Monday, November 28, 2011

Salmon in Foil Packets

Bit of a hiatus... I'll explain why later... but for now, at least for this one post, I'm back!

And what a way to come back!  This salmon baked in foil is healthy, super delicious, elegant enough to serve to company, and SO simple you won't even believe it.

To be fair, I have to credit my friend and old roomie Jennifer for the idea.  She used to make something nearly identical with chicken, and like so many other things she cooked for me, I never forgot it!

The Mayo Clinic cookbook uses the same method but with salmon, and I made that recipe back in high school and was quite impressed with myself.

Well, enough said, here's the recipe.

Salmon in Foil Packets

salmon filets, skin off (as many as you want)
red onion, sliced super thin
lemon, sliced super thin
thyme sprigs
garlic, peeled and sliced super thin
juice from remaining lemon
olive oil

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.  2. Arrange salmon filets on their individual sheets of foil (the foil will fold up to form a little package for each serving, later).  3. Top with S&P. Top with lemon, onion, and garlic slices. Lay thyme springs on top. Drizzle with lemon juice and a few drops of olive oil.  4. Fold up each piece of foil tightly around the salmon like a present. (Make sure you can easily unwrap it to check the doneness later though).  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, tops.

Here it is pre-bake:

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lentil Stew Leftovers

I added some chopped steamed kale to my lentil stew and it made a great, healthy lunch.

Lentil Stew With Acorn Squash

When I don't know what else to cook and I need something fast, lentil stew is the answer.

I can make it mindlessly, it must be the easiest healthy meal in the world.

I roasted an acorn squash and scooped out spoonfuls to add to the stew at the end of cooking.  Cornbread on the side!

A Lunch of Leftovers

And omnivores want to know where vegetarians get their protein?  I think between the black eyed peas, tofu, brown rice, and kale I'll be okay.

These were just some leftovers I took to work for an easy, healthy lunch.

Hospital Food

Now, when I think "hospital food" I conjure images of watery instant mashed potatoes, Salisbury steak, bland rolls and jello cups.  But when I visited the cafeteria in the hospital where my nephew was born, I was pleasantly surprised!  It's not gourmet, but it definitely did the trick!

Below, spinach salad with teriyaki tofu:
Mixed barbecue beans (very good!)
Collard greens (kinda garlicky)
And below was my mom's salmon salad. Not bad!

My Appropriate Fortune

I got this fortune in my fortune cookie when we ordered Chinese food last week. I thought it couldn't be more appropriate!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Welcome Baby Nolan!

My nephew was born today! He is perfect, just like his big sister Abby.  I love being an aunt!

Some fun facts from the day:

- Because Nolan was delivered c-section, we couldn't be in the operating room, but Laurie (my baby sister) and I had our ears to the door the moment he came out, and we heard a loud waahhhhh! It was music to our ears, and what is cool is that we heard the exact same first wail from our niece Abby, when she was born over two years ago.

- I got to go in the operating room with Abby just after delivery so she could see her baby brother for the first time.  I held her as she looked down at baby Nolan squirming and screaming on that metal tray table while they cleaned him up.  Her reaction and the site of him just made me cry, she at first looked shocked that this is what came out of her mommy's tummy, then immediately said in the sweetest voice, "Hey Nolan" and when he sneezed she said "Awww, bless you Nolan!"

- Mary and Zach (mom and dad) are doing great and are so proud of their new family, as they should be!

- Abby fell in love at first sight with her new brother, and considered him her responsibility to protect.  It bordered on frustrating for the rest of us who were dying to hold him, but really, he is HER brother, isn't he?

- I'll end with this funny video.  We love you Nolan, welcome to the world!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This morning

This was my coffeepot, early this morning.  I was all alone and it wasn’t light out yet.  I woke up with a flutter in my stomach, excited for everything to come.  I love moments like this.

Fun, Bad Saturday :)

Wow.  So much can change so fast!   One minute, I’m telling you everything I put in my mouth, the next minute, all that seems so insignificant, but then, significant again for a different reason.

So with that bit of vagueness, I’ll proceed with talking about what I eat.  I probably won’t manage to take a photo of everything I eat.  It’s just too much.

But I’ll say that this Saturday, there was some debauchery that went on.  I’ll give you a hint.
And another.
Hurrah! One last.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

What I Really Ate: Dinner at Apres Diam

*Sorry for the flash photos.

We're at Apres Diam almost once a week.  It isn't that the food is that great, though it definitely isn't bad or else there's no way I'd be there weekly.  What we like is the location and atmosphere; it's right next door to our favorite theater, and has a decidedly European feel, a world music dj, and friendly bartenders.

Last night, Chris ordered the lobster crostini appetizer, and of course I had half, lobster being one of my favorite foods since I was little.  It was tasty but they could have cut way down on that butter sauce.
I had a gin martini with lots of olive juice.
And a greek salad with salmon, and I left behind most of the pita and all of the of raw onions (which were cut into big chunks, don't people know better?).

Friday, October 14, 2011

What I Really Ate [Drank]: Guru

This drink is very bad for me.  It gives me an energy buzz to get through the afternoon at work, but the side effects aren’t good.  I get very anxious afterwards, kind of moody.  Still, some afternoons, I give in to the Guru.

I only drink half.  I then store the other half in the fridge for the next sleepy afternoon.

What I Really Ate: Taco Salad


Back so soon? you're thinking. :-)

It's me again, back with an update on what I ate. This time, it's leftover taco salad, minus the chips.

Remember, this is all vegan - ground meat substitute, homemade vegan nacho cheese sauce...  and it was tasty!

That of course is Meeks in the background, not begging (he does not beg, that would be obnoxious), but posing.

Ta ta until dinner.

What I Really Ate: An Apple, Coffee with Cream, Green Tea with Honey

Not exactly substantial. But fruit is my favorite thing to have for breakfast.  Normally I would have a couple of pieces, before lunch, but I only brought this one apple today.

Also, coffee with cream.  And later, right before I left for lunch, a little green tea with honey.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What I Really Ate: Tacos

Taco night!  I like to crunch up my shell and turn it into a taco salad.

I used regular old McCormick taco seasoning mix, the one I grew up with. I made a homemade vegan nacho cheese sauce and guacamole, too.  The meat is not real meat.  It's Quorn crumbles, and I think it's a great substitute.

These below are Chris's tacos.  He had his with real cheddar cheese AND the vegan nacho cheese sauce.
Cocktail time! Cocktail for tonight is gin, vermouth, campari, and a splash of oj.

What I Really Ate: 10-Minute Tofu & Kale Stirfry

I work close to home, so I get to go home and eat lunch most days. I save money and eat healthier this way.

Running home, though, requires knowing how to throw lunch together real quick.  And since I usually send leftovers to work with Chris, I often have to get creative.

Today, I quickly diced some kale and cubed some tofu.  I threw it in a pan on high heat with a little toasted sesame oil, soy sauce, brown rice vinegar, and sriracha.  Sprinkled with sesame seeds, and I had a healthy, umomi-licious lunch in literally 10 minutes tops.
I capped off any remaining hunger with a banana…
and some walnuts and dried apricots (unsulfured – that means they’ll be darker, but closer to their natural flavor because they have no preservatives added).

What I Really Ate: Coffee With Cream

I had an idea.  I am always interested in what people actually eat during the day.  I thought I might start posting pictures of everything I eat.  You’d have a more honest, realistic view.  I portray myself as such a health nut sometimes.  And I am very conscious, but lord is my diet far from what I’d like for it to be.

My breakfast this morning was only coffee with cream, because I was in a hurry, and also I had a bowl of cheerios around midnight last night.  The lady next door, her soymilk is always old.  It looks all clumpy and separated.  So I went with cream today.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Simple Dinner

Last night, dinner was simple.  Just lettuce wraps, using napa cabbage leaves, tofu tossed in a little soy sauce, and carrot ginger dressing.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

My Jeans Do Not Fit.

You know how wonderful it feels to slip on a pair of jeans that fit perfectly in all the right places, snug but not tight, smooth with no lumps or bulges or any of that nonsense?  I personally feel like I could conquer the world in a pair of jeans like that.
Sadly, if I’m not in my ideal shape, I can shop high and low but I will not find the perfect pair of jeans.  It isn’t usually about the jeans themselves, but my own figure, that determines how they’ll fit.
And currently, I am not having good experiences, standing in my closet determining what to wear.

My jeans from two years ago?  They either shrunk, or I grew.  I have ONE pair of grey jeans that fit. I wear them every other day.  The other days, I wear dresses or somehow squeeze into my too-tight jeans and have a bad day because of it.

I’m tired of my shoes, too.

The thing is, I wouldn’t mind so much except that I’ve been running consistently. The past 3 weeks, I’ve run 24 miles every weekend (12 on Saturday, 12 on Sunday), and 6 miles Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.  That’s a total of 42 miles per week.  Not terrible, right?
And I’ve been eating super-healthfully.  I’m talking kale, brown rice, lentils, fruits and veggies.
(Okay, I do binge on fish tacos and chips and salsa, but only at La Fonda once a week…
and occasionally I make a vegetarian meal... or two, that isn’t exactly low-processed-carb… I also dive into the chocolate chips… sometimes).
So why can’t I lose these few stubborn pounds?

Sunday morning, I vowed to DETOX.
All morning and into the afternoon, I was a miserable grouch with nothing to look forward to.  That night, I said screw it and we got sushi.  I was happy again. J  Obviously, detox wasn’t the answer.

Here’s what I’m thinking.

1. I need to vary my exercise to include strength training, not just running.
2. No more snacking after dinner, not even “occasionally.”
3. A few simple changes like drinking coffee black instead of with soymilk, or allowing myself to be a little hungry during the late afternoon instead of snacking, might add up.
4. These pounds will have to go gradually, unless I’m lucky enough to get the flu or grow new wisdom teeth that need taken out.

I realize I’m not terribly overweight of course, but there are definitely a few pounds between me and a pair of killer jeans.  And I intend to conquer them.

Not to mention, I do not feel like spending the money to buy an entire new Jeans Wardrobe, much less in a larger size! :/

I wonder if anyone else ever had this trouble and figured out the perfect answer.  I thought I'd found it when I discovered the vegan diet.  I get to eat amazing food AND it's healthy?  And I did, but I still struggle with the sweet tooth.

Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Ravioli (with Wonton Wrappers)

Wonton wrappers are an easy way to cheat if you want homemade ravioli.  Here are a few tips.

1. Make sure the filling tastes delicious, on its own.  I roasted butternut squash, and caramelized onions, before pureeing it altogether with some fresh parsley.

2. Double up on the wrappers (two per ravioli) for a more toothsome, pasta-like texture.

3. Flour your surface for working with the wrappers.

4. Don’t overfill.

5. Wet your fingers to seal the edges very well.

6. Steam or boil gently in batches, until the ravioli begin to look transparent. Then lift out with a large strainer.

7. Finish by searing in the flavor.  You do this in a hot pan with your sauce of choice.  Since my filling was so sweet (roasted butternut and caramelized onions, hello) I made mine nice and spicy-salty-vinegary, with a sauce made from soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, and hot pepper sesame oil.  I topped with sesame seeds; I guess it turns out my ravioli were Asain-inpsired.  Fitting, since I used wonton wrappers.

Mushroom Bourguignon

Warm, cozy, so flavorful... nothing greets cold weather better than bourguignon.  And if you, like me, aren't a big fan of beef but love mushrooms, you can easily adapt beef bourguignon recipes to become mushroom bourguignon, without sacrificing that deep, rich flavor.

Friday, September 23, 2011

White Bean and Butternut Squash Stew

Obviously on a soup/stew kick.

This recipe from The Kind Diet, a spin on Black Soybean and Kabocha Squash stew, was super, super sweet.  My fault since I left out the 2 cups of tomatoes it called for.  Those tomatoes would have cut the sweetness.  I just was tired of tomatoes in my soup.

Even with tomatoes though it would have been sweet. One cup of [expensive] mirin made sure of that.

I'm thinking of draining and rinsing the remaining squash and beans and eating them like that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fried Brown Rice With Kale and Scallions

This dish (recipe here) is just one version of what might be my favorite meal in the world - brown rice with veggies, sauce, and garnish.

The sauce can be anything - tahini, umeboshi vinegar, miso, soy sauce, even barbecue sauce.

The garnish can be sesame seeds, nuts, and/or herbs.

The veggies can be practically anything you can think of.

This particular version is brown rice, lightly fried with chopped kale, garlic, and scallions.  It is drizzled with soy sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  It came from Gwyneth Paltrow's cookbook, My Father's Daughter.  Her kids call it "green rice" and apparently gobble it up.

That's because it's delicious.  Perfection in a bowl, if you ask me.  Proof that food can, and should be, healthy and addictive.

A Gift of a Lemon Whoopie Pie

My friend's friend is kinda famous. Her name is Erin Hall and she owns Bitter Baking Company where they sell cookies with really hilarious messages on them (perfect for gifts).

Erin made some whoopie pies and shared them with my friend, who shared one with me, and now I'm sharing with you (sorry you can't taste though).

I came in to work this morning to find a little gift of a fresh-baked lemon whoopie pie on my desk.  It was a perfect compliment to my cup of coffee this morning.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Mushroom, Onion & Swiss Chard Phyllo Rolls and Roasted Garlic-Cauliflower Mash

Not quite the beautiful photograph, but thought I'd share dinner last night.  Using this recipe as inspiration, I filled my phyllo roll with caramelized onions, mushrooms, and sauteed swiss chard.

They were okay, but you know what was better?  The odd pile of cream-colored mash on the side.  Yes, my roasted garlic and cauliflower mash was pretty delicious.

I'm not on a low-carb diet (though I am on a low-processed-carb diet), but I like how the cauliflower has such a creamy texture, it requires much less butter and sour cream type stuff to make it creamy, than potatoes do.
Roasted Garlic and Cauliflower Mash
8 cloves garlic
1 large head cauliflower
1-2 Tbsp butter (to your liking)
kosher salt and pepper

Coat the unpeeled garlic cloves in oil and roast in the oven on 400 for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop and steam the cauliflower until soft (you can even do this in the microwave - microwaving vegetables is my new trick for freeing up the stove!)

Puree the hot cauliflower and now-peeled roasted garlic in the food processor, with butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Voila! Tasty, creamy, mashed cauliflower.  It feels like you're eating a big bowl full of sinful carb-y stuff, but you're not.  You're eating steamed cauliflower.  Pretty healthy right?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Curry Tempeh Salad with Green Apples and Golden Raisins

I like to make this curry tempeh salad from Blissful Chef, but I add to it one diced green apple, and I find that there’s still plenty of the sauce mixture to cover the salad and then a little.

I also simmer the tempeh in water, soy sauce, maple syrup, and a drop of liquid smoke for a few minutes, and find it really gives a nice flavor to the tempeh.

We had this flavorful “chicken-esque” salad on a bed of mixed greens, with one half a cheddar dill scone each.  The cheddar in the scones was a perfect complement to the green apples and raisins in the salad.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tomato Soup and Cheddar-Dill Scones

This tomato soup is otherwise known as perfect tomato soup and I am giving you the recipe (however, DO use your own judgement if you try my recipe, because I'm not 100% confident in my recipe-writing skills).  If you have a vitamix, well, your soup might reach “velvety” status, and if you remove the seeds, well, it might be silkier then too, but in a normal blender and without removing the seeds you can have a tomato soup that easily converts you from Campbells (though I am not dissing Campbell’s tomato soup).

I served our soup with my little spin on grilled cheese for the night – warm, fresh-baked cheddar dill scones.
These were a rare treat, since I don’t cook or bake with cheese, much less epic proportions of butter, cream, and white flour, that often.  I have to add that the scones were delicious, but I’ve made many a healthier version of baked goods that tasted just as good.  Either way, we really enjoyed this simple but yummy dinner!

Way-Better-Than-Campbell's Tomato Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp margarine
1 large onion (or 2 small), diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, diced
½ bell pepper (any color), diced
1 carrot, diced
8 sage leaves, chopped finely
Kosher Salt
½ cup wine (red or white)
10 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
4 large tomatoes, blanched and skins removed, chopped
1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, broken up in pot with spoon
2 cups homemade vegetable broth (amount may vary according to liquid in tomatoes)
big handful fresh parsley
fresh ground black pepper

1. Heat the olive oil and margarine in a large pot over medium-low heat, and begin caramelizing your onions with a generous sprinkle of kosher salt. This should take about 20 minutes, and they will be golden.  (If they start to stick, turn the heat down a little.)

2. Add the celery, bell pepper, carrots, garlic, and sage to the pot, with another sprinkle of kosher salt.  Cook until soft, about 15 minutes. (if they are sticking or browning because the pot is too dry, you can add a tablespoon of broth, but try to coax them into cooking on their own in the remaining oil and with their natural juices – you can do this by not stirring unless you absolutely have to and making sure the heat isn’t too high or too low.)

3. Deglaze the pot with the white wine and let the vegetables absorb most of it. Meanwhile, add the peppercorns and bay leaf.

4. Add your fresh and canned tomatoes. Add the broth, using your judgment as to how much, depending on how much liquid the tomatoes contained and how thin/thick you’d like the soup to be.  (It will thicken slightly as it cooks, but you’ll be cooking quickly and lid-on, so it won’t reduce much.)

5. Bring to a boil, reduce to low, cover and simmer until the tomatoes are cooked to your liking (for me, about 20 minutes).

6. When the soup is cooked, remove the bay leaf.  Add the fresh parsley.  Puree the soup in batches in the blender until smooth.  Return to the pot, season to taste with ground black pepper and more kosher salt, and simmer for a couple of minutes just to meld.

 7. Garnish with more fresh chopped parsley and serve with garlic toast, grilled sandwiches, or as I did, with Ina Garten’s cheddar dill scones.