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SNAP Challenge 2014 Day 7 (+ a pasta recipe)

SNAP Challenge Day 7 | doughseedough.net

It’s done. Mike and I have finished the SNAP Challenge. We both agreed that this year was harder than last. We couldn’t figure out why at first – we had plenty of food (leftovers, even), but everything just seemed more difficult. We think it was partially due to the fact that we had to complete most of the SNAP Challenge apart. I also didn’t plan for enough snack foods throughout the week.

There are definitely things I’m looking forward to now that the Challenge is over – farmers’ market produce, sparkling water, breakfast sandwiches, ice cream… I actually even miss rice. Mike told me he’s craving chocolate and plans to eat chocolate everything for a day. I can’t control what he eats from 2 hours away, so we’ll see what happens 🙂

Doing this Challenge will never equate to what those who live on SNAP experience day-to-day, but this Challenge is always a great reminder of how much I have to be thankful for in life, and why I am never ever “too busy” to take time to volunteer. It reminds me to not judge people and the food choices they make. As a dietitian, my heart crumbles a little every time patrons at the food pantry choose 6 Slim Jim sticks over 4 cans of tuna. As a human, I now understand why they would make that choice.

Today we ate:

Breakfast: oatmeal with egg (me), oatmeal with agave (Mike)
Snack: apples
Lunch: pasta with zucchini and tomatoes in lemon-yogurt sauce
Snack: celery and carrots with Greek yogurt dip
Dinner: pasta with zucchini and tomatoes in lemon-yogurt sauce (me); chicken taco soup, corn on the cob (Mike)
Snack: peanut butter toast with banana (Mike)
Drinks: peppermint tea, water with lemon

Pasta with Zucchini and Tomatoes in Lemon-Yogurt Sauce | doughseedough.net

Pasta with Zucchini and Tomatoes in a Lemon-Yogurt Sauce

13.25 ounce package whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
olive oil spray
4 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced into half moons
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain pasta and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, Parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Spray with olive oil. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until just wilted. Stir in tomatoes and cook until softened, about 2 minutes.
  4. Transfer zucchini mixture into large bowl of yogurt mixture and stir to combine. Add the drained pasta and gently toss until well combined. Add the reserved pasta water 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed, to thin the sauce. Serve immediately.

recipe slightly adapted from Ezra Pound Cake


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SNAP Challenge Day 6 (+ chicken taco soup)

SNAP Challenge Day 6 | doughseedough.net

Mike and I were out running errands today and ended up at the mall around lunch time. We had been out all morning running from store to store looking at flooring. By the time we got to the mall to look at some clothes for Mike, we were hungry and tired. Mostly hungry. As we walked around, the smells from the food court, the samples from the pretzel shops and coffee shops tempted us.

It was so hard to walk past everything. I was speed walking as fast as I could manage to get away from whatever tempting food was lurking in the area. The chicken taco soup we had for lunch was so good after spending two hours in that Sbarro-Panda Express-Auntie Anne’s haze.

For the soup, I used farmers’ market sweet corn and just barely cooked it so that it still retained its delicious crunch. If you don’t have any fresh corn on hand, 1 1/2 cups of frozen corn will work just fine. But nothing will ever beat good ol’ Wisconsin sweet corn!

Today we ate:

Breakfast: oatmeal with egg (me), oatmeal with agave (Mike)
Lunch: chicken taco soup
Snack: peanut butter toast
Dinner: spaghetti with zucchini and tomatoes in a creamy lemon-yogurt sauce (check back Monday for the recipe!)
Snack: peanut butter toast with banana

Chicken Taco Soup | doughseedough.net

Chicken Taco Soup

3 chicken breasts
olive oil spray
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 –  2 jalapenos, minced
2 bell peppers, chopped
8 ounce can tomato sauce
2 – 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 – 14.5 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
5 cups chicken broth
2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed
garnishes (optional): shredded cheddar, nonfat plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream), cilantro, jalapeno slices, diced avocados, tortilla chips

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray a baking pan with olive oil.
  2. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper. Sprinkle a little bit of the mixture of the chicken breasts and set the rest of the spice mixture aside. Bake chicken in preheated oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until cooked through. Shred chicken with two forks.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a large pot over medium heat and spray with olive oil. Add in onions, garlic, and jalapenos. Cook for 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining spice mixture and stir to evenly distribute. Stir in tomato sauce, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, and beans. Stir in chicken broth and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Stir in shredded chicken and corn and cook for an additional 2 minutes to heat chicken through.
  4. Serve soup hot with desired toppings.

 

recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman


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SNAP Challenge 2014: Day 4 ( + vegetarian lasagna rolls)

SNAP Challenge Day 4 | doughseedough.net

We’re over halfway through the Challenge, folks. Honestly? Today was the best I’ve felt so far. Maybe it was because I got to see Mike. Maybe it’s because I realized that we probably have enough food for the week. Either way, I’m going to go to bed happy and a little less worried tonight.

Today I ate:
Breakfast: oatmeal with egg
Lunch: vegetarian lasagna rolls
Snack: tortilla chips
Dinner: chicken taco soup
Snack: peanut butter toast, raisins

Today Mike ate:
Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins
Lunch: vegetarian lasagna rolls
Snack: peanut butter toast
Dinner: chicken taco soup
Snack: peanut butter toast

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is for spinach tofu lasagna rolls. Yes, tofu. Keep reading. Mike had the lasagna rolls during Day 3 of the Challenge. I asked him what he thought of the tofu and he just stared blankly at me… “what tofu?”

Apparently he thought it was just (really bad) ricotta! Well, surprise – there is no ricotta in this, either! I subbed in low fat cottage cheese (easier on the wallet and on the waistline) and mixed in plenty of good-for-you spinach.

{vegetarian} Spinach Tofu Lasagna Rolls | doughseedough.net

Spinach Tofu Lasagna Rolls

1 pound package lasagna noodles
1 teaspoon olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
19 ounces firm tofu, crumbled
3 cups chopped spinach
1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 cups marinara sauce, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain, and set aside on a large baking sheet to dry out slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds. Add tofu and spinach and cook, stirring, until spinach wilts, about 2 – 3  minutes. Remove pan from heat and let cool for 5 minutes. Stir in cottage cheese, 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
  4. Spread 1 cup sauce in the bottom of a large baking dish. To make the lasagna rolls, place about 1/4 cup mixture on a noodle and spread across the entire noodle. Roll up and place the roll, seam-side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and filling.
  5. Spoon remaining sauce over top of the lasagna rolls and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.


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SNAP Challenge 2014: Day 2 (+ a recipe!)

SNAP Challenge Day 2 | doughseedough.net

 

Day two is done. For me, it was just as weird as the first day. I wasn’t feeling 100% like myself due to the obnoxious cold I get hit with. Here’s what I ended up eating:

 

Breakfast: oatmeal with raisins
Lunch: peanut noodles with shredded chicken and veggies
Snack: cottage cheese
Dinner: peanut noodles with shredded chicken and veggies
Snack: apple
To drink: crazy amounts of peppermint tea sweetened with a bit of agave, water with lemon

 

So let’s move on to what I’ve been eating the past few days: peanut butter noodles with chicken and veggies!

 

This dish was crazy easy and it’s super customizable. I used bell pepper and carrots as my veg in this dish, but just about anything you have on hand will work. Feel free add more soy sauce, if desired. I only used 2 teaspoons because I ran out and didn’t budget for it in my SNAP Challenge budget. The most time-consuming part was cutting all the dang carrots up. I didn’t have my mandoline or grater  with me, but I highly suggest you use one to make prep a little easier. Alternately, just chop the carrots up. A little less pretty, but just as tasty.

 

Another bonus? The noodles taste stellar hot or cold. I opted to eat mine mostly hot since it made my throat feel better, but you just follow your heart (stomach? taste buds?) and do as you wish!

 

Peanut Noodles with Chicken and Veggies | doughseedough.net

Peanut Noodles with Shredded Chicken and Vegetables

1 – 13.25 ounce package of whole grain spaghetti
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
3 carrots, julienned
2/3 cup natural creamy peanut butter
2 teaspoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 teaspoons sriracha, more or less to taste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced ginger
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  1. Place chicken in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until no longer pink in the middle and internal temperature reaches 165°F, about 12 minutes. Remove to a cutting board and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, shred with two forks.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta, reserving 2/3 cup of the pasta water. Set aside.
  3. While pasta is cooking, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, garlic, and ginger. Whisk in 2/3 cup of hot pasta water to thin sauce. Taste, and add more soy sauce and sriracha if desired.
  4. Toss pasta, bell peppers, and carrots with peanut sauce. Garnish with cilantro and serve.

 


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Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns)

I think making these buns might have been the biggest mistake of my life. They’re just too dang good and I crave them constantly. The first batch quickly dwindled to nothing – I sent a bun or two off to my family and to Mike’s parents and sent a half-dozen off with Mike. I was left staring at four buns. I tried to make them last as long as possible, but I have to be honest… they lasted four days. Maybe less.

Baked Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) | doughseedough.net

I think these buns might be the first thing I will ever put on my monthly “must make” list. I rarely make repeat dishes. It takes a good dish to warrant a second visit into my kitchen more than once a year. It takes a stellar dish to make a visit a few times a year. A dish that I want to make every month? Unheard of, until now.

Baked Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) | doughseedough.net

I just can’t explain why I loved these buns so much. It’s a combination of the slightly sweet, mostly salty filling surrounded by an impossibly soft, fluffy, yet chewy bun. The texture of the buns is partially due to the tangzhong (roux) made from combining flour with water and milk. The tangzhong  is incorporated into the dough and the endresult is a bun that’s… well, good.

Baked Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns) | doughseedough.net

I made this dish for this month’s What’s Baking. The host for August is Ali from Sparks from the Kitchen. She challenged us to bake up something to represent our heritage.  I waffled between making dan ta, an egg custard tart, and feng li su, little flaky cakes encasing a pineapple filling. I don’t know how I ended up making neither of those and instead making the char siu bao, but I don’t regret my actions one bit. I loved char siu bao growing up, and I love them still. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Char Siu Bao (Chinese BBQ Pork Buns)

for the buns:
6 cups bread flour, divided
2/3 cup water
1 1/3 cup milk, divided
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons instant yeast
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons butter, melted

for the filling:
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons oyster sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken stock
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups diced char siu (Chinese BBQ roast pork)

for garnishing:
1 egg beat with 1 teaspoon water (egg wash)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds

  1. To make the tangzhong (roux/flour paste), mix together 1/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup water, and 1/3 cup milk in a small saucepan until well combined. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens up and has the consistency of a thick yogurt. The temperature of the roux should not exceed 150°F. Remove the mixture from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine 5 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Add the tangzhong/flour paste, 1 cup milk, 2 eggs, and melted butter. Stir together to form a soft dough. Knead by hand for 15 – 20 minutes. If your dough is sticky and not coming together, add the remaining 2/3 cup flour a little at a time until your dough is smooth and elastic.
  3. Lightly grease a large bowl. Place dough inside and turn to coat. Cover the bowl lightly with plastic wrap. Place the bowl in a warm, draft-free place and let rise for 60 minutes or until it has doubled in size.
  4. Meanwhile, get started on the filling. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the shallots and cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in the honey, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sesame oil, and dark soy sauce. Cook until mixture starts to bubble, stirring frequently. Stir in the chicken stock and flour until well combined. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for 2 – 3 minutes, or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in the diced roast pork. Set aside to cool.
  5. Separate the risen dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a 4-inch circle, leaving the center slightly thicker than the edges. Place a heaping tablespoon of filling into the middle of each circle. Crimp them closed, making sure they are tightly sealed. Don’t fret if they’re a little ugly – the crimped side ends up on the bottom, hidden from judging eyes 😉
  6. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Lay the buns seam-side down on the prepared baking sheets and let rise for another hour.
  7. Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the tops of the buns with the egg wash. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until buns are golden brown. Let cool slightly before eating.

 

yields 16 buns. recipe slightly adapted from The Woks of Life


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Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork)

Char siu, or Chinese BBQ roast pork, brings back really fond memories for me. I remember seeing huge slabs of roast pork hanging from windows in restaurants or at grocery stores. I remember stuffing my face full of buns filled with the sweet-salty succulent pork.

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork) | doughseedough.net

I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome this pork smelled as it was roasting away in the oven. I might go so far as to say that it beat any cookie, cake, or pie smell that I’ve ever created in my kitchen. Seriously. It was that good.

I think I spent the majority of the cook time staring all googly-eyed into the little oven window, watching this pork cook up into what I can only describe as heavenly. If you’re looking for a little happiness in your life, you’re in luck. I’m bringing it to you in the form of some Chinese roast pork.

This little piggy… turned out awesome. Stay tuned for part two when this little piggy gets turned into some char siu bao (Chinese roast pork buns). Yeehaw!

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork) | doughseedough.net

Char Siu (Chinese BBQ Roast Pork)

3 pounds pork shoulder
4 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon five spice powder
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 tablespoons sherry
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 teaspoons hoisin sauce
4 teaspoons tomato paste
4 teaspoons molasses
1 tablespoon canola oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons water

  1. Cut pork into 3-inch thick strips lengthwise. Place pork into a large zip-top bag and set aside.
  2. Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk until well combined. Remove 1/2 cup of the marinade into a container. Cover and refrigerate for later use.
  3. Pour the remaining marinade into the zip-top bag. Make sure pork is evenly coated with the marinade. Squeeze excess air out of the bag and seal it. Place bag into a baking dish and refrigerate overnight (at least 12 hours).
  4. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a sheet pan with foil and place a metal baking rack on top. Remove pork from marinade, letting excess marinade drip off. Place pork on rack, making sure the pieces don’t touch. Bake the pork for 20 – 25 minutes on each side, or until pork reaches an internal temperature of 145°F. Baste pork with half of the reserved marinade. Move the oven rack to the top third and turn the broiler on. Return the pork to the oven and cook for a few minutes on each side or until the pork is slightly charred.
  5. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

 

recipe slightly adapted from The Woks of Life


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One Pan Sausage Skillet Dinner

It’s been quite a few days and I still smell campfire everywhere I go. I finally realized that it wasn’t my skin, hair, or clothing. The smell has somehow permeated into my glasses. I’ve soaked and scrubbed them, but to no avail. I love campfires, but this is a little much! I guess from now on I’ll have to camp sans-glasses. Essentially blind. I may end up just falling into the campfire…

When you’re camping, the fewer dishes to wash, the better. Seriously. Mike and I are so determined to keep our dirty dishes to a minimum that we ate straight out of the pan instead of dirtying two plates 🙂 This one-pan meal takes minutes to throw together and minutes to clean up. If you don’t have a fire to cook over, try baking this in the oven!

One Pan Sausage Skillet Dinner | doughseedough.net

(Please forgive me for the photo – turns out that Me + Camera – Light – Tripod = Disaster)

One Pan Sausage Skillet Dinner 

serves 4 – 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds baby red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 large red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound baby carrots
1/2 pound mushrooms, halved (quartered if large)
12 ounce package of chicken sausage (I used Johnsonville’s Chipotle & Jack sausage)
4 beef bouillon cubes, crushed
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon dried minced onion
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, chicken broth, or water
shredded cheddar cheese, optional

  1. Coat a large cast iron skillet with olive oil. Arrange potatoes on bottom in an even layer. Spread onions, garlic, carrots and mushrooms evenly on top. Arrange sausage over the vegetables.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together beef bouillon, onion powder, garlic powder, dried minced onion, and black pepper. Sprinkle spices and soy sauce over the sausage and vegetables. Cover the skillet tightly with heavy-duty foil and cook over a fire for 20 – 30 minutes, stirring once or twice, until potatoes and carrots or tender and sausage is cooked through. Sprinkle with cheese, cover and return to fire for an additional 1 – 2 minutes or until cheese is melted.