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.