Archive Page 2

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

27
Feb
12

chicken/dance.

So, I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten my body weight in chicken these past few weeks. In the days leading up to my abandoning vegetarianism, I was sure I’d take to the gamey and processed meats of which I’d never before experienced. I had vivid dreams of lamb and was openly envious when people spoke of prosciutto, so I couldn’t have foreseen myself clinging to America’s most over-exposed foul. And yet, I’ve clung. Nearly everything I’ve made recently is chicken-centric, such as these great feta-stuffed chicken burgers I found courtesy of Weight Watchers:

Ingredients:

feta stuffed chicken burgers

1 lb chicken breast, ground, raw

1 tbsp Oregano

¼ tsp garlic powder (I used 1 clove of fresh)

7 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled

1 c lettuce (I used spinach)

¾ c peppers, red, roasted and sliced

Begin by heating up the Panini Press and coat it with olive oil cooking spray. Then mix the chicken, feta, garlic and oregano in a large bowl. Divide into four balls and press them into patties. Put them on the grill for about 7-8 minutes on each side. Meanwhile, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees. I chopped a head of cauliflower, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, and roasted those in the oven for about 15 minutes. I removed those and drizzled with lemon juice. I spent about 2 minutes sautéing the spinach in a pan with a little cooking spray, salt and pepper.

This recipe is, like, embarrassingly easy. I’m pretty sure it took me less than 20 minutes to cook, preparation and all. The burgers came out really juicy, and the feta and oregano were the perfect simple flavor combination. New favorite? Methinks so.

feta stuffed chicken burgers topped with spinach and red peppers, alongside roasted cauliflower

As far as the sweaty is concerned, I have been going to a dance class that I just adore. In the past I’d found that dance classes in NYC typically range from the awkward white girl zumba to the wannabe Broadway auditions, and there is very little demand for the working professional who simply wants to rediscover her shoddy childhood technique and learn a fun combo every once in a while (me). Imagine my surprise when I found a single class offered thrice (go with it – I’m trying out my Shakespearian tongue) a week that occurs after work and boasts an encouraging, delightful teacher. I’m thrilled.

The class ends at 8 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, though, a fact which kept me from regularly attending when I originally discovered it a few months back. At the time I thought of the timing as a major drawback, assuming that I’d be eating dinner by 9 p.m. at the earliest and therefore dreading the inevitable 9 hour stretch between lunch and dinner. Luckily, I recently began subscribing to the 5-6 short, light meals a day school of thought, so I’m able to do both things I love. Hallelujah. Moving forward, though, I’ll need to take care to have short preparations when cooking those nights. I found this great recipe for Parmesan chicken with Caesar roasted romaine in Bon Appetit magazine last week, and prepared it Monday in about 20 minutes. Seriously.  I’m beating Rachael Ray at her own game.

Ingredients:

Parmesan chicken and roasted romaine

1 ½ lbs chicken breast cutlets

½ c grated Parmesan and pecorino cheese blend

½ c panko breadcrumbs

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 large hearts romaine, halved lengthwise

1 lemon, cut into wedges

Salt and Pepper, to taste

This recipe also called for anchovies, but I can’t seem to let go of that childhood aversion, so I omitted them. You start by reheating the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Season chicken with salt and pepper, and put them on the baking sheet. Then combine cheese, panko, 2 tbsp oil, parsley, and one garlic clove in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper, and pat the mixture onto the chicken. Place in the oven, and roast for about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, drizzle romaine with 1 tbsp oil and one chopped garlic clove. Season with salt and pepper, and place in the oven around the now golden chicken. The recipe says to roast for just 5 minutes longer, but I found my salmonella fearing self keeping them in there for at least 10. Remove from oven, and serve with lemon juice squeezed atop the whole plate.

This is one of the best meals I’ve made in recent memory. I was obsessed with what appeared to be a roasted chicken Caesar salad, yet needed no buttermilk dressing, buttery croutons, or any of the other unnecessary fattiness associated with components of the Caesar salad. This meal is a winner. Julius himself would be pleased.

Sadly, I had a few days last week in which I over-chickened. One such time happened last Friday, when I neglected to eat a proper dinner and headed home at about 10:30 p.m. On my way, I bought a chicken salad, which had the unfortunate 3:1 ratio of chicken to greens. I awoke feeling overly full and perplexed, as my late night cravings are usually of the cheese or baked goods families, and rarely constitute so much animal carcass. I found myself craving a little chicken distance after that experience, so I’ve decided to play vegetarian this week.

I made the Seared Tofu with Pine Nuts recipe I also found on Weight Watchers. I altered it a bit, as the original recipe called for Swiss Chard, and Trader Joe’s was without. I subbed a bag of mixed southern greens and some apple cider vinegar:

Parmesan chicken with Caesar roasted romaine

Ingredients:
4 tsp pine nuts

1 tbsp soy sauce

½ tsp black pepper

8 oz tofu, firm, drained and sliced crosswise into ½ inch slices

2 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bag mixed southern greens (collard, mustard and spinach)

¼ c Apple Cider vinegar

Set a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When pan is hot, add pine nuts and sauté until golden, shaking often so they don’t burn, for about 3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside. Combine soy sauce and pepper on a plate, add tofu and turn to coat.

Heat oil in the same pan over medium-high heat, add tofu and sear until golden, about 2 minutes a side. Remove from pan. Add garlic to the pan and sauté for about 2 minutes. Add the greens and cook for a couple of minutes until they begin to wilt. Add apple cider vinegar and cook for another 30 seconds or so. Serve the greens under the tofu; sprinkle 1 tsp of pine nuts on top. This just may be my most favorite detox dinner ever, and it’s easy on the eyes as well. See below:

Seared tofu over southern greens and pine nuts

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

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

 

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

16
Aug
11

steak and eggs, tuna lettuce wraps.

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

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

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

I often worry that I look like this:

Luckily, the gazelles don’t seem to mind.

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

tuna lettuce wraps

Ingredients:

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

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

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

role model

Ingredients:

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

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

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

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

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

Grilled Tuscan Steak with Fried Egg and Goat Cheese




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