Archive for July, 2009

28
Jul
09

a tale of two pastas.

In an effort to be more summery, I’ve decided to ban the weekend gymming. Honestly, it’s a waste of the heat. And I can handle the heat. I went for the most amazing run along the East River on Saturday. It was 70s-ish and breezy, and aside from the sweat dripping into my eyeballs – unpleasant – it was wonderful. It was so great that it’s all I can recall from the weekend. I’m pretty sure I lay in a fetal position for the other 47.5 hours, but I can’t be sure.

Come Sunday night, I hadn’t made it to the grocery store but at all. I can be resourceful if the situation calls for it, so I dug into my pantry and came up with some fire roasted red peppers. I had a few leaves of non-wilty spinach on hand, a jar of marinated artichokes, and a bag of whole wheat papardelle courtesy of TJ’s. I boiled the pasta, sauteed the veggies in olive oil, and tossed everything together with salt, pepper, and about a cup of red pepper flakes:

pasta one

pasta one

It was probably the easiest and least impressive thing I’ve ever made/eaten, but damnit if I wasn’t secretly hoping my roomies would come home so I could hold the pasta over my head like a bigass trophy. I was just that proud of its unassuming good looks.

I have a not-so-secret fear of a foodless existence, so I, like, sprinted to the grocery after work today. I spent a great portion of today researching new recipes on Foodnetwork.com, but I let the clusterfuck of the Monday TJ’s scene overtake my careful planning. Meaning, I turned into one of those people who mindlessly tosses thing into her basket. I hate those people.

I walked out with some absurdly cheap smoked salmon ($2.99) and a bunch of other foods that only Suzanne Somers pregnant on Step by Step would be into. Obscure reference? Maybe. Still, I’m talking pomegranate seeds and capers. Only Carol Foster Lambert would want that when she’s with child.

I managed to gather the odd ingredients and put together a totally different pasta dish than before. The colors are similar, but the taste was so drastically different. I boiled the papardelle, and then sauteed chopped basil, tomatoes and capers. I added oilve oil and lemon juice, and then added a fair amount of salt and pepper. It was so salty and delicious, and luckily it appealed to a non-preggers pallete. See below:

pasta two

pasta two

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21
Jul
09

tabbouleh and fish tacos.

I’m not usually a proponent of short-term anniversaries, but this is the third straight week that my track and I have been together. I may celebrate with some sort of homage to the track. Maybe a long overdue iPod holder since I broke the clip on mine more than a year ago and have since been running with it in my sports bra? I don’t want to go all out, but I do think it’ll do wonders for my track rep.

Outdoor running totally has the potential to transform one’s body in half the time of gym cardio stuff. I have little to no legit proof of this, but I’m convinced I see effects much sooner. In order to expedite the beach body in my sights, I have decided to eat a little lighter. Cue last week’s tabbouleh.

I’ve always loved Mediterranean food, and I was all hopped up on this awesome episode of No Reservations I saw last week. Anthony was in Greece, and there was this hilarious part in which he went to the hills of Crete with a bunch of men to slaughter a lamb. They shot it, salted it, filled the small intestine with its spleen, and then roasted it over a fire. If I wasn’t a vegetarian before….Then, they ate it cavemen-style (no utensils, no mint jelly, etc.), and drank what looked like quarts of alcohol each. Then, they played with handguns for a while, and wrapped up the day with some highly effeminate ritualistic dancing.

I was inspired, so I decided to make tabbouleh. What? That’s a natural transition. Trader Joe’s was all, “bulgur what?”, so I had to make it with couscous, though. I chopped mint and parsley, cherry tomatoes and cucumber, and tossed that into the mix. I added a few lemons, salt and pepper, and then stuffed the mix into a toasted whole wheat pita with some feta cheese:

pita stuffed with tabbouleh and feta

pita stuffed with tabbouleh and feta

It was pretty delicious, and it really didn’t get old after five straight days. Impressive.

There was nothing spicy about it, though, so come this week I got the shakes from cayenne withdrawal. It happens. I decided to make fish tacos with mango-jicama slaw, because I’m fancy.

I found some cheapo mahi-mahi at TJ’s which was excellent, but I could not find a jicama any which way. I was so unwilling to compromise my mango-jicama slaw, because that would have really destroyed my fancy factor. Long story short, I had to hit up Whole Foods and shell out like $5 for a 2 pounder. It was absurd:

a jicama

a jicama

I hate to do anything without involving my panini press, so I decided to grill the fish on it. If that thing doesn’t have a million different uses, I don’t know what does. I seasoned the fillet with old bay seasoning, salt, pepper, lime juice, and delicious cayenne pepper. Then, I grilled it for five minutes max. It smelled amaaaazing.

Meanwhile, I chopped up some mango and jicama into thin strips. I grilled a low-carb wrap (don’t knock it), and then cut the fish into strips as well. Then, I topped the whole thing off with this great corn chile salsa stuff from TJ’s.

All the flavors/textures blended so amazingly well together. Also, it was pretty easy on the eyes. Some dishes DO have it all. See below:

fish taco with mango-jicama slaw and corn chile salsa

fish taco with mango-jicama slaw and corn chile salsa

14
Jul
09

summer salad.

Last we spoke, I was considering a shift to outdoor running. I usually entertain an idea for 6+ months, and then I seriously consider taking myself up on my offer. This time my turnaround was about a week. Someone’s evolving.

There’s an outdoor track a few blocks from my apartment, and it’s my new favorite place to be ever. It rivals a Free People sample sale. The track sits alongside the East River and attracts some pretty nice looking shirtless boys. Even better, it surrounds a field where I witnessed the most adorable soccer game yesterday. Imitation suburbia is the best.

post-run

post-run

After my run, I laid down in the grass and willingly did crunches. The photo to the right is totally jacked from Google images, but that’s pretty much how I looked after. But, you know, sweatier. And with a fair amount of dirt coating the back of my shirt.

I left the track and ran most of the way through Alphabet City, and went through the farmer’s market. After helping myself to lots of free samples, I picked up a couple of Crispin apples. Those apples are pretty much the size of my head – and I have a sizeable head – and they were only $0.75 apiece. They weren’t TJ’s cheap, but I get this annoying sense of pride from buying local. As long as I can stop myself from shelling out $12 for cinnamon honey (I regret nothing), I end up saving somewhat.

I went home and put together this sweet little summer salad. I started with arugula, and then I chopped some apples and sliced some strawberries. I added feta, balsamic vinegar, pepper, and the obligatory slice of baguette. It was so delicious; I had to share. See below:

summer salad with apples, strawberries and feta

summer salad with apples, strawberries and feta

07
Jul
09

risotto.

Every time I go home to Florida, I make it a point to borrow a car from the fam and go for a run around this three-mile lake. The length is just challenging enough for a half-glute runner like myself, and the scenery makes me so damn Zen. Really, I start using words like “sun-dappled” in daily conversation, and everyone thinks I’m majorly cracked out. It’s a good thing I’m 1,200 miles north of the lake for the majority of the year.

Now that it’s nice out, I totally want a little Zen in the northeast. Considering my gym addiction, I can’t handle the impracticality of outdoor workouts, and my vocab is not in the market for more “sun-dappled”-like words, but sometimes I need a fix. I’m talking just the tip. Lately, I’ve been putting the treadmill on “all terrain,” and walk/jogging on extreme inclines. I’ve taken half-glute to the extreme.

Today, my roommate came in from an hour long run outdoors, and my jealousy was visible. I was, like, radiating inferiority. Point being, I’m going to try this whole “running outdoors” thing on for size.

Meanwhile, I made my first ever risotto while my roommate was out being superior. It was the antithesis of a light summer meal, but it came out all delicious like. I started by chopping a yellow onion, and sauteeing it in a tablespoon of butter. Then, I added fava beans, a teaspoon of thyme, and some shitake mushrooms:

shrooms

shrooms

Aren’t they kind of hideous? They really are. I heated some vegetable broth on the stove top, and then I added it a cup at a time. The rice has to absorb the liquid, so when all was said and done it was about 30 minutes of stove top time and 3 cups of broth. The rice got a little bloaty from the broth, but I’m pretty sure it was supposed to look even less hydrated.

I added a little bit of cream and grated some white cheddar cheese up in there, and then stirred until thickened. I then added some rock salt, and it was time to photograph.

I’ll preface this by saying that one really shouldn’t judge food at face value. If that were the case, what reason would any of us have for eating coconuts, hmmm? Those are downright grotesque, but they taste pretty ok. I wouldn’t kick them out of bed.

I’m not sure what I expected, since I had the aforementioned shitake shrooms and fava beans to work with, but see below for the end result. I had a much too generous portion while my roommate did lots and lots of crunches, and then followed with an extensive free weight routine. The risotto did not disappoint, though. See below:

risotto with shitake mushrooms and fava beans

risotto with shitake mushrooms and fava beans

06
Jul
09

Ahi tuna.

My roommates and I hosted a rooftop bbq yesterday to celebrate 303 years of freedom from the Brits. Good thing we don’t have high tea and all that dry comedy, right? It’s such a relief. We made the most adorable patriotic foods. For instance, we had red cole slaw, blue terra chips, and I made a red and blue mixed berry dessert with homemade whipped cream. It was my first time whipping, and I must say, I whipped it good. It’s really the easiest thing in the world; mix 2 cups of heavy cream with 1/4 cup of sugar and a little vanilla extract, and whip with a hand-held mixer until stiff peaks form. People were pretty into it. I tend to behave like a fat kid at the school dance during dinner parties, so once everyone had their fill, I scooped up the remaining cream onto Baked Lays and really enjoyed myself. Don’t knock it.

True to form, I took not one picture of the event. I’m useless during group things. Due to my sub-parĀ  photojournalism, I’ll have to focus on last week’s meals for the purpose of this entry.

It started with a massive Ahi tuna steak I bought for like $3.30 at Trader Joe’s. The only downside to TJ’s cheapass seafood is that it’s always frozen, so I had to defrost it in the microwave pre-searing. When I went to sear it in olive oil, the insides were pretty much cooked through. The end result was about 85% cooked tuna, 15% raw interior. So not ideal.

On the side, I chopped a couple of cloves of garlic and 1/4 a red onion, and sauteed in some butter. I chopped a bag of brussels sprouts in half, and tossed those into the mix. I was pretty brazen with the butter, so the apartment refrained from reeking of – for lack of a better word – butt, while I sauteed the sprouts. It was impressive. I added in about 1/4 cup of bread crumbs about midway through the sauteeing. About 10 minutes later, I served my tuna and sprouts alongside honey mustard and a slice of ciabatta bread. It looked like this:

tuna and brussels

tuna and brussels

It tasted like love, and also a little like Belgium. Weird.

Although I got up early today to work off my whole “eating with reckless abandon” thing I called the Fourth of July, I was still feeling guilty come dinner time. Actually, I hate to gloss over the morning after.

I woke up at 9ish and made some espresso, and I denied myself the little piece of bread and butter I usually eat to fuel the morning workouts. I headed off to the gym, and proceeded to run two miles, all the while watching Ina make some amazing looking buttermilk cheddar biscuits. I then did every arm and back machine ever, like, including the rowing machine which I kind of loathe. Then, I did CRUNCHES. Lots of them. Gross.

I thought about making risotto for dinner, but I decided that’s a dish best earned with good behavior. And I have basically been the kid who never does her homework and disrupts class, like, daily. No one rewards that kid. Instead, I made a little salad with some of the leftover tuna from the night prior. I started with spinach, and then added the tuna, some marinated artichoke, and white cheddar cheese. I then added balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, and served with a teeny piece of baguette. It was no risotto, but I was actually pretty impressed with how it turned out. See below:

Ahi tuna salad with artichokes and white cheddar

Ahi tuna salad with artichokes and white cheddar




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