Archive for Pasta

Happy as a nutrition nerd eating clams

The phrase “happy as a clam” is baffling – really, who’s happy about living in a scraggly shell wedged deep in briny, sandy muck? But these guys certainly can bring a smile to the face of nutrition nerds.

Clams (and a few other shellfish)

Did you know that ounce-for-ounce, these little mollusks boast more iron than the red meats we typically think of as good sources? You’d probably guess that, as seafood, they’d have a favorable fat profile (read: lots of omega-3 fatty acids, little of the bad-for-you fats). But unlike many other seafoods, clams are typically low in contaminants and can be grown and harvested sustainably.

So what kind of foods can we prepare that take advantage of the nutritional value, substantial texture, and simple flavors of clams? Head past the jump.

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Hello, Stranger: Someone’s not going to be invited back

Sometimes, your friends have a new, awesome Friend that you haven’t met yet. This Friend is talked up as the funniest/daringest/best-looking/most-traveled person around, and your friends insist you just have to meet them. So one thing leads to another and a dinner party or kickball game or whatever the kids do these days is arranged, and you finally meet The Friend. But after small talk falls flat, or maybe The Friend rudely snatched the last Pretty Things brew from the fridge, or maybe they just aren’t as good-looking as promised, you’re left wondering what do they see in this Friend?  Well, it turns out that I met one of those friends in this fourth installment of Hello, Stranger.

Who failed to meet expectations in this latest round of experimentation with foods I’ve never eaten or prepared myself?

Hemp milk. That’s right – despite all the praise heaped on help milk by other nutrition nerds I know, this just didn’t cut it for me.

Now, I like non-cow milks, don’t get me wrong. And I’m all for foods can boast about their omega fatty acid profiles. So I gave hemp milk several chances to win me over: I bought unsweetened, plain (sweetened), and vanilla, and tried each with my regular cereal, in oatmeal, in chia seed pudding, and straight from the glass. But in every incarnation, this stuff tasted like pressed facial powder (see: Cover Girl or similar), and I just couldn’t get past it. I might be tempted to give it one more go in a smoothie, like this chocolate banana one from The Naked Dish, but it would take a lot of convincing (and a big sale/coupon).

But thankfully, a few tastier foods were also invited to this meet & greet. Follow after the jump to strike up some small talk.

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Eggplant Week: Agent Double-0 Aubergine

Who would have thought that a bulbous shape clad in shiny purple skin represents the cutting edge in radar-evading design?

Most weeks, I’ve told Tim (Mr Eating The Week) what theme I’m cooking up (get it?) for an upcoming blog post. But somewhere in the middle of coordinating babysitters, visiting friends for dinner, and our increasingly complicated workout schedules, I forgot to mention that eggplant (aka aubergine) would make repeated appearances on this week’s menu.

There’s no ulterior motive, like trying to fool Tim into eating something he doesn’t like. I promise he’s a fan of the purple beauties – after all, he planted the ones that recently ripened in our vegetable garden.

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Twisting the Week away

We’re fairly adventurous eaters at Chez ETW, but apparently we are anything but creative cooks:

Me: “I’m doing a ‘twists on old classics’ theme for Eating the Week, but I’m drawing a blank for an original recipe. Can you think of anything we make that fits that?”

Tim: substantial silent pause. “Sometimes we microwave-steam vegetables for stir fry?”

So… this is not going to be a post presenting any madcap, winsome, inventive recipe that originated from our own kitchen. But I’m happy to highlight many other folks who are exceptionally skilled at turning the tried-and-true into something tasty and new.

First up: Peanut-butter sushi, from Peanut Butter & Co via Serious Eats (here).

Our son likes conventional (seaweed-and-fish) sushi and maki rolls, but I don’t have anything like the skills or patience required to make them at home. Lucky for me, a few basic household ingredients can be squished together, rolled up and cut into a cute take on sushi.

Interested in new twists on meatloaf, pizza, lasagna and more? Head past the jump.

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Speed freak: Eating The Week gets Superfast again

If that title made you worry that I’m going to bore you to death with more off-topic running/marathon nonsense, relax. This week’s speed isn’t happening at the track but in the kitchen, with a trial of seven recipes from Cooking Light’s Superfast collection.

I tried this before and found it was a fun way to explore new dishes and learn some quick-prep tips. So when Cooking Light (via Facebook and Twitter) put out the call for Superfast fans to potentially be featured in the magazine, I grabbed my pretend stopwatch (iPhone app) and got cooking.

In the spirit of Superfast, no rambling musing over each dish this week – just seven quick reports on time spent, changes made, and tastiness achieved.

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Praise for beige: couscous week

I was feeling ambivalent about putting couscous at center stage for this week’s theme. On its own, it just isn’t that remarkable:

But it really shines as a platform for tasty, healthy ingredients. This versatile not-grain (it’s a refined wheat product, basically pasta) can get mixed up with fruits, vegetables, meats, spices, or myriad other ingredients to create a seemingly endless catalog of recipes. You may not look twice at that plain bowl of beige, but you’ll probably stop to coo at the jaunty hats on these couscous stuffed tomatoes, right?

Or check out another eye-catching favorite of mine: cinnamon-lime chicken with raisin couscous. Here, simple couscous is the underpinning for colorful vegetables, fruit, and seasonings, making a subtly spicy, comforting bowl of food.

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The Missing Week: Potassium

It’s a little busy around Chez ETW – I’ve got deadlines, Mr. ETW has been traveling for work, and ETW Jr has been promoted to Vice Chairman of the Problems Keeping Your Pants On, Seriously, Why Are They In the Sink? department. But I don’t want to let a lack of time keep us from discussing what is lacking in our diets: potassium.

Cut Potassium pieces from Dennis s.k collection (Wikipedia user Dnn87)

Tasty image, yes? There will be food porn shortly, I promise. Before that, let’s answer, “Why potassium?” In short, this mineral is one of the key electrolytes in the body. There’s a complex square dance routine going on in many of your cells, where potassium, calcium, and sodium (along with others) are do-si-do-ing, changing electrical charges along the way. This fancy footwork keeps nerve cells functioning, muscles contracting, and fluids regulated.

How much do we need? For healthy adults and teens, the daily adequate intake (AI) is 4,700 mg. But here’s where The Missing Week comes in, because on average, we’re not meeting the AI. Data from the United States and Canada suggests we’re only getting 45-70% of the daily recommended potassium from our diets.

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License and registration, please: Eating The Week takes on Cooking Light’s Superfast

Usually, I have a ludicrous amount of time for food bloggery. I work from home, with my “office” all of 10 steps from the kitchen. And being a freelancer is a fairly autonomous gig, which means I can make room in my schedule pretty easily for menu planning, grocery shopping and cooking.

Nevertheless, there are still times where the workload required for Paying The Mortgage trumps Eating The Week, and I can barely find room in my day to brush my teeth, much less spend 2 hours making chili. So when I saw Cooking Light’s challenge to try out recipes from their Superfast collection – all of which are designed to require less than 20 minutes to prepare – I was gung-ho to add some to my repertoire.

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Beans, beans, the magical week

If I had any decent skills with a sewing machine, I would consider making teeny little capes for legumes to wear. Before anyone has me committed, I’ll explain: these guys are food superheroes.

It wasn’t until I took an introductory nutrition class that I fully appreciated them. In nearly every section of that class, legumes popped up as great sources of vital nutrients. Fiber and complex carbohydrates? Oh, heck yes. Economical, non-animal protein? One of the best sources. Iron? Yep. B vitamins? They’re in there. Potassium? Sure. Seriously, I could have written in “legumes” for every answer on my exams, and gotten 8 of 10 correct without even trying (not that I actually did that, she says to the people currently considering her grad school applications).

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The week of baking dish love

An admission: I am weirdly fond of my large baking dish. It hasn’t yet threatened the stability of my marriage, but to put it in context, that simple stoneware Denby dish is one of the few things I’d grab on my way out of the burning house.

While you ponder what those other items on the burning-house list could be, I’ll try to explain this adoration. It’s not really about the physical form: I feel pretty “meh” about the pastel cream and green color of mine. And while the weight of a stoneware baking dish is pleasingly substantial, the same could be said for my slow cooker, cast-iron skillet, and mortar-and-pestle, all of which I appreciate but don’t hug regularly. It’s also not about efficiency. A big baking dish seems like a “throw everything in without sullying another pan” kind of tool, but most of the recipes I make with mine involve up-front work on the stove.

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