Marinade

Books, Cheese Tasting and Yoga Weekend

You guys, I think I’m finally enjoying yoga. I really like going on Friday nights after work. It’s a good transition from the stressful work week to the weekend. I went again this past Friday and left the class feeling relaxed, stretched out, mellow and happy. I usually set my mat up next to the window so that I can see the sky and trees while I do yoga.

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After yoga I went home for a comfort food dinner of soup and a sandwich then Michael and I got massages. It had been months since the last one (I think January) and it was time. I think my body needed it. My therapist went pretty deep on my trouble spots. I was very very sore the next day in my shoulders. But for once, it wasn’t my hamstrings that were screaming–guess not biking, running or doing the elliptical for awhile has given them a break.

Saturday morning I worked out–the last day of Week 5 of Suzanne’s plan. Starting the final week now! I felt strong and GOOD. Glad I stuck with it. I’m excited to measure and weigh in this week.

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Saturday afternoon we had our friends Mike and Susanna over for dinner. They are the friends we went to Hawaii with. They brought their 5 year old and the new baby! Well, the baby is about 3 months now. He’s a cutie. He’s starting to make some noises and interacting with people. He has an adorable little baby smile. Don’t you just love the way babies smell and sound? The little squeaks and chirps. Adorable!

Michael made fajitas and used a spectacular recipe (Alton Brown’s). I didn’t take any pictures of the final product because I was too busy putting everything together and it’s surprisingly hard to get much done with a 5 year old in the middle of everything. ­čśë

Grilled Skirt Steak Fajitas

From: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2008/05/fajitas-1.html

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 4 scallions, washed and cut in half
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons dark-brown sugar or Mexican brown sugar
  • 2 pounds inside skirt steak, cut into 3 equal pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 2 green bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 large white onion, cut into strips
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Sour cream
  • Fajita-size flour tortillas

Instructions

  1. Place all marinade ingredients in a blender and puree. Put pieces of skirt steak in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade all over. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible and allow the steak to marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator.
  2. Heat 1 chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and start grilling the steak immediately, while the fire is at its hottest. Grill on each side 3-5 minutes. Remove the steak from the grill and wrap in tin foil and allow to rest 10-15 mins.
  3. While the steak is resting, toss the peppers and onion with some olive oil and a pinch of salt. Place a cast iron skillet directly on the hot coals in the grill, and when heated, add in the peppers and onions. Continue to cook until they are soft and nicely browned.
  4. Heat the tortillas on the grill or in the oven until soft. Assemble fajitas with the vegetables, steak, and a bit of sour cream.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=38064

This recipe is by far the best we’ve had so far. The marinade was amazing! It was smokey and sweet and there was a hint of coffee. Maybe that was from the gluten free soy sauce we used? No clue! This will definitely be the recipe we use in the future!

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The recipe called for red pepper flakes but Michael left those out (because of the 5 year old–probably a good idea) and I bought flat iron steak. It was a great cut of meat and much more tender than flank steak.

On Sunday I had to take Maya and Fat Kitty to the vet for the day. It was time for their annual check up and they were getting their teeth cleaned. It’s included in the wellness plan I signed them both up for (so glad I did! It saves a lot of money on vet costs.). The cats were NOT HAPPY. Maya, as usual, was terrified but Michael and I managed to wrangle her up pretty easily.

Fat Kitty, on the other hand, was the angriest I’ve ever seen him. He was growling like a jaguar, hissing and spitting and biting. He was MAD. He doesn’t like going to the vet but I’ve never seen him this angry before. I dropped them off before going to the pool for a swim. Michael picked them up later that afternoon. Fat Kitty was like a demon-possessed creature. It was really scary and upsetting. ­čÖü My poor babies!!!

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Sunday was also my book club meeting. My friends came over to discuss this month’s books, “American Elsewhere.” I don’t want to give too much away about the book but it was good. Several of us thought of Stephen King as we read it. There was a little Stepford Wives-vibe to it as well.┬áMy friend Star brought some fruit and I had a cheese tasting!

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I bought a few different kinds of cheeses from Trader Joe’s. They have an excellent cheese selection and it’s often more affordable than Whole Foods. I served the cheese with some Wasa crackers (light rye crackers) and it went perfectly with the strong flavored cheeses I got.

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The Basque Shepherd’s cheese was different than I expected it to be. It wasn’t creamy like I imagined, it was a harder cheese and very strong in flavor. It’s pure sheep’s milk made in France. It had a nutty flavor to it. The cave-aged blue cheese was just as strong as you’d expect. I didn’t serve a lot of it because blue cheese can be so overpowering.

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Oddly enough, the blue cheese was not the one that was the most powerful cheese. The most powerful was the English Cheddar with┬ácaramelized┬áonions. I almost didn’t buy it. It seemed odd and I tend to get more “normal” cheese (i.e. nothing added to them, just pure cheese). I am so glad I bought it because it was AMAZING and a total hit of the party. It was pretty much gone by the end.

The cheddar with caramelized onions had a very strong sweet onion aroma and flavor. It was smokey and sweet at the same time. The cheese wasn’t creamy but you could smash it down on a cracker and make it creamy. The flavors were outstanding. Why haven’t I ever had this cheese before?!?! It might be my new favorite (sorry smoked Gouda). The cheddar was such the favorite that no one touched the chevre (goat cheese) that I thought would be the group favorite. I love goat cheese–the creamy milkiness is so┬ádecadent–but it didn’t stand up next to the sweet cheddar. Seriously, try this cheese!

QUESTION: Do you incorporate stretching exercises/yoga/pilates into your weekly routine?

Pork Chops with Ginger-Soy Glaze

Me and ginger have never really gotten along. My first experience with sushi was when an ex-boyfriend told me to open my mouth wide and he shoved a huge hunk of raw ginger in my mouth. I wanted to throw up. It turned me off to sushi and ginger for years. It wasn’t until I met Michael and gave sushi another chance that I got over it. But ginger? Still not a huge fan. When I eat sushi, I rarely eat it with ginger or wasabi.

Well, I wanted to give it another try. I like gingersnap or gingerbread cookies. I’m way older now, right? Maybe my palate has changed. That’s the reason why I chose this recipe.

Pork Chops with Ginger-Soy Glaze

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 cup low salt chicken broth (canned)
  • 2 tbsps dry white wine
  • 2 tbsps soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsps fresh ginger (minced)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • loin chops (4 3/4 inch thick boneless pork)
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 green onions (chopped)

Instructions

  1. Combine chicken broth, wine, soy sauce, sugar, ginger and garlic in shallow glass dish; whisk to blend. Add pork and turn to coat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes and up to 3 hours.
  2. Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Drain pork and reserve marinade. Add pork to skillet and saut├ę until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer pork to platter. Add marinade and green onions to same skillet. Boil until reduced to glaze, about 1 minute. Spoon glaze over pork.

Notes

From: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Pork-Chops-with-Ginger-Soy-Glaze-5735

http://www.110pounds.com/?p=29222

I made the most common mistake I usually make with recipes: I skim the ingredients and don’t read the instructions until I’m ready to start. We tried to make this recipe a few days ago but I realized this marinade had to sit for 30 minutes to 3 hours! It was too late to start a marinade so I held onto the recipe for a few days letter and tried it again.

The preparation for this recipe was quick and easy. I halved the recipe since it was just the two of us. I substituted the Splenda/Sugar Blend instead of straight sugar, too. I had a jar of minced ginger that I used for the recipe, too.

For the broth, I used a homemade chicken and vegetable broth that was given to use by friends (thanks Alazar and Bob!). They made the stock from scratch–something I’ve never tried but want to! It was thicker than I was used to but smelled wonderful. I added just a splash of water to it to thin it out and then mixed in the rest of the ingredients.

The pork chop was a really nice cut. I used a small, shallow glass bowl with a lid and poured the marinade over it. The marinade smelled wonderful! I was really excited about the recipe, and hopeful. I let the marinade do it’s stuff for about 2.5 hours.

For the side dishes, we made steamed broccoli and also baked one acorn squash to split. I just cut the squash in half and baked it in the oven in a dish of water and seasoned the cooked squash with butter, salt and pepper.

While the squash cooked, Michael started the pork chop. He cooked it in the skillet and then removed it and wrapped it in foil while he reduced the fluid.

I scraped out the squash from the skin and then steamed some broccoli to go with dinner. The pork chop we were splitting was a tad on the small size, but the veggies and squash would be filling enough.

We poured the glaze over the pork. It was thick and shiny and smelled absolutely wonderful!

I loved the flavor of the glaze. Michael could really taste the ginger, but I didn’t taste very much. I tasted mostly the soy sauce–which I love. So shying away from recipes that call for ginger were unnecessary. Apparently my palate doesn’t mind the ginger.

I liked the dinner a lot and I would definitely make it again. I think this recipe is a good one for dinner guests. It seems like it might be difficult to make, but it was really easy. Easy to impress! This recipe is a keeper.

For dessert I made us vanilla pudding and added freshly sliced strawberries to my pudding. It was a really good dessert for half the calories of an ice cream dessert and I love strawberries. I liked the pudding as a sweet treat but I think I’d gotten sugar free by mistake or something because it tasted a little “chemically” to me. Oh well. It was a nice treat.

QUESTION: What is a food that you despised for a long time but gave it a second chance? Did your palate change?