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Archive for the ‘Quick, Easy Dinners’ Category

Well, things have been pretty normal ’round here, and I’ve been getting my fruits and veggies- or trying to. And probably too many doses of chocolate, but of course, those go undocumented!

Here are some of my latest culinary creations:

A big ol’ veggie sandwich… (basically an excuse to buy this really good mayo I bought the other day)…

YUM!

With lots of crunchy fruits and veggies on the side…

A yummy wrap for lunch with hummus, baba, and lots of fresh veggies…

YUM #2!

A lovely bowl of cereal with fresh fruit,

And black beans + sweet potato tacos, with a side of “okra fries”.

This was the first time  I’ve made the “fries”, and they were delish! Spiced them and popped ’em in the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes.

Mmmmm, tacos!

Oh, yeah, and a dog!

Not to eat, of course, but to play with. We took the plunge and adopted a dog (i.e. I have been begging for a dog for 2 + years and on my birthday, Loren finally conceded to the inevitable) who I can partially blame for falling of the face of the blogosphere, because she is just too cute/ demands all my attention/ loves to cuddle/ needs lots of walks/ jumps on trees at the dog park and tries to destroy them/ my cats hate her so I have to spend my time breaking up potential dog/ cat fights.

Her name is Sya and I am in love. 🙂

That is all for now- we will be back! 🙂

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I’ve always loved eggs. They are, seriously, a perfect food. One egg is a protein packed, low-calorie, high satisfaction guarantee!

And lately, I’ve been eating a lot of eggs for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Even though I am no longer a vegetarian, I still don’t eat very much meat, so eggs provide me with the protein I crave.

For me, a perfect breakfast is a sunny side up egg cracked over a slice of WW toast with lots of hot sauce (and some cottage cheese on the side for extra lasting power).

Looks weird,  but trust me, it’s a really good combo!

For dinner, I recently tried my own version of “beans and toast” for dinner using some TJ’s baked beans… topped with a perfect sunny side up egg. Simple, easy, and so satisfying for a weeknight meal.

There was a little bit of cheddar on their, too!

And recently, Loren and I made a miraculous discovery. Well, not so miraculous, but a life-changing event for us nonetheless….  We started hard boiling a carton eggs on Sundays, so they are ready for snacks and meals for the rest of the week! So easy, so life altering- REALLY!

I’m sure most of you guys have your own egg boiling recipes, but for those of you, who, like me, were a little clueless in this department, I found an easy system:

  • Put eggs in pot
  • Cover with cold water, at least 1 inch higher than the top of the eggs
  • Put vinegar in water (I use rice vinegar) to prevent the whites from coming through any cracks. Add salt to help it boil faster
  • Cover, bring to boil
  • Once the water is at a ROLLING boil, bring down heat to medium low, and cook for another 8-10 minutes, depending on how well you want them cooked
  • When you remove the eggs from stove, put them in a bowl of ice water so they STOP cooking right away
  • Put in your fridge and enjoy all week!

I don’t know why we didn’t start doing this sooner. It’s been so nice to have these guys in the fridge, ready to be made in to lovely kitchen creations. While I love eating them plain with salt-and-pepper, I love cutting them up (one whole egg, one white) and having them on toast for breakfast.

I love spreading cream cheese, really good butter, or a little bit of sharp cheddar on the bread as well.

And one day when I was home for lunch, I made the most delicious egg salad using one egg and two egg whites (mayo, mustard, s &p).

Having the eggs ready makes these kinds of healthy meals so simple and fast.

YUM!

So, us egg eaters are on a whole new kick. We buy two cartons of large, cage free eggs a week and hard boil a dozen every Sunday.

I just ate my last for snack while posting, so I can’t wait for a fresh batch tomorrow!

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So, I have a confession to make. Lately, I have been rather lazy and uninspired in the kitchen. And I have been craving lots of “bad” stuff: cheese, carbs, melted cheese, hot carbs, cold cheese, crunchy carbs… you get it. Same ingredients, different ways: not great for the waistline!

And a few days ago all I wanted for dinner was a big plate of cheesy nachos. I thought about going to pick some up, or going out, but then I took a step back and said to myself, “Self, you can make tasty, but healthier nachos at home. Stop being so lazy!” (Sometimes I have to just be straight up with you guys- I talk to myself).

So I grabbed a can of TJ’s Cuban Black Beans from my pantry…

These are great for those lazy nights because they are pre-cooked with onion, green peppers, and lots of spices. Great flavor! Even if you don’t have a TJ’s near you, I am sure you can find beans in your store that are cooked with spices and veggies. This will save you a lot of time on nights when you just don’t have the energy to do it yourself.

I heated up a big bowl of beans and topped them with chopped tomato, part-skim mozzarella cheese, low fat yogurt (instead of sour cream), and salsa. I had some sweet potato ruffle chips (also from TJ’s) and corn chips on the side.

This was SO GOOD! I think the key to making this dish healthy is to load up on beans and skimp a little on the chips. The chips are great for a little crunch, and to satisfy the carb craving, but the beans are really what keeps you feeling full and satisfied. And low fat yogurt or sour cream gives you that hearty, creamy taste without all the fat.

And as long as you are eating chips, might as well go for the sweet potato ones and have some extra vitamins, right?

A perfect bite…

I’m sure you guys have made “nachos” at home- no big cooking revelation here- but t it really was so satisfying for me. So much better than going out for a big plate of Mexican food, and coming home feeling nauseous, bloated, gassy, and like you just gained 5 pounds in salt/ water retention. Sometimes it’s just not worth it!

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Last night, I made the most yummy dinner- and it was really quick! Perfect for a weeknight meal.

I was in the mood for pasta, but I wanted to try something a little different. So I put together the following ingredients in my kitchen:

  • 1 Eggplant
  • 1 Roll of polenta
  • Trader Joe’s “Giotti” canned tomato sauce
  • Goat’s milk gouda

I decided to combine all of these ingredients into mini eggplant/ polenta “lasagnas”- and they turned out really well!

I preheated my oven to 350, sliced up the eggplant, and cooked it in a pan (about 3 minutes each side) on medium heat with some EVOO, salt, and pepper. While the eggplant cooked, I sliced up the polenta. Then, I just stacked the soft eggplant and the slices of polenta (just 2 slices of both- didn’t want them to topple over!). I topped the “lasagnas” with the TJ’s sauce and a slice of yummy cheese on top.

I popped the whole thing in the oven, covered in aluminum foil, for 20 minutes. I took off the foil after 20 minutes and let it sit in the oven and bake for another 5.

And, VOILA!  A cheap, easy, and really tasty dinner!

If none of you have cooked with polenta in the past, I highly recommend it. It’s actually made of cornmeal, and you can find it in any supermarket these days, usually in the pasta aisle. I like to buy it pre-made in a roll (wrapped in plastic) which is easy to cut up and bake or pan fry. I was really happy with this version… as I don’t use recipes, I’m always happy when I play with ingredients and it works!

All of the flavors worked perfectly together. You could definitely play with the ingredients and add things like zucchini, peppers, fresh basil, a sharper cheese, etc. This dish is very forgiving! Especially if you have a great sauce (This TJ’s marinara is highly recommended by yours truly).

This dish also makes plenty of leftovers (if you are two hungry eaters, like we are). It made enough for 2 filling meals for both of us!

Hope you all give this a try at home. If you do, don’t be afraid to add new flavors and ingredients- and let me know how you like it!

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Hi guys! While I certainly haven’t been posting as much as usual, I have been taking pictures of some of my most delicious eats over the last week or so. There’s been some great meals! So let me share…

DINNERs

We’ve been low on groceries, I’ve tried to keep cooking…

First up, a simple and delicious meal: A tomato and cucumber salad with a warm tuna melt.

I just made the tuna salad, scooped it on some bread, topped it with some shredded Gouda and toasted it up! This is a Loren/ Kat favorite. And the cats always want some, too!

One night, when we were very low on groceries, I was proud of myself for putting together a healthy, veggie-filled meal from the pantry and my freezer. I combined some frozen chopped spinach with a big can of Trader Joe’s tomato sauce and some chickpeas. I just made some whole wheat angel hair pasta (the best kind of whole wheat pasta because it has a nice texture) and topped it with the sauce. I also made a green salad on the side.

YUM!

If you don’t like the texture of whole wheat pasta, and therefore don’t eat it, I highly recommend you try angel hair whole-wheat. You can find it at any grocery store.

But my favorite dinner that I’ve cooked in the last week was definitely wild salmon- baked in aluminum foil in covered with a sauce of olive oil, lemon, capers, and dijon grain mustard. In the oven for 22 minutes at 400.

And voilà, the best salmon EVER. And I cooked up some really easy veggies to have on the side: corn and haricot verts (fancy word for skinny string beans). They were so easy because I could just boil both vegetables (at different times) in the same pot.

And there you have it- a 20 minute meal. 🙂

BREAKFAST

These are some of my favorite breakfast as of late…

Apple/banana oatmeal.  I added half a chopped green apple and half a sliced banana to the oatmeal and let it all cook together for about seven minutes. I added lots of cinnamon and some maple syrup as well.

Then there was the “waffles benedict”- Yogurt, apple, apricot jam, and PB on whole wheat waffles!

SOOO good!

A simple sunny side up egg on toast. Little bit of cream cheese. Lots of hot sauce!

And my favorite breakie of all: today’s! Scooped out FRESH whole wheat-everything bagel with a little bit of chive cream cheese, capers, sliced tomato, and lox (smoked salmon).

Yes, I am a Jewish girl at heart. This is my people’s food! I’ve gotta love it- its in my blood. 😉

And that’s about it for the greatest as of late. I promise to try to post more regularly- please bare with me!

Today I am actually attempting a double workout- lets see how that goes. I swam for 30 minutes this morning and I am heading to a Novice/ Open pilates class. I’m excited- I really want to get into Pilates- seems so good for toning, stretching, and strengthening the body. And I found a great-looking studio right down the street! Love Brooklyn.

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Loren got me the best present for Christmas this year: cooking lessons for us to take together. After reading a bunch of reviews, he found The Natural Gourmet Institute in Manhattan. It is focused on making healthy, mostly vegetarian, largely ethnic cuisine. Loren and I decided to take a class called “Destination: Morocco” with Myra Kornfeld. Neither of us knew anything about Moroccan food, but we were intrigued by the idea of learning about new textures, spices, and ingredients.

The class was more than I could have hoped for. We took it on Martin Luther King Day, from 2:30 to 6 PM. It seems like a lot of time to cook, but we had so much to make that it went by really fast! We made: Roasted Red Pepper-Sesame Pesto on Toasted Pita Triangles; Green Leaf Salad with Shallots and Pomegranate Molasses Vinaigrette; Red  Lentil Soup; Chickpea Charmoula Strudel; Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Onions, Cinnamon, Almonds and Cherries; Quinoa-Carrot Pilaf with Saffron, Mint and Harissa Spinach; and Olive Oil Semolina-Walnut Cake. (Sorry but I can’t post any recipes here — they belong to the instructor). Loren and I were a team of two and we made the chicken dish, the harissa spinach, and the quinoa pilaf. Everyone in the class made 2 to 3 dishes, which was great because we really learn a lot about using new ingredients and spices.

I took pictures when I could!

The beginning instruction:

Me, seriously hard at work… (making the filling for the chicken)

Me, happily hard at work…

The stuffed and breaded chicken. They were sauted in a pan and then baked in the oven.

Loren had fun stuffing and breading the chicken!

It was great to learn how to make little “pockets” in the chicken to stuff them with the caramelized onion mixture. I will definitely be trying to re-create this dish with different ingredients at home. I think goat cheese would be really great in it!

It was a lot of fun to play with new spices and herbs. To make the “harissa spinach”, we boiled some hot red peppers and let them sit in the water for 10 minutes before chopping them up and adding some jalapeno and spices. Then, we mixed this spicy plate with a whole lot of spinach.

Yum!

Then, we had a presentation on how to use the filo dough, which we stuffed with a chickpea mixture and rolled up.

What’s interesting about filo dough is that you have to use a bunch of layers to create a nice crust. You also have to brush each layer with a little bit of olive oil. I’m usually really intimidated by ingredients like this, but after seeing how easy it was for us to make, I might try to play with it at home.

Myra rolled it up like a pro!

Once everyone had made their dishes, we got to the best part: EATING!It was really nice that the Institute also provided wine with dinner. For $110, the three and half hours of cooking, the professional instruction, the amazing food (multicourse dinner), and wine were more than I expected. EVERYTHING WAS SOOO GOOD!

We started out munching on a dairy-free red pepper dip and some freshly baked pita chips.

Then, we had the red lentil soup, which had a little bit of yogurt drizzled in it. YUM!

The salad came next. I wasn’t expecting to like this salad, but it was AMAZING. It had been described as kind of a “sweet” salad, which I dont usually like, but the dressing was very light and not overpowering at all. It was topped with crispy fried shallots, which were the perfect contrast to the maple syrup in the dressing and the pomegranate arils and juicy oranges. YUM again!

Next came the entrées and we got to try them all! I was a big fan of both the stuffed chicken breast and the chickpea/ filo dough roll.

I love the idea of rolling food together and then cutting along one side to make the presentation very beautiful. I never really cooked this way but it inspired me to spend a little more time thinking about presentation when I cook. The sides — the quinoa and the spinach — were very light. It may seem like we a lot of food but I didn’t feel stuff at all. I think that is because we use such healthy ingredients (i.e. we fried chicken in coconut oil instead of in heavy fats so it didn’t make me feel sluggish or weighed down).

I actually forgot to take pictures of the wonderful dessert- a semolina flour cake which was served with orange slices and vanilla ice cream. I don’t usually like dessert but it was ALSO so good- not too sweet at all!

All in all, it was a very fun day. The Institute definitely exceeded my expectations! (And as a full paying student, I am giving my honest opinion — I am not a paid blogger:) )  In fact, we already have plans to go back in the Spring!

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Good morning!

Yesterday was one of those days when I was tempted by lots of treats — a reality of the holiday season, of course. I was proud of the way it handled the day in contrast to the way I have in years before… but more on that in a bit.

I had to be up early to teach a class, so I skipped the gym.  I made a breakfast wrap with scrambled eggs, avocado, a little bit of cheese, and some apricot preserve.I had some tea and fresh berries on the  side.

Breakfast wraps are my failproof go-to for a morning when I need something quick and healthy — and filling!

When I got to work yesterday, a lot of the classes were having holiday parties which meant lots of food.  I tried to make healthy decisions while still enjoying things I don’t usually get to eat.

I had a cup of smart food popcorn,

Two small chile rellenos for lunch (homemade  by a student—- sooo good!)

( I think they were covered in egg and stuffed with chicken and vegetables).

And a chocolate chip oatmeal cookie.

In years past, I would have freaked out about eating a cookie and fried food for lunch-  and not having gone to the gym. I probably would have thrown my hands up and thought,  “Well, I’ve ruined my day/diet so I might as well eat whatever is in sight.”  And then I would have, and then I would have felt like puking.

I don’t get much into my disordered eating past here, but I realize how far I have come on days like yesterday. I have a different relationship with myself, and, therefore, a different relationship with food. This blog also really helps to keep me sane, to keep me accountable, to keep things in perspective. Yesterday, as I felt old thought patterns coming back, I  watched them and I didn’t beat myself up for having a few goodies. I  just said, “No big deal”- because it really wasn’t. And because I didn’t beat myself up, I didn’t overindulge. I got back on the bandwagon  before I could even fall off and had healthy eats for snacks and dinner — exactly what I was craving.

I snacked on a low-fat yogurt from Trader Joe’s.

And a green apple.

For dinner, I ate a big bowl of raw veggies with a little bit of dip.

And some shrimp gyoza  from Trader Joe’s that I steamed and pan fried in olive oil. These were delicious!

I recently bought this great red chili teriyaki sauce and it went perfectly with the dumplings. I went back for two more!

I am usually really impressed with Trader Joe’s frozen foods, but these were especially impressive. They each had big bites of shrimp, lots of veggies, and a great consistency. They weren’t mushy or bland in the center at all — as many frozen dumplings are. They are also very healthy and full of protein,  at  about 50 calories per dumpling. I will definitely be buying them again and relying on them for a great midweek dinner.

I ended the day feeling satisfied but not stuffed- and my “bad eats” at lunch seemed like no big deal in the big picture. I finally feel that I am really moving into a new space with food, eating, with health, and with myself. I hope that it lasts into the new year and beyond.  Thanks to you all for reading and for all your support.  It makes a big difference to know you are there!

Hope you all have a great Friday! I am off on a big family vacation (more details to come) tomorrow night — if the weather permits! A snow storm is coming!

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