Archive for the 'polenta' Category

05
Feb
12

jump rope and sliders.

Can we discuss the jump rope? I just rediscovered it. I was a fan in elementary school, but as soon as double dutch became the norm I decided I was more suited for hopscotch. On my own time, I started making time with the Skip It, the higher tech version of the rope. Nearly 20 years later, I saw one of my co-workers using a jump rope to do cardio at the gym. I took a breath, grabbed a hot pink rope, and started skipping. It’s now become my favorite supplementary cardio! I get my lengthy cardio in on the treadmill, bike or stair stepper, but then I’ll jump for like 3-5 minutes. It’s so damn whimsical.

On the spicy side, I made this delicious brunch for myself last week:

Ingredients:

poached egg over greens

1 egg, poached
1 c brussel sprouts, sliced
1 c spinach
1 shallot, sliced
1 tbsp Parmesan cheese
olive oil cooking spray
salt
pepper

 

It’s nothing revolutionary, and in fact mimics most of my weekend meals, but I thought the picture came out purty so I had to share.

I started by bringing a pot of water to a simmer for my poached egg. Once the water simmered, I dropped the egg in with a splash of vinegar. It takes like 2-3 minutes to form, and after I scooped it out to dry on a paper towel. Meanwhile, I heated cooking spray and the sliced shallots in a skillet. Once the shallots started to brown, I added the sliced brussel sprouts. I cooked those for about 5-7 minutes, and eventually they began to brown up also. I then added the spinach, cooked until wilted, and seasoned with salt and pepper. I added Parmesan to the top, and topped the whole mix with the egg. So. Damn. Good. Highly recommended.

I also made this salad last week of which I was particularly proud

salmon salad

Ingredients:

Wild Coho Salmon fillet, frozen, thawed
1 tbsp cannellini beans
1 c grape tomatoes, sliced
1 pear, diced
2 c mixed greens
1 tsp olive oil, olive oil spray
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp smoke flavored seasoning
Salt
Pepper

 

I started by seasoning the thawed salmon with lemon juice, smoke seasoning, salt and pepper, and then put it on the Panini press. Although the fillet was relatively thick, the salmon cooked all the way through in about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile I grilled the diced pears and cannellini beans, since ice-cold beans always terrify me. I assembled all ingredients on a plate, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and ate.

I ate that all last week. It’s so filling, since the salmon is all fatty and whatnot. And yet the veggies keep it healthy. Delightful.

I’ve been watching the waistline, but it hasn’t stripped me of all creativity. I made these awesome sliders a couple of weeks back that I evolved from an Ina Garten recipe. See below for the ingredients, separated by burger and toppings:

Burger:

Ina Garten

1 lb ground beef, 80% lean
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ tsp herbs de Provence
½ tbsp whole grain mustard
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Toppings/sides:
1 vidalia onion
2 c spinach, ¼ c wilted
1 gala apple, sliced
1 tsp Vidalia onion vinagrette with gorgonzola
5 oz polenta, sliced into fries
1 tsp cumin
olive oil cooking spray
whole wheat slider bun

You start by mixing together the burger ingredients in a large bowl. Mix evenly with a fork, taking care not to break up the ingredients. I then formed them into approx 15 golf ball sized patties. Pinch the middle, since the burgers puff up when they grill. I then cooked on the Panini press, which I sprayed down with the cooking spray. I grilled for about 4 minutes on one side, and then flipped to do the equivalent on the other.

Meanwhile, I heated a skillet with cooking spray and began to carmelize the onions. For those of you who have yet to carmelize, it basically just means cook for about half an hour on medium-low heat until the sugar starts to come out. It’s delightful.

While that was happening, I cooked the polenta fries in a skillet in a baby amount of oil. Once they were somewhat crispy, I topped them with the cumin and salt. Perfetto.

I then sautéed ¼ c of spinach in the skillet for the burger, and I left the rest raw for my salad. I assembled the spinach, apples, and onion as a salad, and topped with a little Vidalia onion vinagrette. I then assembled the sliders with onion and spinach on top, and I then drizzled them with the vinagrette also. They came out SO GOOD. Seriously. Consider this horn tooted. How easy is that? Ha! That’s Ina’s catch phrase. See below:

slider topped with carmelized onions and spinach, alongside polenta fries and spinach salad

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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

 

19
Oct
11

brunch, zumba, roasted root veggies

This carnivorous journey has proven quite interesting. I went from spending three years in meaty fear to fully embracing everything from the gamey lamb to the more mainstream meat trifecta of chicken, turkey, and beef. I then recalled my commitment to health, and so I downsized the red meat in my life and welcomed more lean proteins. Then, out of nowhere, I went all lady-balls-to-the-wall and had my very first duck bun! I’m almost ready to conquer ham, and I’m thinking a croque monsieur is the way to do it.

I’ve accomplished what I intended to do, which is to fully convert to a meat eater, enzymes to break down animal protein and all. I also cared to prove myself a worthy meat adversary, so that socially I prove more desirable as people who knew me as a veggie can get off on my unabashed consumption. And get off they do. You’re welcome, friends.

As a result, I no longer feel as if I have something to prove, meat-wise. And, so, I’ve decided that I prefer cooking mostly vegetarian at home, but I will continue to order meat when I’m out. Well hi there, happy medium. I knew I’d find you somewhere.

I’ve been making an awesome veggie-filled brunch on the weekends, and it’s always some variation of whatever veggies I have on hand and a poached egg. Last week, I made a particularly lovely one:

Ingredients:

veggies and a poached egg

1 egg
splash of white distilled vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 eggplant, chopped
2 c broccoli florets, chopped
2 c baby spinach
salt and pepper, to taste
Sriracha, to taste

You start by filling a small saucepan with water, and bring it to a simmer. Add a splash of vinegar, and drop the egg in the water. Cook for 3 minutes, and remove with a slotted spoon to dry on paper towels.

Meanwhile, cook garlic in a nonstick skillet with cooking spray for a couple of minutes. Add broccoli, and cook for about 5 minutes until slightly tender. Add eggplant and more cooking spray, and cook until they begin to brown along with the broccoli. Add spinach, and cook until wilted, another 5 minutes or so. Serve under the egg, and top with Sriracha. It’s been my go-to weekend brunch for nearly a year, and I’ve yet to tire of it.

On the sweaty front, I just discovered zumba. I know I’m a little late to the party (ha! pun intended), but I sure am glad I showed up fashionably late. I find myself enjoying monotonous cardio less and less (running, I’m referring to you), and so it was refreshing to go to a Latin-infused dance class for a change. It’s well documented that I’ve tried nearly every type of exercise know to man, but I will always return to dance. And zumba is, like, really challenging! It’s super fast and complex, and the instructor will not slow down regardless of the class’s comprehension. I’m a lifelong dancer and show-off, so I was made for that.

I came home all Starvles the Clown after my class last night, and I was in the mood for lots of veggies. I decided to make ratatouille, and I found this great recipe courtesy of Weight Watchers.

ratatouille atop tofu shirataki noodles

Ingredients:
¾ lb eggplant, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 c portabella mushrooms, sliced (my addition)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c water
14 ½ oz canned diced tomatoes2 tbsp basil
¼ tsp black pepper
4 tsp Parmesan (my addition)

You start by putting the eggplant in a colander in the sink, and covering it in3/4 tsp salt. Let stand 20 minutes, and then rinse under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, and add the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms and garlic. Cook one minute, and stir. Add water, reduce heat, and simmer, covered for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, basil, pepper, and remaining ¼ tsp salt. Simmer, uncovered, for about 25 minutes.

I sometimes watch Hungry Girl, and she constantly raves about Tofu Shirataki noodles. They are cheap, a good pasta substitute, and just 40 calories a bag, so I had to give them a try.

You start by draining and rinsing the noodles, and then microwave them for one minute. Pat them dry, because they are far too moist to consume at first. I added salt and pepper to the then dry noodles, and served them underneath the ratatouille. It was just about the healthiest thing I ever did make, and it was really tasty. Totes making it again.

Last week, I made this incredible Roasted Root Jumble that I stole from the adorbs Aarti Sequeira:

Aarti Party

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons ground coriander (I used cinnamon)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 large lemon, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
3/4 lb butternut squash, chopped (my addition)
cooked polenta, sliced (my addition)

The original recipe didn’t call for butternut squash, but I added it in for funsies. You start by pre-heating the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together the oil, cumin and cinnamon in a bowl, and then add ½ tsp of salt and a fair amount of black pepper. Lay the vegetables on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil and cover them in the oil. Toss to coat. Bake for 30 minutes, then add feta and bake for 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, I cut the polenta into slices and pan fried in a skillet over medium-high heat. I cooked until they blackened a bit, and then served them underneath the jumble. I don’t want to overstate this, but it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever consumed, save for a blackened salmon taco I had in Austin once. The roasted lemon is incredible, and I was able to quash my desire to add hot sauce by squeezing lots of flavor out of the lemons. That, in itself, is a massive accomplishment since I am a Sriracha obsessive. See below:

roasted root jumble with feta

22
Jun
09

weekend brunches.

If there’s one aspect of life in which I fall, like, embarrassingly short, it’s my food ordering ability. There, I said it. It’s out there. I’ve almost developed ordering anxiety, because without fail I always pick the least amazing thing on the menu. It’s pretty much a talent.

I studied abroad in Rome, and the first thing I ordered when I got off the plane was a tropical salad. I think it was iceberg lettuce, mango was involved, and I’m pretty sure it had corn also. How could that NOT be incredible [subtle sarcasm]? I wondered the same thing, but it really wasn’t. To make matters worse, there’s no “honey lime” dressings in Italy (I asked), so I had to eat it with olive oil. It was really not great.

Considering my history, I didn’t expect to choose the most delicious thing on the menu at Lil’ Frankie’s this weekend, but guess what happened? I did. I don’t like to feature other people’s food up in here, but I have to make an exception for this insaaaane brunch. I ordered the portabella and polenta breakfast, which was two slices of polenta topped with poached eggs, arugula with shaved Parmesan cheese, a hash brown, roasted tomato, and grilled portabella mushroom. Check it out:

best brunch EVER

best brunch EVER

My brunch companions were SO damn jealous. I was noticeably smug, but damnit I deserve to win for once. I ate it in like four bites, and spent the remainder of brunch apologizing for putting them to such shame with their mediocre choices.

So that was Saturday. Today, I mentally prepared myself for an inferior brunch. I started the day with oatmeal, and then went to the gym for the Shortest Workout Known to Man. Meaning, I did one mile and like two leg machines, and then declared myself fit. I really need to mix up my routine.

I got home and made an egg white omelette with avocadoes, tomatoes, and hot jack cheese. How original, right? I’m so innovative I can’t TAKE it [subtle sarcasm]. I think my omelette sensed its inferiority in my eyes, because it quaked under the pressure to succeed and fell apart. I salvaged it by folding it into itself, and then I served it alongside a corn tortilla, chipotle salsa, and salsa verde. Lil’ Frankie’s it was not, but I enjoyed it very much so. See below:

egg white omelette with tomatoes, avocado, and hot jack cheese

egg white omelette with tomatoes, avocado, and hot jack cheese

23
May
09

polenta and a glute machine.

A few months ago, I had a love affair with polenta. I bought a tube of it for $1.99 at Trader Joe’s, and suddenly I was fitting it into every meal ever and turning all my friends onto it in the process. I’m generous with my lovahs.

I’ve since introduced other non-cornmeal related foods into my repertoire, and in the process lost the desire for polenta. I was grocery shopping last weekend, and I came across the familiar tube while deciding which grain to go with…couscous? Rice? Quinoa? I can’t handle that many options! I decided to bypass the grains altogether, and embraced my old lovah. It was sweet.

Mid last week I fired up the Press and grilled eggplant, red and yellow bell peppers, red onions, mushrooms, squash and asparagus. I’m boring with marinades as of late, so I just used my old standby of olive oil and cayenne pepper. I really need to get more adventurous. I’m so bored typing this that I fell asleep no less than four times. Narcolepsy? Maybe. My money’s on lack of creative marinades. Anyways, here they are:

grillers

grillers

Aren’t they like a giant bed of diversity? That’s how I felt as I was overseeing this. It’s as if every race and ethnicity, like, got into bed together. Sometimes I’m too profound for my own good.

Speaking of diversity, I made major renovations to my strength training routine last week. I’d grown really bored with all the squatting and lunging I was doing tri-weekly, so I decided to introduce the leg glute press to myself. It’s too soon to tell, but I think it’s drastically improved my overall body and helped me find the meaning of life:

leg glute press

leg glute press

Is it just me, or is that thing enlightening? I can’t be the only one. I know it’s kinda premature, but I think we’ll go the distance.

Anyways, my bed of diversity cooked up kind of great. I cut a few pieces of polenta, coated them in olive oil and cayenne pepper, and threw them in the press as well. Polenta is way mushier by nature when compared with, like, bell peppers, so it took maybe a minute and a half to cook. They came out like crinkle-cut carrots but tasted way better. See below:

polenta and veggies

polenta and veggies




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