Before I tell you my backstory, let's talk about YOU first.
Are you a busy parent?
Do you have a busy, stressful job that leaves little time for cooking?
Are you unhappy with your current eating habits and wish you had a healthier lifestyle?
Do you find cooking stressful?
Do you wish you knew how to prepare healthier food?
If you answered "YES" to any or all of these questions, you're in the right place! And don't worry: I've been there too.
What you'll find on Flipped-Out Food...
- Quick meal ideas: most under an hour, many less than 30 minutes.
- Ideas for using up leftovers to prevent food waste, along with other money saving tips
- Strategies for tackling more complicated meals to make them approachable for the home cook
- Strategies for getting more vegetables and healthy ingredients into your diet—and into your kids!
- Healthy living tips
Check out the Flipped-Out Food Playbook to see some of my favorite strategies to deliver easy, healthy dishes—even at the busiest of times.
What you won't find on Flipped-Out Food...
If you're looking for a recipe to make Flambéed Turducken in Bearnaise Sauce, this is definitely not a good place for you. (That's not even a thing. I made it up.)
F-OF is NOT about Michelin-star-caliber "cheffiness," horrendously complicated dishes, or pricey ingredients.
We will not be making little paper hats to put on our crown rack of veal.
This is a no-frills blog.
Although I do offer the occasional relatively complicated dish, I also give you strategies for breaking these up into a couple of days to make them manageable.
And now, a bit about me...
About Flipped-Out Food
The short story...
We all get stressed out and crazy-busy (a.k.a. "flipped out") sometimes: Flipped-Out Food is the food that we cook during these stressful, busy times.
Guess what? It doesn't have to involve a take-out menu or a box!
I’ve had a lifelong love-hate relationship with cooking and food.
I hated a lot of the food that I grew up eating (sorry Mom!) and the awful food that I made during my college years. I hated being stressed out about what to make for dinner.
But then...something happened that changed the way I thought about cooking...and for the last several years, I have LOVED being in the kitchen.
Flipped-Out Food is my little corner of the internet where I'll be sharing that transformative journey and the resulting recipes, tips, and strategies with you...and convincing you that you can make really good, healthy, budget-friendly food—even when you're "flipped out."
The long story...
Back in my college/grad school days, you might say that I was a Pastafarian.
That is, I ate ramen. A lot of it.
It’s done in 3 minutes, and that was about my speed back then.
I now have a grown-up version of ramen soup (see recipe below).
Although it’s not authentic anything and takes 10 minutes instead of 3, it’s 10 times better.
It's also healthier because you chuck that sodium-filled flavor packet and add an egg for protein.
But let me rewind and tell you a bit about my background.
The early years
It was probably inevitable that I would be a scientist in some capacity.
I was one of those kids with the skinned-up knees who had a toy microscope and a chemistry set, and who loved the outdoors and nature.
Hikes through the woods in search of morels (with very little success), morning runs, biking, and gardening are among my favorite activities. I catch the occasional snake.
In college, I majored in biology, earning a bachelor's and then a Master's degree.
In grad school, I studied scorpions: crazy-cool critters that glow fluorescent colors under black light.
No, seriously: you go out at night in desert areas, armed with a black light and forceps, and you see glowing little critters running around. Hunting them is kind of like looking for Easter eggs, except that the “eggs” will sting you if they get the chance.
But I digress.
From benchtop to laptop
A 1-year stint as a scientist in a food-testing lab probably explains my compulsive hand-washing behavior while cooking.
After all, in a lab like this, you—ON PURPOSE—let various foods spoil, pipet them into culture broth, then streak samples onto specialized agar plates to see what grows.
And you would not BELIEVE the amount of stuff that DOES grow if given the right conditions!
After my exciting, smelly foray into everything that is not appetizing about food, I returned to graduate school to earn my PhD in Physiology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, mostly funded by the American Heart Association.
I followed this up with an American Heart Association-funded postdoctoral fellowship. (You'll see a LOT of nutritional/exercise recommendations from the AHA on this site!)
Throughout my studies, I knew that bench science wasn’t for me in the long haul.
I enjoyed the writing aspect of science most, which prompted the decision to trade the benchtop for the laptop: I now work as a full-time grants consultant with Hanover Research, helping (mostly) academic researchers secure funding from federal agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.
Food blogging and the birth of Flipped-Out Food
I also love to cook and write about food.
Cooking is much like science. You follow a protocol (a.k.a. recipe), mixing specific amounts of various ingredients and subjecting them to particular conditions, until finally, VOILA!
You analyze the results—by EATING them.
MUCH more fun than data crunching, in my book!
There's also all sorts of science underlying HOW things cook: why one cut of meat comes out really tough after a braise while a different cut is fork-tender, for example. I just LOVE this stuff!
This is probably why my ideal morning would involve geeking out to Alton Brown on Good Eats and drinking (spiked) coffee in my pajamas.
And I did get better at cooking: I now find it relaxing.
I don't specialize in any particular cuisine.
Whatever is fast, tasty, and in the ballpark of real food is good enough for me.
I avoid recipes with cream-of-nasty soup.
On weekends, I dive into bigger cooking projects so that I can freeze sauces or casseroles for busy weeknights.
Making good food fast gave rise to the idea of Flipped-Out Food.
What do I mean by "real, good food...really fast"?
Well, the "really fast" part speaks for itself.
By "real, good food," I'm talking about home cooking that doesn't rely on cans of cream-of-nasty, sauce mixes, and other heavily processed foods to make delicious meals.
The focus of F-OF is not only fast, easy, healthy cooking, but also cooking on a budget.
You can make truly fabulous food with just a little bit of extra effort.
Among other things, I talk about using the humbler cuts of meat, prepping ingredients yourself, and making meal plans to ensure that you actually USE all the groceries you shop for.
My blended family
I talk a lot about Phil on this site.
Phil is my husband of 6 years, partner in crime, and love of my life.
Blending my life with Phil and his three children has been a wonderful adventure (more on that here), and I have never been happier.
Phil is the Fry-Daddy and smoke- and grill-meister of our household; he is also Taste-Tester-In-Chief for all my recipes.
I give Phil major snaps for patiently waiting while I photograph dishes before digging in.
UPDATE, 2020: while quarantining during the COVID-19 pandemic, Phil took up bread baking.
He makes some fabulous rustic loaves and baguettes, but his real specialty is pizza dough.
Also as a result of my happy marriage, you'll find musings on parenting.
But I muse from the perspective of someone who previously had no children until suddenly, POOF! I became the mom of THREE.
This instant motherhood has been a wonderful journey, but it has also been very challenging: I talk about learning experiences along the way.
The Flipped-Out Food team also includes: 1) my Editor-in-Chief and sometimes-table-centerpiece, Pearl, whose office is on my lap, with her butt positioned between my stomach and my laptop; and 2) my Quality Control Officer, Penelope, a.k.a. Fuzzbutt, who supervises all goings-on in the kitchen. Update, 2019: sadly, Penelope has transitioned into the kitty thereafter.
She will be sorely missed.
Thank you again for joining me.
And so, without further ado, here is my recipe for "Grown-up" Ramen Noodle Soup.
I have recently started using alkaline noodles for this recipe: an even healthier option, as opposed to fried ramen noodles.
Serious Eats has a great tutorial on that here.
"Grown Up" Ramen Noodle Soup
OK, it takes a few minutes longer—but it’s SO much better than your standard microwave-and-eat, sodium explosion ramen soup. I sometimes rehydrate about ½ cup of mushrooms ahead of time to chop up and add to the soup. Then I use the strained mushroom liquid as part of the broth. I like the Asian ramen noodles that you find in the ethnic aisle as opposed to the 50-cents-a-pop kind that you find in the soup aisle. These often have a separate package of dried vegetable matter that you can add to the soup if you’d like. You can make this an even more substantial soup by adding some chopped Napa cabbage or bok choy during the final 3 minutes of cooking.
- 1 package of Ramen noodles ((throw away the flavor packet))
- 2 tsp. finely grated (fresh ginger)
- 1 garlic clove (finely minced)
- ½ cup rehydrated mushrooms ((optional, liquid reserved))
- 1 carrot (grated)
- 3 cups vegetable or meat broth
- 2 tbsp. soy sauce (or to taste)
- 2 tsp. sesame oil
- Generous squirt of Sri Racha
- 1 egg (optional)
- ¾ c. chopped Napa cabbage or bok choy (optional)
- 2 scallions (thinly sliced)
- Heat the sesame oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger; stir until fragrant (about 2 minutes). Stir in your broth and soy sauce; bring to a simmer. Add in your noodles. NOTE: if you don’t like slurping up long strands of noodles, you can crunch up the noodles while they’re still in the package. Otherwise, stir as they soften in the broth to break them up. Squirt in the Sri Racha.
- If you are using an egg, you can add it now. (Note that you have a couple of different options for how to use the egg (see Recipe Note #1).
- In either case, allow two minutes to let the eggs set, then stir in the carrots and cabbage (if using). NOTE: If you went the poached egg route, stir only very gently so that you don’t break your yolk. Cook for an additional two minutes.
- Dish the soup into bowls, garnish will scallions, and enjoy!
- Ramen soup egg options:
- You can crack the egg into a ramekin and drop it into the broth, in which case you’ll have a perfectly poached egg hiding out beneath your noodles;
- You can beat the egg and swirl it slowly into the broth, which will give you little ribbons of egg strewn like confetti throughout your broth.
- You can also work in advance to soft-boil and marinate the egg in a soy sauce mixture, as I've done here. This is by far my favorite use of eggs for ramen soup.