January 2010


Another Craving Ellie in My Belly recipe! This week it was Alyssa’s (from Alyssa’s Two Bites) pick and she chose Ellie’s Emerald Stir Fry with Beef  recipe, which is in the newest cookbook, So Easy.

I love stir fry recipes because they are so easy, healthy and versatile. You can use a variety of proteins – from beef to chicken to shrimp plus the choice of vegetables and sauces are endless. And, you don’t really need a recipe.

But, for this recipe, I bought grass fed beef from Whole Foods (a bit more expensive but worth it for taste and quality). I also gathered the vegetables for this recipe from Whole Foods produce department. The one I go to in Cambridge (Fresh Pond), now has what I like to call a stir fry bar where you can package your own prepared veggies. This is in addition to a large salad bar on the other side of the store. When I was there, they had a variety of chopped mushrooms, bok choy, broccoli and green beans. I’m not a huge fan of asparagus (which this recipe calls for) so I got a variety of other veggies for my stir fry. I also picked up some frozen edamame – as the recipe suggests. I’m not sure I would have thought to add edamame in a stir fry dish but it was a welcome addition!

The preparation was pretty quick and painless. I had the rice going in one pot as I cooked the beef and vegetables. Dinner was ready in no time and the results were great! The flavor of the sauce was light and not too salty. I think the freshness of the beef and vegetables really made a difference and paired with brown rice, it was the perfect weeknight meal. On a side note, I halved the recipe which still allowed for some leftovers (which were just as good the next day).

Having more than cereal or toast for breakfast is rare for me. During the week, I’m always eating breakfast just before running out the door. On the weekends, breakfast is sometimes more leisurely, especially when it includes a visit to a diner or other local restaurant in Somerville. Kelly’s Diner is one of my favorite places with Sound Bites and the Neighborhood Restaurant rounding out my top three.

This past weekend, however, I made Ellie Krieger’s Peach French Toast Bake at home. I didn’t have a chance to participate in Craving Ellie in My Belly last week but still cooked one of Ellie’s recipes from her cookbook, The Food You Crave. So far, all of the recipes I’ve tried have been winners – including this one. 

Not only did this dish taste great, it was extremely easy to prepare. The recipe suggests you prepare the French toast the night before, allowing it to sit chilled over night. Sunday morning, I just pulled my dish from the fridge and popped it in the oven. In about 35 minutes, I had a hearty (but healthy) breakfast.

I halved the recipe and followed the exact instructions otherwise. The French toast came out great in my opinion but I did find that one side of the “toast” was cooked a bit more than the other side. I didn’t mind, but if you prefer a more evenly baked French toast, I would suggest turning the bread over about 15-20 minutes into the baking process. That would be sure to brown all sides. Once out of the oven, I immediately added a little maple syrup and breakfast was served. Delish!

I am looking forward to trying this dish again and again. The combinations of bread and fruit are endless. I’m thinking of trying cinnamon raisin bread topped with apples. I bet it would be amazing!

What’s your favorite kind of French toast?

This post is a little off topic – it’s not food related for once. I actually haven’t done much cooking this week due to my work load but have been able to fit in a good amount of exercise (since I workout in the morning).  One of my goals for 2010 was to learn to like exercise as much as I like food. Quite the feat, I know.

I have always exercised on and off but never really enjoyed it or pushed myself. Most of the time I would have a good week with exercise then I would slack off a little the next week. Luckily, 2010 is off to a pretty good start and I’ve been able to get myself to the gym 4-5 times a week. I’ve realized that the reason I didn’t love working out was because I would normally get bored, causing me to not make exercise a priority. I been trying to mix things up with a variety of classes and cardio machines and so far, no boredom. One of the things that has helped me is interval workouts.

There has been a lot of talk in the blog world about intervals lately. Intervals are when you workout at different speeds and intensity during your workout. This can be applied to walking, running, spinning, even the elliptical. Not that intervals are a new phenomenon or anything, but the technique gets a lot of attention due its benefits. Doing interval workouts have been known to increase endurance, improve cardiovascular fitness and burn fat faster. All good things! But, my favorite benefit is that interval workouts prevent boredom. Hooray!

This morning I did a interval workout on the treadmill and the time flew by. I think it’s because I was focused on getting through the current interval (of 1-3 minutes) rather than saying “33 minutes to go? Ugh” like I used to do. I have been known to use the most distractions possible when working out. I’m normally the girl with the magazine in hand, headphones on and TV in front of me…all attempts to beat boredom. This morning, I only used my iPod, which was a nice change.

Here is my interval workout from today. I really enjoyed it and hope I can keep the excitement going. Don’t worry, my next post will be food-related. 🙂

Friday’s Treadmill Interval Workout

00:00 – 05:00 @ 4.0 mph (walking)

05:00 – 08:00 @ 6.0 mph (running)

08:00 – 10:00 @ 6.2 mph (running)

10:00 – 12:00 @ 6.4 mph (running)

12:00 – 14:00 @ 6.2 mph (running)

14:00 – 16:00 @ 6.0 mph (running)

16:00 – 18:00 @ 6.2 mph (running)

18:00 – 20:00 @ 6.4 mph (running)

20:00 – 22:00 @ 6.2 mph (running)

22:00 – 25:00 @ 6.0 mph (running)

25:00 – 30:00 @ 4.0 mph (walking)

30:00 – 32:00 @ 6.0 mph (running)

32:00 – 34:00 @ 6.2 mph (running)

34:00 – 35:00 @ 6.4 mph (running)

35:00 – 36:00 @ 6.6 mph (running)

36:00 – 37:00 @ 6.4 mph (running)

37:00 – 39:00 @ 6.2 mph (running)

39:00 – 40:00 @ 6.0 mph (running)

40:00 – 45:00 @ 4.0 mph (walking)

45:00 – 48:00 @ cooldown

Total mileage: 4.25 miles (3 miles running; 1.5 miles walking)

Total time: 48 minutes

Do you like interval workouts? Share your favorites!

What to have for dessert? The big dilemma. Chocolate? Cheesecake? You can actually have both…without the guilt. Over the weekend, I made Cream Cheese Brownies from one of my Cooking Light cookbooks.  

A chocolate brownie with a layer of cheesecake? I’m in. The recipe is pretty straighforward and simple, full of easy-to-find ingredients. The best part? One brownie is only 130 calories and 4 grams of fat.

Now I have to admit that I love a good brownie, that means it has to meet two criteria. It must be fudgy and moist. If it’s not super chocolately and dense, it falls into the cake category in my book. This recipe was more of a cake brownie than a brownie brownie…if you know what I mean. Flavorful? Yes. And, chocolatey. Plus, the cheesecake topping is oh so creamy. But, the brownie itself was fluffier than what I was consider to be ideal.

None the less, this dessert turned out sweet and decadent and I look forward to making them again.

I recently joined the Craving Ellie in My Belly (CEiMB) online cooking club. The group cooks their way through Ellie Krieger’s two cookbooks, The Food You Crave and So Easy – both which I now own.

In addition to be a cookbook author, Ellie hosts a show on the Food Network, “Healthy Appetite” which focuses on delicious and nutritious meals. In joining the online group, you’ll see me posting the weekly recipe each Thursday (unless I choose not to participate that week). Most of the upcoming recipes look awesome but there are a few that will come along that I know I won’t be interested in. I hope you enjoy my CEiMB post this week and every Thursday!

Ready for this week’s recipe? It was a good one! Arugula, Caramelized Onion & Goat Cheese Pizza. Oh yeah, pizza for my first week. I’m a big fan of all of the ingredients for this recipe but never made a pizza on a whole wheat tortilla. In fact, I normally only order pizzas with red sauce so this was a great opportunity for me to branch out.

I thought the tortilla may be bland but my pizza turned out crispy and full of flavor. I didn’t miss the red sauce at all! If you like thin crust pizza, then this recipe is for you. The sweetness of the onion blended well with the arugula and cheese. The meal is definitely on the lighter side but I had it for dinner and was satisfied. I’m glad Ellie opened my eyes to tortilla pizzas and I’m looking forward to getting creative with all toppings that could work. 

 

As much as I have my favorite restaurants, I am always up for trying somewhere new. Last Friday night, my friend Holly and I went out to dinner at Garden at the Cellar in Cambridge. 

Garden at the Cellar is located on Mass Ave in Cambridge, between Central and Harvard Square. The restaurant’s vision is to provide “local, sustainable, fresh and seasonal food, cuisine and ingredients.” Definitely my kind of place !

Upon arriving, the restaurant looked busy but not packed. Little did we know, the bar was downstairs and that’s where parties waiting for a table were hiding. After giving the hostess my name, we headed downstairs to get drink. The bar was very basic with just one (very friendly!) bartender. Within a few minutes we had a seat at the bar and about an hour later our table was ready. The hour actually flew by even though we were hungry! Even though Holly and I have known each other since 7th grade, we can always find something to talk about!

The restaurant is small but adorable, with about 10-12 tables in total. There is also a small bar upstairs that allowed for some people watching during our meal. Garden at the Cellar’s dinner menu is  divided into small plates, charcuterie, appetizers, soups, salads, grilled flatbreads and entrees. While the offerings are somewhat unique, there is something for everyone’s appetite.

Holly and I decided to order Bacon Wrapped Dates ($6) off the small plates list to start. The dates were served on a bed of curried apple hash and the bacon/date combination of salty and sweet was apparent. I love bacon so I knew this dish would be tasty.  

Because I’d read so much about the rosemary-truffle fries, I decided to order the Hanger Steak ($25) for dinner which came with the infamous fries. The steak was served over spinach and parsnip puree which may not sound too appetizing but it was delicious. The beef was cooked perfectly and the fries were pretty awesome. I wouldn’t say they are the best fries I’ve ever had but they were thin and full of flavor, just the way I like them. My only complaint is that I couldn’t finish my meal. See, I’m learning portion control. 🙂

Holly decided on the Hand Rolled Potato Gnocchi ($17) for her meal. The gnocchi was mixed with squash, sage, tomato-lemon confit and Parmesan cheese and the portion size was perfect. She was happy with her meal.

I noticed on the menu that Garden at the Cellar offers a dish which includes four sides for $17. I really enjoyed the sides that complemented my meal so I may consider ordering that plate next time.

Garden at the Cellar doesn’t offer dessert (as a way to turn tables quicker, I believe) but we were pretty stuffed anyway, so that wasn’t a problem. Check out Garden at the Cellar if you’re in the area. We were satisfied with our delicious meals and attentive service and I’m sure you will be too.

What’s better on a cold winter day than a hot bowl of soup or stew? That’s exactly what I was thinking when I cooked up turkey chili this week. I like making soup or chili because the recipe makes enough for plenty of leftovers.

The recipe, Simple Turkey Chili, came from one of my favorite recipe websites, allrecipes.com. I have been using allrecipes.com for as long as I can remember. I love the number of recipes, the search functions, the ratings and advice from other users, and the ability to save recipes to a recipe box! This chili has a ton of flavor with a bit of spice. It’s hearty and  satisfying.

Being the carb-lover that I am, I couldn’t make just turkey chili.  And, what goes better with chili than corn muffins?! I searched long and hard for a whole grain corn muffin recipe. I found this one, for Whole Wheat Cornbread, and chose to make 8 muffins instead. To make the muffins instead of bread, put the batter into muffin cups in a muffin tin and bake them for 15-18 minutes.

These healthy muffins are moist and have a good amount of flavor. Top the muffins with a little honey or butter and they’re near perfect!

Turkey chili and whole wheat corn muffins…the perfect healthy, hearty lunch.

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