A couple of posts ago, I reviewed my new favorite “energy bars” and warned informed y’all that I’d be attempting to recreate some of the flavors as soon as possible.IMG_2961 (1024x683)

But while the back of the bar ingredient info is helpful, a PhD student about to enter her second–already more intensive–year ain’t got time (or money) to acquire and assemble all of those ingredients.*

*Or to use correct English, apparently.IMG_2956 (1024x688)

[Not to mention I'm studying Health Education & Promotion, not chemistry, so successfully creating my own probiotic blend doesn't seem likely.]IMG_2951 (1024x683)

But I almond butter? Well I can make that from roasted, salted almonds in seconds minutes.IMG_2970 (1024x683)

As for dates, Costco-sized tubs linger for ages in the back of the fridge, don’t they?IMG_2976 (683x1024)

Green tea matcha powder might be a little bit harder to come by, but a worthy investment. [Or worthy of being reviewed and then forgotten about until now, anyway. :) ]IMG_2981 (1024x683)

Not much more to it than that, except my favorite Growing Naturals protein powder and a nice drizzle of honey.IMG_2999 (1024x683)

Just like that, an easy, less expensive recreation of the bars I fell in love lust with a few weeks ago.IMG_2987 (1024x683)

Perfect for bouncing into a brown bag (or lunch box) for back-to-school.recipereduxAUGUST

[OK, you might not want to actually BOUNCE them...]IMG_2985 (1024x684)

Green Tea & Honey Energy Balls

(Makes 10-12)

  1. Process dates in a food processor until crumbly.
  2. Add remaining ingredients until well mixed.
  3. Press and roll into balls (or bars).
  4. Store in the fridge.


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It’s been a week since I got back from the epic Maine & Massachusetts adventure…IMG_20140808_174655

…which, oddly enough turned out to include everything I imagined it would…IMG_20140807_150046 (1)

…and, as usual, was even more wonderful than expected.IMG_20140809_181641

I don’t know what to say about it except that there was a WHOLE lot of delicious food consumed—IMG_20140811_183413

—and a whole lot of delicious drinks (see the liquefied crystallized ginger in that glass below).IMG_20140811_201442

There were many roads traveled…IMG_20140808_174557

…and new “friends” made along the way.IMG_20140808_103148

I still love my family more than words can say (but the multiple times I almost cried on the way home might demonstrate)IMG_20140811_191043

—and the newest addition really IS the cutest baby in the world.IMG_20140809_124206

I’m certain I used to have greater stamina for more photos and more recaps…IMG_20140807_154645

…and much more detailed descriptions of food and drink…IMG_20140810_181835

But I guess I’m just going to let that be enough.

IMG_20140808_181202Maybe I’m getting tired in my old age?IMG_20140811_095220

 

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Next Stop: Summer Vacation

by Sarah on August 6, 2014 · 4 comments

Travel snacks are being packed.IMG_20140804_144245

An absurd amount of time has been spent on making summer playlists for the rental car drives.playlist

And I’m off to check one more star off of the U.S. Flag…greetings-from-maine-postcard

…(hopefully) fulfill a foodie dream of eating a lobster roll in a shack on a beach…Foodnut.com

…see some of my favorite people in the world…IMG_20130823_190315_846 (1024x576)

…and make sure my adorable baby niece receives her first pair of cowboy boots.IMG_20140803_154715

I’ll also come back a year older.SpeedLimitSign_30MPH_NYC_DNAinfo.com_011112-e1326390764709

To summarize in emojis (thanks to The Professor):vacationemojis2

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EFFI Foods? EFFI(n’) Good. [Review]

by Sarah on August 5, 2014 · 4 comments

This might be the easiest review I ever write. I can honestly say I’ve never received a product to sample that disappeared as quickly as these EFFI (Eco Friendly Foods Initiative) bars.

Nor have I ever so genuinely wanted more.IMG_2687 (1024x683)

During my lecture on Exercise for Fitness & Health this summer, I tried to touch on some current trends and tangentially related topics to physical fitness and training. One of those issues was the perception of nutrition bars and their many monikers: protein bars, meal bars, meal replacements, snack bars, candy.*

*Actual slide from my lecture.proteinbars_candy

We talk about if they are really necessary for most people, and, taking images and ideas from this blog post as inspiration, discuss what is actually in most of them. The moral of the story being that, in general, there are a lot of ways to get protein, and not all of them involve manufactured sources or added sugars.grams-protein2

But we also talk about the need, on occasion, for a quick snack, or something to sustain you when your next meal isn’t quite within your grasp, especially if your busy schedule mandates you hit the gym with no time to go home and prepare yourself a turkey sandwich or way to keep a tub of Greek yogurt cold.IMG_20140730_122820

And EFFI Foods has solved that problem.Screen-Shot-2014-07-29-at-9.58.25-AM

With a socially conscious mission, and a global reach, you feel somehow like you are doing your part to not only keep your hunger at bay, but perhaps pull a little Captain Planet action at the same time.Capture

And yes, there are added ingredients my grandma wouldn’t know a thing about, but I personally HAVE heard of spirulina :) , and I also don’t mind getting probiotics in a bar, as I already take a pill with them anyway. (Also, at the risk of a TMI moment, I think the probiotic blend works…)IMG_20140804_174243

They’re also certified by every eco-friendly food-related organization I’ve ever heard of–and many I haven’t.effi_foods_certifications

Lower in sugar than many others (and all of it natural), enough fiber and protein to sustain you through a swim or just a busy day of errands, and honestly, so good I’ve saved the wrappers to see if I can somehow recreate the flavors in a bar or ball of my own…IMG_20140801_134717

…EFFI Foods? EFFIN’ GOOD.

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Aside from the fact that I served my friend Emily a pile of Jason’s Deli bean salad mixed with tofu and tomatoes, topped with cold, leftover, White Bean & Sun Dried Tomato Pasta, when she came over for dinner the other night….IMG_2854 (1024x683)

I actually think I’m getting pretty good at this hostessing thing.IMG_20140802_200619

Although every time people are coming over, I stress and worry that the ratio of side dishes to meat won’t be adequate and that there won’t be enough food or too many desserts* I’m slowly learning that sticking to a few ‘tried and trues’ and letting everything else fall as it may might actually work out most of the time.

*I know, impossible, right?IMG_2908 (1024x683)

So, when The Professor and I decided to have the new members of his department over for a cookout, I first freaked out about the wording of the invitation, the potential of having only four bags of chips and twelve-packs of beer as contributions, and how much work I was going to have to do to prepare.IMG_20140803_124224 (675x675)

But then I pushed pause, took a breath, and looked to the binder of tried-and-true recipes I’ve collected from family and friends over the years.

And of course, that was the biggest hit of the dinner.*

*Except for the pork loin and local sausage The Professor smoked on the grill. With this crowd, I couldn’t compete.IMG_2943 (1024x683)

Everyone has some version of “the Asian salad“–so called, I’m sure, simply for the use of ramen noodles as a topping. My Aunt Elizabeth’s version–which I’ve recreated before–has nothing really “Asian” about it at all except for those little crunchers (which will get soft if you prep the salad too early, but I like it anyway).*

*I did add a smidge of soy sauce and sesame oil, but not enough to truly make a difference.IMG_2926 (1024x683)

So I don’t know what to call it, except for the “I Don’t Even Like Salad!” Salad, because that’s a paraphrase of most of the comments I’ve received every time I’ve ever made it.

And, just like I’ll probably STILL stress before the next cookout, I’ll also be making this again.IMG_2936 (1024x684)

The “I Don’t Even Like Salad!” Salad

(Serves 8)

  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded (about 6 cups or so)
  • 10 oz. baby spinach, torn
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced (whites and light green parts)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 package ramen noodles, seasoning packet discarded
  • 3 Tbsp. sesame seeds (optional)

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 2-3 Tbsp. water
  • 6-8 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. seasoned salt
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. light soy sauce
  • just a drop (!) of toasted sesame oil
  1. Layer spinach, cabbage, onions, almonds,and  noodles in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk–or shake–together all dressing ingredients.
  3. Just before serving, toss salad with dressing and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  4. Let the compliments come in.IMG_2940 (1024x683)
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Tuesday night, I looked over and realized that The Professor was not, in fact, returning family and work e-mails, but was instead blogging.

Oh how times have changed.

But, it IS about time to catch up on the OXO What a Grill Wants campaign, isn’t it?IMG_2776 (1024x683)

So without further ado: heeere’s Johnny The Professor!heresprofessor

————————

Chapter 4: Silicone Basting BrushIMG_1228 - Copy (1024x683)

In my last column, I extolled the virtues of OXO’s awesome 16- inch grill tongs, which handled various meats, fishes, and vegetables with ease.  Well, they’re back, with their new friend the OXO Silicone Basting Brush!IMG_2768 (1024x683)

This past Sunday, as Ms. Smart and I sought to make room in the freezer, we decided it was time to cook up that slab of ribs from <Redacted> Farms.
image
I could tell you where these tasty pigs are raised, but then I’d have to kill you. 
 
This was a nice rack, and for that, I used a mix of Salt Lick dry rub (one of the few things that is cheaper at Whole Foods than a normal grocery store), and an apple-flavored dry rub I found in desperation while on vacation in Whistler, BC a couple years back.  The latter is an excellent complement to most anything pork, and I like to use it on roasted pork loin too.IMG_2755 (1024x682)
I let the rubs sit for about two hours before starting the fire, and then used the basting brush to give the ribs a nice coat of olive oil all over. Ribs take time, and the oil helps keep them from drying out while on the smoker.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so my thoughts on the brush can be seen below.
Insert photo of sexy rib basting action here :) *
*Editor’s Note: OK!IMG_2762 (1024x682)
 Aside from keeping your ribs moist, the other key is to leave them alone. Focus on keeping a good fire (I used lump charcoal and oak logs), and back off the ribs.
unnamed
If you’re lookin’, you ain’t cookin’. -A very wise pitmaster. (amazingribs.com)
There were also a couple sweet potatoes to roast, and just as before, the tongs did not disappoint.  They handled everything with ease.  The result: pure awesomeness.IMG_2774 (1024x683)
Sexy cooked ribs and pretty plated food shots here. *

IMG_2781 (1024x684)

*Editor’s Note: On it.IMG_2786 (1024x683)
 Stay tuned for the last two installments on the OXO What a Grill Wants Series:
The Meat Tenderizer: Pounding Food into Deliciousness
The Lost Grill Tool: Where’s My Burger Spatula? 
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Quick Confetti Couscous

by Sarah on July 29, 2014 · 2 comments

Combining kitchens is never easy, even if one of the kitchens belongs to a bachelor with one set of good knives and lots of empty cabinets and the other belongs to a food hoarder with an excess of culinary gadgets and specific pans that can only be used to make one thing.

Plenty of space isn’t usually the problem–ideas about organization, kitchen flow, and pantry staples probably are.IMG_2818 (800x532)

It doesn’t help that refusing to throw out food, even when moving, results in lots of odds and ends that need to quickly be consumed to make room for the ‘new.’IMG_2836 (1024x633)

Like a half full container of couscous.IMG_2811

Thus, out of (pantry space) desperation and (farmer’s market surplus inspired) creativity, a side dish was born.IMG_2829 (1024x682)

Sadly, however, an error in measurement means there is now an even MORE awkward amount of couscous left in the container. (Naturally.)IMG_2828 (800x533)

Quick Confetti Couscous

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • 1  (yellow/orange/red) bell pepper, diced (about 2/3 cup)
  • 1 cup chopped (red/yellow) tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • s + p
  1. Bring water to a boil in a small sauce pan.
  2. Add couscous, bell pepper, and seasonings to the pan.
  3. Reduce heat, cover, and cook 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Allow couscous to cool slightly, then stir in tomatoes and basil.
  5. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. Serve warm or cold.IMG_2821 (800x533)
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After spending much of the past two weeks eating the same ‘single lady’  dinner I admittedly love involving many things thrown in a bowl and covered in either ketchup or hummus (or both), I have made it my goal to become a better meal planner (like Stepmama Smart) and to actually cook some of the hundreds of recipes I rip out of magazines or bookmark online (like Emily) for a future time that never comes.IMG_2746 (800x533)

Good thing that the best meals DO still sometimes come without plan or recipe, though.

(And instead from the “What did I overbuy at the farmer’s market?” question that often plagues produce-impassioned souls.)IMG_2732 (533x800)

We’ll see how long this goal lasts once I actually face the reality of a full load of teaching, class, and research come August 20th, but at least I know I’ve got my natural culinary instincts to fall back on. :) IMG_2742 (800x533)

 Peach & Pepper Sausage Hash with Kale & Eggs

(Serves 4, but easily adjusts)

  • 4 small (or 2 large) ripe fresh peaches, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely diced (optional)
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 4 vegetarian sausage patties (if frozen, slightly thawed)
  • 3 cups baby kale (or spinach)
  • s + p
  • 4 eggs
  1. In a medium frying pan, saute or steam onion, pepper, and garlic until softened.
  2. Add sausage and cook until done (or heated through).
  3. Stir peaches into the pan and cook until warm and beginning to break apart. (This will depend on ripeness.)
  4. Wilt in kale.
  5. Season to taste.
  6. Scoop hash onto serving plates and in a separate pan (or the same pan, quickly rinsed), cook eggs sunny-side up (prettiest) or fried (safest from salmonella).
  7. Top each pile of hash with an egg and devour.

 

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Banana Date Peanut Butter

by Sarah on July 23, 2014 · 1 comment

It’s a shame I don’t really measure anything very often anymore, mostly because it means y’all can’t recreate things like THIS at home.IMG_2692 (800x533)

Because if I tried to explain how to make Banana Date Peanut Butter exactly how  I did, it would go something like this:

Put a handful or two–maybe 7 to 10 of them? if they aren’t sticking together?pitted dates in the food processor and process until they are chopped up but NOT so much that they are starting to form power balls. Then take all those pieces out and you know, maybe eat a few. Then put a handful or two of banana chipsI used unsweetened–into the food processor with maybe half a 10-oz container of unsalted roasted peanuts. (I think that’s like 1 1/4 cup of peanuts, maybe more. Eyeball it.) Process that until its creamy–but without salt or sugar NOT super delicious–peanut butter. Then add a wee bit of salt, and a a few shakes of turbinado sugar (the more the merrier really on that one) and just a drizzle of molasses. (Just a drizzle or you’ll change the consistency of the nut butter.) Got cinnamon? Go for it. Process that all up. Taste to make sure you like it. Once you add dates, you can’t go back! Scoop in those date pieces and pulse JUST until incorporated. There is a fine line here between nut butter and Larabars. Eat.IMG_2706 (800x533)

So, I mean…go ahead….try this at home.IMG_2696 (800x532)

But if you don’t like it, you can’t blame the “recipe.” :)

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Michelada Baked Rice [Recipe Redux]

by Sarah on July 21, 2014 · 4 comments

It probably had something to do with my newly rediscovered (not that it had been that long) love affair with Bloody Marys.*

*Specifically those made at The Avenue Pub here in TuscaloosaIMG_20140712_192312_530 (800x799)

But when I saw this month’s theme I was suddenly struck with the memory of Micheladas–the lime-infused cousin of the Bloody Mary…made with beer.reciperedux_spirits_july

And as I happened to have one random beer I was never going to drink in the fridge…IMG_2454 (535x800)

…well, it seemed logical to bake rice in it.IMG_2483 (800x533)

Obviously.IMG_2493 (800x533)

I referenced a few recipes, but then pretty much decided just to wing it.IMG_2498 (800x533)

Considering I don’t have a strong taste for beer, the fact that I could not consume this fast enough will tell you something about how subtly it amplifies the flavor of the rice…IMG_2511 (800x533)

…so much so that I even used the little bit I had left over not to drink, but to cook more rice and dried carrot chips (diluted with water, in the traditional way).

IMG_2680 (800x533)

Just because you can’t drink a whole pint doesn’t mean your rice can’t knock ‘em back.

IMG_2527 (800x533)

Michelada Baked Rice

(Serves 4-6)

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice
  • 1 (8 0z.) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 8 oz. beer
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3-4 Tbsp. lime juice, divided
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp. soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. dried coriander
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a saucepan, bring beer, water, 2 Tbsp. lime juice, Worcestershire, and soy sauce to a boil.
  3. While beer mixture is heating, combine rice, tomato sauce, remaining lime juice, and seasonings in a casserole dish.
  4. Pour boiling beer mixture over rice mixture, stirring well.
  5. Bake, covered, for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove cover and continue to bake for 15-20 minutes.

———————-


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