Friday, August 29, 2008

Homemade Quesadillies, OLE

I love Mexican. I have said that enough in this blog yet?

Erin and I were grocery shopping and I have been wanting to try these wraps that have 12 grams of fiber and after a bit of brainstorming I thought about making our own Quesadillas. Not only do we both love those, but it allows us both to add whatever we want to our own! It also seems that every time we are done grocery shopping I am so unmotivated to cook...maybe i just have too many options at that point.

When we got home I decided to saute a whole bunch of veggies up with a little garlic, salt, pepper and chili powder to soften them before using them in my quesadilla.
My Filling included:
-green peppers
-purple cabbage (i love the texture this gives everything)
-portabello mushroom cap
-low fat Mexican cheese

Erin opted for just cheese and jalapenos, she would add jalapenos to everything if she could :). We made use of our George Forman Grill and just pressed the wrap in half with our stuffing until they were golden brown (about 3-7 mins). Erin worked the grill as I finished cooking my veggies.

I had made WAY too many veggies for one wrap so erin added the ones she could and I just topped off the quesadilla with the remainder (like a closed, open faced ques.). We also served Fat free sour cream and salsa on the side.

This dish was super simple and super tasty. (we even repeated it two nights later!) Of all the Mexican meals I have tried to create we were both surprised we hadn't attempted these earlier!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shrimp, Sushi, Sweets...

Vacations are a time to relax, rejuvenate and get ravenous! I just got back from a week vacation of visiting my family upstate. I don't think that erin's camera would have held enough memory to take pictures of everything I ate! It was such a relaxing experience and I tried to let myself indulge as much as possible. I will say that I went running every morning, while my mom rode her bike along side, to try and off set some of my unhealthier choices. Not only did it make the desert every night go down easy, but it was such a nice time to catch up with my mom each morning.

I come from a family of eaters, and cookers! My dad and mom are both amazing cooks, and actually enjoying doing it. Growing up we ate dinner as a family at least four to five nights a week. Although my mom did most of the day to day cooking my dad was always famous for certain dishes too! (his pancakes are legendary with our sleepover friends). One of the things I headed home for was to celebrate my dad's 50th birthday. Most people would pick their favorite restaurant to visit to celebrate but not my dad...he wanted to cook his own birthday dinner (I guess you see where i get my love of cooking). He made this amazing shrimp dish with red peppers, garlic, black beans, cilantro, lime juice all served over a wild rice. It was SOOO good!

For desert I took over. My sister jenny (another AMAZING cook) had made my dad an incredible chocolate torte on his actually birthday and I wasn't about to come close to that! Because we had been eating desert every night, and this was his third birthday celebration, I decided to cook up EatingWell's Died-and-Went-to-Heaven Chocolate Cake (that's honestly the name). I had made this cake before and it went over great the first time... turned out good the 2nd time too! This cake is super duper moist and the glaze for the top (really easy to make) is a great compliment. I HIGHLY recommend this if you have a chocolate craving AND are trying to keep it healthy!

Throughout the week we ate out alot and I got to try some really great dishes. We ate at a restaurant called Chez Piggy in Canada and my Dad ordered this potato crusted goat cheese salad...OMG :). I also had an amazing berries, baked brie, cashew and spinach salad at a local brewery that Erin loves to visit when we come up.

We ended the weekend with attempting to make our own sushi. Now erin and I introduced my parents to our love of sushi and they found a "sushi kit" while grocery shopping and wanted to try it with us! The kit shows you how to do a crab stick and cucumber roll and also a salmon avocado roll. But now that we attempted it once I know you could go back and make just about anything you wanted. My dad was in charge of the assembly of each roll and he did a great job. They got progressively tighter as the trial went on. Here we are with all four finished!

I could blog for hours about all the things we cooked at ate but these dishes really stood out to me and just like vacation I thought I wanted to relive them for as long as possible!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Satisfying My Chocolate Craving...with Zucchini Bread

Now don't jump to crazy conclusions, I don't think that zucchini bread is any substitution for chocolate, but when combined together the cocoa is the boss. You can get sweetness of the cocoa and wash it down with the fact that you are eating veggies!

Last summer my friend Dayna brought me a zucchini that was roughly the size of a wine bottle. I kid you not. It was large. Fresh. And from her mother's garden, so I was not about to waste even a shred of it. After making a large batch of veggie lasagna I still had enough left to make three more pans. Now we all know how much I love veggies, but I didn't want lasagna over and over again. Erin and I also lived in the city at the time and didn't have access to a grill so that lovely option was out. mother suggested I try zucchini bread.

I don't do well with breads. I don't mean in the cooking sense, I mean in the eating sense...I can never eat one piece. I don't trust myself around pastries, bread baskets, chips, muffins, munchkins...I think I gave meaning to "you can't eat just one". So I tend to not have those items in my house. Out of sight, out of mind. Of course the obvious alternative would be to find a healthy recipe, that could taste good too. I don't mind the "healthy" taste of deserts, but erin is a bit pickier.

I stumbled upon a website from a women who had also done weight watchers and posted some of her favorite finds. One of them was for a Chocolate Zucchini Bread
1 1/4 Cups Shredded Zucchini, packed
3/4 Cup Splenda Granular
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Applesauce
1 Egg
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 Cup Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder (optional for chocolate zucchini bread)
Pre-heat the oven to 350 and spray your loaf pan! The recipe states to place the shredded zucchini in a cheese cloth to drain out all liquid. I never had a cheese cloth so I just pressed it out, REALLY WELL, with paper towels. The liquid needs to be completely out! Next combine splenda, sugar, egg, applesauce and vanilla. In another bowl combine the rest of the dry ingredients. Then combine the two bowls and finally fold in the zucchini. This bakes for 40-45 mins.

I know that some people are wary of using splenda to bake, but in this case you could not taste the difference. I made this bread again this summer and it was a hit. It's so moist and has alot of flavor. If you are counting points you can have an eighth of the loaf for only 2 points (its a pretty big piece)!
Not only does this work great as a desert but taste amazing toasted with fat free cream cheese.
Much like my summer supply of zucchini, the possibilities are endless.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oatmeal Options

The past few mornings in Boston have been dreary and damp...and i have to say I love it. I love the rainy weather every once and awhile because it gives me an excuse to throw on pj's the minute I get home and veg on the couch (not that I need an excuse). One thing I look forward to rain or shine is my breakfast at work. Few of us enjoy mornings at work, but i use my breakfast as a marker for the morning almost being over! I normally eat between 10-11 (depends on the work load) because I have already had a cup of coffee and some dry cereal before the gym in the morning.

I always, seriously always, have oatmeal at work. This started back when my weight lose quest began. Oatmeal was low in WW points and really left me feeling full until lunch time. It morphed into a love. There are so many ways to have oatmeal that its almost impossible to get bored. Even tooling around the food blogs I see that alot of people share my love and creativity for their oatmeal. You can have instant or old fashion (i prefer the latter), use water or milk (i use water), add just about anything in and enjoy!

In looking around I found that some of the most common add-ins include:

-peanut butter
-maple syrup
-and on and on and on

I started having oatmeal plain, then moved on to adding banana and often times a small spoonful of peanut butter. Depending on the season I switch up the fruit and sometimes add some Fiber One for crunch (i actually did that this morning).

Honestly I never get sick of it.

Bring on the rain, and bring on the oatmeal!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Mozzarella stuffed madness

I had a rejuvenation of blogging yesterday. I have been reading various food blogs and it reminded me of how simple, fun and rewarding it can be to actually cook your own food. Not to mention how tasty. I think that these long days tend to lend themselves to the local Chinese delivery man or the ever affordable five dollar Subway wraps. However I must say that last night, after returning from the gym with erin, I found myself sitting down to a homemade dinner in less than 45 mins. Not too shabby.

Its summer. I have been craving burgers. I don't eat red meat, so that narrows it down to turkey, chicken or veggie. Erin is picky when it comes to the veggie burger varieties and they can also be fussy homemade (though this is not always the case by any means). Also my EatingWell Mag. has been arriving, been read, and been shelved...where is the cook in this household I know it's asking? In the last issue they had featured a whole bunch of burgers and the Mozzarella Stuffed Turkey burgers popped out on first read. It was time to make it.

These seemed fairly simple and had ingredients that I knew Erin would love. I also had most of the fixins at home, which always helps the wallet. I had picked up FF Mozzarella cheese and fresh basil for homemade pizzas the other night and all the other spices were already in the house.

I found a great loaf of foccacia at Trader Joe's and I froze the remainder that erin and I didn't eat. I also halved the recipe and froze the turkey for a future meal! The fresh basil I had ended up being soggy so I threw that away and just used dried basil (i'm sure fresh would have been a tad more tasty). I also omitted the lemon zest because I didn't have a fresh lemon and used canned tomatoes. Erin opted to eat it as an actual burger (with a top piece of foccacia), I just ate my open faced, fork and knife in hand. We topped the burger with a bit of FF parm cheese. YUM.

Now of course we needed a side dish to serve. I went to the old stand by for erin and made her homemade fries, however my accompaniment of butternut fries can take quite awhile to cook. Instead I saw a recipe on Kath Eats Real Food (one of my new obsessive reads) for Kale Chips. Now I love chips and I am always looking for low-cal substitutions. She mentioned that you could eat a whole grocery bag full of these for only about 100 calories. Sign me up!! For these chips you just de-stem the Kale and cut it into "chip size pieces", spray with olive oil and season to taste (I added some garlic salt, Kath added shredded cheese). You then bake them at 375 for about 15 mins. or until they are browning on the edges. These were great! They had a chewy texture and great flavor even erin liked them!! I have a feeling these will be making many repeat appearances in my kitchen.

I'm back, with a vengeance. I also started thinking that many of the staples in my life (food related) are not even mentioned in this blog.

change is oozing out of my pores like the cheese in this burger!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Popcorn Pleasures

I would say at least five times a week I end my night eating popcorn. I love popcorn. I love the taste. I love the texture. I especially love the half popped, didn't quite make it to a full kernel pieces. I learned while doing weight watchers that 94% Fat Free popcorn was extremely low in points for a huge bowl. This was enough to make popcorn one of my staple snacks. Keep in mind that not all popcorn is created equal. Even the boxes that tend to read "natural" are nigher in calories and fat than the 94% FF kind. I tend to think that the only way popcorn can really be "natural" is popped with an air popper (which I also happen to love but just don't own currently).

I always loved popcorn before WW, but seeing how low in points it was just made me appreciate it that much more. When I realized how it got me through munchies that inevitably come when dieting I knew it was a "dish" I planned on keeping. Nowadays I fully enjoy my nightly ritual and it often helps me to put down the fork at dinner knowing that I do get to eat again later (i'm telling you i love to eat!).

There is an art to popping it via microwave for me. I always hit the popcorn button but then after it's finished I hit the button again and wait until I hear almost no kernels popping anymore. I should mention that this often gives the popcorn a slightly burnt taste...but that's just the way I like it.

I also should mention that I have this habit, knowing how guilt free the popcorn is, to add a little "surprise" as erin calls it, in the bottom of my bowl. This can range from a few MM's to a little piece of a cookie calling my name. I think this helps to indulge my desert craving without completely giving in!

Random post I know but after going back through some of my old posts I realized that I don't blog about some of the items I tend to eat on a daily basis. Since my cooking has been slim lately I thought better to blog about something than nothing (right Caroline :)! So this is the beginning of some slightly mundane but ever present items in my eating repertoire.