Monday, September 26, 2011

Roast Chicken and Vegetables

This is, perhaps, my favorite meal ever.  Ina Garten is pretty awesome, and this recipe never steers me wrong.  Since I am doing the "Primal 30 day challenge" (albeit badly at times...I cannot seem to give up the bread or beans 100% -  maybe 90%), I thought it would be a good choice.  One of the carbohydrate heavy vegetables that are recommended in moderation in the Primal plan are sweet potatoes and winter squash.

Well, it's sweet potato season, so I thought I'd give that a try.  I don't think I've ever seen them at our local farmer's market.  Potatoes must not grow well here.  But after scouring the big market on Saturday, I found one guy in the last aisle with sweet potatoes.

So I followed Ina's recipe here, and for the vegetables, I used a bed of sweet potatoes, onions, and carrots.  I was disappointed that the particular chicken vendor I chose at the market has stopped giving the giblets with the chicken.  The livers are my favorite part.  Next time I'll try the other person (we get our turkey there for Thanksgiving).

I roasted two chickens, which is just as easy as one.  My neighbor has a lemon tree and wasn't home (and lest you think I am a thief, has told us many-a-time to help ourselves).  I kept one chicken for dinner and leftovers and sent one over to the neighbors' (a different neighbor).  We both have kids, and we both have two working parents, and we both know what a chore cooking every night can be.  I got soup in return. :)
The best part about this recipe is that the chicken fat and butter run down the chicken while it roasts and coats the vegetables.  They get all carmel-y and fatty and delicious.  Best is that there are leftovers for tomorrow's lunch, and maybe another lunch after that.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Roast Vegetable Soup and an Omelet

Sorry for the fuzzy photo on the soup - whoops!  I made this soup again this week...still tasty!  Although I went a little overboard on the celery.  So this recipe has the CORRECT amount of celery.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

A couple of meal pictures

Last Saturday's breakfast: apple with almond butter, cheese, summer sausage.

Last night's dinner, mostly Primal, pork, cheese, sauteed onions and peppers, sour cream (all in lettuce wraps) turnips and turnip greens with bacon, avocado, and some cooked beans.  The beans aren't "primal/paleo".
Tonight's dinner: kale chips and salmon.  I also made a veggie dip with roasted veggies and ate it with carrot sticks.  I also had a few tortilla chips and potato chips.  I have PMS.  I am trying this primal/lower carb thing.  But sometimes you just shouldn't fight PMS.  It was so bad today, that a coworker had to take me out for a walk and another one (both women) had a chocolate bar for me when I got back.
On a plus note, I've lost between 11 and 12 lbs, only 3 or 4 to go until my goal.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Menu Plan Tuesday

As I was eating my lunch today, my coworker (who visits my blog) asked if I was going to blog about it.  I said "no", mostly because I've been busy and didn't remember to take pictures.  Oops.  But the food was pretty good, so I decided to do a "menu plan" list, so you can get an idea of what I've been eating and feeding my family.  This heavily features food from my CSA and farmer's market.  My family and I eat the same stuff, but I've been cutting the carbs, so I just leave the grains out.

Sunday (had friends over): Baked chicken pieces (farmer's market), pasta with marinara and roasted vegetable puree (cherry tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onion), and salad with avocado, carrots, radishes, walnuts, and dried cranberries.
Monday: ground beef (local) stir-fry with broccoli, onion, and red bell pepper.  The veggies were fresh from the farmer's market or CSA.  Family had this with brown rice.  The sauce was rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and fresh orange juice.
Tuesday: baked chicken (Trader Joe's), and steamed cauliflower with  homemade cheese sauce.  I used some of the sharp colby/jack cheese from the farmer's market in this.
Wednesday: Bean burritos with pork, radishes (CSA) and a side of turnips and turnip greens (CSA) sauteed with bacon.  The dry beans are cooking right now.  I will leave off the tortilla and just eat the filling.
Thursday: roasted veg dip (CSA - cherry tomatoes, onion, garlic, peppers) with carrot sticks to dip in it (and tortilla chips for the family), and salmon, and kale chips.
Friday: leftover burritos and roasted vegetable soup (tomatoes, onion, garlic, carrots, and peppers).  I made this soup last weekend - kinda winged it- (see, I've been slacking, no recipe and no pic!) and it was AWESOME.  To pull this off I will have to roast the vegetables on Thursday night.
Saturday: Not gonna be at friend is getting MARRIED!!  At my CSA farm!!  :)  We're taking cookies for their dessert table.  And a gift.  Probably something related to composting.

Friday, September 16, 2011


Yummy.  I'm not going to bother posting this recipe - it's from Betty Crocker.  An oldie but a goodie.  I used local, grassfed, free-range beef that was on sale at Whole Foods awhile back.  Part of my attempt to get more fat in my diet.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Rosemary Olive No Knead Bread

This recipe originally comes from Cook's Illustrated and I love it.  It's so easy.  But you have to remember to mix the dough up a day before you are going to bake it, that's the only problem.  I also experimented a lot with my pot and my oven and have adjusted the baking temperatures and times to work for me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Today I said "no"

I am a yes-man (or woman).  No, not really.  I am much better at saying no than my mother, for example.  But I tend to bite off a lot.  It's a type-A engineer thing.

Today, I had planned on going to the first PTA meeting for my son's school.  What's wrong with that? Nothing, right?  Except, in the last year, I've found myself the group leader for my quilting group, a manager, a triathlon-doer, and a person doing a host of other things.  That all make me really really tired.

Today, after trying to leave work on time, then remembering that I have to pick up the CSA veggies first, I picked up the veggies and then... I got on the freeway and...stopped.  In traffic.  Because of an accident.  As I sat in traffic, pissed off...sat in traffic that took me an extra 20 minutes to pick up my kid. I started thinking.  "How did I get here?"  I used to be happy.  I used to work 30 hours a week, pick up my kid early, go to the park, cook a leisurely dinner.  And here I was...running late, ticked off about an accident, thinking about getting home, cooking dinner, and getting to the 1.5 hour PTA meeting by 6 pm.

And I decided to say "no".  I picked up my kid and went  home.  I put away the veggies, then succumbed to my child's desire to play chess.  He just started playing last night.  Daddy wins.  He beat me 2x.  I decided that I did not need to spend 1.5 hours in a PTA meeting.  Now, maybe it wouldn't be that bad.  I go to the quilting meetings, and man, some of those women can go on and on about stuff when you just want to say "get to the point".  (One reason why I don't go to the meetings.)  I would, in fact, love to be involved in the PTA.  To support our local public school, to sell Axxess books to raise money (while I'm not really into coupons for various meals out and things, many of my coworkers are.)  But.  I just know that if I go, I will be roped into more things that I don't have time for.

So maybe I didn't say "no" to anyone but myself.  But it's time I start.  Why DID I go back to full time?  I pretty much spend 90% of my life pissed off.  Mad at people at work who waste my time.  Mad at traffic.  Tired of cooking and packing lunches.  I mean really.  I have a food blog.  I love food.  Can you believe I'm so tired that I am tired of cooking?  I used to take so much joy in cooking and quilting.
So.  What's next?  I don't know.  We'll just have to see.

Good Calories, Bad Calories

I've been reading Good Calories, Bad Calories, by Gary Taubes.  I'd heard a lot about it.  Now, I have a lot of vegan cookbooks.  I've been eating mostly vegetarian for years, and have been on the low-fat train for decades.  However, I like to keep my options open. I visit Mark's Daily Apple and recently borrowed The Primal Blueprint from the library.
While I don't think carbohydrates are evil, and I wonder about the sense it makes to eat like a caveman when cavemen didn't live very long, it got me thinking.  The two sides are so polar.  Both have studies that support their views and both are very vocal (The China Study, and some of Atkins' work).  And you've got followers in both camps that say they've never felt better, been healthier, or been able to maintain their weights easily.  Of course, that's probably easy when you are eliminating entire food groups.  And both sides really emphasize lots of fresh fruits and veggies and real food. I read lots of vegan blogs. However, I've got some friends who have had much success on a health standpoint by going low-carb.
I'm not sure I could ever give up my grains, but I have been cutting back.  And the last several days, I have been increasing my fat intake.  (It's that Good Calories, Bad Calories thing again.)  That whole low-fat diet thing?  Total hoax.  No definitive studies that ACTUALLY link a high-fat diet to cardiovascular disease.  At least, I'm about 1/3 of the way through the book, and that's still the case.

Today I woke up with a killer hangover.  Gave blood last week, then had 3 glasses of wine = not a good mix.  For breakfast, I ate high fat (remembering what worked during my college days).  2 eggs, a piece of toast with butter, and cheese.  I wasn't hungry for 6 hours, when usually I need to eat every 3 hours.  I decided to continue the trend for lunch, and got a Cobb salad.  Only 440 calories (Trader Joe's), but a lot of fat.  Again, did not need an afternoon snack.
Dinner was a slice of homemade pizza and some broccoli.  All in all, I haven't been hungry today, and I only ate 32 points.  Which is pretty low for me.
So, I'm going to be testing out this higher-fat thing for a bit longer.  See how it works out for  me.  Nuts, avocados, seeds, eggs, meats...if it  helps me maintain my weight without hunger, it can only be a good thing.
Have you read Good Calories, Bad Calories or The Primal Blueprint?  Any thoughts?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Tomatillo Salsa

Yep, we got tomatillos from the farm.  I made the salsa recipe that came with them, adjusted by what I had.  For example: no hot peppers because we didn't have them, and I don't want to burn my kid's mouth.  It's sweet and tasty.  But I'd prefer more heat.

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
1 lb tomatillos
1 anaheim chili
1 sweet pepper
1 small onion
3 cloves garlic
oil for pan
juice of one lime
Remove the husks from the tomatillos.  Peel the onion, cut in half, and cut each half into quarters.
Place all veggies on a parchment lined rimmed baking sheet.  Toss with oil.  Roast at 350F for about an hour.  Let the veggies cool.
Squeeze the garlic out of the skins.  Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers.  Place all veggies in the food processor and pulse until desired consistency.  Add S&P and juice of the lime.  And cilantro, if you've got it, but I didn't.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Holy Mackeral

So, my coworker likes to fish off a local pier.  And he catches a lot of mackeral.  And he gave me a bag, when I said I like fish.  "Are you sure you like mackeral?  It's fishy."  Dude, I don't care.  Isn't fish supposed to be fishy?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fruit - smoothie and juice

Man, this was a good smoothie.  Blueberries, strawberries, banana, milk, and Amazing Grass.  Yum.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Bread calculations

Remember that delicious bread?  Still delicious.  Here's the math:

1.25 cups 7-grain cereal: 0.39
2.5 cups boiling water
3 cups all-purpose flour: 0.56
1.5 cups whole wheat flour: 0.28
4 T. honey: 0.75
4 T. butter: 0.25
2.5 tsp yeast: 0.05
1 T salt: 0.01
3/4 c. sunflower seeds: 0.75
1/2 c. oats: 0.10
Total: $3.14 for two loaves of bread.  Can't beat that!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Multi Grain Sandwich Bread

I have wanted to try this recipe for a very long time, ever since I found it in my issue of Cook's Illustrated.  And I never did.
And for a couple of years, my friend Jean would bring this delicious multi grain bread to our quilting potlucks.   Yummy.

This year, I asked her for the recipe, and lo and behold, they were the same.  I aimed to try to make it two weeks ago, but life (triathlon, husband traveling) got in the way.
So Friday, I took a day off work to be mom, and I used the morning while my son was at kindergarten to try it out. 

Wow, it is so delicious.  A multi-step process, but still pretty easy.  My loaves didn't rise quite as much as I'd have liked, but I was pressed for time to pick up my child from school.  I baked them early.
This recipe is a definite keeper.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

I am no longer overweight

My official weigh in isn't until Monday, but the last several days' weights have been below 139 (which corresponds to a BMI of 25).

Yay for me!  And yay for Weight Watchers!  I was overweight for about 6 months (since mid-March).

Even with my husband's travel, I've managed to stay on plan and stay off the chocolate.  5 more lbs to go!  I am having to dig through my drawers to find shorts/crop pants that don't fall off.  I still have a pair or two that are too small. (They may never fit, since your hips widen as you age.  If I hit my goal weight and they don't fit, they get donated.)

Weight watchers isn't magical, it's just counting.  Being aware of everything that you put into your mouth.  But I do have some tips that I think have helped me out.

1.  Plan everything ahead.  This means the night before at least.  This also prevents you from wasting food.  Sadly, my husband was out of town this week and I lost TWO beautiful heirloom tomatoes from the CSA to mold because I just couldn't eat them fast enough.  I'm still bummed.  That's food and money right down the drain.  Or in the compost.

2.  Use all of your points.  For me, that's 29 per day.  I also get 7 flex points (on average) per day, and I've been earning 3-9 activity points per day (though that goes down when spouse travels, and will also decrease now that my triathlon training has ended).  I make sure that I have AT LEAST 30 points of food, and if I am doing a hard workout that day (biking to work or running), then I have at least 34 points per day.  I generally eat all of my regular points and the flex points.  And some of the activity points.

3.  Unless you have a get-together planned.  This goes without saying, but if you are going to a party or potluck where the food is unknown, plan for low points the rest of the day.  Those things always get out of hand.  I generally plan around it if possible (eat before I go).  Or make sure there is a lot of salad available to eat.  I let myself choose one or two higher-calorie items to indulge in.  Last night, at the CSA potluck, I chose red wine and tri-tip.  I passed on the pasta.  Tonight, I will probably also choose red wine and tri-tip :) and pass on the bread.

4.  Don't be afraid to eat weird foods for breakfast.  One of the ways that I've been able to "use up" yummy foods like tomatoes or apple crisp is simply to eat them for breakfast.  I made apple crisp this week with lower amounts of butter, sugar, and oats, and walnuts.  Topped with some yogurt, and it makes a fine breakfast.  I've also been eating tomato sandwiches for breakfast.  Just not fast enough.  These choices allowed me to have a "dessert-like" or "appetizer-like" food, without adding a dessert or an appetizer to my meals.

5.  Eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  Why is this number 5 and not number 1?  Because it's obvious.  I generally get 3 fruits and 4-7 servings of vegetables per day.  Your body needs the nutrients.  I've seen people fail on losing weight before, and it's often lack of portion control or lack of vegetables.

6.  Give up the bad food.  Fried food.  Dessert.  White bread.  These things are okay to eat now and then, once in awhile.  "Once in awhile" is once a week, (or once a month!) not every day.

7.   Don't snack at night.  This is just an easy habit to get into.  And a hard habit to get out of.  It's such a mental thing to desire something right before bed.  Then you eat something one night, the next night, then you get used to it.  To avoid this, I drink water before bed.  And I try to make myself a delicious dinner with something really satisfying.  It may be nuts and avocado on a salad, or a grilled cheese sandwich, or a delicious small potato with real butter.  It has to satisfy me physically AND emotionally.

The other thing that I have been doing is try to watch my carb intake.  Now, when husband is out of town, I just eat what I feel like (pasta, bread), and count the points.  It's too stressful to do otherwise.  But when he's IN town, I take extra time for cooking and prepping, and tend to do more Hugh Jass salads with some protein for at least one meal per day.  They are more work to prepare, though, with the washing, chopping, etc.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Roasted Summer Vegetable Pasta

Well, I've made this so much the last few weeks that I thought I'd share the recipe.

Roasted Summer Vegetable Pasta
1 lb whole wheat pasta (I like penne): 1.39
1 pint cherry tomatoes: 3.00
1 onion, chopped into large chunks: 0.60
4 cloves garlic, whole unpeeled: 0.25
1 oz shredded gouda: 0.70
1 oz grated parmesan: 0.40
1 Tbsp olive oil: 0.10
4 oz soft goat cheese: 0.80
S&P to taste
Total: $7.24 for 8 servings, $0.91 per serving

"extras": diced canned tomatoes, fresh basil, dried basil and oregano, cooked chicken or pepperoni (none of these are necessary, but if you've got 'em, throw them in)

Preheat oven to 400F.  On a baking sheet (I line mine with parchment), place the cherry tomatoes, onion, and garlic in a layer.  Spray with cooking spray or toss with some olive oil.  Salt and Pepper to taste.  Roast, stirring once, 20-40 mins (this will depend on your desired level of doneness).  Let the vegetables cool.  Squeeze the garlic out of the skins.  You can either leave the vegetables whole or puree them into a sauce.  I've done both.  I prefer whole, but my son will pick some of the things out, so pureeing prevents that.

Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.  Save a cup or so of the pasta water before draining.

Toss the pasta back into the pot with the vegetables.  Add the cheeses and stir well.  Add enough pasta water to get desired consistency.  I usually have the heat on low at this point.  Add more S&P to taste and any other extras you want in there.

This is quick, relatively easy, and makes 8 servings.  That's 3 days of meals for us, more if spouse is traveling.  Sometimes I eat this with a salad, and sometimes I top with a cooked vegetable.  Broccoli is pretty good, as are green beans, peas, and carrots.