November 27, 2009

Mark Bittman's Impromptu Fried Rice

To balance out the Oh So Yummy recipes I'll post some healthy ones too.  This vegetarian recipe comes from the book "Food Matters" by Mark Bittman.  This recipe can only be classified as pure awesomeness - and it's full of stuff that's good for you!  You can eat it by itself as a light lunch or for dinner I like to dice up some baked chicken and mango for a sweet/savory mix with a punch of protein.  Yum Yum Yum Yum Yum.  This picture is straight from my stove top.

Makes: 4 servings; Time: 20 minutes, with cooked rice (Maybe I spent too many years being a carb-a-phobe but this seems like way more than 4 servings to me.  Serving it with chicken we got 6 meals out of it.)

• 3 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil (I use olive)
• 1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces
• 1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and roughly chopped
• 1/2 pound green beans or asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (I've tried both)
• 1 cup fresh or thawed frozen peas (optional) (mandatory in my opinion)
• 1 cup soy or mung bean sprouts (optional)
• 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste
• 1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger, or to taste
• 3 to 4 cups cooked brown rice
• 2 eggs, lightly beaten (optional) (love it with the egg!)
• 1/4 cup sherry, white wine, stock, or water (wine, duh)
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce
• 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
• 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish (optional) (hate cilantro but that's just me)

Keri's Tips - #1 you must cook the rice the day before and let it set up in the fridge or it will be too wet to use.  #2 the ingredients go into the pan pretty quick and there is a lot of chopping - you might want to prepare everything ahead of time so you're not running around like a crazy person.

Put 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. A minute later, add the scallions and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until they soften and begin to brown, about 3 minutes. Lower the heat if the mixture starts to brown too quickly. Transfer the vegetables to a bowl.

Add the green beans or asparagus and cook, again over high heat, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned and just tender, about 5 minutes. Add them to the bowl with the vegetables. If you're using the peas, drain them if necessary and add them, along with the bean sprouts (if you're using them), to the skillet; cook, shaking the skillet, for about a minute, or until steaming. Add them to the bowl, too.

Put the remaining oil in the skillet, followed by the garlic and ginger. Just a few seconds later, begin to add the rice, a little at a time, using a spatula to break up the clumps, and toss it with the oil. When all the rice is added, make a well in its center and break the eggs into it if you're using them; scramble them a bit with the spatula, then stir to incorporate them into the rice.

Return the vegetables to the pan and use the spatula to fold everything until combined. Add the wine and cook, still folding, for about a minute. Add the soy sauce and sesame oil, then taste and add salt and pepper if necessary. Turn off the heat, stir in the cilantro, and serve.

November 25, 2009

Oh So Yummy Brown Butter & Scallion Mashed Potatoes

I've been making these mashed potatoes for several years now and it may just be the best holiday mashed potato recipe EVER!  I'd love to take credit but this yumminess comes from Gourmet Magazine circa 2005.  Enjoy!!!  I'll be bringing these for Thanksgiving.

5 lb yellow-fleshed potatoes such as Yukon Gold, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
2 bunches scallions, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Cover potatoes with cold water by 2 inches in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, 10 to 15 minutes.

Drain potatoes in a colander, then return to pot and cook over moderate heat, shaking pot occasionally, until dry, 1 to 2 minutes. Mash hot potatoes with masher or force through food mill into another pot, then cover to keep warm.

Bring milk with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt just to a boil in a 1-quart saucepan, then remove from heat and stir into potatoes until combined. Stir in sour cream, then cover and keep warm.

Cook butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat, stirring frequently and scraping up brown bits, until foam subsides and butter is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Add scallions and pepper and cook, stirring, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Fold butter mixture into mashed potatoes and season with salt.

Keri's tip - if you've never made brown butter before just hang in there and keep stirring, it will happen.  For the first 8 minutes you're going to be asking yourself, is it done?  No.  You'll know when it's done.  It gets really brown and starts turning into bits.  Trust me.

Cooks' note:
Mashed potatoes can be made 1 day ahead and cooled, uncovered, then chilled, covered. (Scallions may discolor slightly when potatoes are made ahead.) Reheat in a microwave or in a heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring.

November 24, 2009

Week 1

I've decided since my year started on a Tuesday I'll report my progress every Tuesday.  So how did this first week go?  Great!  Not perfect, but who can bother with perfection?  I think it is important to allow yourself to be successful and what I mean by that is challenge yourself, but be realistic in your goals.  For this week I set small goals: make my own healthy meals, start working out again, and have just one "free" meal (eat/drink whatever I want without guilt or loathing).  Next week my goals will get more challenging.  Here's how it went.

Make your own food & take your lunch to work - it not only saves you calories but it saves you a ton of money.  It takes a lot of meal planning and grocery shopping for this to work but it makes it so much easier to control what you are putting into your body.  Here is an example of a typical Friday night used to be like: eat 3-4 pieces of yummy delivery pizza, with ranch, with 1/2 bottle of red wine (a whole bottle if Bernie isn't drinking, don't judge).  Here is the healthier version that I made this week: store bought pre-stretched thin pizza crust from Whole Foods, put on some tomato sauce and use a light hand with the mozzarella.  I like mine with tomatoes and basil.  No ranch.  No red wine.  I had it with a small salad instead.  It wasn't any less satisfying, it was cheaper, and it was better for me.

Workout!  This week I got in four, count 'em, four 90 minute hot power yoga classes.  I can't say I enjoyed every minute but there is something gratifying about being in a pose while sweat is dripping off your face onto your mat.  I also went for a 70 minute walk with Claire and our dogs.  We weren't hauling ass by any means but hey, we were moving.

One free meal.  This is what you promise yourself that allows you to get through the week.  My friend Danielle used to keep a running list of all the things she was going to have on her free day.  Mine was two glasses of red wine, filet mignon, and a small twice baked potato.  My.Favorite.Meal.Ever.  Worth every bite.  No regrets.  Having some treats whether they be a little bit here and there, a free meal, or a free day allows you to keep some sanity.  I mean seriously, a life without pizza?  Please.

Final result: -2lbs.*
*since I'm not man enough to share my weight with the world I'm going to consider my starting weight 0lbs.  Each week I'll let you know where I am with respect to that number...preferably I want this to be a growing negative number - duh.

p.s. thanks for all the positive feedback this week - does an ego good.

November 22, 2009

My Secret Life as a Wannabe Designer

Most of you know we bought a 1904 Denver Square (American Foursquare) overlooking City Park at the end of July.  We love it.  It has most of the original features: hard wood floors throughout, windows, doors, moldings, claw foot tub, stained glass, etc.  It also has all of the renovations that us modern girls require: new electrical, new bathrooms, new kitchen.  Here's our baby, just look at that view of the park and downtown Denver!  It's like being in NY without the stench or rudeness.
Before we moved in we were able to get a lot of the painting done because who wants to paint after you move in?  You have to move all your stuff, again.  My engineer's brain tells me that is way too inefficient so I'm glad it worked out the way it did.  I'll post more as things get finished but here is a work in progress that I'm most proud of, the kitchen.  Here it was before we moved in.  Quite lovely, but slightly lame.  I don't have a good picture of the built in chalk board but it basically took up a large portion of the only empty wall in the kitchen.  There was also a very sad light fixture that has since been replaced with a beautiful all glass chandelier from Z Gallerie.
Someone at our housewarming party called this color "baby poop yellow" and I can't say I disagree.  I saw a lot of black rooms in the last round of home decorating magazines that I subscribe to and when Bernie came home that day I said, "We're going to paint the kitchen BLACK!"  He looked scared, but said okay.  Black then turned into a warm brown called "bitter chocolate" from Behr.  The chalk board is now a thing of the past and we have the main wall painted.  The rest of the room is going to be a biatch to paint so that will take some time.  Love love love it.  Big time. 

work in progress
Ta Da!!!  The color is warmer in person.  Tune back in around January - it will probably take us that long to finish painting this small room, unfortunately.  I'm envisioning either a large piece of art on this wall (which we can't afford right now) or four large framed photos that I plan to take myself of my favorite wine bottles and beautiful cheese plate setups.
As a side note, I've never understood people that live in beige houses. Some of my best friends are surrounded in beige. Which is fine.  Just don't live in beige because you're afraid of paint.  Be bold and try something new, if you don't like it, it's an easy fix.  A few tips: Don't buy a gallon from a paint chip.  They've made it so easy to buy samples for about $2.50 each.  I probably bought 25 samples to pick the colors throughout the house.  Then I gave all my samples away to my friend Claire so she could try them out on her new house.  Put the color on the wall, several walls, and let it dry.  Then look at it in natural light, dusk, artificial light...the paint will take on a different life.  Happy painting friends!!!

November 18, 2009

Day 1

I planned to start blogging on January 1st. I dreamed about all the things I wanted to talk about yet didn’t care if anyone listened – my goals for the year (typically fitness/weight loss related), wine & cheese & gourmet food, healthy living, gardening, green living, our adventures in the Big City. I was looking for an outlet.

I gave up yoga for 5+ months to train for the marathon. Last night was my first class back. I had a come to Jesus moment.  A big one.  Now, this isn’t pansy ass yoga with a few om’s and light stretching, this is 90 minutes of advanced Hot power yoga at Yoga on 6th with incredible teachers and incredible students and a lot of sweat and maybe a few om’s. This class felt as hard as my first class and I started having an internal conversation with myself that went a little something like this:

This sucks. Am I going to hurl? How bad is this going to hurt tomorrow? How did I just finish a marathon yet this is so hard? Chaturanga. Man, I should do something about this. But you’re going to start at the beginning of the year, you still have Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years to contend with so why start now? Did the marathon really make my calves this big?  Upward facing dog. Do you want to spend the next two months feeling like this while you wait to get started? Downward facing dog. No. No I do not.

So as I said, I planned to start blogging January 1st. I’m the kind of girl that likes to start fresh. I’ll start fresh on Monday! or the first of the month, or the first of the year, etc. Then plan, plan, plan for that fresh start!  I will start fresh as soon as I get my plan in place! This will be My Year! The year I finally lose the weight. The year I finally become a runner. The year I….(insert goal here). 2003 was going to be My Year! So I didn’t go into my 30’s overweight. 2005 was going to be My Year! It was the year I was going to run my first NYC marathon. 2008 was going to be My Year! The year I got married. 2009 was going to be My Year! The year I did my second NYC Marathon on my 35th birthday. Get the picture? Now don’t get me wrong, during this time I achieved a lot – got my MBA, got hitched, fought for and won a promotion, finished four ½ marathons and two full marathons (26.2 miles each people!). I just achieved them at a slower pace, and a higher weight, than I set out to do.

I try not to ever use excuses for why I didn't reach my goals, but I can give you several: I travel for work, my mom died, I like to eat, marathon training makes me hungry, my dad had a stroke, wine is yummy, I became hypothyroid, etc.

So, I throw this out for all to read, or not read, because once I’m fully committed to getting something done, I have way too much pride to quit. So I'll be writing about weight loss and working out but I will also be chatting about my other favorite things.  So this is my year, and it started on a random Tuesday night after a non-religious girl came to Jesus.


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