Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Craving Hot Sauce



If Monday is healthy, Tuesday is about guilty pleasures. It's kind of ironic that an episode of Top Chef with the theme "vices" should be on right now. Although some chefs interpreted "vice" as "weakness", it is still thoroughly appropriate background music for my dinner of hot wings. There are worse ways I could have killed a craving for hot sauce. At least in the safety of my own kitchen I can control what goes into them and resist the urge to wash them down with a beer. I could have easily gone to the bar and eaten a hundred deep fried wings in buttery sauce, with about so many beers. Instead, I baked some wings at home and tossed them in Frank's Redhot and margarine. So tonight I'll enjoy my vices: hot wings and Flipping Out (on Bravo)- two things my husband disapproves of. Meanwhile, he's out enjoying Cuban cigars and 12 year old Scotch, which I find completely repulsive. To each his own on Fat Tuesdays. It's how we find balance in life.


Delicious hot wings: healthier than the bar and faster than delivery:
Chicken Wings (Party Wings), raw
Canola oil
Salt
Garlic powder
Cayenne pepper
Frank's Redhot sauce (1/4 cup to about a dozen small wings)
Margarine (about a tablespoon per 1/4 cup of Frank's)

Heat oven to 425F. Toss wings, oil, and a sprinkle each of salt, cayenne and garlic powder. Line a sheet pan with foil. I use a rack set on top to drain excess oil from the chicken. Lay chicken in a single layer on the rack. Bake for about 30 minutes, maybe longer up to 45 if the wings are large. Put the Frank's and butter in a bowl, cover, and microwave on medium for about 30 seconds until the butter melts. Toss the cooked wings in the sauce.

Healthy Monday: A Latin Twist on Banana Bread


As usual, Monday is gym day. Maybe it was the pictures of me 10lbs lighter (and still looking chub) that my sister-in-law posted online a few days ago, but I have just got to keep working hard if I want to even maintain what I have going on. #1: Keep the drinking to a minimum. So far so good. #2. Do more cardio. Check. 50 minutes on the elliptical. #3. Eat a little less, and a little better. Sunday: Vegetarian soy sausage and whole wheat spaghetti. Monday: Black beans, brown rice and plantain bread. If I can just keep this going all week...

Speaking of Monday's dinner, the dilemma was to somehow tie in a very very black plantain into something healthy. So my husband assembled some black beans to go over rice, while I made a very quick bread out of the plantain. I think it's as healthy as possible with what I had on hand. It came out alright, although it could've been just a little more moist - maybe I would use more applesauce next time. Here is the recipe:
PLANTAIN WALNUT BREAD
Dry ingredients:
3/4 C Whole wheat flour
¾ C All Purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
------
Wet ingredients:
2 egg whites, slightly beaten
1 C mashed (about 1 medium) Black skinned plantain - skin removed
½ C Dark brown sugar
¼ C white sugar
1/3 C unsweetened, lite, apple sauce
-----
¼ C chopped Walnuts
Non-stick spray

Heat oven to 350F. In a medium bowl mix the dry ingredients together. In a large bowl mix the wet ingredients together. Add the dry to the wet and stir to combine, letting there be lumps but no dry flour. Stir in the nuts. Spray a 8x8 baking pan with non-stick spray and pour in the batter. Bake about 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Sunset Sweet Corn Soup



Just the fact that I am sitting here blogging on a Friday night should tell you how my week turned out. Tuesday I cooked dinner for friends, drank wine, and watched one heck of a lightning storm. Wednesday I worked late, and came home to make a mediocre dinner and put the kitchen back in order. Thursday was a night out with the husband's colleagues. Friday was exhausting. A week of gluttony, sloth and socializing, just as promised! Tonight as we watched a beautiful post-storm sunset over downtown Manhattan, I chopped up a slew of vegetables in those same purple, yellow and orange hues. We can't get enough summer corn! I also wanted to make something light and healthy as salvation for a week of letting go. I resolve to eat better from tonight on.
SUNSET SWEET CORN SOUP
(3-4 servings)
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Garlic clove, minced
½ C Red Onion, diced
½ C Red Bell Pepper, diced
1 C Yellow Zucchini, diced
3/4C (1 small) Tomato, peeled and chopped
2 C Fresh Sweet Corn (about 2 large cobs)
2-3 tsp Sugar
1-1/2 to 1-2/3C Vegetable Stock
½ - ¾ C Lowfat Milk
1/3 C Fresh Cilantro, chopped

1.Cut corn off of cobs into a wide bowl with a paring knife, not getting too close to the cob (you don’t want any tough ends). Use the dull edge of the knife to scrape the cob downward, to get the starchy ends of the kernels into the bowl (this will help thicken the soup). 2 cobs should yield about 2 cups. Prep the rest of the veggies and heat olive oil in a stock pot or sauce pan.
2.Sauté the onion, garlic and pepper for about 5 minutes until they lose their opacity. Add the zucchini, corn and tomato and cover the pot. Let cook for about 5-10 minutes so zucchini is cooked through.
3.Add 1-1/2 C of the stock, about ½ tsp of salt and 10-15 grinds of fresh black pepper depending on taste. Add 2 tsp sugar. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat off. If too much liquid boiled away, add a little more stock.
4.Transfer in small batches to a blender and pulse-puree to a chunky but well-mixed consistency. Add the cilantro to the blender, reserving a little for garnish. Remember to slightly open the center top of the blender away from you and cover with a towel, holding loosely in place – the hot steam needs to escape safely. Return each batch to the pot and stir, then ladle another batch into the blender, and so on, so you are left with some chunkiness.
5.Add 1/2C milk to the pot, and heat over medium-low heat. Season to taste with more salt, pepper and sugar. (I added another ½ tsp salt, 15 more grinds of pepper and 1 tsp sugar). Add more milk if desired.
6.Serve with a garnish of cilantro and crushed red pepper flakes, and bread for dipping.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Burn A Lot, Eat A Little!

Monday is workout day in our household. If you don't jump right in and check one workout off the list on Monday, chances are you'll spiral downward into a never-ending gluttonous adventure of after-work drinks and dinners. Before we got married 10 months ago, our plans were 50% solo. But something mysterious happens as you find yourself, willingly or not, part of a unit. Suddenly everyone you saw at the wedding, and you promised to catch up with, wants to solidify those plans. Two families vie to host you as house guests in far off cities. Two sets of co-worker friends want to go hit the bars. Suddenly I feel like a rock star wife, whose presence and witty charm must grace every gathering and every work function. But when life is busy and changing at the speed of light, you need routine to balance you. You must make yourself, and your health, a priority. So Monday is workout day, and we'll try our best to avoid social temptation, and just plain laziness, the rest of the week.

Burn a lot today? Success. Eat a little today? Fail... sort of. Let's forgive my white wine, olive an cheese tirade today and focus on what I did do.

1 hour workout:
30 minutes - Elliptical, varying from resistance 6-12

1. 7.5lb weights - held at sides, lunges across room (10), double-pulse lunges across room (20)
2. 7.5lb weights - on back extension stand, lower with flat back, raise and pull weights in elbows close to body, pulling through the back
3. Wide push-ups with Side Plank - hands and feet to sides of mat, push-up, twist and raise one arm hand pointing toward ceiling
Repeat 2x
4. 7.5lb weights - hold straight down, palms face in. Stand tall, step to side with right leg and squat, holding weights straight down. Step back in with right leg, hammer bicep curl. Repeat w/ left leg. 20x total.
5. 7.5lb weights - lay on bench, face up. Chest presses: hold weights out to side, arms at right angles, palms face in. Arc hands up to straight above chest, palms facing. 20 reps, do not let elbows fall below body level.
6. 7.5lb weights - sit up on bench, grasp weight in right hand like hammer and place end on thigh. rotate arm out to the side, keeping the right angle, to work rotator cuff and shoulder. 10 reps. Repeat on other side.
7. Hold weight in right hand, in an L, arm straight out, elbow bent, palm face-forward. Rotate the hand down 90 degrees. 10 reps. repeat on other side.
Repeat 2x.

(I use 7.5lb weights, but sometimes I do this with 5lbs and do more reps. For the rotator exercises, 2lbs and more reps is preferable as the rotator cuff can be a delicate area)

Acorn Squash Risotto with Sage and Pine Nuts

Risotto

a crunchy side of pizza bread for balance


Every week should start with a clean house and a good meal. Most of the weekend went to organizing, cleaning, laundry and house-gardening. When everything was checked off the to-do list, I set to making dinner. When meat is not an option, it's sometimes hard to come up with an interesting vegetable dish that is filling as a main course. Risotto is usually suggested to us in Italian restaurants, but they are often made with chicken stock. At home, you can throw anything you want in risotto, and we haven't had it in a while, so that's what we decided on. And it does make a great excuse to open a bottle of wine!

ACORN SQUASH RISOTTO WITH PINE NUTS & SAGE

(6-8 servings)

1/3C Extra virgin olive oil

1 Small Onion, diced

1 Large clove garlic, chopped

1 Small Acorn squash, cut into 1/2” cubes

2 C Arborio rice

1/2C white wine (good drinking wine, such as a fruity chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)

4 C+ Vegetable Stock, heated (add a bit more than 4 cups, just in case)

1/2-3/4C fresh grated Parmegiano Reggiano cheese

2 Tbsp fresh chopped Sage

1/4 tspn freshly grated nutmeg (do not sub, use only whole nutmeg)

1/4C toasted pine nuts

Salt, Pepper & Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Peel and dice squash and onion while stock heats in a sauce pan. Heat oil in a non-stick stock pot and add the onions and squash. Cook over medium heat until it all starts to soften. Add garlic and cook a few more minutes. Add rice and stir constantly so it toasts.

When rice is lightly toasted, add the wine and stir in. Then begin adding the stock one ladle at a time. Stir each ladle full in until the rice absorbs the liquid and continue adding a ladle and stirring until all the liquid has been absorbed and rice is just a tiny bit al dente (about 15-20 minutes). Add the cheese, pine nuts, sage, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with a sprinkle of cheese, chopped sage and crushed red pepper flakes. Serve with something crunchy, like garlic toast.


This mushy dish needs a crunch to complement it, and possibly some color. I can't stand all-white food. I also needed to use up the whole wheat sourdough from Saturday's market. So, I cut thin slices and laid them on a sheet pan. I drizzled a little olive oil and sprinkled garlic powder over them and broiled for 3-4 minutes to lightly toast. I spread a tiny bit of leftover home-made spaghetti sauce on and covered with shredded parmesan and cracked black pepper. Broiled again to melt the cheese and topped with fresh basil chiffonade.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Inside-Out Ham & Cheese Omelet


This morning I started to make a egg white and ham sandwich. Then I decided I didn't really want bread, I just wanted the omelet. As I was sauteing the ham slices, I realized what I really wanted was the ham, and I was just making the omelet to get to the ham. So I decided to keep the ham on the outside, and the egg whites hidden inside. It was delicious!

Inside-Out Ham & Cheese Omelet (for 1)
pat of butter or margarine
2 slices of deli ham
thin sliced cheddar cheese
2 eggwhites, slightly beaten
cherry tomatoes

Heat butter in a 6" cast iron skillet. Brown one piece of ham on both sides and set aside. Brown the second piece and then layer the first piece over to cover the bottom of the pan. Add the egg whites on top of the ham, and keep poking the ham down so the whites cook evenly. When almost solid, add narrow strips of cheese down the center line. When cooked through, flip one edge of the omelet up and fold over to the center of the omelet. Continue to roll it to the other side and slide onto a plate. Garnish with halved cherry tomatoes.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Grilled Gouda & Caramelized Onion Sandwich on Whole Wheat Sourdough


What was supposed to be a very productive Saturday turned into another trip to the farmers market and playing with food. The gigantic eggplants and peppers and colorful striped acorn squash inspired me to concoct something Asian-fusion-ish for dinner tonight. The American Seafood guy told me the Tuna was particularly good today, so I picked the smallest (1lb monster), which I will freeze for the next 2 days in preparation for lightly searing it for Tuesday's dinner party. The New Englander in me couldn't resist the clams. Totally unneccesary, but they'll be a good snack after today's projects. I returned home with loaded bags, and set to making a lunch inspired by a crusty whole-wheat sourdough loaf and thoughts of my very favorite grilled cheese spot in the city - Tillman's. They would've served it with dunking liquids and black-eyed pea salad, but I just tossed together a quick salad of cherry tomatoes from mother-in-law's garden and fresh cukes with basil. You always need something clean and crunchy to balance something slightly heavier like cheese and butter.

Compiling the sandwich

Grilling the sandwich

mmmm.... eat the sandwich!

Grilled Gouda & Caramelized Onion Sandwich
Ingredients
Small Yellow Onion
Tbsp Butter or Margarine
Pinch of Sugar
Pinch of Salt
2 Tbsp Water

Aged Gouda (Prima Donna Aged Gouda 14 months)
Organic Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread
Butter or Margarine
Garlic Powder

Thinly slice the onion. Heat butter in a stainless steel skillet over medium heat (this works better than non-stick for onions). Add onions and cook for about 10 minutes, adding a pinch of salt and sugar half-way through. When they are browned, add a tiny bit of water to deglaze the pan, and stir up the bits. Let the water cook out and then remove from the heat.

To assemble sandwiches, cut ½” thick slices from the wider part of the loaf. Slice the gouda into 1/8” thick pieces and lay over the bread. Top with caramelized onions. Spread butter on the top piece of bread and sprinkle very lightly with garlic powder. Heat a grill pan, flat side up, over medium heat. Add a pat of butter where each sandwich will cook, and spread it over the pan. As it sizzles, place each sandwich (unbuttered bottom side down) carefully onto the pan. Adjust heat so they don’t burn, and flip (hold the top piece of bread on) when the cheese is starting to melt. Serve with a simple salad of cherry tomatoes, cucumber and basil, dressed with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Today's Bounty:
This tuna will be frozen to kill any bacteria, and then seared on Tuesday

Whole Wheat Sourdough Loaf

Vegetables and Herbs

Today's catch - Little Necks

Striped acorn squash and giant red bell pepper

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lazy Summer Shrimp


I was all set to make a vegetarian meal tonight, but the husband left to go hang out with the boys. That's fine, although the dinner I planned will be put off until tomorrow. So what can I make? I feel lazy. Luckily I always keep some form of shrimp in the freezer. They're so easy to thaw under running water, and they go with everything. I had a yellow zucchini and some on-the-verge of rotting campari tomatoes, so I tossed everything in the skillet with garlic and called it a night. I baked a whole wheat roll, also from the freezer, and topped it with cheddar so I wouldn't feel too bored with it. Mmmmmmm.

Lazy Shrimp Saute
(the quantities don't matter here, way too lazy to measure I just used what I had and hoped for the best)
Saute sliced garlic in olive oil over med-low heat. Add chopped zucchini, cover for about 5-10 minutes until it loses it's opacity. Add quartered campari or cherry tomatoes. Salt & Pepper. Turn up the heat a little and when tomatoes are heated through, add pre-cooked shrimp. Stir together until all heated through. Serve with a little crushed red pepper.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Onions Are Awesome


Potato Pierogi with Onions

Last night was the official night to purge the fridge of unused ingredients. With Fresh Direct en-route, space would need to be made. We ended up with a dinner of pierogi covered in sauteed red and white onions, snow pea-carrot-basil stir fry and wheat rolls. My husband is a vegetarian, but he doesn't really care much for colorful vegetables. I explained that green and orange are the best colors you can eat. Although I know this somehow already, I think the Fresh Direct website told me like 50 times as a marketing tactic. "Are all these onions healthy? What's do you get from those?" he asked me. Clearly he'd prefer to live on those alone. Hmmm. I know they've got "stuff" in them that's good for you, otherwise why would they be a staple in the holy trinity of garlic-onion-ginger that is a base for dishes from so many cultures? Today I've got the answer. And yes, onions are healthy.

-VITAMIN C, QUERCITIN & ISOTHIOCYANATES combat inflammatory conditions associated with osteo- and rheumatoid arthritis, asthma and even the congestion of a common cold.
-FLAVANOIDS reduce the risk of cancer in the colon colon, prostate, oral areas, ovaries and breasts.
-GPCS (gamma-L-glutamyl-trans-S-1-propenyl-L-cysteine sulfoxide) contributes to bone health, so post-menopausal women reap the biggest benefits.
-QUERCITIN, FLAVANOIDS & VITAMIN C kill bacteria (good for colds). The THIOSULFINATES battle bad bacteria including Bacillus subtilis, Salmonella, and E. coli.
-ALLYL PROPYL DISULFIDE increases insulin levels, thus regulating blood sugar levels.
-CHROMIUM also helps the body regulate insulin and glucose levels, lowers cholestorol and triglycerides and increases HDL cholesterol (good). Many Americans have a chromium deficiency, probably related to eating refined sugars and white flour, and lack of exercise.
-SULFUR COMPOUNDS, CHROMIUM AND VITAMIN B6 lower risk of heart attack and stroke

So are all onions equal? No. Generally, the stronger the onion smells and tastes, and the more tears you shed, the more sulfur compounds and other good stuff it contains. This means yellow and red onions would be a better choice, from a health perspective, than a mild and sweeter Vidalia onion. But overall, onions are awesome. Eat a lot!

More scientifically specific articles here and here.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Lemon Lime Morning




I am working on a post about our dining room decor, and was taking a couple quick pictures this morning. These are not going into the future post, but I love how these pictures came out. Our apartment is such a happy place on sunny mornings.

Pillow Project On Hold


Big surprise, the pillow project and all sewing is on hold. I hope that I have not created one more half-finished project. The Monday after I re-arranged the guest bedroom to turn it into a workspace, the building managment requested entry to fix some flooring. I had to move all my things into a corner to make space for them to come and add some caulking between the baseboards. Unfortunately they did such a horrible job, that I had to leave all furniture aside until they return to re-do it properly. Meanwhile, someone's A/C unit 5 floors up has leaked and somehow managed to neatly bypass all other floors until busting out inside our wall - in the guest room. I walked in to reset the wireless router, only to find a big bubble of paint hanging over my computers, accompanied by a nice crack in the ceiling. Several calls and visits from management, and we now have about 16 lovely 2" holes drilled into our wall, and tire tracks from the water blob traveling around the wall. Not sure when everything will be repaired and repainted. Just my luck, for diving into anything more than a one-day project.

When Your Pandora Allowance Is All Used Up

Another month begins. How painful that last week of July was, with bills to pay, rainy days and Pandora cut off. With the 40 hour per month limit, my go-to workday listening device was gone by the 3rd week of July. I tried You Tube but tired of searching and clicking every 5 minutes, and got way too distracted. Here are my top 5 substitutes for Pandora:
#1. Playlist.com is a legal and free website that links users with free music from around the web. This is so fun, I found 98% of the songs I was looking for, and was able to create an awesome playlist in under 30 minutes. (Listen to my playlist HERE).
#2. Jango is another "if-you-like-this-you'll-like-that" radio site that is fairly decent.
#3. MTV.com actually has some constantly updating playlists of videos, if you're in the mood for mainstream pop. Check out the K-Swiss playlist for a little 90's flashback that transitions into newer stuff.
#4. Radiomaliboomboom.com: My friend worked on this new site launched TODAY for Malibu Rum which integrates a Rhapsody radio player into a really fun web design. The station is kind of like the soundtrack to sitting on the beach while drinking a Malibu Bay Breeze.
#5. Cool Hunting's Summer 2009 Playlist is a finite but great recap of what's happening in alternative this summer.

Happy Listening!
P.S. You can find my Pandora stations HERE.

Share it

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails