Tuesday, April 27, 2010

#22: 10 New Recipes

Shrimp, Feta, and Fresh Herb Mac and Cheese

1 lb. rotini pasta (I used whole wheat)
1 lb. raw shrimp (31-40 ct.), peeled and deveined, cut in half (if desired), tail removed
10 oz. feta cheese, crumbled and divided
zest of 1 lemon, divided
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped and divided
5 tbsp. butter, divided (I used unsalted)
4 tbsp. all-purpose flour (I used wheat)
3 cups milk (I used plain soy)
2 tbsp. fresh dill, chopped
8 oz. Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente following package directions. Drain well; set aside. Add raw shrimp to warm pasta and toss. The heat from the pasta will partially cook the shrimp.

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400F. In a small bowl, combine a handful of feta, a pinch of lemon zest, panko, 2 tsp. of parsley, and 1 tbsp. of butter, melted. Toss with a fork to combine; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt remaining 4 tbsp. of butter over medium-high heat. Once butter is melted, whisk in flour to form a paste. Cook 1-2 minutes, whisking constantly, until golden brown. Whisk in milk. Continue to heat mixture, stirring frequently, until it bubbles and thickens, approximately 5 minutes. As soon as the sauce thickens, remove from heat, stir in remaining feta, Gruyere, remaining parsley, remaining lemon zest, dill, salt, and pepper. Pour the mixture over the pasta and shrimp; toss well to coat.

Transfer the mixture to a 2 1/2 - 3 quart baking dish. Sprinkle breadcrumb-feta mixture evenly over pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and bubbling. Remove from oven and allow to set for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes: In my opinion, zest of 1 lemon is too much. If I made this again I would use maybe 1/2 a lemon or less. And I like lemon. When I was mixing the cheese mixture with the pasta I added more milk. I would use 4 cups of milk instead of 3 for a more creamy mixture. I used jumbo shrimp (21-30 count) and did not cut in half. I wish I did. More shrimp would have been in each bite.

Verdict: It was good, not great. I think it had too much lemon. The Hubs enjoyed it more than I did, but he is not as picky of an eater as I am. I think I am going to take a break from new recipes for a while and focus on the ones I have made that we enjoyed.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Quest for Two-Week Scalp

August 2009

I have been natural for a long time...since 2003. Maybe one day I will write my natural hair story...maybe. Even before I was natural I washed my hair a lot. Now I wash my hair every week. Many natural ladies are on a quest for 2-week hair. Basically they are trying to get one hairstyle to last 2 weeks. Well that is not my issue. My styles last. My issue is my scalp. After one week of life and the gym and whatever else, my scalp is begging to be cleaned. It gets itchy and I just can't take it anymore. I want 2-week scalp. I have been asking myself if I really should be trying to achieve this goal. I do go to the gym and I am trying to go more. So after sweating and everything maybe I do need to be washing my hair every week. But sometimes I am lazy. And I just don't wanna (I am saying this in my baby whining voice). But I am going to still try to see if this goal is achievable (for my hair).

What I had been doing for a long while now is:

Then I would use my shea butter mix to twist my hair. I would leave in this style for the week and then have a twist out on weekends.

  • mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice with conditioner to cleanse hair and scalp
  • then follow as above

Trial 1 (for the past 2 weeks)
I really did not want to start using shampoo on my hair. I have not used shampoo on my hair for a couple of years. The only time I do is on the rare occasion I go to a professional hairdresser or when I am about to get my hair braided. But I thought maybe the conditioner was causing build-up that was making my scalp itch, so I gave it a try.

Week 1
Then I followed the same routine for styling my hair. I normally do not apply oils directly to my scalp and I did not this time.

Results: My hair felt very clean and I thought this was going to be good. However, after I went to the gym I had itchy scalp again. The only difference is this time my scalp was dry and flaky...still itchy though. Adjustments needed.

Week 2
I did the same as week 1 except when styling my hair I added Dabur Vatika Enriched Coconut Hair Oil to my scalp. It contains lemon, an astringent which controls sebum flow helping to prevent dandruff; henna and other herbs which coat the hair, protects from oxidation, and maintains natural hair color; and amla which strengthens hair roots.

I also added this to my hair after going to the gym to try to control itching.

Results: The itchy scalp still came. It did not come as early in the week as usual, but going to the gym twice (or maybe 3 times) this week and by wash day I was ready to wash my hair. My scalp was not dry, but ready to be washed.

I was going to continue using the shampoo for a month thinking that maybe it is taking my hair and scalp some time to adjust, but I am moving on to another method. I really do not want to use shampoo on my hair anyway so I am not too upset that this did not work.

So for the next month I am going to use an herbal mixture to cleanse my hair and scalp.
This will be my routine
  • Cleanse hair with Amla/Shikakai Herbal Cleanser. Recipe below.
  • Condition hair
  • Detangle
  • Final Rinse. Recipe below..
I purchased Ayurvedic products from Amazon to use in this mixture.

  • boil a cup of water
  • transfer water to a bowl
  • add 1 heaping spoonful of shikakai powder
  • add 2 heaping spoonfuls of amla powder
  • allow to steep for 15-13 minutes
  • strain the mixture to remove herbs and keep the liquid
This will be my cleansing rinse.
What are Shikakai and Amla?

Shikakai acts as a natural astringent. It clears dandruff and cleans dirt accumulated on the scalp. It can however be drying on the hair.
Amla is a conditioner. It controls hair loss, stimulates growth, and it controls premature graying of hair (bonus!).

Final Rinse Recipe
  • 1c boiling water
  • pinch of horsetail
  • pinch of nettle
  • pinch of marshmallow root
  • pinch of rosemary
  • allow to steep for 15-30 minutes
  • strain and keep liquid
  • add approx. 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar at the end.
  • few drops of liquid vitamin E
  • drops of essential oil for fragrance (optional)
What do those things do?
Horsetail helps eliminate dandruff and stimulates growth.
Marshmallow Root is soothing and an emollient. It contains mucilage, which is a protein. (I try to avoid proteins because my hair does not like them, but I think just a little will be ok...hopefully.)
Nettle improves circulation. In hair rinses, it stimulates growth and improves scalp condition. It can be mixed with rosemary and rubbed on the scalp for shiny, glossy hair.
Rosemary is good for treating hair fall or shedding and dandruff. It stimulates the hair bulbs to renew activity and prevent premature balding.

For more on Ayurvedic products for the hair look here.
For a breakdown of what various herbs do look here.
I got these recipes from Trenellm on YouTube.

Updates to follow. I will also take more pics because my hair is A LOT longer now.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

#22: Make 10 New Recipes

Salmon Burgers with Cilantro Mayo
Source Annie's Eats

1/2c red bell pepper diced (I used one whole pepper so a little more)
6 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, minced
1lb. salmon fillets, skinned, boned and finely chopped (wild Alaskan is best!)
1 large egg white, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1-2 tbsp. vegetable or canola oil (I used EVOO)

For the cilantro mayo:
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/2c mayo
1/2c cilantro
dash of cayenne pepper
squeeze of lemon juice

For serving:
burger buns
green lettuce
sliced red onion
sliced tomatoes

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the diced bell pepper, panko, garlic, and salmon. In a small bowl combine the egg white, soy sauce, lemon juice, and salt. Add the liquid mixture to the bowl with the salmon and toss gently until well incorporated. Form the mixture into four equal sized patties.

To make the cilantro mayo, combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined and smooth.

Lightly coat a grill pan or skillet with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Heat over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the patties about 5 minutes per side, until cooked throughout.

Place the burgers on the buns, spreading one side of the bun with cilantro mayo. Top as desired with lettuce, onion, and tomato.

I forgot to get cilantro, but I had some dill. So I made dill mayo instead.

I toasted the burger buns and that was a nice touch.

I used the wrong type of spatula at first and two of the patties fell apart a little. But once I figured it out I got 2 nicely made patties.

Delicious. We both loved this meal and it will definitely be made again and again.

Some of the comments made by the Hubs: "Best meal I ever made. He could eat this every week. He would go to a restaurant and love to have this meal." I must say that made me feel pretty good. This recipe is very easy to make and these are ingredients we have in the house anyway, so definitely a go to for us.

I tried to take pictures, but I need to work on that skill.

For the rest of my 101 in 1001, look here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Tomorrow is Earth Day.

Interesting Earth Day Facts:
  • Every ton of paper that is recycled save 17 trees
  • It takes 50-70 gallons of water for a 10 minute shower
  • More than 20 million (that's 20,000,000) Hershey's kisses are wrapped each day. That is 133 square miles of tin foil. All of that can be recycled.
  • If every newspaper was recycled, 250 million (250,000,000) trees could be saved each year. Unfortunately on 27% of all American newspapers are recycled.
  • If you brush your teeth for the full 3 minutes (which you should if you don't) and leave the water running, you are wasting approximately 8 gallons of water each time.
What are you doing to celebrate Earth Day and reduce your environmental footprint?

And on top of that there are some Earth Day 2010 freebies.

Target - Mail in 5 plastic bags to Terracycle, 121 New York Avenue, Trenton, NJ 08638 and get $1 back to spend on a reusable shopping bag.

Disney Store - Bring in SIX empty plastic bottles or soda cans to the Disney Store on 4/22 and get a free Friend for Change and Disney Store youth sized baseball cap (made out of 100% recycled materials). Limit 1 per guest, while supplies last.

Hanes - Buy 3 Hanes products and mail-in a rebate for a free Earth Day T-shirt. And, the Arbor Day Foundation will plant a tree, up to 20,000, on Hanes behalf. Offer good until May 15th.

BBC Earth - Free download of the First Episode of Planet Earth "Pole to Pole" on iTunes. Offer good until April 26th.

Babies R Us - Get a free reusable tote bag with printable coupon through 4/22, plus 25% off all clothes and shoes you can fit in the bag.

Pottery Barn - Earth Day Celebration at Pottery Barn Kids with giveaways, activities, and story time on 4/22.

Happy Earth Day Everyone!! Enjoy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Evelyn's Favorite Pasta

This is not a new recipe for me, but I have now made it twice and the Hubs and I love it. It is the only vegetarian meal that the Hubs doesn't say "If this had meat...".

Evelyn's Favorite Pasta

1/4c EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
3 cloves garlic, minced, pressed, or grated (I did minced)
salt and pepper
2 Chinese eggplants (I used 1 large eggplant)
1 large head of broccoli
1 can artichoke hearts, halved or quartered
15 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3c pine nuts
1/4c kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/3c freshly grated Parmesan cheese (low fat to make it healthier)
1/3c prepared pesto
8-12oz penne pasta (I used Barilla Plus Wheat) (I used the entire box)
handful of fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade

Remove the ends from the eggplant. Slice long ways, in thirds, and lay on a cutting board. Heavily salt cut sides of eggplant, cover with paper towel and then another cutting board. Place a weight on top of the board. Let stand for 30 minutes, then rinse eggplant well and cut into 2 inch long pieces.

**NOTE** I do not have 2 cutting boards (I have a beginner's kitchen). So I used plates and for a weight I use cans of soup or beans or whatever and cover the entire plate.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. When the eggplant is ready and chopped, place in a large bowl. Add chopped broccoli, artichokes, and tomatoes. Combine garlic and EVOO in a small bowl with about 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper; mix well. Add EVOO mixture to the vegetables and toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with olive oil. Roast vegetables for about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, start heating water for the pasta in a large pot. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat, and add pine nuts. Heat for a few minutes, tossing frequently, until nuts are lightly toasted, then set aside. When the pasta water has come to a boil, salt generously and add the pasta. Cook according to box instructions.

When the pasta is done, drain and add to a large bowl. Add roasted vegetables, kalamata olives, cheese, pesto, and toss to combine. Serve and garnish with toasted pine nuts and basil.

This recipe is so good. It has a hearty texture (which I believe is why the Hubs doesn't miss meat). This recipe was enough for dinner that night, lunch at work 2 days for me, and dinner another night. That is a lot.

One thing I will say is this is not a week night dinner for me. It doesn't take THAT long, but it is a little long for me. I definitely want this to be a meal I make at least once a month.

Just righting this entry makes me want to make it again. It is that good.

For the Kitchen Part 3

Ok. I am adding some things and making some modifications.

One thing that both the Hubs and I want is a good wok. I have no idea how to determine if the wok is good or not. I do know that I want stainless steel (I think) or cast iron??, I just know that I do NOT want something with nonstick coating. I am trying to eliminate that from our kitchen. I also know that it needs to be pretty big. Our biggest pan we have now is definitely not big enough. So the search and research for the perfect wok is underway. I have no idea what I am looking for. I think I am going to have to ask my nesties about this one. I know I don't want to go on the cheap for this. I can't believe I said that. I just know I want something that is going to last.

One thing that I have modified is the food processor I am looking at. I still stand by my statement that we are not the Neely's, but again I want something that is going to last. I am not saying that the original one I was looking at would not last. I mean it was a Kitchen Aid. I think I just need something bigger. This one has a 7-cup capacity and I think I need maybe 11-cup or more. Kitchen Aid has a 12-cup one for significantly more. I am just trying to plan for the future. I want to be able to puree, as I said before, but my future plans for a food processor are extensive. I know that if we ever have children I want to make their baby food. I also want to start making my all-natural hair products. So I need something heavy duty. These are the two I am considering

Both can be found at Bed Bath & Beyond.

The rest of my shopping list can be found here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

For the kitchen Part 2

Part 1 of this list can be found here.

Since I am trying to cook more and surprisingly the food has been really good, I am thinking of other things I want for the kitchen and my cooking escapades. I have been loving Amy's Organics. I love their pizza. It's organic, all natural, and has no GMOs. Oh yeah, and it is soooo yummy. But I have been thinking, I can make my own pizzas. Lots of people have been talking about pizza dough that you can get a Trader Joe's for like a dollar. Of course, there is not one near me. But I know one of my health stores I have been going to has to see something similar. I am not yet to the point of making my own dough from scratch, but I would like to get there. So, to make my own pizza i need a pizza stone. I like this one from Crate and Barrel.

Going to various sites would lead me to believe that if I have a pizza stone, I need a pizza peel board. Something to but the pizza on after it is done. Right now I have been using a plate, but I guess that is not the correct chef thing to do. So I guess I need something like this which can also be found at Crate and Barrel.

And on top of that I need a pizza cutter. But I guess I can get that anywhere.

So now to make pizza I need three new kitchen tools. This better be worth it. And by that, I mean the taste.

This list is getting longer and longer and I have not purchased anything. Guess it is time to go shopping.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What I want to buy...

for the kitchen. This is going to be my ever growing list. Hopefully I will cross things off and add things on as I start working in the kitchen more.

I am trying to cook more. I have found recipes that I want to try, but then I realize I do not have the appropriate tools in the kitchen. So I have been developing a list of things to buy. I am kinda excited about this.

On the top of my list are these Bamboo Utensils from Crate&Barrel.

These utensils are certified organic and bamboo is a sustainable resource, which is a huge plus for me. But because they are wood they also will not damage the nonstick surface on the pots I currently have (which are also on my list to replace).

I also want to buy a food processor. Damn, these things can be expensive. We ain't the Neely's over here. I mean the Hubs will probably never use the thing. I just want to be able to make some purees, chop some things without my eyes watering, and it will be quick. So I will keep searching. I do like these Kitchen Aid food processors from Bed, Bath, and Beyond. And they come in three colors to match your decor or spice it up.

A hand blender (or immersion blender for the fancy). This is great for soups and purees. Honestly, when i saw immersion blender in a recipe I had to Google it, so definitely I am not one of the fancy. But I see how this could be extremely useful in the kitchen. I like this one from Cuisinart and the price isn't too bad.

We also need some new knives. We received some when we first moved here, but I will admit we did not take very good care of them. They had wood handles and we threw them in the dishwasher, so now the ones we regularly use feel like we went outside and chopped down a tree for the handles. I think you could actually get a splinter if you are not careful. They are getting very dull too. To be cost effective, I just might get a knife sharpener because DAMN knives are expensive too. Can you believe they can cost over 1K? Really? For a non-chef? I wanna know what these people are cooking in their homes, because I definitely do not need that. I thought these were fairly reasonable. I know Henckels is a good brand and these aren't too crazy. And now that I look at this set I guess the set we have probably has a sharpener in it. Yeah that shows how much I am in the kitchen. I will make the ones we currently have work until I have some extra money laying around for something like this.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Getting back in the game

I have been slacking out working out for....well, since the beginning of the year. Yeah, I know, I know. I don't know what it is. I just cannot get motivated. I have been doing better since the weather has been nicer. And my plan is to actually go to the gym today. I have learned (well for me anyway) that it is a lot harder to re-start an exercise program than start from the beginning. I think this is because my expectations of myself are higher now. I know where I was and it is frustrating that I cannot just easily return to running and be where I was when i stopped. It is utterly frustrating. So I have to formulate a plan.

The planner portion of my brain (the whole thing because I am never spontaneous) needs a plan to get back into a routine. I am going to start the Couch to 5K (C25K) program again. So today when I go to the gym I am going to attempt week 4. I don't see the point of starting at the beginning because it is walking and I know I can do that for an extended period of time.

Last time I did the program I did it based on distance, this time I am going to to the time. By doing this I can easily run/jog/walk outside. It is harder to know your distance when you are outside. There are also programs for your ipod that chime over your music so you know when the the walk/run interval is up. I just think that is so cool.

So the plan is for 3x this week to:

Brisk five-minute warmup walk, then:
Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)
Walk 1/4 mile (or 2-1/2 minutes)
Jog 1/4 mile (or 3 minutes)
Walk 1/8 mile (or 90 seconds)
Jog 1/2 mile (or 5 minutes)

My run time is slower than the distance:time conversion, but my walk is faster. So, I should be able to accomplish this. Today, I am doing the treadmill though.

I also NEED to go buy a swimsuit. I am supposed to swim 300 hours in my 101 in 1001 and I have not done 1 second let alone an hour. So that is my next step.