Archive for the 'kale' Category

07
May
12

Sunday Roast and blue cheese.

After 6 remarkable years of Trader Joe’s, Panini Presses, immersion blenders, and culinary self discovery in NYC, I’ve hopped the pond to experience a new city and its charming ingredients. I’ve relocated to London for the next few years! Bring on the High Teas, Sunday Roasts, and radishes, y’all!

a rare moment of self reflection

But first, a moment of reflection. I moved to NYC knowing little more than how to navigate through a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, and my prize recipe was a tuna casserole I proudly topped with Baked Lays and a generous serving of honey mustard dressing. Apparently, I went through a Midwestern phase in college? Come to think of it, I was making said casserole when I went through my Vince Vaughn phase, so that all adds up…

Anyways, I’ll forever be grateful for what New York taught me in terms of food. I ate in all the best restaurants, consumed an impressive amount of Food Network on the weekends, and cooked exclusively with Whole Foods and Farmer’s Market ingredients, so it’s safe to say I nearly peaked in terms of culinary ability.

Nearly is the operative word, here.

My next chapter is one filled with porridge, Yorkshire pudding, and shedloads (I’m a Brit now – mind the slang) of tea, and I’m confident I’ll flex more cooking muscles than I knew existed. And, believe me, I’m culinarily ripped.

Since I’ve arrived, I’ve done my best to go lady-balls-deep (see what I did there?) into the native cuisine, so that began with a Sunday Roast. It’s the equivalent of a Sunday brunch here, but more dudes are apt to join since you replace a $20 egg dish with a £15 dish of the meat of your liking (i.e. leg of lamb, roasted chicken, aged beef, pork shoulder, or fish), and it comes with roasted vegetables, roasted new potatoes, gravy and Yorkshire pudding. It looks like this:

Sunday roast

And it’s typically served with anywhere from 1-5 Guinnesses (Guinnei?) No, you say? That’s entirely optional? Well, I don’t care to experience it any other way.

Yorkshire pudding, for those who are unfamiliar, is that giant crusty popover looking thing to the left of my chicken. It’s alright, although I’d prefer if it weren’t such a misnomer. Say “pudding” and I’m bound to want something gooey.

Now let’s switch gears for a minute and discuss the sweaty side before we cover what British-y meals I’ve made so far in my temporary flat. I toured two gyms my first day here, assuming I’d go into London the same way I went into NYC – staking my claim on a treadmill before I had an apartment or job and considering the gym central to my daily mental health and happiness. As I was price comparing the two, though, I realized that the gym and exercise are not one in the same. I decided to hold off on the contract for now, and in turn encourage myself to be creative with my workouts. Maybs that will curb the resentment I occasionally develop towards the gym? We’ll find out.

For now, I bought a jump rope (or “skip” as they say in the UK) and have been jumping every other day or so. I then do some planks for my arms and core and tricep dips if I feel like showing my wings some more love. I’ve already gone to 3 dance classes in the week I’ve been in London, and the one I went to today was a total arse-kicker. I’ll be back. I may start doing yoga also, because with my Skip in my home I can get my cardio on whenever I want and have the freedom to take non-sweaty classes away from home. I’m SO into this idea.

Today, I went to the grocery before the aforementioned arse-kicking hip hop class (which they actually call “hip pop”..adorable), and I stocked up on some English staples. I got some carrots, radishes, an English cucumber, and blue cheese, and got to work chopping for a little salad I threw together:

Ingredients:

English Salad

4 c baby spinach
1/2 English cucumber, sliced
1/4 c radishes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/3 c English carrots, sliced in half lengthwise
1 oz creamy blue cheese
1 tsp honey
1 tbsp grainy mustard
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

I started by slicing the carrots, radishes and cucumbers, and placing on top of the bed of just washed spinach. I then dolloped the blue cheese all over the salad, because I’ve decided to develop a taste for the stuff all “When in Rome”-style, and I love it already. While my bed of veggies was complete, I whisked together the grainy mustard, honey and olive oil for a thick dressing to drizzle on top. I then finished the whole dish with salt and pepper and devoured. Pretty legit.

I also couldn’t get over how adorable my English ingredients looked on my cutting board. Just the cutest little veggies I ever did see.

I still haven’t quite figured out how to work the oven or microwave, and I left my Panini Press with its affinity for American voltage with my friend Ryan in NYC, so I’m pretty limited to the stove top these days. I went with one of my go-tos tonight with a British twist, so I made kale and tofu with blue cheese.

English cutting board

Ingredients:
4 c kale, chopped
1 yellow onion, sliced
1/3 package of tofu
1 oz creamy blue cheese
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

I started by heating the olive oil on medium heat in my skillet. I sliced the onion and tossed that into the oil. I cooked until it was translucent, and then I chopped and added the tofu to the skillet. I’m still adjusting to an electric stove after cooking with gas for 6 years, and I realized it would take approx a lifetime to get my tofu anywhere near golden. That’s typically how I like my tofu, but I was ravenous so I only cooked them for a few minutes. I then added the rinsed kale, and cooked that with the onions and tofu for about 5 minutes until wilted. I finished the dish with the lemon juice and dollops of melty blue cheese. Highly recommended. See below:

kale, onions and tofu with blue cheese

03
Jan
12

whole wheat carbonara & spicy turkey burgers.

Ah, blog! Look at you! It’s been ages! There’s soo much to catch up on. Like, where to begin? Let’s begin with the sweaty side of things. First off, I am fully committed to spin, I’ve found a dance class I just lurve, and I joined a fancy new gym that actually makes me want to partake in Jacob’s Ladder cardio machines and saunas and shit. I just want to go inSANE. Rut, you have officially been beaten. All signs are pointing to 2012 being the most well rounded fitness year yet. No longer will I fall into trendy fitness money sucks or obsessive cardio. It turns out that, despite several attempts at brainwashing, I have not been lacking the secret to fitness or food intake. Not in the least. The key is simply moderation and variety, and I, like, vow not to forget that this year. I’m thisclose to conquering both. Insert evil laugh ‘here.’ Muahaha.

I recently discovered Weight Watchers recipes are kinda fun. They take foods I like and make them less fatty! Now that sounds like something I’d be into. I’ve always been terrified/fascinated of a few meals that are infamous for being incredibly indulgent and defibrillator-compatible. One of those is spaghetti carbonara, which has been on my “sigh, if I had 6 more inches of height, I’d totally eat a bowl of that one day post day-long boot camp sesh and not follow it by 6 straight hours of self loathing” wish list for decades. Imagine my surprise when I found this whole wheat carbonara recipe! Delightful.

Ingredients:

whole wheat carbonara

8 oz uncooked whole-wheat spaghetti
3 slices turkey bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
1 large egg, beaten
1 large egg white, beaten
6 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1 c baby spinach
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

I altered the recipe a little, since the original called for regular bacon and no spinach. I added that in for funsies.

Anyways, you start by cooking the pasta as instructed on the box. Drain and set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over a medium-low heat. Add bacon and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until bacon is crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove garlic; leave bacon and bacon fat in skillet. Add spaghetti to skillet; toss well, add spinach, cook until just wilted. Remove from heat. Add eggs and cheese; toss well to coat. Season to taste, and eat immediately. ‘Twas a good diet version. I may be ready to try the real thing at some point. Of course, I’ll have to wait for a day with ample time to self-loathe afterward.

I’ve also become pretty enamored with the Whole Foods app on my phone. What? I can juggle multiple apps. I made this Tomato Bulgur soup with quinoa a few weeks ago:

tomato quinoa soup

Ingredients:
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup uncooked bulgur wheat (I used quinoa)
1 (14-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon feta cheese crumbles (optional)

In a medium pot over medium-high heat, bring 1/2 cup broth to a simmer. Add onion and garlic and cook about 5 minutes or until onion is translucent and tender. Stir in coriander and cinnamon and cook 1 minute. Add quinoa and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. As I said, the recipe calls for bulgur. Nothing against the original star, but I happened to have some unused quinoa just hanging out in my freezer, so that’s why I went with the substitute. Add remaining 3 1/2 cups broth and tomatoes with their juices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until quinoa is tender. Stir in lemon juice. Garnish with parsley and feta.

Ugh, I LOVE this soup. It has all the Indian and Moroccan spices one could ask for, and I’m a big fan of any soup that you top with lemon juice, parsley and feta. So delicious. I highly recommend this one.

One of my less successful dishes came in the form of spaghetti squash. To be fair, I didn’t follow a recipe and just improvised, but that’s because I was totally sold by some infomercial where a woman makes it due to her easy-chop device and I thought it was about time I tried that, sans device.

Ingredients:

spaghetti squash pasta

1 spaghetti squash
2 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
cocktail tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp basil, fresh, chopped
3 tbsp Parmesan, grated

I pre-heated the oven to 350 degrees like a recipe instructed, and cut the squash in half length-wise. I scooped out the seeds and pulp and baked the squash for about an hour. At this point, I was starvles the clown yet it was still tough to the touch. I had eaten more than a socially acceptable amount of Parmesan while waiting for the squash, so I had a “eff this” moment and made do. I cut the squash into fry-like pasta and topped with tomatoes, garlic, basil, olive oil and Parmesan. Don’t judge me. It was decently delicious, actually, because you can’t really go wrong with that combo.

Continuing on my quest of have less-fatty versions of foods I fantasize about, I decided to make turkey burgers tonight. I found this great recipe on Epicurious and made a few adjustments, as per usual. Since it was a holiday (?) today, I was off work and able to make it to Trader Joe’s at the off-peak-ish hour of 2 p.m. Since there was no cranky elderly lady ramming into me with her obscenely full cart, I was able to actually browse. I ended up buying some of my old stand-bys from the earliest days of this here blog! Like, I got my Habanero Lime salsa and this Champagne-Pear Vinagrette I almost proposed to back in ’09! It was magical.

lover from '09

Ingredients:

1 1/4 pounds lean ground turkey
1/2 c Panko bread crumbs
1 cup Habanero Lime salsa
1/2 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
cooking spray

I altered this recipe quite a bit. The original called for cilantro, but I had parsley on hand so I went with that. Also, I added in the bread crumbs to help the burgers stick and eliminated the vegetable oil to save calories. All proved to be nice alterations.

You start by mixing the ground turkey, bread crumbs, salsa, shallots, parsley, hot sauce, cumin, salt, and pepper in large bowl. Shape turkey mixture into six round patties. The recipe said 4, but I found this makes 6 quite large patties.

Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add cooking spray. Add burgers; cook until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Reduce heat to low. Sauté until burgers are cooked through, about 4 minutes, turning occasionally.

I roasted some kale and mushrooms in a 375 degree oven with a couple of cloves of minced garlic, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I served this fancy garlic aioli mustard sauce atop the burger and alongside the kale. Delicious. My champagne-pear vinagrette better watch out. It can be replaced. See below:

spicy turkey burger, roasted kale and mushrooms

31
Oct
11

spinning round two, pumpkin soup.

Breaking news: I am ready to give spin another chance! I know; I’m just as shocked as you are, Sweaty/Spicy masses. It seemed we were wholly unmatched when I attended my first 6 a.m. class nearly three years ago, but it’s possible there was just a learning curve to dealing with the pitch black room, blasting techo and overly amped-potentially-roided-out instructors? Either that, or tastes change and that’s what I now consider motivation? In any event, I went to a class here last Friday, and I’m dying to return. The class was short (45 minutes), I sweat (buckets), and I got two entirely separate endorsements of how toned Soul Cycle-enthusiasts become (once they drop several hundies). SOLD.

This new obsession couldn’t have come at a better time, because I’m starting to lose my daily gym motivation as it’s turning to Winter far too early. It’s just not the same when you need to strip away 17 layers of clothing to change into gym clothes at lunch. And going before or after work is out of the question these days. The days are getting shorter and it’s already getting darker earlier, and that’s a notorious motivation assassin. Blerg.

I’m making more of an effort to eat healthy these days to make up for my gym aversion, though. I made this quinoa primavera courtesy of my Whole Foods app:

Ingredients:

quinoa primavera

1 c quinoa
2 c water
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ c finely chopped red onion
½ lb asparagus, ends cut off and discarded, the rest cut into spears
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 c frozen peas, thawed
1 c shredded cooked chicken
1 c thinly sliced spinach leaves
1 tsp paprika (my addition)
juice of one lemon (my addition)
salt and pepper, to taste

You start by rinsing quinoa under cold water, and then drain it. Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan, and bring it to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed.

I had no cooked chicken in the house, so I bought thin breasts and seasoned them with paprika, salt and pepper. I baked in the oven at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, and removed from the oven.

Meanwhile, I heated the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat, and then added onion and asparagus. Cook about 5-7 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and peas, cook for one more minute. Stir in chicken and quinoa, add spinach and stir until it wilts, 3-5 minutes. I added lemon juice, salt and pepper, and ate.

Admittedly, this dish is kind of bland. I hate to waste food, so I added hot sauce when I ate it the next few nights. In retrospect, it would have been good if it were made to be creamy, so I think next time I’ll add Greek yogurt or something to give it some body.

That was the first Whole Foods app recipe I made, and it was kind of a fail despite looks. I learned my lesson judging the spin class too soon last time, and have deprived myself of nearly 3 years of a rock hard bod because of it. And, so, I gave it another chance.

I made a kale, mushroom and polenta sauté courtesy of the Whole Foods app.

kale, mushroom, tomato and polenta saute

Ingredients:

Canola oil cooking spray
½ lb button mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper
red pepper flakes (my addition)
red onion, sliced (my addition)
5 Roma tomatoes, slice (my addition, it called for sundried tomatoes)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 bunch kale, roughly chopped
1 18-oz roll pre-cooked polenta, sliced
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese

I learned my lesion before with the bland quinoa recipe, so I manipulated this one a bit. You start by heating a large skillet over medium-high heat with cooking spray. The recipe actually calls for olive oil, but I’m not one for greasy kale so I went spray instead. Add onions, mushrooms, salt and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, garlic and polenta, and cook for another few. Add kale and ¼ c water, cover, reduce heat to medium-low and cook for another couple of minutes until the kale wilts. Toss well, season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes, and serve in a bowl. Top with Parmesan, and consume.

I’ve made many iterations of kale, but this has to be one of my favorites. It ties with the cannellini beans and lemon juice recipe, which is one of my old stand-bys. Delicious. Whole Foods app, you’ve redeemed yourself.

Now that it’s basically committed to Winter outside, I’ve decided it’s time to start making soups. Unfortunately, my immersion blender croaked earlier this summer while I was making salsa (sigh), and so I bought a new one earlier today. It’s Halloween weekend, so I figured it would be economically sound if I made a pumpkin soup that also happens to be a Weight Watchers recipe.

Don’t mind if I do.

adorbs

Ingredients:

3 ½ lb pumpkin
2 cloves garlic, peeled
3 c vegetable broth
1 ½ tsp fresh sage, minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground cinnamon

This guy has nothing to do with anything, but I thought he was precious so he made this blog’s guest list.

You start by pre-heating the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut pumpkin in half, horizontally, and scoop out seeds and membranes. Set pumpkin halves cut-side down, place garlic clove under each half. Bake one hour.

I baked these earlier this afternoon as make-ahead, and then stored them in the refrigerator as I dragged myself to yoga. I will never understand why I go to yoga so begrudgingly, but I’m always so insanely proud I went. It’s one of life’s mysteries, I suppose.

Later on, I scooped the pumpkin flesh out of the shells into a large bowl. Add garlic and two cups of broth. I then pureed with the immersion blender, which not surprisingly resulted in a kitchen covered in pumpkin guts. After the mixture is smooth, pour the puree into a large saucepan. Stir in remaining one cup of broth, sage, salt, allspice and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, reduce to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Top with sage and serve.

I would add butter to this soup and a little heavy cream; although I’m not surprised Weight Watchers omitted those two fatties. They’ll make the guest list next time:

pumpkin soup with sage

 

13
Jun
11

roasted cauliflower salad & lentil walnut burgers.

One of my old college friends is what you would call an Extremist. She’s brilliant in science, the maths, and all other stuff that the right side of my brain atrophied to avoid, and yet she can craft a beautiful essay and color coordinate an outfit like no other. I love/hate her for being so well rounded. She recently enrolled in med school, but she can party harder than, like, Bluto. I once witnessed her spooning with a bottle of Patron because she didn’t want to risk enjoying a next day hair-of-the-dog Bloody Maria with an inferior tequila. That’s only a mild exaggeration.

I’d always enjoyed the sense of superiority I’d gain when calling her an Extremist and telling her I was going to introduce her to my friend, Moderation. It took me years to realize I was projecting and referring to myself, and it was I who needed to befriend Moderation.

And so, Moderation is the name of the game these days. Rather than jump into any workout craze, I am sticking to my midday gymming and going to the occasional dance and yoga class. I just found out that my favorite street jazz teacher will be teaching nighttime classes at the studio near me, so look forward to some West Side Story-friendly moves in the near future. I can finally have that dance fight I’ve always wanted! I’ll say things like, “Take that tour jete, bitch,” and “You don’t even know how high I can arabesque, ho. Now sashay, Shante.”

I turned on the 4 Hour Body nearly as quickly as I started due to its surprisingly restrictive nature characteristic of a diet (subtle sarcasm). I’m staying pescetarian for the time being, but I may move towards meat eventually. I want to be like Giada who eats everything in moderation, and stays just so fit and adorbs. I feel like once I master the long-lost art of moderation I can maybe broaden my horizons? It goes against my binge eating generation’s nature, but I will rise above it.

I made this Cauliflower and Arugula salad I saw Chuck Hughes make on the Cooking Channel:

Ingredients:

cauliflower arugula salad

1 cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small pieces and blanched
2 tbsp butter (he called for 1/4 cup)
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons good quality red wine vinegar
4 cups arugula
2 shallots, thinly sliced (he called for one)
olive oil spray (he called for 2 tbsp)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup walnuts (he called for pine nuts)

I just love Chuck with his curiously Midwestern accent and overly expressive eyes when he’s detailing his ingredients. He’s like an aggressively tatted-up puppy. His recipes look damn good, too, and I wanted to pay tribute to him by making one tonight. I changed this one quite a bit due to ingredient restrictions, though, and I’m not proud of that. I left out the bacon to keep it veg-friendly, but carnivores should include.

You start by chopping the cauliflower into florets and blanching them to start. For those unfamiliar with this technique, you start by dropping cauliflower into salted, boiling water for about three minutes. Scoop it out and drop in a bowl of ice water and leave for a few minutes until they’ve completely cooled. This is meant to break down the fibers (I assume) and preserve the color and flavor in the meantime.

Chuck then says to saute in a pan with the butter until golden brown. I found this was longer than the 5 minutes he said and closer to 10, and I threw the first sliced shallot in with the cauliflower. I wanted Shallot City, Population: 1, and so I went there. Then I added honey and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar, and cooked for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.

Meanwhile, mix together arugula, the shallot, the remaining red wine vinegar, and olive oil in a bowl. Top with the cauliflower and walnuts, and dinner is served. I really loved this dish, but next time I’m going to add some golden raisins. My sweet tooth is back with a vengeance.

While I’m not crushing fro-yo or enjoying some late-night rugelach, I’ve been countering the excess sugar intake as of late with some beans and greens. One of my go-tos is kale with lemon and cannelini beans, but I’m not sure I’ve ever featured it here. It looks like this:

kale with cannelini beans

Ingredients:

1 bunch of kale, chopped and de-stemmed
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 vidalia onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 c dry white wine
olive oil cooking spray
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp ground cumin
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper

At some point in her career, Giada made something vaguely resembling this dish, but I’ve distorted it in my hundred or so iterations, so it’s barely recognizable.

I start by chopping the garlic and onion and sauteeing it over medium heat with the cooking spray. I then add about half the can of beans, and simmer for a few minutes. I season with about 1/2 tsp of cumin, salt and pepper, and let the beans start to brown. I then add the kale in batches, and cook it down until it starts to wilt. In this version I added some leftover white wine, and I’m glad I did because it added all kinds of flavor plus a fun sizzling sound upon its addition. I then cook for a few more minutes until the kale is all wilty, and then top with lemon juice, red pepper flakes, and more salt, pepper and cumin. It’s just so damn good, and total Poor Man’s Food so it’s ideal for the early month post-rent deduction scrimping familiar to my fellow New Yorkers.

I made these Lentil Walnut burgers from Whole Foods last week that I was relatively proud of:

Ingredients:

street jazz

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped button mushrooms
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
2 cups cooked brown rice, divided
1 15-ounce can lentils, rinsed and drained
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided

You start by heating the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, walnuts, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and cayenne and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 5 minutes; transfer to a large bowl.

You’re then supposed to puree the rice lentils and egg in a food processor, but I have nothing of the sort so I merely mashed them together with a potato masher and some elbow grease. Transfer to bowl with vegetables, add remaining 1 cup rice and stir to combine. Form lentil mixture into 10 to 12 patties, using about 1/4 cup of the mixture to make each one.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Arrange half of the patties in skillet and cook, flipping once, until golden and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and repeat until the patties are done. I served with some sauteed spinach and onions, and it was really tasty. The food processor is a must, though, because my patties had a hard time staying together. I know what I’m treating myself to on payday!

lentil walnut burgers and sauteed spinach

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
Jan
10

ratatouille, grilled fontina, mushroom and sage sandwich.

There are two types of people in this world: those who live for New Year’s Eve and facebook spam everyone club events with $150 covers, and those who would so very much like to skip the whole damn thing without judgement and stay in with some “Arrested Development” DVDs and a bottle on Andre. Guess which side I fall under?
Though I’d rather be force-fed kimchee than participate in the amateur night that is NYE, I always make resolutions. And I go out, albeit begrudgingly. This year I decided to 1.) start dancing, and 2.) travel more. Tomorrow night, I’m going to a theater dancing class at a new studio, where I’m pretty sure we’ll at least touch on (ha) the choreography in La Vie Boheme (mucho masturbation?)  Also, I am thisclose to buying tap shoes. I need to do some field research, though, because my heart says buy big girl heels, and my head is adamantly opposed and pro-flats. On the travel front, I’m going on vacay in Los Angelos this week. Hello health food haven. I can’t believe the only time we met prior to this was when I was 14 and in town for my cousin’s Bar Mitzvah.
I’m totally mid fitness revolution right now. Rather than do my daily gym routine, I’ve decided to have really extreme workouts like 4 times a week. In between, I’m going to dance, start up yoga again, and..TBD. Today I started it off right by spending 82 minutes on the treadmill, and then I did some free weights and stretching. I had epiphanies. I watched 2 1/2 episodes of Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. I realized if I met the Ace of Cakes, I may be able to look past the soul patch, pick up and move to Baltimore, and maybe even bring him home to meet my parents. Total enlightenment.
I’m so into pasta dishes lately, so I made ratatouille this weekend. I got the recipe from one of my new loverly cookbooks, “Quick From Scratch: Herbs & Spices.”
Ingredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 green or red bell pepper, diced
1 eggplant, diced
1 zucchini, diced (oohh, shocking)
3 cloved of garlic, chopped
1 15 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 tsp white wine vinegar
3/4 lb of linguine
1/2 cup of basil, thinly sliced
It takes maybe 10 minutes to prep everything, and cook time is like 25 minutes. So very easy. You start by heating the oil in a frying pan over medium heat, and then you add onion and bell pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. At that point, you add all the veggies, lower the heat, and cover the pan. They simmer for about 15 minutes. While that was cooking, I boiled some water and cooked some whole wheat linguine for about 8-10 minutes.
Then, you add the tomatoes and simmer, still covered, for 10 minutes. Add the vinegar last, and then toss all together with the linguine. Top with the basil, and devour. I kept the recipe intact, but next time I’ll add my beloved red pepper flakes. I wanted to see how the flavors held up without it, and it tasted hearty and vegetable-y..and in need of some heat. Next time, Gadget.
I bought the most a-maaazing bread from Whole Foods yesterday. I love seedy breads, and really the seedier the better. Same goes for places, people, etc. I bought this organic 12-grain bread, so I decided to make this fancy grilled cheese recipe last night. Also of Herbs & Spices fame.  It calls for:
Ingredients:
3 tbsp butter
1/2 lb of mushrooms
1 1/4 tsp dried sage
country style bread (wtf?!)
1/2 lb fontina cheese
You start off by heating 1 tbsp of the butter in a frying pan, and add the mushrooms, sage, and salt and pepper. Those should cook for about 5 minutes or so. Meanwhile, I had 2 bunches of kale left over from my spicy green beans and kale dish, so I tore off the bunches from 2 stalks to make kale chips for my side dish. I tore them off into bite sized pieces, drizzled in olive oil, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, and baked them in a 350 degree toaster oven for 12 minutes.
While those were baking away, I transferred the mushrooms and sage to a bowl (as dictated by the recipe), and wiped the pan clean. Using a pasty brush, you coat the bread in the rest of the melted butter, fill with cheese and mushrooms, and then return to the pan to grill for like 2 minutes on each side. I thought about bringing my panini press into the picture, but my laziness got the best of me. Anyways, it was so very good. Sage and mushrooms are amazing together, and that may be the best bread I’ve ever had. See below:

Grilled fontina, mushroom and sage sandwich, spicy kale chips

28
Dec
09

spicy green beans and kale, shrimp creole.

I just got THE most exciting package of all time. I have been all kinds of Amish these past few months, since my computer decided to lose its shit one day while I was mid-blog. I sent it down to FL, and my dad fixed it and sent it right back along with like 6 cookbooks. I can’t even describe the level of excitement going on here, but it’s midway between finding a delicious late night cookie for less than 300 calories (mild thrill) and a Free People sample sale (off the charts).

I lived off the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook in college, but for some reason I left the marinade-crusted pages with the rest of my condo in the fam’s garage when I moved to NYC. Since then, I have subsisted solely on e-recipes and spontaneity, i.e. whatever comes to me when I’m perusing Trader Joe’s shelves. Since the computer deserted me, I downgraded to recipes via iPhone, which are really not so comparable. Then, out of the blue, I decided TJ’s is a little too rat race-y for a lazy Sunday afternoon, and maybe sometimes I want to search for orzo without five people hovering in my ass space.

That said, I’ve had a kind of “return to basics” going on in my life. My mom sent me “Giada’s Kitchen” cookbook recently, if only to encourage my Talented Mr. Ripley-style relationship with her. As in, I want her life. It’s probably not going to happen though, so I settled for making one of her recipes. It’s a spicy parmesan green bean and kale dish, so it was pretty much designed with me in mind. It calls for:

Giada's spicy green beans and kale

Ingredients:

one bunch (about 1/2 lb) of kale

1 1/2 lbs of green beans

1/4 lb of cremini mushrooms

1 onion

red pepper flakes

1/4 cup white wine

lemon juice

3 tbsp. parmesan cheese

I followed the instructions all the way, although I used a vidalia onion (I’m obsessed) and about three times the amount of red pepper flakes it calls for. You basically just saute it all on the stove top starting with the onions, work up to the green beans, kale and wine, and add the lemon juice and parmesan cheese at the very end. It was really tasty, and I even made an extra batch to take to a Christmas Day potluck I attended. I goofed and accidentally came an hour late, and people still took seconds after their initial polite sampling. Success.

On the sweaty front, I’ve been trying variety on for size. When I was in my plateau phase, I was doing two to three miles a day at about 6 to 6.5 treadmill speed. Like, every day. Then, I would follow up the cardio with a consistent rotation of weight machines (Sun, Tues, Thurs legs, Mon, Wed, Fri arms). Since I realized my body has pretty much settled into its comfort phase, I upped the running to sometimes five miles at a time. For instance, the other day I ran three miles straight, and then I walked uphill for a mile, and THEN ran another mile. Bam. I’ve decided weight machines are of little to no interest, so I’ve traded most of them in for free weights. I’ve been sore as of late, so I figure that’s a decent enough sign. I went to Crate and Barrel and rewarded myself with an olive oil drizzler:

olive oil drizzler

Not only is it super adorable, but it lets the olive oil come out in a stream, rather than, like spilling out to five times the recommended usage. It was the best $9.95 I think I’ve ever spent in life. It came in handy when I made this shrimp creole recipe the other day, courtesy of my dad. It calls for:

Ingredients:

shrimp, frozen and pre-cooked

1 red bell pepper

1/2 vidalia onion

1 shallot, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

2 stalks of celery, chopped

diced canned tomatoes

1/4 cup dry white wine

cayenne pepper to taste

I started by sauteing the chopped onion, shallot and garlic with a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat. Sidebar: I finally invested in the organic stuff from Whole Foods, and I don’t think I’ll ever go back to TJ’s $6.99 bottle. It’s just THAT much better. When all those were translucent, I added the celery, bell pepper, canned tomatoes, and dry white wine, and sauteed those about five minutes until all was tender. Since the shrimp were pre-cooked, I just thawed them in some cold water and threw them in the pan to heat. Since I loooove my heat, I added about two tablespoons of cayenne pepper to the whole mix, which equated to about 3/4 a tablespoon per serving. I served it all atop wild rice, although my dad did it with yellow which is kind of superior. It was delicious, SO easy, and had all kinds of flavor going on. See below:

shrimp creole atop wild rice




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