Archive for the 'almonds' Category

21
Jul
12

tagine, badminton, and Bologna.

Greetings from foggy London town, where the Summer is scarce and the condensation oh so prevalent. It’s been just over two months since I relocated from NYC to the Land o’ Scones (official name), and it seems as though I timed my arrival to coincide with sheets of rain and blankets of clouds (going with a bed theme here..just go with it). I can assure you I didn’t. Luckily, the absence of Sun is prolonging my youth! If I can’t find the Sun, then I’m guessing it can’t find my wrinkles. Right?! That’s pure logic.

I’ve been indoors lately far more than my former self dared, so it’s given me ample time to cook and decorate. I’m almost positive I’m turning full-on adult. Proof: today, I bought a small bunch of orange daisies! Who does that?! Adults. That’s who.

While I’ve been getting all domestic, I’ve also been cooking my face off. A few weeks ago, I made a Weight Watchers recipe of Chicken Tagine with Apricots and Almonds:

tagine

Ingredients:

4 halves apricots, dried
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c chicken broth, fat free
1 tbsp flour, white
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp honey
1/4 c almonds, whole, blanched
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
2 c whole wheat couscous, cooked

Start by bringing apricots and chicken broth to a simmer in a small saucepan, and then set aside. Coat a large saucepan with cooking spray and cook over high heat. Toss chicken in the flour and saute about 5 minutes, and then stir in onion. Reduce to medium low and cook 10 minutes more. Stir in cinnamon and honey. Stir in apricots, broth and almonds, season with salt and pepper and cook for 10 minutes. Serve over couscous.

Weight Watchers recipes sometimes come out a little lacking in flavor, and this turned out to be no exception. I always feel like I need to add something citrus-y (i.e. lemons) or yogurt-y (i.e. Greek) or oily (i.e. extra virgin olive) on top. This time, I added some extra virgin olive oil for flavor. This turned out to be the right call, although I still feel the recipe needed more. Next time I’d maybe add olives or capers to give it some complexity or something.

A few nights later, I made another Weight Watchers recipe of Mushroom Barley Burgers. I know – I’m a glutton for bland punishment. This one was actually the exception, though. It was all kinds of delicious:

Ingredients:

1/2 c uncooked barley
2 sprays cooking spray
1 1/2 lb mushrooms, portabella caps, sliced
1 egg
1 tsp dried sage
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c sour cream, fat free
1 tbsp horseradish sauce

The barley takes a lifetime to make, so I actually made it the night before. You bring it to a boil with 2 1/4 cups of water in a saucepan, reduce to low and simmer, covered for 40 minutes. That’s way too long for me post-work, since I’m always thisclose to gnawing a hand off while I cook, so I made the barley the night before.

Coat a skillet with cooking spray and add mushrooms over medium-high heat. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until tender and transfer to a bowl. Mix together with the barley, egg, sage, salt and pepper and mash with a fork. This recipe also gave the option of blending with a food processor, but I’ve yet to buy one since I keep de-prioritizing it. Never-you-mind, though — forking is great for the biceps.

pasta bolognese

Once the mixture was all decently combined, I formed it into about 6 patties. The recipe said I’d find 4, but for some reason I found 2 extras! Win. I put them on a plate, covered them with aluminum foil, and refrigerated for 20 minutes.I then watched some Friends. Brits looove Friends.

I took the patties from the refrigerator and placed them under the broiler for about 5 minutes per side. I then mixed together the sour cream and horseradish in a bowl. You serve the burgers with the horseradish sauce on top. Delicious. I had never before taken an interest in horseradish, but this recipe converted me. I’m, like, dying for Passover 2013.

All this cooking and domesticating has driven me further and further from the gym, and I’ve neglected to even join a proper gym since I’ve moved. Instead, I’ve taken to the iPad workouts for yoga and pilates. I’m pretty into it, since the workouts are as short as 10 minutes yet there are enough to where you can get a full hour-long sesh just by combining a few. I’ve converted to primarily stretch workouts, and when I want to get my cardio on I’ve been going to dance classes. I’m kind of in love with this new philosophy, especially since I can take it with me when I travel and work it around my schedule.

On top of the yoga, pilates and dance, I joined a slightly ghetto gym for its courts and plethora of pilates classes. I was just introduced to badminton on said courts, and I just may have found my sport. I loved every minute of our 45 minute “game,” and even amongst the government-subsidized rafters I felt just like Maid Marion. And that feeling is just beautiful.

I went to Bologna last weekend (hence the Italian-dubbed Robin Hood clip, for those who clicked), which marked my grand return to Italy since I studied abroad in Rome in 2005. During the trip, I ate pappardelle bolognese (pictured left), spinach and mascarpone gnocchi, ricotta flavored gelato (unreal), chocolate flavored gelato (more real, but still bene) nutella crepes, and proscuitto and melon (pictured below). I’m pretty sure there will be more travels and fitting that much rich and delicious food into my belly, so I’m going to continue with the yoga and pilates and weekly dance and badminton. Cheers!

proscuitto e melone

03
Nov
09

Belgian endive salad with rosemary roasted almonds.

When it comes down to it, I’m fancy. I love arugula, I wore 4-inch heels at summer camp, and I used hats as a statement piece for the better part of the ’90s. Granted, it was prime Blossom-era, but I continued the trend long after the bandwagon hat wearers dropped off. The only argument against me being fancy is my bourgeois love for Urban Outfitters, and that’s unshakable.

It was only a matter of time before I introduced endives to my kitchen, and that time is now. Few foods scream “class” like these mini-cabbages, and so I had to have them:

Belgian endives

In the interest of Thanksgiving gluttony, I’ve decided to cut a few things out of my life. Since Monday (2 days strong!) I’ve cut cheese loose, and I’m seriously scaling back on the carbs. I’m one of those people who eats about 9,000 varieties of vegetables daily, but I always feel the need to throw some kind of useless carb into the mix. The end result is tacking on useless pounds to my life, and I’m over it like Entourage.

Also, I’m working out extra hard. I know I always claim to be stepping it up, but this time it’s legit. I’ve been running every day, whereas before it was mayyybe 2-3 times a week and only when accompanied by some Giada or a little Ina (read: weekends). This is not to say that the cybex and ski-machine thing are dead to me, but the treadmill is my new favorite toy. I’m really into inclines and resistance, so if I feel like just running a mile I’ll increase the incline each 10th of a mile until I get to 10. Believe me now?

With all this in mind, I decided to prepare my endives healthily. I love themes. I chopped off the ends, and then I cut them horizontally. I sauteed them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper, and then cooked them on medium heat for about 3-5 minutes a side. I bought the most amazing almonds from TJ’s that are roasted with rosemary, and so midway through the cooking I threw a few of those in. I also added a fair amount of dried thyme, and the juice from one lemon (note to self: Giada squeezes through her hand for a reason..I ate like 5 seeds), and then I simmered all together for about three minutes. Once they were all familial and whatnot, I slid it all onto a plate and drizzled the whole mix with some white wine vinegar. It was pretty great, and fancy as hell. See below:

warm endive salad with rosemary roasted almonds




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