Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

10
Aug
13

Back to Paleo

Remember how several months back, I was all “I’m going Paleo! Who needs grains and dairy? The Agricultural revolution was bollocks! (see me “acclimatizing” to the UK? That’s how they say “acclimate” for those of you stateside. And “bollocks” means “balls”).” And then I abruptly followed that strong sentiment with a pendulum swing back to cheese’s open arms and surrounded myself with my favourite carby companions, polenta and focaccia.

Such a hypocrite.

Well, the pendulum has swung yet again, fair readers, for I am here to announce my return to Paleo. Image

I’ve tried for months (ahem, years) to balance my love of the finer foods with my unwavering dedication to fitness, but it seems as though no amount of continuing to eat whatever the hell I want while spending increasing amounts of time at the gym allows me to reach my fitness goals. Shocking, right?

And so, sadly, the food must be regulated. Turns out the so-called “Caveman Diet” appeals to me, since I’m anti-processing foods (unless it’s chorizo! Heavenly) and refuse to believe that ingredients I can’t pronounce aren’t toxic to ingest and totes cause cancer with prolonged ingestion.

Ok, I’ll descend from my soap box. I really enjoyed it up there – amazing views!

I made this lovely salad with a lean barbecue spice-rubbed beef I found at Waitrose:Image

It’s just chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, capers, olive oil and balsamic vinegar over mixed greens, so a recipe breakdown feels slightly unnecessary. I pan fried the beef in a cast iron skillet for 2-3 min each side on high heat. Delicious.

I cross checked with my trainer to make sure I was doing Paleo correctly, since there’s quite a lot of misinformation being propagated about what foods are acceptable and which will destroy your weight loss efforts with an unwieldy spear. I care not for said spear, and so I fired 10,000 questions at the expert.

I emerged better informed. It turns out fat and protein are preferred sources of satiety, while carbs should really only come from green vegetables that can be eaten raw (ie broccoli, spinach, cucumbers = great! beets, potatoes, root vegetables = spear) and berries. Other fruits like apples, tangerines and bananas? Spears, and I’ve been consuming those in droves. Droves, I tell you.

Moving forward, I’m prioritizing fatty meats.

Enter – the chicken thigh. HOW good is the chicken thigh? I’ve spent years blindly supporting the breast (teehee) and all along the thigh has been waiting in the wings (ha!) just patiently waiting to be noticed. I’ve more than made up for my negligence, since the bulk of my diet is chicken thighs, salmon and eggs now. I roasted some the other day with a sweet onion and some oyster mushroomsImage

I coated the chicken skin with oregano and thyme, salt, pepper, and extra virgin olive oil, and roasted them on 180 Celsius for about 40-50 minutes.

I roasted four thighs at a time and ate half for dinner, half for the next day’s lunch. I included a photo of the whole family at the bottom, because I thought they looked just lovely tucked into their bed of onions and fungi. So cozy.

Tonight, I made another version of my roasted chicken thighs. This time I tucked them into a bed of broccoli and whole garlic cloves, and patted the skin with paprika, salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil.Image

I roasted them in a 180 degree Celsius oven for 40-50 minutes. So simple and tasty, although I wish I had lemon because I’d have roasted them right alongside those thighs. Would just have made them spoon in that roasting pan, all in the name of citrusy, fresh flavour. Next time, Gadget.

Week one of Paleo is down, and I’m thinking I’ll keep it up for one month or until I see my hard body goals come to fruition – whichever comes first. Then I’ll gradually add back in all the fruits I could ever want (insert evil laugh here) and probably allow some dairy into my life. Until then, enjoy this sultry view of me and the chicken thigh sauntering into the sunset…

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23
Jan
13

Going Paleo

Hello there, 2013. Aren’t you starting off lovely. I had the most eventful year of my life in 2012 – what with the relocation across the pond to foggy London town, preceded by the whoring out of my passport (if you will) to five different countries in rapid succession – and so I assumed 2013 would be but a pale imitation of the eventful year prior.

I was totes wrong.

This year is but 3 weeks deep, but already I feel as though I’m set to kick 2012’s unwitting arse. I’ve revamped my eating routine by trying a Paleo lifestyle, mostly to see what a life sans-processed foods does to my waistline, but also to see if it will allow me a wee bit o’ freedom when it comes to obsessively tracking food. That would be just all around pleasant.

I made this delicious Sicilian tuna dish that I found on Epicurious a few weeks back:Image

Ingredients:

3 tbsp olive oil
2 tuna steaks

1 large onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp capers, soaked in water for 10 min and drained
3 tbsp minced pitted green olives
¼ c raisins
5 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 c water
2 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
4 to 5 fresh basil leaves, torn
1/3 c pine nuts, toasted

See here for the recipe. Epicurious says it better than I ever could.

This was So. Damn. Good. Highly recommended recipe, since it had a Moroccan-like combo of raisins and olives but classic Italian ingredients I love like tomatoes, basil, pine nuts and parsley. I served it alongside some kale chips that I made by drizzling them in olive oil, salt and chili flakes and baking in the oven at 150 degrees Celsius for about 15 minutes.

I also made this Giada recipe for Rustic Vegetable Soup and Polenta sans the polenta last week. Apparently our ancestors hadn’t acclimated with the corn or its meal, and so polenta is not allowed on Paleo. Sigh.

ImageIngredients:
3 tbsp olive oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed or chopped
3 plum tomatoes, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium zucchini, diced into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

And the recipe is here. Giada nailed this soup. That she did. I brought leftovers into work the next day, and my co-worker ate half and affirmed its deliciousness. I’d definitely make this one again, but maybe with the polenta? I’m not sure I can go an entire lifetime without my cornmeal, y’all.

Tonight may have been the best Paleo meal I’ve had yet – roasted chicken and chorizo – which came from this beautiful cookbook my friend gifted me for my birthday. It’s this Australian lass (what? I can pull that off) who is apparently the Martha Stewart of Australia, and every recipe is exactly one paragraph long and calls for no more than 10 ingredients. I’m into you, Donna Hay. Image

Ingredients:
salt & pepper

1.6 kg chicken, cut into pieces

2 chorizo, cut in half lengthwise

3/4 c large green olives

250g cherry tomatoes

8 sprigs oregano, halves

1 lemon, cut into wedges

6 cloves garlic, skin on

1 tbsp olive oil

I’m still thinking in American measurements despite my best attempts at becoming a full blown redcoat, so I haven’t a clue what 1.6 kg of chicken even is. I took it to mean 2 packs of chopped chicken breasts from Waitrose, and that seemed to work out just grand.

You start by preheating the oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line a baking tray with foil. Add chicken, chorizo, olives, tomatoes, oregano, lemon, garlic, oil, salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked and the chorizo is crisp, and eat.

Donna Hay, you have impressed me. This was easy, flavorful, and quasi-Paleo friendly (chorizo=totally processed but so delicious I’m forced to make an exception). See below for the finished product:

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28
Oct
12

Ode to Prosciutto

I’d assumed it would take at least a year of clotted cream and scones to break me in as a local Londoner, but I’ve acclimated with a scarce 6 months of consumption! I’ve yet to go near blood sausage (aka black pudding – misnomer of the century) and Scotch eggs petrify me, but it turns out that neither are a prerequisite. I’m able to call London my home – and enjoy doing so, might I add – despite feeling no attachment to the local cuisine. Color me surprised.

I’ve entered Phase 2 of life in London, which poses a stark contrast to the awkward “getting to know you”-type discomfort of Phase 1. I went back to Florida for a week in September, which was the tail end of Phase 1. I was nervous I wouldn’t want to return to the land that is pre-30 Rock and sans-Skippy, but I was excited to return. That was mostly due to the food orgy I partake in each time I go home – and this time was no different – but nevertheless. Speaking of said food orgy, my family and I made homemade pizzas one night. I re-created an old favorite from a pizza place in NYC. I made a brussels sprouts, pancetta and rock salt pizza. Phenom.

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Brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza

Ingredients:
pizza dough
2 cups brussels sprouts,thinly sliced
1/4 lb pancetta, thinly sliced
1 ball mozzarella di bufala, torn into chunks
1/4 c parmesan cheese, grated
2 tsp Kosher rock salt
black pepper, to taste
olive oil, to taste

You start by pre-heating the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, and roll out the pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Dust cornmeal on top of a pizza stone and stretch the dough on top. Cook pancetta in a skillet for a few minutes until slightly crispy, and then drain on paper towels. Add the toppings in no particular order, finishing the pizza with a drizzle of olive oil and a generous handful of the salt. Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until it gets slightly browned. SO damn good.

That was the first time I cooked with pancetta, and I vowed not to make it my last. I ran right back to London and made this adorable recipe from Epicurious, Salad of Grilled Asparagus with Taleggio cheese and Seranno ham. Standing in for the ham was pancetta’s saltier and arguably more enjoyable cousin, Prosciutto.

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Grilled asparagus with Taleggio alongside mixed greens, Prosciutto and toasted pine nuts

Ingredients:
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
6 1/4-inch-thick slices Taleggio cheese or Fontina cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 5-ounce bag mixed baby greens
6 thin slices serrano ham or prosciutto
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

You start by preheating the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, shallot and sugar until sugar dissolves. Gradually whisk in oil. Season dressing with salt and pepper.

Arrange asparagus on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and grill in cast-iron skillet until crisp-tender, turning occasionally, about 6 minutes. The recipe actually wanted me to do this on a grill, but since I’ve yet to make that purchase I figured the skillet would suffice. Return asparagus to the baking sheet and drizzle with additional 1/3 cup dressing; top with cheese. Bake until cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Place greens in large bowl. Add 1/4 cup dressing and toss to coat. Serve the asparagus on the plate and arrange greens alongside. Drape ham over greens. Sprinkle pine nuts over salads. Serve with remaining dressing.

This young Jew’s Tour de Ham (if you will) continued a week later when I decided to make Warm Winter Greens that I found on my trusty Whole Foods recipe app. I was feeling detox-y when I found the recipe, but was hopped up on my recent ham discovery. In a moment of detox-betrayal, I added the prosciutto that the recipe allowed.

Ingredients:Image
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 bunch greens, roughly chopped
1 head red cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons oil-packed capers, drained
12 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 tablespoons dried currants
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 slices prosciutto, chopped
This is the easiest recipe in the world, but the greens have different names in England, so I had to swap out the “Endive” for generic greens and the “radicchio” for red cabbage. I’m so much fancier in the States. You start by heating oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the greens and cook, stirring constantly, until just wilted, about 5 minutes. In a skillet, cook the prosciutto until crispy, and set aside to drain on paper towels. Add capers, olives, pepper flakes and currants and cook, tossing gently, for another 15 seconds. Add the prosciutto. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkle pine nuts and orange zest on top.
Rounding out the Tour de Ham came my prosciutto wrapped lamb burgers, which I made just last week. These are courtesy of my Giada cookbook, but I’d never before made them due to my prior Vegetarian status. The veggie is no more, so I prepared these for dinner last week.
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Ingredients:
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh thyme
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound ground lamb
6 large slices prosciutto, sliced medium-thin (for wrapping the burgers)
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh basil leaves, for topping each burger
The original recipe called for flat-leaf Italian parsley rather than thyme, but I accidentally left the parsley behind at the grocery so I had no choice but to improvise.
Start by combining the bread crumbs, parsley, egg, milk, cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. Stir to combine. Add the lamb and stir until incorporated. Divide the mixture into 6 (1-inch) thick burgers. Place 1 lamb burger in the center of each slice of prosciutto and wrap the prosciutto around the burger.Place a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat for 2 minutes. Place the lamb burgers, prosciutto-covered side down in the pan and cook over medium heat until the prosciutto is golden, about 6 to 8 minutes. Turn the burgers and finish cooking, about 6 to 8 minutes more.

Remove the burgers from the pan and place on a serving platter or individual plates. Top each burger with 2 to 3 basil leaves and a sun-dried tomato. These came out just beautiful and tasted even better. And so concludes my Tour de Ham! What a delightful tour it was..

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02
Sep
12

lamb kebabs, quinoa cakes, chocolate mousse and gnocchi.

So some fairly exciting things have been happening here in the land where the pudding is savory and pants are called “trousers,” lest you intended to compliment the color of a male co-worker’s knickers rather loudly in the workplace. I hadn’t, and it was sobering.

Cultural disparities and mild HR offenses aside, I have been adjusting really well to life in London. The Food Network programming is radically different in the UK, but no matter – I get to watch all the Jamie Oliver I could ever want on the other food and travel channels. I can handle that. He’s dreamy. He has a new show called “Jamie does…” where he travels and basically does a Bourdain-style documentary, sans the eating of goat intestines and the like. I watched the episode where he did Athens, and I was inspired by the Greek salad he made while atop my dream villa:

ImageIngredients:

1 beef tomato
1 medium red onion, peeled
1 cucumber
1 green pepper
fresh dill
fresh mint
sea salt
1 tablespoon red
wine vinegar
3 tablespoons good-quality
Greek extra virgin olive oil
200g block of feta cheese
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Jamie also called for black olives and two other types of tomatoes, but I left those out since multiple types of tomatoes felt excessive and I accidentally neglected to buy olives. Anyways, you start by chopping the tomatoes and green pepper, and slice the red onion really thin. He also taught me to run a fork along the cucumber skin before you slice so it has that fancy flowery look once you do slice. Throw the chopped vegetables atop the mixed greens. Then chop the herbs and toss those in also, and drizzle the whole mix with the red wine vinegar and olive oil. Toss it with your hands to look extra rustic like Jamie, and then top with salt, pepper feta and oregano. It may be simple, but it was so delicious and a solid new member of my go-to repertoire.

Like all reformed vegetarians, I go through mini-phases of rabbit food-like consumption followed by meat craving and subsequent meat binging. Par for the course, I guess. One such example of the rabbit food-like consumption is these adorable quinoa cakes I made a week ago.Image

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped red onion

1/2 tsp chopped garlic
2/3 cup grated carrots
2/3 cup butternut squash
1/2 package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
Zest of 1 large lemon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
1 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
2 teaspoons lemon juice

The original recipe called for yellow squash, but the summer squash is as foreign to the Brits as the elusive Summer herself, so I had to sub with butternut squash.

You start by bringing quinoa and the water to a boil in a big pot, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to stand for 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa with onion, garlic, carrots, squash, spinach, zest, flour, baking powder, egg, salt and pepper. Form mixture into eight (4- to 5-inch) patties and arrange on an oiled baking sheet. Bake, flipping halfway through, until lightly browned and just crisp, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, I made the yogurt sauce, which you prepare by stirring together dill, yogurt and lemon juice. You serve the sauce atop the cakes. These cakes are seriously tasty, and I actually enjoyed bringing them for lunch even more. Ms. butternut squash did an excellent job, too. You would never have guessed that she was the stand-in.Image

The Whole Foods version look like perfect little patties, but mine came out like quirky little stars. I kinda prefer my way.

Before I describe the meat binging side of the past couple of weeks, let’s switch gears for a minute to discuss the sweaty in my life. Last we spoke, I was anti-gym but pro-badminton and yoga. I may have finally found my happy medium, folks. I’m now pro-everything, but my weeks mostly gym in moderation (3 times/week on average) and yoga or pilates more like 5-7 times a week. I’ve also been really regular with the street jazz dance class that I love slightly more than life itself. And voila – active, happy, but not abusing any one workout. It’s taken a fair 12 years or so to figure it out, but I may have finally done this. I’m all prideful, y’all. Downright spirited. Cocky, really. I’m thisclose to doling out unsolicited gym advice.

Now as far as the meat-binging goes, I found myself craving the lamb yet once again, so I made these lamb kebab skewers with tzatziki sauce.Image

Ingredients:

2 cups plain Greek-style yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 1/4 red onions, (1/4 finely chopped, 1 thickly sliced)
1/2 a lemon, Juice of
6 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
1 pound thick-cut boneless lamb chops, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
10 cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

You start by making the tzatziki sauce, which happens when you put yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, chopped onions, and lemon juice into a medium bowl and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Assemble kebabs by threading lamb, mushrooms, peppers, and sliced onions onto the skewers, alternating them as you go. Place all kebabs on a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper, turning skewers around to season all sides. Drizzle with oil, once again turning the skewers to evenly coat all of the meat and vegetables.

Bake about 13 minutes for medium rare. Serve with tzatziki sauce on the side, and Frank’s Red Hot if you like it spicy like yours truly.

I went to a girl’s night last night, which basically was a thinly-veiled excuse to binge on Italian meats and cheese and dance to 90s hip hop – AKA my most favorite night ever. I made this beautiful chocolate mousse from Bobby Flay:Image

Ingredients:

5 1/4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
14 ounces cold heavy cream
3 large egg whites
1-ounce sugar
Sweetened whipped cream, for garnish, optional

You start by placing the chocolate in a large bowl set over a pot with about an inch of water brought to a low simmer. Stir until melted. Turn off the heat and let stand.

I beat the cream until it formed soft peaks, then set it aside. With a mixer, I whipped the egg whites to soft peaks. I gradually added the sugar and continue whipping until firm.

Remove the chocolate and using a whisk, fold in the egg whites all at once. When the whites are almost completely incorporated, fold in the whipped cream. Cover the mousse and refrigerate for approximately 1 hour. I served it in little cups topped with more whipped cream. Twas a hit. They looked a little like thisImage:

But, like, way less professional.

And, finally, to complete the meat binge, I made gnocchi with bacon and peas for dinner tonight.

Ingredients:

Kosher salt
1-pound package potato gnocchi
6 slices bacon, chopped
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons freshly chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, thawed
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 lemon, juiced

I followed this recipe to a T, and it came out delicious.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Add the gnocchi and cook for about 5 minutes.

In a large skillet over medium heat add bacon and cook until slightly crisp. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds. Drain the gnocchi and add it to the pan. Stir in the butter, then add the peas, a pinch of black pepper, and a pinch of salt and mix to combine. Add the lemon juice and allow flavors to blend. Taste and season with salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer the gnocchi to a serving bowl and serve. Highly recommended. I just loved this. See below:

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24
Jun
12

Charcuterie, Scotch Eggs, Caprese salad.

Now this may come as a shock to most of you, but I have some news – I’ve gone full on Brit. I didn’t plan on it, but since I landed on this drearier side of the pond I’ve grown quite fond of crumpets and adding unnecessary “u’s” to my favo”u”rite words and “s’s” where I hardly reali”s”e they’ve never been before. I can’t quite take to the Celsius, nor have I mastered the gram, but neither has yet to stand in the way of my Brit conversion.

I’ve found that the thing I fancy most is being so damn close to Paris that I can, like, smell the boulangeries (slight exaggeration for comedic purposes). I booked a trip on Eurostar, the swankiest train there ever was, on my first bank holiday weekend here. Once there, I had a charcuterie platter that damn near changed my life. If I wasn’t a lapsed vegetarian before, then I sure as hell am now. The burrata in the upper left hand corner should not be so modest as to hide under that balsamic. It was the creamiest complement to all those cured meats and veggies, and I dare say it was the star of the show. Unreal.

Since being in London, though, I’ve done my best to sample the traditional cuisine. See? There I am posing with a scotch egg! For those who are unfamiliar, the scotch egg is one that is encased in a thick layer of sausage and then deep fried into submission. I may or may not have had a quick nibble before passing it off to my boy to finish, but that’s neither here nor there.

Scotch Egg

Ingredients:

8 oz uncooked soba noodles

2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp honey

2 tbsp uncooked scallions

8 c fresh spinach

1 spray cooking spray

1 tsp sesame oil (I used toasted)

1 clove garlic

2 c chopped broccoli (my addition)

I’ve had to make a few healthy meals to balance out the Scotch Eggs and charcuteries, though, and the other night I found such a dish via Weight Watchers – Soba noodles with spinach.

Start by cooking the noodles as the package says, drain and place in a large bowl. Add vinegar, soy sauce, honey and scallions. Toss well to coat.Image

Wash spinach, set aside. Coat a skillet with cooking spray and add oil over medium high heat. Add garlic, cook for 30 seconds and add broccoli. Cook for 3-5 minutes until they start to brown, and then add spinach. Cover to  let spinach wilt, another 3-5 minutes. Toss with the noodle mixture and serve.  This was a really simple recipe, and in the future I’ll spice it up with some ginger or red pepper flakes or something. It definitely could have used a kick.

I also made this haddock a few nights ago that came out kind of beautiful, but I’m almost embarrassed by how simply I prepared it. Almost being the operative word here.

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Ingredients:

2 fillets haddock

1 tsp smoke seasoning

1 tsp herbe de provence

½  tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

1 tsp olive oil

juice of a lemon

I started by heating olive oil in my fancy new cast iron skillet over medium low heat, and then I added the fish. I coated each side with the spices, and then cooked for about 2-4 minutes until the fillets were all flaky and clinging to my skillet. Note to self: this fish could stand to be cooked in aluminum foil so’s I’m not scraping it off the pan next time around. Live and learn, I suppose. I finished it off with the lemon juice, and served alongside some sautéed spinach and onions. It was sooo easy and delicious.

On the sweaty side of things, I’ve been doing this Jillian Michaels workout I just lurve. It’s called the “30 Day Shred,” and it’s like having this inspirational badass right in my own living room. And Jillian is there as well! 🙂 It’s this 20 minute circuit training workout that I’ve been doing for about 25 days, so it’s safe to say I’m into it and consider it a fair replacement for logging hours at the gym.

On the days when this inspirational badass is not feeling her butt kicks and plank jacks, I’ve turned to yoga. I know. I never thought I’d be one of those people. The iPad workout has changed me, though, and I’ve been doing these 10-20 minute yoga sessions that are really helping with my flexibility. Highly recommended.

My computer is on its last leg for the evening, so I’ll have to cut this short. I’ll leave you all with the most beautiful caprese salad that I ever did make. No descriptor is necessary, because it’s merely tomato, basil and mozzarella with some olive oil. It is just one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever had the pleasure of stuffing in my dome. See below:

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21
Mar
11

spicy Thai tofu, Physique 57, salmon nicoise

Spring is thisclose to happening. We’re in mid-to-late-March, and, in my experience, NYC can swing either way this time of year. In 2007 it was probably 25 degrees on St. Patrick’s Day, and I remember flaunting my ghastly white arms in a tank top in 2010 when it was 75. This year we got a sweet little “65 and sunny” for March 17, and the t-shirts were out and proud among the crowds of sloppy, day drunk New Yorkers.

After this weekend, I can safely say that 40 is the new 30. Long gone are the days of the 20s and teens. I think 50 may feel comfortable coming out more now that those guys are spent for the season. Please, 50? You’ll receive the warmest reception you’ve ever experienced. This whole city is so ready for you.

I’m looking forward to reuniting with my track, but it feels a little soon to commit to the outdoors until it’s settled for a comfortable degree range. In the meantime, I’ve been preaching the interval training gospel and practicing as well. I’ve been a gym go-er for the better part of a decade at this point, and I could just vom when I think about how many hours I’ve spent doing the same tedious machines. My first few years were spent sans TVs on each cardio machine, too, and this was years before Jersey Shore existed, never mind existed in marathon form.

Interval training has taught me to vary my pace at such short periods of time that I can hardly focus on a show, much less need it to cut through the painstaking boredom. I’ve been walking at a speed of 4 for one minute and then increasing the speed to at least 7.5 for a minute, and repeating until I’ve run for 10 minutes altogether. If I’m feeling ambitious or just dying to see how dickish Ronnie can manage to be in one episode, I’ll complete another cycle, but I’m generally spent after one. I highly recommend this form of cardio.

On the spicy side, I just made a delicious and healthy Thai meal for dinner. All recipes from this post are courtesy of Epicurious, my old “safety school” of recipes. It called for:

Spicy thai tofu with red bell peppers and peanuts

Ingredients:

1/3 cup olive oil
2 red bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
3 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 package extra firm tofu, drained and cut in one-inch cubes
3 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
½ to 3/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 6-oz bag baby spinach leaves
1/3 c chopped fresh basil
1/3 c lightly salted roasted peanuts

Heat oil in a wok over high heat, and add bell peppers, ginger and garlic. Sautee for two minutes, and then add the green onions and tofu. Toss for two more minutes. Add soy sauce, lime juice and red pepper flakes. Toss to blend for another minute. I went ahead and cooked for a little while longer, because I like my tofu crunchy, but then I added the spinach in 3 batches as told. Once it’s wilted, mix in basil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with peanuts, and devour.

I’ve been a stir-fry aficionado for years now, but I did enjoy following a recipe for once and making something extra spicy and exotic.

Speaking of exotic (worst segue ever), I’ve gotten really into another workout I’d alluded to before. I always have a hard time explaining it, but it’s like a ballet barre work/circuit training/yoga stretch class with fun props. My muscles burn during almost every class, and I’m often caught shaking from the effort. True story. I don’t want to overstate this, but this is the best workout of all time. Seriously. First of all, the teachers are lovely and encouraging. Second, the studio is gorge. Third, the workouts never get easier so my muscles are constantly sore and it’s actually working. Obsessed. I behave as if I’m in a cult, though, because I honestly can’t stop pushing my beliefs on anyone who will give me 10 seconds of uninterrupted airtime. To be fair, my butt is higher than it’s ever been, so people are bound to start asking about it eventually. I’m just beating them to the punch.

I’ve realized that carbs are the equivalent of my boring, vanilla, elliptical-centric workouts of yesteryear. Meaning, they aren’t causing a ton of harm to my life, and they’re fine in moderation, but they aren’t necessary for daily life. I’m not joining the meat eaters anytime soon (much to my carnivorous friends’ chagrin), but I am eating a lot more fish these days. The better to fill me up with, my dear.

I made a Salmon Nicoise salad recently that was the best meal ever. Yes, I’m going to continue to speak in hyperbole, and I have no interest in quitting:

Ingredients:

1 lb salmon fillet with skin
10 pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped
1 tbsp shallot
1 tsp garlic
2 tbsp basil
¾ lb Yukon Gold potatoes
¾ lb green beans
1 c cherry tomatoes
2 oz baby arugula
4 lemon wedges
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
¼ c olive oil
2 hard-boiled eggs

You start by whisking together the dressing, which is composed of the olives, shallot, garlic, red-wine vinegar, olive oil and basil. It also called for anchovy paste, but I have some juvenile trepidation of fish paste so I left that out.

Anyways, you cook the potatoes in salted boiling water as such: cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes uncovered.

While those cook away, season the salmon with salt and pepper, and cook on oiled grill (hello there, Panini Press) for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from grill and flake fish into chunks.

Transfer potatoes to a bowl, and cook the green beans in boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Drain and transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking and preserve the color. Halve the potatoes and toss in some dressing.

Toss green beans, tomatoes and arugula with dressing and then toss in potatoes. Serve on a plate with salmon and eggs, sprinkle with basil, and serve with lemons. As someone who prides herself on creating exceptional salads, this one has it all: protein, salt in spades, and the unique sensation of eating green beans on a salad (weird)! Also, my favorite diet-killer, cheese, is nowhere to be found. And I didn’t even miss it. See below:

Salmon Nicoise salad with black olive dressing

20
Oct
10

Italian food, African dance

To begin, I had to move a few weeks ago, which always sucks. Luckily, I upgraded to my own place (holla) and still get a human-sized kitchen! With counter space, a dishwasher and a refrigerator that’s useful for more than just elves. Nice one, East Village. I knew you had it in you. Moronically, I left behind most all of my kitchen staples, so I’ve temporarily regressed to the meals of my youth (ah, 22. I hardly miss ye).

I’m making stir fries and paninis like whoa. Pre-move and food regression, I made a few meals from Giada’s new cookbook. This orecchiette with greens, garbanzo beans and ricotta salata was one of my first and best looking:

orecchiette with greens, ricotta, etc.

Ingredients:

1 pound orecchiette or other short pasta
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
12 ounces Swiss chard, stemmed
12 ounces baby spinach leaves
1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups small cherry or grape tomatoes
8 ounces ricotta salata cheese, crumbled
2 teaspoons lemon zest
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

You start by cooking the pasta in salted, boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Heat oil in a medium sized skillet, then add garlic and cook for 2 minutes. It will smell amazeballs already, but refrain from eating. Garlic infused olive oil has hardly satisfied as a complete dish. Rather, remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and discard, then add the chard and cook until wilted. Add spinach little by little until that’s wilted too. Add beans and tomatoes, cook for 5, and turn off that heat. You’re almost therrre. Add pasta, half the cheese, and lemon zest, and toss it all together. Move the mix to a bowl, add the remaining cheese, and season with salt and pepper. It’ll look as gorge as it does above, and it’ll taste infinity times better. Guaranteed.

I also made a halibut dish with peas and mint, but like a thousand differently worded Google searches are failing me right now to find the exact recipe. Please excuse my rough ingredients list and poorly memorized instructions for preparation:

peas, red bell pepper, shallots and mint

Ingredients:

2 4-6 oz halibut steaks
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 shallots, sliced
1/2 cup mint, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Now this is entirely from memory, but I’m pretty sure I grilled the halibut via Panini Press with some aluminum foil for about five minutes, or until it was opaque. Meanwhile, I sauteed the shallots in olive oil until crispy. I then added the peas and bell pepper, and sauteed for a few minutes. Lastly, I added about 3/4 of the chopped mint, and combined all. Similar to other Giada fish recipes, I made a bed of the peas, pepper and mint, and laid the fish atop. I finished it off with chopped mint, and it was all kinds of beautiful. I’m reserving it for bottom blog position, which is the equivalent of business class for those just joining.

Now, let’s talk some sweaty, shall we? I have become sooo disenchanted with the gym. I’m aware that I’ve made prior claims of up and leaving my gym, but I’m too attached to the convenience and reliability of it all. So, how’s about a little breaksie? That was my mode of thinking this past month, at least. I requested a freeze for the month of October, and I decided to see how I could manage without the security of my gym. It’s midway through the month, and I’m a tidbit conflicted. I forced myself to start dancing again, and I briefly thought it could replace cardio. On the one hand, it does make for a more interesting workout, but I was unprepared for the inferiority I’d feel when stepping into any form of dance save hip hop. My technique is – to be kind – shit. At least that’s how I feel when dancing alongside such skilled tweens. I found a studio where the teachers manage not to make me feel like a jackass for trying an intermediate level class, and yet I do. I have dipped my toes into African dance, though, and I’m pretty impressed. Thrashy, yes. Ab work, tons. But I’m still feeling it.

See below for my halibut:

grilled halibut with peas, red bell pepper and mint




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