Sometimes the best meals I’ve eaten were the ones that weren’t planned at all. I’m known to cook too much in my house. I think it’s a trait I inherited from my mother who had to cook for 7 people. Even after my older siblings became adults and were long gone from the house, my mom cooked as if she had an army to feed.
The beauty of leftovers is having something already cooked that can be “repurposed” into another meal. An easy one is chicken. With the weather being iffy in Cincinnati and pop up showers being the norm lately, grilling time might be limited (unless you don’t mind grilling during a thunderstorm).
When we grill chicken, we grill A LOT. That way, I have chicken ready to go for a few meals. If you’re not into grilling (or cooking at all for that matter), a rotissorie chicken is a great option. These are pre-seasoned and reasonably priced. They can be eaten “as is” and paired with potatoes, rice or noodles or shredded up and used in salads or tacos. The sky’s the limit here!
This past week I used grilled chicken that was seasoned with steak seasoning (why not?) that was sliced and added to leftover egg noodles. I added some steamed broccoli and a dash of Parmesan cheese and boom- dinner, DONE!
If you have extra food and don’t think you’ll eat it right away, freeze it! It’s worth investing in some glass Pyrex or other glass containers to freeze leftovers. I have frozen rice, pasta, farro, quinoa, soup, chili, you name it. On days when we’re out of ‘thyme’, I can grab something out of the freezer and repurpose it into a different meal.
Here are 5 quick meal ideas:
- Chicken tacos. Keep whole wheat or corn tortillas and salsa on hand. I also love shredded cheese on tacos.
- Chicken pot pie. Buy a pre-made pie crust (or make your own) and keep mixed vegetables in your freezer. Make a simple ‘gravy’ with broth, butter and flour to create the filling.
- BBQ chicken sandwiches. Shred up chicken and combine it with your favorite BBQ sauce. Serve over whole wheat buns with cole slaw.
- Indian one pot. Buy a jar of Indian simmer sauce and add chopped chicken, a can of kidney or garbanzo beans, diced tomatoes and frozen green beans. Serve over rice or couscous.
- Chicken vegetable soup. Combine leftover chicken cut into cubes with 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth and a bag of frozen miraproix (chopped onions, celery and carrots). Simmer ingredients for 20 minutes, then add 1 cup uncooked rice or noodles and simmer another 8 to 10 minutes until starch is cooked.
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I am embarrassed to admit it. I’ve never made a homemade pie with the exception of pizza. But, that’s not dessert. Pie is one of those desserts that seems daunting. You have to get the crust just right to fit into the fluted pan and if you mix the dough too much, it’s tough and not flaky. What if the filling flows over the pan and you’re left with a gooey mess in your oven? I have pie anxiety.
I kept seeing beautiful pictures of galettes on Instagram and Pinterest during the pandemic and thought, “how hard can it be”? It turns out, it’s really not that hard.
My husband is the pie guy in the family. A scientist by trade, he likes to measure every ingredient down to the tiniest tincture before he puts anything in the oven. He’s turned out everything from apple to pumpkin mince pie over the years with ease, while I just watched in awe and eat.
I tend to “wing” most of my meals. A pinch of oregano here, a dollop of mustard there. This is the way my mother cooked- no recipes required. But, being in a food field where people want to know calorie, carb and fat counts, I’ve learned the art of recipe writing and following. And obviously, to write a cookbook, you have to write the recipes! https://www.amazon.com/Healing-Gout-Cookbook-Anti-Inflammatory-Recipes/dp/1646114469
The beauty of the galette is that it’s a little of both. While the ingredients for the crust should be fairly exact, the execution of the dough is not. As you’ll see- it’s perfectly imperfect. Now that’s my kind of pie!
You can use just about anything in a galette, but since it’s summer and peach season, I had to make peach. I bought the peaches at https://www.countryfreshfarmmarket.com/ where you can find just about any fruit, herb, delightful cheese, beer or wine. Their produce is amazing and it’s important to me to support a local store. Below is the recipe for this delightful summer treat. I found the recipe for the dough (AKA Pate Brisee) in the Martha Stewart Pies & Tarts cookbook https://www.marthastewart.com/1502266/pie-recipes
The recipe below will make 1 galette.
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white sugar
1 stick cold butter, cut into small chunks
1/4-1/2 cups water
3 ripe peaches, cleaned and sliced
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
- Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a mixing bowl. Add the butter using a pastry cutter (or fork) until the mixture is a course meal with pieces of butter remaining.
- Add water slowly over the mixture and continue to blend until it begins to hold together. If the dough is too dry, add a tsp. or so of water until a soft ball forms.
- Wrap the ball of dough loosely in plastic wrap and press into a disc shape.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least one hour before using.
- Place the peaches, cinnamon and brown sugar in a small bowl and toss.
- Once ready to make the galette, turn your oven to 400 degrees.
- Roll the dough out on a floured surface into the shape of a rough circle. It will be roughly 8-9 inches.
- Place the dough onto a baking sheet or greased baking pan prior to adding the fruit.
- Evenly distribute the prepped peaches onto the dough, then fold over the edges about an inch in.
- Bake the galette for 25-35 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the peaches are bubbly.
Makes 6 slices.
I won’t lie. Becoming a dietitian is not an easy path. It starts with a passion for food, health and people. You need to learn and understand anatomy, physiology and chemistry. In order to receive appropriate training, you have to apply for and be accepted into a competitive dietetic internship or practice program, which is typically unpaid. Then you have to sit for a national exam to become registered, and maintain 75 hours of continued education every 5 years. There are multiple hoops to jump through. It is expensive, time-consuming and difficult.
Because of this competitive start, dietitians are often competitive with each other. You’re vying for the same job (like you would with other professions) or you’re trying to make a name for yourself. Your goal is to obtain more clients, work with brands, make a better wage, etc.
After being in the field for nearly 30 years and a small business owner for over 12, I’ve realized that collaborating with other dietitians is much more meaningful and fun than competing. Every dietitian has a little different spin on how they cook, teach, present, write, etc. We all have unique talents and honestly, can’t do everything. Just like there are specialties in medicine or nursing, the same applies for nutrition. There is no “one size fits all” approach and we each do things in our own unique ways.
For example,if I receive a call to work with a child with food allergies, I try to find a dietitian that works in this area. Or if I am asked to present on a topic that I have zero experience or interest in, I’ll likely forward it to a more knowledgeable colleague. The same holds true for how other dietitians treat me. We network with each other and refer clients when things are out of our lane. It’s part of being ethical and acting with integrity. It’s OK to say no to work that doesn’t fit, and you should.
This week, I am collaborating with another dietitian whom I’ve admired for years. She is a great writer and well known in the nutrition community. Her passion and practice is “plant-powered” nutrition and she is known for her plant prowess.
Rather than seeing her as my adversary, I see her as an ally. We met a few years ago at a nutrition conference in Texas and have connected online through social media over the years. She has written a few cookbooks and agreed to do a giveaway with me this week. I am happy to collaborate with her in this way.
So if you’re on Instagram, follow the two of us for a chance to win her Plant-powered for life book, market tote and my Don’t despear food pun tee. You’ve got nothing to lose by entering and you’ll likely pick up some great plant powered nutrition tips to boot! Here’s the book: https://www.amazon.com/Plant-Powered-Life-Recipes-Achieve-Goals_Starting/dp/1615191879
It’s Memorial Day! In our house, that used to mean one of two things. We’d either be on the road back from my sister’s in Raleigh for a family reunion, or we’d be heading to the Taste of Cincinnati. Unfortunately, my sister now lives in Phoenix (too far to drive, flying not a great option) and COVID19 has put the kaibosh on festivals for the time being.
So, I’m left at home this morning with no siblings and no festival. In an effort to clean out my fridge, which seems to always be full of leftovers, I thought I’d try my hand at potato pancakes- a staple we’d normally enjoy at the Taste of Cincinnati (as well as the Oktoberfest- yet to be determined for fall)!
Normally potato pancakes are made with shredded potatoes, but if you’ve got leftover white, yellow or mashed sweet potatoes, this is a super simple recipe that can be served with apple butter, sour cream, stone ground mustard or ketchup. I served mine with apple butter because I love the combination of sweet and savory. If you’ve got onion, dice up 1/4 cup and add it to the mix.
If you’ve got sweet potatoes, they can be seasoned with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice or ginger. Cumin is also a versatile spice that goes well in either regular mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes. The pancakes can be made gluten-free by substituting almond, potato or other gluten-free flour.
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
corn or canola oil for frying (roughly 1/4 cup)
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine mashed potatoes, beaten egg, flour, and spices.
- Heat a large skillet and add 2 Tbsp. oil.
- Once oil is hot, use a tablespoon to scoop 4 portions of the potato mixture and place in the hot oil.
- Fry on one side for 2-3 minutes, then flip.
- Flatten the pancake a bit after you’ve flipped it and continuing cooking and flipping until both sides are golden brown.
- Serve with your favorite condiment. Enjoy!
Makes 6 pancakes.
If you’re spending more ‘thyme’ in the kitchen these days, you’re not alone! While everyone was grabbing toilet paper, my husband and I were going for unbleached flour and packets of yeast. If it’s the end of days, we’re going to live it up with bread and cookies! Kidding (sort of).
Being the frugal dietitian that I am, I have discovered that you can use smaller amounts of ingredients in certain recipes and still have your cake, and eat it, too. While we’re not making too much cake these days (we save that for birthdays), a batch of cookies is a great way to procrastibake an afternoon or morning away.
Last night, my girls requested cookies. In the past, I’d make the batch and my husband would bring some to work or we’d give some to neighbors. Well, things have changed a bit. Social distancing has put a damper on sharing. In addition, I’d rather not use up all my ingredients and have to make another trip to the store or Click list order.
Here are a few hacks to spare ingredients and calories when baking.
- Cut the recipe in half. If your cookies, brownies or other baked item has an even number of eggs, make half the recipe. This leave eggs for something else (such as breakfast or tuna salad) and you’re not stuck with dessert that you can’t share with office mates or neighbors.
- Reduce the sugar in your cookie recipe by 1/2 cup. Most drop cookie recipes call for 1 1/2 cups of sugar (3/4 cup brown, 3/4 cup granular). Use 1/2 cup each and you’ll never notice the difference.
- Use less butter. I like the texture of cookies better when I used less butter. Most recipes have a full stick of butter for a full recipe. I use 1 1/2 sticks instead and the texture is crispier and less greasy. If you’re using a half recipe, you’ll need just 6 Tbsp. butter.
- Add 1 cup of rolled oats in place of a cup of flour. This boosts the fiber content in your recipe and gives the cookies a chewier texture.
- Use mini semi-sweet chips. You’ll get more chocolate flavor with mini chips because they can cover more surface area of your cookies.
- Freeze your extra dough or cookies. There’s no rule that you have to bake all of the dough in one session. Keep dough in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Freezing cookies keeps you from eating them all at once or having them sit on your counter and get stale.
- Add orange, almond, cinnamon or other flavors. Change the flavor or your dough and you’ve got a whole new cookie! I’m a fan of using orange and cinnamon together or almond flavoring in place of vanilla. Use full amount of original recipe for this one. A little extra vanilla never hurts!
- Substitute dried fruit for half of the chocolate chips. Raisins, dried cranberries or cherries add a chewy texture to your cookies and reduce the fat in the recipe when used in place of chocolate.
- Try baby food prunes in place of butter in brownie recipes. Prunes enhance the chocolate flavor and give the brownies more of a cake-like texture.
- Add some zest! Orange or lemon zest is particularly delicious in oatmeal cookies or in blueberry muffins.
Half Batch Chocolate Chip Cookies:
6 Tbsp. butter (softened)
1/4 cup granular sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 cup & 2 Tbsp. white flour
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Place softened butter, white sugar and brown sugar in a mixing bowl. Mix by hand or use a stand mixer to cream ingredients together.
- Add egg, salt, baking soda, and vanilla and beat until blended.
- Stir in flour to make a soft dough.
- Add in chocolate chips and mix into the dough.
- Place 1 tsp. cookie dough on a greased cookie sheet or baking mat in rows of 3.
- Bake for 9 minutes or until lightly brown
Makes 16 to 18 cookies.
If you’re a baker or need a fun gift for one, check out my Whiskin’ it all gifts:
Whiskin’ it all Eco Tote Bag
It’s Earth Day! ‘Thyme’ to celebrate your mother and reduce the carbon footprint.
As a dietitian, it’s part of my DNA to avoid food waste as much as possible. You’ve likely heard the statistics that 40% of American’s food ends up in a landfill while 1 in 8 go hungry. This is nonsense! I really hate tossing food out- especially now when my income has been nearly cut in half due to COVID19 cancellations and trips to the grocery store are much less frequent. If you’d like to see my review of click list VS Instacart, check out my blog post here: https://soundbitesnutrition.com/grocery-shopping-in-the-age-of-covid19/
I always try to use what’s in my frig, but don’t always want to eat the same dishes. Leftover beans become soup, too much rice is transformed into stir fry, grilled chicken makes great chicken salad.
Today I discovered a partial can of diced tomatoes with green chiles left from weekend tacos. Knowing my daughter hates spicy food, adding this to soup or chili would be met with resistance. So instead, I added them to my eggs! Salsa would be a great substitute here, too.
Adding veggies to any dish is a great way to reuse them. You reduce food waste while adding color, vitamin C, potassium, fiber and texture to your meal. I doused my eggs with oregano and cheese, which made a delicious omelet.
Here’s the recipe:
1 egg with 1 tsp. water, scrambled in a small bowl
1 tsp. shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup diced tomatoes with green chilies (or salsa)
Dusting of oregano
- Heat a small skillet and spray with non-stick spray.
- Add scrambled egg to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Sprinkle shredded cheese over the egg, then add diced tomatoes.
- Add oregano over the eggs (as much as desired).
- Fold egg over in pan to make an omelet.
Serve with toast or fruit. Enjoy!