Tuesday, April 22, 2008

"Fast Food"

I'm playing around with the old digital camera again, but still seem to take crappy pictures. I know a lot of it is the lighting in the kitchen and for some reason my hands shake when I take the picture. Oh well.

Tonight's dinner came together pretty easily, which was good since I was tired from running errands after work.

I'd bought some Trader Joe's Boolkogi a few weeks back and decided a couple days ago that it was time to pull it out of the freezer. It's basically Korean-style marinated sliced beef. I just grilled up on on our grill pan (leaving the mess for the hubby to clean up!) and it took less than 10 minutes. I had one of those bags of ready to steam broccoli from the produce department, so that got nuked for 4 minutes while the beef cooked. Then I had those handy pre-portioned brown rice cups I've been finding at Kroger on and off. A minute later in the microwave and dinner was ready! Healthy, delicious, and fast -- my kind of weeknight dinner.

And of course I packed leftovers in a bento for lunch tomorrow. This is one of the last boxes I bought way back in January, can't remember if I'd used it yet. It's pretty small, but if packed right should keep me full for a few hours.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Recipe Review: Shrimp and Orzo with Cherry Tomatoes and Romano Cheese

Disclaimer: I was experimenting with our old digital camera today, please forgive me for the ugly picture.

I love the combo of pasta, shrimp, and garlic, if previous posts haven't been obvious enough. I've had this recipe from Cooking Light saved in my recipe file for what seems like forever and finally decided it was time to try it out. It seemed yummy enough, calling for orzo, shrimp, and garlic among other ingredients. I'd never made orzo before but happened to have some in my pantry (funny how that worked out!), evidence of past shopping expeditions.

As usual, I tweaked it to fit what I had in the fridge and to my tastes. I subbed Campari tomatoes for cherry tomatoes (they were getting wrinkly), shaved Parmesan for the Romano, and added baby spinach to the mix.

Shrimp and Orzo with Cherry Tomatoes and Romano Cheese

Adapted from Cooking Light


1 cup uncooked orzo
1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used frozen)
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp. minced garlic
crushed red pepper to taste
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 cup baby spinach
1/3 cup shaved Romano or Parmesan
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil

Cook the pasta in boiling water, then drain and let sit.

While the pasta is cooking, heat up 1 tbsp. of the olive oil and saute shrimp, adding salt and black pepper. Remove from pan when pink. Add remaining oil, then add onions, cooking until they start to turn golden. Add garlic and crushed red pepper, cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes and spinach and cook until spinach begins to wilt. Now add the pasta and shrimp back in, mixing to combine thoroughly. Add more salt and pepper to taste, then add cheese and basil.

Serves 4.

Verdict: Ehhhhh. I think I need to make it again to give it a fair shot. I'm not a big fan of cooked fresh tomato, so might need to tweak that. Less onion or even omitting the onion might be something else to consider. Using fresh shrimp instead of frozen would be an improvement. Oh and not forgetting the basil would be good too -- I thought it was missing a little something.

The original recipe says that leftovers taste good as a cold pasta salad. Hope so, because that's getting packed into my bento for tomorrow's lunch!


The leftovers tasted MUCH better cold at lunch, so maybe this would be better off as a pasta salad rather than a warm entree.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Recipe Review: Sesame Brown Rice Salad with Chicken

It feels great to be blogging again! For those of you who aren't aware, I'm a CPA, so from January to mid-April I'm pretty busy with taxes and thus have little to no free time. This also means I rarely cook and I sure as hell don't have the energy or brain-power to write fun stuff.

But that is all past us now.

With the end of tax season also comes a renewal of effort to lose weight and get in shape. I usually pack on about 5 lb. each tax season from stress-eating, minimal exercise, and eating tons o' crap. This year was the first time in 5 years that I didn't gain any weight! Yay!

Anyway, so now that I have free time to cook and blog again hopefully you'll notice a healthier trend to my recipes and bentos.

So starting us back off on the path to good, healthy eats I decided to try out a recipe I swiped from the Weight Watchers message boards. This recipe was originally adapted from Cooking Light but I tweaked it even more for my tastes.

Sesame Brown Rice Salad with Chicken

2 cups cooked brown rice, cooled
2 cups shredded chicken breast
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup broccoli slaw
3 stalks green onion, chopped
4 tsp. canola oil
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sambal oelek (garlic chili paste)

Toss the rice, chicken, and veggies in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine rest of ingredients and whisk thoroughly. Drizzle over rice salad and toss to mix. Makes 4 servings.

Note: I cooked the brown rice in chicken broth for flavor. I browned the chicken breasts in cooking spray, added salt, pepper, and Emeril's Asian Essence for flavor, and then poached the chicken in water.

Verdict: thumbs-up from the hubby and me. This will definitely go into recipe rotation.