Friday, February 28, 2014

Turkey Provencal Soup, and a Bobcat

TurkeyProvencal Soup, Cooking Light 2003. Delicious. I had to improvise as I didn't have herbs de provence, and I didn't have all the herbs that make up herbs de provence, but I had half of them, and that seems to have been enough. Next time I should brown the ground turkey just a bit more so that the flavor is a bit thicker and meatier.

So, was my month of cooking from Cooking Light a success? Well, after three weeks stuck at the same number, my scale did go down a pound in mid-February, but my boss' birthday party earlier this week made it go back up a pound, plus 0.2 pounds, so I'm actually a little bit heavier than when I started. But, I've been eating well, and enjoying it a lot, the recipes, the challenge, the whole shebang. I'm going to continue this challenge in March and see how things proceed as I try to return my exercise regimen back to its normal, pre-sick Mr. Big level.

And a bobcat, walking outside my office. One of our bobcats was limping earlier this week; I hope he's okay and heals completely.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

R.I.P. Paco de Lucia

I was saddened to read of the death of Paco de Lucia today. I saw him perform at the university many years ago, but the memory is still fresh in my mind. I felt a little odd going alone to a concert, but I so wanted to see him that I decided I'd rather attend by myself than miss the chance. Once he started playing, it was magical. What a great talent! What a great loss to music.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Vegetable Tian

Last night I searched through old issues of Cooking Light to find a dish that could be made with what I had on hand--an eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes. I found a delicious recipe for an eggplant, zucchini and tomato tian in the July 2010 issue. I even had chicken broth. I did have to stop for a baguette, but a crusty loaf of bread--always worth a stop. It tastes even better than it looks.

This experiment seems to be working. After 3 weeks of the scale's digital numbers not moving, I lost a pound on Saturday. Hooray!

Than I gained it back because we celebrated my boss' birthday yesterday with catered sandwiches and trays of breakfast goodies like danishes and sticky buns. I chose one of the non-vegetarian offerings, which was a chicken caesar on focacaia. And a sticky bun. And I gained it all back plus 0.2. Bummer.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Shrimp Po'Boy and Pickle Chips

I'm late in discussing the latest Cooking Light meal this month. For dinner the other night I made the shrimp po'boy and pickle chips in the Jan/Feb 2014 issue. I didn't have the buttermilk for the sandwich, so a little zing may have been missing, but it was still delicious. The homemade pickle chips were outstanding. Made with panko and baked, they were much lighter than the restaurant or fast food ones which are breaded and fried, a process that overwhelms the taste of the pickle. Here, the pickle sharpness was front and center. But I'll warn you--it's very messy, even if you try to outsmart the preparation by throwing the pickles into a bag to coat them with flour. The egg white bath prior to coating with panko was incredibly messy, but the results are worth it.

Two nights ago, I made a vegetable soup based on the root vegetable soup in the Jan. 2014 Prevention issue. Modifications include the addition of spinach and zucchini instead of celery because that's what was on hand. It's tasty, warm, and filling, and something like less than 200 calories a serving (according to MyFitnessPal, into which  all the ingredients).

Three weeks into this challenge, and the needle on the scale hasn't budged at all. But eating healthy is its own reward.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

R.I.P, Dr. Alison Jolly

Dr. Alison Jolly, a primatologist whose research on lemurs revolutionized concepts of primate social organization, has died. She was one of my heroes in graduate school. Rest in peace, Dr. Jolly, after much work, well done.

Restaurant Review

I haven't a restaurant review in a long time, but last night went out to dinner at a new-to-me place so feel a review would not be amiss. Several friend and I went to Gusto Osteria, which serves Italian food. While it doesn't have an extensive wine menu, the house pinot grigio was very lively.

We began the meal with stuffed mushrooms and parmesan potatoes, both of which were outstanding. The mushrooms were a creamy, delicious blend of 'shrooms and cheese that melted in your mouth, and the potato chips were very crisp,uniformly toasted, and sprinkled with enough parmesan to make your taste bud want more, and I don't even like potato chips. My only complaint--there were just 4 mushrooms (all of which I could easily have eaten myself).

Your happy diner had the enchelloni, their interpretation of what would happen if a cannelloni/manicotti and an enchilada were blended in a creamy catastrophe. Two manicotti-sized rolls (either a very thin pasta or actual tortillas) stuffed with chicken, vegetables, and a creamy sauce, with fresh parmesan on top--delicious! I ate both. Someone else ordered them and had the self control to eat just one. How, I don't know. The other friends had the manicotti and the meatball ricotta (which I tasted and which was also delicious).

Gentle readers may not realize that I have a separate stomach for desserts, much like a cow, and so we shared two amongst us: the dolce de patricia and the special that night, which was a raspberry cake. The slice of the white cake with raspberry icing was generous, but seemed a tad dry in comparison to the luscious and very moist dolce, chocolate pudding sandwiched between two yellow cake layers and capped with a thin layer of delicious chocolate icing (not too thick, not too rich).

Because it was a Tuesday, the restaurant was not crowded, and we weren't rushed at all. In fact, we sat talking for an hour after finishing our meal and no one said a word. I suspect we'll be back. One of our party lives about a mile from the restaurant--lucky woman.

Thursday, February 13, 2014


"Give us the noodles."

I have an identical photo that I must track down so you can compare the stare with Pupgirl and Mr. Big. They were trying to get pizza. These two are trying to get toasted penne with bacon. We all love food in this house.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Dinner: Toasted Penne

Tonight's Cooking Light dinner was the toasted penne with spinach and bacon from the Jan./Feb.2014 issue. I used whole wheat pasta, so the penne did not get as soft and creamy as the recipe implied it would. However, it was still a tasty dish, and I will make it again with semolina pasta to see if that gives the dish the creamy texture it should have.The applewood smoked bacon was delicious. I usually serve turkey or tofu bacon, and real bacon hasn't been in this house in years. Decadent..

I'm not sure if this experiment is successfully helping me lose weight, but it certainly has me eating healthier meals I cook myself, and that's a good thing.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Pan-Fried Savory Chicken

Last night's Cooking Light dinner was the pan-fried savory chicken recipe from the Jan/Feb 2014 issue (minus the hot sauce, which I didn't have). I used frozen organic chicken tenderloins I'd bought for Pipsqueak last summer when she was so sick.The chicken was juicy, tender, and delicious, and took only about 10 minutes to cook. Served on the side: pineapple dressing from Taste of Home and rutabaga.

The digital scale has finally budged, after 10 days stuck at the same weight; I'm down 0.8 lbs from yesterday. And this with having eaten a slice of egg nog pound cake.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Egg Nog Pound Cake

My second egg nog pound cake, using a different recipe than a couple of years ago when I last made an egg nog cake, and also using whole wheat flour. This time--egg nog glaze!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Cooking and Dieting

 After the over-the-top eating of December and the holidays, I stepped onto the scale in mid-Janauary and almost toppled over at the number that blinked up at me in stark LCD blue crispness. "No way!" thought I. I stepped off, and stepped on again. Nope, there it was; that same dratted number appeared again. I'd never seen it before, and it was even larger than the last time I saw a large number that crushed me.  "Well," thought I, "there's only one thing to do. South Beach Diet again." It worked once, it should work again, right?

Well, I didn't factor in being 5 years older, and deep into perimenopause. I lost 7.5 lbs during phase 1, but have been stuck at the same weight for the entire first week of Phase 2. C'mon, scale, budge! Just budge a little! Alas, alack, it mocks me. I'm blaming hormones.

I decided to combine Phase 2 with another goal I've had in mind for some time now, and that's making most of my meals out of Cooking Light. There are always letters from readers who comment they've lost 20 lbs just by starting to cook using that magazine's recipes. Phase 2 just happened to coincide with the beginning of February, so I decided to morph Phase 2 with a month of CL to see what happens. Granted, they use butter and sugar to cook with (two no-nos for Dr. Agatston), but since I refuse to use artificial sweetners, I always cheated anyway (just a little) on SBD by using agave nectar, for example. And frankly, this time on SBD, I was hungry all the bloody time.

So this post shows you my first two dinner selections from the January/February 2014 Cooking Light issue.

Pork chops with a modified orange marmalade/mustard glaze. My Trader Joe's didn't have orange marmalade, so I had to substitute apricot preserves instead. While my glaze never thickened up, the pork chops were very tasty.

Mushroom and kale lasagna. I substituted whole wheat lasagna noodles (SBD approved) for the no-cook lasagna noodles the recipe called for. My pan was much larger, so instead of each layer being two noodles wide, mine was three. This meant that I didn't have enough of the mushroom/pancetta and kale mixes to make really thick layers. There's not much cheese in this lasagna, but I honestly don't miss it.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Pipsqueak Graduates Again

Pipsqueak graduated from her Intermediate Class finally. This was the class she was in this past June when she became so sick. She graduated on Sunday, and on Monday 02/03/2014, was spayed. She's sore, and the anesthesia has upset her tummy. She didn't want even a small dinner yesterday, and this morning threw up her breakfast 3 hours after ingestion. But she's much perkier and alert tonight, so hopefully dinner will stay down. Then the challenge--keeping her quiet and from jumping around so the stitches aren't pulled out.

Graduation Day 2 February 2013

Gorgeous at 13 months on 15 December 2013