Making every bite count

27 August 2006

Just like tiramisu

I'm usually skeptical of prepaged food and snacks. I'm even more skeptical of food items that try to taste like something it's not. Most yogurt in the States is a fifth cousin thrice removed of real yogurt. Laden with sugar and fruit, there's no tang, no texture.
Usually I prefer to buy plain yogurt and add fresh fruit to it. However, sometimes you want something sweet and yummy.
Yoplait Whips!
Some of these taste like a bad imitation of mousse created by some chemical reaction. I bought the chocolate mint last week. It just didn't sate my sweet tooth. Flat, with a sweet chocolate taste and a strange texture, it wasn't enough. I also bought a creamy latte and held out little hope for its potential. I was proved wrong! It's like tiramisu in a cup. Yum, yum, yum. At 150 calories and 4 grams of fat, it felt like a decadent treat not just moderately healthful yogurt. I want to eat a case!

In other news, I'm making focaccia.

23 August 2006

NYT prospects and un peu de fromage

Got my French-English picture dictionary tonight. Yay! Let the learning begin. I am lame. Waiting for PJ to get here so we can have dinner. I am famished. Ate crackers with baba ghanouj and cucumbers for lunch... at 1:30. I made an incredible dinner that is waiting to be eaten. I prefer to eat with good company. It feels more like real life :) Chicken marinated in beer and Dijon mustard, then coated in whole-wheat (health nut, maybe?) bread crumbs. Broccoli. Mac n cheese made with skim milk, mustard, a bit of beer and cheddar. Healthier than the usual. This is a bad meal... so fatty! But the chicken is baked, and this is the first time there has been cheese in this apartment. (oh, there was some feta once for a Greek meal... oh well.) Had a great night tonight. Walked 2 miles home and got free hummus at grocery store (Kroger card discount + coupon machine at store + double coupon day = free hummus! Lame but funny!) Had a glass of wine while waiting... might explain the post being so random. This weekend will be the second I've spent here, the first with nothing to do. I plan to do nothing. Scratch that. I plan nothing. For once in my life, I do not have any plans. And that's OK. Sigh. 5 minutes more, then I'm eating alone! My good friend Katie Gill is coming here soon. She is from Indian Hill, so she's not coming to see me. Still, it will be great to see her. I haven't seen her since before Korea, hard to believe. I love this girl. She's more gung-ho about copy editing than I am. She works for the TImes in Washington. She rocks. I have a great gift for her... a compact. She once told me that she wanted to dress and look nice as easily as I did... or something like that. I am usually a mess, so I took it as a compliment. This girl is 22 going on Buddha in terms of wisdom, I swear. Plus, she can drink. Who could ask for more? Work is going well, by the way. OK, I give up. I am going to eat. or maybe I'll wait.

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20 August 2006

Menu ideas for the week

Monday: Ease into the week
The beauty of baked dishes is that they require little to no effort. Just throw the ingredients together and put it in oven. Set a timer, and relax until dinner is ready!

Lemon-dill chicken
2 chicken breasts, rinsed and patted dry
1 clove garlic
1 lemon
6-8 small red potatoes, scrubbed and halved
1T butter
drizzle olive oil
1t dried dill
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400.
Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breasts, then place them in a baking dish or cast-iron pan. Zest the lemon over the chicken and grate the garlic, using a Microplane or small grater. Divide over the chicken.
In a bowl, drizzle the potatoes with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add to baking dish.
Sprinkle the dill over the chicken and potatoes, then add the butter on top.
Bake for 30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
Serve with a green salad.

Tuesday: Comfort food
Pasta alla carbonara
Linguini or spaghetti, 1/2 package
6 slices bacon or panchetta, chopped
1/4 c parmesan cheese
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste

Boil water in a large pot. Cook pasta according to directions, until al dente. Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a saute pan. When crispy, turn off hear and drain most of the grease.
In the serving bowl, beat the eggs and add the cheese. Mix thoroughly.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and quickly add to the bacon pan. Stir, then add the bacon and pasta to the eggs and cheese. The hot pasta will cook the eggs and make the sauce.
Serrve with green salad or steamed broccoli to cut the richness.

Wednesday: Something new and fun!
California roll salad
1/2 c chopped crab meat
1/2 c cucumber, chopped
2 c lettuce, chopped
1/2 c carrots, chopped
1/4 avocado, chopped
1/4 c soy sauce
wasabi to taste
1/2 T chopped sushi ginger (optional)
1 sheet seaweed, chopped (optional)
Mix soy sauce, wasabi and ginger. Drizzle over salad.

Thursday: In a rush!
This is one of the quickest, tastiest dinners I make. It doesn't even need to be cooked ahead of time, which makes it perfect for a worknight dinner.
Spinach, tomatoes and tofu
1 c. spinach, fresh or frozen
1 t. chopped onion, optional
2 roma tomatoes, chopped, or handful of grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 block tofu, chopped into cubes
1/2 t basil flakes
pinch garlic salt
red-pepper flakes to taste
Mix and cook in microwave until spinach is thawed and tomatoes are wilted.
The tofu takes on a ricottalike texture.
If you want a heartier dinner, try adding 1/2 cup of your favorite small pasta.

Friday: T.G.I.F.
Going out? There's still time to cook.
Try this simple recipe. It's delicious and so quick!

Salsa shrimp
1/2 c rice, brown or white
1 jar (6 oz.) salsa
1 pkg (12 oz.) shrimp, thawed and deveined*
1 T olive oil

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package.
While the rice is cooking, start the shrimp.
In a saute pan, drizzle the olive oil and turn on medium-high heat. Add the shrimp and cook until no longer pink and tails curl toward head.
When the shrimp is cooked, add the salsa and cook until bubbling.
Serve over rice.
*You can substitute firm tofu or chicken breasts for the shrimp.

17 August 2006

What I'm reading:

Tender at the Bone
By Ruth Reichl
Reichl, a former NYT restaurant critic, is a culinary genius. She completely changed the way the Times did restaurant reviews. She's full of great stories in and out of the kitchen.
I haven't been able to put this book down.
It's mouth-wateringly good!