Archive for July, 2010

Too Hot for Hot Food

With it being literally 100 degrees outside these days, the last thing I feel like doing is eating hot food. I feel like I can’t catch a break, even my AC is working extra hard and feeling like luke warm air. It really stinks because it’s too hot to even be outside, which is where I draw the line! I was glad that the Thursday’s meal plan called for cool pasta salad. It was easy to make and only took a few ingredients, most I already had on hand.

I’m not a big fan of pasta salad because I always think the Italian dressing overpowers the dish in most cases and beyond that, it’s just not a fave. I was excited to try this recipe out because it had no Italian Dressing and it was really good! Chris isn’t the biggest fan of Garbanzo beans and he even said it was really tasty. (So if you feel the same, I urge you to still try it.)

Pasta Salad with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes and Feta Cheese

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound fusilli or other corkscrew pasta
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped plum tomatoes
  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • Additional chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Cook pasta in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool. Drain again.

Combine 1/4 cup mint, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic and lemon peel in large bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Add pasta, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and feta cheese. Toss to blend well. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared ahead. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours; or cover and refrigerate overnight, them let stand at room temperature 1 hour before serving.)

Mound salad on large shallow platter. Garnish with additional mint.

I think it would have been good with some Kalamata olives as well, so I think I will try that next time. I paired this with a cool summer salad with red onions, walnuts and some balsamic vinegar and it was really what we needed for a hot summer evening.

I brought leftovers for lunch and I’m looking forward to it! I didn’t go to Group Power last night (I don’t even know who I am anymore) but I feel I had a valid excuse. I was exhausted for some reason and I had a lot to do to get ready for my trip next week to NY. I finally got my bridesmaid shoes (cutting it pretty close there) and I’m really happy with them! I wanted to splurge and get the $45.00 ones that I would wear again rather than some $19.99 ones that I would trash when it was over. Thank Goodness for the Macy’s card because with everything else this month is tight! I will say I did get 15% off with a coupon…

This weekend is jam-packed! I get to see one of my best-friends and her brand new baby! I’m beyond excited 🙂 I also have another friend’s birthday party and softball, all while trying to clean my house and get ready for my trip.

What are everyone’s plans for the weekend? Do you tend to overpack your weekends like me?

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The ol’ Switcherooo

While the meal plan for Thursday called for  Seared Wild Salmon w/New Potatoes and Dijon Broth, Chris accidentally took out Tilapia instead. I was fine with it since it had been a while since I had either. After running the bike path with Lindsay I was completley exhausted (more than usual) and only felt like making a simple tialpia dish. The humidity was insane in Charlotte yesterday. At 8:00 at night I still felt like I was running through clouds. It was brutal.

Tilapia with Balsamic Butter Sauce

I paired the fish with some yummy potatoes that I mixed with EVOO and some oregano, threw them in the oven for a bit while I made the salad and finshed the fish. On another note, when I went grocery shopping this past week, I picked up the cutest little breakfast to-go.

How cute is this? Completely un-practical for an everyday breakfast at $1.29 a piece. Chris pointed out that I could just buy a box of cereal and then have a cup at my desk to eat it out of, but I picked up 2 to try them out. I missed having cereal for breakfast and now I think I am going to start eating it at my desk. It’s just too hot for oatmeal.

Also, I picked up some of this red-roasted hummus. I’m convinced that you can put this on anything. I need to start eating more veggies throughout the day so the hummus paired with some carrots, or OK carrots paired or smuthered in hummus, was delish!

Recipe for Tilapia with Balsamic Butter Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 4- to 5-ounce tilapia fillets

Directions:

Simmer vinegar and garlic in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to thick syrup, about 5 minutes. Set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in each of 2 large skillets over high heat. Sprinkle fish with salt and pepper. Sauté fish until golden, about 2 minutes per side.

Spoon sauce over fish and serve.

Tonight I’m looking forward to some easy pasta salad and Group Power! Yay 🙂 Friday will be here before we know it!

Bouncing Back

So Monday was not my typical Monday. I got home from the beach after nine on Sunday night and there was a pile of laundry not done, my house was a mess from the lack of a Sunday clean-up and my fridge was bare. This all led up to a Monday fail. I came home after work and I didn’t run, I did not grocery shop and I did not cook dinner. Instead I got home, grabbed a glass of wine after a long day at work and told Chris to make the dinner. 🙂 Since I didn’t cook it, I’m not posting it and after that I had a bowl of ice-cream and sat on the couch all night. Somedays you just need days like that…

BUT! I was determined to turn my week around yesterday. I got home and went grocery shopping immediately. Got all my healthy lunch foods and some side items I needed for this week’s dinner. I’ve decided to drop down to one day a week for Group Power and replace it with a run. I’m nowhere near the amount of miles I need to be at and the Half-Marathon is slowly creeping up.  (I can’t believe it’s almost August!) So after the grocery shopping trip I ran my 2.5 mile loop and practiced my sets. (Run 6 minutes, Walk for 1 minute) My friend Emily is an avid runner and she recommended sets for me to increase my endurance and the amount of miles I’m running. It kinda kicked my arse. After the run, I came home and cooked dinner. The meal plan called for Honeydew Melon Salad and Oregano Shrimp.

I added some cous-cous and some spinach leaves because I was hungry! Chris and I are on a total couscous kick right now.

Green Tomato and Honeydew Melon Salad

(I left out the tomato and think I got a sprite melon on acident…FYI)

Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons raw green (hulled) pumpkin seeds (pepitas) *I left these out as well
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoon finely chopped seeded fresh jalapeño
  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed green tomatoes (not unripe), cut into 3/4-inch wedges
  • 1/2 honeydew melon, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves

Directions:

Toast cumin in a dry small heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and a shade darker, about 1 minute. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add pumpkin seeds to skillet and heat, stirring constantly, until slightly puffed (be careful not to brown them), 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer seeds to a small bowl and stir in 1/4 teaspoon oil and salt to taste.

Whisk together cumin, vinegar, chile, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil in large bowl, then gently toss with tomatoes, melon, and cilantro. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Grilled Oregano Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled
  • 1 small red onion
  • 24 peeled and deveined large shrimp (about 1 pound)

Directions:

Prepare grill for direct-heat cooking over medium-hot charcoal (medium-high heat for gas); see Grilling Procedure.

Stir together oil, oregano, and 3/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl.

Cut onion lengthwise into 3/4-inch wedges and separate layers. Toss shrimp and onion with oil mixture, then thread 6 shrimp onto each skewer, alternating with single layers of onion.

Grill shrimp, covered only if using a gas grill, turning once, until just cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total.

After dinner I did some laundry and cleaned up a bit. I felt so much better being back on track and having things in oder. I guess I’m a creature of habit and routine. What makes you feel out of whack?

 PS. For those of you who actually use these recipes (thanks) but also I’m officially done with shrimp for a while 🙂

Busy month, yummy foods

Happy Monday, or if you are sunburned like me, not so happy 😦 I was at the beautiful Edisto beach all weekend (hence the lack of posts) and am fully prepared to kick-off another week of cooking but feel that some minor adjustments need to be made on the training front.

First of all, I can not run outside until this sunburn subsides. It is beyond painful to even walk in the sun. I am really upset because I wore a 30 SPF and even a 70 in some places but this is a great example on why it is oh-so important to “reapply.”

There was no shortage of food but I’m happy to say that while on vacation the girls and I made a conscious effort to keep a healthy diet. In the morning we would cook some eggs along with a vast array of fruits and english muffins. For lunches on the beach we made sure to pack healthy sandwiches with wheat bread, low-fat turkey, cucumber, lettuce and tomato!

Of course there was some yummy treats…it was after all, vacation. These mini cheesecake muffins that Sara made were amazing!!!

…and it was Kim’s birthday so we had to have a cake! It was delish 🙂

Dinners were brown rice with chicken, veggie burgers (and regular burgers for those who wanted them) and kabobs. We didn’t let ourselves eat too terribly but I’m sure with the amount of beer that was consumed I still have some major running to do this week.

I have decided to go to the gym to run my usual 2 miles tonight to shield me from anymore burning and I’m looking forward to eating some yummy steak tonight courtesy of the hubbie-to-be. I plan to make some pan-seared cherry tomatoes and some steamed lemon-brocolli to go with it…

Which brings me to: The meal plan for this week!

Monday: Steak w/pan-seared cherry tomatoes and steamed lemon brocolli

Tuesday: Green Tomato and Honeydew Melon Salad w/Grilled Oregano Shrimp

Wednesday: Seared Wild Salmon w/New Potatoes and Dijon Broth

Thursday: Pasta Salad with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes and Feta Cheese (I love some Feta!)

Friday: Artichoke and Feta Stuffed Turkey Burgers (can’t wait to try this from bakinandeggs.com)

Saturday: Chris and I are going to a friend’s house for her birthday and grilling out. Not sure what is on the menu just yet, but can’t wait to have someone cook it for us!

Sunday: Baby Greens with Warm Goat cheese rounds

Also, on a side note: I’m aware that I haven’t posted about healthy and on-the-go lunches but that is only because I figured instead of spouting off to you about what I “think” would be great ideas, I’m going to try them. I’ll be documenting the lunches I eat for the rest of the week and posting the results hopefully before jetting off to NY for my best-friend’s wedding (which will be a weekend loaded with yummy new recipes and meals!)

Back-Up Plans

I wasn’t able to make Tilapia as planned last night because both Chris and I forgot to take it out of the freezer. When I got home and realized that there was basically nothing we could cook, I had to come up with a back-up plan. Enter shrimp! I had bought some shrimp last week and never used it so I thought this could be the perfect opportunity. I have to say, I am so happy we didn’t end up cooking the fish, because this recipe was a hit and will definitely be made again. It was so full of flavor, simple and healthy. This dish paired with some cheap-o Pinot Grigio was exactly what I needed to get me through the week!

I will say that I left out the chicken broth and saffron threads in this recipe because I didn’t have it on-hand. It still turned out very good!

Grilled Shrimp with Vegetables and Cous-cous

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup plus 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 1/4 cups pearl couscous (sometimes called Israeli couscous; 3/4 pound)
  • 1 3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (14 fl ounces)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon crumbled saffron threads
  • 2 lb large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined if necessary
  • 2 medium red onions (1 pound total)
  • 2 pounds large zucchini (about 4), cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 6 ounces feta, crumbled (1 1/4 cups)

Directions:

Whisk together vinegar, oregano, thyme, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl until salt is dissolved. Add 1/3 cup oil in a slow stream, whisking until vinaigrette is combined.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a wide 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot but not smoking, then toast couscous, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. While couscous toasts, stir together broth, water, and saffron in a large glass measure. Add to couscous with 1/2 teaspoon salt and bring to a simmer, uncovered. Simmer, covered, until liquid is absorbed and couscous is al dente, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, 10 minutes. Stir vinaigrette to combine, then stir 2 tablespoons into couscous and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature.

Prepare grill for cooking over medium-hot charcoal (moderate heat for gas).

Toss shrimp with 1 tablespoon oil, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a bowl and thread 4 or 5 shrimp onto each skewer (don’t crowd, or shrimp won’t cook evenly).

Peel onions and trim root ends slightly, leaving ends intact, then halve lengthwise and cut halves lengthwise into 1/2-inch-wide wedges. Insert 1 wooden pick through each wedge to hold layers together while grilling, then put onions in a large bowl with zucchini. Toss vegetables with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Grill shrimp skewers on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once with tongs, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes total. Transfer shrimp, discarding skewers, to a clean bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette.

Grill vegetables on lightly oiled grill rack, covered only if using a gas grill, turning over once, until just tender, about 5 minutes, transferring to bowl as grilled. Remove and discard picks from onions. Drizzle vegetables with remaining vinaigrette and toss to combine.

Spoon couscous onto a large platter or shallow serving bowl. Arrange shrimp and vegetables on top of couscous and sprinkle with feta. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Don’t miss the post tomorrow on Quick & Easy Lunches!

An interesting food week so far…

Hello! It’s Wednesday, yay hump day 🙂 I promise I have been sticking to my running schedule and cooking meal plan but on Monday I was just too exhausted to blog and last night my laptop decided to act up on me. Get ready for a 2-day  post…

So Monday’s dinner was, how do you say? Interesting. If you recall I was going to make fried-egg Caesar salad with prosciutto bread-sticks. My husband-to-be was so nice to go grocery shopping but left the store with about half of the things I needed this week. I don’t blame him too much since the grocery list included items like fish sauce and ginger root but boy have I had to improvise over the last few days.  The Gazpacho turned out yummy and thankfully we had that as a precursor to the meal because I don’t know if my Fried-Egg Caesar Salad would have entirely filled me up.

The Gazpacho was thick and almost salsa-like but it was sooo good!

Instead of bread-sticks I had to use toast banquettes and instead of sun-dried tomatoes I just through in cherry tomatoes.  I don’t think this turned out the way it was supposed to but I don’t think I will try making it again either. Not bad, not great.

I can deal with Monday nights because of the Bachelorette. So I cozied up on my couch after my 2 mile run and grabbed a bowl of ice-cream. Can’t go wrong with vanilla-bean and chocolate syrup!

Tuesday was a busy, busy day. After work I had a meeting from 7-8 and when I got home I was starving. I should probably add that my meeting was held at Arby’s and while I was watching people eat their roast beef sandwiches and curly fries I was salivating. But I held strong because I was excited to try out a tofu recipe. I know, that’s a leap right? Roast beef lusting to Tofu? Tuesday’s dinner was originally scheduled for Wed. but with my meeting and getting home so late, grilling tilapia really wasn’t in the cards, so that is what I will cook tonight.

Spicy Thai Tofu with Red Bell Peppers & Peanuts

Let me tell you how good this was! I was impressed! I encourage you all to try this recipe. It’s easy and probably a good “first” tofu dish for those of you that are willing to try it.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 large red bell peppers, seeded, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 14-to 16-ounce package extra-firm tofu, drained well, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced on diagonal
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1/3 cup lightly salted roasted peanuts

Directions:

Heat oil in wok over high heat. Add bell peppers, ginger, and garlic; sauté until peppers just begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add tofu and green onions; toss 2 minutes. Add next 3 ingredients. Toss to blend, about 1 minute. Add spinach in 3 additions, tossing until beginning to wilt, about 1 minute for each addition. Mix in basil. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle peanuts over.

Once again I got this recipe of Epicurous.

I was unable to attend Group Power last night due to other obligations and I missed it. I am well aware of how that sounds and how lame I am, but I can’t help it. I am looking forward to getting in a class tomorrow before I leave for the beach.

Also, I’m almost finished compiling my list of yummy lunch foods to eat whether you are on the go or stuck in a cubicle. I hope to post some combinations tomorrow night along with how the Tilapia turned out 🙂

Less Dining and Dashing, more Painting…

So there was very little dining and very little dashing in my weekend BUT I did get a good work-out in painting! Holy Moly painting is a pain! Actually, let me retract that…prepping is a pain! Painting wasn’t that bad but it took forever to get there. Even with help, it took pretty much all day. I do have some “Before & Afters” for you because honestly, painting was my work-out these past few days.

I apologize for the quality of pictures. My Sony Cybershot is not the best camera for taking pics for my blog but I can’t afford a really nice SLR yet 😦

BEFORE:

AFTER!

It’s amazing what a gallon of paint can do! With my new found living room, I decided to snag up a few items now that I don’t have to worry about clashing with Burnt Red (ps. everything clashes with bunt red). Here is my “how-to” on redecorating your living room in under $100 🙂 Actually I think with the paint, primer, tools and trinkets it was around a $60 makeover!

I got a nice rack to put on the wall as we walk in to carry my scarfs and purses. I always left my girlie stuff on the kitchen table or on the floor of my living room, but now it’s right by the door in a neat place, ready for me to grab on the way out!

T.J. Maxx…$9.99

Next you know I had to go to Ikea! It’s right down the street from me and I sware that is as good as Gold! I don’t know what I will do if we move somewhere where I don’t have this luxury. I picked up these cute blue decorative trinkets for cheap!

Ikea…$4.99

Ikea…$7.99

I felt like a kid in the candy shop when picking up items @ T.J. Maxx. It had been a while since I could choose a color palette…I have been really drawn to blues and greens lately so I picked up this table runner, along with a cute dish and dollar store candles to complete a put-together look for our dining room. The table runner was $12.99 and the dish was $5.99, both from TJ’s.

I put some of our saved corks (we collect them on our dates) to add some more texture and personality 🙂

After we painted all day the last thing we felt like doing was cooking so we went out to get burgers. They totally hit the spot. Sunday I picked up a shift at the salon to try and add to my beach fun spending money fund 🙂 Of course when I got home I wanted to put everything back up on our walls and spent the majority of the night just getting my house back in order! It was a mess after all the festivities this weekend.

For dinner we were both so whooped (and we had a major late grocery shopping trip) a frozen pizza was all we could muster up to make.

but we did get in our fruit with an awesome banana and strawberry smoothie. If you don’t have a blender, buy one. Sometimes I could actually drink my meal and be perfectly satisfied. Which is saying something!