Categories
Diary Food Pr0n

Yay for my George Foreman electric grill

My George Foreman electric grillFor my birthday this year, my parents sent me what has become an absolute staple in my kitchen: a George Foreman electric grill. In the months since, I’ve used it practically every day for chicken, burgers, fish, or hot dogs. It is really simple to use, grills meats to wonderful tenderness, and cleans up easily.

The book that came with the grill gives cooking guidelines for pretty much anything I want to make. I just turn the dial to the proper setting and grill to the recommended time. As I’ve used the grill so often, I’ve learned how much to adjust cook times for food thickness.

I eat a lot of chicken, and the George Foreman grills frozen chicken breasts moist and juicy every time, something that’s been difficult for me to do consistently on the stovetop or in the oven. Fish comes off the grill flaky and delicious, and burgers grill up pretty much as they would on a normal grill. I’ve also grilled vegetables, though I want to do more experimentation there.

I rarely flavor the meats before cooking. I’ve tried marinades a couple of times, but for the most part I use frozen meat (without thawing) and let the grill bring out the natural tastes.

Time and time again, I laugh at myself for favoring this grill over my stovetop or oven. It just feels so easy. I like that I can “set it and forget it”, something I can’t do when cooking on the stove. Food takes about the same amount of time to cook as it would in the oven, but I don’t have to get out baking dishes and racks or use aluminum foil–I just throw the meat on the grill.

Having this grill has really helped me keep my protein intake up in a healthy way. As a duodenal switch weight loss surgery patient, it’s vital that I get enough protein, but without a convenient way to cook meat, I can imagine I’d be grabbing a lot more fast food than I should be. Actually, while on my way home from the farmers market today, I thought about stopping to get a chicken sandwich somewhere…but instead I came home and made one myself. This means I know exactly what went into the sandwich I had for lunch!

I used to have one of the original countertop George Foremans, but I didn’t use it a lot because I found it awkward to clean. This new grill comes apart for easy scrubbing down in the sink. I’m sort of surprised at how willing I’ve been to clean this grill daily. It’s become part of my regular routine.

In all, I am really happy my parents gave me this wonderful grill. I like it so much I even called a hotel once to ask whether they allow people to have grills in the rooms. (Unfortunately, but predictably, they don’t!) I foresee myself using my George Foreman until it falls apart ;)

Cooking hamburgersGrilling tilapiaGrilled chickenBurgersPork chops
Categories
Food Pr0n Health

My first attempt at Mexican food

In an attempt to save money and eat more healthily, I have started cooking more at home. Up until now this has mostly consisted of making a handful of stock dishes: grilled chicken, burgers, hot dogs, sausage, or fish, with a Knorr packaged noodle side and some sort of steamed vegetable. While this routine isn’t bad in terms of variation, after awhile it can get boring to cook the same way over and over. I’ve also been craving various types of food that I usually go out for, like Chinese or Mexican. Today I decided to plan ahead and make a Mexican-style meal.

I chose the following recipes from AllRecipes.com:

I also decided that instead of purchasing the salsa to be used for baking the chicken, I would make some from scratch. I chose this recipe:

Prep

The first thing I did was get two frozen chicken breasts out and put them into a dish in the refrigerator to thaw. I went ahead and put the spices from the Quick and Easy Mexican Chicken recipe into the dish and on top of the chicken.

My next step was to go to the store and grab some supplies–I needed the cilantro, jalapeno pepper, and lime juice for the salsa, the shredded cheese for the chicken (I chose a 4-cheese Mexican blend instead of cheddar), and the chicken broth for the rice. I already had tomatoes, onions, and cloves of garlic from the Marietta Square Farmers Market, and I keep frozen chicken breasts, brown rice, and various spices on hand.

I went ahead and did my shopping in the morning so I could prepare the salsa in advance, giving it time to sit in the fridge. It took me about half an hour to chop and mix everything. As I also spent time this morning on some freelance work, a personal training appointment, the grocery shopping, and of course my random desire to scrub my bathtub, it wasn’t until after noon that I started making the salsa.

The tomato, onion, garlic, and jalapeno were easy to chop, of course. The cilantro was technically easy too, I suppose, but I’ve always disliked chopping cilantro…it takes forever. Once I had everything mixed, I had to agree with one recipe reviewer that the end result seemed more like pico de gallo than salsa. Still, I figured it would be nice and fresh and good for the cooking. Though I scaled down the salsa recipe to one serving, it resulted in more than the half-cup needed for the chicken recipe. I put the rest of it out as a garnish alongside the sour cream, but neither of us ended up using it.

Cooking

I started to actually make dinner at around 7 o’clock. I began with the rice, since it had the longest cooking time. After the rice had been cooking for about 15 minutes, I got the chicken out of the fridge to brown it in the skillet as per the recipe. Unfortunately, the breasts weren’t quite thawed, so I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. Instead of cooking in the skillet until there was no pink left, I simply browned as much as I could of the chicken, removing it from the heat before the outside could get chewy. I transferred the chicken to the baking dish, topped it off with the homemade salsa and shredded cheese, then put it all in the oven. I ended up having to cook both the chicken and the rice longer than expected, finally getting them both done around 8:30.

Meanwhile, I warmed the refried black beans in a pan on the stove and three wheat tortillas in an aluminum foil pouch in the oven.

Time Analysis

With the shopping, morning prep, and evening cooking time, this meal took about two and a half hours from my day.

Cost Analysis

Here’s what I spent on necessities for the recipes ($6.68 total):

  • Cilantro: $0.50
  • Jalapeno pepper: $0.05
  • Kroger brand canned tomatoes: $0.67
  • Kroger brand chicken broth: $1.99
  • Kroger brand lime juice (bottle): $1.79
  • Kroger brand shredded Mexican-style cheese: $1.68

Here’s what I spent on extras to go with the meal ($4.28 total):

  • Bush’s refried black beans: $1.29
  • Daisy sour cream: $1.00
  • Wheat tortillas (8): $1.99

Together, that’s $10.96, or $5.48 per person.

It’s a little harder to add in the cost of the ingredients I already had. Unfortunately I don’t have the receipt for the frozen chicken breasts, which came from a 5-pound bag of frozen, boneless, skinless breasts from Walmart. I want to say that bag costs around $10, but I’m not sure. I’m also not sure how many breasts were originally in the bag, but I think it was at least 10. If so, that would add just $1 per person. As for the vegetables from the farmers market, I know I got four tomatoes for $3, so the one I used in this recipe adds $0.75 total, or $0.38 per person. I don’t remember how much the onions cost or how many I got. I have a feeling I had a basket of five or six originally, and that wouldn’t have cost more than a few dollars. If we pretend each onion cost as much as a tomato, that would put the total cost per person up to $0.75. The head of garlic is negligible; it contained many cloves.

A rough total including the frozen chicken and farmers market vegetables would therefore be $7.23 per person. This is an overestimate, as the chicken broth, lime, cheese, and tortillas were not all used today.

The Yum Factor

I was fairly happy with this meal. The main weakness, I’d say, was the pico de gallo “salsa”. It was all right, but not really my cup of tea. The rice was delicious, though, and so were the refried beans. The beans were actually Sean’s favorite part of the meal, which is kind of sad considering I had nothing to do with their flavor. Indeed, the part of the meal I spent the most time on was the least memorable, while the part I spent the least time on was the most.

Despite the weakness of the “salsa”, the chicken came out moist and tender, and I wish there had been a bit more of it–the breasts were rather small. I ate a tortilla with my meal, but Sean didn’t have any tortillas at all, so I may as well not have bought them. We did, however, both use sour cream.

Conclusions

Ultimately, I’m not sure I’d say this meal was worth the effort. If I try it again, I’ll probably buy the salsa instead of making it myself. I do think the price was good, though.

I may eschew the oven baking entirely and grill the chicken next time, then add a sauce when it’s done. Grilling is very easy with the George Foreman electric grill my parents got me for my birthday this year, and there’s no thawing required. :)

Categories
Diary Media Ponderings

Media bias; plus, what I’m up to

I love it when Den Beste points these things out. What you see or read on the news really is just a matter of how the news organization wants to frame the information they’ve received.

I finished off Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with time to spare before seeing the movie last night. I must say, it’s my favorite book so far. That may have tempered my opinion of the movie, too, because I came away from it feeling like it was the best of the three, while Kelly was far less impressed.

Regardless of whether or not the movie is actually good, I stand by my opinion that the soundtrack is the best of the Harry Potter music, and is indeed the best from John Williams that I’ve heard in awhile. The man is my idol, musically, but of late he has taken to essentially plagiarizing himself. (For example, of all the music in The Phantom Menace, the only truly unique theme was “Duel of the Fates”. For a more relevant example, the main theme we hear when a Harry Potter movie opens or is advertised is almost exactly the same as a spooky, magical little melody from Hook.)

Having blown through three Harry Potter novels, I’m starting to feel like a real reader again. In fact, tonight I finally started reading The Time Traveler’s Wife…and it is really, really good. I’ve missed being a reader; I haven’t been voracious about it since sometime in high school. The only thing I don’t really like about reading is having to handle the books. There is no comfortable way to read. I have three typical positions, which I switch off as I get uncomfortable: on my back, holding the book over my face; on my stomach, with the book resting on my pillow; and sitting cross-legged, leaning down towards the book. Depending on the size and weight of the book, lying on my back, which is otherwise the most comfortable position, can be a true hassle.

I don’t particularly like reading things of novel length on my computer, because I have no real way of stopping. It’s not like I can put a bookmark in exactly where I want to (although I don’t know about ebook software, and whether or not this is possible with that). I have read in the La-Z-Boy we got from Sean’s parents, and it works out okay: I can prop my elbows on the armrests, which is something of a relief to my arms. Maybe with a pillow in my lap it would work out…

It might be fun to take a book over to the workout room at the apartment clubhouse and read while walking on a treadmill. I may try that at some point; more exercise would definitely be a good thing.

Work has been much better than it was on Monday and last week. I’m not sure what my problem was, but at least part of it can be attributed to hormones and lack of sleep. Yesterday I had something of a bad experience on a call, but I refused to let it bother me. I was pretty impressed with myself afterwards. If it had happened on Monday, I’m not sure what would have happened.

Mari and Brooke and I were supposed to bellydance today, but things didn’t work out. Hopefully we will be bike-riding tomorrow, and maybe we can squeeze in some bellydance too. I would like to get myself on a regimen of going through all the basic bellydance motions, several times each, every day. I got the idea from Mari; it would be a fantastic aerobic/muscular workout. Now I just need to figure out what time of day I want to do it. I would have time in the morning if I got up at 5 (like I usually try to), but I would also have time right after work, in the “dead” time between then and when I have to start making dinner. I suppose I could just dedicate myself to doing it during one of those two times.

I need to go grocery shopping and pick up some meat for the week, and vegetables. Perishable food is the bane of my existence…I have trouble actually using it up before it goes bad. At the same time, though, I really want to start eating fresh foods, and stop using packaged/processed products.

As a final note…I found a couple new blogs to read recently. One belongs to a 17 year old and the other belongs to a 73 year old. I found them through Blogger’s new profile feature…I have “emotion” listed as one of my interests, and out of curiosity I clicked it to see if anyone else had used that word too. Interestingly, only a handful of people came up. Of those, I found myself drawn to these two: goei and rare.

rare has a sort of rambling, stream-of-consciousness, yet somehow practiced and beautiful flow to his writing, and yesterday he wrote something that really touched me, so I would like to share it.