Well, I hope everyone had a happy holiday, whether it be Chanukah or Christmas or if you just enjoyed a ton of free food, family fun and lets face it, alcoholic excess. In NYC, people are known to enjoy all of these things in the two weeks preceding Christmas and also, in the week preceding New Years Eve. While at home, I've tried to keep it healthy, but my past few weeks have been peppered with 1) Holiday parties at my job 2) Boyfriend's holiday party 3) Chanukah parties 4) family get-togethers 5) Jewish Christmas (yes, all New York City Jews go out for Chinese and see movies) 6) Christmas celebrations and finally, 7) much needed date nights.
Now, the holiday parties at my job were difficult enough not to indulge in (I failed, not too miserably) but Boyfriend's holiday party was at this place --->
It was impossible to avoid indulgence.
Too much dessert at numbers 1 and 2, complete intoxication at the fancy-pants party.
#3-Chanukah featured latkes. These are essentially big hash browns but we Jews enjoy eating them with gobs of sour cream. Luckily, I generally don't like sour cream, so I stuck with mustard. Still though, they are deep fried potato cakes. Had about 3.5 of these on the first night of Chanukah.
The family get togethers involved Turkish food and sushi and I think I was actually not too bad there, though I'm sure the preceding dental work had a lot to do with that.
Here's a typical Chanukah meal at our apartment (2nd night, see picture). Candles are lit, food is eaten, usually with TV. This was a simple tuna salad: arugula salad + 1 can tuna + 1 tbsp Fage Plain 0% Greek Yogurt + some mixed peppers/onions (from frozen veggie packet) + spaghetti squash + S+P.
We had a lot of arugula leftover and I happened to have some crumbed FF Feta on hand, so I threw that down with a tbsp of dressing for a "side salad" near my main salad =)
This was delicious and so filling =) And the candles were all romantic and stuff.
If you are wondering, yes, that is a beer stein (HofBrau) and I use it for drinking water around the house.
Now, lets talk cooking
This was awweeessommmeee and SO easy!
It's a knockoff of Rachael Ray's Apricot Chicken. I dumbed it down for those simpy don't have all sorts of herbs and things on hand and reduced certain things that would add to the fat/calorie count (like taking the 1 full cup of apricot preserves down to 1/2 cup).Here's the original recipe.
MY Ingredients (serves 4-6)
3 chicken breasts, butterflied (~750 cals?)
1/2 onion, chopped
1.5 cups chicken stock
~20 dried apricots, quartered (~300 cals?)
1/2 cup apricot jam/preserves (~230 cals?)
2 tbsp vinegar (any white vingar would do)
S+P + 2 bay leaves
**I'm not sure how much the chicken breasts weighed, but they probably came in between 200 and 250 cals each***
Lets call this 1500 cals total
1. Drop the chopped onions onto a Pammed non-stick pan. Sautee minimally until just translucent
2. Place the chicken breasts, cut side down on the pan. Sear just a bit (2 minutes) and flip. Let them sit for 2 minutes, then pop in the chicken stock, apricot quarters and bay leaf.
3. Once the chicken stock comes to a boil, add the apricot preserves and vinegar
4. Continue to reduce until you've reached stew-thickness or sauce thickness.
*Make sure to remove the bay leaves! They are a choking hazard!*
I went with stew and served it over a base of wild rice. I can't stress this enough, this recipe was AMAZING and hearty and so satisfying because it was both savory and sweet. I couldn't resist adding just a tiny bit of red pepper flakes for a bit of kick, but not everyone is a fan of that.
It wasn't really "low cal" and with the rice, even my little bowl over there (I had a tiny bit of seconds on the chicken) was at least 450 cals. This is fine for one meal, but I had dessert too. Whoops, I guess that explains why my jeans were tight that week!
See, THIS is why it's a good idea to write out recipes before trying them. I honestly thought this was super calorie friendly. While it's very healthy (and if I could find sugar-free apricot jam I would use it!) it's not that diet friendly.
Moving right along: Jewish Christmas Eve! Well, yes, having Chinese food and seeing a movie is NYC Jew tradition but my friends are a bit more snooty and decided that only something exotic would do. Burmese food! It was very flavorful. There was a shrimp tagine that was spectacular, the mango salad (top left) was delicious and refreshing, their cocunut rice (top middle) was so sweet and tasty and there was a lo-mein style dish that was very nice. The thing in the middle is called "thousand layer bread" and my friend have dubbed it thousand calorie bread. It tastes kind of like a compressed, deep fried croissant. I had a tiny piece of this and didn't want to reach for seconds. The wine flowed by the carafe and we rounded out the night with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. I was all sleepy thanks to the wine and finally lost the battle towards the end of the movie. I woke up just as it was ending and didn't get what had happened =(
Christmas dinner was hosted by my big sister from college. She is a super vegan and hosted a vegan Christmas dinner. There were 6 in attendendance and boy was it a diverse crowd. We had a the host: lawyer/vegan, her boyfriend: Belgian, vegan, her coworker: a lawyer/musician (an army clarinetist), his boyfriend (Jewish psychologist), myself and my Boyfriend. So actually the Belgian and the army clarinetist were the only ones celebrating Christmas. The rest of us were just supporters. The dinner was fantastic. I mean really, amazingly delicious lentil soup that I could have sworn was chicken soup, a "chicken" pot pie made with Gardein chicken (which was SO SO SO tasty, but I couldn't pass it off as chicken) and a chocolate cake that was to die for. Now the lentil soup was great, but I feel like I don't see myself making a pot since Boyfriend is not a huge soup eater. The pot pies, however, were fantastic. They had just a cover of phyllo dough lightly brushed with EVOO instead of a full on crust (top and bottom) so they were super light. Loved it! The cake also was very rich and delicious but made with so many ingredients I don't see it happening in my kitchen. Watch out for those pot pies though =)
And finally, because all of the celebrating and all of the socializing left me feeling like I needed some personal time with Boyfriend, we had a date night. We had recently tried to go to this tapas place, Pipa, but couldn't get a seat (no reservations on a Saturday night in Union Sq, go figure) and this time we did have reservations. Pipa is essentially an extremely overpriced tapas place with a really great atmosphere. Lots of chandeliers, live Spanish jazzy music playing, great heavy wooden tables and candles....muy romantico. But, as overpriced as it was, we found the food to be totally worth it. We ordered a calamari dish (upper left), a mushroom croquette dish (middle), a flatbread, crab-stuffed peppers and a side of roast potatoes. The calamari and mushroom croquettes were completely unique and so flavorful. The stuffed peppers made quite an impression on Boyfriend and I was very impressed with the lightly fried calamari (very light, no encrusting of batter!). The spread underneath the croquettes was to die for. But all of that was entirely eclipsed with the dessert (tres leches, top left) was served. It was a banana whipped cream with a banana ice cream on top of a tiny bit of rum-soaked mocha cake. There were three little chocolate covered espresso beans embedded in the whipped cream too. So decadent, couldn't be more "worth it". So this whole meal came out to about $100. We were both stuffed, we both had one beverage each and we got to snuggle up on a cushioned bench and listen to Spanish guitar music (one of our fave genres). It really made the weekend =)
So, to sum up: A week (or more) of almost daily alcohol consumption, complete decadence, treats all the time...lots of working out. Unfortunatley, I did not manage to control myself most of the time and I do not forsee a lightening up of the alcohol/calorie consumption until after New Years Eve (but after THAT will be a dinner with both sets of parents and a 3-day long wedding festival in Long Island). So...it looks like I'll be packing a one-piece for the ski vacation =(
Even TONIGHT my friends have already requested that I join them for a beer and I can't very well pass that up.
Next time, a breakfast post.
Those up there? Omelet Muffins! I've made and raved about them before but for whatever reason haven't made a batch in ages. These were unbelievable. The previous batches were a salsa muffin
(tasty but not exactly easy on the eyes) and a salmon/cream cheese muffin
(easier on the eyes, harder on the budget). The ones you see here are both inexpensive to make, super cute and probably the most filling ones I've made thus far.
Ingredients (makes 10 muffins)
3 eggs (240 cals)
2 servings All Egg Whites (50 cals)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour, or any flour (260 cals)
2 small chicken sausages, buffalo flavor, chopped (140 cals)
3 servings turkey bacon, chopped (105 cals)
1/2 cup Fage 0% Plain Greek Yogurt (55 cals)
1/2 medium sized sweet onion, chopped
Handful (3 servings?) fire roasted red peppers, chopped
2tsp S+ 1tsp P
1/2 tsp baking powder
Topped with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese
Directions: sautee the onion (in Pam, not oil). When the onions are translucent throw in the chopped meats and cook just a little. I used fully cooked sausages and bacon, so I just warm them up.
After cooking the onions and warming the meats, combine the remaining ingredients together (feel free to play around with the spices) and bake in a muffin tin at 375 degrees for about 20-25 minutes or until the muffins have risen nice and high. Once they rise, sprinkle some grated parmesan cheese on top and cook for another 5-6 minutes until the cheese is melted.
These come out at ~100 or maybe 105 calories apiece. They're a bit small (about the size of a vine-ripened tomato) but they are FULL of protein and fiber. Super filling. Plus, you can have 2 and a yogurt for 300 calories. =) Actually these went so fast I had to make another batch which I'll post soon.
I live next to several super markets. There is the really upscale gourmet one, located very unfortunatley directly below my apartment. It's too expensive to shop there under most circumstances. Further away (but on the way home from the gym) is a more reasonable supermarket that is more comprehensive but still a bit pricey. Keep in mind though, I'm speaking in city terms. It's still about 1/10 the size of an average Shop-Rite and doesn't have anything on Wegmans or Stop+Shop. Finally, there's the affordable, sort of hispanic supermarket across the street which is a kind of "shop at your own risk" type of place. I wouldn't really purchase raw meats there and I'm not hugely surprised if the veggies I get from there don't last very long. Still, this picture was taken at the affordable market and it's a gorgeous vegetable display, complete with a brussel sprout branch. Did you know they grow like this? I certainly didn't! I figured they were kind of like berries, but this is really beautiful!
So, for those of you who have followed this blog, you'll know that my posting can be a bit erratic. The good (?) news is that my posting frequency is about to increase. I am currently located in one of my hospital's sattelite locations in the Bronx. It's a much slower service so while the only shuttle I can take out of here is at 5:30 pm, I can easily be done with any and all work by about 2-3pm. This means a lot of downtime, and actually this was the location in which I created the blog to begin with. I actually have a small backlog of meals to present so the posts will be fast and furious. Watch out!
Why this picture? Well, it seems that the holidays and all other indulgences have put me up a few pounds and I am now sitting at my goal weight and tend to fluctuate up (usually not down) so it is not where I'd like to be. I am tryind desperately to cut down on snacking, and certainly on portion sizes. This little cup is my triumph. Here is a tiny little coffee cup with a tiny little spoon holding a little under 1/2 cup of mocha chip frozen yogurt. This stuff is amazing, by the way. Creamy and delicious as regular ice cream but a little less guilt-free. It's more sinful than Tasti-D-Lite but also tastier.
Finally, a compliment to any dinner and super easy to make: tomato mozarella pieces.
This was actually from a while ago and I totally forgot to post it. I had mozarella, basil and tomatoes left over from the vegetable casserole I had made for thanksgiving. These went with the stuffed chickens and made a really nice side/appetizer for those.
So simple: slice up some tomatoes, toss on some shredded mozarella and chopped basil and bake in the toaster oven for 5 minutes until the mozarella melts. Make sure to top with S+P
This was actually part skim mozarella. Another great way to serve it is to buy fresh mozarella, slice that and put it on top of tomato slices with or without a basil leaf. No baking required. The freshness is amazing.
The best thing about these: you can make a LOT of these if you're having company. They go fast, but if you have the ingredients on hand, making them is fast too =)
I think that's enough for today's post. I have plenty more coming up, including a much better post on making the omelet muffins. The second batch is already being eaten today =)
I've been having a pretty great kitchen run lately. Here's the second hit of last week.
I had defrosted a few chicken tenders over the weekend and they kind of sat around in the fridge and I had no ideas of what to do with them. Then I ran into an appealing-looking container of feta cheese, grabbed some spinach, and spinach+feta stuffed chicken breasts were born.
First thing was first. The tenders were pretty small so I butterflied them (i.e. cut a pocket into the middle of each tender) and flattened them out. How? Well I covered them in plastic wrap and beat them to death with a heavy pan. That was satisfying! And loud! Good thing our neighbors have a noisy yappy dog and can't very well complain. This is especially wonderful when I set off the smoke alarm (not infrequently!) because our stove doesn't have a ventilator system.
Then I mixed up the stuffing: 2 servings fat free feta cheese (2 oz), a big handful of spinach and 1 tbsp truffle-flavored oil. I also added a splash of lemon juice and a sprinkle of S+P.
Mixing it all together is really important, keep going until the feta turns green from the spinach. I think adding pine nuts would be a great addition too.
I suspect that a mixture of mozarella and basil will be equally delicious. Especially with some tomato.
I spooned out one giant soup-spoon full of the stuffing into each chicken tender (I had a total of 7 tenders, but again, super small)
If your chicken tenders don't roll so well or you have little faith that they will stay together, you can put a toothpick through horizontally to keep it together while it cooks.
Finally, I threw the tenders into a Pammed non-stick pan and kept them on the same side each for about 3 minutes. I used tongs to flip them so the stuffing didn't fall out. It did fall out a little, but it turned out ok.
Up top are two flipped tenders, on the bottom is a tender that has only cooked on one side.
These three were Boyfriend's dinner. I had just gotten yet another dental procedure so this was going to be too chewy for me that night.
Boyfriend ate these three (minus 2 painful bites for me) with full enjoyment. He also went on to eat all the rest of the 4 tenders and so I actually never wound up tasting one. But based on the situation (and my bites), I will have to assume they were delicious.
My dinner that night was a bowl of yogurt with jam =( =(
I ate heartily before the dental appointment though.
Tonight I have finished my latest rotation where I got to spend more time with patients, though of course they were uniformly pretty sick. Still, the next month will have me heading over to the Bronx, which is actually where I started this blog back in April.
Tonight holds ahead a hang-out with my coworkers where I will hopefully keep my drinking to a minimum. Sadly, the holiday and wedding season have left their impression on my waistline and the scale doesn't lie, so I know I'm not crazy. I really have to take it easy!
Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season!
Both Boyfriend and Boyfriend's Brother (Bro here) have birthdays coinciding with major holidays. Bro's bday had just happened and I figured that the easiest way for the bros to hang was to have him over our place. Bro is actually even more healthy-food conscious than I am and to that end, I went all out. Nothing with butter, oil, sour cream etc. I started with Pinto Bean Dip. The garnish was celery and some acorn squash. The bean dip was gone in a flash and the acorn squash was a little underdone (I need to learn patience) but was mostly gobbled up too! That bean dip is so the best entertaining tool. It's beautiful, vegetarian, adaptable...you name it.
Next up: Throw-Together-Pasta! This is one of my favorite meals to make when I'm serving multiples (or when I want to have leftovers!) I defrosted some uncooked tail-on shrimp we have in our freezer with a few tbsp of herby marinade on top for a few hours. When I got home and the shrimp were nice and room temperature so I threw them on a pan and cooked them until they were just a HAIR underdone and transferred them into a clean bowl. At the same time, the pasta was cooking along in a big pot (Spinach Pasta this time).
Meanwhile, Boyfriend sliced up 1.5 zucchinis, 1 tomato and a few handfuls of basil. I sauteed the zucchini in the shrimp pan, then tossed in the tomatoes and basil. I satueed all THAT for just 1 minute before throwing in about 1/2 of a jar of tomato sauce (this was "spicy roasted red pepper" sauce) along with the almost cooked shrimp. This can pretty much simmer for a while to reduce (20 minutes?). When the pasta is done, drain that and toss it with the tomato/shrimp/zucchini mess and you have a beautiful dish of food. Of course, topped with a little Parmesan. Mmmm. Below is my bowl. The boys got seconds but I stuck with this guy and took exactly one serving of leftovers to work the next day. This dish works sooooo well as leftovers because it tastes great cold.
Just look at those beautiful green spinach noodles! =) This was so incredibly filling and I spent all morning the next day looking forward to lunch (even though there was only one shrimp left).
Pssst.....the secret to the amazing zucchini....Liquid Smoke. I sauteed it with Liquid Smoke + S+P and it was perfect. Liquid smoke, sold in most supermarkets is kind of like soy sauce, but it just makes things taste smoked. Amazing. What will they come up with next?
A quick weekend recap: Drinks with the cousin from California on Friday, dinner at an Italian/Latin fusion place on Saturday (lobster quesedilla, cheese/mushroom croquettes and veal made it a very ethnically mixed meal) and a wedding shower brunch with soooo much delicious Russian food this afternoon. There was no working out today. I'm just gonna hope my one gigantic meal + 2 snacks don't stick around for too long!
Also saw the Descendents this weekend. The new George Clooney Oscar contender. It was poignant, beautiful and heart wrenching but also was kind of voyeuristic because it was more character than plot driven. George was fantastic as usual =)
Excuse me waiter, there is a naked lady in my cocktail... =)
Finally, the squash gratin recipe I've been wanting to post (because it's SO GOOD!)...
This holiday season is a triple whammy for me and my waistline. In addition to Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas (Chinese food!) and New Years, I also did a lot of eating at a bachelorette party, a bridal shower, 2 weddings (one still coming up). Not to mention it's also Boyfriend's birthday. These are all delicious but they do not jibe well with the upcoming romantic ski vacation Boyfriend and I will be taking in 1.5 months! Eek! So.... I will be focusing on some healthy stuff now.
I decided to contribute one super-healthy dish for Thanksgiving this year and this was it. It was a squash gratin, composed of parts of several different recipes. It was definitely well-received and as my mom said "how can you go wrong when all your ingredients are fresh and delicious?"
Kids, this is NOT a low-effort recipe like some of the others I tend to concentrate on. It's especially hard when all you have to work with is a little grill pan. That smokes. And sets off fire alarms. This is especially bad when you do most of your cooking after 10pm and live in a large apartment building full of early-waking medical professionals!
Ingredients (serves 6-8)
2 medium zucchinis
2 medium yellow squashes
2 big tomatoes (or 3 vine-ripened ones)
1/2 sweet yellow onion
3/4 cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 big handfuls of basil (chopped)
1. Slice the tomatoes into thin rings (1/4" or less)
2. Chop half the onion into thin rings (you can use more if you like onions) and sautee in a Pammed non-stick pan until brownish
3. Chop the zucchini and squash into about 1/4" rounds and grill on a grill pan (if you don't have a grill pan, just get them medium-cooked in a pan (or bake). Make sure to season all veggies liberally with S+P. Consider a spray of olive oil.
4. Chop the basil and combine with the cheese in a small bowl
Yellow squash then onions
Make sure when you place down the yellow squash that the pieces overlap a little bit with one another in order to create a reasonably strong base.
Throw down the onions after the yellow squash pieces.
Take a casserole dish (square, round, oval, whatever you have on hand).
Sprinkle on a thinnish layer of the cheese/basil mix to start the layers sticking.
Next put down a layer of zucchini similarly constructed as the yellow squash
Finally, lay the tomato slices over the zucchini. These don't have to overlap as much.
Sprinkle a layer of cheese over the tomatoes.
At this point, each vegetable has been layered but if your casserole dish is small or you happen to have large vegetables you may have some slices leftover. Go ahead and make some more layers, you don't have to worry about order, just make sure you manage to sprinkle some cheese between every 2-3 layers.
For the final layer, alternate rows of all 3 vegetable types for a beautiful multicolored appearance. Sprinkle the top with a nice layer of parmesan cheese (or if you have any more cheese-mix left over, do that)
Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees for an hour prior to service. Make sure you can see some of the liquid bubbling underneath and hopefully the cheese will be just a touch brown on top. This thing is a huge crowd pleaser and has comparatively little cheese and SO MANY VEGETABLES. How can you go wrong? It's kind of like a healthy lasagna.
Sorry I just can't resist, this is just so pretty and tasty, I had to put up another pic. Finally, how do I know that it was good? Because out of this whole thing, I only got to have 1 serving before it was all gobbled up. I was NOT given the leftovers of this to take home with me after thanksgiving. I took it as a complement =)
Already have another delicious new recipe on it's way =)
I think I'm still in a kitchen rut =( Below is a jar of skinny vanilla soy milk with some raw oats, cocoa powder and frozen berries. I mix it around with the spoon until the berries thaw and wind up having a nice cool snack. In the winter. Why?
This is kind of my standby poultry/protein hit. I take a pre-seasoned, uncooked turkey sausage (Hot Italian Turkey Sausage) and remove the casing. Actually I squeeze out the filling which is kind of more satisfying =)
Then I mush it all up in a bowl with 1-2 tbsp of black bean and corn salsa per sausage. This bowl is actually 4 turkey sausages with 4tbsp salsa.
Usually I'm doing this while some frozen veggies are sauteeing up in a non-stick pan.
In the same pan (no oil needed, maybe a spray of Pam) I now brown/sautee/cook the turkey meat.
I used this 4-sausage mixture multiple times actually, but the first night I made lettuce wraps: leaves of romaine with bit's of cheese then put together with the turky and veggies.
Same deal with tuna salad: 1 can tuna, 1-2 tbsp Fage 0% Total Plain Yogurt, some S+P and a forkful or two of spaghetti squash for bulk.
Lettuce seems to be my prefered vector for mushy food.
Sadly, my root canals still being incomplete, it's still solid enough to give me a headache =(
Another breakfast of champions: a small cup of cereal with vanilla soy milk, a Light N' Fit Yogurt and the Fiber One 90 calorie Brownie.
There may have been a snack or three in there too =)
Then, a spaghetti squash fest. A nice big bowl in front of the TV on my lap. My summer dresses are still getting mileage as house dresses!
The turkey sausage made an appearance with a spaghetti squash bed for lunch that day.
Finally, a spaghetti squash and shrimp lunch. The shrimp were lightly marinated in an herby marinade, the spaghetti squash is dressed with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter and chili sauce.
I know I promised a squash gratin but the pictures are trapped on Boyfriend's phone, so it's still to be resolved.
I also promised to discuss the weekend status post Thanksgiving.
On Friday I went to my 10 year high school reunion. I was sooooo excited for this thing for weeks and a lot of my newer friends were kind of surprised. They had no intention of going to their reunions. I had to explain that most people were fiercely loyal to my high school since we were all nerds in our junior highs and found acceptance there and learned neccessary social skills. I was not wrong. The bar was a regular zoo, packed to the brim. Everyone was there, everyone looked great and had great stories to tell of what they had done/where they had been. I was uniformly impressed, but I guess I had certainly not come hoping that people had gotten fat or had bad jobs. I am so proud of my fellow high school alums. The party was supposed to last until 10, but we left the bar after midnight and went to the party house we always used in high school. Can you say nostalgia? I got home at 2am, scarfed a TON of food and went to bed. Can you say....hangover?
That Saturday was the bachelorette party for Nurse Z who is getting married this weekend. There was a lot of fun that I am not planning on describing in a blog dedicated to food, however, our dinner at ilili
restaurant was amazing. Delicious, flavorful food. Expensive food, but well worth it for her celebration. A note on her upcoming wedding: it's a RUSSIAN wedding, so I will have to expect lots of drinking and way too much eating, think crepe stations. My dress is awfully tight, I suspect that I will mostly be taking bites off of Boyfriend's plate in order to temper the alcohol.
Finally, new thoughts on Bikram Yoga. I still think it's boring, I still have no idea why I sweat that much for such easy poses, but I am finally making it through full classes without needing breaks in between. So I've been alternating 6-8 mile runs (holiday-related increase in intensity both of exercise time and calorie quantity) with Bikram Yoga. I've also heard that the guy who invented Bikram (Mr. Bikram, seriously) is suing another NYC studio for using his moves without paying him royalties! I had no idea yogis would go all litigious and zealously guard their ideas.