Archive for the 'avocado' Category

16
Aug
11

steak and eggs, tuna lettuce wraps.

I may be many things, but I’m rarely a myth debunker. For instance, I’m all for perpetuating that Walt Disney had his head frozen. It’s kind of fascinating to imagine, and I’d be all for him returning if he weren’t such a racist and likely anti-Semite. There is one myth that I’ve recently proven to be untrue, though, so I have to share. It’s such a myth that vegetarians are healthier than everyone else.

Since crossing over to the meaty side, I’ve realized that I have shedloads (British for “shitloads”..I wanted to class it up a bit) more energy and am eating far less processed foods to compensate for the frequent hunger common to many-a plant eater. I’ve also – gasp – lost weight since I’ve integrated meat back into my life. It’s as if my more balanced meals are giving my body what it needs for fuel, and I have little use for carb and sugar fat.

I’m also leaner these days since I’m training for this half marathon, so I’ve been doing bi-weekly morning runs through the streets of the city. Though I inhale my fair share of cigarette smoke and burnt Halal food on the way, it’s doing wonders for my stamina. It doesn’t hurt that I run with a group of, like, statuesque gazelles, so I’m trying like hell not to be the token straggler.

I often worry that I look like this:

Luckily, the gazelles don’t seem to mind.

I made an easy dinner the other night that I was absurdly proud of. It’s absurd, because on the list of impressive dishes I’ve made it would rank something like 213th. It was just tuna salad in lettuce cups, but I’ve never before made it so delicious. I had to share.

tuna lettuce wraps

Ingredients:

1 can tuna, drained
2 tbsp Grey Poupon mustard
1 tsp Cholula hot sauce
Romaine lettuce hearts
1/4 c golden raisins
1/2 avocado, cut into chunks
1/4 yellow bell pepper, cut into chunks
juice of a lemon
salt and pepper, to taste

I drained the tuna and mixed in the Grey Poupon and Cholula. I mixed in about half of the lemon juice. I chopped the avocado and bell pepper, and added those to the tuna mixture. I mixed in the raisins, salt and pepper, and filled the lettuce wraps with equal amounts of the mixture. I then topped with the rest of the lemon juice, and devoured. Though unimpressive, it was a cheap, easy and healthy meal that I threw together in like five minutes. Highly recommended.

This new-found meaty love has prompted me to rediscover my girl Giada’s cookbooks, so I dug up the old “Giada at Home” cookbook and found a recipe I was interested in. I made her “Grilled Tuscan Steak with Fried Egg and goat cheese” last night:

role model

Ingredients:

1 boneless ribeye steak
salt and ground black pepper
1/2 tbsp herbes de Provence
olive oil cooking spray
1 tbsp goat cheese crumbles
1/2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
2 c arugula
1 egg

She actually called for four servings, but I quartered the recipe knowing I could stretch it into two meals. Although I’ve realized I love beef, I don’t care for massive servings of steak. I’m a 4 oz at-a-timer, I’ve realized.

You start by heating up the grill, so I plugged in my Panini Press and sprayed both sides with the olive oil spray. Sprinkle both sides of the steak with salt, pepper, and herbes de Provence. Grill 6-8 minutes for each side, and the steak is cooked medium rare. Remove from the heat and allow to rest.

Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, and then add the egg. Season with salt and pepper, and cook until the egg whites are set, 2 to 3 minutes.

Serve the steak atop arugula. Top steak with the egg, and crumble goat cheese and the parsley on top. First off, I am very pleased that I was able to cook the steak properly. It remained reddish pink in the middle, and it actually bled on my plate! This was thrilling, especially considering how greyish it appeared when I likely overcooked it in my last attempt. Secondly, the yolk, goat cheese, and juicy steak made for an incredible tasty combination. This just may be my new favorite meal. See below:

Grilled Tuscan Steak with Fried Egg and Goat Cheese

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

15
May
10

linguine with clams, veggie sandwich.

I just reached a major culinary milestone. In a lady-balls-to-the-wall moment, I approached the seafood counter at Whole Foods with nothing but bivales on the brain. After probing the seafood man for his expertise (Clams or Cockles? Jersey clams or Maine clams? Boxers or briefs?), I walked away with two pounds of Littleneck clams and a totally unnecessary and premature sense of accomplishment.

I’ve had no experience with clams save for a few encounters with clam chowder, so I was pretty glued to the recipe I found on Epicurious. It was meant for cockles, but the Whole Foods man said he favored clams (they’re sweeter and less briny, apparently) and steered me in that direction. It called for:

linguine with clams

Ingredients:

12 oz linguine (I used whole wheat)

2 tbsp butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

2 tbsp tarragon

1/4 tsp saffron

2 pounds cockles ( I used clams)

It also requested I add whipping cream, which I excluded because I can. I love exerting my power over dairy. You start by cooking the linguine as the box instructs, and melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and sautee for a couple of minutes, and then add the wine, half the tarragon and the saffron. Bring to boil, add the clams, and cover the skillet. They took about 8 minutes to cook, and suddenly all the clams pop open and, like, all but unhinge! It looked just like the Reach toothbrush cartoon, but an edible version. Side bar: what happened to Reach? Anyways, you toss the cooked linguine in with the sauce, season with salt and pepper, and then top with the clams. I added some crushed red pepper flakes for some spice, but the tarragon and saffron did a pretty good job of seasoning. I really enjoyed the whole clam experience.

In sweaty news, I’ve been going at this whole workout thing with a new perspective. Harder, faster, stronger, if you will. I used to be all “treadmill for 20 min a day? Done.” Now I’m all, “Treadmill for 20, Cybex for 30, Stair master for 15? Done,” or some variation of that. It’s swimsuit season much too soon, so it’s go time. I will never stop wishing there were pools in the city, though, because I loooove to swim. I also enjoy that whole “fetus in the womb” feeling of floating around and doing somersaults and whatever. Also, it’s sweatless exercise. Something to think about, NYC.

While looking through my repertoire of recent eats, I realized that my most photogenic recipe was another from Epicurious. Is there such a thing as a recipe app addiction? If so, I suffer from it.

I want

Ingredients:

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 teaspoon finely chopped canned chipotle chile with sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

8 slices whole-grain bread

2⁄3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta

1 medium avocado, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tomato, cut into 8 slices

You start by boiling 1 cup water with vinegar in a small saucepan. Add onion; turn off heat; let sit 30 minutes; drain. I love red onions more than life itself, and this was a delicious way to prepare them. They’re almost pickled. Epi then wants you to puree beans and cumin in a blender. Mix mayonnaise, chipotle (I used a jalapeno) and lime juice in a bowl, and spread on 4 slices of bread, which I toasted. I’m normally not a mayo fan, but I figured it was alright to include as long as lime and jalapeno were involved. Top remaining slices with bean puree, onion, cheese (I used goat cheese due to the overwhelming absense of feta in Whole Foods that week), avocado, cilantro and tomato. I’ve made my fair share of well documented veggie paninis in the past, but this was by far the most hearty. It’s also arguably the prettiest, and I’m showing it here in all its openfaced glory. See below:

black bean and veggie sandwich with pickled red onions and jalapeno mayo

09
May
10

halibut with fruit salsa, green pea and tarragon soup.

I’ve been a vegetarian for all of two years now, and there are times when I openly wonder if I could still claim veg status if I maybe just integrated some cured Italian meats into my diet. Just a few; just to see how it feels. I watch the Food Network and am unnaturally jealous when they prepare those adorable lollipop-like lamb chops. Also, I’m weirdly fascinated by duck and the way people score the backside with a criss-cross pattern before cooking. When’s the last time I had that much fun with an eggplant? I do realize that I’m the only one closing myself off to decorating ducks, but the idea of crossing over to the dark meat side fills me with this unmistakable sense of failure. I have no clue when that will pass, so for now I’m choosing to further explore the world of seafood.

I was in Whole Foods last week and was drawn over to the seafood counter. Before I had a chance to explore my options, I saw one of those “WEEKEND DEAL!” stickers on the halibut. I’ve only ever made more mainstream fish such as salmon or tilapia, but my latest desire to keep seafood interesting drove me to purchase. For just $15.99 a pound (3X the price of the modest tilapia), I was the proud owner of halibut – the Lexus of fish. I took it home and prepared with some black bean and mango salsa, a Deena original I like to whip out once it gets warm. I started out by brushing the fish with some olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper, and cooked in on the panini press:

halibut, being pressed

My friend Becca was talking about how professionals always wrap their paninis in aluminum foil before pressing, and how this would lend to a much less frustrating cleanup. I wish I could take credit, but she was the motivation for me deciding to forgo grill marks for the best cleanup of my life. The end result was fish that turned out all kinds of tender, because it behaved as if it were being steamed rather than grilled. Delicious.

Ingredients:

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 mango, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1/2 avocado, chopped

1 handful of cilantro, chopped

lime juice to taste

I mixed together all ingredients and seasoned with the lime juice, salt and pepper. The end result unnaturally jacked up my grocery bill,  so I also made a dirt cheap Green Pea Soup with Tarragon recipe I found on the Epicurious app.

halibut with fruit salsa

Ingredients:

2 16 oz bags of frozen peas

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1.5 c of sliced shallots

4 c vegetable broth

3 tbsp tarragon

plain nonfat yogurt

I made the recipe by the book, except they wanted me to add pea sprouts to the top and I figured we could do without. You start by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan, and throw the shallots in. I had one shallot, some red onion and a few green onions — the poor man’s version of the building blocks for soup — so I chopped all of the above and tossed those in. You cook for about 7 minutes, and then add all but one cup of the peas to the pan along with the veggie stock and 2 tbsp of tarragon. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce to simmer for about 7 minutes. Then, the recipe instructed me to puree, so I did as told with my immersion blender, arguably my favorite kitchen tool ever. Once pureed, you add the remaining tbsp of tarragon, some pepper, and then ladle into bowls. Microwave the peas for a minute, and top the soup with a few of those and a drizzle of yogurt. It was seriously so sweet and amazing. I’m pretty sure I had three bowls the first night, and that was with my self control in place.

On the sweaty side, I’ve held true to my promise for more yoga, and have started going at least twice a week. Hello, dedication. The downside, of course, is I’ve started talking in cult-like yogi terms. “There’s one long line of energy in Warrior 2, and you can really feel it. And you want to open up your heart in your bind, you know?” This rarely seems applicable when I work it into daily conversation, yet somehow I do. After two weeks of yoga and half-assed aerobic exercise, I’ve come to the conclusion that yoga can only be a part of my life when I’m still hitting the gym on the daily. It’s really the only way to get ride of those 10 peanut butter pounds I’ve accumulated, especially since I’m still eating massive amounts of reduced-fat Skippy while trying to lose the fruits (back fat, etc.) of its predecessor’s labor. I have future plans to start dancing again, so stay tuned re: that.

Anyways, see below for my delicious pea soup:

Green Pea with Tarragon Soup

11
Apr
10

shrimp salad with serrano-mint sauce.

My longest term relationship has been with the gym, and I have put a LOT of time into making it work. We first got together in high school, had a trial separation in college, and got back together right before I moved to New York. We’ve been going strong for four years now, and I am bored out of my skull. I’ve tried different things to keep it interesting, but there are only so many options within those confined walls. As a result, I’ve been looking elsewhere for satisfaction. The track and I have had a well publicized affair, but that’s not the only time I’ve strayed. I recently went to Mexico, and the pool and I had some really good times. We’re talking handstand contests, somersaults, et al. Also, what better way to rehydrate than with a swim up bar and giant frozen cocktails? Sorry, Poland Spring. I appreciate a good sport cap, but Pina Colada won this round.

gym assassin

Also, is it any accident that all the girls with the sickest bodies in Mexico were major yogis? Methinks not. I’m all about the yoga now. I was warned that it would change my body, muscle-y-wise, and I’ll be damned if it hasn’t already. I’ve gone maybe five times in the last two weeks, and I honestly look longer and leaner. Seriously, I think my spine went off and elongated itself. Or maybe it’s all in my head, but I’ll take it.

As far as the food goes, I had something like 20 Mexican meals in a row. Not only was I in Puerto Vallarta eating beer battered fish tacos daily, but then, without skipping a beat, I headed to Austin and had street truck tacos and queso for three days straight. Eventually, I returned to NYC with habanero swimming in my veins, and met a friend for brunch at the legit Mexican place down the street. Two days later, I met another friend for dinner and had – wait for it – Mexican food. Think I’ve had my fill? Nah. Although if my metabolism could talk, it would say, “Listen, my dear. Throw me a bone and deprive yourself of chips and salsa for, like, one day.” And I’d say, “You can handle this. Take it all, bitch.” And it would get all pouty and defiant, and I really hate when it’s like that. So to maintain peace, I’m taking a brief departure from all the huevos rancheros and the like.

I made a beautiful little salad the other night that had a fair amount of Mexican flavors, though. It called for:

Ingredients:

1/4 lb pre-cooked shrimp

2 cups baby spinach

1/4 sliced avocado

5 sliced roma tomatoes

chopped cilantro

1/4 lb baby portabella mushrooms, sliced

It started with some shrimp that I bought pre-cooked at Whole Foods. I sauteed some baby portabella mushrooms in olive oil, salt and pepper, and then heated the shrimp in there as well. I sliced the avocado and tomatoes, threw those on top of the spinach, and then added the mushrooms and shrimp as well. I topped the whole mix with the chopped cilantro, and then made this Bobby Flay serrano-mint sauce to use as dressing. It was the spiciest thing I’ve made in ages, and it calls for:

Ingredients:

1 c mint leaves

2 serrano chiles, chopped

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

2 teaspoons Agave nectar (Bobby calls for sugar; I didn’t have)

1/4 c white wine vinegar

salt

You throw all ingredients in a blender and pulse until mixed. I drizzled it atop the salad. Even after my two week Mexican food bender, I found it to be just slightly too spicy. I added a little more agave nectar, but the mint, ginger, white wine vinegar and chiles quadruple-teamed each other to make a pretty potent sauce. Anyways, see below for the delicious final product. It may have sacrificed half my stomach lining, but what a way to go:

shrimp salad with serrano-mint sauce

15
Aug
09

grilled scallops with avocado puree.

Lately I want to, like, spoon with nature. I’ve been planning to give up my morning workouts in favor of some after-work runs, because two days a week is not fulfilling my nature needs. I’m all adjusted and plateaued, anyways, and I’ve just now realized that I never work as hard first thing in the morning. My body is all anti-sleep and variety, it seems, because I’ve had a hard time transitioning. This past week’s humidity and constant tease of rain has been an awesome enabler. I woke up this morning to this good looking sunrise, though:

sunrise

sunrise

I feel like that’s pretty much a sign that the rain and Florida-esque humidity is on its way out, right? In any event, I’m totally converting to a p.m. runner first thing next week. I’m much too excited about this.

In the name of variety, I made my first ever scallops this week. Actually, I’m pretty sure it also marked the first time I ate scallops. I saw a bag at TJ’s and just decided to go for it, all lady balls to the wall.

I prepared them by first defrosting, then coating each in olive oil, salt and pepper. I grilled them on the Panini Press, which took maybe three minutes for each mini batch. I found this adorable Bobby Flay recipe to work with, so I started by making the avocado puree.

I added an avocado, some chopped red onion, jalapenos, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to the food processor:

avocado puree, pre-puree

avocado puree, pre-puree

I pulsed everything together until it pureed up all pretty. It was basically an extra-spicy guacamole when it all came together, but I loves my spicy so I approved. Meanwhile my scallops were cooking off and smelling incredible in the background. I have proof, too. My roomie said so. So there.

I assembled the little scallop boats just like Bobby did, although mine were complete with these Longboard tortilla chips courtesy of TJ’s. I started with a chip, and then topped it with the spicy guacamole, one scallop, and some sliced jalapeno. They ended up looking like little Mexican-flavored kayakers, so they totally spoke to my nature infatuation. See below for the final  product:

grilled scallops on tortilla chips w/ avocado puree

grilled scallops on tortilla chips w/ avocado puree

10
Aug
09

gnocchi and roasted tomatoes.

When I was in Austin, I felt motivated to be more outdoorsy. I kept envisioning myself rock climbing and kayaking and all that, which is weird because there are rocks to climb near the city and I’ve never chosen to partake.

Austin kayaker

Austin kayaker

That goes strongly against my nature (ha), for I was once the college senior afraid of camping at the cold springs near campus. I fell victim to peer pressure – twice – and actually found it to be pretty tolerable and almost fun. That could have been the 24 pack of Natty Light talking, though. I can’t be sure.

I’m a firm believer in baby steps, so I’m gradually transitioning to the outdoors via my running. I had a completely gym-less weekend, and I shunned the computer and was outside all day Saturday. Today I went for a jog on the track and did some crunches on the grass. I’m like Lance Armstrong in a sports bra.

As far as my foodstuff goes, I hit up the cheese shop today for more $1.99 gouda slices and mascarpone cheese. I always kind of skim the store for anything I can’t leave without, and this time I grabbed some gnocchi. Today I HAD to have it, whereas I usually stare it down for a few minutes and ultimately leave it be.

I’ve never prepared gnocchi myself, but I had boatloads in Italy and have had it a couple of times in the U.S. The best ever was gnocchi al pesto that my friends and I ordered in Capri. It wasn’t even on the menu, but the chef made it anyways and it was insaaaaane.

Gnocchi, for those who are unaware, is potato dumplings that have a Play-Doh like consistency. They’re so easy to prepare that they make couscous look complex. All you have to do is boil water, drop in gnocchi, and wait 2-3 minutes for it to float to the top. Drain and serve. That is all.

the baby gnocchis are boiling

the baby gnocchis are boiling

I’ ve been dying to use the food processor, so I made a little basil avocado puree for my gnocchi. I started with half an avocado, a handful of fresh basil, the juice of one lemon, salt, pepper, and about 1/4 cup of olive oil. I probably used more lemon that olive oil, but I wanted to keep it light.

On the side, I roasted some roma tomatoes in the oven with a chopped shallot, olive oil, rosemary, thyme and dry basil. I think roasted tomatoes are last meal-worthy these days. They cook up so amazingly. The skin starts to fall off, and they explode in your mouth! I don’t think I could make that sound any less appetizing if I tried, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

I roasted them in the toaster oven for 13-15 minutes at 350, because my oven is teeny and it started toying with the idea of catching fire when I turned up the heat. See below for the final product. I made a small plate for my roomie, and she confirmed that the gnocchi were delicious and had a lot of flavor. Bravissimi!:

potato gnocchi with avocado basil puree, roasted tomatoes with dry herbs and shallots

potato gnocchi with avocado basil puree, roasted tomatoes with dry herbs and shallots




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