Thursday, July 31, 2014

One-Dish Meal: Celery and Pork Stir-Fry

I love one-pot or one-dish meals. A single recipe that saves me time in the kitchen yet still provides me with a well-rounded meal? It's a win-win, especially for when I'm too lazy busy to make a "proper" dinner. I also consider it an extra plus whenever a meal can be eaten with a spoon, like this one.

This celery and pork recipe is one of my favorites because of its versatility. It can stand on its own or be served as a side along with other dishes. You can easily swap out the pork with ground turkey for an even leaner meal. Both the meat and the celery share the spotlight equally, so this dish has the protein, the fiber, the flavors, and it goes great with rice--all bases covered.

For a vegetable, I feel like celery doesn't usually get the love. As a great soup base staple, it's often taken for granted. As a health food, it's often eaten as a snack only out of obligation. And then there's the celery that we only know as a lowly palate cleanser for buffalo wings. How sad!

This recipe is all love for the celery. Refreshing and crisp, it adds just the right bite to go along with the pork. For some, celery may be a bit of an acquired taste. But rest assured, this won't taste like you're eating a celery salad. In the words of my carnivorous and palate-wise husband, this dish is "Mmmigod SO GOOD."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Saying Goodbye To Chemicals

About two years ago, I made the decision to get rid of all the chemical cleaners we had in the house and start cleaning using natural, toxin-free ingredients. Before that, I've always heard people rave about the cleaning power of chemical-free ingredients that most of us already have in our homes, such as vinegar and baking soda, but I never felt the urge or the need to switch. I loved my citrus scented all-surface cleaner, my foaming action Scrubbing Bubbles, my never-fail streak-free Windex, and my occasional Febreze when I wanted our living room to smell like "Linen and Sky" (if you're wondering what sky smells like, it smells like wonderful.)

I was always aware that commercial household cleaners are toxic; the labels on the backs of those bottles often had extensive warnings about skin contact, eye irritation, and fumes. When I would clean, I'd usually have to leave the kitchen and bathroom fans running so I wouldn't get a headache. I would move everything off of all the surfaces before I'd even start cleaning so that the chemicals wouldn't get on the kitchen utensils or our toothbrushes (the mist from the sprays gets everywhere, even if it's not clearly visible to eyes.) But all these were relatively minor inconveniences, the real impetus for me to go chemical-free was that my body was starting to protest.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

3-Minute Microwave Steamed Fresh Fish

That's right, I said microwave! You may be skeptical that this appliance of convenience can churn out anything aside from popcorn and frozen tv dinners, but hear me out and you may just find yourself loving a new recipe that is fast, simple, and healthy.

I owe this recipe to my dad, who's been quite the master in the kitchen for as long as I can remember. My parents have always believed in the importance and value of a good home-cooked meal. When I was young, they worked long hours, but would still come home and make dinner from scratch (although there were, once in a while, a trip to Burger King).

It's no surprise then that my dad would find a way to simplify a popular dish. Steamed fish with ginger and scallions is traditionally made in a steamer, but who has the time for that (or a steamer, for that matter)? This microwave recipe is done in minutes and tastes just as tender and flavorful. It's a family favorite that we go back to again and again.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Me vs. Stuff

Last weekend, I was browsing through Netflix and came across a wonderful little documentary called "Tiny: A Story About Living Small." It follows one couple's journey to build a less than 200 sqft. home, as part of a larger movement of people who intentionally choose to live in tiny houses, challenging traditional home design and the standard of home ownership as a part of the American Dream.

I found the entire premise fascinating, the idea of people (sometimes entire families, with pets!) living in homes the size of a parking spot is simply amazing. Can you imagine the amount of ingenuity and efficiency that would be required? But what really touched a chord with me was the bigger questions raised by the film in regards to sustainability and our consumerist culture, two topics that have been on my mind a lot recently.

This past spring, my little family of four (two humans, two canines) moved to a new home. We had previously been living in a one-bedroom condo I've had since my single days. After our wedding, Ethan had moved in, I started working from home, and over the course of a year and a half it started to feel like the walls were closing in on us.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Frozen Watermelon Lemonade

Cheers, the holiday weekend is here! Looking for last minute ways to fire up your 4th of July party? Start here, with a frozen watermelon lemonade. Nothing is more quintessentially summer than watermelon (my favorite fruit), lemonade, and all that is good in a brain-freeze-inducing slushie form.