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I have been doing a pretty poor job of both working out and cooking lately. The Spring seems to be doing me in. We have a great outdoor living space and lately I have been taking advantage of it more than I should. After work it seems much more appealing to lounge on our outdoor sofa reading a book than it does to make dinner or, gasp, go to the gym. Eventually that may catch up with me, but for now I’m just rolling with it.

Yesterday morning I went to my first PT appointment to get fitted for orthotics, learn a set of exercises to improve the stability of my left foot, and get my back to running program. Now that working out involves running, I have a feeling that I will be more driven to get my tail out the door. That whole cooking dinner on a regular basis thing may still be out the window though. Chris has been on a pizza-making kick and I’m quite comfortable with eating as much pizza as he is willing to make.

So how about this Curried Pineapple Qunioa? After serving some pretty disappointing and bland quinoa on Saturday night, I decided that the leftovers needed to become something spectacular for Sunday’s dinner. Ok, spectacular is a strong word to use to describe any grain based dish, but this hit the spot. The cold sweet pineapple made this dish light enough to serve outside on a hot, not quite summer day while the curry, red onion, and cilnatro packed a flavorful punch!

 Adapted from Poor Girl Eats Well.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple tidbits
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • Curry Vinaigrette:
    • 1.5 tbsp canola oil
    • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
    • 2 tbsp honey
    • 2 1/2 tsp curry powder
    • 1 clove garlic, minced
    • salt to taste

 Directions:

  • Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together to combine. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine the salad ingredients and toss together.
  • Fold in the dressing until well mixed.
  • Serve cold or room temperature.

Servings ~ 6
Calories ~ 206, Fat ~ 5.5 g, Carbohydrates ~ 36.1 g, Protein ~ 4.3 g

Remember the egg incident? Yeah. I’m still not eating eggs. I don’t know if it is a permanent thing, but it may stick around for a little while. It was seriously a traumatic experience. Avoiding eggs is going to seriously limit my breakfast variety until I come up with some alternative breakfast ideas though.

I am completely dedicated to my weekday overnight oats, but they don’t usually pan out for me on the weekends. Between forgetting to assemble the OOs the night before and just craving a change of pace, they are pretty much only an option on weekday mornings.

In the past, “protein pancakes” have been one of my weekend breakfast staples. In fact, I can’t believe that I’ve never blogged them before, you’ll have to just trust me on this one. One problem with the protein pancakes though:  they contain egg whites. A lot of them. Saturday morning I set out on a mission to make the perfect egg-free protein pancake. After one attempt that landed in the trash can, I discovered this recipe which Chris and I quickly devoured.

Any type of mix-ins can be added. Obviously chocolate chips would be the best one, although I have not personally verified this claim. We tried banana slices, blueberries, and walnuts (in separate pancakes) and both enjoyed the blueberries the most. Someday when Chris and I develop enough maturity and self-control not to eat them all in one sitting, maybe we can own chocolate chips and give that flavor of pancakes a try!

From: Vegan Baking

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/4 cups soy milk
  • 2 tbsp flax meal
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 scoops protein powder of your choice
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • Optional mix-ins:
    • chopped walnuts
    • banana slices
    • blueberries (This was our favorite.)

Directions:

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy milk, flax meal, apple cider vinegar and vanilla extract. 
  • Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the soy milk curdles.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl whisk together the whole wheat flour, soy flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and ginger.
  • Whisk the canola oil into the soy milk and flax meal mixture then whisk the mixture into the large bowl containing the flour mixture and mix until fully incorporated.
  • Stir in mix-ins as desired.
  • Lightly coat a griddle or skillet with non-stick spray and heat over a medium heat. (If you are using a non-stick surface, you can forego the greasing process.)
  • Using a ladle, drop about 1/3 cup of batter to form a pancake.
  • When small bubbles appear, flip the pancake with a spatula.
  • Let the pancakes cook for at least another 2 minutes on the other side or until golden. 
  • After the first pancake is cooked, adjust stove temperature as needed to cook without burning.

Servings ~ 6 (Two pancakes each.)
Calories ~ 336, Fat ~ 6.7 g, Carbohydrates ~ 56.2 g, Protein ~ 16.6 g

After I posted last week about making Lentil Walnut Burgers, Kier mentioned Lentil Sloppy Joes. Um, brilliant! I love Sloppy Joes! In fact, I am a huge fan of most anything that is sweet but spicy and tomato-y and I have been craving tomatoes like crazy lately.

My mom has this theory that eating tomato-based foods makes you happy. Maybe that’s the case, then again, maybe it is just the breads, pastas, and cheeses that often go with them that make us happy? Either way, I decided that this was a go.

After sorting through dozens of real and fake Sloppy Joe recipes, I decided to base mine on Meatless Mama‘s version, it sounded wonderful; I can’t believe that I hadn’t thought to make these before!

These faux Sloppy Joes totally hit the spot. Upon tasting them, I immediately knew that they would be in permanent rotation on the Duke’s House menu. They were quick, easy, and even got meat-loving Chris’ seal of approval.* Huge win!

*Chris did note that I failed to include his favorite ingredient, Sriracha, and recommends adding a few squirts if you are so inclined.

Adapted from Meatless Mama.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minded
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1.75 cups diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp mustard (yellow or spicy brown)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  • Combine lentils, water, onion, garlic, green pepper, and bay leaf in a large pot.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes until lentils begin to soften, then drain water from pot and remove bay leaf.
  • Stir in remaining ingredients and simmer for approximately 10 minutes longer.
  • Serve on hamburger buns or sandwich thins as a sandwich, as a burrito, or over rice or quinoa.

Servings ~ 6
Calories (for Sloppy Joe mixture) ~ 93, Fat ~ 0.3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 17.5 g, Protein ~ 5.6 g

Have your feelings about a particular food ever done a complete 180? I feel kind of weird about this, and I don’t want to gross anyone out since so much of this blog is about food, but I don’t think I can eat eggs ever again. Or at least not for a very long time.

No, I didn’t read some crazy book about eggs being evil. I just had a traumatic egg experience.

One night last week I was making one of my favorite and most frequently eaten weekday dinners which consists of five egg whites scrambled with spinach and cheese and a huge mound of steamed broccoli topped with hummus and barbecue sauce. [Don’t judge.] I had separated four eggs and was working on the fifth when I noticed that it was super runny. Like not normal runny. Like water running through my fingers.

Gross.

I had already contaminated the first four egg whites, so I tossed them all and started over. I was sure that it was happening again, more runny egg white, but I convinced myself that my mind was just playing tricks on me.  

I scrambled away trying not to think about the runny egg thing. When I finally had my dinner plated and ready to go, Chris, also acustomed to eating scrambled egg whites, took one look at it and said “Those eggs just don’t look right.”

I agreed. I had been trying to tell myself that I was just paranoid, but after two bites I just couldn’t do it. Runny or not, one of my favorite dinners, the incredible, (in?)edible egg was ruined. I’m sure that I’ll come around eventually, but for now, no can do.

I’m not usually a picky eater or even the least bit squeemish about food. After all, I was the girl that happily ate silk worm in China.

In fact, I would eat the silk worm again, but I will not eat an egg.

Ok, that is a weird story about a weird dinner, but what’s the point?

When I decided that I wanted lentil burgers for dinner on Sunday night, I realized that my go-to binder was egg. I still couldn’t fathom eating egg in any form, so my experimentation with flax egg began. I’ll call this one a win! No egg required. I may try it with some diced onion in the mix next time for an extra bit of flavor.

A Duke’s House Original.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (dry) lentils, cooked
  • 4 tbsp ground flax
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Prepare lentils according to instructions on package.
  • While the lentils are cooking, mix 4 tbsp ground flax with 3/4 cup water to make a flax binder for the patties. Refrigerate the flax while the lentils are cooking to set it into a thicker consistency.
  • Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Use a spoon to combine lentils, flax binder, crushed walnuts, salt, and pepper in a large bowl, crushing the lentils slightly as they are mixed.
  • Add bread crumbs, stirring by hand, until the mixture stiffens.
  • Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick spray.
  • Hand form eight hamburger sized patties and place on baking sheet.
  • Bake for ~25 minutes or until patties are set and lightly browned.

Servings ~ 8
Calories ~ 118, Fat ~ 3.0 g, Carbohydrates ~ 17.5 g, Protein ~ 5.8 g

Every night this week has felt pretty much like summer and with the crazy long daylight hours that we have in Indiana, we have been spending plenty of evenings in our outdoor living room, or, during our first summer here, our only living room.
 
The first summer that we lived in our house, we had no furniture. Well, that isn’t completely accurate, all of our furniture was in our garage while we spent countless hours installing hardwood flooring. It was one of those Murphy’s Law projects that should have been done in a week or two, but in reality took about six months.
  
When we first bought our house, we  didn’t plan to change the floor at all, but almost immediately we realized that the carpeting smelled awful. Even after shampooing and deodorizing, the smell was completely overpowering. It quickly became apparent that our floor had been doubling for a litter box.

 

No problem, just tear out the carpet and nail down hardwood, right? Riiiight. That’s what we thought this first day when we had our flooring “breathing” to adjust to the humidity.

In reality, we had to chip away sections of tile floor, pry up soggy particle board, removed sweet 1970’s parque, remove a few hundred square feet of perfectly good hardwood, then finally, after numerous trips to the dump, we could…

…wait for it…

…install and level plywood. You didn’t think it would be that easy, did you? Did I mention that I was still working in Memphis five days per week?

Chris did his best to work on the floor while I was gone, but between that project and our massive lawn to mow, it was a Herculean juggling act. As summer came to a close and it began to get too chilly for me to appreciate the comfort of our outdoor living room, we were finally able to move into our house for real.

We still like to relax on our back porch, and while I don’t think we will ever again do so with the frequency that we did that summer, I still enjoy grilling extravaganzas like the one we had last Sunday. 

Sunday’s all-grill dinner was topped off with none other than a grilled dessert. I’m a huge fan of grilled fruit and this may be my favorite. It had the sweetness of dried fruit, but was juicy like the real deal. An added bonus is that Chris, our house grill master, does the cooking when I come up with (almost) all-grill dinners.

Adapted from Skinny Chef.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp adobo paste from canned chipotles in adobo
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ripe mangos, peeled, cut into 1-inch thick slices

Directions:

  • Heat balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan, boil for several minutes until in reduces by half.
  • Mix in olive oil, adobo paste, and salt.
  • Marinate the mango slices in the balsamic sauce for 2-3 hours or overnight.
  • Heat a grill over medium-high heat.
  • Grill the mango in a grill basket, turning once, until browned and slightly softened, about 5 minutes total.
  • Serve warm or cold, it is excellent both ways.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~113 , Fat ~ 3.7g, Carbohydrates ~ 21.6g, Protein ~ 0.5g

In lieu of a Mother’s Day celebration on Sunday, Chris and I decided to grill. It isn’t that we didn’t want to celebrate Mother’s Day, it is just that our mothers live way too far away for a proper celebration.

The weather in Indiana was beautiful this weekend except for a few short rain showers on Saturday and we got so much accomplished. We were able to get all most of our grass mowed, our flower beds weeded, changed the oil in our cars and the tractor, went grocery shopping, went out for sushi, took the dogs out for a walk, went to the gym, and spent a decent amount of time preparing for a big change, still under wraps for a little while, at Duke’s House.

(No, there are no tiny humans involved with this change. Why do I feel like I have to clarify that all the time? Ahem, people who jump to conclusions…)

Finally, we had some down time on Sunday night and got to grill and hang out on our back porch. Too bad everyone else we knew was busy with Mother’s Day because the kale was good enough to serve to company.

This was both of our first times grilling kale and it was a big time win! I almost always like to have some type of salad-y element to my dinner, but I do not always feel like dealing with making a salad. Grilled kale was a much easier alternative.

From Daily Unadventures in Cooking.

Ingredients:

  • one bunch kale
  • aluminum foil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • fresh lemon, the juice of one to two wedges

Directions:

  • Place two sheets of aluminum foil, about 18″ each, perpendicular to each other on your work surface to form a cross.
  • Chop kale into bite size pieces, removing stems, and place the kale in the center of the foil.
  • Sprinkle with salt, pepper and olive oil and lightly toss.
  • Roll the top sheet of foil tightly around the kale. Fold the bottom sheet around the top roll, burrito style to form an airtight pouch.
  • Heat a grill to a medium heat, then place the pouch on the grill for about 12 minutes with the lid closed.
  • Remove from grill, carefully unwrap package and drizzle with lemon juice.
  • Plate and serve.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 103, Fat ~ 4.4 g, Carbohydrates ~ 14.9 g, Protein ~ 5.0 g

Although I could go on and on about the spicy-sweet glaze on the salmon or the subtle sweetness of the hominy purée, I do love hominy, I’m going to tell you about my foot instead. You see, I finally got around to going back to a doctor yesterday.

The bad news: I have, for the most part, stopped running since mid-March and it looks like I will be out fo 6-8 weeks longer before a very gradual ramp-up over another 6-8 weeks. Not really such a bad thing though. That was pretty much in line with my expectations going into the appointment.

The good news: Over the next few weeks I will go back and have an insert made for my running shoe to take pressure off of my sesamoids. This should allow my foot to heal fully and hopefully reduce the risk of reinjury.

Now to get myself psyched up for a lot of cycling. In the next few weeks most of it will be indoors because of the massive amount of rain that we get in Southern Indiana in the Spring. (It is really poor mountain biking etiquette to ride on wet trails because it tears them up and ruins them for other users.) I should check out some of those spinning DVDs to switch up my scenery some!

From Bon Appetit.

Ingredients:

  • 3 chipotle chiles from canned chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 2 tbsp apricot jam or preserves
  • 1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • Nonstick  spray
  • 4 4-oz salmon fillets with skin (scant 1 inch thick)
  • 2 15-oz can hominy, drained, juice reserved
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

Directions:

  • Salmon:
    • Pre-heat oven to 450°F.
    • Using back of spoon, press enough chipotles through fine sieve into small bowl to measure 2 tsp purée.
    • Mix chipotle purée, jam, vinegar, and cumin in bowl, then season to taste with salt.
    • Coat a small rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Arrange salmon on sheet; sprinkle with salt and black pepper.
    • Distribute the glaze evenly over the fillets.
    • Roast until just opaque in center, about 10 minutes.
  • Hominy Purée:
    • While the salmon is cooking, purée hominy plus 6 tbsp reserved juice in mini processor until almost smooth.
    • Transfer purée to a small skillet and add butter and cilantro.
    • Stir over medium heat until warmed through, mixing in more reserved juice by teaspoonfuls if too thick.
    • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Divide hominy between plates, top with salmon, and serve.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 374, Fat ~ 16.3 g, Carbohydrates ~ 23.6 g, Protein ~ 31.1 g

As some of you know, my breakfast pretty regularly consists of overnight oats. My favorite OO concoction involves vanilla almond milk, oatmeal, guar gum, vanilla protein powder and blueberries. I imagine that I will continue eating this pretty routinely for quite a while.

I guess I am a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast. I generally find one that works and stick with it until there is some impetus for change.

So if you love OOs so much, what’s up with the breakfast cookie?

Well, as tasty as they are, OOs are not perfect in every situation. They cannot be taken through airport security, they are not ideal to eat while driving, and they certainly can’t be discretely eaten during a meeting at work.

The breakfast cookie solves all of these problems. Portable, one handed, and just as filling and tasty as OOs.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp almond slivers
  • 1 tbsp agave nectar or honey
  • Splash of almond (or regular) milk
  • Non-stick spray

Directions:

  • Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Work agave nectar and a splash of almond milk into the mixture.
  • Optional, for breakfast cookies to go: Place a square of plastic wrap on a small plate before continuing with the steps below.
  • Lightly coat a small plate with non-stick spray, then press the oatmeal mixture into a cookie shape on the plate.
  • Refrigerate overnight. The cookie can usually be lifted off of the plate easily after it has set. In the case of a to-go cookie, lift the plastic wrap and go.

Servings ~ 1
Calories ~ 423, Fat ~ 7.9 g, Carbohydrates ~ 68.6 g, Protein ~ 21.8 g

The pictures from this post and my last one really got me thinking about natural versus artificial lighting. Both pictures were taken fairly late in the day as the sunlight was waning, but the light was still strikingly better than anything that my kitchen lighting can produce.

I have toyed around with the idea of getting a light box for food pictures, but I don’t exactly want it hanging out in my kitchen. Ideally I could just make dinner before it gets dark, but it is very rare that it actually happens.

Maybe it is time to make room for a light box. Does anyone else have one?


A Duke’s House original.

Ingredients:

  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and sliced into semi-circle rings
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp tamari (soy sauce would be fine if you can’t find tamari)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger root
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro for garnish
  • olive oil spray

Directions:

  • After prepping squash, combine other ingredients in a sealable plastic bag or other container.
  • Add squash to sealable container and toss to coat with marinade.
  • Spray grill with olive oil, then grill squash over a medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until tender, turning halfway though.

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 114, Fat ~ 1.4 g, Carbohydrates ~ 26.7 g, Protein ~ 2.6 g

Sunday was yard work day at Duke’s House. Not exactly our favorite weekend activity.

Chris spent his afternoon mowing acres and acres of grass while I got to do the fun stuff. I crawled around our flower beds for hours pulling out tons of bulbs and what I think are were chives.

We have a war on bulbs at Duke’s House. They have begun to unstake the weed cloth that we so carefully placed in our flower beds last summer.  Some exceptionally rebellious bulbs have been growing up through the weed cloth. There are bulbs abound.

Even our weed pile, full of remanents from last year’s plant carnage,  is sprouting daffodils and what my non-green thumb can best identify as white amaryllis and purple hyacinths.

After I decimated hundreds of flower bulbs, Chris used the tractor to dump loads of mulch in strategic locations so that we could spread it more easily and fill in the spots where it had washed away over the winter. Finally, for the first time in the three years that we have lived here, I feel pretty happy with the appearance of our yard.

Our long day of yard work was rewarded with a little time vegging on our back porch. This meant an easy grilled dinner, including some of the first asparagus from our garden, prepped by me and cooked by Chris.

From Bon Apetit.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp white miso
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 4 4-oz. skinless salmon fillets
  • 4 lime wedges (for serving)

Directions:

  • Combine miso, mirin, rice vinegar, ginger, and sesame oil in a small bowl and whisk together.
  • Heat grill to a medium heat.
  • Place salmon on grill, brush top side with miso glaze, and grill for about 5 minutes.
  • Flip salmon, brush with miso glaze, then continue grill for about 5 more minutes.
  • Serve with a squeeze of lime

Servings ~ 4
Calories ~ 228, Fat ~ 9.9 g, Carbohydrates ~ 4 g, Protein ~ 29 g