laurenlikestocook

Archive for the ‘Pizza’ Category

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.

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Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.

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Homework…

It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner
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Porridge

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Lunch

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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Pasta.

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My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle
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Pancake with a hot sauce smile.

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Yogurt parfait.

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  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
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Finished smoothie.

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Sautéing veggies for the soup.

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Soups on!

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Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cold-sesame-noodles-recipe2.html

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine
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Breakfast.

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Leftovers. Again.

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Slaw.

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BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water
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Another take on Breakfast.

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  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed
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More savory oats.

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VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?

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And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.

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Has it Really Been (Almost) a Year!!??

In CSA, Fruit, Holiday, Indian, Jewish, Mexican, Nuts, Party, Pizza, Sweet Potato, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on October 19, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Whenever I meet somebody new, while talking and getting to know each other, we inevitably talk about food.  Sometimes, the conversation will go something like this:

New Person (NP):  I love food, but I hate cooking.  The closest thing to a homemade dish I’ll make is something frozen from TJs.

Me:  It’s not that hard.  I find it easier if I do A, B, and C. (More tips ensue).

NP:  Those are great ideas.  Do you like to cook?

Me:  I do!  I even have a food blog…

NP:  Really, what’s it called?

Me: Lauren Likes to Cook.  Although, it’s been months since I’ve written anything.

NP:  You should write something new!

Okay, so not verbatim, but you get the idea.  The last time this happened, I decided to look back at my homepage and see how long it really has been.  Turns out, it was last October.  Now I know my life has different responsibilities than when I started this journey, but still, I couldn’t believe it.  This blog, the manifestation of my love for food, had been pushed to the back burner.  What, you say, has made its way to the forefront of my to-do lists?  Well, a lot happened this past year.

After 7 years (9 for Nick) of living in Brooklyn, we finally made the move to the ‘burbs.  We staged and sold our condo, moved in with my in-laws, bought a new house, and fixed/furnished the bare necessities of our new space – all while caring for an infant (who is now a bonafide toddler).  Spruced in with some firsts and milestones, here are some highlights (warning – there are a lot of baby pictures):

  • October 2013

    Rocco's First Halloween!  Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

    Rocco’s First Halloween! Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

  • December 2013
    Rocco's first solid food - Avocado

    Rocco’s first solid food – Avocado

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

  • January 2014 – Coldest and longest month ever.

    Running redefined

    Running redefined

  • February 2014

    Best Valentine's Day Gift - a juicer!

    Best Valentine’s Day Gift – a juicer!

  • March 2014
    We moved!

    We moved!

    New workspace.   Boo for Electric cooktop.

    New workspace. Boo for Electric cooktop.

  • April 2014 – The end of my 20s.  Starting my 30s off as a Lush.
    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

New Kitchen Floor.

New Kitchen Floor.

First Family Vacation

First Family Vacation

  • May 2014
    First Mother's Day

    First Mother’s Day

    Starting my First Garden

    Starting my First Garden

    A garden grows in Garden City.

    A garden grows in Garden City.

  • June 2014
    Rocco Turns 1!

    Rocco Turns 1!

    New CSA

    New CSA

  • July /August 2014 – Beach vacations
    Playing on the beach

    Playing on the beach

    Summer Corn

    Summer Corn

    First backyard BBQ

    First backyard BBQ

  • September 2014
    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Anniversary Dinner.

    Anniversary Dinner.

  • October 2014 – Back to Apple and Pumpkin Season!
    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Lots of Apples

    Lots of Apples

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Slow cooker stew with what else - Apples!

    Slow cooker stew with what else – Apples!

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

There you have it!  Pictures worth thousands of words.  Now that life is a little less hectic and routines are rather consistent, I’ll have more time to blog about what’s cooking.  In the meantime, some more photos of last year’s concoctions.  Happy drooling!

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes

Margaritas

Margaritas

Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Sweet potato gnocchi

Sweet potato gnocchi

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Moscow Mules

Moscow Mules

Rocco eating dried Mango

Rocco eating dried Mango

Homemade Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk

Typical Lunch

Typical Lunch

Roasted veggies

Roasted veggies

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Pesto Pizza

Pesto Pizza

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Crustless quiche for Passover

Crustless quiche for Passover

Chocolate covered strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries

Drunk kale quesadillas

Drunk kale quesadillas

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails.  Very healthy.

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails. Very healthy.

More roasted veggies.

More roasted veggies.

Nicoise salad.

Nicoise salad.

Roasted cabbage

Roasted cabbage

Rocco's story time choice - Eat to Live.

Rocco’s story time choice – Eat to Live.

Pizza and Chinese Food

In Chinese, Flexitarian, Italian, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Seitan, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on September 5, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Those were my only two delivery options when I lived in my first apartment after college.  My street was a quiet crescent shape, there were lots of trees and families, and I was only a 5 minute walk to the subway.  I also had no roommates and lived on the top floor.  However, not much else made me happy to live there.  The neighborhood had about a 2 block stretch of the necessary businesses – bank, coffee shop, bodega, grocery store, 99 cent store, cleaners, shoe repair, and the aforementioned eateries.  There was also a 24 hour diner, but they didn’t deliver.  Thus, when I came home from a hard day of work (which was every day), I’d crack open a beer and 2 or 3 times a week I’d order either pizza/pasta or Chinese food.  I wasn’t as experienced with cooking as I am now, so I hadn’t had enough in my repertoire to mix things up in my own kitchen.  Then I met Nick, who had a big beautiful kitchen, perfect for improving my skills (while winning his heart at the same time).

Times have changed, and so have my skills and appetite.  While I still crave the pizza and Chinese of bachelorettehood’s past, I seldom order delivery to avoid the extra fat, calories, and salt that is packed inside the cardboard containers.  Instead, I’ll make my own versions at home: a whole wheat pitza, or a splurge on TJ’s whole wheat pizza dough helps with the carb cravings, and stirfries with brown rice replace MSG.  With the bounty of veggies I purchased during my Eat to Live inspired market trip, both cuisines avail themselves to being infused with said produce.

For Nick, I made a pitza using pesto and fresh tomatoes instead of marinara sauce.

I topped them with all those veggies, and added some cheese.  I made a side salad of cucumber, tomato, and chives.

For myself, I attempted my first cauliflower pizza crust!  It comes out more like an omelet, but it’s pretty tasty.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Serves 2

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 egg whites
1/2 cup shredded fresh mozzarella
sprinkle each of garlic powder, salt, and oregano

After steaming the cauliflower for 5ish minutes, I drained the florets and used a ricer to squeeze out extra fluid.  I couldn’t fully rice it with the gadget, so I pulsed the cauliflower in the food processor.

Then I combined the cauliflower with the other ingredients, spread the mixture on a toaster oven baking sheet, and baked for 15 minutes at 400º.

Before baking…

After baking.

Then it was time to top the crust.  Since there was already cheese in there, I left that out for my version.  I just used pesto, tomatoes, zucchini, mushroom, peppers, and chives.

Before broiling…

With the toaster oven on broil, The toppings just needed 5 minutes.

Here’s a slice….

The ends were really crispy, which was most pizza-crust like.  However, the middle was similar to an omelet, only tastier.  I’d definitely recommend it!

Now let’s move further east.

Vegetables – taste the rainbow.

I don’t think I really need to go over a recipe for this.  All you need is a Wok, some veggies, preferable an onion or scallion, some garlic, and at least some soy sauce.  Other ingredients like toasted sesame oil, mirin, or chili paste are also welcome additions.  Using corn starch with broth helps create a nice thick sauce, as well.

Serve with some protein (like 5 spice seitan or chicken), brown rice, and a nice salad (I used red cabbage as my base and dressed with carrot ginger dressing).

Counter clockwise from top left: Mirin chicken, brown rice, veggie stir fry, salad (cabbage, cucumber, tomato, avocado, ginger dressing)

Lots of veggies, lots of salad, and a smidge seitan in garlic sauce.

My salad was really big (like 1/4 of a huge cabbage), and the greenish dressing is that chive based version I talked about in my last post.  Had I only had some berries on there, I’d be the [G] Bomb[s].

I know what you may be thinking: that’s a lot of veggies.  However, combined with the essences of take out food, it’s a good balance of naughty and nice.  It’s not even THAT naughty.  I should know; I used to be a take-out-a-holic.

Say “Cheese”

In Beans, CSA, Italian, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on July 31, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I really love me some cheese, as do most people in the civilized world.  Whether it’s the mozzarella of Italy, the queso fresco of Mexico, brie of France, or paneer of India, many cultures showcase their love for cheese throughout their cuisine.  As an Italian-via-osmosis, I tend to gravitate more towards mozzarella, ricotta, parmesan, and pecorino for cooked dishes.  However, I enjoy all cheese in any form (except American cheese), and it was the hardest food to give up when I adapted a vegan diet.  Now that I have reintroduced dairy to my daily consumption, cheese is back in rotation!  I even ordered some through my CSA for the first time, and I’m super excited to try it this coming Saturday.  I try to limit the fattier varieties, opting for low fat cheddar or airy goat cheese.  However, a glass of wine or two will tend to loosen my rule’s grip.

Speaking of CSA, I’ll be gone for most of August and September’s distributions, so I swapped one August pickup with somebody’s alternating pickup this past Saturday.  One of the many reasons I was crazily using up all the lingering fruits from the prior week.  My swapee also had a flower/egg share, so I lucked out with some purty flowers this week.

There were tons of veggies:

  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 bulb fennel with frands
  • 1 stalk dill
  • 1 root basil/leaves
  • 2 ears sweet corn
  • 1 onion
  • 1 bunch beets
  • 1 bunch carrots (4 large)

Fruit included:

  • 1 pint blueberries (looks like those are almost over for the season:()
  • 2 lbs donut peaches (about 14)
  • Yellow melon (I think it’s Thai or Japanese – similar taste to honeydew)

I washed and put everything away rather quickly, so I didn’t take too many photos.

Red chard.

Yellow melon on top, beets in large container, chopped fennel in the small container, carrots/zucchini/cucumber in a ziplock.

I was really excited to get theses carrots because they had their greens attached.  I washed the greens, set to dry in a towel, and completely forgot about them as I went about my busy day!  I had a wedding that night, so I spent the day beautifying myself in preparation, followed by more liquid than solid food.  There was some cheese though :).

I think only 2 drinks in at this point.

Speaking of cheese, let’s get back to the subject at hand.  After a night of drinking, I crave cheesy carbs and gatorade.  The latter I consumed after running 6 miles in the morning.  I resisted a cheesy egg sandwich post-run and went with fruit, egg white/spinach/mushroom/onion omelet and whole wheat toast.  I slept off the rest of the hangover, but still had a hankering for some pizza or mac n cheese.  Instead of ordering overly cheesy mac, practically negating my run from earlier, I made a quick healthy(ish) version of baked macaroni and cheese.  It also allowed me to use up all the extra zucchini I liberated from last week’s distribution leftovers.  I would have made more, but then I could have possibly eaten more.

Spicy Baked Zucchini Mac

Serves 2-4

6 oz whole wheat elbow macaroni
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
3 cups chopped zucchini
1/4 cup green onions, sliced thin
5 sundried tomatoes, diced
Onion powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and red chili flake to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan
2 egg whites
Nonstick Spray
3 oz fresh mozzarella
10 basil leaves

I cooked the pasta 1 minute shy of al dente while I chopped zucchini and preheated the oven to 375º.

When the pasta was done, I added the 1/2 cup pasta water to a large bowl, and combined all the other ingredients except mozzarella and basil.  I sprayed a square nonstick baking pan with nonstick EVOO spray and emptied out the mac mixture.

Then I topped the pasta with the mozzarella and basil, covering with tin foil to bake for 20 minutes covered.  Then I raised the temp to 425 to cook uncovered for 10 minutes.

Before.

After.

I behaved and only had 1/4 of the tray.

It really helped satiate my craving for mac n cheese, and all without the regret and lbs I’d gain from ordering out.

Cheese doesn’t have to be the enemy.  It can also be an ally to veggies trying to win the war against diseases and free radicals.  All of the vitamins and minerals in vegetables provide you with the equipment to live a long and healthy life.  Take dark leafy greens for example.  Vitamins A, K, and C are abundant in greens, as well as calcium and iron.  However, not everyone LOVES the taste of greens.  Of all varieties, Nick can most tolerate Swiss chard, just as long as it’s properly prepared (preferably with tons of oil, garlic, and salt).  To avoid using a lot of oil and salt, I decided to use cheese to mask -I mean flavor – the chard from this week’s share.  I also had some leftover whole wheat pizza dough in the freezer, so I experimented and made some chard calzone.  Mmmmmmmm.

Swiss Chard Calzone

Makes 4

1 bunch Swiss chard (I used red)
3-4 cloves garlic
Nonstick EVOO Spray (or 1-2 tsp of regular EVOO)
8 oz whole wheat pizza dough (half lb)
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta
water for sealing
1 egg beaten

I preheated the oven to 425 and got to work.  Luckily I had pre-chopped the chard, so it was rather quick to cook.  I just tossed in some garlic and sauteed with some EVOO spray in a nonstick pan.

At the same time, I divided the dough into 4 equal(ish) parts, and rolled one part into as much of a circle as I could.  BTW, I suck as that.

Then I layered a quarter of the chard with 3 tbsp ricotta.  I forgot to salt both, but you should do that.

After wetting my fingers to surround the edge near the mixture, I folded over the other half of the dough and folded the bottom over the top.  Not sure if that makes sense, but this is how it looks.

I sprayed my pizza stone with some EVOO spray, arranged the calzones as I prepared them, and brushed on some egg wash.

15 minutes and 3 rotations later, they were done.

Normally, calzones are served with a side of marinara sauce.  In an attempt to use up even more zucchini, I made vegetable soup that was mostly zucchini based.  In Italy, vegetable soup usually has zucchini, carrot, onion, potato, and tomato.  Mine had all of that, but used canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh.   I didn’t use broth, just water.  Lots of water.  And lots of salt and pepper.

I also added some chickpeas.

3-4 hours later, the soup is perfect.

Fresh basil for good measure.

Paired with the calzone, it was perfect.

Soup. Calzone. Can you say dunking contest?

Seriously, could you imagine eating that many veggies and it tasting so delicious?  This dream can become a reality for you, too.  Just make sure to have some cheese on hand.

When the CSA Just ISN’T Enough…

In Challenge, CSA, Italian, Pizza, Quick Meal, Salad, Shopping, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 10, 2012 at 2:39 pm

Nick and I have mixed feelings about our CSA membership.  I am more than satisfied with the variety and quality, whereas he is only happy if every item matches his most-liked-veggie list.  Unfortunately, that only happens once or twice a season.  I try my best to reserve unwanted items for my lunches and smoothies, but sometimes it’s extremely frustrating trying to distribute the items throughout the week and make it work for the both of us.  Also, sometimes I get sick of eating leafy greens 3 times a day and only getting to enjoy half a zucchini with dinner.

This past Saturday, the CSA haul was rather large.

  • 1 yellow and 1 green zucchini
  • 1 head lettuce (I chose red romaine)
  • 1/4 lb mesclun greens
  • 2 heads broccoli
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 1 onion with greens
  • 1 bunch beets and greens
  • 1 bulb kohlrabi
  • 1 quart fresh peas in pods
  • 3 pints blueberries (again, very happy!)

Basically, Nick will eat all of that, minus any root’s greens.  He will try kohlrabi, but not his fave.  He also only likes blueberries in muffins or pancakes; that means he doesn’t get any.

Romaine is Nick’s favorite type of lettuce, so I made sure to make a salad as soon as I got home!  Romaine and cucumber from this week, beets and red onion from last week, plus some olives, chickpeas, and balsamic vinegar.

I thought I was doing a solid by choosing romaine over green leafy.  Boy was I wrong.  Red romaine is bitter.  I can tolerate bitter; Nick will not.  He also admitted that he is deathly afraid of beets now because of beeturia.  This caused a huge fight.  The resolution: Nick will shut up and eat what I feed him; I will stop being cheap and spend an extra 50 bucks a month to buy romaine, tomato, cucumber, avocado, and colored peppers if they are not in our share.  The next day, I went to the Carroll Gardens farmer’s market and got some lettuce, green pepper, and eggplant.  I also purchased the previously mentioned must-have items at the grocery store, plus made a TJ’s trip.

Monday rolled around, and I thought about all this excess produce in my fridge.  I’ve been force-feeding myself salads to make sure the lettuce doesn’t go bad, and adding all sorts of beet and broccoli greens to smoothies.  I also had some radish left from last week, and kohlrabi this week, so I needed to figure out a way to use them before expiring.  I’ve seen that a lot of people pickle these sort of vegetables, so I opted to do the same.  I found a recipe from Bon Appétit, and used that as my base.

Pickled Radish and Kohlrabi

Adapted from Bon Appétit

4 radishes, quartered
1 bulb kohlrabi, peeled and cut into strips
10 cloves garlic, sliced
1 tsp fresh cracked black pepper
1.5 cups white wine vinegar
1/2 cup champagne vinegar (because I only had 1.5 cups of the white kind left)
1 tsp course sea salt
1 tsp agave nectar

I didn’t have a quart size jar, but I did have 2 pint sized ones.  I cut everything up, and added it to a resealable container to get everything mixed.

Then I divided it between the two jars.

These won’t be ready for 3 days, but will let you know how they are!  The water is already starting to turn pink…:)

Now that all that is out of the way, on to some more positivity.  Pizza Positivity.

Seriously, who doesn’t love pizza?  Even Celiacs love it!  That’s why they make all those G-free crusts.  It’s really easy to get carried away when you order from the local pizzeria – tons of cheese, added oil, sauteed veggies and meats.  Plus, if you order a thicker slice like Sicilian, you are eating tons of extra dough.  When I really want to treat my hubby well, I make pizza at home.  I’ve made a pseudo version using pita bread, but using real dough is the best.  This time I used TJ’s whole wheat dough, just like the one I used for Thanksgiving Pizza, only a little more traditional.  In Italy, there are pretty standard and simple pizzas with few toppings.  Pizza Vegetariana is like a regular margarita pizza, but with thinly sliced zucchini, eggplant, pepper, and tomato.  Sometimes there is added onion, but not usually.  I never saw one made with whole wheat dough, but there were some places that made pastas with whole grains (Integrale).  Here’s a fusion of the two styles.

Pizza Vegetariana Integrale (Whole Wheat Vegetarian Pizza)

Makes 1 thin traditional sized Italian pizza (serves 2)

8 oz (half lb) whole wheat pizza dough
1/2 cup good marinara sauce
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
2 tbsp grated parmesan
1/2 cup each of zucchini, eggplant, pepper, tomato, and onion; thinly sliced

I preheated the oven to 425º, and kept my pizza stone in there to warm up.  During that time, I sliced up all the veggies.  Since I was already slicing, I chopped double the amount; I used the chunks to saute and added balsamic vinegar to create a side dish for during the week.

Thinly sliced items on the right reserved for pizza.

I started to roll out the dough on my floured counter.  When I tried to transfer it to the pizza stone, it started to pull apart and crisp on the bottom.  This was not what I expected.  I had to let the stone cool down, and then re-roll the dough directly onto the stone.  It finally worked, and then I put on some sauce.

Then I arranged the cheeses and spread out the veggies.

The dough package directions suggested 6-8 minutes; it really took double that, and included a rotation halfway through.

While the pizza baked, I assembled a salad of romaine, tomato, cucumber, pepper, avocado, olives, and lemon juice.

Normally, Indy would be under my feet during preparing.  However, he was sufficiently comfortable on the couch watching at eye-level.

We ate salad while the pizza cooled.  Then I sliced it up into eighths.  It was very thin.

Nick’s first batch – 2 slices (which is really like 1 slice).

I had 1 slice (so half a thin slice) with some of the balsamic veggie ragu.

Very, very tasty.  Roughly 125 calories for that lil slice, so don’t feel bad about going for seconds.

The only item from the CSA was the zucchini, and the rest were a combo of farmer’s market and grocery store.  I know it’s important to use what I have, and to eat locally, etc.  However, having a happy hubby is sometimes more important.

Winning! – A Week in Review

In American, Beans, Breakfast, Chinese, Fruit, Indian, Lentils, Mexican, Oats, Pasta, Pizza, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Shopping, Uncategorized, Vegetables on May 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Last week (Saturday-Friday) was incredibly busy and successful.  I accomplished a lot on the road, in the field, at home, and in the kitchen.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Saturday – Why I Love Brooklyn, Part I

Unfortunately one of the more photogenic race images. At least the Cyclone is in the background.

Starting near the Brooklyn Museum, circling through the familiar Prospect Park, and heading down Ocean Parkway to the Coney Island Boardwalk:  I dazed through my third half marathon.  The first one was so exciting because it was my first, whereas the second was an exciting opportunity to actually achieve a decent time.  This third one felt more like a chore than an achievement.  The first few miles were slow and steady.  I just wasn’t feeling like myself.  And the familiar routes gave me little site-seeing material.  However, the second half perked up!  We got to run down the usually bumper-to-bumper Ocean Parkway, only completely open for the weekend warriors.  The best part was around mile 11, when my hubby came to cheer me on and run with me for a block to push me to speed up for those last 2 awful miles.  I managed to not only finish, but beat my previous time by almost a minute!  Many people rewarded themselves with a Nathan’s hotdog, but I made the trip to Buschenschank for a mustardy bloody mary, some beet salad, and a pizza di verde, which was like a regular pizza topped with bruschetta tomatoes and pesto.  Hey, I deserved it after the extra 1300+ calories burned running through Brooklyn.  And then it was nap time.

Sunday – Why I love Brooklyn, Part II

Both Saturday and Sunday were extra special in my borough, not just for me but for the community at large.  Foodies and music lovers alike flocked to Prospect Park for The [Partially Not so] Great Googa Mooga.  Apparently, Saturday was a mess.  Luckily for me I had Sunday tickets, and I learned from the mistakes of Saturday’s Past.  Slathered in sunscreen, with blanket and water bottle in tow, I made sure to get to the park just after they opened at 11:00 AM.  My strategy was to a) avoid lines, b) find a spot to park and c) make sure I got my fill before my impending football playoffs.  I was pleasantly surprised to show up, enter without a bag check, and see so many food stands sans lines.

Calexico is one of my hubby’s favorites. Can you say Crack sauce?

I grabbed a beer, spread out my blanket and enjoyed some tunes while basking in all the googa glory.

Before heading out, I procured a mango chili popsicle, and watched an air guitar competition on the Hamagaddeon Stage.

Hamageddon, of course, was adjacent to BaconLand.

If only I consumed pork, I would be in heaven.

All in all, I personally had a great experience.  I really hope the festival becomes annual!

It was on to Fort Greene, to compete for the Zog 2-hand-touch coed football championship.  This meant wining the playoff game against Pink Socks, and immediately playing The Parents in the championship game.  Of course, we won, and we’re number one!

Go buttonholes! Not to be confused with button hooks.

We celebrated at a nearby bar called Hot Bird, which is next door to a super good bbq place.  They actually have several vegetarian/vegan dishes.  I got some mac, collard greens, and baked beans.  And beer.

Delicious food covered by even more delicious beer.

Such a great weekend!  Full of fun, food, and fantastic accomplishments.  And then there’s the workweek…

Monday – It’s “Business” Time

Luckily my schedule at work has been more flexible.  I can actually take Mondays off most of the time.  This makes for great chore-doing, grocery shopping scheduling.  Monday is not only laundry day, but it’s also supposed to be my blogging, recipe writing, and creative brainstorming day.  Unfortunately,  I haven’t had a real workspace of my own at home.  I usually work at the dining table, or sitting on the couch, which isn’t great for productivity.  Then this past Monday, between laundry and grocery shopping, I stopped at Ikea to pick out a small desk and chair.  Let me say, going to Ikea at 1:00 PM on a rainy Monday is the best time to go.  Nobody was there, and I could just navigate to the workspace station and try out the desks and chairs.  I picked out a fun black/white desk with a red swivel chair, brought it home, and even put the chair together myself!  The desk is conveniently placed near our “bar”.  How very Mad Men of me.

I love this chair!  It’s so bright and will hopefully pull me to the desk to write some more.

Dinner that night was my baked falafel with Israel salad, which was also lunch for Tueday.

Tuesday – Thursday – Back in the Groove

After a long weekend filled with events, it becomes really hard to feel rejuvenated for the week.  I often find that weekends like those lead to workweeks of takeout.  I was determined to complete the week with homemade breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and coffee for myself and Nick.  My usual breakfast was my oatmeal/fruit combo and egg whites with spinach and salsa, whereas Nick preferred cereal with strawberry yogurt.  I tend to eat yogurt for my snack, whereas nick likes actual “snacks” of pretzels and the sort.  His lunches were egg salad, mine were leftovers from dinner.  Here’s what we ate each night:

Tuesday: Chili relleno, rice, and black beans


Wednesday: Cheddar and Broccoli brown rice macaroni and cheese with a slide of beet slaw

Thursday: Chicken and veggie “fried” brown rice.  I was pretty exhausted and didn’t eat any official “dinner”.  This is also due to gorging on Trader Joe’s triple cream brie with wild mushrooms on crackers.  OMG.  You must try this cheese.

A pretty good variety for the week.  Middle Eastern Monday, Mexican Tuesday, American Wednesday, and Chinese Thursday.  And not an extra penny spent, even on coffee!

Friday – Working for the Weekend

We continued to have some nutritious meals for most of Friday.  I worked so hard all week, in the office, at the gym, and in the kitchen, and I didn’t want to lose my momentum.  Since I hadn’t made myself any dinner the night before, I was left to MacGyver me some lunch.  I did have some leftover plain rice from the night before, so I put together my new favorite quick lunch!  It is kind of Indian inspired, and is quick, easy, delicious, and uber healthy!  It includes:

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup lentils or chickpeas (I used lentils this time)
1.5-2 cups fresh chopped kale
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 plum or two campari tomatoes, diced
Fresh Cilantro or parsley
Sprinkle each of cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and pepper

Combine everything in a microwaveable bowl or tupperware bottom.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes with the lid on top but not sealed (or you can use a paper towel).  Mix to combine, and enjoy!

 You can also add some raita or avocado after cooking for a yummy cooling affect.

Once the day was over, it was definitely time for some 3-day weekend Happy Hour fun!  A stein of beer was exactly what I needed to end this very successful week.  Hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend, I know I surely did!

“Thanksgiving” Pizza

In American, Beans, Fruit, Italian, Pizza, Vegetables on November 23, 2011 at 3:35 pm

When I told Nick I was going to make a Thanksgiving pizza, he was really excited.  I saw this recipe on The Kind Life website (the companion site to The Kind Diet book), and it looked so yummy!  I sent him the link, and he said “it looks good, but it is not very Thanksgiving – there’s no turkey, or mashed potatoes, or stuffing.”  Silly rabbit!  I explained it was from a vegan site, so people who eat that way won’t be eating a traditional turkey dinner anyway.  He was still confused.  Then I explained it could be an appetizer for the meal.  Even more confusing, because shouldn’t a pizza have sauce and/or cheese?  I gave up trying to rationalize and told him not to worry, it would be yummy!

The original recipe included a dough recipe.  Like I’ve mentioned in other posts, I suck at baking and bread-making.  Luckily, I had bought whole wheat pizza dough from TJs a while back.  I love their dough because 1) it uses only whole wheat flour (other brands are a mix of whole and white) and 2) it is only 99 cents.  When it’s just the two of us, I only use half the dough and freeze the rest (because honestly, we don’t need to eat a whole pie of pizza).  I took out some reserved dough from the freezer and while still in the plastic let it defrost in a bowl of water.

Earlier that morning, I had put some white navy beans in a bowl to soak.  I wasn’t sure at that point what I’d be making, but I figured it was a pretty versatile little bean.  It also cooks much quicker because it’s so small!  Luckily this pizza recipe required a white bean puree, so it definitely fit the bill.

When it was time to start dinner, I drained and rinsed the beans, put in a pot with water to cover, added two bay leaves, and you know the rest of the deal.  In case you need a refresher, read this post.

The pizza toppings in the original recipe were butternut squash, caramelized onion, spinach, and apples.  I changed the last two to kale and pears, respectively, because that’s what I had on hand.  I peeled the squash first.

This particular squash was harder than usual to peel because of the uneven shape.  When I picked it out, I was looking for the most dense one available, because its flesh will be the brightest and sweetest.  My instincts did not disappoint.

I only needed about a cup for this recipe, but I knew I’d be using the rest for a Thanksgiving dish.  Since I was chopping anyway I attacked the whole squash and saved the rest for later.

I roasted the 1 cup’s worth with some EVOO.

While that was working, I prepared the onions.  I cut a small onion in half, and then each half into thin crescent slices.

I sauteed the onion with some EVOO on medium-high heat for about 25 minutes.  When it was finished, it looked like this.

While both the onions and squash cooked, I chopped up the kale and sliced the pears.

Afterwards, I made the bean puree.  I decided not to use the food processor and just mash everything up.  I drained the cooked beans of excess water, and then only used a cup’s worth for the puree.  I also used a microplane for the garlic so that there weren’t any big chunks.

I mashed everything up, first with a potato masher, and then just the back of a spoon.

When the squash was done roasting, it was time to pull it out and assemble the pizza!

I took the defrosted dough out of the bag.  It was a lil wet, so I squeezed excess moisture out with a paper towel.  Then, on a greased baking sheet, I started to spread out the dough as thin as possible without leaving any holes.  You really have to work the dough a lot to get it that way, just keep pressing with your fingers for 4 or 5 minutes.

I topped the dough with the bean puree.  It reminded me of a thick bechamel sauce.

Then I arranged the pear slices.  I always try to evenly distribute all toppings!  OCD anyone?

I spread out the squash next.  So bright and cheerful!

Then I scattered the kale.  Chopping it up into fine pieces allows for the greatest surface area coverage.  OMG, loving the purple hues!  I also noticed that all the secondary colors are represented in this pizza!

The finishing touch was the caramelized onion.  I think sandpaper would taste good with caramelized onion.

I baked the pizza at 375 for 20 minutes.  When it was done, it looked like this.

I cut the pie into 4 big slices.  I only ate a half slice though, because I was so hungry while preparing that I ate 10 too many chips with salsa.

When Nick took his first bite, he turned his head away.  I thought maybe he chipped a tooth.  He told me he didn’t want me to analyze his reaction, so he turned away.  I wasn’t sure if I should be mad or happy he was so considerate to not hurt my feelings.  He said he actually really liked it.  His only critique was that he wasn’t a fan of the pears and would prefer it fruitless.  He also added that to hit it out of the park next time I should add some goat cheese.  Maybe next time 🙂

I would definitely make this for a Thanksgiving appetizer if I were hosting.  It’s kind of hard to prepare in advance and throw right in the oven before the meal without getting in the host(ess)’s way.  Maybe next year everyone will crowd into my cramped Brooklyn apartment?

A girl can dream.

What are some Thanksgiving appetizers you’ve made?