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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Helluva lot of cooking

I don't think I've ever cooked this much in my life. It's kind of nice to see. Expensive, but nice.

[Expensive compared to what, you ask? Well, Justin's diet consisted of ramen noodles, and I was a carb whore. I could just eat slices of bread until I got full. Or cereal, or pasta. All that stuff is pretty cheap.]

I've been trying to keep up an atkins-type diet. I say "type" because the 3 weeks of after hCG isn't exactly the same as Atkins. In post-hCG, you're supposed to keep your fat amount low (ha!) and I think your carbs are bit more lax, as in you can eat things like carrots, or fruits. Although he says dairy is allowed, dairy is just full of carbs so I avoid it for the time being. Dr. Simeons, in essence, created Atkins before Atkins was a twinkle in his dad's eye! lol Although technically, you're not supposed to lose weight on this, but just maintain, which I haven't been doing a good job at this last week, having gained almost 5 lbs in 6 days even though I've burnt 1400 exercising all week. My body is "violently" fluctuating after losing the weight, and it takes a while (3 weeks) to completely stabilize.

Anyway, enough of that! Onto the cooking part of the program!

I've stuck with Alton Brown recipes (surprise surprise) for my Atkins program, because it's just easier to find applications with the way his shows are laid out. For example, just looking through my list of episodes, A Grind is a Terrible Thing to Waste has meatloaf, Urban Preservation II: The Jerky has beef jerky, The Wing and I has chicken wings etc etc. So, pulling from several episodes, I was able to find some good choices for both a meat entree and a vegetable side dish.

I first must rave about Alton's orange-glazed chicken wings. My hubby made these because there is a lot of inactive time so it's not really a "make it when you get home from work" type of dish. That orange-glaze is the bomb. It tastes sooo similar to what you would find at a Chinese restaurant, and the flavor is just amazing. I was almost drooling as I was eating these. And what's great (and we will try this soon) is if you like the glaze, you can put it on, say, drumsticks and at least skip the prep step for the wings.

Now I will rave over Alton's meatloaf. I grew up eating my parent's meatloaf and to be honest, I hated it. Mom says she just bought hamburger meat and mixed it with an egg and some oats. I don't even know if there was anything else in it. I've hated hamburger meat since I was a child and still kind of do, but my palette is ever expanding and exploring new flavors. I decided to give Alton's recipe a try because it's hand-crafted to what meatloaf is. (For example, picking a meat that has flavor but dries out too quickly and mixing it with a meat that has more fat so that it doesn't; and cooking it outside of the loaf pan to let the fat drain away). And I have to tell you, I was pretty blown away by the outcome. The addition of the carrot and the pepper and onion really made the meatloaf explode with flavor. Also, that glaze: epic.

As always, Alton's beef jerky is delicious and so simple to make (ignore that difficulty level on the website, it's not even hard, people lol). But, per asking Simon Majumdar himself on twitter (because Alton's been inactive a lot lately) I asked if I could sub top round for the flank, since flank is so darned expensive. He said I could, so I tried it out. It's not as good as flank, but it's pretty darn close and definitely worth the cost savings. Also, it's much easier to prepare when you don't have a slicing knife (like me).

Alton's skirt steak fajita recipe is incredible. I just used a rocket-hot cast iron skillet on the stove. I still only cooked it 1 minute per side (and watch out, the amount of smoke that will come off is like, insane) which if you don't like basically rare meat I'd probably increase that to 1:15-1:30 per side. Justin and I didn't mind - it was rare, but tasty rare. I also changed up his application a little bit by adding the leftover juices from the steak to the onions and bell peppers for added flavor. We couldn't actually eat fajitas of course, but the veggies were nice on their own with that added juice (and a little soy too for some added oomph.)

A couple of side dishes I wasn't that impressed with were the lemon-sesame glazed greens, and the Caesar salad (Justin loved it - me, not so much). The recipe for the greens probably had nothing wrong with it, but being from the north, we don't ever eat greens so it's probably an acquired taste. Still glad I tried them, though. (now I need to figure out what to do with all my sesame seeds!) The Caesar seemed incredibly bland. I was shocked to not really taste the tartness that I'm used to in a traditional caesar with creamy dressing. I might try it again, but maybe add anchovy paste to the olive oil or something to up that flavor ante.

Anyway, I've rambled on enough! Hopefully some of you will try these recipes out and let me know what you think. They may take some work and some specialized equipment (I know everyone has a box fan in their house - cmon) but the end result is well worth the effort!

Alton says to go make his applications right now.
Before he cuts you.

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