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Last night, partway through my conference call marathon, I think during call four of six for the day, Chris came through the living room trying to talk to me. I waved him away as I was trying to concentrate on some important tidbit that I can no longer recall. Um, right. Important?

After my call wrapped up, I went into the spare bedroom where I thought he was working. No Chris. Odd. I looked in each of the other two bedrooms as well. Hmph. Very strange. Since we rely on a driver for transportation, usually we are home for good once we are home for the day.

Just as my next call was beginning, Chris walked through the front door armed with pizza and huge bags of produce! Very un-Chris. Well, the produce part anyway. Apparently he discovered a produce store that looked good and had decided to stock up.

Super cool! It had been about ten days since we last made it grocery shopping and our remaining produce was looking sketchy at best. Hopefully we manage to eat all of our new produce before it deteriorates!

For 500 Rs, about $10, Chris got:

Fruit: 3 pomegranates, 1 cantaloupe, 1 pineapple, 1 Fuji apple, 1 giant bunch of bananas

Veggies: 1/2 lb. green beans, 4 onions, 1 clove garlic, 1 ginger root, 6 small eggplants, 2 bell peppers, 2 giant carrots, 1 bunch cilantro, 1 bunch mint

Pretty good haul! It is difficult for me to remember how much that would have cost at home, but I can safely assume that it would be far more than $10. I am really going to miss the inexpensive produce here. At home, Chris is usually on my case about buying expensive produce and making sure that I’ll be able to eat it all before it goes bad. Here things are clearly different!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb green beans
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp minced ginger

Directions:

  • Lightly sauté garlic and ginger in butter for 1-2 minutes in a large skillet.
  • Add green beans and continue to cook until green beans are tender.

Servings ~ 2
Calories ~ 92, Carbohydrates ~ 9 g, Fat ~ 6 g, Protein ~ 2 g

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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

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

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

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

Chris raved about this dish from his very first bite. I was stoked about that because I really liked it also.

A few hours after his first dinner, Chris headed back to the refrigerator for seconds. As he sat in the floor (we are big time floor sitters, in fact we have a whole room geared up for optimal floor sitting) eating cold Pad Thai, he commented that it got better and better with every bite. I totally took this the wrong way.

“What do you mean by that? Do you mean that you didn’t like it the first time around, but you just said that you did to appease me?”

“No, I meant just what I said, it tastes better and better to me as I keep eating.”

“Is that some kind of backhanded compliment?”

“Relax, it’s just that usually when I make things they taste good at first and then kind of ‘meh’ by the end.”

“But you always make yourself the same foods…”

“Uh huh. This is really good though.”

The moral of this story: You should make Pad Thai because it tastes good. Even cold Pad Thai, while sitting on the floor tastes better and better with each bite.

From Cooking Light.

Ingredients:

  • Sauce:
    • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
    • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
    • 1 to 2 tbsp hot sauce (I used Sriracha.)
    • 1 tbsp mirin (sweet rice wine)
    • 1 tbspn maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushrooms (about 5 ounces)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 8 oz extra-firm tofu, drained, pressed (see my favorite pressing technique here), and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 cup sliced green onion tops
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup dry-roasted peanuts
  • 8 oz (uncooked weight) wide rice stick noodles (Banh Pho), cooked and drained
  • 5 lime wedges

Directions:

  • To prepare sauce, whisk together first 5 ingredients.
  • Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add mushrooms, carrot, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes.
  • Add sauce and tofu; cook 1 minute.
  • Stir in coconut milk; cook 2 minutes.
  • Stir in lettuce, sprouts, green onions, cilantro, peanut, and noodles; cook 1 minute.
  • Serve with lime wedges.

Servings ~ 5
Calories ~ 385, Fat ~ 14 g, Carbohydrates ~ 54 g, Protein ~ 14 g