use up all of the food in our place because we are moving in two weeks!  I was inspired by THIS recipe and then I just adapted it to work for what I had lying around and what I wanted to get rid of.  The result was super yummy.  I just love brussel sprouts and they tasted so good alongside the chicken.  I just had some of the leftovers for lunch and it was just as amazing a day later!

Triple Mustard Chicken and Brussel Sprouts

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock (I actually used veggie stock)
2 tbsp honey mustard
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp yellow mustard
2 tbsp honey
1 lb brussel sprouts, stems cut off and halved

Directions:1. Preheat oven to 400 and heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat.
2. Wash chicken and pat dry with a paper towel.  Mix the spices in a small bowl and then sprinkle generous amounts of the spices over both sides of each piece of chicken.  Use your hands to rub in the spices.  
3. Place the chicken in your skillet and let cook for a few minutes on each side.  
4. Add in the red wine and let cook for another few minutes.  
5. In a small bowl, stir the stock, mustards, and honey.  Pour this over the chicken.  Then place the whole skillet (covered) in the oven for 15-17 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. 
6. Place the cooked chicken on a plate to rest.  Place the skillet (with the juices) back on the stove over medium heat.  Add in the brussel sprouts and allow to cook for about 8-10 minutes.  Serve with the chicken.
Enjoy :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Guest Blogger! A story of Fresh Pasta, Eggplant Involtini and Braised Chicken Thighs

My good friend, Shantanu, is an excellent chef. Last Friday, he invited us over for dinner because he "felt like making fresh pasta." I was super excited about this and I readily agreed to come over and help. We made:
  • Fresh Pasta
  • Eggplant Involtini
  • Braised Chicken Thighs

Sigh...it was a lovely meal and although it wasn't ready for 2 hours, it was a super fun night with some great friends and amazing food. So, without further ado, here is Shantanu:

Full disclosure: I’m the reason we didn’t have dinner ready until 9:30 last Friday, but to be fair, it was a weeknight, dinner was delicious, and I had a food craving to take care of.

Food cravings are definitely a thing, one that I experience way too often. Usually, it’s something that’s full of grease and flour, of minimal nutritional value, and almost always involve fried chicken. This time though, while being a bit heavy on the carbs, the food I was craving was just indulgent enough to be worth all the extra calories. And then after a long week of the chicago cold, nothing really warms you up like a bowl of fresh, homemade pasta.

Fresh pasta is one of those foods that’s incredibly simple, it’s four ingredients including the water to boil it in and some salt for seasoning, and yet so eye opening. How making a giant mess with flour and eggs leads to flowing, delicate strands, with just the right amount of bounce to each bite is almost magical (although really, it’s more science, but I’m done with work for the week and don’t have to do any more science until Monday).

While I very well could have just sauteed some shallots, garlic, red chili flakes, and tomatoes in olive oil and tossed in batch after boiled batch of freshly cut spaghetti, cracked open a beer and called it a night, pasta is more fun to share with friends. Especially friend’s that I’d planned to make dinner for but haven’t gotten around to it. Double-especially when one’s a vegetarian and you have the perfect reason to make a vegetarian meal.

As often as I cook for friends, I rarely have to cook for vegetarians. I’d always felt a bit of pity for Brian, often times the vegetarian part is merely a collection of side dishes, or is presented as the “option” while meat is the focus of the dish. Therefore, I decided to make this meal a vegetarian meal, that happens to have a meat option, because if you don’t some of your non vegetarian friends will text you asking if they can bring a steak for you to make for them. To be fair, I was flattered, because I can make a pretty mean steak.

If there was a vegetable equivalent of flank steak, I’d say it’s the eggplant. It responds well to being heavily salted, can be grilled, or rolled and stuffed, and has a nice meaty quality to it. I’d also say both are equally nutritious, although a bavette might be more nutrition for your soul whilst eggplant is actually nutritious. One of my favorite ways to prepare eggplant that goes well with pasta, while avoiding breading and frying it, is to make eggplant involtini.

Since I did have to have a meat option, I went with the foolproof chicken thighs. Because I planned to cook them sous vide, I started preparing those first. I was hoping to get them into the water bath before everyone arrived, but sadly Brian had to witness me deboning, stuffing the thighs with rosemary and basil, and folding them tightly in the skin. 

Once vacuum sealed, they still look pretty unappetizing; if he had any doubts about being vegetarian, I think they were gone at that point.

Once that was started, I could focus on the next longest item to prepare, the pasta dough. Preparing the dough itself is quite quick, however I could use time productively to drink wine and eat some cheese, which has the side benefit of letting the dough relax and develop some gluten. To make the dough, I heavily flour my counter (and my floor, and my apron) and pour about two cups of flour in a mound, making a crater in the middle large enough for four egg yolks and two whole eggs. Swirling the yolks and whites around brings the eggs together, and slowly pulls in more and more flour. The swirling goes on until the liquid resembles more of a batter, at which point flour can be added in a bit more aggresively, and once it comes together, the kneading can begin. I’m not much of a baker, but to knead my dough I do a simple fold, push, and quarter-turn. Fold, push, quarter-turn; fold, push, quarter-turn. This goes on, until the dough feels like the sticky part of a post-it, at this stage it’s almost done, so I let Jodie handle the kneading while I went off to make some tomato sauce. Incorporate a bit more flour until the dough is just tacky, and put aside. To store the dough, I wrap in plastic wrap and set on the cleanest part of the counter

With the dough done, I got the guests going to make the filling. Some lemon zest, ricotta cheese, and fresh basil all came together in what could make a pretty decent dip on it’s own. But then after I fried up the eggplants a little to soften them, they got stuffed with the cheese and placed in a pan with the tomato sauce, with some more drizzled on top and fresh mozzarella slices to melt all over them, and got tossed into a hot oven.

Meanwhile, I consumed enough wine and cheese for a bit so it was time to roll out the pasta. Again, flour absolutely everything and cut the dough into quarters. I slowly run it through the machine at the widest setting, tri fold, rotate, and pass through again. I do this a few times, helping knead the dough, developing it a bit before stretching it out. As the rollers get closer, the pasta gets longer, eventually ready to be cut into linguine. Arrange in little nests after it’s cut, and then toss them into boiling water.

While getting the water boiling, I sauteed some garlic and red chili flakes in olive oil, keeping it warm. Once the pasta is cooked, taking only a few minutes, I toss it into the pan with a nice ladleful of starchy pasta water, helping to bind the now flavored oil to the noodles.

Last thing to be finished off is the chicken, which I pulled out of the vacuum bags, perfectly cooked, and quickly seared it off, with a bit of help from the searzall. True fact: almost everything is improved by a blast with the searzall.

And at that point, I think we were all had enough wine and were hungry enough to not give much of a damn about plating, and just dove in. It came out pretty great, hopefully the rest of the crew thought so as well! And if it wasn’t, I don’t think Jodie will ever let me post on this blog again. (Jodie here...this is totally untrue :))



Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Pi Day!

I am such a nerd and this day is the best!

I made mys "famous" inception cookies for all of my students today.  I know this isn't pie, but hear me out.  Pi is the distance around 1/2 of the unit circle:

So, I made the inception cookies because you end up cutting them in half and therefore you have a Pi's worth of the circle. Isn't that cool??? I know, I'm a dork.

My students are raving about the cookies and it makes me so happy to share them with them.  I love to bake and it's so great when I get to share that part of me with my kiddos.

In class today, we watched Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi and then the students ate their cookies while working on Circle Challenges.  It is a nice change of pace and it is a great way to celebrate pi!

Tonight, Bri and I are planning on cooking dinner and, of course, making some sort of pie for dessert!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Wedding Planning Wednesday: Tux Shopping and Updates

He said yes to the tux!  Last weekend, we went to Men's Wearhouse and picked out the tuxes for the groomsmen as well as my groom.  Bri, 3 groomsmen, one bridesman, and me all went together and they all got fitted while I picked out the colors of everything.  It was tons of fun.  I brought a swatch of my bridesmaids color so that we could be confident about matching the color and making sure everything looked nice together.

That same weekend, I also had my makeup trial!  I absolutely loved the way I looked and I am excited to announce that I have found my make-up person!  I highly recommend Jaycie.  She was super nice, I looked amazing, and as someone who hardly wears a lot of makeup, I was excited by how natural I looked and how comfortable I felt.  We had a fancy party to go to that evening the makeup held up perfectly.  I am so excited for the actual day to come around so I can look that amazing again!

And finally, I finished up all 300 of the mini mason jar candles that I started awhile back.  So, now I just have to decorate them!  I am going to go with a thin purple ribbon around the lid of the jar and then I am getting our logo made into a stamp so that we can stamp the lids.  It is going to be super cute!

Now, we have to finish up invitations (we have the designs all complete, but we need to get them printed) and then it's just small details until the big day!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Marathon Training Monday: 15 Miles

Saturday was the first long run over 13 miles.  The 15-miler is always a run that intimidates me while simultaneously exciting me because it is the first run longer than a half marathon and therefore the first run that makes me feel like a rockstar marathon runner.  Running 15 miles and feeling good afterwards is a the best because it reminds me that I can totally run a marathon.

Friday night, I had a fancy dinner party with some friends.  We cooked some amazing food, but we drank wine while we cooked that amazing food.  This is typically totally fine, but our food wasn't ready until 9:30 and I didn't go to bed until 11:30.  When I woke up at 6 am, I had a bit of a headache and felt exhausted.  Uh oh... So, I took some advil, put on my running shoes/clothes and headed out to our meeting spot for the 15 miler.  All the while, I kept thinking "I'm not so sure about this..."  The first 5 miles were not great.  I felt so tired.  But then, I started to feel better and the last 5 miles felt great.  It was the strangest run, but I am so proud of myself for killing it.  I treated myself to a delish lunch from the whole foods salad bar (salmon, roasted sweet potatoes, and broccoli) and went home feeling very sweaty and very happy.  This past week was a tough one.  I ran a total of 33 miles.  I feel tired, but also strong and I can't believe my marathon is less than 2 months away!

This week the mileage increases even more.  I am going to run 6, 9, 6, and then 16.  That makes for a total of 37 miles.  This is pretty intense.   I have plans to take good care of myself, get to bed at reasonable times and avoid any fancy dinner parties.  I should be fine :)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Vegetarian Pot Pie

On this snowy Tuesday, all I want is something warm and comforting in my tummy.  So, I decided to make a pot pie.  I wanted Bri to be able to eat it and so it became a veggie pot pie with tofu instead of chicken.  It was super yummy and crazy simple.  Here is what I did:

I mixed a bunch of delish veggies in a pot.  Then, I poured said delish veggies into a 9 by 13 inch pan.  Then, I put unrolled crescent rolls on top and baked it in the oven for 15 minutes.  The result:  A Vegetarian Pot Pie Casserole.  Yes, I am serious.

This was super easy and now I have some awesome comfort food that incorporates a bunch of vegetables and some solid protein.

Today, I keep looking out the window while at school and I am not looking forward to my drive home in all this snow.  At least I have a yummy dinner ahead of me!

Vegetarian Pot Pie

2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup chopped tofu
6-8 small red potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup frozen peas
4 cups vegetable stock
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
8 crescent rolls

1. Melt the butter over medium-low heat and add in the celery, carrots, and onion.  Let cook for 5 minutes.
2. Add in the garlic, oregano, parsley, thyme, salt and pepper.  Add in the potatoes and tofu.  Let cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add in the veggie stock and increase heat to medium-high.  Add in the frozen peas.  Let cook until mixture starts to boil.
4. In a small bowl, place flour.  Ladel some veggie stock from your vegetable mixture into the flour and whisk to combine.  Then, pour the flour/veggie stock mixture back into the pot and stir to combine.
5.  Let cook while simmering for about 5 minutes or so.  Pour the mixture into a 13 by 9 inch pan.

6. Lay the crescent rolls on the top and cook at 350 for about 15 minutes or until crescent rolls are cooked and browned.

Enjoy :)