Saturday, January 17, 2009

|whatever's in the fridge|

Today I bought an Amy's Cheese Enchilada only to get home and discover that the stupid box is 2 servings...which was just waaaaaay too many points. I hadn't been to the store yet, so I had to make do with what was in the fridge. Fortunately, as long as I have rice cooked up, I'm always good to go. Here's what I made. It was so freaking good.

Brown Rice with Green Beans
1 cup cooked brown rice
2 teaspoons light butter
onions, diced
green beans (cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 tablespoon ground walnuts
dash lemon juice, salt. pepper, red pepper flakes

I sauteed the onion and garlic for a few minutes in butter, then added the green beans. 1-2 minutes more, then added the rice. Heated through and then added the ground walnuts, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes at the end. This was so tasty.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

|i heart my freezer, part three: regular zips|

Okay, last post about this topic today....but I'd like to share how happy I was when I returned back home after my Christmas travels and had a happy, warm, delicious, already made rice bowl packed up in regular-sized ziploc bag in my freezer. Well, it wasn't warm while it was IN my freezer, but I was able to go from freezer to a meal that tasted like it was hot off the stove in a matter of minutes. That was really a happy moment because I had been traveling and was sick of eating out, but was also not at all in the mood to go to the grocery store.

I'm pretty sure you can make any number of things into single-serving lunches or dinners in these regular sized (1 quart?) zips. It's just like a frozen meal, but a lot cheaper and healthier. It's a handy thing to do when you have some leftover rice and can quickly saute up a few other thigns to put with it.

(sidenote: you DID already know that you can freeze rice, right? It's amazing. You can put those in those tiny zips.)

So...since you can freeze rice, you can also just add stuff to it and then freeze it up. I did this a few weeks ago with the following layered in a bag...

  • 1 cup of leftover rice
  • 1/4 cup of beans (from a can, drained)
  • sauteed onions, peppers
  • 1 tablespoon cream cheese (I hear cheese gets weird if frozen, but I usually use light cream cheese in my rice bowls, anyway - it froze just fine)
  • a handful of diced tomatoes, flavored with green chilis and garlic
  • some corn
I just put them all in a bag and cooked them up later. So great.

Any other ideas for meals-in-a-frozen-bag?

|i heart my freezer, part two: tiny zips|

In my continued ode to my freezer, let me tell you how much I am in love with the snack-size ziploc baggies. They seem to hold just about a cup if you fill them really full, which means they are perfect for freezing all kinds of single-serving things, like...

  • Fresh corn...just cut off the cob and baggie them up
  • Cooked beans...I like to cook them in my crockpot then put in the tiny bags for later
  • Extra pasta sauce....the baggie is just the right size to make one more dinner for me + one
  • And my new favorite....BREAKFAST (see below for recipe)
In addition to loving my freezer, I also have a crush on Dr. Dean Ornish. I don't usually get into diet fads and he does technically write books about nutrition, but they aren't crazy. He is very well-respected in the medical/nutritional world for creating a diet that helps cure heart disease and prevent various kinds of cancers. I was recently perusing one of his books in the bookstore, and found a recipe called "Morning Quinoa." I altered it slightly based on what I had in the house and here it is. It is sooooo tasty.

Breakfast Quinoa and Fruit
1/4 c. orange juice + 1 3/4 cup green tea
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup quinoa (dry)
1 cup oatmeal (quick cook)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped
3-4 tablespoons flax seeds, ground
Splenda to taste

  1. Bring the juice, tea, and cinnamon to a boil. You could just use water but I had green tea on hand, so I figured it would add some more nutrients. Who knows?
  2. Once it's boiling, add the quinoa. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. (note: if you only have rolled oats instead of quick cooking, you can add them at this point, too, so they get more cooking time)
  3. Add the quick cook oatmeal, and rest of the ingredients, too. Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes. You may need to add some more liquid to fluff it up.
This will make 5 generous servings. If you care about points, it's about 4 points a serving. Here's the BEST can eat one this morning and then put the other 4 in the tiny snack zips. Flatten them out and squeeze the air out. Put them in your freezer. Have some happy, warm, whole-grain-goodness breakfast four more days in just a couple of minutes!

To defrost mine I made extra hot water when I made my morning tea. I poured it over the zip baggie and let it rest for a few minutes. Then I popped the thawed quinoa out into a bowl and microwaved it for one minute. Yum, yum!

|i heart my freezer, part one: ice trays|

I am not typically a person who likes a lot of stuff cluttering up my house. For example, my husband and I are making it our mission in life to ensure we never have a storage space. If you don't have room for it in your house, you don't need it. That being said, I do covet one storage-y item. Someday I want to have a giant freezer in my garage or basement so that I can freeze everything in the world. So, so handy and lovely.

That being said, I present to you my ode to freezers, part one....the beauty of ice cube trays. You can freeze all kinds of fun things in ice cube trays. Like when you were a kid and would make mini popsicles in them, remember? These days, my favorite things to freeze are pesto and broth. You just make up a ton of pesto (I love the cilantro kind, but basil is fine, too) then put them into the trays. Freeze them, then pop them out and put them in a big zip baggie. Whenever you need a little oomph in your pasta add a couple cubes. Nummy nummers. The same can be done with broth or stock.

What are your favorite things to freeze in ice cube trays?