Monday, November 28, 2011

Cleanse Day Three

Day Three is completed. I feel amazing. Apparently I had a bunch of junk in my system and the cleanse is getting my body back to home base! I do not feel starved, as I am eating several times per day. Its very interesting to me that the breakfast on the cleanse is about 3x the calories I normally eat for breakfast. I have a bit of a hard time getting it all down as I’m really not a breakfast person, but its fueling me for the rest of my day. Interestingly enough, it’s a bigger lunch than I normally eat as well. The switcheroo for me is dinner. I’m used to big dinners and this definitely does not have a large dinner.

I’m finding myself drinking more water than normal. I think it might have something to do with the foods I’m eating and the fact that I’m eating the same things over and over, so I’m washing it down as they are beginning to get old. (Aiaiaiiiaaaii we’re only at day 3) but I can do anything for a week! Additionally, I’m kind of understanding the work that went into creating the cleanse. I am trying to find nutritional substitutes for some of the foods that I’m getting sick of and there just aren’t any. I figure if Google can’t give me an answer there isn’t one!

So here’s the big news. I weighed myself this morning and I’m down 2.5 pounds! Now, I’m not looking to lose a ton of weight. I think at most I’ll be around 5 pounds for the 3 weeks. The result I’m looking for is toning up my body after I get those few extra pounds off.

We’ll see how that goes, but for now so far so good.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

21 Days! Day Uno!

Dear Readers,

For the next three weeks, I will not be posting any recipes. I apologize for this. The reason is that I am embarking on a journey that has taken me a long time to muster up the courage to do. Last year right about this time, college friend and personal trainer in Louisville, Bryen Pinkard, sent me his 21 day cleanse. Rather, I purchased it as his blood sweat and tears have gone into creating this system! This is a food regime that is meant to be combined with a regular workout schedule. At the time, I don’t think I was really prepared to do it. It requires a great amount of discipline and dedication to yourself and I just wasn’t ready for the diet portion of it. But a year has passed and my body and mind are both ready to try this out. The ridiculous results his clients are getting may have also fueled some of my motivation. You may not know this about me but I’m almost as dedicated to my fitness as I am cooking! Almost!!!

So for the next three weeks I’m going to track my progress with numbers, pictures and how I’m feeling about the whole thing. I’m going to use my blog as a diary, if you will. That way anyone who reads this and is interested in doing the same can know what you’re in for! I cannot divulge what I’m eating, but you can purchase the cleanse for yourself on I will be assisting the diet with my regularly scheduled working out and yoga combination!

If this gets too boring for you, I’m sorry and please do start reading again around Christmas. I’ll be done with the cleanse on December 17, 2011 and back to blogging as normal.

So lets get started. Today is November 26, 2011 and I currently stand at a whopping 5’1” tall and 117 pounds. My body fat percentage is 24.2% and my BMI is 22.1. It is Day 1 of 21 of the cleanse. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 21, 2011

UK Pizza

Alright friends. You may have noticed a lack of Sunday night blog! If you are my Facebook friend, you may know why. It’s because I had tickets to Kentucky’s basketball game on Sunday at Mohegan Sun. This is a 2 hour(ish) ride to the casino and 2(ish) more back. If you did not attend the University of Kentucky, you may wonder why someone would make a 4 hour trip for a 2 hour game. For those of you who do not understand, let me try to explain. “In Kentucky we care more about basketball than you do. In fact, we care more about basketball than you probably care about anything. No program’s fans in America are more committed, passionate, or crazy than those of the Big Blue Nation.”
-Matt Jones  

Suffice to say that when Kentucky’s in town (or near town) I’m headed that way with my big blue wig and an unbridled spirit. My apologies, dedicated readers, but in a contest against UK Basketball, you lose 100 times out of 100; love you as I do!  

That said, I did make a HUGE meal for my friends on Saturday night that I would like to share one of my dishes from. I was hosting friends for a GIGANTIC Italian meal (thank you Capone’s). When planning the meal I originally thought of making garlic bread. But it seemed a bit boring to me and I was in need of an extra appetizer. Boston Organics recently had a squash pizza in their newsletter, so I tried it.

Here’s the breakdown:

1 whole wheat Boboli pizza crust
*You can make your own, but I don’t have the stamina
½ butternut squash, roasted
2 onions, caramelized
fat free milk
goat cheese
parmesan cheese
yellow curry powder

To caramelize your onions, slice them pretty thin. In a skillet sauté them with olive oil and salt over medium-low heat, stirring every 10 minutes or so until they are a brown caramelized color. *Note, this will take a long time! Probably the better part of an hour. Peel and cut up your squash into 1” pieces. Coat lightly in olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees for about 45 minutes or until soft. Mix squash with an electric mixer or blender adding milk until the consistency is smooth. Sprinkle in 1-2 tsp yellow curry powder and mix in. I would suggest if you’re planning to make this do these steps in advance when you have time. To construct the pizza, spread the squash on the crust. Add the caramelized onions evenly. Salt and pepper the pizza. Sprinkle with crumbles of goat cheese, not to cover the pizza, just to evenly disburse. Sprinkle (or shred if you have a block) parmesan on top. Bake at 450 degrees for about 18 minutes. The cheese isn’t really going to melt, but make sure its hot!

Unfortunately I do not have an image for you as we ate it very quickly. But know that this pizza was a huge success and a favorite part of the meal for me! Additionally, you don’t need that much cheese to get the flavor you want, so tone it back and keep it quasi healthy! 

And just incase you’d like to check out what all the hype is about, Kentucky plays again Wednesday night at 7:00pm ET! I think it’ll be ESPN3.

Go Cats!!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Club Pie!!

After I decided not to subject my poor book clubbers to an experimental meatloaf, I found myself trying to figure out what I could cook them. I needed to make something large enough to feed a big group, but I didn’t want to make pasta. I also didn’t want dinner to take forever to make. So what on earth could I make, besides a meatloaf that meets all the criteria? While reading through Real Simple, I found a recipe for mushroom pot pie. I decided that sounded somewhat easy and I could triple(ish) the recipe which made enough to feed four people. I had never made a homemade pot pie in my life. Josh and I always eat the ones from the frozen foods section but not often because they are TERRIBLE for you! But I’m certainly not one to back down from a challenge, so chicken and mushroom pot pie it was!

I’m going to call this recipe my own because I changed the recipe all around to be the taste I want, as I often do with recipes. It’s more about getting an idea and then making it my own. So this recipe called for frozen peas, which absolutely makes my skin crawl. I replaced that ingredient with frozen okra. It didn’t call for chicken, but I as much as I love veggies, I didn’t see veggie pot pie really doing it for me or my girls! I also thought the amount of other veggies would end up being too much so I cut some of them down. At the end I had a hybrid between Real Simple and Marie Calendar’s!

Here’s the breakdown:

2.5 pounds mushrooms
*I used baby bellas and white stuffing
1 rotisserie chicken, chopped into ¼” pieces
*Pick this up at your grocery already cooked, trust me!
8 carrots, cut in ¼” pieces
7 celery stalks, sliced in ¼” pieces
2 onions, roughly chopped
1 lb frozen okra
1.5 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 sheets puff pastry
3 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp olive oil

Chicken & Veggie Mix
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in a dutch oven. Add the mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook covered, stirring occasionally until the veggies are tender. About 20 minutes.  Add the okra and chicken. Cook just for a few minutes until heated. Add flour and cook, stirring until well mixed. You don’t want to see pieces of flour! Add the broth 1 cup at a time, stirring. You may not need all 3 cups, but you want the texture to be like thin gravy (not soup broth). You cannot add more flour if you add too much broth, so go slowly. Bring to a boil. Once everything is hot pour the mixture into 1-9x13” and 1-8x8” baking dish. One puff pastry covers more than the 8x8” pan. Cut off the edges to put on the other dish as 1 pastry won’t cover a 9x13”. Then cover the other using the other puff pastry and the remains of the first one. Bake both for approximately 30 minutes, but make sure the pastry is brown before you take them out. It may take 40 minutes. Let the pot pies rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Finished Product!

It was a rainy cold mess last night, so the weather was perfect for comfort food! Dinner was a big hit. The girls liked it and so did I! It was also perfect for a group and you could even take the leftover of your big bird next week and it would be an equally good way to get rid of all that extra turkey you know you’re going to have!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gobble Gobble Meatloaf

This month I am hosting book club at my house. It is scheduled for November 16 (next week). Since book club was so close to Turkey Day I thought I’d modify typical Thanksgiving day fare for my book club girls. Here’s my thing. One year, longer ago than I care to admit, I made Thanksgiving dinner for Josh and his roommate. I basted and cooked and stuffed this turkey until I was literally passed out on the couch from exhaustion! After all this labor, I realized that turkey is a ridiculous amount of work and it isn’t even my favorite part of the meal! Seems stupid to me to work yourself to death for something you don’t really love anyway. So my mind started working on how to modify turkey for those of us that really couldn’t care less about the stupid bird! That’s when I thought of turkey meatloaf. I make a very typical turkey meatloaf pretty regularly but what if THIS meatloaf was Thanksgiving style???? And what if this “turkey” was still stuffed and had all the fixins but modified to be just a bit healthier!?!? Genius or madness? I’ll let you decide. What I will say is that this blog pre-dates my book club because I didn’t want to subject a whole room of people to something that could turn out disastrously!

This dinner has several parts to it and while most of my blog posts don’t usually take very long to make, this is definitely a Sunday nighter because it takes a bit longer.

1 loaf bread
1 stick butter
3 stalks celery plus all the leafy parts of the stalk, chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
½ of a 0.6 oz container ground sage
1½ Tbsp. pepper
1 Tbsp salt
16 oz. chicken stock, approximately

Toast the slices of bread until they are pretty dry but not crumbly (oven works best for this). Meanwhile, melt your butter with all the celery and onion in a small sauce pan. Stir, cooking over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Tear the bread slices into ½ inch size pieces, but don’t worry about uniformity. Put them in a large bowl. Sprinkle with ½ the salt and pepper and ¼ of the sage. Toss it around and sprinkle the rest of the salt and pepper and another ¼ of the sage. Pour the veggies and butter over the bread, stir around and add the rest of the sage. Add chicken stock incrementally until the consistency of the bread is quite soft. This will likely come out to around 16 oz. Let this sit in a 7x10” pan for several hours to let the flavors marry. Later bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

*This is my mom’s recipe for stuffing, which was probably my grandma’s or my Aunt Sis’ and will always be my favorite!

Cranberry Fig – Real Simple Magazine
12 oz. fresh cranberries
5 oz. dried mission figs, chopped roughly
1/3 cup honey
¼ tsp. Allspice
*RS calls for Cardamom but this stuff is unreal expensive
½ tsp. salt
¼ cup orange juice
*I added this because I thought it was too thick at the end

Put all the kids into the pool (except the orange juice), bring to a boil. Stir then bring the heat to low and stir frequently until is a consistency you like and the cranberries are bursting. Stir in the orange juice and let sit at room temperature until dinner time.

Meagz Turkey Meatloaf
1 package ground turkey
*They’re usually just over a pound
Just more than 1/8 cup fresh herbs (thyme, rosemary, sage) chopped very fine
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 egg
1/3 cup mushroom gravy (fresh from Whole Foods)
½ tsp ground sage
2 stalks of celery with leaves, chopped fine
¼ of medium onion, chopped fine
3/4 cup breadcrumbs

I want to take a moment to rave about this fresh vegan mushroom gravy from Whole Foods. It’s in the refrigerated section. I usually use BBQ sauce in my meatloaf to add moisture, but this wasn’t going to work with this flavor profile. I thought I’d add turkey gravy, but when I saw the nutrition facts for this stuff I decided on it!

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for several hours. When I say mix, I mean use your hands people!! After you’ve cooked your stuffing, take your meat and in rectangle form press it out flat onto a greased cutting board. Add stuffing in a log shape in the middle of the meat. You will not need all the stuffing you made. Then wrap the sides of the meat up around the stuffing to form a typical looking “loaf”. Make sure the ends are sealed up and the seam is squished together. Transfer to a 9x13” baking pan and cook at 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees to finish cooking for 45 more minutes. Let the loaf sit for 5-10 minutes before slicing. Put slices on the plate and drizzle with the cranberry fig sauce.

*A note about why stuffing in the middle: If you’re anything like me, your favorite part of Thanksgiving is the stuffing. It’s also the least healthy thing on this menu. So putting it in the middle of the meat creates portion control and keeps me from eating a whole plate of it!

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

20 oz. fresh green beans
1 container baby bella mushrooms
¾ onion, caramelized
*do this by slicing thin, and sautéing over low heat with a little olive oil and salt
mushroom gravy (same stuff from above)
olive oil

Sauté green beans and mushrooms with a small amount of olive oil (just to keep from sticking) for about 10 minutes over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, warm the rest of the mushroom gravy in a small saucepan until heated through. When beans and mushrooms are at desired doneness (I like mine crunchy) add onions and stir together. Serve on the plate and drizzle a little of the gravy over the bean mixture.

*This is going to create the same flavors of our favorite green bean holiday dish without the unhealthy cream of mushroom soup and french fried onions!!!!

Well friends, this meal was truly delicious and I am awake to write about it! The best part is that you really can get all the flavors you love about Thanksgiving without all the guilt! I think I’ll go watch a Charlie Brown Thanksgiving!


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Lemony Garlicky Shrimpy Pasta-y

Not too long ago, I discovered an amazing store in my neighborhood. I find myself regularly being pleasantly surprised with the new and fabulous businesses in Union Square. I’m pretty sure this store isn’t new, but I had not been in before. The gem I’m talking about is Capone’s. It’s a tiny little space doing huge things! The first really fabulous thing they’re doing is cutting their pasta to order fresh for you. But that’s not all. They are carrying loads of flavors of pastas to choose from. They are also carrying several varieties of sauces to go with them. In fact, they have a giant diagram of your choices. On the vertical side are the flavors of pasta you can get. Horizontally are the sauces to choose from. Then across the bottom are the varieties of cuts you can get your pasta in! In the middle the diagram shows you which pastas go best with which sauces. ITS PASTA FOR DUMMIES! Pasta Guide - CLICK ME!! They also carry ready made dinner, meats, cheeses, deserts, you get the point. I highly recommend you get yourself in there!

But for dinner the other night, I had defrosted the garlic scape pesto from another blog (the recipe that keeps on giving). I knew I wanted to grill some shrimp to go with it. So I went to Capone’s to get pasta. I told the girl I was making pesto and without blinking she told me that I needed to use lemon pasta! Perfect! It would work beautifully with shrimp too! She suggested linguine goes best with seafood. So one pound of lemon linguine and several other goodies later, I went back to the house to cook! And what an impressive Italian dinner did come of it!

Here’s the breakdown:
1 small eggplant
21 jumbo size raw shrimp
¾ cup pre-made garlic scape pesto
1lb. lemon linguine
handful fresh basil

Soak bamboo skewers for 30 minutes before you start cooking. Pre-heat your grill. Cut your eggplant into ½” slices. Shell the shrimp and season with salt & pepper and skewer your shrimps. Get your pasta water boiling. Start grilling your eggplant a few minutes before your shrimp. When you flip your eggplant, put the shrimp skewers on the grill. Flip your shrimp about 2 to 3 minutes after starting. They do not need long and overcooked seafood is the WORST! Dice up your eggplant and drop your pasta into the water. Put shrimp, eggplant and pesto into a sauté pan. ONLY COOK YOUR PASTA FOR 2 MINUTES! Fresh pasta doesn’t need long. After draining your pasta, throw it into the pan with the shrimp, pesto and eggplant. Toss it all together with a smidge of heat under it. Serve with a bit of fresh basil on top. Josh added fresh parmesan cheese on top, but I have a serious policy against dairy and seafood together! I also served it with lemon wedges which I squeezed over the whole dish.

It was so delicious. You could definitely taste the lemony goodness in the pasta. Besides being yummy, it was also very quick! So it makes for a great quick but very impressive dinner. We loved it! Thank you to the good folks down at Capone’s for helping this Irish girl make a lovely Italian meal!


Thursday, November 3, 2011

I'm Definitely LEEKIN that $*** -"Martin Lawrence"

Not too long ago I received 4 beautiful leeks in my organics box. I had heard my friends, Chris and Electra talk about how much they loved leeks at work, but never had an actual reason or desire to buy them myself. Thank you Boston Organics for, once again, forcing me out of my comfort zone. I suspect a lot of people feel the same way I do about leeks. Sure, they’re a terrific idea, but whaaaat to do with them? I know they have a oniony flavor which works great for me because I seriously love onions, but I didn’t want to waste this beautiful vegetable just chopping it up and replacing onions with it in one of my regular recipes. I wanted to showcase it.

That’s when I took a little help from Martha Stewart. I typically don’t like her recipes because they just usually seem too labor intensive for someone who’s not spending their time in an 8x8 box! But this one seemed super easy, so I went for it slightly against my own good sense.

Here’s her recipe for a delicious leek and gala apples (some of my favorite types of apples by the way) side dish.

2 Leeks, halved lengthwise and cut across in 2” pieces
4 Gala apples, cored and cut into 1/4” slices then halved crosswise
½ tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp honey
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp olive oil

Before Honey & Vinegar
Before you cook anything, make sure you separate your leek pieces and soak them in a bowl of water. Swish them around to get the sand out, drain and repeat. Leeks tend to carry a lot of dirt in them because of their layers and they way they grow. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks and fennel seeds to your pan. Stir occasionally about 5 minutes. Add apples and cook, tossing occasionally until they are tender (approximately 3 to 4 minutes). Remove from heat and stir in honey and vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Dearest Martha serves this with a pork tenderloin. But it was fish night in my house so I fixed one of my go to grilled fish recipes that is easy and has big flavor. I make it with yellow curry powder and
 I thought the fennel and curry would go together better for a more cohesive dinner than Martha’s pork! That’s right, I said it! And I was right!!!
Final Product

Here’s my super easy yellow curry fish recipe.

Curry Powder
Fresh Ginger, frozen

Sprinkle the tilapia with curry powder and grate the frozen ginger over it with a hand grater. Let it sit for a couple minutes before turning it over so the frozen ginger melts into the fish. Repeat on the other side. You can then cook your fish in whatever tool is easiest for you at the time. I like to use my indoor Cuisinart grill, but a cast iron skillet works just as well. Grill the fish until cooked through (about 4 minutes per side).

These two dishes were perfect together and I finally tamed the leek beast! So throw your leek fears to the wind and get to it friends!