Friday, May 29, 2009
Fortunately, when I turned around I spied the lovely mango I’d bought on my way home from work (10 for $10 at Safeway! I only bought one, though). For some reason my mind immediately did some food math and I came to the conclusion that somehow these two beautiful orange & yellow-fleshed pieces of produce needed to be put together in a dish. As usual, the rest of the idea fell into place as I started chopping, and I was excited to try my new summer salad. Edamame, a slightly sweet & sour dressing with just a kiss of cool cilantro… yeah, this was going to look & taste like summer.
Again, I’m finding that roasting my root veggies is more practical if I’m using them in salads. They’re slightly sturdier this way, so I’m able to toss them with other ingredients instead of being turned to mush, plus they just have that wonderful flavor that you can only get from roasting. If you can’t find fresh edamame at your store, no worries! I was able to snag a bag of frozen edamame at a discount grocery store, and it’s just as good. All you have to do is thaw & shell. The best part about this recipe is that the roasting is probably the hardest part, and that’s only because it requires some patience. Otherwise, this is ridiculously simple to make and uber-healthy. And really, really inexpensive!
Roasted Sweet Potato, Mango, and Edamame Salad (serves 2-3; total cost per serving: ~ $2.50)
4 small sweet potatoes
1 large mango
½ c shelled edamame
2 T plus 1 T olive oil
Salt & pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T honey
1 T rice vinegar
Small handful of finely chopped cilantro
Preheat the oven at 425°. Rinse & scrub the sweet potatoes well and pat dry. Cut into 1 ½” cubes and place in a bowl. Add the 2 T olive oil and a generous dash of salt & freshly ground pepper and toss until well-coated. Spread the sweet potatoes onto a foil-lined cookie sheet and roast for about 15 minutes or until tender.
While the sweet potatoes are roasting, prepare the dressing by combining the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, honey, rice vinegar, and cilantro, and whisk together well. Set aside. Peel & cut the mango into 1” cubes, and if you’re using frozen, whole edamame, thaw & shell it so you have the individual beans at your disposal.
When the potatoes are done roasting, allow them to cool for a few minutes. Combine the potatoes, mango, and edamame in a large bowl. Drizzle the dressing on top & toss lightly. Serve on a bed of greens or on its own, and enjoy!
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I suppose there will be naysayers regardless of what one does, which is the price of fame no matter how slight it may be. But I don't really have time to waste on all that, because I have a bunch of new readers I need to welcome to PGEW! I truly appreciate having you here. Hopefully you're all enjoying your first visits to the site, and if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line.
Otherwise, for those of you who haven't checked out the article, you can read it here, along with a few of the recipes I've posted in the past. Hope you all like it (I thought it was good), and stay tuned for a new recipe tonight!
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Zabaglione is cooked bain-marie style, which is basically a double-boiler technique. If you've never tried this method of cooking, no worries! It's not hard at all. Don't have a double boiler? Use a metal or glass bowl in a pot of barely simmering water. You will get the same result. Just be sure not to add too much water, since some of it will spill over while you're whisking up the zabaglione (I speak from experience, hahaha). The crepe recipe I used for my Herbed Chicken Crepes with Fresh Rosemary Cream Sauce is the same I used for this meal, so you can see that it's a very good, basic recipe to keep on hand for sweet & savory treats.
3/4 c nonfat milk
1 T butter, melted
1 T sugar
1/2 T butter for cooking
Friday, May 22, 2009
When Nick from the SN&R interviewed me, he asked if there was any particular food I missed buying since my finances took a nosedive. My response? It wasn’t any one food in particular; it was the impulsive buying that I missed the most. Like most Americans, I’ve gotten used to instant gratification in almost every aspect of life: instant access to my bank account online; instant contact with anyone through my cell phone, etc., etc. This is also a society that is accustomed to instantly caving in to one's shopping desires, buying more than what we probably should within our means, thanks to the trusty credit card (which, fortunately, I don't have).
Though I’ve gotten much better about this, it used to be very easy for me to just start tossing things into my grocery cart without even flinching because I wanted it, I had the extra dough and I just could. Brie en brioche, 3-4 bottles of wine, high quality cuts of pre-marinated meats, etc. I’m sure some of you can relate to this, too. There will be times you’ll go to the store and just start putting stuff in your cart without really thinking about it, because it just looked good, or perhaps it was a new product that was recently advertised and you wanted to try it. It happens to us all. With the amount of choices available to consumers and the fact that we as humans are impulsive by nature, buying what we want is almost inevitable.
That’s what got me thinking: how much of what I end up buying on one of these shopping binges is what I need vs. what I want?
How many times do you grab something random at the store because it seemed like a good idea at the time, only to realize a few weeks later that it’s still in your cupboards untouched, or even worse, in your fridge slowly rotting away? Then you mentally kick yourself for having to waste perfectly good food or try to figure out when in the world this item will make its way onto your plate. It’s not that you chose poorly, you simply bought something out of plain old desire instead of necessity. By focusing on what you need when you shop, and by exercising some restraint at the store, you will eventually start to see your bill go down. Or allow yourself the opportunity to buy more of what you may actually utilize.
This isn’t to say that you should only buy the bare necessities and never have anything fun. This type of behavior doesn’t do any good, because all you're left with is the feeling of dissatisfaction, or even worse, deprivation, and that can lead to trying to overcompensate for that deprivation later. You should definitely treat yourself to at least one little splurge.
I liken this to how I went about successfully losing 70 lbs about 5 years ago (and how I'm successfully whittling my way back down to my happy size). Sure, I worked out religiously and ate very healthily, but I made sure to give myself a break every now & then and enjoy something really sinful. I never felt deprived this way, and reminded myself how to enjoy everything in moderation. I do the same thing when I go to the store. I keep to the basic necessities like fruits, veggies, grains, etc., but I also go to the dessert or cheese aisle to see what I can treat myself to. I spend far less than I used to, and I still get to have a sinful treat.
It's okay to buy things you want, but try to keep the impulsive buying to a minimum. When you're shopping and you see your cart is filling up a little too fast (thereby emptying your wallet quickly, too), ask yourself if you really need some of the items that have ended up in there. If you do, by all means, buy what you need! But if there are a few things you know you can live without or that you just don't see yourself using anytime soon, save them for another day. You can save more money, or buy more of what you actually need; either way, you'll be doing yourself a favor. But even if times are tough and you're trying to save a little money, remember to grab at least one or two simple treats along the way and enjoy them. You deserve them!
Monday, May 18, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Though it’s perfectly okay to boil your beets for this, roasting them is just as easy and offers a slightly more distinct flavor that I’m rather fond of. Just be sure to give yourself a little extra time for the roasting process when you’re planning your meal prep time. The rest of the recipe is quick to prepare, even if it looks like there are a lot of steps. If you can’t find rainbow chard, regular chard works just as well. I would have liked to prepare this with some sort of crumbled cheese like goat cheese or feta (or goat’s milk feta, even betta!), but since payday still eludes me and I wanted to add a little something extra at the end, I whipped up a quick Dijon sauce-slash-dressing to drizzle on top of the pasta at the end. Not only does it add even more color to this already lovely dish, but the sharpness of the Dijon mustard also complements the sweetness of the beets & chard beautifully. If you're not a fan of Dijon, I'm sure this would also taste great with an extra drizzle of olive oil and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Lastly, don’t worry if your fettuccine turns a little pink! Trust me, mine did in the worst way at first, so unfortunately I wasn't able to get the freshest shot of the finished dish. But that’s just what happens when beets are tossed in with other things, I guess. It's still a lovely-looking dish, though! If you want to add the beets at the end to avoid this problem for presentation purposes, that’s perfectly fine, too. Otherwise, enjoy this interesting little dish that’s chock full of good-for-you things like folate, fiber, vitamins & C, potassium, and the added bonus of tasting really good. :)
PS - Just had this as a cold leftover for lunch, having tossed some extra dressing on top before leaving home, and oh my gosh! This is even better cold!
Rainbow Chard & Roasted Beet Fettuccine (serves 4-6; total cost per serving: $1.50 - $2.25!)
10 oz. whole wheat fettuccine
3 medium beets
1 large bunch of rainbow or Swiss chard
1 head of fresh garlic
½ medium red onion
4 T olive oil, divided
1 t sea salt, divided
1 t lemon pepper, divided
Freshly ground pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
3 T stone-ground Dijon mustard (regular Dijon works, too)
2 T white wine vinegar
1 T honey
Preheat oven to 425°. Wash the beets thoroughly and remove any greens. Pat dry and individually wrap each beet in foil. Place in the center of the oven rack and roast for about 1 to 1 ½ hours, or until beets are tender.
In the meantime, wash the chard thoroughly and separate the stems from the leaves. Spin dry the leaves in a salad spinner so they’re nice & crisp, and chop into 1” pieces. Chop the stems into ¾” pieces and place in a separate bowl. Next, slice the onions into 1” pieces and set aside, then coarsely chop the garlic (yes, the whole thing!), also setting it aside in a separate bowl. Prepare the Dijon dressing by combining the Dijon mustard, honey, and vinegar in a bowl & whisking together well. Cover & set aside.
When the beets are finished roasting, set aside to cool before peeling. Add several cups of water to a large pot, salt well, and heat until it reaches a rolling boil. Add the fettuccine and cook for about 10-12 minutes, or until pasta is al dente. In the meantime, heat 2 T olive oil in a skillet and add half of the chopped garlic. Cook the garlic over medium heat until it just begins to brown and become fragrant. Add the chard stems, season with half the salt & lemon pepper, and stir fry for about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and cook covered for another 2-3 minutes, or until the stems are slightly tender. In a separate skillet heat the rest of the olive oil and cook the garlic in the same manner, adding the chopped chard leaves when the garlic begins to brown. Stir fry the leaves quickly, just about 1 minute, seasoning with the remaining salt & lemon pepper. Remove from heat immediately.
Peel the beets under cool running water and cut away any remaining tough parts. Chop into 1” cubes. Add the cooked chard stems & leaves and all the garlic to the drained fettuccine and toss together gently (you may want to add a little bit of olive oil to the pasta to prevent it from sticking together). Add the beets and toss together, or as mentioned above, add them to the pasta at the end. Spoon onto a couple of plates, drizzle generously with the Dijon dressing, and enjoy!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
This is the question that has been looming over me like a little rain cloud for the past few days. Truthfully, except for Sunday's score of amazing produce at the farmer's market, there isn't much in my fridge other than a tub of non-fat sour cream, 4 whole wheat & corn tortillas, a bunch of cilantro, and assorted condiments. Fortunately my freezer & cupboards didn't look as scary when I peeked inside, so I felt like I could probably get through this without panicking. A can of corn, some black beans, the better part of a bag of shrimp, and all those fresh tomatoes and onions from Sunday would all go with the other lonely ingredients in the fridge. I had nothing to worry about.
I'm not sure why I'm so into pocket food lately. By pocket food I mean anything of the "wrap" or burrito persuasion. Everything is just so neatly surrounded by a tortilla, pita, or other thin sheet of dough to create a utensil-free, virtually zero clean-up meal, that it's impossible to resist making everything this way, especially when afflicted with a bad case of spring fever like I am. Plus they're filling and portable, they're a great option for lunch as well. This particular burrito recipe is very simple to make and insanely good for you as it's chock full of protein and fiber. And it's bursting with flavor! The ingredients are simple but the flavors are bold, and you definitely get your fair share of veggies with this one. Since I'm not a big fan of having rice in my burrito (I figure I already have a tortilla... why all the extra starch?), you won't see it in this recipe. If you like rice in your burritos but still want to keep it on the healthy side, the Basil-Cilantro Brown Rice from a few postings ago would go great in this, just note that it will make your burrito slightly higher in calories.
As you can see I've served this with my Chunky Pico de Gallo, which was not the original intent. I had planned on making a corn salsa and serving it with the black bean & shrimp burritos, but I think I was a little nervous about the photo shoot and dumped the whole can of beans in with the corn. *sigh* These things happen, though, and the show must go on. I improvised by making a quick batch of the Pico de Gallo to go along with the new plan. Still worked out beautifully, but a corn salsa IS coming!
Anyway, that's about it for this one! The recipe speaks for itself. As usual, I'm advocating for my friend the avocado to be included in this one as a garnish, as I would have done had they not been so pricey at the farmer's market over the weekend (they weren't unreasonably priced, I've just gotten a little spoiled by the great avocado deal offered by Trader Joe's lately). Other standard burrito accompaniments like cheese or sour cream can also be added, of course. And speaking of cheese, can we all have a round of applause for yours truly, who has been cheese-free for 3 weeks now? I'm not quitting it entirely, of course, so cheese-lovers, don't fret! Cheese will be back on the menu soon. I'm just proud that I have found my self-restraint again!
Black Bean, Shrimp & Corn Burritos (serves 3; avg. cost per serving: ~$2)
Definitely check out What's For Dinner for my little guest posting and Mara's great chronicles of good, healthy dinners, her personal weight loss saga, an incredible blogroll of some pretty great food blogs, and fun features like Cute Food Saturday. Have fun!
Monday, May 11, 2009
- Swiss chard
- Tomatoes on the vine
- Green onions
- Thai basil
- The hugest beet I have EVER seen
- Sweet potatoes
- Red onions
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Since then, my love for ceviche has blossomed into including the different versions of it, including sweet & spicy and ceviche made with shrimp instead of fish. Though I'm still a purist and think the fish kind is the best, I'm the biggest fan of my mom's shrimp ceviche, and the version they serve at Midtown Sacramento's very own Tres Hermanas is to die for. Since my mom's too far away and I can't afford to buy Tres Hermanas's ceviche salad as often as I crave it, I realized I'd have to get off my lazy bum and make my own. I do a fantastic job, but this time around I wasn't really craving the usual ceviche; what I really wanted to do was see how it would work with some nice bay scallops (and oddly enough, my mom pointed out that a recent edition of Gourmet magazine had featured a scallop ceviche, only made with a lot of extra bells & whistles).
The principles are the same as with the fish & shrimp varieties: use the acidic nature of citrus to "cook" the scallops the same way it would cook fish or shrimp. Since the scallops I had were rather large, I made sure to chop them into much smaller pieces to allow the key lime juice to do it's whole chemical reaction thing as thoroughly as possible (I've worked in the restaurant biz enough to have all sorts of food safety tips running through my head at all times). If at all possible, use key lime juice when making ceviche. Key limes are more commonly used than regular limes in Latin American cooking, and their distinct flavor makes any dish unique. If you don't have access to key limes that's okay, but by all means use the key lime if you can; you'll thank me for it. Also, even though I liked the recipe featured in Gourmet magazine, I still felt like having a more simple, traditional set of veggies and flavoring for my dish. I stuck to the very basics: onions, cilantro, and tomatoes. I served my ceviche on two huge, crisp leaves of romaine that served as my "salad", and would have definitely added sliced avocado to the meal had I had some on me. I still think the avocado is necessary, so I'm including it in the ingredient list.
Lastly, don't be afraid to try this because it's not cooked over heat! It's perfectly safe as the shellfish is most definitely not raw. As I mentioned before, the chemical reaction of the lime juice with the seafood is similar to what heat does to cook food, so you will not have clear, slimy scallops; they will be firm and have almost the same texture as traditionally cooked scallops (the same goes with fish or shrimp). If you're not a scallop eater, no worries! Just substitute shrimp or a flaky white fish and you'll have an equally delicious ceviche.
Now if only I could be eating mine on the beaches of San Felipe, Baja California, swinging on a hammock as the gentle waves of the Sea of Cortez lap quietly on the shore...... (Poor Girl really needs a vacation, can you tell?)
Bay Scallop Ceviche (serves 2; average cost per serving: ~ $4.50)
12 oz. bay scallops, chopped
1/2 small white onion, diced
1/2 medium tomato, diced
small bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
Juice of 10-12 key limes
1 T white vinegar
1/2 t garlic salt
1/2 t sea salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
Dash of cumin
4 large Romaine lettuce leaves
1 avocado, sliced
Rinse the scallops well & pat dry. Chop them into cubes no larger than 1/2" and place into a bowl. Add the chopped onion, tomato, and cilantro, and mix together gently. Next add the key lime juice, vinegar, and spices, and stir together well. You should have far more "juice" than scallops but if you don't, squeeze a couple more key limes into the mix; you want all of your scallops and veggies to be almost completely submerged in the liquid to ensure that everything will marinate thoroughly. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours, or until the scallops are no longer clear on the inside (I chopped my scallops too large so I had to let mine sit overnight).
Arrange a couple leaves of Romaine lettuce onto a plate and spoon the ceviche on top. Add 1/2 sliced avocado, garnish with extra cilantro, and enjoy!
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
- 2 slices whole grain bread
- 1 small banana
- 1 T creamy almond butter
- 1/2 - 1 T honey
- Lightly toast the bread.
- Cut the banana in half, and then in half again lengthwise.
- Spread the almond butter on one slice of bread, and the honey on the second slice.
- Arrange the banana slices vertically on either slice of bread, top with the other, slice diagonally (helps to keep the banana in there), and enjoy!
Monday, May 4, 2009
~ Folks were so receptive of my very first drink recipe (Sweet & Fruity White Wine Sangria), that I thought it’d be fun to feature another one. It’ll probably be another version of sangria, but it’s oh-so-tasty.
~ The spanakopita I keep promising all of you is going to be put on hold until further notice. I don’t know if the fillo dough gods are conspiring against me, but every time I’m ready to make it, something gets in the way! So rather than keep promising to post about it, I’ll just surprise you with it someday. :)
~ Breakfast for dinner – could there be anything better? Sometimes, I think not! Stay tuned for some hearty breakfast/dinner options this month, like seafood omelettes and more crepe concoctions. Mmmm, breakfast…….
~ Warmer weather brings with it barbeques and backyard potlucks, most of which wouldn’t be complete without some sort of potato salad. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a rather non-traditional version that I may just have to feature sooner rather than later, because it should be a good one. And relatively healthy (you know me & too much mayo don’t mix…)!
~ Is it possible to make a meal from stuff you get at a mini-mart? Of course it is; I just haven’t a clue as to what that meal might be. Someone challenged me to do this, and I’m gonna! Look for the Mostly Mini Mart Meal later this month!
Enjoy your May and don’t forget about Mom! Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 10, so make her something special for brunch or dinner. I’ll post some PGEW Mother’s Day options later this week so you can get some ideas for spoiling mom without her getting mad at you for spending too much money. J
Saturday, May 2, 2009
- San Jose Roll, which was pretty much a California Roll with some spicy sauce on top
- San Diego Roll, with tempura ebi (shrimp), spicy tuna, and avocado
- Tropical Roll, made with tuna, avocado, banana, tempura flakes, and a spicy sauce
- Philadelphia Roll, with salmon, masago, and cream cheese
- New York Roll, made with fresh shrimp, avocado, and cucumber
- California Roll - the standard (but for those who've never had this, it's crab salad & avocado)