Chef Lydia ish

So last Tuesday I invited my BFF over for a little cooking experiment. I on my eating clean phase needed support both morally, socially and alcoholic-lly (wine is clean.. right?).

My first real attempt was the Detox Teriyaki Chicken recipe from Gwenyth Paltrow’s It’s All Good.

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Sauce Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup agave syrup
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon barley miso
  • 1 teaspoon mirin
  • 1 tablespoon water

Combine the balsamic, agave, ginger and pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and cook for ten minutes. Cool and then add the miso, mirin and water.

For Chicken:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • Detox Teriyaki Sauce
  • 1 finely chopped scallion
  • 4 sprigs cilantro, roughly chopped

1. Marinate the chicken in the sauce (reserve a spoonful or two) for at least one hour – up to overnight.

2. Heat your grill to medium heat. Wipe off any excess marinade and grill the chicken for about 3 or 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Serve with the reserved, hasn’t touched raw chicken sauce, scalions and cilantro.

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I followed this recipe exactly for the most part, except for the scallions and cilantro. I’m not quite at the point where I’d dare trying substitutions. I’m the follow the recipe kind of person. I also made the Carrots with Black Sesame + Ginger.

 Ingredients 

Elimination Diet (substitute a pinch of salt for the soy sauce) | Vegan

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced fresh ginger
  • 4 large carrots cut into matchsticks (about 4 cups)
  • Coarse sea salt
  • A couple of drops of hot toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted black sesame seeds

Preparation 

1. Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet set over high heat. Add the ginger and cook, stirring it into the oil, until it becomes fragrant, just 30 seconds or so. Add the carrots and stir to combine them with the gingery oil. Add a big pinch of salt and ¼ cup of water and turn the heat down to medium-high. Cook until the carrots just begin to soften and the water evaporates, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil, soy sauce, and sesame seeds and serve.

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All in all, it went very well!! I haven’t quite figured out what it means to mince ginger and I wish I could have marinated the chicken longer.

But yay! I’m really happy with how the first attempt went, despite the $70 I had to throw down for things like “mirin” and “miso” that I still don’t understand what they exactly “are”. The boyfriend and I decided that August is going to be eat clean month so I’m glad it’s still going to be a tasty end to summer!

Adventures in Quinoa

gluten-free, dairy-free, mostly sugar-free apple crisp dessert recipe

Somehow my busy weekend managed to feel slow-paced, which brought some much needed de-stressing to stop my lungs from attempting to squeeze my sternum right out of my body (…too graphic?). After some sunny, windows-down drives listening to my 90’s Pop Pandora station and admiring the buildings through downtown Dallas, I settled in for another one of my favorite stress-busting activities – baking. I put in a DVD from The OC: Season 1 and got to work.

While apple crisp is commonly a fall dessert, the lemons in this recipe make this a refreshing dish. Plus the fact that it’s gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free (okay, so there’s maybe just a tiny bit of optional honey) make it a light treat that also happens to be relatively healthy.

healthy, vegan apple crisp dessert

Ingredients

  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 2 small lemons
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free flour (Ex: Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour)
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
  • Oil spray

Quinoa

Combine rinsed quinoa with the water, vanilla, honey, one squeezed lemon juice, its lemon zest, olive oil and a dash or two of cinnamon. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to simmer. After 15-20 minutes, test-fluff the quinoa. If it’s still a little wet / clumpy, just recover, turn to low and let sit until dry. When ready, turn off stove and leave covered.

healthy dessert recipe

Prep

Very lightly coat pan with oil spray. Peel apples (I only partially peeled mine to get a little mixed texture from the apple skin). Thinly slice apples – the thinner, the easier they’ll cook through. Fill the pan halfway.

Dust with a handful of flour then with nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Squeeze a little of the second lemon and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the apples.

Mix cooked quinoa with flour then sprinkle the mixture evenly until all apples are covered. Spray one light coat of oil over the top.

Bake

350 degrees until top is crispy and edges are starting to brown (25-35 minutes).

healthy apple crisp recipe

Enjoy!

Tax-free treats

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

Doing your own taxes is an adulthood rite of passage all must face at some point or another…unless you happen to be one of those girls whose dad does it for you until you get married, at which point your husband does it for you.

I am not one of those girls.

Entering the “Adults who do their own taxes” club is particularly celebratory because of how deeply I dread it each year. Last year I was supposed to do my own taxes, only to practically cause my phone water damage from tearfully calling my dad until he took pity on me. But this year, I vowed to confront my fear of taxes like the independent, most-of-the-time intelligent woman I am…after months of procrastination of course.

I can’t really explain my somewhat irrational fear of taxes, but it probably has something to do with the shaming from seeing my total made versus the total in my bank account, the fact that I literally don’t understand a word of IRS-speak, the frustration from not understanding, the feeling of stupidity that follows for getting so terribly lost in those forms and the pressure of sending it off to the government, who I hear could really make my life hell if I screw it up. It’s all an awful lot for a perfectionist to take.

Despite my best efforts, some tears and multiple phone calls to my boyfriend, bank and TurboTax later, I finally filed my own taxes. Now let’s just hope I did them correctly?

It’s enough to make a girl stress eat, but my allergy elimination diet (ONE more week!) has me avoiding a lot of my typical edible solutions. Fruit is pretty much my only allowed source of sweetness, so I adapted my favorite low-fat pie crust recipe to make fruit turnovers. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free / vegan and added sugar free, so eat, eat eat away!

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cup Gluten-Free Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Mix)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3 tablespoons non-dairy milk (I used flax milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Fruit of your choice (I used peaches, strawberries and blackberries)

Directions:

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Slice your desired fruit up into small bits.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in a medium – large bowl.

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Mix the wet ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix well – It should look just like pie crust dough now, so if it’s still crumbly add equal parts milk (for crisp flakiness) and oil (for soft, anti-crumbliness) until it is malleable and crumble-free.

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Roll out the dough and use a small bowl to cut the bottom of the turnover out. Sometimes this dough is hard to maneuver, so I rolled mine very thin straight on the cooking pan sheet.
  • Place your fruits of choice in the center of the dough circles on the pan.

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

  • Peel the remaining dough off the pan and roll out on your counter to cut the turnover tops out with a slightly larger bowl. The tops will probably need to be rolled thicker than the bottoms and picked up with a spatula so they don’t rip.
  • Seal with a fork pressed around the edges, then cook at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes. You may want to bake them for an additional 5 minutes at 425 or 450 for extra crispness (I did). 

gluten dairy free turnover recipe

Enjoy your basically healthy treats and cheers to ten months of no taxes!

Starting from scratch

fresh vegetables - quinoa saladcooking quinoaquinoa salad recipe  

My on-again, off-again relationship with my kitchen has been going steady for years, but my new gluten, dairy, and heck, everything free diet has forced me to spend much more quality time with my pots and pans as of late. 

I mean, I’ve always like the idea of cooking. But it just takes so long, ingredients can get a little pricey when you’re just cooking for one and it seems like an awful lot of effort to start from scratch after fighting traffic home from a long day at work. I knew if this month-long commitment for a healthier me was going to be successful, I was going to need a plan.

For the first week or so, I spent an afternoon making a huge bowl of white rice and grilling chicken kebabs with different seasonings so I could easily grab a perfectly-portioned meal whenever I was hungry or frantically trying to get out the door for work. Some vegetables helped liven up the rice every day, and I treated myself to the most adorable sectioned container to pack everything in. Luckily, my three years of work at an Asian restaurant also prepared me to not only eat, but enjoy rice for meals on end.

But nobody can eat rice 24/7, so this week I’m venturing into all the possibilities of quinoa. My experience with this grain can be summed up by the embarrassing fact I was walking around pronouncing it “Kwin-oh-uh” for far too long than I care to admit…My mind was blown to learn this is the exact same food as that grain everyone pronounces “Keen-whah”. Who knew?! Well, probably you did, but there you go.

I cooked this quinoa substituting half the water with chicken stock, then added basil, cucumbers, grape halves and a little olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Quinoa cooks just like rice, and I can’t stress enough to make sure you don’t add too much liquid. My first batch of quinoa came out a little lot on the wet side, which is not nearly as appetizing as the dryer, store-bought quinoa I’ve had before. I’d also advise drizzling the olive oil on top just before serving/eating, rather then mixing it in advance. Not only does this keep the salad from getting too moist, but it looks nice on the plate, too!

Giving myself a break bisquits

baking photography mixing bowl baking photography baking biscuits strawberry biscuits - sidestrawberry biscuits

This weekend I was determined to rest.

Like all good intentions, this idea started out so well, with a slow morning spent sleeping in then getting creative in the kitchen…but after celebrating two friends’ engagement, making a couple drives across the Dallas metroplex and one unhappy head/stomach later, it was clear that I had not exactly been the image of peace and stillness I’d envisioned all week leading up to that point.

Since I was not one of those lucky enough to have this President’s Day off and wishing it was still the weekend isn’t making my weekend any magically longer, I’ve been thinking of little ways I can treat myself to some relaxation throughout the week rather than just keep putting all my hopes into the weekend to recharge.

This week I plan to…

Wake up earlier. I know what you’re thinking…didn’t she just say she was needing more time relax not less? The thing is, I’ve found that even though I absolutely love my hibernation, er…sleep, I love my peace of mind more. Waking up with enough time to journal, do some yoga or run, shower and get myself looking how I’d actually prefer people to see me goes so much farther in getting me ready to tackle each day. The holidays completely threw off all the progress I’d been making, but I suppose with the passing of Valentine’s Day I can’t exactly pretend that now still counts as ‘the holidays’ anymore, can I?

Cook real food. Confession. My laziness knows no bounds…I’ve been eating out a LOT this past week or so. Even when I had the good sense to actually be in a grocery store I ended up getting frozen Asian food (never a good idea) and blue box mac and cheese (always a good idea, except when you end up making and eating two boxes in one sitting. But hey, it was Valentine’s Day…). How can I expect my body to feel good (and look good) if I don’t put good things in it? I really enjoyed taking the time to make myself something fun and good this weekend. I think adding time for that into my week is just what I need to force myself to slow down, make the most of my time with food I truly enjoy/can be proud of and oh yeah, take care of myself.

Light candles. This one’s just plain fun. They look pretty, smell pretty and make me feel like life is just a tad more on the luxurious side. Plus I have quite a few that even though I love everything about them, I’ve never actually ever lit. And if there’s one thing Finding Tiffany’s is all about it’s that life is not for hoarding and hoping, it’s for actually experiencing and enjoying. Now this goal, I can accomplish.

Update – Last week’s goals to read more and be nicer to myself have been going so well, I’ve decided to continue them…I will finish that book…one day…

{Vanilla Biscuit Recipe: Gluten-free Bisquick, Vanilla, a tiny bit of sugar, milk, eggs and butter. Plus fresh fruit and whip cream. I wish I could tell you measurements, but I had way less than the recipe called for so I had to eyeball it. Basically my rule of thumb for pretty much everything is to start with the recipe on the back of the box, then add way more vanilla than it calls for. Voila.}