Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sesame soba, shrimp, and green beans

The boyfriend can't eat much seafood due to an allergy, so when I'm fixing dinner for only myself, I usually cook fish since I get to eat it so infrequently. I'd originally intended to do something with salmon, but saw these big, beautiful Gulf shrimp on sale at the co-op and couldn't say no.

2 oz dry soba noodles
6 large shrimp, peeled & deveined

1 T soy sauce
1/2 t honey
1 t sesame oil
1 t sesame seeds
Juice of 1/2 lime

1 cup green beans
1/2 t sesame oil
1/2 t soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 t sesame seeds

Combine soy sauce, honey, 1 t sesame oil, 1 t sesame seeds, and juice of half a lime. Set aside.

Set 2 pots of salted water to boil.

In a nonstick skillet over medium heat and coated with canola spray, cook shrimp just until pink. Add half the sauce and toss to coat.

While the shrimp cooks, cook noodles in the boiling water according to package instructions (these cook very quickly, about 4 minutes maximum). Drain, return to pan, and toss with the other half of the sauce.

While the shrimp and noodles are cooking, cook the green beans in the second pot of boiling water until crisp-tender (should take about 5 minutes or fewer). Toss with 1/2 t sesame oil, 1/2 t soy sauce, juice of half a lime, and 1 t sesame seeds.

Place the noodles on top of the beans and top with the shrimp.

Serves 1
343 calories per serving

Sunday, October 18, 2009

I am so far behind...

Well, I was without internet access at home for about 3 weeks (save my iPhone), and so, was unable to post.

Add to that a full-time job, impending winter, various other projects, and starting a master's program...suffice it to say I may be in the weeds.

I have, however, been cooking. It's the one thing that helps me unwind at the end of the day. And I've been taking photos, though their increasing ugliness is directly linked to the decreasing daylight.

Hopefully I'll find time this week to catch up, and then can start posting regularly again. From the start, I decided I'd aim for 4 to 5 posts per week; I now see that 3 would be more realistic, but I'll give it my best shot.

Weight update: I'm currently down about 10 pounds, while the boyfriend is down about 20, the jerk. This is much slower progress than I'd hoped to be making, but I try to look at any loss as a victory. There's a lot I could be doing to lose more weight, namely, exercising and not saying, "Who cares, it's the weekend." But I'll get there. Slowly but surely.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Brussels sprouts with bacon

Take Your 100 Calorie Snack Packs and Shove It, Nabisco

15 Brussels sprouts or so
2 strips good, thick cut bacon
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt & pepper to taste

Slice the sprouts very thinly using the slicing disc of a food processor or with a sharp knife.

Cook the bacon in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. When done, remove bacon and pour off almost all the fat; chop bacon. Put the pan back on the heat, add the sprouts and garlic to the pan, salt & pepper, gently toss, and cover. Cook, removing lid to stir gently every minute or so, about 5 minutes.

Remove lid, add bacon, stir. Taste sprouts for doneness (they should be crisp-tender) and seasoning. Squeeze a bit of lemon over and serve.

2 generous servings
90 calories per serving

Monday, September 7, 2009

Simplest Roasted Chicken

Simplest Roasted Chicken

1 4-pound chicken

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Remove any giblets from the chicken cavity. Rinse chicken inside and out with cold water; dry thoroughly with towels.

Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck the wingtips under. Generously salt & pepper the cavity and outside of the chicken.

Roast for 1 hour.

Remove from oven and let rest 10 to 15 minutes before carving.

Serves 4 to 6
Calories per serving depends on which part of the chicken you eat, and how much. Without skin, 1 of the breasts has about 142 calories; one of the thighs, about 109; one of the legs, about 90.

There are 1 million roasted chicken recipes. This is as simple and tasty a chicken as you’ll find. There’s absolutely no reason to futz around with butter under the skin, herbs in the cavity, starting the chicken at one temperature and turning it down later, turning the bird halfway through, etc. If you want to, by all means, do so…but this standby is a wonderful, hearty, simple supper for any busy evening.

For different sized chickens, cook at 400° F for 15 minutes per pound.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Kale with Salmon

2 c shredded lacinato (dinosaur) kale
1 t olive oil
Red pepper flakes to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
3 oz smoked salmon, flaked
Lemon wedges

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add kale and a tablespoon or 2 of water. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, but not completely cooked (3 to 5 minutes). Remove cover; add salt, pepper, and pepper flakes. Cook just until water is evaporated, another minute or so.

Transfer to plate, arrange salmon on top, and serve with lemon wedges.

1 serving
160 calories per serving

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chicken Cabbage Salad

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
4 c shredded cabbage
Half a jar of spicy pickled vegetables
1 cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped

4 T fish sauce
Juice of 1 to 2 limes
4 T red wine or white vinegar
2 seeded jalapeños, chopped
1 T sesame oil
1 t soy sauce

Combine everything but the dressing ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients well; pour over vegetables and toss well.

Serves 4
175 calories per serving

Sesame seeds, ginger, and garlic would all be nice additions.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Chicken Salad with Rice and Fruit

Chicken Salad with Rice and Fruit

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
2/3 c cooked brown rice, cooled
2 c fruit, cut up
¼ c fresh chopped herbs (basil, parsley, tarragon, or a combination)
Juice of 1 lemon, well-reamed
1 T balsamic vinegar
Black pepper (plenty)
Salt (just a pinch)

3 c arugula or watercress

I should really come up with snazzier recipe names.

Combine all ingredients (except greens) in a medium bowl, gently.

Divide greens between 2 plates and top each with half the chicken and rice mixture.

2 servings
200 calories per serving

I used raspberries, a nectarine, and a plum this time. Other berries, apricots, apples, pears, etc. would all work well.

A little thinly sliced red onion or scallions would be good in this.

If you think it needs more zing, try some red pepper flakes. Crumbled blue, feta, or goat cheese, parmesan shavings, or toasted chopped nuts would all be great in this salad, but will add a significant amount of calories. At 200 to start, though, you can certainly afford to add a few.

Thursday, September 3 weigh-in

165. Down 5 lbs from the start, but according to my daily caloric intake I should be losing 2 per week (so I should be at 164). Need to start exercising daily.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Kale Salad

2 cups fresh shredded lacinato (dinosaur) kale
1 T olive oil
Splash of balsamic vinegar
1 T red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Pine nuts
Parmesan shavings

Combine all ingredients (except pine nuts, parmesan, and lemon) in a bowl, gently. Divide between 2 plates. Sprinkle with a few pine nuts and parmesan shavings. Give each a little squeeze of lemon juice.

2 servings
85 calories per serving

Spicy pickled vegetables

5 or so radishes, julienned
1 very large or 2 medium carrots, julienned
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced, or one medium bunch scallions
3 whole small Thai peppers
10 peppercorns
1 T sugar
1 T kosher salt

Place all ingredients in a quart jar with tight fitting lid. Fill with white vinegar just to cover. Store in refrigerator at least 2 hours, up to 2 weeks (might last longer, but you'll eat it faster than that anyway).

Great in salads and on sandwiches. Use the pickling liquid to flavor sauces, too.

6 to 8 servings
About 20 calories per serving

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chèvre & jalapeño stuffed hamburgers

12 oz chuck steak, trimmed of fat, cut into 1-inch cubes (or 12 ounces ground chuck 85% lean beef)
1 t kosher salt
A few grinds black pepper

2 T Chavrie
Pickled jalapeños

2 hamburger buns (I found Sara Lee brand "80 Calories & Delightful" whole wheat hamburger buns. Normally I don't buy gimmicky crap like that, but decided to try them and they are just fine.)

Pulse the cubes of meat in a food processor 10-15 times, with the salt & pepper, until it is ground beef.

Divide into 4 equal amounts; make each into a thin patty.

On 2 of the patties, spoon 1 T of Chavrie and spread to 1 inch from the edge. Place pickled jalapeños on top of the cheese. Top each with the remaining patties; seal the edges well.

Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes (you may want to use a little canola spray or swipe the inside with a bit of high-heat oil).

Cook the burgers 3 to 4 minutes per side. Serve on toasted buns.

Serves 2
400 calories per serving

Stuffed Peppers

4 large bell peppers, tops removed, seeded

2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped (more if you want it spicier)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 c cooked brown rice
2 chicken breasts, roasted and shredded
Half c each fresh cilantro and parsley, chopped
Quarter c grated parmesan
Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a pot of boiling water, submerge the peppers until bright green about 2 minutes. They should be starting to soften, but still hold their shape. Remove to shallow baking dish.

In a nonstick skillet lightly coated with canola spray, over medium-low heat, cook the tomatoes, jalapeños, and garlic until soft and sauce-like.

Combine tomato mixture and the rest of the ingredients. Spoon a quarter of the mixture into each pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes.

4 servings*
240 calories per serving

*Full disclosure: We are now both so accustomed to eating lighter meals that neither of us could finish an entire stuffed pepper (served with cucumber radish salad on the side). We each ate half of one before giving up.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cucumber radish salad

1 medium cucumber, thinly sliced
About 8 radishes, thinly sliced
1/4 c fresh dill, chopped
1/4 c red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
Crushed red pepper to taste (optional)

Combine all ingredients well. Let marinate in the fridge for at least an hour before eating. Thinly sliced red onion or minced garlic would also be nice in this very refreshing salad.

Serves 2 (big servings)
30 calories

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Club sandwich

1 pita, halved and lightly toasted in a skillet
4 slices bacon, cooked and cut in half
2 slices roasted turkey breast
1 medium or half large tomato, sliced
Lettuce leaves
Good quality mustard

You know how to make a sandwich, right? Assemble 1 sandwich inside each of the 2 pita halves.

2 servings
225 calories per serving

*I can't stand mayonnaise. But if you love it, go ahead and use it. 1 T regular mayo will add 100 calories; light mayo, 50; and fat free mayo, 11 (according to the Lose It! application for iPhone).

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rice noodle salad

This is a really delicious, simple, filling salad that is surprisingly low in calories. It’s rather like a deconstructed fresh spring roll.

8 oz rice vermicelli, cooked according to package directions and cooled
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, skin on, cut into matchsticks
3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded*
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
1 small bunch basil, chopped
1 small bunch mint, chopped

¾ c white vinegar
Juice & pulp of 2 limes, well reamed
2 T fish sauce
1 T dark sesame oil
1 T tamari soy sauce
1 T sugar or honey
1 T hot sauce of your choice
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely minced
1 inch of fresh ginger, grated

Divide rice noodles among 6 bowls. Arrange carrots, cucumber, and chicken on top of each; sprinkle with herbs.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid or a bowl, mix all dressing ingredients until sugar is dissolved (should be equal to about 2 c; if you’re short, add more vinegar). Just prior to serving, pour 1/3 c of dressing over each serving.

6 servings
270 calories per serving

There are just 2 of us, so when I make this, I make 2 bowls of it for dinner, and make the other 4 servings directly into food storage containers for us to take to work for lunch the following 2 days. If you do this, keep the dressing separate; don’t pour it over the salad until you are ready to eat it. You could bulk up this salad even more with very few calories by adding shredded lettuce, Napa cabbage, or bean sprouts; or make it even lower calorie by substituting some of the rice noodles with them.

*I recommend buying split chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on. They are far cheaper than boneless skinless breasts and less prone to dry out. Arrange in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle liberally with salt & pepper. Bake in a 400°F oven for 30 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove & discard the skin and bones, and shred the breast with your fingers.

Pad Thai

This recipe is dead easy, fast, and way better than take-out. I adapted it from a recipe from my friend Jesse, who in turn adapted it from Real Thai Cooking (I think). To keep it lower in calories, I reduced the amount of sugar and peanuts, as well as eliminating the oil and cooking it in a large non-stick skillet rather than a wok. Honestly, I can’t tell the difference. If you use a wok, or a skillet that is not quality non-stick, I would definitely use a tablespoon or two of oil, NOT canola spray.

8 oz flat rice noodles (fettucine-style)
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized chunks; or 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks (optional)

6 scallions, chopped
Dried Thai chiles
1 12 oz package bean sprouts
½ cup chopped peanuts
Cilantro, chopped

3 T sugar
6 T white vinegar
4 T fish sauce
2 T ketchup (yes, really)
½ T chili powder
1/8 t cayenne pepper

Soak rice noodles in very hot tap water for 20-30 minutes, until just barely al dente. Drain.

In a bowl or a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine sauce ingredients until sugar is dissolved.

Lightly coat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with canola spray. Add garlic and cook, stirring, about 10 seconds (careful not to burn it). If using, add chicken and cook 2 to 5 minutes, until chicken is no longer visibly pink.

Add sauce; continue to cook for about 5 minutes. Add noodles and cook, stirring, until they have absorbed most of the liquid (5 to 7 minutes).

Add scallions and enough chiles for desired amount of heat; cook another minute or two. Remove from heat and stir in 2/3 of the bean sprouts.

Sprinkle the rest of the sprouts, the peanuts, and the cilantro on top. Serve with plenty of lime or lemon wedges.

4 servings
450 calories per serving

Instead of chicken, you could also use dry-fried tofu or cooked shrimp. If using either of these, add them in at the end of the noodle step, before adding the scallions, just so they heat through. Chopped scrambled egg would be good, too.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday, August 20

167 lbs.

Down 3. Not bad.

It appears that my neighbors, from whom I have been stealing free wireless, have neglected to pay their bill. I therefore don't have internet access at home right now, making it tough to get posts up. I have a few written and will post them as soon as I get my laptop within range of a decent wi-fi network.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Brussels sprouts & apple salad

1 lb tiny Brussels sprouts
1 medium-to-large apple (Fuji, Pink Lady, etc.)

2 T good mustard (Dijon, stoneground, etc)
1 T olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon, well reamed

Salt & pepper to taste (lots)

Make this recipe only if you can get first-of-the-season, small, teeny-tiny, tender Brussels sprouts. Older ones will be too tough. You could also make this with very finely shredded green, red, or Napa cabbage.

In a jar with a tight-fitting lid or a bowl, combine all ingredients except the sprouts and apple. Shake or mix until well combined.

Trim stem ends of sprouts and slice very thinly; place in large bowl. Quarter apple lengthwise and cut out the core; slice each quarter very thinly, crosswise, and transfer to the bowl. If you have a food processor with a thin slicing blade, you can use it to speed the process.

Mix or shake the dressing thoroughly again. Pour over shredded sprouts and apple and gently toss until evenly coated. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed.

Put the bowl in the fridge and let it sit for an hour or two to let the salt and acid tenderize the sprouts a bit.

4 servings
85 calories per serving

This salad would also be great with shaved fennel in place of the sprouts, or with a firm pear instead of the apple. To make a light meal out of it, add some shaved parmesan or aged gouda and some toasted nuts (pecans, almonds, hazelnuts, or pinenuts). Cheese and/or nuts will add significantly to the calorie count. Finely sliced scallions or sweet onions would not be amiss here, either.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Beets with dill

This is very easy, and if you like beets, very, very good.

5 medium beets, peeled and sliced ¼ inch thick
2 t canola or olive oil (optional)
1 T red wine vinegar
2 or 3 T chopped fresh dill
Salt & pepper to taste

Arrange the beets in a single layer on an aluminum foil-lined cookie sheet. Cover with foil and roast the beets at 375°F until cooked through, about 20 minutes. If it is too damn hot to use the oven, like it is in August, steam them in a steamer on the stove top for about 10 minutes.

Place cooked beets in a bowl with dill, oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Gently toss. Serve cold or at room temperature.

4 servings
60 calories per serving

*Also good sprinkled with feta cheese. 50 calorie increase per 1/8 cup of cheese.

Thursday weigh-in, August 13

170 lbs.

Breakfast pita

1 whole wheat pita, halved; room temperature or warmed in skillet until pliable
Egg whites equivalent to 4 whole eggs (6 egg whites or 3/4 cup egg whites from a carton)
Mixed chopped vegetables, about 1 cup total (This morning I used spinach and tomatoes; mushrooms, zucchini, arugula, onions, peppers, peas, garlic, scallions, etc. would work well also).
Chopped herbs (optional, but nice; I used parsley this morning)

Sauté vegetables in a non-stick skillet over medium heat with a little canola spray (I use Spectrum organic). When they are done to your liking and not too watery, add the egg whites, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring, until egg whites are cooked.

Tuck half the cooked eggs and vegetables into each pita half. Add some hot sauce if you want.

2 servings
130 calories per serving

*You can use whole eggs, or a combination of whole eggs and egg whites. About 60 calories will be added per egg yolk. You could also use some meat in place of or in addition to vegetables; the calorie count will increase accordingly. Or, add a slice of turkey breast to each pita for a more substantial meal. Doing so will only add about 25 calories per serving.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Asianesque chicken & rice salad

2 c chopped leftover roasted chicken
3 c leftover rice
2 large carrots, peeled & chopped
1.5 c snow peas, ends trimmed
Chopped herbs (I used cilantro & basil, about 1 or 1.5 cups total), as much as you like

1 T honey
1 T tamari soy sauce
1 T fish sauce
1 T rice vinegar or red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime, reamed well
1 seeded, chopped jalapeño
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Mix first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl or jar with a tight-fitting lid; stir or shake well until honey is dissolved and ingredients well combined. Pour over rice & chicken mixture.

Stir gently until combined. Serve cold or room temperature. Good for lunch to take to work/school.

5 servings
260 calories per serving