Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Food Challenge Continues

It is amazing how quickly a month can come and go. Since I have been on our food challenge, not only am I more attentive to what my garden is doing, but I've also become cognizant of just how fast time goes. As I sit here recapping my meals for the past several days, weeks actually, I can't believe all that has taken place along with them. Work, camping, dance recital dress rehearsal, more work, bathroom renovation, dance recital, family's all going so quickly! That being said though, I've enjoyed most every moment of it all!

 One thing that has changed for me during this 30-day challenge is just how much more creative I've become with the ingredients I have on hand. I know I have to stick within certain parameters but I still want something different and exciting...and I think we've done a pretty good job of that so far. I will admit though, it can be awfully tempting to just go down to the store and pick something up for dinner or buy more food stuffs because they are a 'great deal!' But we are working with what we've got and so far, we've stuck to it! And its been fun!!

Here's what's been gracing my table for the last two weeks!

Day 6:

I had an appointment in Portland this somewhat dreary Tuesday, so I was gone the entire day, only returning home just in time for dinner. Cam took it upon himself, sticking to our rules of course, to prepare something new for dinner. He surprised me with lobster tails (which he had purchased when they went on deep discount several weeks back and diligently placed in the freezer). He grilled them and made a tomato, lemon, tarragon oil to put on top. It was quite a surprise and a delicious one too!

Day 7:
It was a long and exhausting day for the both of us so we were really unsure of what to do for dinner. We found some small mahi-mahi fillets in the freezer and decided that would be quick and easy. We made some rice, steamed some snap peas from the garden, and quickly seared the fish. As a topping, to bring it all together, we opened a small jar of tropical peach salsa we had and put it over the fish...and rice! It was simple yet oh so wonderful.

Day 8:
Tonight, Cam had to go out for a business dinner so I found myself presented with the task of making an enticing meal for one. This is quite often daunting for me...I am so used to making enough food for several people (sometimes literally, other times simply because Cam and I are healthy eaters) that when trying to scale down, I find it somewhat difficult. I went rummaging through the fridge and found a little bit of the Thai chicken I had made earlier in the week. I decided that that would be delicious if I made a little bit of a sauce - Asian to go along with the chicken - and put it all atop a bed of noodles. I cooked some ramen noodles (I stole them from a pack of Top Ramen, just omitted the seasoning pack) and made a quick little sauce of hoisin and rice vinegar. When the ramen was done, I combined the reheated chicken, my hoisin sauce, and noodles together. It was sweet and tangy...a perfect meal for one!

Day 9:
This was our first night camping! We arrived somewhat late in the evening to the lake so we quickly set up camp and then started on dinner. I was starving which meant the only thing I had on my mind was silencing my ever rumbling tummy. In my haste, I forgot to take a photo of it. We grilled delicious steaks over the campfire, threw potatoes in foil and into the coals, and had a quick little salad on the side. Not only did we get to enjoy everything in the pristine beauty of the Deschutes National Forest, but everything we had came from our garden and freezer! Simplicity never tasted so good!

Day 10:
It was a wonderfully lazy day at camp. They guys went fishing, I went for a hike, read, took a nap, took another little hike, paddle boarded and read some more. I was in heaven! So when it came to dinner, I was so thankful I had spent a little extra time prepping it Friday before we left. We made hobo stew. Basically it is a 'stew' all wrapped up in foil and cooked over the campfire.

I chopped up fresh carrots, celery, bok Choy, potatoes, onions, and pea pods, brought some ground venison, and for supper we all built our own meal. We made packets with aluminum foil and placed the raw meat on the bottom, layered the potatoes and veggies on top, added some water (or if you have it a little beer is really good as a broth), seasoned it up with anything you like, covered it with more foil and place it over the fire. In about 20 minutes our stew was done! With a few biscuits to sop up the delectable broth that was infused with all of the cooking juices from our vitals, dinner was complete! It is the perfect camping meal!

Day 11:
We were both extremely exhausted from camping when we returned home, so cooking was the last thing I had on my mind. But when hunger strikes, you must appease it. So we decided to go with something extremely simple. We grilled up some chicken breast with just a simple mesquite rub, baked potatoes, and a simple kale salad. It was nothing fancy but it did the job immaculately.

Day 12:
After a weekend of fun, we were once again thrown into the hectic work week. But I was still longing to get back into the cooking groove; creating a simple yet somewhat fancy meal sounded so appealing! So I decided to pull a salmon filet, some of last falls cherry tomatoes, and a seedy baguette out of the freezer and make something new. I roasted the frozen tomatoes with capers, olive oil, and garlic in the oven until the tomatoes began to burst. I then added the salmon filet that I covered with a parsley pesto I made and placed it back in the oven to  bake. When the salmon was done, we plated it up making sure we each got some of the tomatoes and delicious broth that was left at the bottom. I served it with the baguette so we could make sure and enjoy every bit of this meal....and we did!

Day 13:
 Continuing with the inspiration to create new and exciting dishes for supper, I decided tonight I wanted to go back to the Asian theme. I had some pineapple that needed to be finished off and two small chicken breasts thawed in the fridge. I decided to make a Thai chicken with basil and pineapple. It was fabulous!!
I cut up the chicken into small chunks and browned them in a skillet with some olive oil. When the chicken was browned, I removed it from the pan and made my sauce. I added fish sauce, a little agave, rice vinegar, lime juice, and red pepper flakes to the skillet and scraped up all of the brown bits from the bottom. I then added the pineapple, making sure to cook it ever so slightly and then added back the chicken pieces. I added a large handful of basil, chopped, and stirred to combine. We placed it over some simply cooked whole wheat couscous and made a little salad to go along side. This meal hit the spot. I'm not sure what it is about Thai cuisine lately, but we have really been enjoying it will probably be a common theme in our meals for a while :)

This only brings us to day 13 of my challenge and we are much farther along...but not wanting to bore you all in one sitting, I am breaking it up. Tomorrow, I will catch you up on just what we have found to do with all the ingredients we have.

What new and inventive, or simple and comforting meals have you come up with lately? Are you encompassing your garden produce yet? If you have decided to join us in this challenge, what are some of the things you have come up with? I'd love to inspires me as well!


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