Bonnie’s Blog on Food and Grog

Cooking and life advice from a Nana.

A FEW OF MY FAVORITE THINGS….. February 21, 2010

Filed under: 1 — bonhuse @ 10:54 pm

“Pancakes and cookies, frittatas, a waffle —

Everything covered in something quite awful–

Big juicy steaks that you barely need chew…

These are my favorites, to name just a few………..”

WHOOPS… Little relapse there!   Probably prompted by the very scary thing that I had to do yesterday!!  Go to the BAKERY!!  And NOT just any bakery… NO… This was “La Creme”  Bakery in Woodland Hills, the absolute best bakery I’ve found YET, and believe me when I say I have looked!   WHY would I submit myself to such torture?  Well, my granddaughter, Sydney,  and I were asked by her Step-mother-to-be to pick out the Wedding Cake.   Very sweet of her to turn over such an important task to us!!  And I love doing things like that, so was more than happy to be asked!!

Well, we entered La Creme to face a sample tray, with delectable little cubes of various cakes and fillings.  The white cake with raspberry mousse filling  is the flavor that Sydney and Pam had selected on a previous trip to the bakery for a tasting.  That and the chocolate with raspberry mousse filling.  Obviously I had to at least taste it to make sure they hadn’t made a horrible mistake.   One tiny cube of each.  Two cubic-inches of cake.  Probably 200 calories, half of which were fat… HEAVEN, I tell you.  I would give a kidney for the recipe for that white cake.  I have never been a big white cake fan.  Usually crumbly, kinda boring…  this one is unreal.  I think maybe the baker is some sort of WITCH or something.  It is too good to be white cake.    I wanted to grab the entire tray of samples and devour it like a starving dingo.  

I think I have made my point.  The cake was good.  Our job was to select the design of the cake which we did.  Very elegant, simple, beautiful.  We made our decisions and I made a run for it.  When I got home I dutifully posted my Weight Watcher’s point consumption, figuring high to be on the safe side.

If the bakery was a temptation to eat like a pig, the next stop was the antidote.  The bathing suit store on Ventura Boulevard called “California Swim”.  I was buying a bridal shower gift, and decided to get a couple of bikinis and cover-ups for the bride to take to  San Lucas  on their honeymoon.   I left there with a conviction to graze on leafy greens the rest of my life.   

So I am sitting here this morning, horrified at the measly FORTY-ONE days remaining , and cognizant of the fact that I cannot START shopping for a dress on April 2!   Clearly I should have started this project a little earlier.  It reminds me of my dear friend Noelleen, who told me about the time she tried to grow tomato plants in two days for a school assignment.   There are some things you just can’t RUSH.   So I must do the best I can, and hope to find the perfect dress…. slimming, elegant,  yet  BIG.  

 Just for a little reality check, Sydney and I did make one other stop yesterday.   There is a really good store in the so-called “Alley in the Valley” which is a small strip of discount stores in Reseda.  One of the stores — “Dressed Up” — has very nice designer dresses and formal wear at reasonable prices.  In we went. 

Wellll, there was one dress that I really liked that COULD conceivably look good due to the figure-concealing design.  Unfortunately, the size they had it in didn’t NEED figure concealment.  I tried on two others, both of which were out of the question.  Staring, horrified, into the unflattering mirror with the brutally honest lighting, I told myself not to panic, that 10 more pounds will make a significant difference.  And it will.  Every ounce of my weight goes directly to a section of my body from my waist to  my knees.  It is NOT attractive.  However, conversely, every pound I lose makes a real difference in what I can wear.   Corrective under garments have come a long way.  “Spanx” , God Bless those people, are unbelievable.  But even Spanx have their limitations.  There are laws of physics that even Spanx cannot overcome.   I therefore cannot depend on them to do anything but redistribute the excess slightly, and make me really, really, uncomfortable.   Forging on with renewed conviction is the only answer!! 

Back to food.  The Pork and Tomatillo Stew was definitely a success.  It actually tastes very much like another MUCH more fattening version which I invented, of course.  The only difference is that you choose a less fatty cut of pork.  In fact, it is the loin, which has very little fat at all.  The result is, of course, a slightly less juicy meat but a much less fatty stew over-all.  Delicious, nonetheless, and high in fiber and good things!

I have a sort of rule of thumb when trying new recipes.  I always do it the first time without changing any ingredients or processes.   If there is a spice we particularly dislike, I will leave that out, but on the whole, I follow it to the letter the FIRST time.  I mention this because  it seems that  95%  of  the entire bean-eating world  HATES Lima Beans.  If you  are among that majority,  just leave them out of this recipe.  I happen to like them and plus they add some fiber and make it more filling.  It’s another slow-cooker recipe too, so you can throw it together and leave. 

Pork  and Tomatillo Stew

1-1/2 pounds fresh tomatillos,  husked and rinsed  and cut in half   — may have to go to the Mexican market for these….

3 poblano peppers — these are big dark green peppers, often available in regular markets, and always at our local Mexican market, “Vallarta”. 

1 large onion, cut into wedges

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and halved

1- 1/4 pounds boneless pork loin, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 teaspoon ground cumin

3/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

1  – 15-ounce can of hominy, drained

1 – 10 ounce box frozen lima beans, thawed

1 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat boiler.  Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray.  Arrange tomatillos, poblanos, onion, and jalapenos on baking sheet.  Broil vegetables  4 inches from heat until lightly charred, 2 – 3 minutes per side.  Let cool slightly.  Put vegetables in food processor and puree. 

2.  Meanwhile, sprinkle pork with cumin and salt.  Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add pork and cook, turning frequently, until browned, about 5 – 6 minutes.  Transfer pork to slow cooker.  Stir in tomatillo puree, hominy, beans, broth and oregano.  Cover and cook until pork is fork-tender, 4-5 hours on high, or 8 – 10 hours on low. 

3.  Serve garnished with fresh chopped cilantro. 

This is 241 calories per servings (one cup) , 8 grams fat, and 6 grams fiber.  For Weight-Watchers, it is 5 points a serving.  Not bad!!  Very filling, satisfying, and fun to make.  You could spice it up even more by adding some hot sauce or fresh salsa when you serve it…  We really enjoyed it. 

Another way to do this would be to NOT puree the vegetables after charring them.  You could add them to the pot cut up as directed, and do everything else the same.  If you like a chunkier stew, that is the way to go. 

If you are not dieting, or decide to splurge, or are one of those fortunate individuals with the metabolism of a hummingbird, then try this recipe with a pork shoulder or pork butt.  Everything else the same, but a fatty, more tasty cut of pork.  THEN, to continue your eating enjoyment, you can spoon the stew into tortillas and roll them up for a really delicious soft taco, or burrito… call  it what you like — it’s delicious.   You skinny people can add cheese and sour cream and all those wonderful things as well.  I hate you.    But DO enjoy it. 

OK — I’m off to the swimming pool, with visions of me in that enormous dress that made me look like an explosion in a fabric factory.  THIS will make me swim faster!!   Hasta Manana!!

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PRESTO! PESTO! February 19, 2010

Filed under: 1 — bonhuse @ 1:35 am

Of all the things I’ve discovered in my search for delectable diet dishes, this may be one of the handiest ones yet!  Very versatile and really delicious — I plan on having a pint or so on hand at all times.  According to Weight Watchers,  it is a mere 1 point (51 calories) for two tablespoons.   We love it just drizzled over sliced fresh tomatoes, but I have also added it to soup to spice it up.  It is REALLY delicious on hot cooked pasta, or so I am told by my non-dieting tasters!!   And unlike traditional Pesto, this has an extra little  hit of healthiness by adding some steamed fresh spinach.  

SPINACH-BASIL PESTO SAUCE

2 cups packed spinach leaves

2 cups packed fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup vegetable stock.. reduced sodium preferably

1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil

Rinse spinach and place the top of a steamer.  Bring water to boil and steam until JUST wilted — it doesn’t take more than a minute or 2.  (If you don’t have a steamer, obviously you can boil it)  Drain and rinse under cold running water.   Squeeze out excess water and place in food processor.

Add basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pulse until coarsely chopped.  Add broth and oil and process until smooth.  Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 5 days, or freeze up to 3 months. 

Note:  This makes a fairly dense, thick Pesto.  I added a little extra olive oil and vegetable broth to make it slightly more “pourable”.  If you make it thinner, you could also use it as a dipping sauce for bread, which of course, is a big NO – NO for me right now, but BOY, that would really be good too! 

So yesterday was my 2nd weight watchers meeting and VOILA — I lost 3.6 pounds the first week.  That added to my pre-weight watcher’s efforts makes about a total of 7 pounds.  I’m a happy girl.  That is great for two weeks, but again… it is bound to slow down.   

On Monday (President’s Day) the weather was gorgeous so we played golf.  It’s been months, and I miss it so much, so I couldn’t wait to get out there.  WELLLLL,  I’m afraid I tweaked my knee a bit again, and so this week I’ve had to pass on the lap swimming.  Phooey!  A couple of days more and it will be fine, but that may slow down my progress a bit! 

FORTY-FOUR days until the wedding!    Short of becoming bulimic, I am doing everything I can to lose weight, BUT stay healthy.   So whatever the result by the time the big day is here, it will be an improvement!  There was nowhere to go but UP.  (Or, DOWN, I guess,  in this case. ) 

We have a very exciting dinner planned for tomorrow night!  Imagine my JOY at finding a weight-watcher recipe that includes PORK!  Turns out that “the other white meat” actually isn’t that fattening UNLESS you cook it the way I typically do.  That would be roasted and then swimming in brown gravy, right next to a pile of mashed potatoes and some potentially healthy vegetable that I have smothered in butter or some creamy sauce.  Either that or I use a really nice FATTY cut of pork, add pasilla peppers and onions and cook it in the crock pot in its very own ample FAT.  When it falls apart and is swimming in its own juices, we put it on tortillas (I like a little butter on the tortilla first, of course) and roll it up.  (Hopefully I will not drool on my keyboard and electrocute myself as I write this….) 

Needless to say, this recipe is a bit different that the above choices, but it sounds really good and has hot peppers and onions and good stuff in it.  IF it turns out to be a hit, it will be in my next BLOG. 

That is the recipe du jour and my update on “Being Good”.   It hasn’t been that difficult yet– at least I haven’t had the urge to bury my face in a big juicy hamburger or eat an entire bag of peanut butter M&M’s.   ONE day at a time.

 

I THINK I CAN, I THINK I CAN…… February 13, 2010

Filed under: 1 — bonhuse @ 9:56 pm

Well, I am chugging along and feel like I am on track to  feel terrific by the time the wedding comes!  (OH dear — is  this a side effect of eating healthy?  You make bad puns and corny analogies??? Will I soon be watching old re-runs of “Hee-Haw”?)   AT THE WEDDING:  “Gee, Kelly’s Mom LOOKS pretty good,  but didn’t she used to have a good sense of humor? What a shame.  Nice wedding, though.”

I still plan to reach my goal of 20 pounds by the wedding, BUT that is 15 more with 49 days to go!   I have not cheated, I have exercised with a vengeance, and am doing all I can to drop that poundage!  BUT one thing I have discovered in just a little over a week is that I FEEL so much better!  And since my plan is to see great-grandchildren,  a  permanent change in eating and exercise habits is definitely in order! Again, not to say that I will not continue to cook the cream-laden, butter-slathered, gravy- topped wonders that I so love!  JUST not every single day!     I may not treat my body like a TEMPLE, but I at least must STOP treating it like a BOWLING ALLEY. 

So I discovered TWO yummy new recipes to add to my fat-shedding recipe box! Both are from new Weight Watcher cookbooks and are definitely keepers!  “African Peanut Chicken”  is the first one– very healthy and has some new taste combinations that make it very interesting.  Cinnamon, hot sauce, cumin and peanut butter — not what you might typically throw together, is it?  Well, this works and is an interesting combination of slightly spicy,  from the Tabasco sauce,  and sweet, from the parsnips, carrots and cinnamon.  Only 172 calories per serving– of course, a serving is 1 piece of chicken and 1/2 cup of vegetables and sauce…  but I found it very filling.  Even at two servings, it’s a low cal dinner!

AFRICAN PEANUT CHICKEN

1 – 14-l/2 ounce can of diced tomatoes with garlic and onions

4 carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced

2 parsnips, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced

3 tablespoons low-fat peanut butter

3 tablespoons cayenne pepper sauce (Tabasco, for instance…)

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

4 skinless chicken thighs (I used skinless and boneless ones)

4 skinless chicken drumsticks (good luck finding those.. I had to skin them myself)

2 tablespoons cold water

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Combine tomatoes, carrots, parsnips, peanut butter, pepper sauce, cumin, and cinnamon in slow cooker. Top with chicken.  Cover and cook until chicken and vegetables are fork-tender, 3-4 hours on high, or 6 – 8 hours on low. 

About 20 minutes before cooking time is up, mix water and cornstarch in small bowl until  smooth.  Stir cornstarch mixture into slow cooked.  Cover and cook on high until mixture simmers and thickens, about 15 minutes.  Stir in cilantro. 

Confession:   I completely forgot to do the cornstarch step, and I don’t think it would be any better with it.  It was nice and thick as it was, so it’s up to you. 

The recipe suggested serving over whole wheat couscous, which I made for Greg, but passed on myself.  Adds calories and carbs, so not ready for that yet!

Before dinner, I sliced a Roma tomato and drizzled my other new discovery – “Spinach-Basil Pesto Sauce” over it.  Nice little appetizers with virtually no Weight-Watcher points, thus very low in calories and fats.    YUM.   I definitely intend to keep this stuff on hand.  You could use it on pasta (if I decided to “splurge”) or mixed in salads, or drizzled over fresh vegetables, or over poached salmon… YUM again.  You will have to check in tomorrow for the recipe as I have to go swim my laps now! 

Did 21 laps yesterday, 50 minutes, felt terrific.  I’m starting to really look forward to going, even tho I have to FORCE myself to leave home to do it.  I love it at home.  BUT when I get in the water, it feels so great, and when I am driving home afterwards, the overwhelming feeling of self-righteousness is worth it!!  

Hasta el Pesto!!

 

SPICY STIR-FRY TURKEY IN LETTUCE WRAPS February 11, 2010

Filed under: 1 — bonhuse @ 7:54 pm

FIFTY-TWO days to the WEDDING.  YIKES.  But I have now lost 5 pounds as of this morning, so that is after 6 days of swimming and eating very carefully!  NOT bad!  Can’t expect to keep losing at that rate, though, it just doesn’t work that way, so I will not be discouraged if things slow down a bit. 

Did TWENTY laps yesterday and then came home and tried a new recipe — Stir fried turkey in lettuce wraps….  REALLY good, and very satisfying!  246 calories per serving!   Greg and I both liked it, and although the recipe sounds like it would be fiery hot, we both thought that next time we would kick it up a notch on the heat scale…  But it was definitely tasty.   This is a Martha Stewart recipe from her Everyday Cooking magazine. and Martha rarely disappoints me.  Well, there was that pesky inside-trading affair, but as long as her recipes and decorating tips continue, I’m a fan.

Stir Fried Spicy Turkey in Lettuce Wraps

1/4 cup soy sauce (I use low sodium)

4 tsp fish sauce (you can find this in the asian food section at the market)

4 teaspoons sugar

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large shallot, finely chopped

2 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger

2 garlic  cloves, minced — (I always double the garlic)

1 small jalapeño chile, seeded and finely chopped

1 pound ground turkey (93% lean)

Lettuce leaves of your choice — Bibb, Boston, Iceberg… whatever you prefer

1.  In a small bowl combine soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar.  Stir until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.

2.  Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat until hot.  Add oil and swirl to coat skillet.  Add shallot, ginger, garlic, and chile and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add ground turkey  and  a tiny bit of salt, and cook, breaking meat up into tiny bits, until almost cooked completely, about 5 – 7 minutes.  Add half the sauce to the skillet and stir until meat is cooked through, about 2 minutes. 

Serve in lettuce leaves and add top with remaining sauce.  We used iceberg lettuce, because it is nice and crisp. 

If you are a “designer lettuce” person, feel free.  Try as I might, I just can’t get with the crowd that  loves those spiky little bitter weeds that everyone loves to make salads of now.  Sorry, I realize it is totally so “last decade” to prefer the mundane lettuces such as romaine and iceberg, but I can’t help it.  I need some crunch, plus for me the froo-froo  (sp? ) lettuces overwhelm the entire salad and can’t taste the other goodies in it.  But that’s just my opinion.  “Lettuce” agree to disagree!  (Please feel free to groan loudly)

We also added a little Hoisin sauce to add some extra taste.  Next time I make it I’m going to put a little extra jalapeño and maybe a little seasoning (lemon-pepper?) on the meat while it’s browning.  BUT it was very good using the original recipe–these are just suggestions if you like your stuff a little more spicy!

FIFTY-ONE DAYS TO GO!!! 

I wasn’t able to finish this post as I was too busy swimming and buying more green things to eat!  I did go to Weight Watchers yesterday and re-joined.  I think WW is the best program around for long-term weight loss & KEEPING it off, although obviously, I didn’t keep MINE off.  IN 2004 I went for 9 months and lost 35 pounds!  I swore I wouldn’t let it sneak up on me again, but low and behold….  sneak it did.  I guess that’s what eating anything you want, any time you want it, will do, huh?  Add to that a limited  amount of exercise — (turns out whipping cream does not expend as many calories as you might think)– and you pack on the poundage!

So now I am armed with all the new Weight Watcher cookbooks, suggestions and inspirational tips.  AS IF FIFTY-ONE MEASLEY 24 HOUR DAYS LEFT  UNTIL THE WEDDING wasn’t motivating enough!   

Tune in tomorrow for another report and a new recipe!!