Thursday, May 16, 2013

Stong Itch for a 'Wich and a Deep Regard for Chard

"Too few people understand a really good sandwich."  ~James Beard

Hethyr:  Though I try my best to eat at least three meals a day, some days it's damned near impossible.  Sometimes breakfast is an apple.  On occasion, lunch is a handful of cashews.  And when Jon isn't home, dinner is usually a bowl of popcorn.  I really do try my best to eat a balanced plate at each meal, but when I'm busy cooking for several other families and teaching yoga I'm lucky if I get to eat at all on certain days.  Even if I have a bit of time when I'm home alone, I'm not usually one to really cook a meal just for myself.  I might make a quick gluten-free sandwich or throw together a simple salad, but it's rare for me to pull out a skillet or turn on the oven when it's just me.
This was breakfast this morning.  Oops.

However, when we're out of those quick and easy throw together things and I have a few extra minutes, I need to get creative if I want to eat.  After an early-morning yoga class, a 35-minute drive to my chiropractor's office, and a bit of client cooking, I actually had about 30 minutes to myself before having to run out again.  I checked the cupboards and fridge for a quick bite to eat and came up empty-handed.  After a more thorough search, I discovered the last little end of a homemade loaf of gluten-free bread, a small chunk of goat brie, an apple, and some sliced turkey.  I had also purchased some red chard a few days before to satisfy a craving... yep, apparently I get cravings for chard now.  Wouldn't Momma be proud?  Nope.  Knowing my Momma, she'd probably be grossed out and ask what was wrong with me.  We have both pretty much despised dark, leafy greens (except for raw spinach) most of our lives.  And yet I actually made a trip to the store specifically to get chard.  What the hell?  Well, when my body tells me it needs something, I try to listen!

My most recent craving.  What?!

Anyway, I decided to pull not one, but TWO small skillets out for this meal.  La-dee-freakin'-da.  Guess I felt like treating myself!  I would say poor Jon since he was at school and didn't get to partake in my masterpiece, but he took homemade lasagna to school for lunch yesterday and some yummy venison and veggie cabbage rolls today.  Poor Jon, my ass.  Once in a while I deserve a special meal, too!  ;)  Hope you enjoy this super-easy, super-delicious homemade lunch... though it would work just as well for a simple dinner.

Gluten-Free Grilled Turkey, Apple & Goat Brie Sandwich with Sautéed Chard

Serves 1

2 slices gluten-free bread (here's my favorite recipe that I adapt for high altitude)
Few slices goat brie
Several thin apple slices
1-2 slices turkey
1-2 tablespoons ghee (or vegan butter substitute)
1 large chard leaf with stem, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon olive oil

1.  Layer one slice of gluten-free bread with half of the goat brie, all of the apple and turkey slices, the rest of the brie, and the other slice of bread.

2.  Melt ghee or vegan butter.

2.  Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add half of the melted ghee.  Add sandwich and cook until bottom slice of bread is golden-brown.  Brush uncooked bread with remaining ghee, then carefully flip sandwich and cook until second slice of bread is golden and cheese is melted.   Remove from skillet and set aside.

3.  While sandwich is cooking on the second side, heat another small skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil.  When pan is hot, add chard and garlic and cook until wilted, about a minute or two.  Remove from pan and plate.

4.  Cut sandwich in half if desired and plate with cooked chard.  Enjoy!
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Jon:  If there is one thing I can truly appreciate in this world, it is a delicious sandwich.  I suppose that's because a sandwich has been one of my two edible staples throughout most of my life.  The other one would be that miraculous, wondrous, holiest of all holy meals... cereal.  If it weren't for cereal, I would probably have wasted away years ago.  But I digress.

Admittedly, my sandwiches used to be pretty disgusting... a couple slices of Wonderboy, a factory-cut slab of meat product, and a square of American "cheese."  That's the problem with sandwiches.  The boredom is undeniable.  A sandwich is like the Bob Dole of the food world.  But perhaps even Bob Dole can grow a mohawk, get a "Thug Life" tattoo, and base jump the Eiffel Tower.  Maybe, just maybe.  So it seems that a sandwich can get a little provocative and alluring, and dare I say... sexy?  Not that I'm saying I'm aroused by the thought of Bob Dole with a mohawk.  Um, I swear.

Bob Dole serving sandwiches wearing an apron.  If only
he was sporting a mohawk...
(Photo from the Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics archives)

Giving a sandwich some personality is an art form.  Apples do it.  Avocados do it.  Spicy Tomato Jam (R.I.P.) does it.  And according to my wife, who is one-step away from injecting chard directly into her veins, chard does it, too.  Versatility and creativity are crucial to a life-long marriage between human and sandwich.

Long live the sandwich.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'll Have a Bloody Mary, a Steak Pizza, and a Steak Pizza

Hethyr:  If we could eat pizza for dinner every night and not feel guilty about it, we probably would.  I know we've already done several pizza posts, but we haven't yet done this pizza post.  Bear with me - it's worth it.

While Jon was out of town recently, I was craving pizza so badly that I went out and picked up the ingredients (including goat cheese, which I've been allowed to add back in!), got home and realized I didn't have any crust, then debated whether to make my own or drive back across town for some already prepared gluten-free, vegan crust that is really, really good.  Not just acceptable, but actually good.  The stuff that I make at home is really good, too, but it takes a decent amount of effort.  I decided on convenience on the day in question.  And while I was at the bakery, I picked up two more packs of crusts (each pack contains two). 

Pre-baking and cheese
So, we had this one crust left in the refrigerator from the pack I opened while he was gone, and we had a little bit of leftover steak with sauce.  With a few other items on hand, we had an incredible dinner... definitely one worth sharing!  I love that some of my best recipes are inspired by leftovers, and that nothing goes to waste in this house!  You get a bonus from this post, too, because you can have the flank steak for dinner on the first night and use the leftovers for the pizza the second night.  Enjoy!

Night #1...
Marinated Flank Steak 
*** Note:  We use tamari (gluten-free soy sauce) and we always save the marinade, boil it, then use it as a dipping sauce for the steak.  You'll need it for the pizza recipe...

Night #2...
Gluten-Free Steak & Chard Pizza

Serves 2-3

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large Swiss chard leaf (including stem), chopped
1 large shallot, thinly sliced
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp cold water
1/2 cup reserved, cooked marinade from Marinated Flank Steak (see above)
1 prepared gluten-free pizza crust (or make your own... here's the best recipe)
Approx. 6 ounces leftover Marinated Flank Steak, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
8 ounces cheddar-style goat cheese, shredded

1.  Place pizza stone on center rack of oven and preheat oven to 450°F for at least 30 minutes.

2.  Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots and chard and sauté until just wilted, about 1-2 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.

3.  In a small dish, combine cornstarch and cold water and set aside.

4.  Heat cooked, reserved marinade from flank steak in a small saucepan over medium heat.  When simmering, whisk in cornstarch mixture and stir constantly until thick (should be a paste-like consistency).  Remove from heat.

5.  Top prepared crust with thickened marinade, shallot and chard, steak, and shredded goat cheese.

6.  Bake on pizza stone for 12 minutes or until crust is golden-brown and cheese is bubbly.
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Jon:  I noticed Hethyr said that if we could eat pizza every night for dinner and not feel guilty about it, then we would.  Um, hello?  I would feel no guilt.  In fact, I would feel the opposite of guilt.  What's the opposite of guilt?  Joy.  Bliss.  Enlightenment, perhaps.  In fact, with pizza everyday I would probably have a Buddha belly to accompany that enlightenment.  Sweet.

What?!  A Buddha wood fired brick oven!
Pizza & Buddha were meant to be together.
(Photo from

When Hethyr first told me the flank steak marinade would be entering the blogosphere, I must admit that I felt a little hesitant, like an over-protective father.  A father to my flank steak... a flankster, if you will.  Anyway, for many years, the flank steak recipe has been one of my only successful contributions to our regular cooking routine.  Could I really let it go?  After I - yes, I, not Hethyr - claimed ownership of this delicious, simple, sweet, savory, understated, satisfying marinade?  This marinade that pairs with flank steak like peanut butter with jelly, like Mario with Luigi, like McDonalds with salmonella?

Then it dawned on me.  I had just stolen the recipe from some website.  Whoops.  I guess that means it isn't mine.  But I still feel proud that I found it myself, and even was capable of making it myself after stealing it.  Wow, even I think that's pathetic.  I'm lucky that Hethyr can cook, because I'm like Lennie from Of Mice and Men when it comes to kitchen skills.

Enjoy the pizza.

Much Love,
The Flankster

Friday, April 12, 2013

Curry Up Or You'll Sleep With The Fishes

Hethyr:  With the start of Spring already a few weeks in the past, I started thinking that maybe I should try to use up the remaining winter squash that we still have.  We've still got a couple of Butternuts and Orange Hopis, but for this particular recipe I decided to use two small-ish Red Kuris that we received in our CSA.  

It was a cold night and a warm soup sounded good - perfect for squash.  Of course, because I'm a huge dork, I had to make it curry.  If you'll remember back to our Valentine's blog post, Jon and I often speak in movie, and this Red Kuri Curry Soup reminded me of one of my favorite mob movies.  See if you can figure out which one, which one...

Narrator:  And then there was Jimmy Two Times, who got that nickname because he said everything twice, like:
Jimmy Two Times:  I'm gonna go get the papers, get the papers.

Jimmy Two Times' Red Kuri Curry Soup

Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 medium celery stalk, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded, ribbed and diced
2-inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 small jalapeño, seeded, ribbed and minced
2 tablespoons curry spice blend
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup coconut milk
2 Red Kuri squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes
4 small kale leaves, ribbed and julienned
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro, chopped for garnish
Peanuts or cashews, chopped for garnish
Lime wedges, for garnish

1.  Heat coconut oil in a soup pot over medium heat; add onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, ginger and jalapeno.  Cook until veggies are just softened, about 5 minutes.

2.  Add curry seasoning and stir for another minute.

3.  Add broth, coconut milk, squash and kale and stir to combine.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15 minutes or until squash is easily pierced with a fork.

4.  Ladle into bowls, top with cilantro and nuts, and sprinkle with a little bit of lime juice.
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Jon:  I'm gonna go get a spoon, get a spoon.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tropical Snow Day!!!

Hethyr:  We had a heads-up that a big snow was coming our way yesterday, so after running errands in the morning, I decided to swing by Jon's school to switch cars in case the roads were bad on his way home.  I got all of my stuff out of the Subaru and ready to load into the Piece of Shit - oops, I mean Jetta - when I realized the front passenger-side tire was flat - again.  Oh, goody!  With Jon needing to get back inside to pick up his kids from lunch, I offered to take care of the car myself.  He, of course, insisted that I just drive the Subaru and said he'd deal with the flat after school, but being (way too) well-trained by my resourceful Dad in the art of changing tires, I told him I'd do it. 

I call this one "Jetta on a Donut in the Snow."
Pure beauty.  Um, yeah.

Mind you, I have probably changed upward of thirty tires in the twenty years I have been driving.  Yes, I know that sounds like an exaggeration, but in college, I had a sweet little Nissan Sentra with pimped-out rims and when it would get cold (keep in mind that I lived in central Illinois at the time), I would inevitably get a flat tire.  It was something about the metal expanding and contracting with the weather.  Anyway, I have pretty much become a pro at changing flats.  Once when I still worked in an office, a good friend walked out of work to a flat so she called her boyfriend and came back inside to wait for him.  After she told me, I offered to at least take a look to see if I could help.  By the time her boyfriend got there, I had the tire changed and we were just standing in the parking lot waiting for him.  They were both pretty impressed.  Although I'm sure my Dad knew he was teaching me a useful skill when he taught me to change a tire, I wonder if he had any idea of how indispensable this skill would become!  :)

Needless to say, I changed the Jetta's tire without too many issues and left the Outback with Jon.  I felt like I deserved a gold star or something for being wife-of-the-day, but instead I got a hot shower to get all of the grease off of me when I got home...

Oh, and I got rewarded with an honest-to-goodness SNOW DAY today... and so did Jon!  Since both of us were home for the day, we slept in late (hey, 8am is late for us!) and decided on a tropical muffin breakfast against a blustery external backdrop.  Happy snow day!!!

Coco-Maca-'Nana-Nut Muffins (Gluten-, Dairy-, and Refined Sugar-Free)

Makes 21-ish muffins
2 1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix
1/2 + 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (1 1/4 teaspoons for high altitude)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped
1/2 cup shredded coconut, toasted (divided use)
3 ripe bananas, mashed
2 extra-large eggs (I used turkey eggs)
1 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons vegan butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus extra for greasing pans
1/4 cup macadamia nut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup alternative milk (I used macadamia nut milk)
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1.  Preheat oven to 425F; grease muffin pans with a bit of melted vegan butter.

2.  In a large bowl, mix together GF flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, macadamia nuts, and 1/4 cup shredded coconut.

3.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and bananas together.  Add maple syrup, melted vegan butter, macadamia nut butter, and vanilla extract.

4.  In a small bowl, mix the alternative milk with the apple cider vinegar; set aside.

5.  To dry mixture, add about 1/3 of the banana mixture and stir until combined.  Add about 1/3 of the alternative milk mixture and stir until combined.  Repeat until all ingredients are well mixed.

6.  Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full (if any cups are left empty, fill about halfway with water), then top with remaining toasted coconut.

7.  Bake for 19-20 minutes or until golden brown on top.  Cool in the pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.  Of course, we couldn't keep our hands off, so we ate about 1/3 of ours while they were still warm.  :)
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Jon:  I fondly remember the joy of the snow day as a child.  Sleeping in late, eating a titanic breakfast, then playing twelve straight hours of Zelda on my Nintendo.  As an older kid, when my interest in video games had withered away, I simply replaced my video game time with cable TV.  A day that I thought was destined for applying brainpower to academics fortuitously became a teeny-tiny vacation destined for sedation and ignorance.  It was a little slice of heaven.

I always imagined that the simple and unexpected solace of a snow day as a kid would never be matched.  But I was mistaken, because I have discovered something even better.  Much better.  A snow day as a teacher.

Teaching first grade is way more exhausting than just participating.  Don't get me wrong, I love my job.  But I get paid?  And I don't have to take a sub day?  And I don't have to work at all?  What?  Hell yeah, snow!  Admittedly, it is tempting to do schoolwork at home all day since I always have a hundred things to catch up on.  But not today.  Today I am destined to return to my roots...  sleep in late, eat a titanic breakfast, and watch seven consecutive movies (with a bearded-brothers theme in loving memory of JR and Garr).

Here's to delicious snow-day muffins, a grease-monkey wife, Wes Anderson, Adam McKay, Garr, and JR.

JR and Garr - Bearded BFFs

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

We Go Together Like Chinese Food & Chocolate Pudding!

Hethyr:  Jon and I sort of have our own little language.  There are probably a few other nerds (or cable-less folks) out there who would understand it, but most people would think we're nuts if they heard us talking to each other much of the time.  Several years ago - for many reasons - we decided to get rid of cable television.  While less TV proved to be awesome, the silence in the house while either of us was home alone proved to be not so great sometimes, so we got in the habit of having a movie on in the background for noise.  We only own so many DVDs and for a long time, we didn't have a way of watching streamed movies on anything other than one of our laptops.  So, we got to know a select number of scripts INCREDIBLY WELL.  Now we speak movie to each other most of the time.  Lame?  Maybe.  But it would be REALLY lame if only one of us did it.  At least we're both dorks, I guess.

With that being said, I saw this card while looking for something for Valentine's Day for him...

Not the greatest card in the world to the untrained eye/ear, I realize.  But it immediately made me think of a few lines from Talladega Nights, an Adam McKay/Will Ferrell/John C. Reilly gem, which is in our very regular (embarrassingly so) movie repertoire.  Okay, okay, we like really stupid humor - I admit it!  So, I added a few choice words and made the card "my own"...

After getting sick with a fever and cough earlier this week, I wasn't up for dinner out on Valentine's Day (not that we would have ever thought to make reservations early enough anyway!), so I decided that as a treat for Jon (and, of course, for myself!), I'd make some gluten-, dairy-, and refined sugar-free pudding.  I found a couple of good recipes here and here at the Gluten Free Fix blog.  Only after deciding to make these did I realize the chocolate pudding reference in my card, so it was only fitting that I should make Chinese-ish food to go with it.  In the morning, I gave Jon the card (which he loved, of course!) and later, I sent him a text to let him know that we were, in fact, having Chinese food and chocolate pudding for dinner and dessert.  He responded by asking if he should bring home some peanut butter and ladies... or cocaine and waffles.  Oh, my!

Anyway, I do realize that our last post was a recipe for a noodle bowl, but this one is quite different, fairly easy, and every bit as delicious.
  I hope you enjoy it, too!

Now You See Me, Now You Don't Chinese Bowlful o' Love (Gluten- and Dairy-Free)

Serves 2 (plus 2 servings of leftovers of the shrimp and veggies for lunch the next day so sick wifey doesn't have to cook!)

1-inch knob of ginger, peeled and minced
2 green onions, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 small to medium head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 small yellow bell pepper, seeded, ribbed and sliced
2 large carrots, sliced
1 small bunch of bok choy, chopped
2 cups sugar snap peas or snow peas
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
3 tablespoons honey
3 tablespoons sweet chili sauce (I realize this isn't refined-sugar free but on a rare occasion, I've got to splurge a wee bit)
1 tablespoon oil
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 ounces brown rice Pad Thai noodles

1.  Prep all vegetables (ginger through peas) and shrimp.

2.  In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, honey and sweet chili sauce; set aside.

3.  Cook rice noodles according to package directions; portion into bowls and keep warm, reserving a little of the cooking water.

4.  In a large skillet or wok, heat oil and sesame oil over medium-high to high heat.  Add ginger, green onions and garlic and stir-fry for approximately 30 seconds or until fragrant - be careful not to burn.

5.  Add veggies to skillet and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes.  Add shrimp and stir-fry for another 2-3 minutes or until shrimp is just cooked through and veggies are cooked but still crisp.  Remove from skillet and toss with sauce.

6.  To each noodle bowl, add plenty of veggies, shrimp, sauce, and a little bit of cooking water to reach your desired consistency of soupiness.  Add chopsticks to make it more Chinese and serve with chocolate pudding for dessert!  :)
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Jon:  Hethyr, can I please have your attention.  I've just been handed an urgent and horrifying news story.  I need you to stop what you're doing and listen...

I wanna say something.  I'm gonna put it out there.  If you like it, you can take it, if you don't, send it right back.  I want to be on you.  You have an absolutely breath-taking... heiney.  I mean, that thing's good.  I wanna be friends with it.  Mmmm.  That sounds good. I'll have that.

You see, a pimp's love is very different from that of a square.  We are like friends who ride majestic, translucent steeds, shooting flaming arrows across the bridge of Hemdale.  I would follow you into the mists of Avalon, if that's what you mean.  No one knows what it means, but it's provocative.

Really, if we went to a Halloween party dressed as Batman and Robin, I'd go as Robin. That's how much you mean to me.  And we will dance till the sun rises.  And then our children will form a family band.  And we will tour the countryside and you won't be invited.

Little ham 'n eggs comin' at ya.  What do you say we go out on a date?  Have some chicken, maybe some sex... you know, see what happens.  Me without you is Rice without Montana. Ali without Frasier.  Han Solo without Chewbacca.

Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?  We have so much in common, we both love soup and snow peas, we love the outdoors, and talking and not talking. We could not talk or talk forever and still find things to not talk about.

Great Odin's raven!  Holy Santa Claus shit!  Mind-bottling, isn't it?  You know, when things are so crazy it gets your thoughts all trapped, like in a bottle?  I'm in a glass case of emotion.  It's more that comfortability.  I fuckin' love you.  And you got those.  I like those on a woman.

I feel good, I feel great, I feel wonderful.  Let's capture the dream.