Saturday, May 30, 2009

Oh fleeting youth...

I just arrived home from an interesting night out with the interns from Garan. After hearing a bit about Centro from me, we decided to go. It was one of the roommates' birthday - she's also from Cincinnati (where they're from, they're doing 3 month co-ops here. The roommate is co-oping at Aeropostale). Five of us for dinner, a sixth arrives for dessert. Free champagne as soon as we're seated, and then once Omar comes out to visit and the bartender sees he knows the table of girls, he sends over shots.

We went across the street to a cheap, chill bar and spent a few hours there. It was nice, met some interesting West Point boys in town for the night. I tried my hand at flirting with one when he was at the table, and then rightly admitted that I had never in my life used that line. He was going around the table, realizing a few of us didn't have drinks. I was the first one he asked "What are you drinking?" My response? "Whatever you want to buy me!" The girls sort of cracked up, as did I, and then I said "Yeah, I'll be 100% honest - I've never used that line before in my life." He was like "Hey, it's never too late to try."

Unfortunately, it didn't work - not that I needed (nor wanted) another drink, but it was just funny to try out a cheesy line on a guy. And see his slightly taken aback look to my response.

The more I'm around the girls, who are mostly 19 and 20 (college sophomores), except for one that's soon to be 23, it's interesting. While I definitely picked up the feeling of "Wow, I feel more mature than most the people here" at NCSU my last semester, it's déjà vu. Most of them are sweet girls, but some of them have that cute/hot college girl, "I can charm and flirt my way into or out of anything." Yeah, I'm a bit jealous, but then again, I spend a few minutes (um, seconds) comparing our maturity levels and then don't feel so bad.

[No, I don't consider myself old... No offense to any readers out there. If I ever said I "felt old", I know Mom would smack me back to reality.]

Friday, May 29, 2009


New York City is a great place to people watch. While I haven't purposely done that in a while, I noticed a girl today that just made me go "Really?" Enough that I felt like writing about it.

You know those fashion trends that are bad enough on skinny minnies who may actually have the body for them, but it's just a bad idea, period? And see them on a bigger girl. What's today's fashion horror?


In all honesty, in this season, leggings are sort of essential. When the mornings are still chilly but it gets toasty by noon, leggings are a handy, sort of necessary evil (for those of us that enjoy wearing skirts and dresses). But I seriously do not get, aesthetically or in any other aspect, wearing leggings as pants. While I know Go Fug Yourself has covered this horror many times (thanks, Lindsay Lohan), I just. Don't. Get. It. There are some girls at work that are repeat offenders. Cute girls, great bodies, all that jazz. But no, just no. If you're wearing leggings, you should be wearing a top/dress that covers the crotch. Unfortunately, that seems rare nowadays.

I was walking down 34th Street today, heading back to work after my Sephora lunch break (whooops) and what did I spy? A 200lb+ girl wearing a tee shirt and printed leggings (some weird leopard print-esque but not animal print). My thoughts? No one wants to see the crotch area. I just don't consider that area very attractive when covered in leggings. Not to mention the possibility of camel toe. But once you're in the plus sizes, it's just incredibly unflattering. The whole thing was just...wrong. I completely understand being proud of your body, no matter what size, but people really need to learn how to dress themselves in a complimentary fashion. Patterned, skintight leggings over large thighs with nothing to distract from it - a dress, tunic, longer jacket, something! - does NOTHING for the body.

So yeah, that's my observation/rant for the day.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Take that, Bear Naked?

I'll admit it, I'm a fan of granola. Nowadays, if I buy it, it's the vastly overpriced but pretty good Bear Naked Granola. They have a lower fat one, and a higher protein one. But, as of lately, I wanted to try my own shot at granola. Between reading Smitten Kitchen's granola recipe, and then Sassy Radish's take on it, I decided to attempt to create a higher protein, lower carb yummy granola.

My final creation has a bit more fat and calories, and equivalent protein and carbs, as the Bear Naked Power Protein Granola, but hell, it's homemade, so I figure it's not a bad shot for the first time around!

Higher Protein, Reduced Carb Cinnamon Granola
2.5 oz sliced blanched almonds
2.5 oz pepitas (or pumpkin seeds) (I used roasted, salted pepitas, but unsalted, unroasted ones are best)
1.5 oz walnuts, rough chop
4 oz flax seeds
2-2.25 oz wheat germ
2 cups rolled oats
1.5 scoops Cinnamon Bun Lean Dessert Protein Powder
1/4 cup agave nectar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
pinch of salt

Mix all dry ingredients together. Add agave nectar and oil and mix together. Spread out on a pan sprayed with vegetable oil and bake at 350-375 for 20-35 minutes. I recommend mixing every five minutes, and watch it - some ovens only take 20 minutes, others take 35 minutes. Once cooled, store in an air-tight bag or container in the freezer.

My recipe made about 23.75 oz of granola, and the nutritional stats for one ounce are:

Calories: 169.8
Fat: 9.5g
Saturated Fat: 1.2g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 4.8g
Monounsaturated Fat: 2.9g
Carbohydrate: 15.7g
Dietary Fiber: 3.8g
Protein: 5.8g

The granola is a bit flax-heavy, but it's yummy. The protein powder is totally undetectable except for the cinnamony flavor it gave it. I feel like next time around, I could easily up it to 2-2.5 scoops. Also, because the pepitas were salted, the granola itself isn't overly sweet. Next time around, I may add a bit more agave nectar. Although it adds on the carbs, it's a lower glycemic index sweetener, so I figure there are worse choices out there.

Also, does anyone have suggestions for replacing the walnuts with a higher protein, lower fat nut? I like the flavor of walnuts and pecans, but I'd rather have better nutritional stats than a few walnuts.

A side note...

A friend gently reminded, or requested, that I try to blog more about life and less about cooking. And she's right. I hope the few people that read my blog for me and not food still keep up, but I'll try to interject more blogs about my thoughts, my life, all of that truly fascinating stuff more often...

I'll be honest, it feels like the same old, same old. I'm still struggling with my eating, and to actually lose weight. I still want to try the dating game, but no desire to go to a bar to attempt to flirt with guys. Seriously, how does this thing work? I still have my small bouts of missing Alix. Yes, still. I don't think that will ever stop, honestly. That reminds me! Her mother randomly IMed me one day. Before I saw it, she signed off. I need to get in touch with her, let her know what's going on in my life. And I'm still incredibly proud of what Omar is doing up here in the city. I'm still enjoying my job, if it's not stressful. I'm also stressing on what the future holds. Li, the assistant designer on maternity leave, left mid-March and was taking three months off. That would mean that in a month, she's scheduled to return. Will she? Won't she? I don't know. What I do know is that I need to get the resume revised and restart (finally) job hunting.

Yes, it feels good to simply blog. But, I admit, there's one. More. Recipe. To be posted shortly. What can I say? Cooking is ingrained in me!


Do you like Mexican food? Want yummy Mexican food that's, in the scheme of things, portable? Give these Enchilada "Muffins" a try. They're easy to pack for lunch, and a great balance of protein, fiber and fat. Oh, and they're yummy!

Thanks to the lovely Shira who made some version of this last fall and inspired me. It just took, oh, 9 months to make it.

Enchilada Muffins

My filling made enough to technically fill about 14 tortilla cups. I bet it would also be amazing as quiche bites - makes me mad I just ate mine as is!

14 oz poached chicken breasts (or thighs, if you prefer)
2 small onions, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
about 1/2 can diced tomatoes, without juice
1 can low fat salsa refried beans (Trader Joe's)
about 1/2 bottle Trader Joe's enchilada sauce
salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, chili powder, cumin, paprika to taste (or, taco seasoning if you insist on going that route...i thinkg $2 on a pouch of salt is insane.)
2 oz Trader Joe's Lite 3 Cheese blend

Other needs:
6-7 soft taco sized tortillas (I used Mission Carb Balance White Tortillas)
2-3 oz TJ's cheese blend

Saute onions, green pepper, garlic, jalapeno till softened nicely. Add tomatoes, spices, saute a minute more. Add beans, chicken, sauce and cheese and stir together quickly.

How to make tortilla cups:

Spray pan with vegetable oil. Cut tortilla in half - I used half a tortilla per cup. I cut the tortilla like so:

Lay the two pieces from the left side of the drawing criss-crossed in the muffin cup, up the sides of the cup. Use the other strips around the edges of the cup. Spray tortilla with oil again, fill with enchilada filling, and top with another 7 grams or .25 oz cheese.

Bake um 15-20 minutes at 400-450? I can't remember exactly how long or at what temperature, but it's not really that important.

Cooking up a storm!

So we'll start with the easiest thing ever. I've made it twice, there are many ways to do it, here's the basic idea.

Eggplant Curry Dip
~0.75 eggplant, roasted/sauteed/stir-fried till super soft
1-2 tbsp red curry paste (to taste) (find a good thai store, it's usually cheap and YUMMY there)
1-1.5 cups Trader Joe's nonfat greek yogurt (or brand of choice)

Cook eggplant thoroughly in whatever method you choose. In a dip, it's fine to overcook eggplant, especially since it gets pureed in the end. I keep the skin on but that's just because I'm too lazy to peel. Plus, that's where the antioxidants are! But, it's your choice. Put the eggplant and 1-2 tablespoons (or more, depending on your spice choice) in a Magic Bullet/blender/food processor. Blend it until smooth and until the skin is at least chopped fine. I added in about a quarter to a half of the yogurt in to my Magic Bullet while blending to help get it pureed well enough, along with a tablespoon or two of water. I then hand mixed the rest of the yogurt into the eggplant. Voila!

Just as an aside: The first time I made this, I made a curry, with sauteed onions and garlic in the eggplant. I then pureed it all. It had a bit more flavor to it, and is a great way to use leftovers, but it's completely your choice on how you want to make this.

This is great with veggies, soy crisps, ak-maks and other yummy crackers, and even spread onto sandwiches or deli meat roll ups.

Will the enchilada muffin and granola recipes be posted tonight? Not so sure... I should be getting to bed.

100th Post!

Whoopie! As I was about to create this entry, Blogger told me I currently have 99 posts.

So what's been going on here? What's this magnificent post going to be about? Cooking, of course! I had a long weekend - done at noon on Friday and of course Memorial Day off. I spent most of Friday spending TOO much money - Container Store, TJ Maxx, Farmer's Market (didn't get much - I was too exhausted by then), thai food. Saturday, I slept in, bummed around, cleaned some and made some pretty awesome Enchilada Muffins. Recipe to follow!

Sunday, Omar had the day off so we decided to head to Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. Waterfalls Cafe has some absolutely AMAZING middle eastern food. The grape leaves were honestly as good as my Aunt Violet's, which is saying a LOT. After eating, we realized Sahadi's, a really awesome shop, is closed on Sunday, so we headed to Trader Joe's. My brother had never been before, and I think he was fairly impressed. The meat looked pretty good, the dried fruit and nut prices are good, he was a fan of the single beers, and he pretty much wanted to buy every cookie, chocolate, and frozen dessert. After shopping, we came home and crashed. And then got some amazing sushi for dinner. I must say, my brother always finds the most delicious restaurants to eat at, but my budget gets blown out of the water.

Today, after getting a mani/pedi - god I love New York, $20 for the two - and some quick grocery shopping, I came home to cook. Homemade granola, sauted shrimp, roasted eggplant and some thai dressing. I made this delicious dressing with thai basil from my herb garden, fish sauce, a chile, lime juice, agave nectar, sesame oil, garlic and ginger. Then, I spilled it all over the counter, wall, and kitchen rug. Can we say PISSED? I attempted to recreate it, but it was nowhere near as good, especially since I didn't have much basil left. Oh well. Tried to roast some eggplant in the toaster oven - bad idea. I was just going to eat the shrimp and eggplant with the dressing/dip, but since it was subpar, I sauteed the other half of the eggplant and made yummy eggplant curry dip. I'm going to post all the recipes in one or a few posts.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I think I might have a problem...

This is going to sound incredibly dirty, but I could completely make love to roasted corn on the cob. I guess, really, it's "grilled" corn on the cob, but something about the summertime influx of delicious fresh corn makes me happy. In general, between the tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and fresh fruit of all sorts, I'm a happy lady in the summer. I love my share of an awesome medium steak straight from the grill, but the change of the seasons has me happily living off of simply cooked or raw vegetables.

I'm quite bummed to have moved from an apartment with a yard to a third floor apartment, but there wasn't much choice in the matter. So, all the plans to grill out are out the window. (An aside - I'm going to see if the roof of our apartment is accessible, and if so, how illegal it would be to grill up there.) But tonight, Google helped me realize I could replicate wonderfully roasted corn straight on the gas stove. Between the corn and some yummy cilantro-curry-whatever in the fridge burgers, it was a nicely faked summertime meal. Quick, delicious meals make a wonderful end to a very long workday.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Saturday morning, I checked out the Grand Army Plaza green market by Prospect Park. It's gigantic, I soon found out. Within twenty minutes there, I had a ton of stuff and had dropped a fair amount of cash. ($10 on scallops and $16 on ground turkey made a dent.)

What I got:

Arugula, chives (with the yummy purple flowers), cilantro, green onions, red & white onions, thyme, parsley, asparagus, broccoli rabe, carrots, 3/4 lb scallops, a pound of ground turkey breast & a pound of ground light/dark turkey. After reading the Amateur Gourmet's post on "forcing yourself" to buy something new at the Farmer's Market each time you go, I took that idea to the extreme. While I've eaten chives, broccoli rabe and arugula before, I've never bought a huge bunch of any of it. Arugula? The tame Whole Foods loose baby arugula. Chives? Used em, but rarely bought them. Broccoli rabe? I've had it recently at a few different restaurants and liked it, but I've never bought it before.

But, seeing the gigantic bunch of rabe, the bouquet of chives with the gorgeous (and delicious) flowers, and the same out of control bunch of arugula, I knew I wanted them all. I figured at a few bucks an item, the cost for the risk is minimal.

Let me tell you, tonight's dinner has an already semi-permanent farmer's market fan a permanent one. The scallops were at the edge of being good, so they had to be fixed tonight. After reading the same AG post about a raw asparagus salad, and then today's Smitten Kitten's asparagus, goat cheese and lemon pasta, I had a basic idea in mind. Simple seared scallops and pesto, goat cheese asparagus.

Sear scallops - I followed trusty Cooks Illustrated. Basically, dry the scallops, salt and pepper each side liberally, sear 2 min on one side, 1-2 min on the other in butter or olive oil. I made a basic pesto (also from CI) in my Magic Bullet and blanched the sliced asparagus (a bit too long, unfortunately). The pesto wasn't blending well because I only had a little bit, so I added a fair amount of lemon juice to loosen it up. Considering that so often I eat asparagus with lemon, it worked. In a bowl, I tossed the asparagus with the pesto and a spoonful of garlic herb goat cheese. Mix well until the goat cheese distributes evenly.

Once I plated it up, I added more toasted pine nuts and snipped a chive on top, along with the chive flower. The flowers are intensely flavored, delicious.

The scallops were so sweet and melt in your mouth tender. I kept them fairly medium in doneness because that's my preference. Overdone seafood just has no appeal to me. The scallops are simply delicious, the asparagus is flavorful and has a tart kick from the lemon and goat cheese. I'm quite impressed with myself, if I do say so!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Broiled baby bok choy and burning flesh

Tonight was going so well...until the stupid pasta! Those of you who know me know that at times, I don't have the strongest "street smarts". Tonight, I chose to attempt to break noodles in half that were already in a pot of water. Of course, the noodles that fell into the pot splashed up nicely on my left hand (and a bit on my right) and I'm not a happy camper.

I knew I didn't need those noodles... But they seemed like a good idea! I made broiled baby bok choy with olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. To absorb the leftover dressing from the bok choy after cooking, I thought I'd toss them with pasta and top with some parmesan.

It was yummy and very easy, but I'm still bummed about my idiocy with boiling water.

Um, want a recipe for the bok choy? Mkay... Cut baby bok choy bunches in half. Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and 2-3 cloves garlic diced fine. Put on preheated pan, broil for 5-10 minutes. Toss with pasta, or not, and eat.

I don't know what the bok choy has it in, but I swear my body must be craving it because I totally destroyed two big bunches of baby bok choy in two days!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The closest thing to a bento I've created in a while...

I'm a huge fan of bentos, but I'm not really great at creating them. But, my foods I prepared for tomorrow just happened to have a sort of cute, bento-esque look to them

Breakfast is two giant strawberries and roll ups - buffalo sliced chicken and pepper jack cheese. (Along with a piece of lettuce to divide the sweet and savory.) Goldfish crackers and nonfat pomegranate greek yogurt are the snacks. Lunch is marinated shrimp that I quick broiled in my toaster oven (which was freakin awesome) and a bunch of fresh sugar snap peas. I also mixed up some leftover marinade with greek yogurt for a dressing/dipping sauce.

What was the marinade? It's leftover from the curry I made two weeks ago (and was still tasty). "Puree of ginger, garlic, cilantro, onion, a seeded jalapeno, soy sauce, ketchup and brown sugar." So, just dressed the shrimp with salt and pepper and spooned the marinade over the shrimp liberally, popped them on my foil-lined, oiled toaster oven pan and broiled for ~10. The marinade was also added to greek yogurt, and dressed up with lime zest and juice, salt and pepper. Mmmmm!

Now...can anyone stop Monday morning from arriving? Please?!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Time flies when you're having fun..

Um, how long have I been in Brooklyn? It feels like months, and days.

I am growing to love the area - Fort Greene and Clinton Hill are very cool. I'll be honest, the area we actually live (on the edge of Clinton Hill and BedStuy) can look a touch sketchy at times. But I've never felt afraid or anything here, but some people might not be completely keen to live here.

We've gotten settled into the apartment nicely, with a BIG help of my mom and Aunt Teresa. They came up to New York last Thursday night and stayed until Wednesday. We had a serious bootcamp weekend of shopping - Ikea and Target - and decorating. I owe my mother so freakin much, in money (yes, I am going to work on paying her back) and just in life, period. And it makes me feel horrible that I'm not getting her anything for Mother's Day. She'll get a card (late) but that's it for now. :-/

Work is about the same - no real progress (on, you know, a permanent job or anything), but hopefully by next weekend, I'll have updated my resume and I'll restart the job hunt. While there's no rush, I don't think, I need to start again for the sake of making the effort.