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Friday, July 31, 2015

Aldi Gourmet: 5-day Supper Challenge (DAY 5 and Wrap-up)



We have reached the end of the Aldi 5-day Supper Challenge!  For me, it's been fun and a little intense...lots of cooking and writing!  But those are both things I love to do.  I hope you had fun reading about my experiences and that you cook some of the things I cooked this week!  Feel free to tweak the dishes to suit your preferences.  Welcome to the final day of my challenge.


Day 5-Friday

The Aldi Loaded Salad with or without Grilled Chicken



Everything you'll need from Aldi:
(not pictured: raw chicken strips-again, who wants to look at a pic of raw chicken?)
The List:
Romaine Lettuce
Baby Carrots
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Tomato
Avocado
Garbanzo Beans (Chick Peas)
Bacon
Unsalted Sunflower Seeds
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Honey

The Recipe:
The only thing precise about this recipe is the vinaigrette.  Other than that, chop everything that needs chopping, wash the Lettuce, drain and rinse the Garbanzo Beans, cook the Bacon, and mix as much as you want of each ingredient in a large bowl for your family to serve themselves from.  Top with the vinaigrette.
Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
3 teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
3 teaspoons Honey
Note:  I'm not a fan of very vinegary vinaigrettes, so I don't add a lot of the vinegar.  You can add more if you like.

Grilled Chicken Strips
For another protein-filled topping for your salad, pan-grill some chicken strips.  Marinate however many you're going to cook in Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper, in a Ziploc bag, in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  Then cook in a pan over medium to medium-high heat until done.  No pink Salmonella, please!!  Cut into one when you think they might be done, to make sure.  Add to salad.

One more supper idea:
Remember the Pasta Salad we made on Wednesday?  Throw some in the microwave, spread some more arugula on a plate, top with pasta salad, grilled chicken, more fresh mozzarella, more red onion, and finish it off with a drizzle of the  Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette. Yum!!
My Birmingham friends know about the Pasta Salad Special at Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe!  Good stuff!  That was my inspiration for this supper idea.



My son loves snacks from Aldi!

Almond Butter and Apple Slices




Aldi Challenge Wrap-up and Lessons Learned:

Something I love about shopping at Aldi is, what you see is what you get.  There are not thousands of choices to pick from for basically the same item. (I hope that sentence made sense.)  I don't feel overstimulated and stressed like I do in other grocery stores.  The reason for this is because they don't spend a lot on advertising and attention-grabbing.  That is part of the reason the groceries are discounted prices.  My kids are more well-behaved in Aldi than in other grocery stores as well...the overstimulation thing, I'm sure...I understand!  I realized throughout the week that I was using the ingredients I bought over and over in several recipes.  I was pleased with that because there will be minimal waste.  I still have more ideas for the produce that is left.  Hurray!  That means there will be no slimy Arugula pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten about until next week!  That is cause for celebration!  Haha!  
My main goal in doing this challenge was to show you that discount grocery shopping can be fun and delicious.  We all want to save money, right?  I hope I reached my goal this week!  Love to all.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Aldi Gourmet: 5-Day Supper Challenge (DAY 4)


It is Day 4 of the Aldi Supper Challenge...cooking dinners consisting only of foods or ingredients found at Aldi.  I have tried to provide you with plenty of variety;  Monday-chicken, Tuesday-beef, Wednesday-pork.  Today is meatless day!  Hurray!  Get excited!!  In all seriousness though, meatless meals can be filling and flavorful.  So just hear me out before you dismiss the idea altogether.




Day 4-Thursday



Lean Green Stir-fry with Rice

I've made stir-fry with rice or noodles many times.  It's a great meal to cook on a weeknight because it is not time-consuming to make.

Everything you'll need from Aldi:
(minus the rice-we had a lot already so I didn't buy more-Aldi does have it)
The List:
Broccoli
Zucchini
Cabbage
Green Onions
Vegetable Oil
Soy Sauce
Eggs
Fresh Garlic

The Recipe:
Handful of Broccoli Florets (however much you want)
1 Zucchini (chopped)
1/2 head of Cabbage (chopped)
2-3 Green Onions (chopped)
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
1 Tablespoon plus 1/4 Cup Soy Sauce 
2 eggs
1 or 2 cloves minced Fresh Garlic
1.  Heat 2 tablespoons Vegetable Oil over medium-high heat, in a wok or large skillet. Once hot, add the chopped veggies and garlic.  Pour 1 tablespoon of Soy Sauce over the veggies and stir.  You want the wok to get really hot so that the veggies will become seared.  Think Hibachi man.  He always has a really hot surface (sometimes real flames included), and he stirs frequently, and takes up the veggies when they are browned.  Stir your veggies frequently.  I covered mine for about 5 minutes so they could cook evenly.  Uncover and stir for a few more minutes.  When they are ready, they will look something like this:
Transfer the veggies to a plate.

2.  Return the wok to the stove (medium high heat) and add 2 more tablespoons of Vegetable Oil.  Crack two eggs into the pan and let them fry on both sides.  When they are done, chop them up with the spatula.  It will look about like this:

3.  Add the rice to the wok and stir frequently for about 2-3 minutes.  Add more soy sauce. I think I did about 1/4 cup.
4.  The last step is to add the veggies back in with the rice and stir all together.  Serve immediately.



If you want to get your kids in the kitchen to help you cook, this is a great book to read along with it. There is also a fried-rice recipe at the end.  You might prefer to use that recipe instead of mine.  That's okay with me.  I just hope to inspire some creativity in the kitchen. :)


We all know that green vegetables are good for us, and that we should be eating them often.  I'll be honest and say that I have the most trouble with Broccoli.  It's just not my favorite.  Today's stir-fry recipe is a tasty way to get those greens into your diet.  And hey, broccoli's not so bad once it has been seared in soy sauce!  Haha!  Happy dinner time, friends!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Aldi Gourmet: 5-day Supper Challenge (DAY 3)



So here we are at the third day of the Aldi Supper Challenge...cooking dinners consisting only of ingredients that can be purchased at Aldi.  So far, it has been a really fun experience.  I've enjoyed trying new recipes and making up some of my own (with a little inspiration from others of course!).



Day 3-Wednesday


Pan-fried Pork Chops topped with Black Bean Salsa, Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and Greek-inspired Pasta Salad


Everything you'll need from Aldi for the Pork Chops:
The List:
Thin cut Pork Chops
Vegetable Oil
Flour 
Black Bean Salsa we made on Monday (Recipe in Day 1 Blog post)
*Note: Almost every recipe I've done calls for Salt and Pepper to taste. I don't mention it here because I'm assuming everyone has Salt and Pepper.  Aldi does sell it!

The Recipe:
This recipe is very quick and simple.  My husband is good at making Pork Chops this way, so I always ask him to do it.  You simply place about a cup of flour in a plate and mix in salt and pepper.  Heat about 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a flat pan over medium to medium-low heat.  Wash the meat and towel dry.  Then coat both sides of each pork chop with the flour mixture.  Add to the pan and cook until done...about 7-10 minutes on each side...just watch it.  It doesn't take long, but varies depending on meat thickness.  When it is done, transfer to a plate and top with the pre-made black bean salsa.


Everything you'll need from Aldi for the Roasted Sweet Potatoes:
The List:
Sweet Potatoes
Fresh Lemon
Fresh Garlic
Olive Oil
Dry Oregano

The Recipe:
3-4 small sweet potatoes (sliced thinly)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon Oregano
Zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 to 2 minced garlic cloves
*You'll want to get this going well before you cook the Pork Chops.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  After you slice the sweet potatoes, toss them in a large mixing bowl with the other ingredients.  Spread in one layer on a roasting pan or cookie sheet and bake for about 35-40 minutes.


Everything you'll need from Aldi for the Pasta Salad:
The List:
Penne Pasta (or whatever shape of pasta you like)
Arugula
Red Onion
Dry Oregano
Fresh Garlic
Fresh Lemon
Grape Tomatoes
Feta Cheese
Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
1 large Zucchini
Greek Olives
Olive Oil
Plain Greek Yogurt
Honey

The Recipe:
For the sauce: 1 cup Greek Yogurt
Half a container of Feta Cheese
1 Teaspoon Honey
1 Teaspoon Oregano
Zest and juice of half a Lemon
1 clove Fresh Garlic
Salt and Pepper
Place everything in a food processor and blend until smooth.
For the rest:  Half a package of pasta (boiled by instructions on the package and drained)
(Don't make the mistake of not drizzling the pasta, while in the strainer, with olive oil!
You don't want it all sticking together!)
2 tablespoons chopped red onion
handful of Arugula
handful of Grape Tomatoes split in half
handful of Olives (chopped)
roasted Zucchini ribbons (see note below)
Sliced Fresh Mozzarella
*Use a carrot peeler to make the Zucchini ribbons.  Once you reach the seeds, stop.  Put core of the zucchini in a ziploc bag to throw in the freezer.  That way, you'll have it for zucchini bread, or something equally delicious later.
*Throw those fancy ribbons on top of the sweet potatoes in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, just like this:
Can't get much easier than that, right?

In the same large mixing bowl you used to coat the sweet potatoes, mix the pasta with the other ingredients (including the roasted zucchini that you removed once done) and the sauce.  
Transfer to a plate, place the mozzarella slices beside it, drizzle with olive oil, add more tomatoes, olives, red onion, and arugula, if you want to. and top it all with a little more pepper.

*A note on Olives.  As a past Olive-Hater (i've mended my ways), I understand there are mixed feelings about olives out there.  There is a lot of Greek inspiration in my cooking and therefore, a lot of olive use.  So from now on, in my recipes, I will call them Optional Olives (Don't you love alliteration?  I do!).  Just to show you that you can make the recipe with or without olives...totally your preference.



For some strange reason, while I was making the pasta salad, this song played on my Ellie Goulding Pandora station:
George Michael, anyone??

I started to name my recipe the Careless Whisper Pasta Salad.  But then decided against it.  But it reminded me of a hilarious Youtube video that my friend, Jay, shared with me a few years ago.  It's called Sexy Sax Man and features a guy named Sergio Flores randomly serenading people out in public with his Saxophone...playing the general tune of this song over and over and over.

I will warn you.  It's a tiny bit risquĂ©, and I try to keep my blog PG rated.  But it's also really really hilarious in a strange strange way.  View with discretion. :)




Wrap-up Statement:

I'm not going to say a lot to close this post, because, I mean what can I even say after Sexy Sax Man? I was happy with how this meal turned out.  I think it's my favorite so far.  It's not too time-consuming to make either.  The black bean salsa was pre-made and the pasta salad can be pre-made as well.  I would say this would be a good combination to make for a busy weeknight.  So, until next time....(insert Careless Whisper tune!).

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

ALDI Gourmet: 5-day Supper Challenge (DAY 2)






So as you know, this week I have challenged myself to cook dinners made only of foods that can be purchased at Aldi.  Welcome to Day 2 of the challenge!  Aldi is a discount grocery store chain, and I know we have saved money on groceries since we started shopping there.  Now, that said, if you're looking for a thorough breakdown of savings, comparisons, and prices per meal, you won't find that here.  I am not a number girl!  Ask any one of my past math teachers or my Dad, who, bless his heart is probably the reason I made it through the required math courses throughout the school years.  He helped me with my math homework every night!  Sorry Dad!  Haha!



I even make my daily smoothie from all Aldi ingredients!

Aldi Smoothie

Recipe:
Handful of frozen blueberries
As many spinach leaves as will fit in the blender carafe
1/2 cup of Kefir
1/2 cup of milk


Day 2-Tuesday

Meet my friends Madoline and Mandy.  They are my taste-testers tonight!
Madoline works in PR and journalism, is an excellent writer, and has a food blog of her own...find the link here:  www.maplemacaroni.blogspot.com
Mandy is a personal trainer and a real inspiration for your personal fitness journey.  She knows a lot about the Whole 30 diet...which I may have posts about to come.


Beef and Feta Patties with Beet and Arugula Salad 
and Roasted Parmesan Oregano Potatoes


Beef and Feta Patties


Everything you'll need from Aldi:
The List:
Ground Beef
Red Onion
Feta Cheese
Bread Crumbs
Fresh Garlic
Milk
Fresh Lemon
Olive Oil
Dried Oregano

Beef and Feta Patties Recipe:
*I have a next-door neighbor who is from Australia.  I will refer to him as the Awesome Aussie, and I'll tell you why later.  He and his wife are dear friends of our's.  Donna Hay is the Australian version of Martha Stewart.  They loaned me some of her magazines to look for recipe inspiration.  Well, it didn't take long to find it!  This is my Aldi version of her recipe for Beef and Feta Patties.
1 cup Breadcrumbs
 1/4 cup Milk
1 heaping tablespoon of finely chopped red onion
1 or 2 minced cloves of garlic
the zest of 1 lemon
1 Teaspoon dry Oregano
1 container Feta Cheese
Mix all these ingredients together in a large bowl and then add about 1.5 lb.s ground beef.  Work all the ingredients into the meat (this happens best when I just use my hand to mix).  Form the meat mixture into patties (don't make them too big or too thick).  Heat 1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil in a flat pan over Medium heat.  Cook the patties until cooked through (5-8 minutes on each side, at least). Turn the heat down some if your's start to get too brown like mine did.  After you flip them, you might want to cover for about 5 minutes or so to encourage even heat, and center doneness (is that a word?).  When you think they may be done, cut into the largest one and make sure there is no pink!  Some things, like tuna steaks, are delicious rare or raw...but not ground beef!!  When they are ready, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and put in a warm place while you prepare the Beet Salad. 


Roasted Parmesan and Oregano Potatoes

Everything you'll need from Aldi:
The List:
Golden Potatoes
Butter
Parmesan Cheese
Dried Oregano
 Olive Oil
Fresh Garlic
Fresh Lemon

The Recipe:
4-5 Potatoes, cut into 1/4 wedges
2 tablespoons butter, melted
The juice of one lemon
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Oregano
1 or 2 minced Garlic Cloves
handful of Parmesan Cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Cut the potatoes in half, then half of that, than half of that...so you have 1/4 wedges.  Place in a large mixing bowl and pour over Olive Oil, Butter, Oregano, Lemon Juice, and Salt and Pepper.  Spread out on a roasting pan or cookie sheet, so that the largest side of white part is down on the pan (so that the soft part can get softer and soak up the juices).  Bake for about 45-60 minutes (ovens may vary).  About halfway through cooking, cover with Parmesan cheese.



Beet Salad with Arugula and Goat Cheese



Everything you'll need from Aldi:
The List:
Fresh Arugula
Goat Cheese Crumbles
Olive Oil
Balsamic Vinegar
Canned Beets
Chopped Walnuts

The Recipe: 
A small handful of Arugula for each plate
5-6 Beets per plate
A sprinkling of Goat Cheese on each plate
A sprinkling of Walnuts on (you guessed it) each plate
A Drizzle of Balsamic Vinaigrette (exact recipe below)
On each plate, arrange the handful of Arugula, handful of beets, goat cheese, and walnuts.  Mix together in a measuring cup, 1/2 cup Olive Oil, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar.  Drizzle over the top of the salad.

I'm ready to serve dinner to my friends!


*The reason I call my neighbor the Awesome Aussie, is because he is a very inspiring person.  He invented and patented the Ninety-Net, a tool for soccer practice that improves goal targeting.  I'm probably not explaining that exactly right, so read more about it here: http://ninetynet.com.  Some time soon, I will be doing Australia-Inspired dishes with this sweet family.  So stay tuned for that.


I was pleased with how the Day 2 recipes turned out.  The beef patties tasted substantial, like you could eat them after a day of chopping wood or working in the fields, but with a burst of gourmet freshness from the lemon zest.  Beets are always tasty paired with goat cheese and arugula, and parmesan potatoes can never be too bad, right?  I think Madoline and Mandy were pleased by the flavors too.  This meal was actually not too time-consuming to prepare.  So you could realistically make it on a weeknight.  The potatoes do take a little while to soften and cook appropriately.  But you just put them in the oven and walk away.  I hope I've provided you with a doable weeknight meal idea today.  






Monday, July 27, 2015

ALDI Gourmet: 5-day Supper Challenge (DAY 1)

If you have a multiple-person family, then you know how expensive grocery shopping can be.  As well as how hard it gets to come up with ideas for weeknight meals when you're just burnt out on all those same old recipe staples.

I've recently discovered the joy and the savings of shopping at Aldi!  This past week, I challenged myself to cook dinners that consisted only of ingredients available at Aldi.  You might have seen this little, hopefully eye-catching image on social media (the reason for the red lettering).

Did you wonder what it was all about?  I'm going to share my Aldi meal ideas with you, that's what!!



Day 1-Monday



Black Bean Salsa
A long time ago, my mom and I found this recipe in a Southern Living magazine.  We've made variations of it so much, that I've memorized it and then tweaked it to suit my tastebuds.  It's great to make at the beginning of the week to have with chips...
(this week we're doing these great pumpkin seed chips from Aldi)

 ...or as a topping or side for other dishes.

...everything you'll need from Aldi:
The List:
Green onions
Red Wine Vinegar
Ro-tel tomatoes
Bell Pepper
Fresh Garlic
Lime
Black Beans
Olive Oil

The Recipe:
1 bunch green onions (chopped)
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper (chopped)
1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
1 can Ro-tel tomatoes (drained)
Lime Garlic Vinaigrette (Recipe below)
Chop everything that needs to be chopped and drain and rinse everything that needs to be drained and rinsed.  Then throw it all in a decorative bowl.  Whisk together the ingredients for the vinaigrette and pour over the top.  Stir it up, cover and store in the fridge.  It's good to stir it every so often so the flavors can really blend together.

Lime Garlic Vinaigrette Recipe:

1/2 cup Olive Oil
2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinager
1 or 2 minced garlic cloves (depending on how much you like garlic)
The juice of 1 lime...go ahead and add the zest too...just gives it a little something extra!
Salt and Pepper to taste



Gyro Stuffed Chicken with Quinoa and 
Roma-Cucumber Salad
I know it doesn't look that beautiful...not food magazine worthy by any means. But it did taste great!
One of my favorite foods is Gyros and one of my favorite chefs is Giada de Laurentiis....So, this was our main course...and I made up the recipes with a little help from Giada and my inspiration from Greek food.  The particular Giada recipe that inspired me is here:
...and I'm sure I will do a blog post about it in the Fall.  We've done it many times and it is divine!

Everything you'll need from Aldi for my stuffed Chicken recipe:

...plus a couple things I forgot to put in that last pic.  The red onion is only by choice.  I'm a big fan of red onion and always want it on my gyro, so you know I'm going to include it!  Do what you want though!
The List
Fresh Spinach Leaves
Oregano
Roma Tomatoes
Feta Cheese
Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
2 Chicken Breasts (Didn't include that bc Who wants to see a pic of raw chicken, right? Ugh!)
Fresh Garlic Cloves
Fresh Lemon
Fresh Cucumber
Honey
Cream Cheese
Chicken Broth
Kalamata Olives
Quinoa
Red Onion
Coarse Ground Dijon Mustard (see note below)

Chicken recipe: 
Grab two chicken breasts and put them in a ziploc bag.  Beat them to death, er more death with a meat cleaver...
Then let them marinate inside the Ziploc bag for a least 30 minutes.  More time is great too, depending on your schedule.
Marinade for the Chicken:
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Red Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
A few shakes of Salt, Pepper and Oregano

Stuffing for the Chicken:
2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
Half a container of Feta Cheese, or more if you want
1 or 2 minced cloves of fresh garlic
Huge handful of Spinach
1 Tablespoon of chopped Red Onion
1 teaspoon Oregano
5 or 6 Kalamata Olives (chopped finely)
1.   Heat 1 tablespoon of Olive Oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic, red onion and Oregano.  Cook until fragrant and somewhat tender.  Add a huge handful of Spinach (if you don't know yet, I have a Spinach Habit, more to come on that in future posts).  In a mixing bowl, combine Cream Cheese, Feta Cheese, chopped olives and Spinach combination.

2.   Cut each flattened chicken breast in half, so that you have 4 flat pieces of chicken.  Spoon the filling into each piece and fold over...(I really hope this makes sense).  Heat another Tablespoon of Olive Oil over medium heat.  Once, warm, add the stuffed chicken.  Cook covered for 6-8 minutes.  Uncover and flip, cook for 6-8 minutes more, until done.  Note that time may vary depending on differences in stove ranges.  The way to tell when they are done is to pick up the biggest one and cut in half and look for pinkness.  You don't want pinkness!!! Please prevent Salmonella poisoning!!  When it's ready, transfer to a plate and set aside in a warm place (i put it in the microwave).

3.  Here is where Giada's recipe really comes in.  For a light sauce, in a small mixing bowl, whisk 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, the juice and zest of 1 lemon, and 2 teaspoons whole grain Dijon Mustard.  Full disclosure-I actually totally forgot that Giada's recipe calls for Course Ground Dijon Mustard.  So I didn't even look for it at Aldi.  They may have it, i don't know.  We keep it on hand so I did add it.  It puts the sauce over the top and creates a beautiful aroma in your kitchen while it's cooking.  Pour this mixture into the pan you cooked the chicken in.  Use a spatula to stir and scrape up the bits of meat left behind.  Let it simmer over medium-low heat until the amount is reduced by about half.  Spoon this yumminess over the Chicken and Quinoa when you are ready to serve.

Zesting.
I'm all about zesting some lemons and limes!  One time, my family went on a camping trip.  We tried hard to pack everything we needed.  We got most things...but there were a few essentials that got left behind.  However, I remembered the zester!  The running joke for the whole trip was, "At least we have the lemon zester!".


4.  Prepare the Quinoa, going by the package instructions.  If you struggle to eat Quinoa, here's a tip for you: Boil it in some type of broth (I did chicken broth tonight).  It makes it more moist and more tasty.  Also, I topped it with more feta cheese, which never hurts, right?

5.  For the Roma Cucumber Salad side, I simply sliced 1 cucumber and 3 roma tomatoes and topped them with this simple mix of ingredients: 1/4 cup Olive Oil, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar.



I will say, this recipe does have a lot of steps.  It takes a little while to prepare.  You might want to pop in a movie for your littles.  My kids watched The Incredibles while I cooked it.  We are not big TV people, but we do love Disney movies.  They were dying to watch this one.  But if you don't have time, save it for a special occasion, date night in without the kids, or come to my house and I'll make it for you! Haha!


Dessert!


Incredibles Villain

In honor of the fact that Aldi is a supermarket chain that is based in Germany, I wanted to do at least one German recipe.  I thought dessert might be a good one, so I searched German desserts on Pinterest.  I decided on German Apple Cake, even though it's not Fall yet...but you know the intensely negative feelings I have for hot weather.  I mean, I feel personally offended by extreme heat.  Haha!  Really though, I'm already looking forward to the cooler months...so apples and cinnamon it is.

German Apple Cake
I have died and gone to a heaven made of cream cheese clouds!  This recipe is legit!  It's even better 1 or 2 days after you make it.  The recipe I used is here:
http://passionatepastry.blogspot.com/2010/04/german-apple-cake.html

...what you'll need from Aldi:

*After that recipe, I feel like it's necessary to include a tiny public health disclaimer. haha! I mean seriously?...Icing that calls for Cream Cheese and Butter?  Wha???
 It is never my goal on this blog, to promote indulgent eating independent of a healthy lifestyle.  According to the American Heart Association, we should all be getting "at least 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise (or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity). Thirty minutes a day, five times a week is an easy goal to remember. You will also experience benefits even if you divide your time into two or three segments of 10 to 15 minutes per day."-American Heart Association.  Please read more about that here:
http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp


So far, I'm feeling like this Aldi Challenge is doable.  But it's only Day 1.  Stay tuned to see how the rest of the week goes.  Until then, I love you people.  Hope I've inspired you to cook something at a discount.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Traditional Irish Breakfast



                                   
                       A thatched roof home somewhere in County Donegal, Ireland.


First of all, let me just say, if Ireland is not already on your list of must-see places, put it there fast!  It is the most beautiful country I've seen so far in my lifetime.  My husband and I recently spent about nine days just driving the Northern Coast and then back around, ending up in the Dingle Peninsula.  What you will see is miles and miles of gorgeous green pastures, giant rocky cliffs, ocean, smoky fog that settles on top of mountains, sheep grazing, and adorable village towns, just begging for a stroll through the streets.  Our favorite towns were, Cushendall, Doolin, and Dingle.



Beautiful Cushendall

A walk to Doolin town for dinner 

Panoramic view of the Dingle Peninsula

Along the way, we stayed in several Bed & Breakfasts (B&Bs).  These were great, because it's like you're staying in someone's home.  You not only feel like you're having a very authentic Irish experience, but breakfast is included...and sometimes the company of your charming hosts as well.


Our B&B in County Sligo...Ross Farmhouse

Breakfast at Ross Farmhouse

Our hosts sat down with us while we ate the breakfast they had prepared.  We talked about his days of swimming in the Atlantic, minks getting their chickens, and her pet rabbit that she walks on a leash...interesting breakfast conversation.

Perhaps the most inspired breakfast we had was here, at An Dooneen B&B on the Dingle Peninsula.



     
Our lovely and lively host, Mary.
The traditional Irish fryup.


So maybe you're thinking, "and what is this post about again? because it looks like this chick just wants to show us her vacation pictures."  Well, let me get to the point.  We decided to recreate the traditional Irish breakfast at home.  This is how it all "panned" out. Ha!  I can't stop making food puns!

Meet my friends, John and Kate and baby Lydia.  They joined us for breakfast.  I knew I had a somewhat tough critic, because John moved to the U.S. from England when he was in high school.  His childhood was spent in a town called Cheam, in the London Borough of Sutton.  He knows a thing or two about a large European-style breakfast!


We started by preparing the scones and brown soda bread.


I was a little nervous about these, because I'm not a very good baker.  My husband's favorite thing on the trip was the brown bread.  So he was in charge of that.  It turned out great!  He is a great chef!  The scones could have risen more, but they had a nice taste and texture.

Brown soda bread and scones with Irish butter (Kerrygold), orange marmalade, strawberry jam, and honey. In Ireland, the fresh butter would always be room temperature, and I would spread it on my bread like icing!  So good!
The recipes I used are here:
Soda bread
Scones


Next, it was time to cook up a lot of meat and prepare the first course.
That's a big plate of protein!  But it's part of an Irish breakfast.  We just used Aidell's chicken apple sausage and country ham from the grocery store.
At an Irish B&B, pre-breakfast is usually fruit and yogurt, or muesli.  We simply did plain Greek yogurt with honey drizzle and mixed berries.


Potato Pancakes or Boxties were part of the main course.


Fresh mushrooms and tomatoes, seared in the meat juices with fresh basil.


Kate is overseeing the egg-poaching process.  We've never had the best luck with poaching.  Luckily, she had watched Giada do it the day before.


Egg-poaching process.



Our table spread.

My plate...very similar to the traditional Irish breakfast at the B&Bs.


This was my grandmother's serving dish.  It still has her address sticker on it, for taking to church potlucks.  Though it is dishwasher safe, and an everyday dish, I always handwash it so the sticker will stay intact.


Everywhere we went, there was an electric kettle.  It's so easy, because you just pour water into it, flip the switch and it boils in no time for tea or French-pressed coffee.  When we got home, I said goodbye to my coffeemaker and ordered this kettle from Amazon.  
You can get it here:  



Overall, I was pleased with our traditional Irish breakfast.  I think the other eaters were too.  Though it's not something you would prepare and eat every Saturday, or maybe even any Saturday that's not a special occasion....it is approachable.  It can be fun to prepare as well.  It made me nostalgic for cool, cloudy weather, lots of green hues and coastal highway.  A quick tip to moms and dads of littles: hosting a breakfast or brunch for friends can make a Saturday, that might otherwise get somewhat tedious, very very pleasant!  Get to Ireland as soon as you can, friends.  It's worth it!