Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Its red, its round, its...

a tomato!!! and it is the season here in Miami for gorgeous red, flavorful tomatoes! I think we'll have tomato sandwiches today for lunch. Happy shopping!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Kathleen's Christmas cookies

These beautiful cookies were made by our good friend Kathleen K. Easy on the eyes and delicious too!

P.S. these were tiny, and the detail is amazing!

Merry Christmas!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tasting Caviar

Well, to be honest I never have, but an article in today's Wall Street journal got me thinking. Mostly about how talking about food can be great, but too much description can get gross. For example, you want to hear about how something tastes, how great and silky your gelato was or even how to get the best mouth feel in a batch of polenta. However, there is a line, people. Thou shalt not venture into too much detail lest you nausate your reader. Take this quote from today's WSJ article on caviar (It's a bit long, but bear with me it's worth it) "When it comes to eating caviar, Mr. Petrossian likes to put about half a teaspoonful into his mouth and keep it there for a moment. 'The first taste is always very buttery,' he says. Then he likes to roll the eggs around his tongue so he can savor the flavor. 'You pop the eggs with your tongue, play with it a little and then you swallow,' he says" EWWWWW! Seriously.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

To Nog or not to Nog

For years, I considered Egg Nog the vilest of all holiday traditions. This thick, sticky, super-sweet liquid that smelled faintly of nutmeg and rum and left a pasty film on anything it touched. Personally, I could have left the nog out of the holiday without a second glance. Well, this weekend Vince picked up some Egg Nog at Trader Joe's, and I have to say I was absolutely converted! My interest was peaked when I saw my nieces and nephew greedily gobbling up the nog with Christmas cookies on Sunday night. If they liked it, then it couldn't be that bad. So I cautiously poured myself a half cup and took a sip. It was a revelation! This Egg Nog was delicious, creamy but still light, sweet but not overly so. It was like drinking in the season in a cup. The blockade against the nog is over. Let it pour, let it pour, let it pour!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole

On a cold winter's day, there is nothing more yummy than cozy comfort food. Chicken potpie is a classic example, but with the wedding countdown in full swing alterations must be made to the recipes or you risk having to make them on the clothes. For starters, forget the flaky tender pie crust. That's got to go! Substitution: Bread crumbs. Advantages: quick fix, lower in calories, still provide the carbs and the crunch. The second alteration: More veggies. I packed this pot pie casserole (which I forgot to take a picture of) with carrots and celery. Advantages: High in fiber, vitamins and flavor. Third and final change: chicken stock instead of heavy cream. This really cuts down on the calories, but still adds flavor. Disadvantage: You don't get the gooey-ness that usually comes with a pot-pie. Still, its not a bad trade-off when you need to look your best in a dress.

I made this recipe off the cuff so the proportions are approximate, but definitely reproducible!

Chicken Pot Pie Casserole (serves 4)

1 pre-cooked rotisserie chicken (huge time-saver)
3 carrots
3 large celery stalks
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of butter
2 tablespoons of flour
1 cup of chicken stock
4 slices white or whole wheat bread, crumbled
1 pinch herbs de provence
salt and pepper to taste

Cube the chicken, carrots, celery, and onion. Mince garlic. In a large sauce pan, melt butter and add in flour, then saute onions and garlic. After a few minutes add in carrots and celery. Then add chicken cubes. Finally pour in the chicken stock and let it reduce down for a few minutes. Add salt, pepper and herbs de provence. Pour it all into a glass baking dish and add the bread crumbs on top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!

Power Food: Arugula Salad

One of my favorite side dishes in the whole world is a big pile of baby arugula lightly covered in an easy dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper with big shavings of parmesano reggiano on top. I tried it once at Bread in NYC and had to duplicate it myself (at 15.o0 a plate, it was an economic neccessity because I was addicted from the very first bite!).

It turns out that that very combination of greens, citrus and emollients is fantastic for your body. The arugula itself packs a punch with Vitamins A, B(almost all of them), C, as well as iron, magnesium, potassium, etc. The fresh lemon juice adds acidity and more Vitamin C, while the olive oil delivers that good for you monounsaturated fat we hear so much about. The parmesan cheese shavings are a luxury calorically and economically, so I often skip them and the salad is just as good.

If you've never tried arugula yet go for it. It's an awesome alternative to lettuce with a peppery taste that will keep you coming back for more.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Easy Peasy Applesauce

If you are in the mood for something sweet, but healthy, why don't you take twenty minutes out of your day and make yourself some fresh applesauce. In college, my old roommate used to make a big batch in the slow cooker. It would simmer all day while she was in class and when she got home it would be warm, steamy and comforting. When you are short on prep time, or just plain impatient, you can still get the goodness of applesauce from your stove top. I had two apples left from my Thanksgiving pie making, already peeled and cored (Yes!), so I chopped them into a medium dice, tossed them into a small sauce pan, added about 1/4 cup of water, a 1/3 cup of sugar and cinnamon to taste. Covered the pot and stirred occasionally. 20 minutes later I had enough applesauce for two. It tasted fresh and delicious and not overly sweet at all. I used Granny Smith apples for their nice bright flavor. Plus grannies keep a little better than other apples if you ask me.

Question: Has anyone ever made pear sauce? I wonder which pears would be the best for the making.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

One dish wonder: Taco Salad

With all the eating going on for the holidays, everyday dinners during December should be a bit lighter, but still festive. Last night I brought out one of my mom's proven easy, healthy, tasty dinners from the past to kick-start our Christmas slim-down. It's so easy to make you'll find yourself craving it all the time, plus it can even double as party food. So here it is: Carmina's taco salad.

1 head of iceberg lettuce
3 tomatoes
1 can of red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 lb ground beef (browned, drained, and cooled)
1 package mix-it-yourself Good Seasons Italian dressing + 1 tablespoon chili powder

Brown the ground beef in a skillet. Set aside and let cool. Chop the lettuce and tomatoes. Place into a large bowl and add kidney beans, cheddar cheese, ground beef and salad dressing. Toss together and serve.

Unhealthy options: Add half a bag of crushed Doritos for extra flavor and crunch.
Healthy options: Slice up some scallions, cilantro or jalapenos for heat.

The Breakdown (c/o the Nutrition Advisor):
Lettuce: Folate, vitamin C, iron, potassium
Tomatoes: Vitamin C, folate, vitamin A, Potassium, Iron, fiber
Red Kidney beans: Folate, Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium, Thiamine, Vitamin B6, Zinc
Cheddar cheese: Calcium, Vitamin B12, Riboflavin, Zinc
Ground beef: Zinc, vitamin B12, Niacin, Iron, Riboflavin, B6, Potassium, Magnesium
Italian Dressing: Olive oil!