I talk about food a lot. And other stuff.

But mostly food.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

My continuing love affair with carbs.

Oh, pasta.  I love you.  Now that I know about things like quinoa pasta and pappardelle exist, I really could include you in a meal every day.  

The vegetables in this dish are so fresh and delicious (love the pop of the peas!).  The pine nuts give it just the right texture and nuttiness (I actually managed not to burn my first batch this time).  I served the kids this dish, deconstructed, with no sauce - (love it when dinner is easy like that).  I also used cooked shrimp (on sale at the store) and just popped them in the water at the end long enough to warm them up, but not so long to make them rubbery.  I also used linguini instead of spaghetti and loved the texture of it.

I liked the sauce, but it was a little strong to eat the next day for leftovers lunch.  I think doing this same thing with half the garlic and dill in place of the parsley (and maybe an adjustment of the lemon juice to balance it out) would be a great variation.  I love the technique of yogurt as a sauce and will definitely use it again.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Go ask the Gershwins or Kaufman and Hart.

My husband and I (and zero of our children!!) are going to New York in two days!!

We will be there for three days.  What are we going to do?  Mostly, eat.

For sure we're eating HERE and HERE (where my husband's cousin is a chef) and for brunch, HERE.

Need to figure out some lunch spots and one more dinner spot. 

Where do you like to go to eat in The City?

**Bonus points for identifying the origin of the song quoted in the title.**

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I like soup...

 Yesterday and today have been cold and rainy and I really want some soup.

I never told you guys, but I made EatingWell's Vegetarian Tortilla Soup last month and it was really great.  It was hearty and filling and satisfying.  Here's a picture of it.

I love soup so much.  It's one of those things that I don't often think to make, but when I do, it's super satisfying and I am so happy to have it. I am especially happy when I have made really awesome stock and have it tucked away in the freezer like tupperware containers full of gold in the bank.  I love the process of soup, I love the result of soup.

I think I posted on Facebook and/or Twitter the delights of Wonton soup, but haven't written about it here.  It's seriously one of the best soups I've ever eaten.  Such a great balance - chewy wontons, savory broth, fresh cilantro (you have to like cilantro to do this soup, though I think it would work with maybe chives if  you don't).  You just need to make sure you have Really Awesome Homemade Chicken Stock, and you're golden.  It's from  SIMPLY SOUP, a book I got at Half-Price Books and love a real lot.

Look at my pretty wontons:  So much fun to make, and they have a really satisfying filling.

Hello, gorgeous soup, I want to eat you once a week.

Wonton Soup from SIMPLY SOUP, with my commentary:
Serves 6 - 8

8 cups chicken stock
     (use really good chicken stock you make yourself - my favorite is from the bones of  Bobbie's Chicken it really makes a difference to have good stock.)
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp (white) pepper
2 TBS finely chopped scallion
1 TBS chopped cilantro leaves

Wonton Filling:
6 oz ground pork, not too lean
8 oz raw shrimp, peeled, deveined and chopped
1/2 tsp finely chopped fresh ginger
1 TBS soy sauce
1TBS Chinese rice wine (Also known as Sake)
2 tsp finely chopped scallion
pinch of sugar
pinch of (white) pepper
dash of sesame oil

30 square wonton wrappers
1 egg white, lightly beaten

For the wonton filling, mix together the nine filling ingredients and stir well until the texture is thick and pasty.  Set aside for at least 20 minutes.

To make the wontons. place a teaspoon of the filling at the center of a wrapper.  Brush the edges with a little egg white.  Bring the opposite points toward each other and press the edges together, creating a flowerlike shape. (I twist them a little at the end to make the flower shape.) Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

To make the soup, bring the stock to a boil and add the salt and pepper.  Boil the wontons in the stock for about 5 minutes, or until the wrappers begin to wrinkle around the filling.

To serve, put the scallion in individual bowls, spoon  in the wontons and soup, and sprinkle with cilantro. So pretty!

Here are some other people who like SOUP (1:35 - 3:21).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Planting the roots. Growing the zest.

Yesterday was the 20th anniversary of Jim Henson's death.  I watched clips of Sesame Street, Fraggle Rock and the Muppet Movie with my kids all morning and reflecting on how integral this one man was to my young life.  As an adult I can see the reason he has left his imprint on a generation and then some. He was not only a gifted performer and creative, but also a brilliant collaborator.  He inspired play and creativity and fun all around him.  People loved working with him.  They really wanted to be near him.  He exuded joy in his work, and attracted the best people in the business to him through love and creativity and excitement.  What an amazing feat.  Just check out any of these to see what I mean.  The two part medley is amazing, and I didn't make it three notes into Big Bird singing It's Not Easy Being Green without crying.

I'm feeling really inspired today. I feel like I'm on the brink of something.  I know there's something big out there for me (besides motherhood).  I'm pretty sure it has to do with food, and I think RootsAndZest is a gateway.   I don't know what the big picture is and I'm okay not knowing today, because I haven't felt this hopeful in quite some time, at least not in any real way that felt like it was going to last.  Today I do, and I'm grateful.

So cheers, Mr. Henson.  Thanks for inspiring this feeling of grounded uplifting.

I think it's what I want to be.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Diet? I just met it!

Last year (February - August 2009) I lost 27 pounds.   November 2009 - May 2010, I gained 17 back.  I stopped exercising, AND I stopped watching what I was eating.  Huh. Funny how that happens.  So now I'm back to yoga (though my 30 days of yoga has been interrupted by illness, I'm still committed to do as much as I'm able), and am starting Weight Watchers again.  That's how I did it last year, so I know it works for me.  I always eat well, I have a problem with portion control.  Ok, and snacking.  That's why counting points works for me.  I can plan my portions and snacks and, let's face it, drinks for the day and make my food work better for me.

There is part of me that just shudders at "fat-free" and "light/lite" ingredients, but I have found that there are some that are actually acceptable, and they add up and make a difference.  Prime examples: Light mayo, fat free vanilla yogurt and fat free ReddiWhip. Also, high fiber bread.  And actually measuring things like portions of everything and the butter and oil I cook with.  If I use these ingredients and technique, I can afford to eat bigger bang ingredients in some of my cooking.  Some examples: I will not make a cream soup with skim, I eat real butter, and I will not live without good dark chocolate.  Also, I drink 2% milk and nobody's gonna change that.

So I'm going to plan my meals - every meal, not just dinner.  And plan my snacks. And drink a lot of water (look for my upcoming post about the greatest invention in the world, the SodaStream) and do a lot of yoga.  And walk around some of the 10,000 lakes that are available to me.

Here's my food plan for day one, and a great lunch recipe that kept me going last year and a new one I'm trying from this month's EatingWell.  My goal is 25 points (or less) a day.

Breakfast: 4.5 pts
1 egg, 1 egg white scrambled with 1/2 oz goat cheese served over sautéed greens and scallions.

Snack: 1 pt
1 cup cantaloupe

Lunch: 3 pts
Tuna Chickpea Salad (recipe follows)

Snack: 2 pts
14 baked tortilla scoops and 2 TBS salsa

Dinner: 7 pts
Creamy Garlic Pasta with Shrimp & Vegetables  (Eating Well Recipe)

Wine: 6 pts
(4oz glass x 3, because who drinks a 4 oz glass of wine? It's really 6 oz glass x 2)

Snack: 1 pt
Jolly Time Microwave Kettle Corn, single serving

TOTAL 24.5

I also intend on doing at least 30 minutes of yoga, which gives me 2 activity points, netting me 22.5 for the day. That way I have 2.5 points wiggle room - or a really ambitious start.

I'll let you know how it goes.  Day one is always exciting.  I promise not to make this into a Weight Watchers journal, but may reference points in my recipes for those of you who are playing along at home.

Here's the recipe for my delicious lunch.

Chickpea and Tuna Salad
Makes 4 servings

15.5oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
5oz can of tuna (I use solid white albacore in water), drained
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 c parsley, chopped

1/8 c fat free plain yogurt
1/8 c light mayonnaise
1/2 TBS Dijon mustard
1/2 TBS lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

 Place first six ingredients in a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients.  Combine with the tuna/chickpea mixture.

SO - What are some full fat ingredients that you won't live without?

TOP: from December 2008 - this was posted on Facebook by a friend and inspired me to do something.
BOTTOM: August 20, 2009 - In Nashville for Rifftrax Live.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

You'll never miss the meat. No, really.

As an omnivore, I am always wary when a vegetarian recipe touts, "you'll never miss the meat".  Oh, yes I will.  How could I not?  There's no meat - of course I'll miss it.  Well, I found a recipe that actually fits this claim.  I was full, I was satisfied, I didn't miss the meat.  For reals.

Not only is it a great vegetarian choice, I actually only ate one portion and was satisfied.  Bonus:  it's a great and Super Simple meal for less than 400 calories.

Here's the recipe from Eating Well.

Use Trader Joe's Frozen Brown Rice and Frozen corn]

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Grass below you, Sky above...

Last week I made spinach and goat cheese turnovers for May Day.  They were really delicious - especially the next day topped with a poached egg. (You know how I love a runny egg on ANYTHING!)  This was my first time using phyllo sheets - I really liked it. They're like little homemade spanakopita and, while a little heavy on the prep, once I got into the rhythm of the assembly, they were really easy.  I especially liked the addition of lemon zest and the texture of the whole pine nuts inside.  My 2 1/2 year old son liked brushing the melted butter on the sheets as I folded them up.

Here's the recipe:

May Day Turnovers:


1 TBS Olive oil
1/2 cup diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bunches spinach, chopped
2 oz goat cheese
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
3 TBS parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp lemon zest
4 frozen phyllo pastry sheets, thawed
1/2 c unsalted butter, melted

Makes 12

Preheat oven to 375F.
Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat.  

Add onion and garlic and saute 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, toast pine nuts on med/low in a dry skillet.

Increase heat to high.  Add spinach and saute until wilted, about 5 minutes.

Drain spinach mixture, pressing on slids to release as much liquid as possible.  Transfer to a bowl and cool completely.  Add goat cheese, pine nuts, parmesan, rosemary and lemon zest.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut phyllo sheets into three strips each, lengthwise.

Lay one strip on a cutting board and brush with butter.  Place 1 rounded TBS of the filling at one end of the strip.

Starting at one corner, fold pastry over filling, forming a triangle.

Repeat, folding up the length of the pastry (like a flag), and buttering between each fold, as well as at the end.  Set on an ungreased baking sheet (because, really, there's enough butter, don't you think?).

Repeat with the remaining pastry, butter and filling.

Bake at 375F until golden, about 12 minutes.  Cool slightly and serve.

Serve leftovers, slightly warmed in the oven or toaster oven with poached eggs.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oh my god, it's been a week!

Well, I HAVE been cooking.  And eating.  And  my phone won't upload my pictures, so I'm gonna have to email them to myself and yadda yadda yadda....

In the meantime let me tell you about about my 30 Days of Yoga project.  I'm doing yoga for 30 days.  It is not always asana (the poses), sometimes it is breathing, being present in the moment, practicing universal moralities and personal observances.  I am eight days in and I already feel more centered, more grounded, more rooted.