Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Goat Cheese and Apple Sliders

Oh sweet deliciousness. Sliders are the perfect meal because they fill you up while still being portion-conscious. You're not going to do yourself any benefit by eating a dozen of these, but taking nearly a pound of ground beef and splitting them into nine patties and having say, three sliders as a meal is perfectly reasonable.

Tonight I was craving mac and cheese. The hubs thought we should try gourmet grilled cheese since we just scored a very sweet deal on a very old cast-iron skillet at an estate sale this weekend. That's right: it's got forty years of flavor already cooked in! Mmm... vintage deliciousness...

While browsing the bakery section of Whole Foods, we were inspired to create sliders when we saw these adorably tasty brioche buns. I'd used them before to make Italian Sliders: ground beef sliders topped with hearty tomato sauce, fresh basil and mozzarella, the toasted buns drizzled with olive oil. I know, I know- wipe the drool from the corner of your mouth.

These sliders were much different and very refreshing on a nice summer's night. We even felt so inspired we ate outside. This is a quick and easy summer meal or a nice appetizer if you serve them open face for a casual summer dinner with friends. Try it out!

Goat Cheese and Apple Sliders

You will need:
~1lb of lean ground beef*
6 brioche buns, sliced, about 3-4" in diameter
2 oz of fresh goat cheese (rindless)
1 granny smith apple
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
    To make:
    1. Preheat your oven to 300°.
    2. Season the ground beef with a little bit of salt and pepper and the Worcestershire sauce. Form into small 4" diameter patties. One pound of ground beef should yield 9-10 patties. *Have you ever made your own ground beef? It's easy! Take your favorite cut of beef, like a good top sirloin, and throw it in the food processor. Voila! High quality ground beef at home.
    3. Pat dry the patties before placing them on a hot skillet. (If you're using non-stick cookware, do not add oil to the pan to cook them.) Let sear for 1 minute, then flip. Don't touch them before that minute is up! Sear other side for an additional minute. Reduce heat and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, depending on desired doneness. 
    4. When all patties are cooked, toss in the oven to keep warm.
    5. Deglaze your pan.
    6. Heat it back up on medium-high heat.
    7. Add the butter. When it browns, add your brioche buns, sliced side down. Grill for a minute or so. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
    8. Using a butter knife, spread a bit of the goat cheese onto the bottom half of each bun.
    9. Slice up your apple into thin pieces. I used about a quarter of the apple and added the rest to a salad I made to go with dinner.
    10. To assemble: add the patty and top with a slice of apple.
    11. Enjoy your tiny bite-sized awesomeness. Pairs well with equally minuscule sides like cornichons or sweet baby gherkins. Makes 9-10 sliders.

    Friday, May 28, 2010

    Planning Deliciously

    A large motivation for starting this blog comes from the fact that my husband and I have begun seeing a nutritionist. Let's call her Dr. Organic. She's not a doctor, but she's wicked smart, and I like the way the name sounds.

    So. Dr. Organic is a foodie like us! She gets it when we enjoy tasting, eating, and cooking. She understands that we live in such a great restaurant city how could we not go out all the time? She understands that eating food isn't just about sustenance: it's a sensual, emotional experience. She appreciates our love of cheese, local foods, and gourmet experimentation in the kitchen. She appreciates the value of shallots. That says a lot to me because seriously, people do not appreciate the wonder that is shallots.

    In our first appointment with her, we realized what our biggest problem was: our eating habits and schedule were so chaotic. Our bigger problem? We never go grocery shopping. I come home from work, we play the "What's for dinner game?" and in our laziness either go out or order in because it's easier than going to the store, getting all the ingredients, coming home, and cooking. And we weren't making good choices about the places we'd go out to eat.

    Dr. Organic's suggestion was so simple: plan your meals for the week. We spent a session just planning out what we'd eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner each day. We made a grocery list. We went shopping at the start of that week. It felt revolutionary to my husband and I, but it was the simplest solution staring us in the face the whole time.

    By planning breakfasts, it reminded me there was food in the fridge or fruit in the bowl that needed to get eaten or it would go to waste. Our other problem was not eating breakfast. I never put it together, but when you have dinner at 8pm, go to bed at midnight, and don't eat again until noon, you're going almost 15 hours without eating. Your body goes into feast or famine mode, so it holds onto EVERYTHING in an effort to compensate for the fact that your body thinks it's not going to eat again, so it better start storing up all that fat. Who knew? So now I eat breakfast. It started small: a cup of yogurt here, a piece of fruit there. Now Dr. Organic is pushing us to have a little bit of something from each food group: maybe yogurt with berries and granola, or a quiche cup that we make in batches and freeze until we're ready to eat them. We've learned to make use of our freezer, to cook in advance, and adjust when our moods change and we suddenly don't feel like Tacos on Tuesday. (But I mean, how could you not, it's Taco Tuesday?!)

    All this planning has helped bring a sense of structure to our somewhat chaotic schedules. We don't homecook every night; we plan nights and meals out, but we're putting so much more thought into what we eat. We're learning to compromise. If I had some cookies after lunch, do I really need dessert after dinner? If I'm ordering noodles at my favorite Japanese place, do I need the sushi or can I just get the sashimi? I really just want the fish, so why have all that extra rice with my noodles?

    My husband and I don't do diets. And Dr. Organic doesn't weigh us, doesn't make us count calories. She's helping to create a lifestyle change, a cultural shift in our culinary pursuits. She's challenging us to engage our minds, not just our tastebuds. And we're losing weight- nothing dramatic, but it's happening at a natural pace in step with our lifestyle changes.

    And change is delicious.

    Thursday, May 27, 2010

    Welcome to Thinking Deliciously!

    When I'm not out being generally awesome, I write about women's health advocacy and infertility, but boy howdy, do I love food. I didn't want to clutter up my other blog with my love of food, so I've decided to talk about all things food over to these new digs. Let me be clear: this is not a diet blog. It's a blog to celebrate my love of food and nourishing my body with good stuff.

    Feeding your body good food is a way to say thank you to your body for all of the amazing things it does for you.

    I originally wanted to call this blog Thought for Food, but apparently that's a vegan shopping list blog that hasn't been updated since 2004. Boo. So Thinking Deliciously it is. I've learned in the last few months that you don't have to sacrifice the joy that is eating and savoring food in the name of nutrional value. I've learned that planning ahead and making smart choices are the key to finding enjoyment in eating healthy. Do I love a Burger King #10 Value Meal? Oh hell yeah. But I also love a fresh three-bean quinoa salad from Whole Foods too. The real secret is finding balance.

    That's what I hope to share here: my insights, my motivations, the occasional recipe and food porn shot, restaurant and recipe reviews, and my exploits into feeding my body the good stuff.

    The key to eating well is to put some thought into your food and to start Thinking Deliciously!