Sunday, February 23, 2014

Artichoke Chicken

So I am currently on a 24 day diet challenge. I want to eat every piece of chocolate I come near. I took v-day as a cheat day though, because I don't hate myself that much. 

So for dinner, the challenge calls for a lean protein and veggies. Carbs at night ONLY if needed. Is it possible to say they're always needed? I had some artichokes I impulse-bought at Trader Joes and decided I needed to make a chicken dish to go with it. I found this recipe online, and with some modifications based in what we had, we were ready to go!

Really, where would I be without pinterest's awesome search engine?

Artichoke Chicken

Mix together everything except the chicken, onion, and artichokes.

Place the chicken on top of the onions and artichokes in a large pan. 

Dump that sauce over the chicken. Bake at 375 for 30-45 min. 

Look at how fantastic this is! Yum yum. 

Serve it up and enjoy!

Monday, February 10, 2014


This is currently in my fridge for school. And all I can think of is: 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala

Has a meal ever changed your life? Like, changed the things you thought about food before that?

I am NOT a picky eater. At all. But let me tell you honestly, because we're friends and I know you'll keep my secret. Before this meal I was not that in to Indian food. I didn't grow up eating it (ever) and was just never really wanting to go try it. 

We randomly went to Saffron a few months ago and my world was rocked. I mean, now I can't get enough of this stuff. I must have made this knock-off chicken Tikka five times since then. Seriously. 

Easy meal? Yep. 
Quick? Yep. 
Flavorful? Yep. 
Healthy? Yep. 

I mean really, what's not to love?

Chicken Tikka Masala
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped onion
2-3 tbsp. finely chopped ginger
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 29 oz can tomato purée or sauce
1 tbsp. olive oil
2-3 tsp. cayenne pepper (this is the HEAT) (whichever really isn't that strong)
2 tbsp. Garam Masala
1tbsp. Cumin
tbsp. paprika
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. black pepper
2-3 bay leaves
1 cup half and half (or milk, or cream)
3 tbsp. cornstarch
Cilantro for prettiness

How wide range of ingredients. The good news - most of these are really common. Those that aren't are spices and will last you approximately 43 years. 

The cast. 

First add the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger. 

Tomatoes and Yogurt. Those don't often come to my mind together. 

Add the five bazillion spices. 

Mix it all up. 

Add the cut up chicken. 

Good things take time. I'm not patient,  but this is perfect when I go to work. 

Mix the starch and milk together. Awesome thickening sauce. 

Thicken it up. Add it in and let it sit another 10-15 min. Take out the bay leaves. 

Dish up on top of rice or quinoa. Add cilantro for color. And because it tastes great! 

Method one - Mix and dump all ingredients (except cornstarch and half and half) in the crockpot and cook for 8 hrs on low.

Method two - Mix and dump all ingredients (except cornstarch and half and half) i in a 9 by 13 pan and cook at 375 for 30-45 min. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Bacon Popcorn

Have you ever been at a restaurant when the server takes a plate off of your table that you weren't quite done with yet? Like, the dish was so good you were still licking up the crumbs good?

That is what happened the first time we went to The Parish here in Tucson. We ordered their bacon popcorn and I thought Drew would have licked the bowl if they hadn't taken it too early. Well, maybe they did it on purpose, because we go back frequently with the bacon popcorn as the focus of our trip. They have great food, many gluten free options (including beers), and make everything in house. Yum.

Well, we can't always make a trip to get this (or sometimes it is rainy outside and we decide to just not leave the house). So we decided to make it ourselves.

Start by cooking bacon in a pan. Don't get rid of the grease. Really, don't do it. Not yet.

You will need a bowl of popcorn. This time we used our air popper, because really, how cool is it to watch popcorn just shoot out and pop everywhere? Molly loves it. However, it is better when you use some of the bacon grease to pop your popcorn in. Do what you want, it is your popcorn.

Once you have your popcorn, toss it with melted butter (3-4 tbsp) and some thinly sliced green onions. I sliced up two of them.

Then, add a few tablespoons of the bacon grease (it adds tons of flavor) and the crumbled bacon. Toss it together and see if you can make it last longer than 15 minutes. Ours lasted about 10.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Perfect Salmon Salad

Well people, it happened. We cleaned out our cabinet. Let me tell you, I was really thankful for my awesome husband then. Mostly because he could reach the back of the cabinets. But also because he made me laugh and distracted me as I was giving away more food than I'd care to admit. Luckily, our apartment complex is having a food drive, so we just walked all of the wheat and potato-filled foods down to our office and were done with it.

My baking shelf looks a little bare now... Time to fill it up with other yummy goodness!

This past week I went to a conference in Phoenix on teaching math. We made rulers. For three hours. And talked about time. For three more hours. Man, teachers like to talk. One thing I really took away from this dumb. is how much people with food allergies have to plan in advance! I thought I was being a little crazy when I packed my snacks, but I sure was glad I did. Especially when they brought out all of the candy bars and I couldn't eat any. Dang Twix has to have wafers. I'm also especially glad I decided to pack a lunch. Who would have thought everything served would have either wheat or potatoes in it?!

Food allergies are the woooooorst. The worst.

Thankfully I brought this lovely salad for lunch the first day. Let me tell you, this is amazing. Ah-maze-ing. And filling. And not rabbit-food like at all.

To start, take some salmon filets and coat in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Here is the perfect part. The easy part. The part I learned from the one and only Pioneer Woman. Place the salmon tray in a cold oven. Then turn it to 400. In 20 minutes, these were done! That's it! When this is done with a large piece of salmon, do it for 25 minutes. And this was perfect, not dry at all.

The salmon on the right looks like Nevada, and home means Nevada. You knew that right? The Killers say so, so it must be true.
For the salad, you need flavor. Remember, no more boring foods! I used a 50/50 mixture of arugula and spinach as a base for the salad. I sliced up a cucumber, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and olives and added them on top of the salad base.

Veggies. And cheese. Always cheese.
This is what it looks like after you add some goat cheese. You like it. It is deliciously tangy and goes so well with the other flavors in the salad. But if you're boring or afraid of flavor, some feta would work quite well.

I used this dressing for this. Mostly because I bought it earlier that day and couldn't wait to try it, but also because it has a milder flavor that I thought would go well with the salmon. Its from Trader Joe's, but you didn't need me to tell you that.

When your salmon is done, take that perfectly roasted piece of meat and throw it on top of the salad. You'll probably want to just place it on top, salmon is kind of delicate and throwing may not work too well. You could throw some avocado on it like I did. We're in an avocado phase right now and I will not apologize. Eat asap. And take one for lunch - people may be jealous! (They also may not be, and I will not take responsibility for that.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Saffron Indian Restaurant in Tucson

I have a new-found love for tikka masala. I could eat it all day. In fact, I'm planning on learning how to make it later this week. This new love was sparked by a great experience at Saffron.

Going out to eat has been a new challenge since gaining these lovely food restrictions. Like, I get stressed out before going out to eat and have to look at their menu before hand. Most Indian food is naturally gluten free (which means wheat free!). Yay! Rice, sauce, and meat for the win.

Drew and I hadn't been here before and decided to give it a try on Friday. On our way there, I realized that I forgot my epi-pen in my other purse. Still getting used to carrying it all the time! Oh well, I'd be sure I was careful.

The restaurant was beautiful. The decor was modern and clean and there was a quiet buzz throughout the restaurant.

First, they bring you these amazing cracker/wafters that are made from chickpea flower! AKA - wheat free! Wahoo! After careful inspection of the menu, we ordered. The waitress was great and was willing to answer all of my questions about which items were gluten free and if there were potatoes in the entrees. Drew wanted an appetizer and the waitress told us the best gluten free appetizer was the veggie fritters, also made with chickpea flower. Score.

Shortly after, the waitress brings our food and we enjoy our first bites. I instantly realize that there are potatoes in these. We talked to the first employee we could find (who happened to be the owner) and he confirmed what I thought - they were made with potatoes. I explained that I was allergic and realized that, while I asked if there were potatoes in the veggies, I never explained that I was allergic. The owner instantly pulled out an iPad with their menu on it and looked up an appetizer that I could eat. Drew talked with him as I tried not to cry and have a panic attack. What happened? I had been so careful when ordering, but just forgot last minute! I took the three Benadryl I had in my purse right away and tried my best to convince myself that I was going to be fine. I had one small bite.

They brought me new place setting right away and the waitress came over and apologized. Even though I explained it was my fault, I didn't think to ask, the owner came and made sure that our new appetizer was great, etc. and they took the delicious veggie fritters off of our bill. And the new appetizer was great - imagine a bloomin' onion takes a trip to India. Greatness.

Chicken Tikka Masala - Photo courtesy of the Tucson Citizen
The tikka masala I got was fantastic. Drew's curry was really flavorful. And the rice. Oh my. I didn't think I even liked rice until this.

Basically, if you are in Tucson and want Indian food, keep Saffron in mind. Their food was delicious and reasonably priced and their customer service was top-notch.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Potatoes and Wheat No More

Allergies are something I've dealt with as long as I can remember. My nose runs a ton from September to December and cats make me itchy. Totally normal. However, in mid-October, I started having a horrible allergic reaction to something. Hives, swelling, the whole shabang. I went to the doctor and was given medicine and told to avoid some things. The reaction continued for three weeks before I finally went to an allergist. Fast forward through an awful round of scratch testing, shots of epinephrin and Benadryl because I was reacting so badly, and I was diagnosed with new allergies. Food allergies.

I am now allergic to all types of potatoes, scallops, and wheat. 

My first reaction was to laugh. I was on some serious medication for my reactions while they were talking to me. And I swear the doctor said something about elephants. Big news such as this should not be told to patients who are by themselves and have just received multiple shots of things. I nodded my head as he talked, but inside all I could think of were the elephants he was talking about. Luckily, I did ask him to write everything down, and he did.

When the shots wore off and I was reading through my packet of information, I started to realize exactly what was said. No potatoes. No wheat. I need to be strict about the wheat for 3 weeks and the potatoes for 6. But basically, potatoes will always cause me problems. Wheat they aren't sure. I wanted to cry right there in the waiting room. What the heck was I going to eat?! I also wanted to cry because all of these little kids were staring at me and asking their mom why I looked so weird. (Keep in mind, the reaction was very clearly visible all over my face. I probably was really scary looking for a while there!)

I had plans to make baked sweet potatoes for dinner. Well crap, that wasn't going to work. So I thought I'd just pick up dinner, the usual sandwiches or pizza. Crap again, those wouldn't work either. So I decided to make salad and cauliflower for dinner because those were the veggies in my fridge at the time. And I proceeded to have a pity party for myself the rest of the night. Especially when we went to the pharmacy to pick up my shiny new epi-pens that must now stay on me 24-7. Did any of you who carry epi-pens have way to much fun practicing? I probably laughed the entire time.

This is how I felt that first night as I ate my cauliflower. "Oh crap, I'm doomed to rabbit food."
It took a few days, but I've now realized that maybe these new allergies aren't so bad. Don't get me wrong, they really suck. I still find myself thinking about what I can't eat and I'm really stressed about eating on the holidays coming up. Eating out isn't back to the leisurely fun it once was. But really, there are tons of foods I can eat. I can have mexican food, ice cream, soups, bacon, popcorn, bacon popcorn, chocolate, coffee, and cheese. Thank goodness for cheese.

A few days after cutting those things out of my diet and I felt so much better. I haven't had any reaction, my nose isn't running, I have energy throughout the day. Which is great. But I was not-so-secretly bummed about it. I had this little hope that it wouldn't make a difference and that I could go back to my old ways. But really, now that I am feeling so much better, I think wheat will be at a permanent minimum (at least for a while) and potatoes are gone for good. And I'm okay with that.

You may be thinking the same exact thing I thought, "Who the heck has a potato allergy? I've never even heard of that." Don't worry, neither has Google. No one seems to have potato allergies and add that to the wheat allergy and it seems like my food options were really cut down. Which is why I'm back to blogging. I know there have to be other people out there who can't eat potatoes or wheat as well. And I am determined to eat just as well as I did before the diagnosis, and I am planning on documenting that eating here to share with you all.

Thanks for reading. If you made it all the way down to this part, you deserve a prize. I can't give you anything, but you should pat yourself on the back. Twice.