A Vegetarian Feast!

After months of reading about baked tofu here, and here, and of course here, I finally decided to try my hand at making it. I asked Beadie about her “perfect baked tofu” method, and read up on the famous Gliding Calm tofu. Over the weekend, I tried it for myself without an intent of sharing it with Adam just in case I royally screwed it up. I did the freeze-and-press method that Beadie likes, then the soy-ginger-sesame-sweet-hot rub that Miss Gliding Calm likes, then baked the heck out of it at 400* for about 45 minutes. IT WAS FANTASTIC!! I made it a point to make Adam taste some, and he loved it too…so much so that he requested it for dinner at least once this week.

When we went to Trader Joes on Monday, we bought 2 bricks of extra firm tofu. One went straight into the freezer, and the other stayed in the fridge. I wanted to try the different, less time-intensive, “drain-and-bake” method that  so many in Blogland love. So tonight, I simply drained the fridged brick of tofu, sliced it into slices, and rubbed it on both sides with a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, sriracha, and one Splenda packet. I baked it at 425* for about 45 minutes, and once it was browned, took it out. It was also amazing!! The texture wasn’t as “meaty” as the freeze-press-bake method, but still a great dinner. We had the slices of baked tofu with sweet potato fries, brown rice, and [an unphotographed] simple green salad.

Who am I channeling? Beadie? GC? Finessista?

Who am I channeling? Beadie? GC? Erin?

Adam even went back for seconds, and agreed that I should show him how to make this stuff! Next on my to-try list: baked tofu in a stir fry!

Now, a non-dinner note. Yesterday, Adam picked up a new video game, Street Fighter IV. Normally, I can’t stand the way that women are portrayed in video games. Usually they’re tall, ridiculously thin, ridiculously tall, and have inhumanly enormous boobs chests. I was beyond excited when Adam started playing this game last night because girl after girl had a much different silhouette than your typical video game chick. Sure, they’re still scantily clad. But instead of being unrealistic portrayals of what women “should” be, they are exaggerated portrayals of what women strive to be: muscular, strong, fit, and ready to kick some  ass butt! This is Chun-Li, one of the strongest women in the game:

Those are some ASS KICKING THIGHS!

Those are some ASS KICKING THIGHS!

And in Blogger news:

And, make sure you all have a WONDERFUL evening! I’m off to have some coffee (and maybe a treat) with some WW buddies. SO EXCITED!

Oh, and for Miss Erin who mentioned she’s missing the Northwest… a picture of the Oregon coast. I seriously fell in love with the landscape there!

Outside of Florence, OR

Outside of Florence, OR

xoxo,

Advertisements

An Old Favorite: Tamale Pie

When I first started Weight Watchers back in 2006, I was living alone and not cooking very much. I discovered Heather’s Recipe Site and started a fun cycle.

  1. Make Tamale pie
  2. Eat Tamale Pie for dinner and lunch for a week.
  3. Pick a new recipe.
  4. Eat that recipe for a week.
  5. Repeat.

I continued this cycle for some time, even after moving in with Adam. Needless to say, Adam got VERY sick of tamale pie. He pretty much outlawed tamale pie in our house. When he went out of town last year for 4 days, you can guess what I made for dinner that week! YUP! Tamale Pie!

It has been well over a year since my last tamale pie, and I finally convinced Adam to try it again. There were stipulations, one of those being that the lovely polenta crust needed to be thinner than the last time. I was SO EXCITED all day to make this for dinner, and told about 20 people about it!

There's a polenta crust, I swear!

There's a polenta crust, I swear!

Simply Filling® Tamale Pie

from http://freewebs.com/hwc1973

1 c yellow cornmeal
2.25 c cold water
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 lb lean ground beef (or equal amount of veggie crumbles)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
4 tsp chili powder
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
Dash pepper
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 can Ro-Tel original
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed
FF or soy cheddar shreds

Preheat oven to 350*. Spray a 9 x 13″ casserole pan with Pam. Bring 2-1/4 cups water plus bouillon cube to a boil. Stir in polenta, and whisk until fairly thick and most lumps are gone (just a few minutes). Spread into bottom of casserole pan and set aside. Brown beef, onion, and green pepper. Add chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper, and mix well. Add tomato paste, Ro-Tel, corn (with juice; do not drain), and kidney beans. Spread over the cornmeal crust and top evenly with cheese. Bake 20-25 minutes at 350*.

This was seriously just as good as I remembered! I did have a side of fat free sour cream, and will be going back for seconds!

Just a quick note before I sign off for the night: I’ve been feeling really guilty that I haven’t been commenting on many of your blogs lately, especially during the day. I’m a teacher, and therefore work in a school (duh!), and we’re at the mercy of what the district thinks is appropriate content. Unfortunately, the district thinks that all WordPress and Blogger blogs are inappropriate, so therefore I can’t see them. Some of them, I can see, but then the comment forms are blocked. I can read though, because Google reader is not blocked. So please know I am reading!!!

Be sure to check out Beadie’s Blog for this week’s BSI!!

Have a fabulous evening!

xoxo,

Seafood Stew and an Interview

With an extra day off today, Adam and I decided to make the trek to the nearest Trader Joe’s for groceries instead of just going to the local store. My first thought went to all the wonderful sweets and treats they have there above all the frozen foods… and then my thoughts went to the weight I’m gaining, and how I really need to NOT eat that stuff! THEN a thought went to their wonderful frozen fish. I remembered that my mom had a stellar fish stew recipe when I was growing up, so I of course, called her. She gladly gave me her recipe, and we set out to Trader Joe’s.

You can use any type of seafood you'd like!

You can use any type of seafood you'd like!

Mom’s Seafood Stew

Ingredients

1 green pepper, diced

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 c. dry white wine

2 big cans crushed tomatoes

1 bottle clam juice, strained

1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper to taste

1 lb. firm-flesh frozen fish, such as cod (I used mahi-mahi), cut into chunks

1 tbsp. olive oil

(the following is what I put in my stew, you can use any seafood you like!)

1 lb. frozen scallops

1 lb. frozen shrimp

1 can chopped clams, drained

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onions, garlic, and pepper. Sautee until aromatic and onions are soft. Add wine, tomatoes, clam juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper. Simmer over low heat about 30 minutes. About 10 minutes before serving, add in the frozen fish. Simmer until the fish is cooked. Add the clams. Before serving, add just enough of the remaining fish for the people you are serving, as the shrimp can get very tough. Heat until the shrimp and scallops are heated through, and serve.

My mom usually added a sprinkle of fresh parsley on the top, but that was the ONE thing I forgot! It was just as good as I remembered it, and seriously satisfying! I’m glad we have bunches of leftovers so I can bring it for lunch…and have it for dinner… and then bring it for lunch again!

OH, and I also had a lovely green salad with sesame ginger viniagrette and avocado:

lovely shades of green

lovely shades of green

Now, the Interview portion of the post! Krista sent me these interview questions to answer on my blog, along with some rules for participation. If you want to be interviewed by me, leave a comment expressing interest! I’ll randomly pick 2 people, and send you questions.

1)  If you could be any animal, what would you choose to be?

Any animal? I’ve always said that I’d love to be a house cat. I swear, they have the best lives! They sleep, eat, bask in the sun, get taken care of by doting humans… oh, and find simple things like yarn and paper bags truly amusing.

2)  What season is your favourtie and why?

I’m a huge fan of summer! I work as a director at a day camp, and have for the last 10 years, and have seriously grown to love the summer. While I truly love my teaching job, I love being outside and influencing year after year of 4-year-old campers to be brave and adventurous. My first group of campers will be entering 8th and 9th grade this coming school year. My summers are full of happiness and simple pleasures, and of course, I love eating outside too!

3)   Name one food that you would never eat and explain why.

I can’t say that there’s really anything I’d NEVER eat, but there’s definitely a few things that I don’t eat if I can help it! One of them is veal. I just can’t bring myself to eat it after I found out at about age 11 how veal is bred/kept. Another one is okra. I can’t bring myself to eat something thats hairy on the outside and has snot on the inside!

4)   What was your motivation for starting a blog?

I’ve always loved to write and Lord knows I’ve always loved to eat! A few people, ok, Beadie, had mentioned that I really should write about all these dishes I’ve been cooking, so I started one for the heck of it. Next thing I know, I’m writing every night, getting hundreds of hits, getting free products from companies… I’m really glad I did it!

5)   If you were given $5000 to use for a good cause, how would you spend it?

I think I would give the $5000 to a needy family that I teach. As they always told us in college, there’s always more going on at home than we originally think, and there are so many families that need much more than they have. I’d love to keep the money local, and help children I truly care about.

WHEW! That was a LONG post… thanks for reading!

Make sure you check out the BSI Winner post, and let me know if you’d like to be interviewed!

xoxo,

Where the Buffalo Roam…

Ok, that title is kind of morbid…sorry Veg*ns!!!

I made buffalo burgers tonight, using the same recipe as the turkey burgers from the other night and remembered the bread crumbs! They were absolutely fantastic, and had a nice little kick to them. My favorite thing about cooking buffalo is that it’s similar in nutrition to chicken breast, rather than ground beef.

As a side dish, I made a simple cucumber salad with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little sugar. It was delicious! I also had half of a small avocado, and sweet potato fries.

AMAZING burger!

AMAZING burger!

And now…A FEW ANNOUNCEMENTS!

  • Don’t forget to get your BSI entries in! The deadline is SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15!
  • I finally decided on a prize for the BSI contest! The winning entry will receive his/her choice of 3 herbs/spices/blends from my FAVORITE spice store, Penzey’s. Go peruse their online store, figure out what you want in case you win, and I’ll order for you upon selection!!
  • You need to enter my 100th post contest! Go to this post and leave a comment. Those of you with blogs, do me a favor (not a requirement) and please link back to that post on your blog! I know more than 34 people want the amazingness that is that sushi scarf!

Have an excellent night all! I’m off to have more sweet potatoes and watch my favorite shows! I’m SO VERY EXCITED for tomorrow night!

Holy Fritatta, Batman!

I can remember my mom making fritattas when I was a little kid. I would watch her throw a bunch of stuff in a pan, cook it a few minutes, put the pan in the oven and then POOF yummy breakfast (or dinner) served with sour cream. Not too long ago, I asked my mom to actually show me step by step how to make one of these delicious dishes, and she happily did. I made them at friends’ houses for brunches, and for my mom on Mother’s Day, but I had yet to make one in my own home, in my own kitchen. Adam had never even had one!

At our engagement party, my good friend Josh and his wife Anna gave Adam and I a 10″ cast iron skillet. My first thought was “FINALLY! I can make something that goes from the stove to the oven… FRITATTA!” Tonight there was a dilemma: frozen pizza or fritatta? I counted up my Points® for the day and realized that I did NOT have enough for pizza. Fritatta it was!

According to Wikipedia, a fritatta is:

A frittata is a type of Italian omelette that frequently features fillings such as meats, cheeses, and vegetables. Like a traditional French omelette, a frittata is prepared in a skillet. However, whereas an omelette is cooked on a stovetop and served folded, a frittata is first partially cooked on a stovetop but then broiled (grilled) to finish and served open-faced.

So, thats what I did!

It's like a beautiful landscape!

It's like a beautiful landscape!

Fritatta Delizioso

Ingredients

3 eggs

3 egg whites

1/4 c. skim milk

4 or 5 small red potatoes

1 box frozen chopped spinach

2 c. frozen broccoli

2/3 c. fat free cheddar cheese

1 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Pre-heat the oven to 375*. Pre-cook the potatoes in the microwave for about 5 minutes. Then, cut the potatoes into small chunks. Heat your oven safe pan on the stovetop, and add the potato chunks to the pan. Add the frozen spinach and broccoli, and cook until the vegetables are thawed and softened. The frozen vegetables provide enough water to finish cooking the potatoes, but fresh vegetables can be used as well. Sprinkle the vegetables with the garlic powder, salt and pepper and then stir. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and egg whites together with the milk until frothy. Add the cheese to the vegetables, then pour the eggs into the pan. Cook until the eggs are partially set, then tranfter the pan to the oven. Cook until the eggs are fully set and the top is browned. Cut into slices and serve with sour cream. Makes 4 4-Point® servings or 8 2-Point® servings.

This recipe can be made with pretty much any vegetables or any fillings you like. I’ve had them with peppers, tomatoes, bacon… anything! Of course the Points® value would change with different fillings. Adam said that the best way to describe the taste was like a combination of a quiche and a breakfast skillet.

I’m thrilled with the fact that if I happen to get hungry later tonight, another slice of this will only be a small dent in my daily Points®!

Stay tuned for some changes in my food photos in the next few days… see if you can spot the changes!!

Old Clothes for Dinner?

What were you doing at 6 a.m. today? While you may have been sleeping or working out, I was up, in the kitchen, slicing vegetables for tonight’s dinner. I got too tired last night to throw together tonight’s crockpot meal, so I got up early this morning and got to chopping! It really didn’t take long, but it was about 4:15 when I finally realized that I didn’t need to cook!

Now you may be wondering what the heck I mean in my title… Dinner tonight was a traditional Latino dish called “ropa vieja” which literally means “old clothes” and this is because, when made properly, it looks like a pot of wet, old clothes! I’d always heard about this dish, and was curious, and until a few years ago, I had no idea what it was. My friend Anna and I went to a Cuban restaurant for dinner, and I saw Ropa Vieja on the menu! Of course I had to order it…and I was hooked. I had just started cooking, and I went about trying to recreate the recipe, but I couldn’t get the meat as “fally-aparty” as it had been in the restaurant. I had just joined Weight Watchers and had found Heather’s Recipe Site, and I was DELIGHTED when I found the recipe for crockpot Ropa Vieja! One problem…no crockpot. I went out not long after that, and bought a crockpot and made the recipe and I was thrilled…it was BETTER than the restaurant’s!

I’ve made it several times since then, and it seemed like just the thing for a cold day today. I ate mine in a low-carb flour tortilla with a touch of fat free sour cream. DELICIOSO!

Beef...onions...peppers...YUM!

Beef...onions...peppers...YUM!

Crockpot Ropa Vieja (From http://freewebs.com/hwc1973)

Ingredients
1 large onion, sliced into thin rings
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 c red wine vinegar
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
1.5 TBS ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
9 dashes hot pepper sauce
1 (2 lb) flank steak
1 c vegetable broth
3 bay leaves
1/2 c chopped fresh cilantro

Combine onion through pepper sauce in a large bowl. Transfer half of the mixture into 5 or 6 qt slow cooker (crockpot). Place steak on top. Spoon remaining mixture over steak. Pour broth around steak and then tuck in bay leaves. Cover and cook until steak is tender. 5-6 hours on high or 8-10 hours on low.**

I cooked this for literally 11 hours, and when I went to take the bay leaves out of the pot, the meat fell apart. I overdid the veggies a little bit and used twice the amount of peppers. If I do that again, I’ll cut the broth a bit because there’s too much liquid in the pot. It was still delicious, and only 5 Points® per serving, plus tortillas!

*************************

I’ve had a couple of you ask me about this stuff called PB2, so I thought I’d just talk about it here.

from bellplantation.com

PB2 is a powdered peanut butter that has 75% less calories and fat than regular peanut butter, but with all the taste. It’s fantastic in smoothies, oatmeal, other hot cereals, puddings… yeah, just about anything that normal PB would go into! I love normal peanut butter, and as much as I love it, I can’t really have it in the house. I tend to take spoons to it and just go to town. If I want a spoonful of peanut butter, with PB2 I can mix it with water and it gives me PB2  the flavor and texture satisfaction without the calories or Points. I’m working on getting some jars to send out as a giveaway…more to come on that!

From the Bell Plantation Website:

Ingredients: Roasted Peanuts, salt, and sugar

Serving Size: 2 tablespoons (12 grams)

Servings Per Container: 16

Amount Per 2 Tablespoon Serving (*when mixed with water):

Calories                             53.2

Calories from Fat           16.8

% Daily Value*
Total Fat

1.87 g

Saturated Fat

0.34 g

Trans Fat

0 g

Unsaturated Fat

1.53 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Sodium

77.6 mg

Total Carbohydrate

3.4 g

Dietary Fiber

0.48 g

Sugars

1.66 g

Protein

5.65 g

Vitamin A (IU)

0%

Vitamin C (mg)

0%

Calcium (mg)

1%

Iron (mg)

2%

On that note, a QOTD: What’s your favorite “almost” food that helps you stay on track? For me, its either PB2 or Morningstar Farms corn dogs. They taste so “bad” but they’re seriously healthy!

Chicken Taco Soup

I have had a crazy craving for taco soup for the LONGEST time now, and I finally remembered what needed to go into it WHILE I was at the grocery store! I’d made many different taco soup recipes, and this one that I threw together was really good, and SO SIMPLE! Really, the extent of this recipe is chopping up a half an onion and opening cans. Oh, and when I say “One Can” it means the standard 15 oz. can, not the ginormous ones.

Served with sour cream, of course

Served with sour cream, of course

Mara’s Chicken Taco Soup

Ingredients

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/2 large onion, chopped

1 small(4 oz) can chopped jalapenos

1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can corn, NOT drained

2 cans low-sodium chicken broth

1 can fat free refried beans

1 can Ro-Tel or other chopped tomatoes with jalapenos

1 packet low-sodium taco seasoning

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. chili powder

Directions

In a large pot, brown the chopped onion. Add the chicken and all the cans EXCEPT the refried beans, and all seasonings. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes. Remove the chicken and shred, then return it to the pot. Add the refried beans and stir well, and simmer until soup is thickened. Serve with sour cream and/or shredded cheese. Serves 8.

It was another night of “OH this is good!” upon taking the first bite, so I’d say this recipe was a success! At only 4 Points® a bowl, its quite a healthy choice! And Heidi, don’t worry, there’s plenty left for lunch tomorrow!

Since my friend Holly is always hassling me about not eating enough vegetables (I eat plenty, just not enough green leafies), I made some roasted brussels sprouts as an after-dinner side. I’m so glad I have a ton of sprouts left because I LOVE roasted brussels sprouts!

Roasty Sprouty Goodness!

Roasty Sprouty Goodness!

One of my other Weight Watcher buddies has a FANTASTIC blog called “Hey, What’s For Dinner Mom?” and I think you should all check it out. She has great recipes and a fun writing style you’ll all love.

Enjoy your evening!