7.01.2011

Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

While shopping at our new grocery store, Keith noticed GIGANTIC portabello mushrooms. Now that we have a grill, I was so excited to pick those puppies up! Normally I just brush with olive oil and garlic and broil, but I wanted to do something a little more with these guys. I found a recipe for grilled stuffed portabellos, and decided to use it as a base and give it my own twist!
Served with grilled white asparagus on the side, this was a delicious and filling meal that was gone off my husband's plate in about 5 minutes flat.



Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
{serves 2}
1/2 cup chopped tomatos, assorted (I used 1 Roma and some cherry)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/8 cup crumbled feta cheese
1 teaspoon Italian herbed olive oil (EVOO is good if you don't have)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 small garlic clove, crushed
2 large portobello mushrooms, stems and dark gills removed
1 1/2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
Cooking spray

Prepare grill.
Combine the tomato, cheeses, herbed olive oil, rosemary, basil, pepper, and garlic in a small bowl. Mix well and put aside.
Whisk together EVOO and soy sauce in a small bowl; coat both sides of the mushrooms with it. Place the mushrooms, stem sides down, on grill rack and grill for about 5 minutes on each side.
Evenly divide the tomato mixture between both mushrooms, spooning into the bottom. Cover and grill about 3 minutes or until desired doneness is achieved.

This was AMAZING! It sort of tasted like pizza - and would be a fantastic gluten-free option (just used liquid aminos or nix the soy sauce altogether). I highly recommend using feta or another strong cheese, otherwise this could be a tiny bit bland.

6.30.2011

Warm Fingerling Potato Salad

We are finally getting settled into our new house! I will post pictures and such soon. Tuesday was the first time I've used my new kitchen, and I just have to say, I love it! Tons of counter space, bright, and clean. Our friend Nick stopped by after work to grill up some burgers (on our grill inherited from him, YAY!), so I decided to whip together some sides. This was voted the best potato salad ever on Chow.com, so I had to give it a try.

I pretty much stuck to the recipe, but I modified the instructions below to be more helpful. Definitely use a large skillet to cook the onion as you'll need the room! Also, I used colorful fingerling potatoes, which gave this salad a totally unique look!



Warm Fingerling Potato Salad
{serves 6 - 8}
1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium-sized red onion, diced
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped chives

Steam the potatoes for 15 minutes or so, when you can pierce them easily with a fork. Be careful not to overcook them, or your potato salad will end up a bit mushy.
Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the red onion and sautee for about 10 minutes, until onions are softened but not browned. Turn off the heat and add the vinegar, capers, mustard, pepper, and salt. Set aside.
While they are still hot, slice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, then add them, the parsley and the chives to the skillet. Mix until everything is coated.
Ideally, serve this warm or at room temperature. Leftovers are FANTASTIC cold, too :)

Great recipe, and very different from the traditional mayo-covered onion and egg variety (although I love that kind too at times!) The tastes are complex and rich, the capers provide a lovely distraction from the carmelized onions. Great to bring to a BBQ, since this recipe is gluten-free and vegan. I highly recommend this!

Carrots & Snap Peas with Spicy Ginger Lime Vinagrette

I found this recipe on my new favorite food blog, OperaGirl Cooks, and aside from being gluten-free and vegan, it's flavor is out of this world! Even better, this is such a versatile dish! I made it as a side dish a couple days ago, and then decided to top a giant spinach salad with it for lunch (along with some sliced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and turkey). My mind is racing with all the potential - serve with brown rice as a vegetarian main course, add to a stir fry with noodles, top with chicken, etc.

I do have to warn you - I used two large jalapenos, seeded, and it was pretty spicy. If you don't like spicy, I would use one small jalapeno and make sure to scrape all the seeds and the white membrane out. You definitely want a little bit of heat to balance the ginger and the sweetness of the veggies!

Carrots and Snap Peas with Spicy Ginger Lime Vinaigrette
{serves 4}

for the vinaigrette:
1″ ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
5 sprigs cilantro, chopped
juice of 1/2 a large lime
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. canola oil
1 tsp. agave syrup (or honey, if you aren't making this vegan)
1/4 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/8 tsp. kosher salt

4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large matchsticks
12 oz. sugar snap peas

Combine all the vinagrette ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk well and put aside.

Bring about 2 inches of water to boiling in a large pot with steamer. Add the carrots and let steam for about 3 minutes, then add the snap peas to and steam for another three minutes or so.

Directly from the stove, dump the veggies into the mixing bowl with the dressing. Mix well, cover, and let sit for at least 20 minutes. This can be eaten warm, room temperature, or cold (and it's delicious all three ways!).

5.18.2011

Daily Happy - New Shoes

How could anyone be unhappy whilst wearing these shoes?! They just assert, "I am happy and cute!"

5.12.2011

Brown Rice, Edamame & Greens Salad


I have been eating like crap lately. And by "lately," I mean for the past 3 weeks. And by "like crap," I mean TERRIBLE! Cheeseburgers, quesadillas, fries, cake, candy, everything that I always say to avoid. I attribute this to the fact that a) we haven't gone grocery shopping in oh, three weeks; b) I've been traveling (once for work to L.A. and again for a weekend getaway with the sweetie); and c) I haven't been working out.

That's all changing...as soon as I get myself to the dratted grocery store! Tomorrow...maybe. :)

The other day I wanted, nay, I needed to eat something healthy. I have very limited items with which to concoct said dish, but I managed to pull together a half-way decent salad, which I will now share with ya'll.

Brown Rice, Edamame & Greens Salad
{serves 2 - 3}
1/2 cup unprepared long-grain brown rice
6 ounces unshelled edamame, frozen
8 ounces leafy greens, frozen (I used a mix of kale, collard & mustard greens)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 T tahini
1 T fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 T garlic powder
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 - 2 T crumbled feta cheese
salt & pepper to taste

Cook the rice, leafy greens and edamame according to package directions. Drain the edamame and let cool in the strainer; set aside. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients except the feta & edamame until well combined. Shell edamame and add the beans to the salad. Mix well, add salt & pepper to taste. Sprinkle feta on top, and either chill or serve warm.

This tastes great cold, so you can eat it warm for lunch and then serve cold with a main course for another meal, if you like!

Daily Happy - Seattle Sun


I think the days that are supposed to be cruddy but end up being absolutely gorgeous are my favorites.

4.26.2011

Easter Brunch; or, Why the heck didn't you take any freakin' pictures?!

For Easter, we decided to have our friends Nick & Rachel over for brunch. I of course went a tad overboard. We had:

Bloody Marys
Cinnamon Rolls {from Whole Foods}
Drunken Fruit Salad
Baked French Toast Casserole
Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
Perfect Hash Browns
Bacon Deviled Eggs

And of course, I got exactly zero pictures of it! BOO! But the recipes all came out pretty good, so I'm posting them without pictures.

Keith & I dyed Easter eggs the night before and we did an Easter egg hunt (guys vs. girls, of course!), which was fun. Nick & Rachel brought mimosas made with cranberry-vanilla mix and cava. We had a really nice day!

Bacon Deviled Eggs

I kicked these up a notch by using a mix of Dijon and wasabi mustard, plus peppered thick-cut bacon. They are addictive so watch out!

Bacon Deviled Eggs
{makes 12}
6 hard-boiled eggs
1 tablespoon plain yogurt
1 tablespoon low-fat or fat-free mayo
1 tablespoon wasabi mustard
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dill relish
1/2 teaspoon paprika
crumbled cooked bacon for garnish

Slice each egg in half length-wise and seperate the whites from the yolks. Mash the yolks with all the ingredients above except the bacon until creamy. Using a spoon, fill each egg white with the mixture until heaping. Garnish with the bacon and enjoy!

These can be made the night before and refrigerated.

Drunken Fruit Salad

I think I was the only one who liked this, but I really liked it! The added bonus was that as I ate the fruit, I got a buzz! Nice!

Drunken Fruit Salad
{serves 6}
6 cups peeled & sectioned grapefruit & oranges
3 shots of gin
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint leaves, plus a couple sprigs to garnish

Mix everything together and enjoy!

Perfect Hash Browns

These really were perfect! They were easy to make because you can bake the potatoes and chop the onions the night before, and they tasted fantastic! As you know, I'm a potato connoisseur, so you can trust me on this one :)

Perfect Hash Browns
{serves 4}
2 large russet potatoes
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub the potatoes and dry well. Poke holes in them with a fork and place the potatoes on a small baking sheet and bake, uncovered, until tender, about 1 hour.

Allow the potatoes to cool to room temperature. Refrigerate in a plastic bag with a resealable closure overnight.

Partially peel the potatoes and cut into bite-sized pieces. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat and saute the onion in it until softened. Season with salt and pepper. Remove the onion, then add the vegetable oil to the skillet and heat until almost smoking. Add the potatoes and leave to form a crisp crust. Do not disturb the potatoes until the crust is formed, about 5 minutes. Check to see if a crust has formed; if so, give a quick stir. If not, continue cooking for another 1 to 2 minutes, until the crust has formed. With a spatula, turn over large chunks of the crusted potatoes. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking until golden brown. Stir in the onion, season again with salt and pepper, and stir until the hash is heated through, about 3 minutes.

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

These sounded posh and sophisticated. They were REALLY good, too :)

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon
{serves 5 - 6}
1/4 pound sliced smoked salmon
12 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
12 to 15 blades of fresh chives, finely chopped

Chop the salmon into very small pieces. Whisk the eggs and cream together. Add 1/2 of the chives and season eggs with salt and pepper. Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Melt butter in the pan and add eggs. Scramble eggs with a wooden spoon. When eggs have come together but remain wet, stir in chopped salmon. Remove pan from heat. Garnish the eggs with remaining chives and serve out of the pan.

Baked French Toast Casserole

I wanted to have most of this Easter's brunch make-ahead so that I wouldn't have to spend 6 hours in the kitchen while trying to entertain. I saw this recipe, and it sounded very decadent and delicious; however, it wasn't as great as I thought it would be. It was decent, don't get me wrong, but I had extremely high expectations I guess! However, it definitely wasn't bad, so I'm going to share the recipe.

P.S. I'm not a fan of nuts, so I made the Praline topping minus the pecans :)

Baked French Toast Casserole
{serves at least 8}
1 loaf French bread (13 to 16 ounces)
8 large eggs
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt
Praline Topping, recipe follows

Slice bread into 1-inch slices. Place slices in a buttered 9 by 13-inch casserole dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and whisk until blended but not too bubbly. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the mixture. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread Praline Topping evenly over the bread and bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.

Praline Topping (minus the pecans)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and blend well.

Paula Deen's Bloody Marys

These were sooo good! I made a couple modifications to make these {better} spicier.

Bloody Marys
Makes 8 servings
46 ounces vegetable juice - I used half tomato & half vegetable (organic)
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup vodka
8 shakes hot sauce
Ice cubes
Celery salt, for rimming the glasses
Celery sticks, pickles, olives, for garnish

Pour the juice into a large pitcher. Add the pepper, salt, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, vodka, and hot sauce. Stir well. Rim the glasses with the celery salt, add ice, and serve with veggies!

Daily Happy - Picnic @ Lake Washington


Hey peeps! So on Saturday, the weather was about 70 degrees and sunny. This is not common in Seattle from what I've been told / seen. I kind of freaked out (but in a good way!)

We decided to pack a picnic and take Bella down to Luther Burbank park for some outside time. What a blast! We ate sandwiches, kale salad with tahini & sesame, potato salad, and fruit salad. We also brought some sparkling water and, well, beer (did I mention it was 70 and sunny?)

The funniest part had to be when five other mini-Aussies showed up at the park and they all converged on us with Bella in one furry heap! It was an Aussie party, and soo cute! I wish I would have been fast enough to get a picture.

Also, Keith brought me flowers for no reason on Friday. Those also made it into the Daily Happy :D

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Food posts coming next!

4.22.2011

Daily Happy - Spring is Here!



Tomorrow it's going to be 65 degrees and sunny!

P.S. Seattle. Is. Stunning.

4.20.2011

Rue La LOVE - Want $20?

Ah, friends and neighbors, the erratic Deals & Dollars post!

I have blogged about Ruelala in the past and probably most of you already know about it. I have to say, though, it's the only site where I consistently find myself buying things. Last week, I bought two gorgeous pillows for my home office couch for 60% off. The week before that, I purchased a subscription to 425 magazine (a Seattle publication) for 40% off. This morning, I purchased two pairs of shoes and subscription to edibleSEATTLE (another Seattle magazine). Some may consider this a problem. I consider it awesome.

I've also gotten over $100 in free credits from this site, for various reasons (customer service make goods, referring friends who made purchases, just to show me they love me). The boutiques are interesting and include a very wide range of themes, from travel to shoes to sporting goods. If you haven't joined yet, this is your time.

Sign up for Rue La La right now, dollface.

Right now, they are giving new members who sign up via my link above a $20 credit! So, if you haven't signed up yet, I suggest you do it now. After all, the shoes I got today were only $35. You could almost have SHOES!

4.18.2011

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells



Hola, peeps!

I have been slacking yet again. Don't hate.

Way back during Vegetarian Week, I made these delicious stuffed shells and just hadn't gotten around to posting about them. Which is a shame for ya'll since they were super easy to make and really, really yummy!

Spinach & Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Serves 2 - 3 very hungry people
14 jumbo pasta shells
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound baby spinach
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped basil
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
2 tablespoons grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add shells and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain well then toss with oil in a large bowl; set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Wash spinach and put into a large skillet (don't dry the leaves). Cover and cook over medium low heat, stirring occasionally, until just wilted; drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze to remove any excess water. Chop spinach and transfer to a large bowl with the garlic, ricotta, mozzarella, egg and basil. Mix well, and you have your filling!

Drizzle enough pasta sauce to cover the bottom of a shallow baking dish large enough to hold the shells in a single layer. Using a teaspoon, fill your shells with spinach mixture and arrange in the dish. Don't be afraid to cram a lot of filling into these guys! Once you've filled all your shells, pour the remaining sauce over and around them and top with Parmigiano Reggiano. Cover with foil and bake until hot throughout, 20 to 30 minutes, then uncover and continue baking until golden brown, about 10 minutes more.

I highly, highly recommend these cheesy, garlicky, basil-ly, spinach-y little morsels of deliciousness. HIGHLY.

4.05.2011

Deal Alert! Blow Dryer of the Century!

Guys, no need to read this one, but LADIES! Do you need a new hair dryer? Because I just scored the most AMAZING deal on Amazon last week. I wanted to wait to post until I actually received the dryer and could test it out, but um, yeah. This thing is AMAZING!!!

Image from FHIheat.com

Here's all you really need to know:
  • It comes in really fun colors like red, pink, and green (I have it in pink, obvi).
  • It comes with a diffuser and concentrator nozzle.
  • It has multiple settings (low, medium, high) and also temperatures (cold, warm, hot).
  • It normally takes me 25 minutes to dry my hair. With this blow dryer, it took five minutes. FIVE MINUTES!!! Oh, the things I can do with this reclaimed time!
  • My hair is super soft, shiny, and awesome. I don't even need my flat iron! Frickin' fantastic!
  • Normally the dryer is about $195, but you can scoop it up on Amazon for $100. Since the last dryer I had was from 1999 (or earlier?) I think it's worth it.

Seriously, if you are in the market for a new blow dryer, scoop this up. I can't believe how awesome it is.

Daily Happy - Can't Wait for Summer!



I seriously can't wait for summer.

I don't know if it's because my last two winters were spent in Florida, which is probably like 85 degrees right about now, but this winter has felt...so...very...looooong.

But this is my "daily" happy! I'm super excited because Keith & I bought our tickets to Michigan yesterday! We're going for our good friends' Andrea & Jason's wedding, which in of itself is amazingly exciting, but we're staying for a whole week and I certainly expect to enjoy some lovely Michigan summertime activities!

  • Sailing with my dad & stepmom on Lake St. Clair
  • BBQing & bonfires at my mom's forest-hidden home
  • Disc golf with my hubby & brother-in-law
  • Wine & funny conversations on my in-laws porch
  • Drinks on the deck of the Lake Orion Bdubs overlooking the lake

I'm giddy just thinking about it!

4.01.2011

Greens with Carrots, Feta Cheese and Brown Rice



I am still going strong with Vegetarian week! I haven't had a bit of chicken, fish, turkey, shrimp, beef, pork, or the like since last Saturday. It's a little more challenging than I thought! I am missing the seafood for sure, especially out here in Seattle. But, I've been finding some great new recipes that I normally wouldn't have tried! Like this one:

Greens with Carrots, Feta Cheese and Brown Rice
serves 2 with leftovers!

2 carrots, shredded
1 bunch kale, tough stems removed, leaves very thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 T feta cheese, crumbled
1 cup organic long grain brown rice, cooked according to package directions

Put carrots, greens, onions, 1/4 cup water, salt and pepper into a large, deep skillet and toss well. Cover and cook over medium heat, tossing once or twice, until greens are wilted and tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Toss with feta cheese and spoon over brown rice.

Even Keith liked this! It was super healthy and I felt good just eating it! Another great way to cook kale :)

Daily Happy - P90 Uh Oh


I have been hearing about p90x for what feels like years now, and I've always been impressed with the results I've seen. I've read about it, gone to the website, tried to convince Keith to illegally download it from the internet, but haven't quite been ready to spend the cash on it. Because, of course, if I drop the coin on this bad boy, I actually have to do it.

And I'm scared!

But, I finally decided that since I'm going to be working from home most days now, I don't have any excuse. And so, I ordered it. And, my package arrived today. It's intimidating. I'm intimidated. Yikes!

Too bad I had some beers before I knew the package had arrived. Can't exercise all dehydrated! And of course, tomorrow I have Pilates. Maybe I'll start it Sunday. I'm great at procrastinating. I'll let you know when I decide to finally "Push Play" as they like to say. I do really, really, really want a six-pack ;)

Peace.

3.29.2011

Asparagus, Fingerling Potato & Goat Cheese Pizza



Day 3 of Vegetarian week - we're pizza-ing it up tonight ya'll. Holler!

I saw this recipe and just couldn't pass it up. Pizza, potatoes, and goat cheese? HOLD THE PHONE! I decided to serve this with a quick arugula salad with fresh ground pepper, sliced grape tomatoes, red peppers, cucumbers, and a light drizzle of Italian vinagrette. The pizza came out so incredibly delicious! The potatoes and goat cheese added a creamy texture, the asparagus gave a nice crunch, and the flavors came together in what is probably one of the oddest and tastiest concoctions I've had in quite a while! Five stars fo sho.

Oh, and in unrelated news, my dog smells like vanilla. Why is this so? Well, we just don't know.

Asparagus, Fingerling Potato & Goat Cheese Pizza
serves 2 with a lot of leftovers, as many as four

5 ounces fingerling potatoes
Cornmeal (for sprinkling)
Pizza Dough (I used pre-made sprouted whole wheat dough)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 garlic clove, pressed
4 green onions, thinly sliced, divided
1 1/3 cups grated whole-milk mozzarella cheese (about 6 ounces)
4 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, crumbled
8 ounces asparagus, trimmed, each spear cut in half lengthwise, then crosswise into 2- to 3-inch pieces
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Place potatoes in small saucepan. Add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Sprinkle with salt. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain. Cool. Cut potatoes into thin slices.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Sprinkle rimless baking sheet with cornmeal and place pizza dough on it. Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and garlic in small bowl. Brush garlic oil all over dough. Sprinkle 3/4 of green onions over, then mozzarella, leaving desired amount of crust. Top with potato slices and goat cheese. Toss asparagus and 1 tablespoon oil in medium bowl. Scatter asparagus over pizza. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then lightly with salt and generously with pepper.

Bake pizza until crust is browned and asparagus is tender, about 18 minutes. Transfer to cutting board. Sprinkle with remaining green onions, the cut into slices.

Grilled Portabella Parmesan



For day two of Vegetarian week, I decided to make this recipe for Grilled Portabella Parmesan that I found on epicurious.com. It was quick and easy, and didn't call for too many ingredients! It was definitely surprisingly tasty and very filling. We had one and a half medium-sized portabellas a piece, along with some sliced fresh carrots & cucumbers for a cheesy, happy, yummy, meat-less extravaganza!

Slightly modified for the correct portion sizes, to accomodate an indoor cooking situation, and a little less cheese to up the healthy factor - modified version is below. Bon appetito!

Grilled Portabella Parmesan
serves 2

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 large garlic clove, pressed
3 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed, gills scraped out
1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
1/4 cup, plus about 1 tablespoon finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided
3 1/3-inch-thick heirloom tomato slices
4 thin slices of Fontina cheese

Preheat broiler to high. Whisk extra-virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and pressed garlic clove in small bowl. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Arrange portabella mushrooms on rimmed baking sheet, gill side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spoon generous tablespoon dressing into each mushroom; ensuring each is coated, and set aside. Stir ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, and 1 1/2 tablespoons basil in a small bowl, salt and pepper to taste.

Place mushrooms on non-stick baking sheet, gill side up. Broil until edges begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Remove from broiler and place 1 tomato slice into each mushroom. Divide ricotta cheese mixture atop sliced tomatoes, spreading to cover. Top with Fontina cheese slices, dividing equally. Sprinkle a pinch of Parmesan cheese over each. Place the mushrooms back in the broiler and cook until mushrooms are soft and cheese is melted, about 7 - 8 minutes more. Plate mushrooms, sprinkle with remaining basil, and drizzle any remaining marinade over top.

Daily Happy - Random Act of Kindness


Today, on my way to Microsoft, I stopped at a Starbucks downtown. As I was about to walk in the door, a couple stopped me and asked if I had a dollar or two so they could get something to eat. They looked to be in their mid-forties and the guy had a cane. They sort of smelled, and they clearly were carrying the extent of their belongings on their backs. I said what I always say (because it's always true), "Sorry, I don't have any cash on me" and started to go on my way. Then something stopped me. I decided to help these people out, so I asked if they wanted something from Starbucks. I hooked it up with coffee and some pastries.

I normally don't do this (mainly because there are so many homeless people / bums in the city that one could go entirely flat broke helping them), but like I said, something made me stop and reconsider. Hopefully this random act of kindness helped make a difference in their day; but I know that it made me feel like I did something good, so it was worth the $11, ya know?

3.27.2011

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls



I love the food blogging community because the more time I spend in it, the more inspired I am to try new recipes. Stuffed cabbage is something I THINK I've had before, because it sounds really yummy to me, but I can't really remember who made it or how they made it. I came across a recipe on Smitten Kitchen's blog and decided to give it a shot!

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls
adapted from Smitten Kitchen's recipe
serves 4 - 6
1 head green cabbage
1 pound lean ground turkey breast
1 small to medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, shredded
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1/2 cup uncooked long-grain brown rice
1 to 2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 15oz. can low-salt organic tomato sauce

Cut the core out of the cabbage but leave it whole. Place it, with the empty core area facing up, in a large bowl. Boil a small pot of water and pour the water over top and let it "cook" for 10 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep large saute pan. Cook the onions until they are soft, about 5 minutes, then add the carrot and celery and saute until they are soft. Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a bowl and let it cool. Mix in the turkey, rice and tomato paste and season again with salt and pepper.

Drain the cabbage. Pull off large leaves and cut out the large vein (about halfway up the leaf). Pat dry, then put a couple spoonfuls of filling in each leaf (depending on the size of your leaf) and pull the sides to overlap before rolling into a log-like shape. Make sure they are rolled tightly so that they stay together; I used toothpicks to keep them intact. Place the rolls in the same large, deep pan as before, and pour in the tomato sauce to just cover the rolls. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, simmering covered on the stove on low for about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

Served with mashed potatoes, this was a hearty, comforting meal that both my husband and I really enjoyed! We also had a LOT of leftovers, so feel free to make this and then freeze half if you aren't cooking for a crowd.

Stainless Steel Thumb's Seared Black Cod with Thai Flavors



So, a lovely lady that I went to college with is like this totally amazing and incredibly talented chef in New York, and she has a blog I like to read called Stainless Steel Thumb. The recipes always sound so good that I almost have a coronary (and her presentation consistently reminds me that I have NO idea what I'm doing). I've always been completely and utterly terrified to try any of the dishes because they look so complicated that I was sure I would just ruin them. Until...black cod went on sale at Whole Foods. I had black cod for the first time at Sullivan's downtown Seattle and I was awed by the beautiful texture and mild flavor. It was love at first bite. I bought a large filet (not cheap), got it home, and realized I had NO IDEA what to do with it. Luckily, my brain remembered a post on Stainless Steel Thumb for black cod, and I decided it was time to try out one of the recipes. I'm sooo glad I did!

Stainless Steel Thumb's Seared Black Cod with Thai Flavors
For the ingredient list, check out the link above.

Some of the ingredients were a little exotic, so I made just a few substitutions:
  • For the fish marinade, I used date sugar instead of palm sugar.
  • I didn't have the time or ingredients to make the ginger oil (see Moral #1 below), so I just used a tiny bit of sesame oil and some sprinkled some ginger in.

That's it! The rest I did exactly to the recipe. I can't rave enough about how incredibly delish this was. Even the simple slaw had so many flavors that came together in a way I'd never expect. And now that I have all these new ingredients in my kitchen, I'm finding that I can't stop experimenting!

Morals:
#1 - Ginger root is NOT the same as ginger. Don't test this.
#2 - Don't be scared to try something new. You might surprise yourself. And if not, then you'll still have a lot of cool new stuff to play with.

The end.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta and Cabbage Slaw



Starting off Vegetarian Week with a bang!

Wow, wow, wow! Do you ever find a recipe that sounds sort of okay, so you decide to give it a try, and it comes out so yummy that you kind of want to make it every day? Well, that happens to me on occasion, and it happened tonight! Golden corn with fresh chopped red peppers completed the meal. I made some minor modifications to the original recipe - you can see my modified version below.

Crispy Black Bean Tacos with Feta & Cabbage Slaw
serves 2

1 15-ounce can organic low-salt black beans, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon taco seasoning
5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 cups coleslaw mix (shredded carrots, cabbage, and red cabbage)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 package blue corn tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
Bottled sriracha hot sauce

Place beans, cumin and taco seasoning in small bowl; mix and partially mash. Mix 2 teaspoons olive oil and lime juice in medium bowl; add coleslaw, green onions, and cilantro and toss to coat. Season slaw to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tortillas in single layer. Spoon 1/4 of bean mixture onto half of each tortilla; cook 1 minute. Fold tacos in half. Cook until crisp, about 1 minute per side. Fill tacos with feta and slaw. Pass hot sauce alongside.

The original recipe called for chipotle hot sauce, but I didn't have that. I have sriracha, though, and MAN is that stuff good! I have to thank Kat from Stainless Steel Thumb for introducing me, because I'm not quite sure how I lived without it!

Biggest compliment ever: Hubs chowing down on his third (or maybe fourth?) taco and declaring "This could be in a restaurant!" He didn't even notice that the entire meal was entirely vegetarian.

Winning.

Daily Happy - Life is Good!



SO sorry for the lack of posting, dears. Things have been crazy to say the least! In the past four weeks, I've launched some crazy programs at work, got a new job offer, accepted it, celebrated Keith's 29th birthday, said goodbye to some great people at my last job, and spent a week in Michigan training (as well as visiting friends and family). Oh, ya know, nothing much. :) But life is great and I couldn't be happier!

One thing I haven't been slacking on is cooking, though! I have a slew of great recipes that I just need to post up, and a renewed sense of purpose! I am going to try and do "themes" for one week intervals that will hopefully help me target your interests and keep focused. The theme for this week is Vegetarian - seven days of meatless deliciousness, focusing on meals where you won't even notice the meat is missing! Some other ideas are: Eggs, Italian, Gluten-Free, Grilling, No-Cook, and Make Ahead.

Welcome to Vegetarian Week and if you have any suggestions for future themes, feel free to shoot them over!

3.07.2011

Salad Bowl

Sometimes I want to eat a simple, healthy dinner, but a salad just isn't going to cut it. The perfect solution (at least for me) is a salad bowl! It's basically a layered salad with rice, lettuce, and whatever veggies you desire. I made one for dinner last night and thought I'd share:

Salad Bowl
Long grain brown rice, cooked and cooled
Romaine lettuce, shredded
green peppers, diced
red peppers, diced
red onion, thinly diced
kale, shredded
carrots, chopped
celery, chopped
cucumers, diced
bean sprouts
Garlic Lime chicken, optional
sea salt
Italian seasoning
dressing of choice - I used Jalapeno Ranch

Layer the brown rice and Romaine lettuce in a bowl. Dump the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl and squeeze a lime over top. Season with the sea salt and Italian seasoning, and mix well. Spoon the mixture over the rice and lettuce, and top with the chicken (if using). Drizzle just a small amount of dressing over top, and enjoy!

Garlic Lime chicken:
Crush a clove of garlic and spread over a boneless, skinless chicken breast. Take half a lime and squeeze the juice on top. Salt and pepper to taste, and grill until cooked.

You can make this vegetarian by subbing out the chicken for beans or chickpeas, or just omitting altogether. Play around with different seasonings, veggies, and dressing to keep things fresh. You can make extra and eat for lunch the next day, too (which is what I did). YUM!

2.28.2011

Daily Happy - Hawaii

Daily Happy | Hawaii Trip | 2/2/11 - 2/7/11

Oh, my. Days like today make me so very appreciative of days, well, not like today. For instance, days like just three weeks ago, when I was in paradise...



2.24.2011

White Bean & Rainbow Chard Stew

This was something that I normally would not go for, but something enticed me to try it and I'm so glad I did. What a wonderful winter meal! I think I'll have it for lunch (we had a lot of leftovers!)

White Bean & Rainbow Chard Stew
adapted from Smitten Kitchen


2 cans white beans (preferably low-sodium, organic - I used Great Northern), drained and rinsed
1 bunch rainbow chard, ribs removed and stems chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 can crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable broth
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1 cup chopped shallots
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 fresh thyme springs
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
slices of whole wheat bread, optional
1 roasted garlic clove, optional
Parmesan cheese, optional

Bring a large pot of water to boil, and add the chard. Boil for about three minutes, and drain and coarsely slice once cooled.

Wipe out the pot, and then heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add shallots, garlic, carrots and celery and saute until tender and slightly browned, 15 - 20 minutes. Add wine, and cook until slightly reduced, about 7 minutes. Add beans, broth, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes. Add chard and cook for about 5 more minutes, then remove bay leaf and thyme and add more salt and pepper to taste.

Toast the bread and spread with roasted garlic. Ladle stew over top, and sprinkle with cheese.

This was so flavorful - you could taste each ingredient seperately but what a wonderful combination! Highly recommended!

Turkey Tostadas

Ah, Mexican food. Is there anything better when you want some quick, easy, cheesy, crunchy, spicy goodness?

::sounding like a Taco Bell commercial::

But I digress. Turkey tostadas are a random conglomeration of ingredients that I had on hand and basically just made up. They were delicious :)

Turkey Tostadas
serves 2

Four whole wheat tortillas
1/2 lb. ground turkey breast
1/2 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1/2 cup green pepper and onion, diced
1 can refried black beans (preferably low-sodium organic)
Olive oil
Taco seasoning to taste
Super fast fresh salsa
2 - 3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 small onion, thinly sliced
2 - 4 T. jalapeno, chopped into tiny pieces
1 T. garlic powder
1 teaspoon cumin
lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Shredded Romaine lettuce, sliced jalapeno peppers, and light sour cream

Cook the turkey in a non-stick pan on medium-high heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Add the green peppers and onions about halfway through. If the mixture starts to get a little dry or sticks to the pan, add a tablespoon of water. Add at least one tablespoon and as much as three tablespoons of taco seasoning and mix well.

Make the salsa:
Mix the chopped tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos together in a medium-sized bowl. Season with the garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper, then squeeze 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice over top. Stir well, and place in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the turkey is cooking, warm the black beans over medium heat and add another helping of taco seasoning (about a tablespoon). You just need them to be heated through, so they'll be ready in about five minutes.

Arrange the tortillas on a baking sheet and brush very lightly with olive oil. Bake for about 5 minutes, until they start to crisp. Remove from the oven and layer the black beans on top of two of the tostadas. Add a sprinkle of cheese, and then make a "sandwich" and place the other tostada on top. Pop back in the oven for another 3 - 5 minutes, and then remove.

Plate each tostada, then add the lettuce, turkey, cheese, and salsa. Top with a spoonful of sour cream.

These were SO good and so flavorful. Keith and I both loved it, and it was even sort of healthy. Ole!

Quick Potato & Cheese Pierogis

Well, I have been doing a very good job sticking to my menu planning and cooking dinner every day! I've made the meal I planned to make every day and each has been yum-tastic. What I've NOT been good about is posting the darn recipes!

But fear not! I've been taking pictures and just need to get caught up.

Last night was freezing and snowy and I'm so glad I had potato & cheese pierogis on the menu. I've eaten pierogis all my life, being Polish, and always loved them. I've NEVER made them or even really thought about making them, until I came across a recipe on another food blog. I cheated a bit by using gyoza, but it was great!

Quick Potato & Cheese Pierogi
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's recipe

4 medium sized baking potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium sized onions, finely chopped
2 T butter
1/3 cup shredded cheese (monterray jack or cheddar)
1 package gyoza (wonton wrappers - can be found in the refrigerated section or the Asian section)
salt and pepper to taste
Light sour cream and chopped green onions

In a medium-sized pot, cover the potatoes with lightly salted water and boil until tender, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a non-stick pan and then add the onions, sauteeing until golden brown (this will take longer than you think, about 15 minutes).

Drain the potatoes and transer to a large bowl. Add salt and pepper, then mash. Add the cheese and the onion butter mixture, and mix well. Taste it, this is your filling and it's GOOD.

Take the gyoza and use something round that is very close to the width of the shorter end of the gyoza(cookie cutter, or if like me, you only have cookie cutters in shapes like stars and candy canes, a drinking glass), and cut each gyoza into circles, discarding the extra. HINT: If you are using a drinking glass or other item that isn't very sharp, take about 10 - 12 gyoza at a time and use a knife to "draw" around the edges of the glass. Goes MUCH faster. Once all your gyoza are circular, you're ready to fill!

This part is a pain! Wet the edges of the gyoza and drop a dollop of filling into the middle, careful not to overstuff. Fold it over and seal well, pressing the edges into each other. If you don't seal them well, they'll fall apart when you cook them and that's very sad. It helps to make the filling sort of like a little log instead of a round scoop. You'll get the hang of it. Fill until you run out of gyoza.

Phew! So this will make enough for two people with some leftovers. To cook, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, then add the pierogis one at a time until the surface is covered. You don't want to overfill the pot. They only need to boil for about one to two minutes, max - if you overcook them, they'll fall apart and make a big mess. Fish them out with a slotted spoon and continue cooking until you have about eight a person.

Top them with a dollop of sour cream and some green onions, and you've got yourself a delicious Polish treat in less than 45 minutes!

2.20.2011

menu planning!

You guys are gonna love this. Or at least, I think you'll love it. Or at least, I love it.

Guess what?

I'm going to cook dinner every single night this week.

How, exactly, am I going to do that? I'm so glad you asked! I'm going to PLAN A MENU! GREAT SCOTT!

I sort of did this last week and it worked really well! You didn't see any of the posts because, to be honest, I didn't love any of the recipes I chose. But last week's meals consisted of Dijon Chicken, Swordfish with Healthy Mac & Cheese, Veggie Enchiladas...and...going out to eat. We actually did pretty bad this past week and it was mostly my fault. It's so easy to fall back into the "let's just go grab something" routine, and then when you look at your bank records online and realize you practically spent an entire paycheck "grabbing something" that was neither memorable nor healthy in any way, shape, or form, you sort of want to vomit.

Not anymore! I'm planning my meals this week, baby, and it's gonna happen. Saving money, eating better, and, of course, trying out new recipes for all of you. Here's a preview of the week!

Sunday: Grilled burgers on whole wheat buns & salad
Monday: Chard & White Bean Stew
Tuesday: Turkey Tostadas with fiesta corn
Wednesday: Potato Pierogi and salad
Thursday: turkey sandwiches, fruit salad, and something else (I'll figure it out, okay? JEEZ!)
Friday: pasta with sauteed tomatoes, zucchini, carrots and mushrooms & frozen turkey meatballs
Saturday: Stuffed Cabbage & roasted veggies

Yes, I'm a bit too excited for this. I may find this enjoyable. Whatevs. Off to the grocery store!

2.14.2011

Daily Happy - Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Chocolate + Fruit = L.O.V.E.


Ever wanted to make your sweetie something...well, sweet, but didn't want to bust out the flour and sugar and butter and actually BAKE something? Try chocolate covered strawberries! Incredibly easy and actually fun and romantic to make together - tested out last night for all of you just in time for Valentine's Day!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries
8 - 10 medium-sized strawberries
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
wax or parchment paper (optional)

Special equipment: a double boiler (or, you can be resourceful and just use two small pots, stacked on top of each other).

In the bigger pot, put about 1 inch of water and heat on high until it boils. Place the chocolate chips in the smaller pot and, once the water is boiling, stack it on top and turn the heat to medium. The chips will start melting almost instantly, so stir, stir, stir! Once the chocolate is perfectly melted (no lumps), dip each strawberry into the chocolate and twist to coat. Lay it on a plate lined with parchment or wax paper (if you don't do this, your chocolate will stick to the plate, but you can scrape it off). Once all your strawberries are chocolated, refrigerate or freeze until the chocolate has hardened (freeze for about 5 minutes).

You can get creative with this by melting different kinds of chocolate - white, dark, etc. - and either double dipping or drizzling on top. It's fun and romantic, and man, those things are tasty!

Happy love day, peeps!

2.12.2011

Shallot-Butter Shrimp & Mashed Potatoes



After Pilates this morning, it started raining cats and dogs outside. This, of course, was cause for Keith, Bella & me to immediately revert to lazy couch potatoes and watch several hours of old LOST and Grey's Anatomy episodes on NETFLIX. Eventually, I decided I needed to do something, so I went into the kitchen and ended up pulling a bunch of random ingredients to make dinner.

We still haven't gone grocery shopping since we returned from our trip on Tuesday, so I made due with what we had in the freezer and pantry. That, coupled with the fact that Monday is Valentine's Day, was enough for me to decide to go ahead and make something that wasn't healthy...exactly. Or, at all. But hey, at least we went to Pilates!

I served this yummy artichoke caper shrimp concotion on a bed of mashed potatoes. To cut down on the fat and calories, I didn't put any butter or milk in the potatoes, but just added a bit of the cooking water while mashing to reach the right consistency. The sauce from the shrimp added plenty of flavor and moisture once added!

Shallot-Butter Shrimp

Ingredients
12 - 15 medium sized shrimp, pre-cooked (I used frozen, peeled, deveined)
1 pkg. frozen artichoke hearts (or 1 can, drained)
1 medium-sized shallot, minced
3 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine
1 1/2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, divided
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saute pan on medium-high. Add the shallots and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the artichoke hearts and saute until they thaw, about 2 - 3 minutes. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and sea salt, then add 1 tablespoon butter and continue cooking for 2 minutes. Turn the heat to medium, then add the shrimp, capers, remaining Italian seasoning, and remaining butter and saute until heated through and butter melts, about 3 minutes. Serve atop mashed potatoes.

Definitely worth the calories!

Possible variations
If I had the ingredients or desire, here are some of the possible variations I can think of for this recipe:

  • Add white wine and / or lemon juice to the sauce to give it a little acidity
  • Swap the shrimp for chicken or scallops
  • Make it vegetarian by nixing the shrimp and adding spinach and mushrooms
  • Serve over pasta or rice instead of potatoes
  • Use garlic instead of shallots
Lots of possibilities with this one, guys!

P.S. Do I not have the most adorable potato masher in the world? It doesn't work well AT ALL, but it's so cute I can't bear to replace it. I am a slave to cuteness.

Daily Happy - Bella Bean!

My miniature Australian Shepherd, Bella, makes me happy every day, but I wanted to show her off :)

Bella Bean


Isn't she precious? She's a pain in the you-know-what, but she's cute so she gets away with it.

2.11.2011

Daily Happy - Imported from Detroit

This really isn't a "daily" happy, but more like a "when I feel like it" happy, but it's a catchy name :)

Today's happy is something I'm sure most of my Detroit / MI peeps have seen, but it truly is something special from an advertising perspective. It certainly helps that it's touting my hometown, but anyone can admit this is incredible!



In case you missed it, this aired during the SuperBowl and I got a little taste of home while I was in Hawaii.

Fantastic!

The Benefits of Lemon Water

I received a question on our Facebook page about the benefits of adding lemon slices to your drinking water. Since I didn't really know the answer off the top of my head, I did some research. Here's what I found out:

Adding lemon slices to your drinking water can be beneficial for a few reasons, but none of them are very earth-shattering!

The benefits of adding lemon to your water are:
  • Better flavor - if you aren't particularly fond of water, and adding lemon slices help you drink more of it, then the benefit is obvious - more hydration!
  • Vitamin C - lemon juice has vitamin C in it, so adding it to your water increases your intake.
  • Weight loss - this one is sort of a stretch, but if you switch out regular soda or fruit juice for lemon water (or ANY water), you'll save a lot of calories.
For more on the topic, click here.

Overall, adding lemon to your water doesn't hurt anything. As long as you are drinking water, keep it up!

Get The Scoop on Sodium

I was looking up facts on heart disease today and found this quiz on the American Heart Association's website. Once again, something that scared the crap out of me :)

Take it and see how much you know about your precious salt!

2.09.2011

Ultimate Guide to Roasting Veggies

I'm back from Hawaii (which was incredible) but swamped! Here's a quick post to tide you over :)

This might not be rocket science, but if you are looking for a new quick and easy way to incorporate more veggies into your diet, try roasting them! I found this guide for perfectly roasted veggies on Delish.com. It has some interesting serving suggestions as well, but watch the salt, ya'll!

2.01.2011

New Nutrition Guidelines

Did you know that one in three American children are considered overweight or obese? Did you know that two-thirds of adult Americans are considered overweight or obese? How about that only 5% of Americans participate in a type of physical activity once per day? Does that utterly scare the crap out of you?

It scares me.

So have you heard about the new nutrition guidelines that the USDA recently released?

Apparently, that nifty food pyramind that's been drilled into our heads since kindergarten is WRONG! Oh, the irony. They are going to come up with a new one in the next few months, and I, for one, am counting the days (well, not really, but I am interested).

If you're like me, you're wondering - what the heck does all this mean, exactly? You're in luck! I did research on this topic so you don't have to. Consider it my parting gift before I leave for Hawaii.

So I'ma give it to ya straight: basically it means to do what I keep telling you to do! Eat more fruits, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds and beans and cut WAYYYY back on sodium, saturated fat and processed foods. And exercise for 30 minutes a day. And eat breakfast.

I truly, truly hope that this sticks with the general population. It's not just about being skinny; even if you have a good metabolism, you aren't immune to the effects of bad nutrition and the toll it takes on your health.

I'm going to continue making lots of delicious (and, undoubtedly, some not-so-delicious-but-at-least-they're-healthy) recipes that fit within these guidelines. If any of you lovely readers have suggestions or recipes that you want me to feature, feel free to send them on over! I'm always looking for new yummy goodness.

1.29.2011

Oven-Roasted Kale


Holy yummy! I made a super healthy dinner tonight since last night we gorged ourselves on Mexican food and margaritas {so worth it}. We're also trying to use up some of the perishable items we have in the fridge before we jet off to Oahu on Wednesday. My main dish was pretty lackluster, but the Oven-Roasted Kale side dish really blew my mind!

Seriously. Consider my mind blown.

Also, to explain the KitchenAid shot. Well, that is exactly what it may or may not look like - a KitchenAid version of a Slap Chop. You know, the "you're gonna love my nuts" ridiculous infomercial Slap Chop. And it is the bomb diggity. I pretty much forgot about my garlic press. It makes life easier and more glorious.

Oven-Roasted Kale
{serves 2}


1 bunch kale, stems and tough ribs removed, leaves coarsely sliced
2 medium sliced cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (or less) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds*
Pepper and salt (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss kale, olive oil, garlic, sesame seeds, salt and pepper until well mixed. Pour mixture onto a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 5 minutes or so, for 10 - 12 minutes until the kale is crispy and starting to brown.

*To toast sesame seeds, just dump them into a pan on medium heat and stir until they are slightly browned, about 4 minutes or so. Be careful the heat isn't too high or else those sneaky little buggers will try to escape the pan by popping out! Don't believe me? Try it -- it's actually kind of fun.

Um, seriously. YUM. I've tried kale a few times in the past couple weeks and I haven't been wowed by it. I know it's incredibly good for you, though, so I've been working at it. This, my friends, is the holy grail of kale {I so just went there}. It tastes like it should be bad for you, but it's ... KALE!

i really have a happy!

My daily happy is {drumroll, please}

...

My new blog layout, facebook page, and twitter designs...LOVE!

www.facebook.com/fleckbites
www.twitter.com/fleckbites

And, more shameless {sort of} self-promotion - my uber talented hubby did it all!

and I may or may not have "project managed" him the entire time.

<3

1.28.2011

I Have a Happy

I'm going to start doing this every day to help me appreciate the little things!  Feel free to share yours in the comments :)

Daily Happy - Pink Sky at Sunset Yesterday

Sooo purrrrrrty
 Bonus Happies!

  • Putting on a pair of pants that haven't fit for over six months and finding them the perfect size
  • Purple stilettos
  • Sequined shirts
  • 60 degree weather...in January...in Seattle!
  • Being able to give my seat to an elderly woman on the bus (especially since no one else would)
  • Hawaii in 5 days!
What's making you happy today?

1.25.2011

Roasted Portabello Sandwiches with Rosemary Aioli

Just need to document this yum-tastic dinner I whipped together last night (no pictures...again...I promise to be better)!

Roasted Portabello Sandwiches with Rosemary Aioli
{serves 2}

Sandwiches:
2 large portabello mushrooms, stemmed and dark gills removed
1/2 small sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Maui), sliced into 1/3 inch wedges
Spike seasoning and pepper to taste
4 slices whole wheat bread or 2 whole wheat buns

Rosemary Aioli:
2 tablespoons low-fat mayo or Veganaise
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary (or dried)
pepper to taste

Pre-heat broiler to high and lightly spray a cookie sheet or broiler pan with cooking spray. Wash mushrooms and pat dry. Season onions and mushrooms with Spike and pepper, and arrange on pan. Broil for 6 - 8 minutes, then stir onions and flip mushrooms over. Continue cooking until the onions start to brown and the mushrooms are tender when pierced with a knife.

To prepare the aioli, mix all ingredients together until well blended.

Toast the bread slices or roll halves. Spoon the aioli onto the bread and lay the onions and mushroom on top.

I served this with roasted lemon garlic broccoli and asparagus. While the mushrooms and onions cooked, I steamed the veggies until just tender.  Then, when I pulled the pan out of the oven to flip the mushrooms, I took the veggies and mixed them with a tiny drizzle of olive oil, a bit of minced garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice and added them to the pan. I broiled the whole thing for another 6 minutes or so.

So simple, but so flavorful and so delicious!

My Secrets to Losing Weight

Just a nice little status on the current sitch.

Weight Loss Statistics:
Weight Loss Last Week:  -2.5lbs.
Weight Loss to Date:  -12 lbs. 
Left to Goal:  -1lb. (wedding day weight)
Left to Stretch Goal:  -5lbs.

Woop! I'm so there! BooYAH!

For those of you wondering how I managed to lose 12 pounds (and over the holidays, no less) here's my secret -- I have no idea! Just kidding. Actually, it started out just counting calories and taking them down a bit. That worked for the first month or so. I also started doing Pilates three times a week. I'll post more about Pilates another time - it's my love (besides Keith, of course)! Now, I've learned quite a bit about eating healthy versus "eating healthy" and adjusted my habits accordingly. I do not count calories at all, and I don't miss it one bit! I'm actually losing more weight, and I have more energy! Here are the keys:

  • Cut back on the salt! Try not to eat anything that has over 350mgs of sodium. Buy low or no sodium canned foods. Try other seasonings besides salt, like Mrs. Dash, Spike, red pepper flakes, garlic powder, lemon juice, etc. Get creative! It's better for you and it'll get you to experiment.
  • More fruits & veggies! Eat a salad a day with low sodium dressing (or make your own). Try a smoothie or piece of fruit for dessert. Add berries or bananas to your cereal in the morning. Slice up carrots, celery, cucumbers, red peppers and have them in your fridge for an easy snack.
  • Sugar is bad. Don't eat it. Try freezing a banana and blending it with some vanilla soy milk and a bit of ground flax seed. It's like ice cream! You can do this with just about any frozen fruit. Experiment! Also, try date sugar in baking. All natural and it sweetens things up.
  • Switch to whole grains. Bleached white flour is bad. Plus, whole grains fill you up more. Try a whole grain bagel with almond butter for breakfast. Have your turkey on a sprouted whole wheat wrap. Only buy whole wheat - this is an easy one and definitely makes a difference.
  • Snack on unsalted cashews, almonds, pistachios, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Cut a whole grain pita into triangles, dust with garlic powder and bake at 350 degrees until crisp - homemade "chips!"
  • Cheat. Do it. Have crab cakes, a big juicy burger and fries, a beer (or several), a milkshake. If you tell yourself that you can't have these things ever again, you'll be unsuccessful. When you cheat, make it count, and then move on. Try not to cheat more than once a week. This is super important if you want to maintain your weight loss and be an all-around happy person.
  • Exercise. Do I really have to put this in here? There's NO way to be healthy unless you exercise. Your body needs it. It's good for you. It creates endorphins. Find something you like and DO IT. It can be speed vacuuming, dancing around your house to loud 90's music, bench pressing your dog. Whatever it is, it's going to make a difference.
  • Educate yourself. For a long time, I thought I ate pretty healthy. I've come to find out that many, many things I ate were not healthy at all. It's important to learn about different ways of eating and see what works for you.
I hope this helps anyone out there who is trying to lose weight. It's been working for me!

My last weigh-in before Hawaii will be this Saturday. Wish me luck!

1.20.2011

Top 30 Foods According to Some Scientists

I thought I would share this, since it's basically a list of all the foods I'm trying to incorporate into my daily meals for weight loss and improved health. You should, too!

A - Aggregate
N - Nutrient
D - Density

I - Index

FoodANDI
Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Turnip Greens1000
Kale1000
Watercress1000
Bok Choy824
Spinach739
Broccoli Rabe715
Chinese or Napa Cabbage704
Brussels Sprouts672
Swiss Chard670
Arugula559
Cabbage481
Romaine Lettuce389
Broccoli376
Red Pepper366
Carrot Juice344
Tomatoes and Tomato Products164–300
Cauliflower295
Strawberries212
Pomegranate Juice193
Blackberries178
Plums157
Raspberries145
Blueberries130
Oranges109
Cantaloupe100
Beans (all varieties)57–104
Seeds: Flaxseed, Sunflower, Sesame52–78
Pistachio Nuts48
Tofu37
Walnuts34


Know it, love it.

Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and Red Chard

Trying to incorporate more veggies into the daily grind is challenging, but it's getting a lot easier! I'm finding lots of new ways to do it and while I'm still doing the 28-day Challenge, I'm not following the meal plan exactly, either (it got a little boring and VERY time-consuming). With a little creativity, though, I'm able to apply the principles of Nutritarianism and still have fun with cooking.

Yesterday, I wanted to eat kale. Kale is considered to be nature's perfect food, rating a 1000 (perfect score) on the ANDI scale. But...it's weird. Or at least, it's weird if you haven't ever really eaten it before. It's not bad, it's just a bit of a struggle to find a good way to incorporate. I decided to use my dependable fallback, pasta, and give it a go.

Whole Wheat Penne with Kale and Red Chard
6 - 8 ounces whole wheat penne (or any other whole wheat pasta)
1 bunch kale (tough stems removed and sliced into 1" pieces)
1/2 bunch red chard or rainbow chard, stems sliced into bite-sized pieces and leaves roughly sliced)
1 cup sweet onion (Vidalia or similar), chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon (or less) extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon (or to taste) red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Grilled Chicken (optional)
2 organic boneless skinless chicken breasts, butterflied
1 1/2 tbsps. Italian seasoning
1 tbsp. basil

Prepare the pasta according to the package directions; drain and reserve 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil on medium high in a heavy deep pot. Add the garlic and onions and saute until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the kale, chard and red pepper flakes and mix well. Saute until the kale begins to wilt, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat to medium low and continue cooking until the chard stems begin to soften but are still crisp, about 15 minutes. If the mixture starts to get too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time to moisten.

If you are using chicken, season well with the Italian seasoning and basil and grill (or use a George Foreman) until done, about 8 minutes. Slice into strips.

Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Combine with the kale / chard mixture. Add the lemon juice and mix well. If the pasta is too dry, add the cooking liquid one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached. Serve with the chicken strips on top.

Simple, super healthy, and yum-tastic!

1.17.2011

Just Keep Swimming

Aloha! (I'm practicing for my inaugural visit to the Aloha state, commencing in 16 days)

Just a quick update on my life's work at the moment.

Weight Loss Statistics:
Weight Loss Last Week:  -1.5lbs.
Weight Loss to Date:  -10 lbs. 
Left to Goal:  -3lbs. (wedding day weight)
Left to Stretch Goal:  -7lbs.
Left to My High School Weight: -18lbs. (hahahha, this is just in there for perspective - sad, self-loathingesque perspective)

Not too bad, considering I cheat on my diet at every opportunity, and I only do cardio once a week. Ugh, I'm bad! I need to get into a habit of incorporating cardio into my daily routine, but it's sooo hard. I HATE cardio. I would do Pilates every single day - and I wish I could afford to - but cardio, blah. It's free and it stinks.

However, that is my goal for this week. Cardio. Every. Day. I mean it. I think I can devote 20 minutes a day to my potentially smokin' hot bod health, right? I mean, a girl's gotta have priorities. Anyone have any tips? Please?

Wish me luck. I'm going to need it.

Mahalo!