Saturday, January 30, 2010

When Life Gives You Snow...

Make a feast that makes you feel like you're in a place like this:
Since I had a snow day from the store, I was able to put in some QT with my houseguest and catch up on stuff around the apartment. I was really excited to cook for someone aside from just me so I asked her to pick a protein (I had sole, shrimp and salmon in the freezer) and a type of cuisine and I'd take it from there. Of course she had to go and pick 'tropical' - specifically jerk chicken - which I greeted with a 'WTF?' face. Thankfully she wasn't set on jerk chicken and we settled on a tropical dinner featuring sole.

I was psyched to go with a tropical theme, especially since there was a blanket of white outside! Unfortunately, tropical/Caribbean cuisine - NOT my forte. I knew I would make some Pigeon Peas and Rice, one of my favorite dishes from a trip to Grenada. I found a recipe for Peas and Rice last year and while it didn't satisfy my craving, it gave me a basic concept to work with. Threw in some other punches of flavor and voila!
Coconut Ginger Peas and Rice
1/2 onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted
3 slices ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
1 c basmati rice
1.5 c pigeon peas (canned)
1 c chicken broth
3/4 lite coconut milk
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat olive oil in a pan and saute onion until translucent. Add tomato, ginger, salt, pepper and coriander and cook for 3 minutes. Add rice and stir to coat (approximately 1 minute) and pour in broth, milk, cilantro and peas and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover and cook for 25 minutes.

Of course, I had to work on the protein of choice - sole. This one was a toughie. At first I was thinking I'd do a curry fish, but I didn't want it stewed. I wanted a seared fish. I scoured FoodGawker for some inspiration, but no such luck. Then all of a sudden (no clue where it came from) I shouted 'lemongrass!' And dinner was created.
Spicy Lemongrass Fish
2 sole fillets
2 tbsp lemongrass, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chili garlic paste
1/4 c lite coconut milk
pinch salt

Combine lemongrass, garlic, chili paste, coconut milk and salt in a shallow container big enough for the fish to sit comfortably in. Marinate fish for at least 30 minutes.

Heat a frying pan with a spritz of olive oil and cook fish for 2 minutes on each side.

To balance out the creaminess of the rice and the slightly spicy/creaminess of the fish, I thought a nice fruity and citrusy salsa was needed. Once I actually sat down to map out dinner, I kept complaining about how I should have grabbed some pineapple or peppers or something else to toss in. Instead, I learned how to make do with what I already had :)
Mango Citrus Salsa
1 ripe mango, diced
1/2 avocado, chopped
2 tbsp onion, minced
1 1/2 tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 tsp cumin
juice of 1/2 lime
juice of 1/2 clementine
3 dashes hot sauce
salt and pepper

Combine ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate for 1-2 hours.

With the creamy/soft and acidic/clean tastes under control, I thought I should bring in something crispy. Enter the plantain. At first I was just going to bake them, but then I said eff it. Let's just fry those suckers. And fry them, we did.

Fried Plantains
1 green plantain, sliced into 1/4 inch disks
salt and pepper
oil for frying

Heat oil and fry plantains until golden brown. Sprinkle immediately with salt and pepper.
Overall, I must say I was VERY pleased with my experiment! I took a bite of each element on its own just to see how they turned out and OMG. I was amazed at how much flavor the fish had taken on and it wasn't at all overpowering. I definitely tasted the lemongrass and garlic combination and the heat was an afterthought. The texture of the fish was nice and buttery, which I may attribute to the coconut milk.

I was pretty concerned about how the rice would turn out since I really just threw in a ton of different ingredients. In the end, I had a wonderfully rich and fragrant rice dish with a subtle ginger flavor. Both the fish AND the rice went great with the sweet and tart mango salsa. I managed to score a perfectly ripe mango and who knew the clementine juice would work out so well? The avocado was a last minute addition since the bowl was looking pretty boring before I put it in the fridge and I'm really glad I tossed it in. Served on its own, I think the salsa would be great with chips!

That was not all I made this fine snowy day (like I'd just cook ONE thing ;p). For snacks/a doggie bag for friend that is headed back to the land of small/non-existent kitchens tomorrow, I made another batch of those spinach roll ups from last night (now in an all new clear format - yay for finding my memory card!)
and another version sort of inspired by a reuben, sort of inspired by a hot pocket ;p:
The filling consisted of deli ham, 2 slices of 2% swiss cheese, 2 tbsp whole grain mustard, 1/2 tsp mayonnaise, 1/4 tsp ketchup and a bit of relish.
This time I baked the ham one in a flaky crescent roll and it was quite delicious.

I'm still not into the sweetness in the Pillsbury dough, but until I can make my own, it'll do.

In keeping with the crescent rollness, I felt compelled to make a batch of Chocolate Rugelach. Not that I've ever made rugelach before, but I do have a soft spot for it...especially chocolate rugelach. MMM. I just love the bittersweet filling. YUUM!

I Googled for recipes and this one sounded the most promising: I was good and followed the directions (as I always do with baking...I just don't trust myself!). The dough was looking good in the fridge so we got to work on the chocolate filling. As friend got started grating the chocolate, I remember thinking 'wow, that's super powdery.' So, I had her chop it up instead. Hey, I like melty chocolate bits. I didn't realize it would make it hard to roll up :/

Here are the messy rolls ready to go in the oven:
And the rugelach cooling:
The flavors were exactly what I was looking for, though I remember always eating flakier rugelach, and the chocolate/cinnamon mixture was fantastic. However, next time I'd like to combine the sugar, cinnamon, cocoa powder and grated chocolate and slowly mix in melted butter so a paste is formed. I think that's the sort of texture I'm looking for in the filling. Ah well, lesson learned!

Any fun creations this weekend?? I've got one BSI contender so far...anyone want to give her some competition? ;p

Friday, January 29, 2010

OMG! OMG! (a good and bad one)

Good things go first, right? NO MORE PT FOR ME!!! :) :)
I don't want to get too excited and jinx myself, but it was such a great thing to hear this afternoon! I explained my whole experiment and how I felt on Wednesday to my PT and she checked me out and said everything was looking good. I've been sent to try two days of intervals this coming week and then try to increase to three days next week. If everything goes well, then I'm in the clear! If not, then I'm supposed to report back and she may have to send me off to another specialist that might be able to help. Cross your fingers!!

When I got back into the office it seemed fitting that I checked out a link sent to me by Lindy over at AudioFuel. Basically, AudioFuel provides music composed for runners to match their stride pattern. I know that sounds really nerdy and scientific, but think about it...have you ever listened to a song while running and get totally thrown off? I have.

In addition to the information on AudioFuel, Lindy also gave me the heads up about a "Music and Motivation" - they are working with the Virgin London Marathon (*big sigh* - I want to run this one day) and taking votes for your favorite running tracks. The top ten tracks will make up a motivating iMix! Share your favorite tracks here by February 1st! I already did ;)

Speaking of dates...two more days to submit your BSI entries!

On to the bad "OMG"...

A friend is coming down from NYC for a last minute visit and I grabbed some wine and snacks for us. Since I was picking up stuff on my way home from the running store, I stopped at Brookville Market in Cleveland Park. I've stopped here before to pick up random last minute items so no biggie. They have a pretty boring cheese selection, but I walked away with a Goat Brie. A nice safe bet. I also grabbed some Pillsbury Dinner Rolls, spinach and cremini mushrooms for an experimental snack.

I minced up some garlic, 1 anchovy fillet, a cup of spinach leaves, a couple tablespoons of toasted pine nuts, 3 cremini mushrooms, parrano cheese, salt and pepper - by hand, since I was concerned the food processor would make it too pasty. Smooshed it onto the dinner roll triangles, rolled them up and baked them. Voila!
I was a little worried about these guys, but they actually turned out pretty tasty. I have mixed feelings about Pillsbury dough items least when making savory goods. It was a little sweeter than I wanted it to be. Maybe next time I'll try this with puff pastry? Something else?

Thank goodness that worked out because when I went to open the brie, I was greeted with this:
And a rancid, not right, garbagey smell. UGH. GROSS. Never again. EVER.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Happy Wednesday!

Have you thought about your tofu-licious creations for this week's BSI??

I hopped into the office this evening after 8 hours of jury duty only to find out that everything I needed wasn't completed. As much as that frustrated me, I was pretty psyched that I would be able to get home in time to pick up my drycleaning (that had been sitting since Monday) and get a much needed gym trip in.

After IM-ing with an old coworker who runs a ton, I decided to try a little experiment in the gym. Remember my last treadmill attempt? Well, I was feeling some tenderness in my achilles ever since then. Another coworker (from the store) had mentioned maybe the source of my problem was switching to a softer shoe (those Elites I loved). SO, I pulled out my old Inspires, laced them up and set out for the gym.

Despite the lack of sufficient cushioning, I felt the best I have in MONTHS. I think I even had a goofy grin on my face! haha. I started off with a 2 minute walk and then jumped up to a 3 minute heel striking shuffle at 5.8. It felt ok...a little tight, but I was hoping it would loosen up. Since that wasn't painful, I set my next round of running at 6.5 with quicker forefoot striking. OMG. NO PAIN. BEST FEELING EVER! :) :)

Kept the next round the same...still felt good but dropped it back down to the shuffle for the last set to be safe. Didn't want to jinx things! Followed it up with 15 minutes on the elliptical, mostly because I couldn't wait any longer to report the good news :)

Post-first 'real' run back involved 5 minutes of direct ice, lots of bonding time with the Stick, and some special stretches from my PT. Good Wednesday, indeed!

Sorry for being such a super nerd about all's been super frustrating having this stupid injury the past 4 months. I was so bummed that it disrupted the best and most disciplined summer of training for me AND I've had months of physical therapy that still hasn't fixed me enough to run through the winter. UGH.

After all that frustration and pangs of jealousy that would hit anytime I saw people running (o yes, I started craving runs and getting really upset that I couldn't run), I seriously could not contain my excitement during this evening's run!

YAAAY!! :) :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

BSI and Breakfast for Dinner!

Hello all! It's been a nutty day so I'm typing as I dine on a spicy oat bowl for dinner (totally addicted now). I grabbed a package of Morningstar Farms Maple Flavored Veggie Sausage Patties just so I could savor some sausagey goodness in this oat bowl. Also dumped in to ze bowl: arugula, mild chipotle salsa, sriracha, an egg microscrambled with a splash of Adobo seasoning, pepper and chili powder. So far, YUM...though maple fake sausage patty is a little too sweet for me.

Val (of Chicago Marathon Val) so graciously passed on the Blogger Secret Ingredient (BSI) torch to yours truly :) I'm super excited about hosting this week since BSI is one of my favorite things to follow! I think it's a great way for people to get creative in their kitchens and try new things.

For those of you not familiar with BSI, here's a quick rundown of the rules:
  • The host picks an ingredient, preferably one that is in season, readily available and not too expensive.
  • The host links back to all the other previous weekly hosts.
  • Participants create a unique recipe using the BSI and e-mail (or comment and link to) the host their recipes.
  • You do not need to have a food blog to participate, and you do not have to submit a photograph (though, it's preferred so I can show everyone your fabulous creations).
  • If you don't have a blog, you can e-mail the host ( directly and it will be posted on the blog.
  • The host reviews recipes Sunday evening of each week and picks a favorite.
  • The winner is posted Monday morning and receives a prize of the host's choice.
Your ingredient, should you choose to experiment with it, is...

Yep, that's right. Tofu. I've been a bit obsessed with it evidenced here, here, and here. ;p

Tofu is such a versatile ingredient and you can use it in tons of different forms - baked, pressed, fried (*drool*), and au natural! Each form has a totally different texture and I'm sure you guys will have awesome and creative recipes!

The winner of this week's BSI will get to choose a stylish Envirosax Reusable Bag:

Stuffed with the latest issue of this:
A sampler of Funky Chunky pretzels and popcorn (I came across these randomly one holiday season and think they're a super cute sweet treat):
The sampler contains: Caramel Corn, Chocolate Popcorn, Chocolate Pretzels, and Peanut Butter Pretzels.

Plus any other random fun foodie items I stumble upon.

Everyone has until 10pm EST Sunday (1/31 - WHERE DID JANUARY GO??) to submit your recipes. Happy cooking!!!

Thanks to Biz (who's blog I just stumbled upon) for having a whole page devoted to BSI Rules - fantastic resource!

Here are our previous hosts:

Week 64: Chicago Marathon Val - Mushrooms

Week 63: Biggest Diabetic Loser – Cheddar Cheese

Week 62: A Fit and Spicy Life – Balsamic Vinegar

Week 61: Peanut Butter Fingers - Nutmeg

Week 60: Jenn Eats Nutritiously Now - Garlic

Week 59: Home Cooked Em – Cinnamon

Week 58: The Balanced Broad – Flax

Week 57: Cookin Fanatic - Blue Cheese

Week 56: Foodie in the City - Ricotta Cheese

Week 55: Savvy Eats - Maple Syrup

Weel 54: Sound Eats - Dried Fruit

Week 53: Mega Nerd Runs - Acorn Squash

Week 52: Healthy Tipping Point - Pancake Mix

Week 51: Live, Laugh Eat - Almond Butter

Week 50: Balance, Joy and Delicias! – Cauliflower

Week 49: Healthy San Diego Living - Chickpeas

Week 48: Thought 4 Food - Yogurt

Week 47: London Foodie in New York - Chocolate

Week 46: Johnstone’s Vin Blanc - Oats

Week 45: Guilty Kitchen - Figs

Week 44: Ordinary Recipes Made Gourmet - Peanut Butter

Week 43: The Sophisticated Gourmet - Brown Sugar

Week 42: My Kitchen Addiction – Lime

Week 41: Nutmeg Nanny – Coffee

Week 40: Chaya’s Comfy Cook – Broccoli

Week 39: Healthy Delicious – Plums

Week 38: Zoe - Feta

Week 37: ChezWhat- Potatoes

Week 36: Cinnamon, Spice & Everything Nice – Blueberries

Week 35: Girlichef -Greens

Week 34: The Ungourmet – Watermelon

Week 33: Bread + Butter – Bell Pepper

Week 32: Burp and Slurp -Corn

Week 31: Say Yes to Salad – Kabocha

Week 31 1/2: Simply Fabulous Now – Cherries

Week 30: Thinspired – Bananas

Week 29: To Be The Whole Package – Almonds

Week 28: Kristas Kravings – Lemon

Week 27: From French Fries To Flax Seeds – Coconut

Week 26: Plentiful Plants – Avocado

Week 25: Training Fuel – Eggs

Week 24: Dinner at Christina’s – Cabbage

Week 23: Hey What’s for Dinner, Mom? – Strawberries

Week 22: One Bite at a Time – Basil

Week 21: Just Sweet Enough – Black Beans

Week 20: What I Ate Yesterday – Kale

Week 19: What’s for Dinner – Orange

Week 18: BranAppetit! –Spinach

Week 17: Tales of Expansion Dates

Week 16: Biggest Diabetic Loser – Zucchini

Week 15: Sweet & Natural –Peppermint

Week 14: bella eats [and runs] – Ginger

Week 13: Coffee Talk – Walnuts

Week 12: For the Love of Oats – Pumpkin

Week 11: Trying to Heal – Sweet Potatoes

Week 10: The Inner Workings of a College Graduate – Eggplant

Week 9: Itzy’s Kitchen – Pears

Week 8: The Fitnessista – Cranberries

Week 7: Tri to Cook – Lentils

Week 6: Rhodey Girl Tests – Polenta

Week 5: Eating Bender – Butternut Squash

Week 4: Care to Eat – Apples

Week 3: On a Lobster Placemat – Mushrooms

Week 2: Hangry Pants – Tomatoes

Week 1: sportsnutritionliving – Quinoa