Tofu and mushroom lettuce wraps and pineapple coconut smoothie-Week 4 of Cook Smarts

This was really delicious! Apparently I was a bit scattered in making sure I had all of the ingredients out before I took my before shot, so you get two photos of the “before”. (That’s what I get for multi-tasking in the kitchen again!)

This beautiful line up along with the peanut butter became my peanut sauce. I love knowing exactly what is going into my sauces! I can adjust the heat, the salt, the acidity, the sweetness, everything myself and that is a power I do not take lightly!

Oh, crunchy peanut butter and peanuts, sure, why not!?  

I really appreciate being able to use more of the bag of frozen peas and carrots on this dish! Have I mentioned how much I appreciate the reduction in waste while using Cook Smarts! Even something as simple as a $1.00 frozen bag of vegetables being incorporated into multiple meals in the week!

Our thoughts and impressions:

~the pineapple and coconut smoothie was delicious, but we’re not big smoothie drinkers so, take it or leave it.
~we would prefer a creamy peanut butter and foregoing the peanuts
~I needed to squeeze more water out of the tofu so it crisped properly in the pan
~Mung bean threads or a wide egg noodle would be a marvelous addition to this dish.
~We’d definitely make this again with the aforementioned changes.

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Southwestern Roasted Chicken with orange avocado salsa / wild rice

I’ve been in a conference all day today and I was in the same conference all day yesterday, so I made this meal in stages which means I forgot to do my ingredients picture. I’m so sad! I really like taking a picture of the ingredients because most of the time it is all fresh or simple ingredients and I really like emphasizing that.

I only made one modification/substitution in this recipe, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs. (big substitution, right?) 

Let’s talk about this fresh salad! Avocado, orange (okay, I lied earlier, I used a clementine instead of an orange, substitution number 2), lime and cilantro. Yum! So fresh and light but satisfying! I wish I had finely chopped the cilantro instead of coarsely chopping it. That would have improved it exponentially. But hey, I’m learning, so it’s all good!

A perfectly ripe, non bruised avocado? This needed photo documentation!

I mixed up the spice seasoning mix this morning before I left the house! I really like it when the directions say, “you can do this up to ## days ahead of time”! It encourages me to read through my recipes a few times before I make the dish. It also encourages me to do an appropriate amount of prep work when I have a few moments here or there!

The shallots and raw pumpkin seeds are ready to be mixed with the rice!

Oh my goodness! The flavors and aromas!!

So sometimes I’m a ninny and forget that when you remove a pan from the oven, the handle you can normally grab shouldn’t be touched without a pot holder. Ouch, I’ll be doing burn wound care this evening. (I’m okay, my palm just looks like I spent some time in the sun.)

I have no idea why or how these flavors complement so well, but this was a very tasty meal!

 INGREDIENTS

Southwestern Roasted Chicken:

  • Coriander, dried – 1 tsp
  • Salt – 1/2 tsp
  • Paprika – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin – 1/2 tsp
  • Chili powder – 1/4 tsp
  • Black pepper – 1/4 tsp
  • Shallots – 1 clove, chopped
  • Pepitas / pumpkin seeds – 1/4 cup
  • Chicken thighs, boneless (with or without skin) – 1 1/2 lbs
  • Oil, cooking – 2 Tbsp
  • Cooked wild rice (leftover from Monday) – ~2 cups

Orange Avocado Salsa:

  • Oranges – 2, segments, roughly chopped
  • Avocados – 2, chopped
  • Cilantro – 1 Tbsp, leaves torn
  • Limes – 1/2, juice of

*This meal is part of Cook Smarts subscription meals!

Turkey Kofta with broiled zucchini / mint yogurt sauce

After making my 10th meal, a full meal, plating a dinner (!), I cannot sing the praises of Cook Smarts any louder (!)! My confidence with serving a dinner has grown exponentially! We haven’t loved every single complete meal, that’s for certain, but we have greatly enjoyed having a complete meal at dinner. Formerly we would save our extravagant cooking for the weekends. Our week night meals were very simple. (Imagine: chicken thighs and peas, a lot, not saying that’s what happened, but you could imagine. Sometimes we’d add garlic powder or Italian seasoning to this hypothetical chicken.)

Now, we’ve enjoyed a different vegetable every night! In addition to that we’re incorporating a variety of proteins as well!

If I read the directions properly ahead of time I would have realized I could have made the turkey kofta’s a day in advance (!) this would have saved me some time at dinner prep Wednesday evening, oh well!

I’d like to share with you my favorite method to chop: mint, basil, parsley, spinach, etc. I learned this technique from Gordon Ramsey.

You stack all of your leaves together flat in a pile,

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Then you roll them up as tightly as possible.
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And carefully slice with a knife. Easy peasy and you have similar sized pieces as your final product!

This yogurt sauce was really delicious. I made a few substitutions: coconut milk yogurt (minimal to no flavor difference) and fresh dill instead of dried. Also you might be interested to note that I actually made the yogurt sauce a day early. I have a conference on Wednesday so I knew my time/energy might be reduced and this component lent itself to making ahead.

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INGREDIENTS

Turkey Kofta:

  • Green onions – 1/2 stalk, green and white parts chopped and combined (I used a whole stalk)
  • Turkey, ground and lean (sub any ground meat) – 5/8 lb (I eyeballed this and probably landed closer to 6/8 lb)
  • Panko breadcrumbs – 1/8 cup
  • Italian seasonings – 1/4 tsp
  • Salt – 1/4 tsp
  • Black pepper – 1/8 tsp
  • Pine nuts (sub chopped walnuts) – 1/8 cup (eye balled)
  • Oil, cooking – 1/2 Tbsp
  • Stock, any type – 1/4 cup (I used chicken broth)

Mint Yogurt Sauce:

  • Mint, fresh – 5 leaves, finely chopped
  • Lemons – 1/4, zest of
  • Yogurt, Greek or plain – 1/2 cup (I used non-dairy coconut milk yogurt, yum)
  • Honey – 1/2 tsp
  • Cumin, ground – 1/16 tsp
  • Dill, dried – 1/8 tsp (I used fresh and eye balled it)

Crispy Zucchini Spears:

  • Zucchini (buy the smallest you can find) – 1/2 lb, quartered lengthwise into spears (I cut it in half and then sliced it as close to evenly as possible, but I ended up with more than quarters)
  • Oil, olive – 1/2 Tbsp
  • Honey – 1 tsp
  • Panko breadcrumbs – 1/8 cup

*Recipe from Cook Smarts subscription service

Penne with sausage and broccoli rabe

One of the cool parts about having a modified tiny house is that all of my furniture is really easy to move. I can move almost everything in the house by myself. I took advantage of this today when I relocated our island so I could watch tv while cooking. Full House is so much fun! I think I’m in season 4 now.
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I love pasta dishes, I mean really, really, love pasta dishes. My favorite lately have been ones I’ve made using fresh, homemade pasta. Unfortunately (fortunately?), I had a full and busy week this week so I did not make pasta. I bought pasta and it worked nicely.

This meal was incredibly simple, AND I got to cook with broccoli rabe! This was my first time purchasing and cooking with broccoli rabe! So much fun to try new things!

I doubled the garlic, I know you’re shocked! 🙂  

Above you’ll see one of the optional components- the red pepper flakes, that I affectionately call “pizza pepper flakes.” I decided to add these- good choice (sometimes I “make good choices”). It only gave the dish a touch of zing, and we all need a touch of zing in our lives!

I loved the garlic-y bread crumbs (panko and sautéd garlic)
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INGREDIENTS

Chicken Sausage Penne:

  • Broccoli rabe (also called rapini; sub broccoli florets) – 6 oz, chopped (I don’t think I used enough because it was 6 oz with the stems and I cut most of the stem off and it cooked down substantially)
  • Garlic – 1 cloves, chopped (I used 2)
  • Sausage, chicken (preferably pre-cooked; sub any variety sausage) – 1/2 lb, casings removed (if applicable) and sliced (I used 1 lb)
  • Pasta, penne – 5 oz
  • Butter – 1/2 Tbsp (I subbed non dairy butter, but oil would have worked as well)
  • Panko breadcrumbs – 1/4 cup
  • Oil, cooking – 1/2 Tbsp
  • Red pepper flakes (opt) – 1/8 tsp
  • Lemons – 1/4, zest of

*This recipe is part of the paid subscription service on the Cook Smarts website.

Honey Citrus Salmon with Radicchio, Fennel and Orange Salad

The sub title to this post is: someday I’ll have a gas stove top cooking surface and an oven that properly heats/regulates temperature. I now have a thermometer in the oven, but the oven is so temperamental it really makes cooking an extra sensitive adventure.

Another alternate title, Cook Smarts adventures, Week 3, Meal 1.

One of my favorite parts about this meal is that it made going to the grocery store a lot of fun! A)I’ve only purchased fennel seeds and had to google an image of a whole fennel. And B) I had no idea what a radicchio looked like either! Also, this recipe required a trip to two grocery stores due to a non existent supply of mint and radicchio at our normal Kroger stop. New discoveries at the grocery store: win!

Apparently, this is a fennel:

It has a sweet flavor but it’s not sugary. The recipe called for much less than I chopped up, but it was so good, I’d use that much again in the future. I probably needed to do something better about that center piece and it would have been better if I’d broken up the pieces better. All in all, this was a fun and tasty try. They mention that there are things you can do with the long stringy green pieces, but today I was already experimenting enough as it is, maybe that’ll be part of next round’s adventure.

This is a radicchio:

You treat it like a cabbage, you chop it like cabbage, it looks like a cabbage but the color is richer (I think), more of a mauve hue than a red cabbage. Also, it is incredibly bitter. So bitter, we couldn’t eat it. The recipe indicated that you could sub in red cabbage or baby spinach. I think next time I make this dish, I would prefer spinach.

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Had I subbed spinach or anything-but-radicchio, this salad would have been awesome. I liked the orange marmalade dressing, the fennel, the beans and the oranges, I did not like the radicchio.

Remember my persnickety oven? Well, I over cooked the salmon. Oh well, it was still mostly edible. Personally, I thought this meal looked a lot better than it turned out, but that’s my own critique on the meal. Also, even with the results, it was still a lot of fun to try this new recipe. I enjoyed the challenge, the hunt in the grocery stores and trying new dishes! If the salmon were properly cooked, and the spinach replaced the radicchio, I think I would have given this meal an A!

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INGREDIENTS

Honey Citrus Dressing:

  • Orange marmalade (sub any orange or yellow jam) – 1/8 cup
  • Lemons – 1/4, zest and juice of
  • Soy sauce – 1 tsp
  • Mustard, Dijon – 1/2 tsp

Honey Citrus Salmon:

  • Salmon – 1/2 lb
  • Honey – 1/2 Tbsp
  • Homemade honey citrus dressing (ingredients listed separately) – ~1/8 cup

Radicchio, Fennel and Orange Salad:

  • Fennel bulb, small – 1/4, thinly sliced
  • Radicchio (sub red cabbage or baby spinach) – 1 cups, chopped
  • Oranges – 1, segments
  • Mint, fresh – 5 leaves, torn
  • Beans, cannellini or butter (14 oz / 397 g can) – 1/2 can, drained and rinsed
  • Homemade honey citrus dressing (ingredients listed separately) – ~1/8 cup
  • Oil, olive – 1 Tbsp

Week 1, Meal 3, Turkey Meatball Lettuce Cups

TURKEY MEATBALL LETTUCE CUPS
with apple celery salad and quinoa

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Once again, I was able to put a full meal on our table, in about 40 minutes! I made a few tweaks to the recipe, was able to use ingredients that I made yesterday today (salad dressing, adobo-honey sauce and quinoa!) That adobo-honey sauce is an incredible condiment. Spicy and sweet, but not too hot for me!

After a week of trying Cook Smarts and successfully making three complete meals by myself in. a. row. I think I am more than ready to say the subscription is worth it for me!  This was a tasty and filling meal and I’m already excited to eat it as leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

The edits I made to the recipe can be found in yesterday’s post (adobo-honey sauce) and below in blue. I didn’t really make that many substitutions to today’s recipe.

PREP
Make meatballs – Chop cilantro. Mix ground turkey meat with chopped cilantro, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper, and panko. Form into 1 ½” (4 cm) wide meatballs. If making ahead of time, place onto a plate and cover with plastic wrap. This should make about 8 meatballs. (Should be done up to 1 day ahead) (Totally did not see <— until I was making dinner, they turned out quite nicely!)

Quinoa (made last night!)

MAKE
Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and then meatballs to heated oil. Sear top and bottom sides for 3 minutes each, until a golden-brown sear forms.
Pour chicken stock into pan, lower heat to medium, and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Cook for another 8 to 12 minutes, until meatballs reach 165F (74C) degrees (you can also just slice through to make sure all the meat is cooked through).
Meanwhile, tear off 2 iceberg lettuce leaves / person. Wash and dry as needed.

(I ended up prepping certain parts of my salad before cooking the meatballs because I was delaying for optimal serving time)
Salad:
Slice apples, celery, and green parts of green onions. If not done from last night, whisk together maple syrup, Dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, and oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When meatballs are done, slice each into quarters. (I totally forgot this step, so I served the meatballs whole and it was a bit awkward. We did remember the adobo sauce though! Oh well 🙂 ) Divide into lettuce leaves and have everyone drizzle on as much adobo-honey sauce as they want.

Toss apples, celery, green onions, and greens with vinaigrette. Enjoy lettuce cups, salad, and quinoa.

INGREDIENTS
4 servings

Quinoa:
Quinoa – 2/3 cup, uncooked

Apple Celery Salad:
Apples – 1, sliced
Celery – 3 stalks, sliced
Green onions, green parts – 2 stalks, chopped (If I remembered last night I would have kept my two green parts for tonight, but I forgot, so thankfully I had a few more green onions in my fridge!)
Salad greens – 6 oz (I used bib lettuce for this)

Dressing: (I retained extra from last night!)
Maple syrup – 1 tsp
Dijon mustard – 1 tsp
Apple cider vinegar – 1 ½ Tbsp
Cooking oil – 2 Tbsp

Turkey Meatball Lettuce Cups:
Cilantro – ¼ bunch, chopped
Ground turkey – 1 lb
Cumin – 1 tsp
Garlic powder – 1 tsp
Paprika – 1 tsp
Salt – ¼ tsp
Black pepper – pinch
Panko breadcrumbs – ¼ cup

Cooking oil – 2 Tbsp
Chicken broth stock – ¼ cup
Iceberg lettuce – 8 leaves
Leftover Adobo-honey sauce (from Tue) – 6 Tbsp

NUTRITION FACTS
Serving Size 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 453
% Daily Value
Total Fat 18g 28%
Saturated Fat 3g 14%
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 63mg 21%
Sodium 749mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 13%
Dietary Fiber 5g 19%
Sugars 12g
Protein 35g

Week 1, Meal 2, Adobo-Honey Chicken Kebabs

Meal 2: ADOBO-HONEY CHICKEN KEBABS
with cucumber salad and quinoa original recipe found here

*Once again, my notes will be indicated clearly and my edits to their recipe will be in blue. I’m documenting my first week experiment with Cook Smarts as I consider signing up for a subscription. When I indicated on their website that “I made this” to one of the recipes, I received an email the following day offering me a discount on my subsequent subscription. The subscriptions are already REALLY economical, but this was such a kind response by this team!

*This weekend we decided to make “meal 4.” And last night because we used our leftovers in a different pattern, I didn’t make a new meal. So… you’ll see their comments in the recipe below referring to “Wednesday,” and yes, today is Wednesday, but technically they call this meal the Tuesday meal. I really like the versatility and since we have all of the ingredients on hand, I can mix up the order I make the recipes.

They provide a tip: Smarts: Chipotle peppers are typically sold in adobo sauce. Divide and freeze in small portions so you don’t waste it.

Active: 40 min | Total: 40 min

Cook’s note: One of the really cool features, I think, on the Cook Smarts website is that once you collate your recipes for the week there’s a tab that says “weekend prep,” I highly recommend you check out this tab. It provides you with instructions for various parts of the four recipes that can be prepped ahead of time. So let’s say you don’t want to do a really involved meal during the week, you can prep certain components, leave them in the fridge and they’re ready day of! That’s a really well thought out feature!

PREP
Make adobo-honey sauce – This makes enough for tomorrow night (when they collate a set of recipes for the week, they appear to try to integrate similar ingredients so there’s less waste! We live in a modified tiny house, so I really appreciate this, it means we don’t need a huge pantry! Also, it should mean less thrown away, uneaten food!)
In a blender, (we don’t own a blender so I used our food processor) combine white parts of green onions, garlic clove, red wine vinegar, honey, adobo sauce, salt, and Greek yogurt (I’m using non-dairy coconut milk plain yogurt). Puree until well-blended. Season to taste with any of the ingredients. Reserve half for tomorrow night. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead) *Doubling this yielded 1 C*
Prepare kebabs – Slice chicken up into strips, long ways. You’ll want them to be ¾” (2 cm) wide. Marinate and tenderize with first part of adobo-honey sauce and thread skewers through chicken strips. You should make 2 kebabs / person. (Can be done up to 1 day ahead)
Quinoa – Double if making Wednesday’s dinner. (Or perhaps you already made this during your weekend prep!) Combine quinoa with 2x the amount of water (or stock if you prefer) in a saucepan. Add in some salt. Bring to a boil covered. Lower heat, keep covered, and cook until liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. If you doubled, reserve half for tomorrow night. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Cucumbers / Iceberg living bib lettuce – Prep as directed.


(My sauce mixture yielded about 1 Cup when I doubled it, so I reserved 1/2 cup, but we only ended up using 1/4 cup in the recipe)

MAKE
Whisk together maple syrup, Dijon, apple cider vinegar and oil (double if making tomorrow night’s dinner). Set aside.

If using an outdoor grill: Heat your outdoor grill up to 500F(or 260C) degrees. Brush grill grates with cooking oil and then lay kebabs over direct heat. Sear on opposite sides for 3 minutes each with cover closed. Then move to indirect heat, close cover, and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until chicken is cooked to 165F (74C) degrees.

If using a grill pan: Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Brush pan with cooking oil and then lay skewers down on the pan. Sear on opposite sides for 3 minutes each. Then lower heat and cover loosely with aluminum foil. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until chicken is cooked to 165F (74C) degrees.

If you don’t have a grill and you don’t understand the above directions… here’s what worked for me and a note of what I’ll try next time I make this. 

Today: Pre-heat oven to 400F. Assemble skewers on a roasting pan, and roast until done (our oven 14 minutes). 

Next time: Pre-heat oven to 400F. Assemble skewers on a roasting pan, right before moving the chicken to the oven, turn it up to broil, broil/roast until done, probably 10 minutes. (I think I would prefer the chicken to be a bit “blackened”.)

Take kebabs off pan or grill and brush immediately with some more adobo-honey sauce, and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Toss vinaigrette with cucumbers and lettuce. Enjoy kebabs with salad and quinoa. Feel free to use remainder of the adobo-honey sauce with the kebabs.

*We drizzled some adobo-honey sauce over the quinoa- so good!

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This meal was fantastic I thought. The honey and adobo combination is this smoky, sweet palate delight. The quinoa was earthy and the flavors on the salad were a bit mediterranean-esq. I would make this meal again definitely.

INGREDIENTS
4 servings

Quinoa:
Quinoa – 2/3 cup, uncooked

Adobo-Honey Sauce:
Green onions, white parts – 2 stalks
Garlic – 1 clove, peeled
Red wine vinegar – 3 Tbsp
Honey – 2 Tbsp
Adobo sauce (usually found with canned chipotle peppers) – 1 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp
Plain Greek coconut milk dairy-free yogurt – ½ cup

Cucumber Salad:
Cucumbers – ½ lb, chopped (probably due to the intense amount of fluid, I would remove the seeds next time)
Iceberg lettuce living bib lettuce – 1/3 head, sliced
Maple syrup – 1 tsp
Dijon mustard – 1 tsp
Apple cider vinegar – 1 ½ Tbsp
Cooking tasting oil – 2 Tbsp

Adobo-Honey Chicken Kebabs:
Chicken thighs – 1 lb, boneless, about 4 thighs

Adobo-honey sauce – 3 Tbsp + 3 Tbsp (Ingredients listed separately)

Skewers – 8 to 16 (If using flat skewers, you’ll just need 1 / kebab) We have twisted metal skewers, I used 4

NUTRITION FACTS (Information accurate to original recipe; Also, good to know: their food items can be found in my fitness pal. So if you do a food diary, track your meals, etc you can search for the recipe by name and it’ll add quite nicely! They also have a feature where you can figure out your Weight Watchers points for the meal if that’s something you’re curious about!)

Serving Size 1 serving
Servings Per Recipe 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 475

% Daily Value
Total Fat 18g 28%
Saturated Fat 3g 17%
Trans Fat 0g

Cholesterol 213mg 71%
Sodium 638mg 27%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 9%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Sugars 7g

Protein 49g