Tuesday, May 26, 2009

All Hail the All Star

Tonight there are no recipes...the weeone ate snack food and fruit for dinner. BUT, it was a big night in our house.

Tonight was the Closing Ceremonies for the regular ball season where the weeone plays softball. Her sweet little Crickets were 0-9-1. Not the best record...close to a perfect losing season, but the weeone was a hotshot this year. If there was a play being made, she was in the middle of it. As a result, tonight, along with receiving her team 3rd place trophy she was recognized as one of the players elected to the All-Star team that will represent our club in the city-wide tournament the first weekend in June. WOOHOO!!! She was so excited to acheive this honor. She proudly carried her trophy and plaque around all night...until she was invited to go swimming with Isabella...then she ditched the trophy and the plaque...typical 7 year old. Gotta love it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I was born in Kentucky

You probably didn't know that. It's true. Fort Knox, KY. So it only stands to reason that I would love two things....Bourbon and more specifically Mint Juleps. A couple of years ago my friend Lesil introduced me to a great frozen drink called a Bourbon Slush. I've been in love with them ever since and Lesil has always obliged me by having having them frozen and ready to enjoy when she knows that I'm coming.

I've never made Bourbon Slushes mainly because I'm terrified that I'll screw them up and ruin them in my mind forever. So you can imagine my excitement when I found a recipe on the Cooking Light website that was frozen and included bourbon....I knew I had to try it.

I started by chopping up a good amount of fresh mint. I love that smell....I should use fresh mint more often!

While I was chopping I was making a simple syrup with water and sugar on the stovetop. Once the sugar was good and dissolved, I added the mint to the mix and removed the pot from the heat. I let the syrup cool and become infused with the sweet mint flavor and smell.

Once the mixture was cooled I used a sieve to remove the solids from the syrup and then the concoction was ready for the good stuff. One cup of bourbon...and yes, that bottle of Knob Creek is now empty. A trip to Spec's is in my future! Anway...once the bourbon was added I poured it all into a bowl and put it to sleep in the freezer. There it spent the night getting good and frozen. This morning I pulled the bowl out of the freezer, scraped the contents with a fork and doled a bit out into a high ball glass with a wedge of lime and some mint to see the final result - YUM! And now I have a tasty cold treat that is non-dairy to enjoy while the rest of the crew has ice cream or cobbler. Something tells me that everyone else will be wanting my Mint Julep Granita!

Mint Julep Granita

from Cooking Light

Yield: 8 servings

  • 3 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 8 lime wedges
  • Mint sprigs (optional)


Combine 3 cups water and sugar in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Stir in chopped mint. Remove from heat; cool completely.

Strain sugar mixture through a sieve into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish; discard solids. Stir in bourbon. Cover and freeze 8 hours or until firm. Remove mixture from freezer; let stand 15 minutes. Scrape entire mixture with a fork until fluffy. Place about 1/2 cup granita in each of 8 small bowls or glasses; serve with 1 lime wedge. Garnish with mint sprigs, if desired.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 211 (6% from fat)
Fat: 0.0g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.0g)
Protein: 0.2g
Carbohydrate: 38g
Fiber: 0.3g
Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Iron: 0.5mg
Sodium: 2mg
Calcium: 9mg
Jaime Harder, Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

The Cure...

...for not wanting to cook? It appears to be admitting you have a problem. Hmmm....that sounds a little too 12 step-ish for me.

Anyway, I found myself trapped in the house today as the weeone is running a fever and not feeling well and it's raining outside. So here I've sat watching reruns of "House" and few episodes of "The Real Housewives of New Jersey". I don't recommend messing with those NJ women. They scare me. And that one, Teresa? Definite stage mom. But I digress...

I had some shrimp in the refrigerator that had to be used in some way today or tossed. I initially started a pot of water to boil, adding in some Old Bay to season the little guys. Just as the water was coming to boil I remembered I had a recipe for Seared Chipotle-Shrimp Tacos. It looked quick and easy and I was hungry. So what the heck...I needed to break my non-cooking streak.

I started out by combining some cumin, onion and garlic powder, chipotle powder and chili powder plus salt. Next, the cleaned shrimp went for a swim in the dry spices. Once they were coated....

...into a hot pan they went. Three or four minutes on each side and the shrimp were seared and pretty and smelling like a great carribbean treat.

While the shrimp were sizzling, I combined some shredded lettuce with chopped fresh cilantro and lime juice. And here I deviated from the recipe a bit and added in a bit of mayonnaise. The original recipe allows for the addition of sour cream as a topper and since I'm dairy-free, I thought added a bit of mayo to the cilantro-lime salad topping would help to calm a bit of the heat I was expecting with these spiced up shrimp.

Next came the building of a taco! A couple of corn tortillas warmed up and dressed with the cilantro-lime salad, topped with some diced tomatoes, tomatillo salsa and the hot shrimp and voila! Dinner was ready. Yum. Really yum. And if you're afraid of some heat in your shrimp tacos, you might want to halve the amount of spices you use on this one.

Oh...and 1 more thing....this wasn't the only thing I made today. The other recipe is now in the freezer working its magic....ooooh I can't wait to taste's a great blend of Southern traditions and hot summer treats...

Seared Chipotle-Shrimp Tacos
from Weight Watchers 20 Minute Recipes

2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 pounds peeled and deveined medium shrimp
1 1/2 cups preshredded lettuce
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons lime juice
Cooking Spray
8 (5 inch) corn tortillas
1/2 cup diced tomato
1/2 cup tomatillo salsa
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add shrimp; toss to coat. In a separate bowl, toss together lettuce, cilantro, and lime juice; cover and chill.

2. Heat a cast-iron grill pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray; add shrimp to pan and cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until shrimp are done.

3. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Divide shrimp evenly among tortillas. Top each tortilla with 1/4 lettuce mixture, 1 tablespoon diced tomato, 1 tablespoon tomatillo salsa, and 1 tablespoon sour cream; fold tortillas in half.

Yield: 4 servings of 2 tacos each

Nutritional Information: Cal 278; Fat 6.4g (sat 2.7g); Pro 33.7g; Carb 23.3g; Fib 3.3g; Chol 288mg; Iron 5.4mg; Sod 730mg; Calc 140mg

But I don't wanna!

I have lost my desire to cook lately. The weeone and I have been subsisting on easy to prep food at home or take out food lately. I know, I know...home cooked food is better for us, less fattening, and cheaper. But I just don't wanna. I just don't feel like cooking. I just don't.

Do you ever get like this? It happens every now and then for me. Usually it's when I'm worn out - too tired. I think the fact that we've been running crazy for a couple of months is just catching up with me. Between finishing school, craziness at work, the temps in Houston rising, and softball season the weeone and I are both just wrecked. We're just exhausted.

When you're so tired and can't quite find the inspiration to cook - what do you do?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Do you remember...

...when your kids were little, and I mean really little, like infants up to maybe age 3 or 4 and they would get overly tired? Do you remember what would happen? Do you remember how you'd fix it all? The weeone would get overly tired and so she just couldn't sleep. She was SO tired she couldn't sleep. I know, it never made sense to me either, but it's happened to all of us at some point. When are scientists going to figure that one out, by the way?

Anyway, she would be exhausted and the only surefire way to get her calmed down and asleep was to toss her into her carseat and do a few spins around the block. Worked every time.

Guess what? I'm overly tired. Can you come toss me into your car and do a few spins around the block?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Things that make you go "hmmmm...???"

Yesterday afternoon Staci and I headed over to Texan Nails. It's a relatively new salon in the shopping center that is approximately just behind my house. Convenient, wouldn't you say? We both had deluxe hot stone pedicures. They were awesome. My toenails are green now....from the polish, folks, just the polish! =)

As we were sitting letting our toes dry we noticed this buddha setup that they had. For those not from Houston, most of our nail salons are Vietnamese owned and run, so buddhas in and of themselves in a Vietnamese business is not an unusual sight. However, the pack of cigarettes that were offered up to buddha were a new twist to me! Do you see the yellow pack in the back on the right?????

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Comfort food on a rainy night

I have very distinct memories from my childhood of Campbell's Tomato Soup. In our house it was almost always served with grilled cheese sandwiches and a sleeve of Saltine crackers. I even remember my dad teaching me how to crumble the crackers into the bowl. It took me a while to figure out what my perfect ratio of crackers:soup was. Too many crackers and you have a bunch of mush. Not enough crackers and you miss out on the mouth feel of soggy soup crackers. It's a balance.

When I came across a recipe for Tomato-Tortilla Soup in Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave I knew I had to try it. Tonight was the perfect night. The weeone is at her dad's for the weekend (she's not the biggest soup fan) and it's raining in Houston. The kind of rain that makes the air smell hot and sweet and like summer....I love it. Rain = Soup. You should learn that in kindergarten I think. =) Oh, and I had just about all the ingredients on hand, because rain also = not driving to the store!

Ellie's recipe calls for making your own baked tortilla strips, but I skipped this step since I had an opened bag of baked tortilla chips that needed to be used up. I also didn't have a jalapeno on hand so in place of it I added some tomatillo salsa that I did have to give it the needed heat. I skipped the sour cream on top since I'm dairy-free girl for now as well.

The recipe came together quickly, easily and is absolutely GREAT! I will definitely make this again...even for the weeone. And I might have to make her a grilled cheese to go along with it.

Tomato-Tortilla Soup
from Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave

  • 2 (6-inch) corn tortillas
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans no salt added diced tomatoes. with juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Brush both sides of each tortilla with oil, using 1 tablespoon of the oil. Cut the tortillas in half, then cut each half into 1/4-inch wide strips. Arrange the strips on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the salt, and bake until crisp and golden, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat the remaining 1 teaspoons of oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and oregano and cook for 1 minute more. Add the broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice.

Remove the pan from the heat and puree with an immersion blender or in 2 batches in a regular blender until the soup lightens in color but chunks of tomato remain, about 30 seconds. Serve the soup topped with the tortilla strips, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of cilantro.

Per Serving (2 cups: Yield 4 servings):

Calories 270; Total Fat 10g (Sat Fat 2g, Mono Fat 3.5g, Poly Fat 2g); Protein 9g; Carb 36g; Fiber 4g; Cholesterol 8mg; Sodium 335mg

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I've been a busy little bee... away this week! I've already made tonight's dinner even though we haven't eaten yet. The weeone has a softball game - Go Crickets!- and it's the season finale of The Biggest Loser, so I don't want to have to cook after the game. I had gotten the Rachel Ray Big Orange Book a little before Christmas of last year, but haven't really made much out of it. But one thing that RR is good at is fast meals that even a kid will love.

She didn't fail me tonight either. These Cold Chicken Satay Noodles combine flavors that just about all kids love and do it in about 20 minutes from start to finish. The weeone had a few bites while they were still hot and proclaimed them to be "disgusting and good". I took that to mean that they looked disgusting and tasted good. Mine came out a bit gloppier than RR's look in the photo in the cookbook, but that could have something to do with the fact that I don't have a food stylist lurking in my kitchen trying to figure out how to make the food look "pretty".

So, it's in the fridge now, chilling so that I can have a yummy meal while watching to see who lost the most weight on this season's Biggest Loser. I'm rooting for Tara!

Cold Chicken Satay Noodles
from Rachel Ray's Big Orange Book

  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1/4-1/3 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter, softened (eyeball it)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup warm water (eyeball it)
  • 1/4 cup Tamari (dark soy sauce)
  • 1 clove garlic, grated with microplane or box grater
  • Juice of 2 limes, zest of 1
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce (eyeball it)
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable, peanut or sunflower oil (eyeball it)
  • 2 cups store-bought rotisserie chicken meat, skin removed and thinly sliced
  • A handful of shredded carrots
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced on an angle
  • 1 cup spinach greens, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts, available in small pouches in the baking aisle
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or flat leaf parsley, whichever you prefer

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, salt water liberally, then drop pasta in and cook to al dente. Run cooked pasta under cold water to cool. Drain well and reserve.

While the water is coming to a boil and the pasta is cooking, whisk together softened peanut butter, honey and warm water in a large bowl.

Once they're combined, whisk in the Tamari, garlic, lime juice and zest and hot sauce.

While whisking continuously, pour the oil in a steady stream to complete the dressing. Add noodles, veggies and peanuts to the bowl and toss until everything is mixed well. Place noodles in shallow bowls and top with chicken and cilantro or parsley.

No Nutritional Information Available

I need to move to Asia...

...because they don't eat much dairy. =) I'm finding that eating Asian food of any kind is really easy for me these days. The weeone is a fan of Chinese and Vietnamese food, so when I found an old magazine tear out with a recipe for Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps and it looked like I could make it on the fly I added it to this week's menu. Yes, menu. Yes, I'm cooking again. Now pick your chin up off the floor and pretend that softball season never happened. I'm back in the kitchen. It's a nice place to be.

So, back to the Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps. I'm a fan of the lettuce wraps at PF Chang's although those are chicken and I'm certain they're laced with crack since once you start eating them it's tough to stop. This was a recipe that was simple, quick and good. I think you could make some alterations to it and make it with tofu, chicken, or whatever protein you'd prefer.

For the record, the weeone ate one wrap and then asked for a pb&j. So, your kids may not LOVE these. =)

I don't know who to credit this recipe to since the magazine page I have has no reference, so my apologies to the originator of this recipe. I know this much - it wasn't me!

Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps

1 pound lean ground beef
1/4 cup matchstick-cut carrots (I added more than this)
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
8 iceburg lettuce leaves
1 cup thinly sliced cucumbers
Lime wedges

1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Add beef, carrots, and ginger and saute 6 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble beef. Drain, in necessary, and retun beef mixture to pan. Stir in soy sauce and next 3 ingredients; cook 1 minute.

2. Remove beef mixture from heat; stir in green onions, cilantro and mint. Spook beff filling evenly into center of each lettuce leaf; top evenly with diced cucumbers. Serve with lime wedges.

Yield: 4 servings of 2 wraps each

Nutritional Information: Cal 158, Fat 5.5g, Protein 23.7g, Carb 5g, Fiber 1.3g, Chol 60mg, Iron 2.6mg, Sodium 606mg, Calcium 25mg

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Diet Shmiet

I haven't talked about my weight battles lately so I figure it's time for an update. I'm still working with Sarah, my dietician and we've been slowly putting new habits in place of old ones. For example, the water drinking that I never did before, the tracking of my food and WHY I'm eating when I do eat, etc. There haven't been any major changes that she has made to my diet at this point, but the increase in water has helped significantly.

Starting a few weeks ago I cut dairy products as I talked about in this post. It has been one of the biggest challenges I've ever taken on. It's hard to cut out cheese, but ALL dairy is killing me slowly, I swear. Watch the news headlines...soon we'll see reports of a crazy woman in Houston attacking people in attempt to steal their cheese!!! =)

So, what's all this amounted to? In total I've probably lost 15 pounds since the beginning of the year. Now, that might not seem impressive if you watch The Biggest Loser like I do and LOVE, but for not "dieting" and just slowly changing my eating habits - I'm thrilled with the results. And all of this is with me not adding any real exercise yet. I think when my foot is ready for exercise I'll see the pace pick up a bit more, which is fine. I've been overweight for about 10 years now, so if it takes me a couple more to peel it off, so be it.