Monthly Archives: January 2010

Get Juiced!

I know you are wondering why I am writing about a juice drink and I normally would not, however it was so pretty I really wanted to post the picture!

I made this yummy and beautiful juice drink last weekend in our Breville juicer. (gotta use this thing now that we have it!). My husband recently purchased the juicer because juicing is supposed to have incredible health benefits. I also was thinking about going on a juicing detox plan, but gave up that idea. This stuff is tasty, but I cannot live on fruits and veggies alone! So instead, I tried a few of these wonderful beverages and this was probably one of the tastiest!

I had one of the most amazing Texas red grapefruits and beautiful fresh raspberries, so I decided to pop them in the juicer and make this healthy beverage! The inspiration for this drink (appropriately called Color Me Pink) came from The Complete Book of Juicing by Michael T. Murray, N.D. According to Dr. Murray this drink is rich in flavonoids, so if you are looking to boost yours, then this is the drink for you!

Now I do have to say that I love grapefruit and especially the Texas red ones. Their season is short, so you need to get them while you can. A regular red grapefruit will work just as well if you can no longer find the Texas red ones. If you use a Breville juicer, the pulp will be discarded, but you can certainly add it back to the drink if you like your juice with pulp.

I do think that this would be fine to make in a high speed blender. You might have a few chunks of fruit, but that is not so bad, is it? You may also need to add a few ice cubes to the blender. I even added a few ice cubes to mine and tossed it in the blender after the juicing to make it cold.

If you do make this in a juicer, I suggest straining it because of the raspberry seeds. It would have been nice to not have the seeds at the bottom of the glass! Depending on your blender (if that is what you use to make this), it might be more difficult to strain the drink since the fruit will not be completely pulverized as it is with a juicer. I also added some agave nectar to cut the tartness. Honey or Stevia would work as well.

Here is my adaptation of this simple recipe:

Color Me Pink

1 cup raspberries
1/2 pink grapefruit, peeled
Sweetener to taste
Ice cubes (optional)

Juice the raspberries first and then the grapefruit.

That’s it! Dr. Murray suggests leaving the white pith on the grapefruit since that is what is rich in flavonoids and you want to be sure to get those in your drink! 😉

This was extremely tasty, so if you are looking for a great way to start your day, I suggest giving this a try!

2 Comments

Filed under Grapefruit, Healthy, Juicing, Raspberries

Ten in 2010 – Week 4 Update – And the crowd went wild!

Here is my weekly update on the Ten in 2010 challenge – a program I have joined with other bloggers to get healthy in the first 10 weeks of the New Year.

As I was sitting in my den munching on leftover roasted brussel sprouts for lunch one day (eeewwww!), because I was not allowed anything else that I had in the fridge, cabinet or freezer, I wondered if I could really, truly stick to this diet stuff! Why not just give it up and take the clothes to the tailor? First of all, that would cost way too much. Secondly, I knew that there were foods out there to eat (other than brussel sprouts), I just had to get shopping and get excited about my goals and commitment to myself. Besides, if I don’t get going now, how many more inches are left to keep letting those seams out?

I did try some juicing last weekend and found what I tried to be quite tasty and obviously uber healthy, however, I did not think I could do the detox thing and live by juice alone (as I mentioned last week). I was so hungry with just juicing…I knew that I would be setting myself up for failure and would be eating the first bagel or brownie that came my way.

So instead, I opted for my old vacation spot…South Beach (it’s sort of like the old shoe – you just keep going back to it!). I am used to the diet, I know what is allowed, I know how I will feel (craving bread like crazy!), etc. etc. The toughest part truly is giving up fruit and breads for the first 2 weeks. (Can I just have one cracker…please?!). I know I will be fine once I get past the initial hurdle. And as I mentioned last week, I will be far more inclined to stay with the plan when I see results.

So, I did have a few slip ups this week (how can I not when I am around food constantly?). We had some plans with friends, but honestly, I really tried to remove myself from most social situations where I would just pitch the dieting thing and have to start from square one AGAIN. I can’t avoid total interaction with friends and neighbors, but it definitely is tougher to say “no” when everyone around you is eating and drinking.

Now for the good news…Yeah! Applause! I did all the things I was supposed to do EVERY day…warm water and lemon in the mornings, stretching and getting on the treadmill (oops! I missed one day). I now need to get the upper body exercises going (and no, lifting a dutch oven from the stove to the oven does not count!). I avoided major food and wine disasters and best of all…..drum roll….I lost 3 pounds! My jeans are feeling better (yeah!) and we all know that matters as much as what that old scale says!

I was even having fun on the treadmill singing along with my iPod. So much fun that my husband had to come and shut the door (do I really sing that badly???). Here is the song I was singing…the live version of Lucy in the Sky with Elton John and John Lennon. There is nothing better to get you moving! I hope it works for you. Click here to sing along!

After a successful week, I do feel better and I do have more energy. It is a good feeling to go in to week 5. I just have to keep reminding myself that Spring is coming and I will be wearing less bulky clothes, so I need to get in shape. Most importantly, it is better for long-term health to have a few less pounds and eat healthier foods. That truly is the real purpose in doing this.

Good luck to all of you in your challenge!

2 Comments

Filed under Diet, Exercise, Ten in 2010

Baked Potato and Parsnip Puree

I am going to tell you right off that this dish is not hubby approved! My husband absolutely cannot stand parsnips, but that has not stood in my way on many an occasion to still cook up a few of these little guys and add them to soups and stocks or smashed potatoes. I actually really enjoy the sweetness that parsnips add. I do imagine that you either love or hate them, so if you do not like parsnips, you probably will not even be reading this blog!

Strange thing is that my 20-year-old son (who by the way never liked much of anything until recently, unless of course, it was in a restaurant) ate 2 heaping piles of this stuff with my short ribs and loved every bite! Go figure! He actually complimented the dish. Shocking! So, I had one fan and one begging for just the potatoes!

I originally tracked down this recipe on the Food Network site, but have made so many changes, I will just tell you what I do and you can mix it up any way you like. The original recipe called for WAY too much butter and heavy cream and we all know that is not in the food eating adjustment in January while trying to stay on a so-called “diet”. Dessert is another matter, but I am not wasting calories and fat on veggies. Besides, this is very tasty with far less fat in it.

If you want the dish to taste more like potatoes, change the proportions. Anything will work. It is just smashed veggies! The only picture I took was before we baked the dish. Things were crazy right before dinner, so I did not get to snap a photo. Just be sure to brown the top under the broiler before serving.

Baked Potato and Parsnip Puree
Serves 4

1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes and parsnips (I used about 1/2 and 1/2)
1 bay leaf
3 Tbsp. butter
1/3 to 1/2 cup no-fat half and half
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated
Paprika (optional)

Preheat to 375 degrees. Wash and peel the veggies. Cut potatoes into quarters and parsnips into halves. Place in a pot of water with bay leaf. Bring to a boil. Cook approximately 15-20 minutes until tender. Using a mixer, beat together and add butter, half and half and salt and pepper to taste. You may want to add more butter or half and half. That’s up to you, but this is what I do.

Place mixture in a small, buttered casserole dish. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with paprika. Bake about 20 minutes, until heated through. Place under a broil for a few seconds until top is browned.

This is a great dish to make ahead and then pop in the oven before dinner. Serve it to all of those folks that love parsnips. Or as my husband says – serve it to guests if you want an early night! 😉 It really is very tasty (regardless of what he thinks) and 20-year-old son approved!

3 Comments

Filed under Cheese, Parsnips, Potatoes, Recipes, Vegetables

Braised Short Ribs

It has been so cold and rainy here this Winter that I have made countless soups and stews to keep us warm on these chilly days! I also love the aroma of a pot of something wonderfully fragrant simmering on the stove when you walk through the door. There is nothing more inviting.

In addition to soups and stews, another delightful dish for this wintry weather is braised short ribs. It is an incredibly satisfying comfort food that is also elegant enough to serve to guests.

I have a few recipes that I use when making short ribs. I will eventually share them all. The one I made this past weekend is a very hearty, earthy dish. The addition of dried porcini mushrooms and their liquid make the sauce especially thick and richly flavored. I have found that it needs very little adjusting. It is been consistently delicious every time I have made it.

My butcher cut the short ribs to order for me the other day. They were beautiful and incredibly lean. I did need to add some olive oil to the pan to braise them properly because the bacon I used was also very lean. I still let the dish sit overnight to make it easier to remove the fat. (I actually was surprised how much fat there was). I also like to let the ribs sit overnight to allow the flavors to come together, so making the dish a day in advance has two benefits.

I love these wonderful recipes that you can make ahead. It makes entertaining so much easier. Just so you know, this dish also requires an additional 12-24 hours to marinate the short ribs. They need to marinade in a bottle of red wine with veggies and herbs prior to braising. I used a medium bodied French Pinot Noir. It was perfect for standing up to the beef. Some of the reserved marinade also becomes your braising liquid, so you want to be sure the wine is as good as one you would drink with dinner. It is well worth the time spent and I know your family or guests will appreciate your culinary efforts!

Here is the recipe adapted from Sur La Table

Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Serves 4 (generously)

Marinade

* 1 large onion, sliced
* 1 carrot, scrubbed and sliced
* 1 celery rib, sliced
* 4 garlic cloves, smashed
* 2 bay leaves (I used fresh)
* 5 sprigs fresh thyme
* 1 sprig fresh rosemary
* ¼ teaspoon crushed juniper berries
* 10-12 peppercorns
* 1 bottle (750-ml.) medium-bodied red wine (I used a French Pinot Noir)
* 4 lbs bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed of fat

1. Combine the first ten ingredients in a large bowl. Add ribs, cover and marinate in refrigerator 12 to 24 hours. (I marinated mine for 24 hours. I also turned short ribs periodically. A better choice would be to put everything in a really large zip lock bag. I did not have one large enough, so I opted for a 13 x 9 inch glass pan).

Braising Aromatics

* Good olive oil (if you need some for sautéing)
* 6 oz bacon, sliced in to lardons (I used Applewood Sunday Bacon)
* Seasoned flour (½ cup all-purpose flour, 1 tbsp kosher salt, 2 tsp fresh black pepper)
* 2 carrots, peeled, medium dice
* 2 celery ribs, sliced
* 1 medium yellow onion, sliced
* 4 cloves crushed garlic
* 2 tbsp tomato paste
* 2 cups reserved marinade
* 1 cup veal or beef stock (I used Pacific Organic Beef Stock)
* 1 oz dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted in 1 cup boiling water, strained
* 1 sprig of rosemary, approx. 3″
* 5 sprigs fresh thyme
* 1 tbsp butter
* 2 tbsp cognac
* buerre manié (1 tbsp flour & 1 tbsp softened butter mixed together)

1. Remove ribs from marinade and pat dry with paper towels. Place colander over a bowl and strain the wine; discard the vegetables.
2. Place Dutch oven over medium-high heat and cook the bacon until slightly crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan, leaving the oil behind. Dredge the ribs in the seasoned flour, making sure to shake off any excess flour.
Add ribs to pan in batches; brown on all sides. Transfer ribs to a plate and set aside. Add vegetables and sauté until browned, about 10 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes. Add reserved marinade to deglaze pan. Stir well with a wooden spoon, add the veal stock and porcini liquid to the pan. Return ribs and bacon to the pan, bone-side up; bring to a boil, reduce to low heat and simmer, covered, but with the lid cracked on the stove top until ribs are tender, about 2 hours, 45 minutes. **

3. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, sauté porcini mushrooms in 1 tbsp of butter for about 3-5 minutes. Deglaze with 2 tbsp of cognac, and set aside.

4. Transfer ribs to platter and cover with foil. Strain cooking liquid into a saucepan. Discard vegetables. Bring liquid to a simmer over medium heat and skim fat. Whisk in the beurre marié and continue to cook until sauce has thickened. Add porcini mushrooms and return ribs to the pot. Adjust seasoning and serve.

** You can stop at this point and refrigerate the dish overnight to allow the fat to rise to the top and harden making it easier to remove. Refrigerate the porcini mushrooms as well and begin at Step 3 when you are ready to serve the short ribs.

You also may want to cook the ribs a little longer, depending on the size of your ribs. Mine were fairly large and were very tender. However, if you like the meat literally falling off the bones, you may need to cook them a little more than 2 hours and 45 minutes. I like to serve mine with the meat still on the bone.

Enjoy!

Braised Short Ribs on Foodista

4 Comments

Filed under Beef, Braising, Entrees, Pinot Noir, Recipes, Short Ribs, Wine

Renaissance Challenge – Handbag Cake!

I immediately thought of SHOPPING when I saw the post on the Renaissance Challenge hosted by Chickenless Kitchen! The challenge was to make a food item that looked like your hobby. My hobbies used to be shopping and then cooking (in that order), but the order has now been reversed! Most of my shopping (especially these days) is spent in the grocery stores and that counts as kitchen time! My other hobby (when I am not in the kitchen or on the computer) is to go shopping and check out all the latest clothes, shoes and handbags!

After taking on this challenge, I now remember why I am not a Wilton cake baking kind of gal, however, being the kind of shopping gal that I am, I decided to take on and complete the challenge anyway! I was aware going in to this that if I was going to do a theme cake, I had to do something pretty basic. My first bright idea was a shoe cake (since awesome shoes are my favorite single item to buy), however creating a shoe seemed a bit daunting (after all, as well as not being a cake gal, I am no Manolo!). Hmmm….a handbag….now I was on to something!

So, as any good Fashionista (that is not Foodista) would know, one of the most coveted handbags on earth is a bag with the two little C’s entwined – a Chanel handbag. I figured this would be a classic shape (ie. easy to make) and most recognizable since Coco Chanel was certainly a notable figure. Even if you don’t give a flip about clothes, you probably know who she is (how about perfume and make-up?) and have to admit that she truly was a fashion icon.

The last theme type cake that I made was of Mickey Mouse for my 4-year-old son (who will be 21 this year), so you will understand my expertise level in this area. That cake was baked in one large bowl (the head) and two smaller bowls (the ears!) and it also had black frosting (yuck!). So, if you are not entirely impressed with my latest foray in to cake baking, you might now know why. I make one every 17 years!

Anyway, I wanted to put forth the effort to take part in the Renaissance Challenge. It was fun to bake the cake and play around a bit. Now I even know how to make, dye and use gum paste mix and you never know when you might need that skill again!

4 Comments

Filed under Baking, Cakes, Renaissance Challenge

Ten in 2010 – Week 3 Update (How many more weeks are there???)

As some of you might know, I have signed up with other bloggers to take part in the Ten in 2010 challenge (10 weeks to get healthy in the New Year). Here is my update for week 3 (as sorry as it might be!) and my new promise to myself – Just Say No!

I have decided that short of locking myself in a dark closet for the next 7 weeks (and possibly the rest of my life), I will not be able to avoid food and wine and friends. Now the “friend” stuff is fine all by itself, but friends usually leads to getting together and that in turn leads to lunch or dinner in a restaurant or entertaining at someone’s home and that ultimately leads to your diet going right out the window! Just bring on the food and the wine!

On the positive side – I have been faithfully (yes, every morning) drinking my lemon juice and warm water (I bet you are saying “So what!”) and I have exercised by stretching and doing the treadmill all but 2 days (one of those mornings followed the magnum of Cava that showed up at our door with neighbors bearing bad (but, really tasty food!) and excessive amounts of sparkling wine)!

I also have been thoughtful about most everything I have had at mealtimes. After all, I am starting to feel beyond embarrassed that I cannot control myself! I have been careful about ordering in restaurants and have avoided the bread basket for the most part (but, gosh it is French bread….). The only night I really blew the whole thing out of whack was the neighbors with bad food and Cava night, so I suppose one slip up is not too bad….

However, I have not dared to put one foot on the scale this week (although one foot’s weight might be all I care to see!). I know I will be discouraged because my jeans are just as snug as last week. And as I mentioned in the Week 2 Update, every girl knows how much weight they have lost by how their jeans feel and mine are not feeling so good right now!

I have decided that come bright and early Monday morning I will Just Say No! and be committed to either a 3 day detox plan if I don’t faint before it is over (please don’t take away my coffee!!!). Or I will go back on Phase One of the South Beach Diet (and I can assure you that if you went to South Beach and saw what is there to see you too would be on this diet yesterday!). I just do not think that doing this wishy-washy, I can control myself, but I can’t stuff is working (do you think???)!

I need some hard and fast rules to stick by even if it is for a few days or a week or hopefully longer. I need to jump-start the whole process. I know that once you feel thinner it becomes addictive and you are motivated to continue. However, when one day you feel great and the next day you have totally wrecked the progress it just makes going forward all the more difficult.

So, on to Week 4 with a juicer ready to go and a handful of aspirin to kill the wicked headache I will get with no caffeine! Good luck to all of you in your own Ten in 2010 challenge!

2 Comments

Filed under Diet, Ten in 2010

Baked Cheese in Pastry Appetizer

I am about to share a really guarded recipe that I have had for about 30 years! I cannot tell you where I got it or what the appetizer is really called. But since I need to call it something I will just say Baked Cheese in Pastry Appetizer.

This is an appetizer that I have made countless times over the years for a night just like last night. We were having a few neighbors over last evening. It was somewhat of a last minute shindig. Since I was hosting and cleaning up for company, I needed a few quickie appetizers to throw together in a hurry. I had picked up a few cheater frozen appetizers at Trader Joe’s (that incidentally are quite good), but being the author of a food blog I could not really serve those now could I?

So, this is when this great appetizer comes into play! Every time I have made this people want to know what is in it and want the recipe! They always ask (as our foodie friend did last night) if I made the pastry? What else is in it besides what I told them? It tastes and looks far more complicated to make than it is and isn’t that what you want to serve your guests???

No one will ever know unless you tell them or they are reading this blog! So here it goes…..

Baked Cheese in Pastry Appetizer

1 8 oz. package cream cheese (I use Philly because it’s the best and I am from there! By the way – do not use low-fat!)
1 small container crescent rolls (4 pack)
Dill weed (just the dried stuff) – Use enough to fully cover the top of the cream cheese, approximately 1 tsp.
1 egg, beaten with a few drops of water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay the crescent roll dough out on a lightly floured surface. Pinch seams together to make one solid piece of dough. Put the cream cheese on top. Sprinkle with dill weed to taste. (I went a little light on the stuff last night not knowing people’s preference in the dill department. I usually cover the cream cheese pretty thoroughly).

Turn the cream cheese over so that the side with the dill weed is face down. Seal up all the seams of the dough and turn it right side up. Put in a Pam coated baking dish.

Brush with beaten egg. If you are feeling fancy, cut out an additional piece of dough to decorate the top (like I did). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve with crackers (I like to serve it with Pepperidge Farm whole wheat crackers).

Voila!

You will have an elegant and delicious appetizer that will impress your guests! The cream cheese tastes as though it has been mixed with other ingredients after it bakes in this crust and almost has a whipped consistency. The crescent dough surprisingly has a real pastry taste and texture. Best of all, it really is quite attractive! I must say it is a pretty nifty recipe with so little effort involved. We all need a few things like this in our recipe files to fall back on when we are hosting guests last minute and pressed for time. Enjoy!

Baked Cream Cheese Appetizer on Foodista

2 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Cheese, Recipes