Archive for April, 2011

April 30, 2011

Creamy Cheesy Cranberry Pine Cone (and sucky run…)

I went for a run this morning. A teenny, weeny, should be easy 6.6km run. Pfft, that’s peanuts, right? NO WAY! It was extremely hard and extremely disappointing.

You know that feeling when you want to give it your all, your brain is all up for it, but your body just won’t follow? You’re like GOOOO BODY GOOOOO and it’s like, NOPE, don’t wanna and you can’t make me. I hate that. It has to be one of the most frustrating feelings in the world. Well, this morning was 42 minutes and 10 seconds of EXACTLY that. I could never manage to run for more than 3 consecutive minutes, then I’d have to walk for one. My heart rate would get way high in no time at all! I’d walk and get it down to 145-150, then as soon as I’d start running again, it would get back to 175-180. One cannot sustain that kind of intensity for too long, now, can they? And it’s not like I was running fast either. I was trying to keep it slow and steady. To no avail. AAAAARGH! Frustrated. That’s where I’m at now.

But, while I am extremely disappointed with my body’s performance, I have to see this as one hell of a HIIT. That was 42 minutes of it right there! BUT, that won’t get me running a marathon efficiently! Hopefully next time will be better.

On a completely different subject, remember the creamy cheesy pine cone I made for Easter? I did say that it was so good, it was worthy of getting its own post. Well, I am finally giving it to the little fellow, sort of… He only has to share with my morning run frustration. I’d say he’s getting a not so bad deal. Much better than having to share with all the decadent food from the original post, don’t you think? Plus, to me, it really qualifies as feelgood food, so it does belong here. Big time! I wish I still had some. That would make me feel better!

Now for the recipe:

  • 8 oz low fat cream cheese
  • ½ cup low fat sour cream
  • The zest of one orange
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 75-100 perfect pecan halves (to make the pine cone effect)

Directions

  1. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (an electric mixer would also work), whip cream cheese and sour cream on medium speed until well incorporated, smooth and creamy in texture, about 2-3 minutes. It might help to have the cream cheese at room temperature before you start.
  2. Incorporate the rest of the ingredients and continue mixing on low speed until well combined, about 30-45 seconds.
  3. Turn onto final serving plate and shape into a teardrop. Cover with a plastic film and, ideally, refrigerate until the next day. This will allow flavours to fully develop.
  4. You might want to wait until the last minute to cover with pecans to avoid them going soft on you. Also, you might want to take your teardrop shaped creamcheese  mixture out of the fridge about an hour or two before you are ready to start laying the pecans so it softens up a bit. Pecans will stick better to cheese that is closer to room temperature.
  5. Start layering the pecan halves at the tip and keep shingling until you get to the top. The first rows will lay flat against the cheese but they will be more and more upright as you move towards the end. This will happen naturally, don’t worry. Just keep them nice and tight and use the best pecans you can find.
  6. Decorate with a few pine branches.

Side note… I think this could easily be made into a pineapple… using the pineapple top instead of pine branches and some of the flesh in the cheese mixture instead of cranberries. I will have to come up with something, but I really like the idea and flavor combination. Stay tuned!

April 29, 2011

Grilled Cheese Sandwich – Kicked Up A Notch!

Allright, I admit… not much green happening here. BUT, to my defense, there’s got to be at least a million mushrooms in that sandwich! AND I did eat a whole yellow tomato as a side dish. So I think this qualifies as being healthy!

You see, I was really in the mood for a grilled cheese sandwich but I needed to find a way to make it somewhat healthy. Not that whole grain bread and cheese alone is entirely bad for you, but let’s just say it lacks a little bit in the nutrients department! So I decided I would add some veggies. My fridge being almost empty, I didn’t have that much to choose from: Mushrooms, tomatoes, lettuce and broccoli. Let’s just say mushrooms became the obvious choice.

I was going to also add the tomatoes, but I thought that my sandwich was still lacking something very important: protein! Then it hit me. Why not make a very thin egg white omelet, then put my mushrooms and cheese in the middle, fold the edges of my omelet to make it into a  neat little pocket, put that pocket between two slices of bread and then grill the resulting sandwich to melt the cheese! BRILLIANT! Suddenly, poor missis tomato didn’t seem like she belonged anymore, so I had her as a side dish instead.

Man, that sandwich was good! I think this one will become a classic lunch for week-end days… with endless variations on the subject, of course!

The ingredients that went into that one go as follows:

  • 2 slices 12 grain bread
  • About ½ tbsp butter
  • 50g low fat mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 125g sliced button mushrooms
  • ½ egg whites
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Brown the mushrooms in a skillet over medium-high heat; season with salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the egg whites into a very thin omelet in a large non-stick pan (mine is 30cm) Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
  3. When omelet is cooked, pile the mushrooms in the center. Add grated cheese.
  4. Fold the edges over the mushrooms and cheese to form a square pocket, about the same size as your slices of bread.
  5. Spread a very thin layer of butter on each slice of bread. Put one slice buttered slice down in your non-stick pan and carefully place your omelette on top of it. Cover with the second slice of bread.
  6. Cover and cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes or until bread is nice and brown, then flip and cook for an extra 2-3 minutes.
  7. Cut in half and watch cheese ooze! (be careful not to overdo that last step… you want to enjoy your sandwich while it’s still hot!)

April 28, 2011

Stuffed Zucchini Boats

I must admit that I am fairly new to the world of grains. Up until recently, I would only eat white rice and well… more white rice. Basmati, Jasmine, Arborio, shushi, or the very popular guy known as Uncle Ben’s. All of them white!

Then I’d throw the occasional barley in my soup… and I’d have bulgur maybe once a year!

I have to say that the more I discover grains, the more I like them. They have so much taste and texture to them, I am hooked: I want to try them all.

My latest discovery, wheat berries, ranks pretty high on my nomness scale. It’s just so chewy and flavourful, unreal! While it does take a long time to cook, it’s so low maintenance that you can easily make it ahead of time without really disrupting your schedule.

Basically all you need to do is soak it the night before, then cook it in the morning as you get ready to go to work. You don’t even need to attend to it, just let it simmer away while you work at your hair and make-up…  Just don’t forget to put it in the fridge before you leave! Mind you, it just smells soooo good as it cooks that there is very little chance of this happening!

Ingredients
(serves 3-4)

  • 1 cup wheat berries, soaked overnight
  • 2½ cups water
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 4 large zucchinis
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 6-7 button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Japanese soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp Sambal Oelek
  • 45g toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 45g low fat cheddar cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In a saucepan, bring water, salt and wheat berries to the boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer for about an hour, until all water is absorbed and wheat berries are tender yet chewy.
  3. Meanwhile, cut the zucchinis in half and scoop out the flesh/seeds with a spoon. Do not discard the flesh; roughly chop it with a knife and set aside.
  4. Place the zucchini “boats” in a shallow baking dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray and cook the mushrooms over medium-high heat until they are nice and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add onion and celery; season with salt and pepper to taste. Continue cooking until the onions become soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Stir in zucchini flesh and cooked wheat berries Incorporate soy sauce, Dijon mustard, pepper and Sambal Oelek. Stir to combine. Add toasted walnuts, adjust seasoning and stuff zucchinis with this mixture.
  7. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over the stuffed zucchinis and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and takes a lovely gold color.
  8. Serve immediately.