Veggie Chili

I went as Keri’s date to her AA meeting tonight; what a good experience for the soul. They’re all about gratitude – I LOVE it! And I’m so grateful to have a healthy Keri in my life 🙂

Guess who I convinced to engage in some Jillian activity today? Breezy! Here she is right before I got all antsy in her face, begging for her company (Molly napped on as we lunged and crunched):

Recipe of the day (my own creation): Veggie Chili

Secret ingredient, courtesy of the new Mexican market downtown Ripon (!!!):

All the ingredients:

Chop and saute in olive oil for 8 minutes or so: Jalapeno, medium red onion, two ears of uncooked corn off the cob, small chopped sweet potato

Add 4 chopped peppers in adobo sauce; continue sauteing

Add small can of tomato sauce

Add can of fire roasted tomatoes

Add two cans of your favorite beans

Add jar of salsa

Add a cup or two of water

Add a bag of Boca vegetarian crumbles

Cook on low for awhile; Eat it when it tastes ready.

Final product:

It’s chili, there are no rules. It’s great though, because it can be really, really healthy. Enjoy!

Weigh-in Wednesday

Really happy to have Keri with me today to witness my HALF POUND LOSS!!! We gave me a pep talk on the way there about feeling healthy and not taking the scale too seriously. Even so, I was glad to walk away with a sense of greater strength and accomplishment. I’m within 1/2 pound of my lowest weight ever… life is good.

Exercise today: Lots of walking (to the gym, around the ‘hood with Ker, to WW, out with Molly and Dad) and 50 minutes of sweaty spinning at the gym.

Soundtrack today: The Minneap band, Lookbook, who was recommended by my pal Robyn. If you dig synth pop and strong chick vocals, then get down with their song “The Only Ones” during your next workout. I downloaded the entire album Wild at Heart and am totally hooked. (I definitely recommend this for Missy and Megan 🙂 )

New recipe time! This one came from a really rad fancy Italian cookbook I found in Jesse and Jamie’s collection.

Asparagus and Mushroom Salad (my modification)

2 bunches asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
4 small or 2 large portabello mushrooms (scales removed), cut into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup canola oil (or whatever you’ve got)
3/8 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup dijon mustard
small handful of chopped parsley
Shaved fresh parmesan cheese

Blanch asparagus and put in bowl with mushrooms

Whisk remaining ingredients (sans cheese) and toss with veggies.

Garnish with shaved cheese and salt and pepper if necessary.

Easy and healthy, like lunch should be.

And one more of the littlest girl:

“Locatainable”

You know when you’re trying to describe a new restaurant, grocery store, or other hip food situation that is natural, organic, local, sustainable, blah blah blah? Well Jesse got to the point and named this fairly recent phenomenon “locatainable” (yes, a relatively obvious word, but effective nonetheless). Portland and Minneapolis bleed this type of food (a new urban trend?), but apparently Duluth only has a few options for shopping and dining with this intent and mindfulness. If, however, you’re visiting D-Town in the near future and want to spend your fortune on locatainable greatness, definitely check out At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe (a wordy title, yes.) Order the tempeh ruben sandwich and spread the word on its fabulousness.

I didn’t photograph my lunch because I knew I’d want to take a million pictures of our little family dinner tonight. Jamie, Jesse and I collectively made fish tacos (with Jesse’s homemade corn tortillas and my red cabbage slaw), roasted corn salsa, green salad and Jamie’s Thai sangria. This was a complete team collaboration, almost satisfying my constant need to cook lavish meals with two of my favorite people. Thank you, friends. (And btw, the trout was so locatainable that is was caught wild right out of Lake Superior!)

I spent the better part of my night trying to determine when we’d get to reunite in the future. I vote for Christmas in Wisco, but this guy probably won’t be there:

Now for a couple of tonight’s recipes… first the sangria and then the roasted corn salsa. The rest was pretty easy and obvious and I suggest throwing your own fish taco party ASAP.

Thai Sangria

1. 1/4 cup sugar
2. 1/4 cup water
3. 8 Thai basil sprigs
4. Zest of 1 lemon, peeled in 3-inch strips
5. Zest of 1 orange, peeled in 3-inch strips
6. 2 bottles chilled Pinot Grigio
7. 3/4 cup brandy
8. 1/2 cup fresh orange juice, strained
9. Ice
10. Chilled club soda
11. 12 thin orange slices, for garnish

Directions

1. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and bring to a
boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove the saucepan from the
heat. Add the basil sprigs and lemon and orange zests. Let the syrup
stand, stirring often, until cooled to room temperature, about 20
minutes. Discard the basil sprigs and zest strips.
2. In a large pitcher, combine the basil syrup with the wine,
brandy and orange juice. Pour the sangria into ice-filled glasses, top
with club soda and garnish each drink with an orange slice.

Roasted Corn Salsa

4 ears yellow corn, husked
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 large red tomato, seeded and chopped
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded and deveined, (see Note)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons diced red pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin

In medium bowl, combine corn and remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Bring to room temperature before using.

Roasting Corn Oven method:
1. Preheat oven to 400°F (205°C).
2. Brush corn with olive oil.PLACE ears of corn on a baking sheet.
3. Roast 15 to 20 minutes until ears start to turn a light golden brown.

A new recipe, finally

Before I could even process being awake this morning, I was out the door on a 14 mile bike ride with Juan (Carol’s papa). I followed this up with lunch and a 3ish mile walk with Emilee and Adele.

Apple, open face sandwich, Baby Dellie:

Thanks for the hospitality, Mo!

Carol humored me by working out to Jillian this afternoon, and we celebrated with fresh mango salsa:

And then…….. DINNER!! Isn’t it the highlight of your day, too? We scrutinized the April issue of Veg Times and chose a healthy menu of pan fried tofu (on a bed of garden-fresh rainbow chard), broccoli salad with goat cheese and a greens/strawberry salad.

Plated!

Thank you to my cooking/eating partners:

Super easy and flavorful veggie side dish: Quick-Braised Broccoli with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Goat Cheese

* 2 tablespoons pine nuts
* 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 2 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets (1lb)
* 1/3 cup water (may sub veggie broth)
* 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese (may sub feta)
* 1/4 cup sun-dried tomato packed in oil, drained and sliced (I only use 2 T)
* 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Directions

1. Toast the pine nuts in dry skillet over med heat 3 to 4 min, stirring occasionally. Transfer to large bowl.
2. Heat oil in same skillet over med high heat. Add broccoli and cook 2 min, or until florets are evenly coated with oil and beginning to soften and brown, stirring constantly. Carefully add 1/3 cup water; cover tightly with lid. Steam broccoli 4 min or until water has evaporated and broccoli is tender.
3. Transfer broccoli to bowl with toasted pine nuts, and season with salt and pepper if desired. Sprinkle goat cheese over broccoli, and stir in sun-dried tomatoes. Drizzle vinegar over top and serve warm.

Get this girl a mandolin!

Christanthi was the substitute instructor for the gym class this morning – and 9 am is too early for jump training! The amount I was sweating was almost embarrassing! Almost. Gratifying is more like it. I ran into an old work pal before the class (who travels by plane every week!), and she really inspired me to work my hardest. Thank you, Katie S!

After that was farm fun and then a cookout at Anna and Nick’s place (in my old ‘hood… sad). Lovely friends everywhere I turn. So grateful.

Farm break:

@ Anna’s:

I’ve made this potato dish twice this weekend; it’s been a hit, so I’m including the recipe…

Of course it was raining, so we ate inside. Cheers!

Ok, here’s the recipe for my Potato Fennel Hot Dish. (Note: This dish has inspired me to *hopefully* buy a mandolin soon to satisfy my need to thinly slice root veggies):

Very thinly slice: One large fennel bulb and 6-8 red potatoes
Chop: A couple stems of fresh rosemary
Shred: A few ounces of fresh Parmesan cheese

Toss all of that in olive oil, salt/peper and spread out in casserole dish.

Bake: 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes

Add some more cheese (goat, preferably) once it’s fully baked and broil the dish for the last five minutes.

Pictures! Lots of them!

First, an update on last night’s commitments to not eat after dinner and to rock two whole Jillian dvds. Success! Although Jillian sort of made me cry… I definitely required some breaks and barely finished the second video.

Super productive day, overall. It began with a three mile early morning dog walk and ended with the happiest of family dinners.

My contribution tonight: Mint pesto (to be rolled chicken) and zucchini. The menu was surprisingly low-carb. And I didn’t even have to suggest it! They know me so well… Thanks to our fearless leader, Bronwyn, for hosting.

Mmmm, raw chicken:

Friend Ben, pic by Sara:

Chicken/mint pesto rollups, zucchini, asparagus quiche, quinoa/cranberry quinoa:

Salad! By Trevor!

Watching the sunset during an after-dinner walk in front of a random house:

Sara’s dessert bowl 🙂 I tasted the cake… bad idea.

**Thanks to our profesh photog, Sara, for her skillz behind the cam tonight.

Ok, here’s the recipe from wholeliving.com:

Rolled Chicken Brests with Almond-Mint Pesto and Zucchini

Serves 4

* 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
* 3 medium zucchini (about 6 ounces each), cut into 3-by-1/2-inch strips
* Olive-oil cooking spray
* 2 garlic cloves, smashed
* 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
* FOR THE SEASONING
* Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
* FOR THE PESTO
* 1 ounce whole blanched almonds (about 1/4 cup)
* 1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
* 1 1/4 cups loosely packed fresh mint
* 1/2 cup finely grated pecorino cheese (about 1 ounce)
* 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

1. Toast almonds in a skillet over medium heat, tossing frequently, until golden and fragrant, about 6 minutes. Let cool completely. Process almonds and shallot in a food processor until a coarse paste forms. Add 1 cup mint; pulse a few times until coarsely chopped. Add cheese and oil; pulse a few times until combined. Transfer to a small bowl.
2. One at a time, place chicken breast halves on a cutting board between two sheets of plastic wrap. Pound with the flat side of a meat mallet or the bottom of a small, heavy skillet until 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Sprinkle each piece all over with 1/8 teaspoon salt; season with pepper.
3. Put breast halves on a cutting board, smooth side down, and spread evenly with pesto. Roll up chicken, starting with the pointed tip of each piece. Secure with two toothpicks, pushing them in sideways at an angle; set aside.
4. Coat a 12-inch nonstick skillet with cooking spray, and heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add zucchini and garlic; season with 1/8 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini just turns golden brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, tossing occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar; season with pepper. Transfer zucchini to a medium bowl, and cover with foil.
5. Wipe skillet clean. Coat with cooking spray; heat over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add rolled chicken, and cook, turning to brown all sides, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and continue cooking until chicken is no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes, and cut each roll into 5 pieces. Toss reserved zucchini with 1/4 cup mint. Divide zucchini and chicken among four plates.

MINT

Thanks to Liam and Sherry for the most ridiculous amount of mint from their [huge] garden (different from the farm). I managed to use it in two different recipes today. Isn’t it beautiful?

And that’s only about 1/3 of what I brought home! Who wants some??

My first mint-inspired dish was the soup I mentioned last week:

Fresh Pea Soup with Mint (from Weight Watchers)

3 spray(s) cooking spray
1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup(s) leek(s), white part only, finely chopped
3 cup(s) canned chicken broth
5 cup(s) green peas, fresh, shelled or 20 oz frozen baby peas
1/3 cup(s) mint leaves, fresh, or to taste
1/2 tsp table salt, or more to taste
1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground, or more to taste
1/2 cup(s) buttermilk

Coat a large heavy pot with cooking spray and set over medium-low heat; melt butter in pot.

Add leeks; cook, stirring occasionally, until transparent, about 7 to 10 minutes

Stir in broth, increase heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir in peas; cook until peas are tender crisp, about 3 minutes for frozen peas and 5 to 6 minutes for fresh peas.

Remove pan from heat; stir in mint, salt and pepper. Puree soup in pot using an immersion blender (or in small batches using your blender or food processor); stir in milk. Serve warm or chilled. Yields about 1 cup per serving.

Although this was super easy, it would have been a real no-brainer with an immersion blender. My food processor is just worthless for soups…

Regardless, this soup is really fresh and springy; serve it warm or chilled.

The other recipe was a lemon-mint salad dressing for Sara’s family dinner.

Whisk together: Juice of two big lemons, olive oil, 1/4 finely chopped mint, chopped garlic, salt, pepper (in retrospect I would have also added honey).

Dinner theme: Triangles.

Chicken cordon bleu

To my amazement, Breezy actually joined me at the gym for another class this morning. It wasn’t quite as ridiculous as Friday’s class, but it still involved stepping and lifting and other moments of pain. Good job, Sis! (She has already agreed to tomorrow’s class… we’re making progress!)

I have absolutely not been counting points this week; and I’m not weighing in on Wednesday since we’ll be on the road (Bellingham and Vancouver, BC!)… In short, I’m feeling a little out of control with my eating right now. Thankfully I have many lovely friends willing to take the unhealthy baked goods off my hands.

Ok, let’s talk food. Before my choir concert(!!) I invented my own version of **chicken cordon bleu for our post-performance dinner:

Serves 4

2 large chicken breasts, cut open the flat way and pounded out
1 cup pretzels
handful chopped parsley
1 cup low fat shredded mozz cheese
5 smallish slices of pastrami, sliced thin
2 egg whites
Onion salt (or garlic salt)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Food process crushed pretzels, parsley, onion salt
Spread chicken flat, disperse cheese and pastrami evenly over both pieces
Roll up chicken
Soak chicken roll-ups in egg whites
Dredge them in pretzel mixture

Bake at 350 degrees for 30ish minutes

Slice into multiple pieces and serve on four plates along with salad

**Sorry, I’m horrible at regurgitating spontaneous recipes.

Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus

Busybusybusybusybusybusy! Super fun stuff, though!

My ma leaves tomorrow, which means I have every possible free moment scheduled until she gets on the plane. Yesterday was packed with family time at Ty’s and a work trip to the coast. Good food was consumed along the way, of course.

Now we are back and working some more! I’m making a healthy meal for us tonight, so stay tuned. But until then, here is my own recipe for the pasta toss from the other night (easily modified to taste, this is not exactly exact):

Pasta with Shrimp and Asparagus

2 coves garlic chopped
1 TBSP olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Zest of one lemon
White wine
1 bunch asparagus in pieces
1/3 pound shrimp
Whole wheat pasta
Fresh chopped parsley
1/2 cup grated parmesan
Salt/Pepper

Boil salted water, make pasta, add asparagus during the last minute

Drain and blanch pasta/asparagus in cold water

Saute garlic and lemon zest in olive oil and 1/2 lemon juice
Add shrimp to garlic with salt and pepper
Add splash of white white
Add pasta/asparagus to the shrimp (let it reheat in the pan)
Add rest of lemon juice and another splash of wine
Add Parmesan and parsley

EAT!

(Served along side a spinach salad with cranberries, sunflower seeds and my new favorite cheese, ricotta salata.)

Other highlights from the past 36 hours…

Harper Grace!!!!!

Borrowed grandchildren (thanks, Ty!)

Proposal Rock on the coast in Neskowin, Oregon:

Greek salad and shrimp cocktail at Hawk Creek Cafe last night:

Working out late night tonight and then another workout after the [sad] airport stop in the morning. I’m going to weigh-in tomorrow (a day early) so I can enjoy some pizza and beer tomorrow night without giving myself a complex about it.

Mama makes granola bars

She also hit the gym with me! While I was working she whipped up these granola bars:

Phyl’s Granola Bars

1 C diced dried apricots
1 C raisins
1 C golden raisins
1 C dried cranberries
2 C coarsely chopped salted/roasted almonds
1 C sunflower seeds
2 C rolled oats
1/2 C peanut butter, melted
1/4 C honey
2 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 TBSP cinnamon

Mix dry ingredients in a big bowl

Whisk wet ingredients in another bowl

Mix bowls together until blended

Pressed firmly into greased jelly-roll pan

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 325 degrees

Let cool, cut into bars