July 2009


It’s been so hot and humid in Boston lately (not that I’m complaining, I’ll take this over snow any day)! During weather like this, I usually crave cool foods – like crunchy salads. I like salads but I do get bored with them sometimes. However, last night I made a salad-type meal for dinner and was it delicious!

I recently saw a recipe in Gourmet Magazine for Panzanella Caprese. Despite the fancy name (which I love because it sounds complicated), this dish was easy to prepare, different than a regular caprese salad and totally flavorful.

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I thought this recipe was great for multiple reasons. One, I had many of the ingredients on hand. Two, the main ingredient in this “salad” is tomatoes – one of my favorite vegetables (fruits?). And, three, there’s bread in this dish and I don’t mean on the side, but mixed right in! I bought a small loaf of Iggy’s Francese at Whole Foods and it was perfect (plus it’s local!).

I’m a huge fan of this recipe and it’s fancy name. This was a filling dinner salad but this would also make an excellent side dish to grilled chicken or fish – or for any summer BBQ. I made sure to make enough leftovers for a few lunches. Speaking of, it’s about lunch time and I know what I’m having. 🙂 Have a rest of the day!

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Happy Monday, everyone! Hope you had a good weekend. Mine flew by and I even had Friday off!

Over the weekend, a few of my friends and I went to Newport, RI to get out of Boston for a while. Saturday was warm and sunny so it was a great day to be outside. If you don’t know of Newport, it’s a coastal town in Rhode Island and it’s popular in the summer with the many boat docks, beaches and activities for families to enjoy. There are a lot of cute restaurants and bars near the water as well as plenty of shopping! 

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While in Newport, we visited Newport Vineyards, which is about three miles from downtown. The Vineyard was pretty crowded with visitors (it was Saturday after all) but we were able to enjoy a wine tasting and tour (for $9)! The tasting was out favorite part because we were able to try wines we don’t normally drink. None of us know too much about wine but we branched out and tried some interesting ones anyway.

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Of the wine I tried, I am surprised to report I liked the Rose Pinot Noir and Landot Noir best. I normally lean towards white wines but I really like the reds and blushes better this time. The Rose Pinot Noir is described as “lively and dry, with hints of flowers, strawberries and perfume” and the Landot Noir is described as “a dark, soft and fragrant red wine with exciting complexities of cherry, plum and jam; gently pressed and aged in oak barrels.” Pretty fancy, huh? 🙂

The tour of the winery was just okay. Our tour guide was very passionate about winemaking so that was helpful but he said the best time to take a tour is when they are actually making wine in September and October. It was nice, however, to check out the vineyard up close and hear about the history of the company. In short, when the farmland was purchased in 1917, the owner was told grapes would never grow in Newport and his plan wouldn’t work. Starting small, the vineyard is now the largest grower of wine grapes in New England and has over 60 acres of grape vines. The winery has also won a handful of awards which is exciting for a company with such humble beginnings.

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What’s your favorite wine?

Last night I made Chicken Teriyaki Meatballs With Edamame and Snow Peas – a recipe I saw in Real Simple. It was pretty simple and very tasty! My only problem was I made a full six servings and ended up with a lot of leftover meatballs. I guess I know what I’ll be eating for a while…

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This recipe has a great Asian-inspired flavor and it’s something I wouldn’t thought of myself (meatballs in an Asian dish!). I made a few minor changes – I used ground turkey instead of ground chicken. I can’t always find ground chicken at the store…does anyone else have that problem? Ground turkey is much easier to find. And, I added broccoli to the dish which was a nice healthy and crunchy addition! Yum!

Please note, these are mini meatballs (about 1.5″ in diameter).

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Speaking of Real Simple magazine, I subscribe to it and would totally suggest you do to. I’m always find interesting tips and great ideas in every issue. In my opinion, it’s a good magazine if you want to save every issue. That’s Real Simple for me. I sound like an ad for the magazine, don’t I?

What magazine do you find the most useful?

Anyone who knows me, probably knows that I love sandwiches. Putting a bunch of ingredients between two pieces of bread, what’s better than that? And there are so many varieties! Anyway, enough of that. I want to share with you a healthy sandwich option that’s mighty tasty. It’s really my take on egg salad. 

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First, eggs are a great source of protein and a great vegetarian option. While eggs are very filling, the yokes provide some flavor, they also provide fat and cholesterol. Egg whites alone aren’t too exciting so I suggest using half egg whites and half whole eggs when cooking. Eggs are just so versatile. I’m going to sound like Bubba from Forest Gump but eggs are great fried, scrambled, as omelettes, on breakfast sandwiches, in quiches, in frittatas, as a topping on salad, as a souffles and of course, as egg salad! Eggs are a cheap source of protein too, compared to meat.

So the first step in creating my (and any) egg salad sandwich is hard boiling eggs. To do this, add eggs to a pot and add cold water. Then you should put the pot on the stove and bring to a boil over medium heat. Take the pot off the heat when the eggs have been boiling for about 8 minutes. The whole process takes about 12-15 minutes. Putting the eggs in boiling water will cause them to crack so be sure to add the eggs before boiling water. Once the eggs are done, dump out the warm water and add cold water to the pot for a few minutes to allow the eggs to cool. Peeling the egg shells off of the eggs while they are warm is much easier than peeling cold eggs.

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Once you peel the eggs, here are the steps to creating my Garden Egg Salad Sandwiches for two:

Garden Egg Salad Sandwiches

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

4 hard boiled eggs – two with yolks removed

2 tsp. light mayo

1 tsp. dijon mustard

4 slices whole wheat bread

1/2 cup raw spinach leaves

1 cup. sprouts, any variety

4 tomato slices

black pepper, to taste

Preparation:

1. Add eggs to a bowl and mash eggs with fork until the eggs are in bite size peices.

2. Add light mayo, mustard and dash of pepper to the bowl and mix well.

3. Top two slices of bread with spinach, two slices of tomato each and a half cup of sprouts.

4. Top the other two slices of bread with egg salad and combine each side of the sandwich.

5. Enjoy!

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What’s your favorite egg dish??

This pasta dish incorporates some of my favorite things including cheese, summer squash and spinach! It’s full of fiber thanks to the veggies, white beans and whole wheat pasta which means it’s filling. Don’t worry, it’s really flavorful and healthy too!

Quick & Easy Summer Pasta

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 summer squash, sliced and quartered

2 c. dry whole wheat pasta

1/2 c. white beans (canned is fine)

2 c. fresh spinach

2 tbsp. goat cheese

1 tbsp. pesto (bottled is fine)

Cooking spray (olive oil, if possible)

salt and pepper to taste

parsley to taste

Preparation:

1. Cook pasta according to directions

2. While the pasta cooking, spray a saute pan with olive oil.

3. Add minced garlic and saute for a minute or two so garlic browns.

4. Add summer squash to saute pan and stir on occasion for five minutes.

5. Add spinach and white beans to pan and saute for another minute. Remove pan from heat.

6. When pasta is done, drain well and then add the pesto to the cooked pasta. Mix well to coat pasta.

7. Add the sauteed vegetables to the pasta and stir.

8. Mix in a sprinkle of salt and pepper as well as the goat cheese and stir gently.

9. Transfer pasta to individual plate or bowl and sprinkle parsley on top for presentation and flavor.

10. Enjoy!

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PS – Regarding my “5 pounds in 7 days” weight loss plan, I’ve dropped a pound as of this morning. That being said, I didn’t follow the plan exactly so I wasn’t expecting a five pound loss. As long as my weight isn’t going up, I’m happy! 🙂 Hopefully the plan will keep me eating healthy!

Last night, I met my friends for dinner at a sushi restaurant called Taipei Tokyo in Somerville (Davis Square). I’ve been to this restaurant many times before and I really enjoy it. They offer a variety of Asian dishes from sushi to Chinese to Thai. There’s really something for everyone! Plus the menu is HUGE. Looking at it last night I think it actually expanded since the last time I visited. They have so many inventive sushi rolls – pages and pages!

The restaurant is small but cozy and the decor is nice and simple. My friends and I got a table in the back to seat all six of us.

We ordered soups, salads and sushi for dinner and I can proudly say we nearly cleared all of our plates. Sushi is one of those foods that can be really good for you if you make smart decisions. Plus, most restaurants offer sushi rolls made with brown rice but we forgot about that until after we had ordered. Oh well, there’s always next time.

I started out with miso soup which was good but nothing too special. Two of my friends ordered seaweed salad and it looked delicious. Check out the presentation!

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Moving on to the main course, I’m not a huge fan of raw fish so I stuck to cooked and vegetable rolls. I love love love the shrimp tempura roll but I am trying to watch my waistline so I chose a healthier option. I went with a mango shrimp roll and a cucumber avocado roll.

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I wasn’t crazy about the mango shrimp roll (though it wasn’t bad) but the cucumber avocado roll was excellent! I think I was expecting the mango shrimp roll to take the place of my normal shrimp tempura and it just didn’t happen. Oh well, at least I tried something new. And, I can’t say I didn’t leave full! 🙂

HAPPY FRIDAY!! 🙂 🙂

…food, that is. I have been continuing on my little “diet” adventure and am noticing my meals contain a lot of green. This week I’ve eaten kale, spinach, avocado, green grapes and lettuce. I’m still making meals inspired by the “Lose 5 Pounds in 7 Days” plan I mentioned on Tuesday. Yesterday, I made a spinach salad for lunch. I started with some organic spinach and topped it with cherry tomatoes, sliced turkey, dried cranberries, sliced almonds a tablespoon of balsamic vinegarette. It was quite tasty!

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Along with my salad I had a handful of Pepperidge Farm’s Wheat Crisps. Have you tried these? They are delicious crackers and the ingredients and nutrition facts aren’t half bad! You can actually have 17 crackers for 140 calories! I’ve been trying to buy bread and crackers that have whole wheat flour listed first under the ingredients as well as products without high fructose corn syrup (or HFCS for short).

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For dinner last night I had a simple sandwich, which is actually featured on the meal plan as day four’s lunch. I don’t know if I would have come up with this sandwich on my own but it was actually very flavorful and filling. It was quick to make – I just mixed white beans and half of an avocado with a potato masher and added lemon juice, salt and pepper. I spread this mixture on a piece of bread and topped it off with sliced cherry tomatoes and some spinach. Yum!

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With all my veggies this week, I may turn into a green monster…like Wally! 😉

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