Archive for February, 2011

28
Feb
11

post-Mexico, curried squash and lentil soup, tofu.

This Winter has been quite the little bitch. She’s made me near antisocial with her ice storms, blizzards and general temperatures comparable to a witch’s teat as of late. It seems like she’ll start to warm, and suddenly we’re hit with more unsavory degrees. Everyone’s pretty pissed at her.

I got a few days of reprieve last weekend, when my friend got married in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. The bride and groom are from outside Chicago, met in New York and currently live in London, but they thought Mexico would be the most reasonable climate for a February wedding. I had to tear myself away from the then-16 degree weather, but somehow I made it. Ohh, sarcasm. I’m a fan.

I spent several weeks trying to beat my lumpy post-holiday frame into submission, but it was resisting me pretty hard. I was spending, like, hours at the gym on the daily, getting to know the treadmills, bikes and elliptical machines better than any member of my family.  By the time I unwillingly shed my cover-up while poolside, I felt improved but far from satisfied. According to my beach read, Women’s Health magazine, I should try working out in intervals. I had a brief flirtation with interval training a few years ago, but I quickly abandoned it for being far too challenging. I prefer my workouts sweat-free and routine, thank you. I don’t care for results. Allow me to plug away for months and see absolutely no change in physique. That sounds productive.

Playa del Carmen

Beginning in the resort gym, I started doing intervals which look something like this: walk for one minute at 3.6 speed, increase to a speed of 8 for 30 seconds and run as if Nicholas Cage is chasing you, decrease back down to 3.6, and repeat. Do the whole sequence about 20 times. Hello, sweat? Yeah, you found me. Heart, I’m feeling the pound.

 

Interval training is also effective with hills, which I’ve done just once at this point because it’s so, well, intimidating. To run at a 5% incline while not tripping over one’s feet at a speed of 8 is deserving of a medal. I’ve been alternating the two for about a week now, and I think results are on their way.

I did not hold back whilst (go with it) in Mexico, and at a certain point there was more guacamole shooting through my veins than blood. That’s hardly an exaggeration. It was barely a three-day trip, but I left not being able to zip my pants. I am more motivated than ever, so I’ve decided to try this trendy workout that Kelly Ripa touts. I went to my first class Saturday, and I’m sold. It’s safe on the joints, geared towards woman, and I’m all kinds of sore today. Bring it, muscles. Let’s do this thing.

As the spicy goes, I made this great soup a few nights ago.

Ingredients:

butternut squash and lentil soup

3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1.5 lbs butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
1 carrot, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp minced peeled ginger
1 tbsp curry powder (I used cumin)
1 c red lentils (I used yellow)
2 quarts water
1 tsp lemon juice (I used a whole lemon)
1 tsp Greek yogurt (my addition)
chopped cilantro, to taste

 

Heat oil and butter in a large heavy pot over medium high heat and then cook squash, onion, carrot, celery, garlic, ginger and 1 tsp salt for 15-20 minutes. Stir in cumin and ¼ tsp pepper, stirring for 2 minutes. Add lentils and water and simmer, covered, for 25-40 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. I served atop this wild rice and quinoa mix, and topped with a little Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro.

I had to lay my immersion blender to rest a few weeks ago when it died mid-salsa blend, so I didn’t even have the option to puree. I’ve pureed nearly every soup I’ve made for months now, so it was an odd sensation eating soup with texture. The rice combined with the vegetables, lentils and dollop of yogurt was really tasty. I highly enjoyed.

Now back to the sweaty…I recently watched “Singin’ in the Rain” and became infatuated with tap dancing. I got myself pretty excited and decided to try an intro tap class at my dance studio. I’ve taken tap before, but my former dance studio transitioned you to clogging pretty rapidly. I never even got to wear the sexy heeled tap shoes and dance with a chair, and for that I’ve always been a little bitter.

Flash forward to present day, and I bought myself a pair of Mary Jane-style shoes and showed up ready to Time Step my face off. Unfortunately, no one else shared my determination, as I was the only one who came to class. As a result, I got a private lesson from the teacher, who had been studying tap for years and filled me in on the social and political reasons why tap stood so low in the already lowest discipline of the art world. Also, I learned the Sham-Sham, which is a totally fun staple known by all tap dancers. The teacher also told me how tap’s roots were intertwined with jazz. It was pretty fascinating, but I can’t decide if I want to actually pursue.

Now back to spicy…in keeping with my post-Mexican low-calorie consumption, I found this fun tofu dish on Epicurious:

randon tap pic

Ingredients:

1 14 oz package firm tofu
½ c whole grain Dijon mustard
4 tbsp vegetable oil
½ medium onion, sliced
1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
1 bunch kale, sliced crosswise
1 small red-skinned sweet potato, peeled, halved and sliced
2 tbsp lime juice
hot sauce, to taste (my addition)

 

You start by cutting the tofu into eight ½-inch slices. Drain on paper towels, and spread both sides with mustard. Heat two tbsp oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and ginger and sauté one minute. Add kale, sweet potato and lime juice. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook for about 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat remaining two tbsp oil in another skillet, add the tofu, and cook for a few minutes on each side. Serve the tofu atop the vegetables, and devour. It really is the most low calorie dish I could imagine, and it had good flavor thanks to the mustard and hot sauce. See below:

mustard crusted tofu with kale and sweet potatoes.

 

 

03
Feb
11

pea and ricotta wonton ravioli, lettuce wraps.

I’ve become completely infatuated with dumplings. Like, almost to a fault. I won’t even consider enjoying the company of nuggets, rolls (i.e. egg) or sticks (i.e. mozzarella), but dumplings, dim sum, and pierogies are all fair game. I’ve actually tried to recruit a few people for my cause, saying on occasion outrageous things like, “All food should be in dumpling form!”, or “Is there anything in life more delightful than some dough filled with vegetables?” And I honestly mean it.

It all started a few weeks ago when I made some wonton ravioli. While not traditionally a dumpling, the ravioli was basically my gateway to this obsession. I found this recipe on Epicurious, but I altered it a little:

pea and ricotta wonton ravioli

Ingredients:

2 2/3 cups frozen peas (3/4 pound)
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons chopped mint
About 64 dumpling or wonton wrappers
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
salt and pepper, to taste
dash of cayenne pepper

The recipe originally called for Parmesan cheese, but I had lots of ricotta on hand for reasons I’d rather not disclose..as in, this was a few weeks ago and my memory is failing me at the moment.

Anyways, I started by cooking the peas in boiling salted water until just tender, about 3 to 4 minutes. I drained and cooled, and then stirred in cheese, mint, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

I put a rounded teaspoon filling in center of a wrapper, and lightly brushed the edges of the wrapper with water. Then I placed a second wrapper on top and sealed, pressing out any trapped air. I repeated with the rest, and then boiled ravioli in 2 batches in a pasta pot of salted boiling water until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes per batch. I removed with a slotted spoon and topped with melted butter, salt and pepper. They really were the easiest and most delicious thing ever.

Now let’s talk sweaty, shall we? I’ve been hyper-aware that I need to be a hard body by the time I go to Mexico later this month. I had a few solid weeks when I was exercising and eating at a 2:1 ratio, but alas, life interfered. I had a fancy dinner on the company last week and it was downhill-ish from there. Prior to that, I was logging a minimum of one hour of cardio daily, which I referenced in my last post. I usually do a mixture of elliptical, spinning, and treadmill, and I think my heart rate hits an all time high when the aforementioned machines are paired with a Jersey Shore marathon. True story.

I mixed up my routine by going to a boxing class last week. One of my co-workers went for a while, and I was dying to see what she was raving about. I dragged my happy ass out of bed last Saturday morning, albeit begrudgingly, to go to the free intro class. In a word? Funsies. The class is held in a legit men’s boxing studio, and it’s all kinds of intimidating walking in there. You can almost see the sweat in the air. The class was full of girls, though, and everyone was as intro as myself. I had fun, although the teacher totally called me out for being a dancer maybe three minutes in. Apparently I was altering the boxer’s shuffle to make it a little too graceful?  My back and arms were extra sore on Sunday, so I was pleased. I’m thinking about making it a regular thing.

I made a pretty decent tempeh chile last week, but it wasn’t as photogenic as one may have hoped. I’m including below, but it’s for looksies only. There’s no need to go into the ingredients.

I was trying to compensate for my minor food indiscretions over the past couple of weeks (Nutella anyone? How’s about I see how much dark chocolate I can cram into one day?), so I made some lettuce wraps for dinner this week. I found them on Epicurious. They called for:

Ingredients:

tempeh chile

1 14 oz can of small artichoke hearts, drained
1 14 oz can of hearts of palm, cut into chunks, drained
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 poblano pepper, seeded, ribbed and chopped
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 avocados, cut into chunks
3 tbsp white vinegar
1 head butter lettuce
1/4 cup gorgonzola
salt and pepper

In a medium bowl, I combined the artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, cucumber, onion, poblano and cilantro. Add the avocado and drizzle with the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and spoon into the lettuce cups. Top with gorgonzola, and devour. They were pretty tasty and – I’m just guessing here – but they’re probably about 70 calories each. Can do:

lettuce wraps




February 2011
M T W T F S S
« Jan   Mar »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28  

Categories