A little (healthy) dessert

Tonight is the last night before our summer is officially over and we have to report to school…so you’re getting 2 posts 🙂

Before my 4-week cleanse with Rooted Wellbeing, I loved having baked goods around. In my humble opinion, Ghirardelli brownies are the best box of brownies you can make. On average, I used to make them every other week. Even though we have incorporated a lot of foods back into our diet, we have tried to be even more conscious of what we eat. Sugar is one of the things I have tried my hardest NOT to go back to because I know how addicting it is. Needless to say, I have been missing baked good and CHOCOLATE! Lucky for me cookie dough balls have been a huge hit lately on the blogs I read. I decided to try this one because there is no sugar (pure maple syrup is used instead). I also used fresh ground organic peanut butter from Earth Fare (love this store) and Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips (60%). I whipped these up super fast and then put half in the fridge and half in the freezer. These are the perfect little snack anytime you are craving something chocolatey! And Jeff liked them as much as I did 🙂

Hurry! Go make them before you have to go back to school tomorrow! 😉

Epic Fail & A Success

We now only have 1 day of ‘freedom’ left! Jeff has been busy getting ready for 600+ students and teachers to receive and effectively use iPads in the next 2 weeks while I’ve been…shopping 🙂 I bought 4 pairs of shoes in 3 days. I think this means it’s about time to go back to school so I can’t be tempted!
As we’ve been exploring more with recipes from other blogs and tryin
g to be more conscious of what we eat (i LOVED my 4-week cleanse with Katie at Rooted Wellbeing), we’ve consumed quite a few amazing meals in the past week. Tonight, I’m sharing on of those meals along with a failed meal. Good news or bad news first? How about bad…
We were really excited when I found this Gazpacho recipe! I have been reading Jenna‘s blog for a couple months now and featured one of her meals last week. She has recently started blogging for the PBS Fresh Tastes Blog. We had almost everything in the fridge for this recipe and it has been HOT lately so we thought it would be perfect! Not so much 😦 The first bite was quite tasty, but the more we ate the stronger and more overpowering the red onion became. We put our soup back in the blender and added more lemon juice, V8 and anything else we could think of. Unfortunately, the leftover soup is still in our fridge until I’m brave enough to try it again. Jeff already had an aversion to red onion and this may just have sent him over the edge! So if you like red onion (lots!) or if you play around with the proportions, this could still be a good one for those hot summer nights. It’s pretty and tastes very fresh!

We definitely didn’t lose our faith and tried another of Jenna’s recipes. This time we were not disappointed! I love when I come across a new recipe in my reading and realize we have almost everything for it. This one was no different and we highly recommend this quesadilla for all occasions! We made a few small changes – fresh sauteed peppers and onions with spinach. Next time, I would add more chili powder…I like it spicy! But I think the pictures speak for themselves…


we love summer!

Can you believe it’s almost August? We can’t! We left on June 8th for the mid-west. 5,145 miles, 8 states and 6.5 weeks later, we arrived back in SC on Sunday. We got to see tons of friends/family and participate in numerous memorable activities. Pictures will be on facebook sometime before we go back to school (August 8th :(.

Although we didn’t do lots of cooking (did you see the dinner party we cooked for?), I did discover the world of health/food blogs and the genius of Google Reader. I never knew there were so many blogs out there! While it has been fun perusing recipes, it has also made me realize I’m not (and probably never will be) a good/dedicated blogger. I don’t have the motivation to post everyday or even every week! Two things have helped me not become too depressed: 1– We are NOT professional bloggers and may even be considered workaholics from August to June & 2 – Our blog is called cooking in LAYMAN’s terms. We didn’t go to culinary school, we aren’t professional photographers and we don’t make our own recipes. But unlike many people we know, we cook 5+ nights a week (and enjoy it!) and we like to be pretty healthy.

Here are a couple recipes we’ve borrowed this week from blogs I’ve started following:

I was so excited about this recipe when I came across it! We just happened to have both basil and cherry tomatoes growing on our porch (Jeff should probably do a garden update ;)! We added some gnocchi & goat cheese and made a simple spinach salad and voila! I don’t think I’ve ever had gnocchi before, but I liked it! I KNOW I came across a homemade gnocchi recipe, but now I can’t find it anywhere 😦 If you have the time, that’s another possibility for this recipe. If not, this is a super quick & simple meal. (sorry the quality of the photo isn’t great…we used Jeff’s iPad 2 from his new job as Instructional Technology Specialist at Muller Road Middle School 🙂

Adult Grilled Cheese by Caroline
Since we love caprese salads AND grilled cheese so much, we knew as soon as we saw this that we had to have it! After our gnocchi, we didn’t have enough fresh basil for the pesto but luckily we happened to have a jar in the fridge. We stopped at the farmers’ market (so good to be back!) on Tuesday for a beefsteak tomato and then picked out a not too processed bread at Kroger. We ate these for dinner Tuesday night, Jeff ate one for lunch yesterday, and we made small ones for a midnight snack last night (our dinner didn’t go as planned – more on that next time). Needless to say we thoroughly enjoyed them (although I’m sure they would be better with fresh pesto)! After all of these prepared & consumed sandwiches, I realized today when I sat down to write this post that we didn’t have a picture! So…I made another one for lunch today 😉

Hopefully all the blogs I’ve been reading will help us get motivated to blog more often. School starts soon though, so no promises!

We’re cooking dinner in Holland!

Last night we had the priviledge of cooking for Jeff’s mom’s group of physicians while they were having a meeting. We decided to demonstrate how you can eat really healthy (thanks to Katie and Rooted Wellbeing) AND cheap! We made the following meal for 8 people, had lots of leftovers and only spent about $9 per person!

**If you can’t see the menu below, you can click here.You need flash to see it!

An Attempt at Gardening

We live in a 3rd floor apartment that only gets sun in the late afternoon/early evening. We have a cat that enjoys eating plants. We have limited amounts of time. We are going to Michigan for the summer. These are all fantastic reasons NOT to start a balcony garden. So that’s what we did.

Here are pictures after two weeks. We’ve got 3 containers of cherry tomatoes, 1 baby basil that doesn’t want to grow, 1 milk jug of oregano that does, 1 container of mint that threatens to become carnivorous and take over everything within reach, 1 milk jug of flat-leaf parsley, 2 2-liters of cilantro that finally started to sprout and 2 open 2-liters that I haven’t planted anything in yet (suggestions?). We’ll see how this goes!

Our CSA!

Our Spring Community Supported Agriculture share with City Roots started today! We are really excited to start cooking with even MORE local food. For our first CSA dinner (and my birthday dinner) we had salad with Rouge d’Iver lettuce and zesty microgreens 🙂 We already have plans for our arugula and beet greens, but you’ll have to come back to find out!

From nothing…to local!

WOW! We have been horrible at keeping our new year’s resolution to blog weekly! It appears that we aren’t motivated to do school work or blog 😦 We have, however, still been cooking! Most of these we can’t find the recipes for or we didn’t use recipes, but they are pretty simple but really tasty!

Steak & Bell Pepper Nachos
Mushroom & Ground Chicken Sauce over Grits

Pork Tenderloin with Avocado, Black Bean & Cilantro Salad
Spinach & Shrimp Pasta
Thai Curry Veggie & Tofu Soup

Asparagus & Chicken Stir-fry over Ramen Noodles

Some really fun things have also been happening around here. My Aunt Annie is trying to start a food business and we’re trying to help her on the internet/marketing end of it. She would cook meals for families and then freeze them. She is going to use local produce and wants to target busy families who care about their nutrition. We’ll let you know once we get it up and running!

Also, I (lissa) am starting a 7-day cleanse next weekend with Katie at Rooted Wellbeing. My mom is also going to be doing it with me and I can’t wait to get started! I’m sure it will influence how Jeff and I cook from now on.

Lastly, our CSA with City Roots starts this Wednesday! We’re really excited to start incorporating anything we get in our weekly boxes into our meals. It will be really fun to cook with whatever we happen to get. Maybe that will motivate us to start posting weekly! We’ll see how it goes 🙂

Cookin’ it old school.

Every once in a while Lissa and I “scrounge” for dinner. That is to say, we use the leftover ingredients of previous meals to make new ones. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes we make food that far exceeds our expectations. This was one of those times.

We started by cutting up a few chicken breasts and sauteing them in sesame oil. Then we cut up what veggies we had in the fridge (cucumber, red & green pepper) and put them over some romaine we had laying around. We topped the greens with unflavored Ramen, some wonton strips, the aforementioned chicken and then balsamic vinaigrette and sesame seeds. It was awesome. Next time you find yourself having those exact ingredients, I highly recommend it.

Roasted Vegetable Risotto

So it’s been 2 weeks..but that’s better than 2 months!

We tried this because of the allure of a “one pot” label. Warning: This recipe takes a few pots than 1.

This was our first risotto and we definitely learned our lesson that risottos are time-consuming and relatively difficult to make. If you are willing to put the effort into this recipe, it has a great taste! We added bacon but you could add about anything you have in your fridge.

Men’s Health
1 cup 1/2″ cubes peeled, seeded butternut squash
1 cup diced cremini mushrooms
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
4 garlic cloves (2 crushed, 2 minced)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 Tbsp butter
1 white onion, finely chopped
2 cups arborio rice (a short-grain variety)
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

How to make it:
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, toss the squash, mushrooms, tomatoes, and crushed garlic with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bake until golden, 5 to 10 minutes.

2 In a large saucepan, bring the broth to a simmer. Meanwhile, in a 4-to 6-quart pot, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the butter on medium. Add the onion and minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until the onion softens, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the rice and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

3 Add a ladleful of broth to the rice and stir with a wooden spoon until absorbed. Add more broth, a ladleful at a time, making sure it’s absorbed before adding the next ladleful. Cook the risotto until the rice is al dente, about 15 minutes.

4 Remove from the heat, stir in the vegetables, Parmesan, and basil. Adjust the seasoning and top with more Parmesan.

Wow, it’s been a while.

So… maybe once school starts our lives become not our own. This would help explain our severe lack of posts. Teaching, coaching and other basic duties and chores leech our life away like the little time-sucking vampires they are.

That being said, we’ve come up with a belated new-years resolution as it pertains to cooking and blogging;

1. Use all of our various cooking apparatuses at least once a month and

2. blog at least once a week.

Time will tell how well we stick by our resolution, or how quickly we let it fall by the wayside as most resolutions tend to go.