I have tried to write this post
two three four times now – thanks WordPress. I think I have finally forced them to let me share an update with you all.
It has been busy around here. I know I say this often but it’s true. Busy is my baseline and I have yet to master my schedule given my current state of busy. I’m getting there though.
Since the last time we chatted a few things have changed. I finished and submitted my applications for internship spots. Only 30 odd days until I find out where I got placed. Carver and I mailed all of our wedding invitations (we have even received a good number of RSVPs) with minimal loss of sanity. We had our wedding tasting. And we also are licensed to wed (!!), possibly the most surreal and obscure moment of the past weekend…
Now that those major milestones are behind us, I have decided there are no more excuses for my lack of exercise. It’s time. No more hiking here, cardio at the gym another day. Solid exercise. My muscles need it. My mind needs it. So hold me accountable. I’ll share with you my progress and the torture.
Recently there my kitchen has been very dirty. A result of lots of cooking and baking. What have I been making you ask? Oh well a variety of things really. Bread, brownies, Cranberry Muffins, Chocolate chip cookies with bacon, a frittata, soup, pizza, peanut butter and the list goes on…
I looked in my freezer this morning for our dinner protein and shockingly found no chicken! Pork chops it is then. I also happened to have one nice lemon left and a giant box of spinach and the heel of a loaf of bread. Dinner was impromptu and improvised but delicious. Think Manhattan Chicken with pork.
I seasoned both sides of the pork with salt, pepper and Mrs. Dash; preheated the skillet with a touch of olive oil and some nonstick spray. I seared the chop for 3 minutes on either side over medium-high heat. Then I removed the chops from the pan and set them on a plate to rest. I added to the pan a bit more oil (about 2 teaspoons) and more spray then 2 cloves of minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of butter; I stirred this together with a wooden spoon and added in 2 cups of baby spinach. I seasoned the spinach with the juice of half a lemon and the zest of half a lemon, salt and pepper; being careful to keep the spinach moving in the pan. Next I replaced the pork chops in the pan – now that they had a beautiful green bed to rest on. I grated fresh parmesan over the chops and put a lid on the skillet. The two pork chops were about 1-1.5 inches in thickness so they needed about 5 minutes of steam time to be cooked through. Just before serving I removed the lid and hit the pork/spinach with the zest and juice from the remaining half of the lemon and a little more salt and pepper. We enjoyed our dinner with a couple thin slices of whole grain bread which was left in the fridge.
These cookies are a big part of my evening. I will be giving these as a gift to someone very dear to me.
My mentor (not sure she knows that is what I consider her) was presented with a wonderful opportunity which involves leaving our Simmons Community. I enlisted some help to find her favorite cookies because some how in our time together I had no idea she was such a big cookie fan. I knew of her love for Lay’s potato chips and her custom mix of Jelly Belly’s but those aren’t as personal. Growing up food was how we communicated emotions and I still come back to that on occasion. I don’t know how to say thank you for all she’s done or the extent to which I will miss knowing she is always near by… I do know how to make something with love that says all those things and more.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together 2 3/4c flour (halt white, half wheat), 2t baking powder and 1/2t salt. Put 1/2c butter (unsalted, room temperature), 1/2c applesauce, and 1 1/2c sugar in a bowl; cream until pale and fluffy. Mix in 1 egg and 2 egg whites. Reduce speed to low and gradually add in flour mixture. In a small bowl mix together 1T sugar and 1t cinnamon. Shape the dough into 48 1″-balls; roll in cinnamon sugar. Space the cookies 2″ apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake cookies for 14 minutes rotating halfway through. Let cool on sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 1 cookie per serving. Points Plus: 2
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together 2 1/4c flour (half white, half wheat), 1/2t baking soda and 1t salt. Put 1/2c butter (unsalted, room temperature), 1/2c applesauce, 1c brown sugar and 1/2c granular sugar in a bowl and cream until pale and fluffy. Add in 1 egg, 2 egg whites and 2t vanilla extract. Add in flour mixture. Mix in 1 3/4c chocolate chips. Bake for 10 minutes, rotating halfway through cooking. Let cool on sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 1 cookie per serving. Points Plus: 2
Trim, blanch and dice 1c green beans. Place 2T cilantro– finely chopped, 2T red onion– finely chopped, 1 Serrano & 1 jalapeno chilies– minced, and 1/2 t salt in a medium-sized bowl and combine. Add 2 medium ripe avocados– seeded and peeled, green beans, 1c tomato– diced, and 1T lime juice. Mash all ingredients together. Adjust seasoning as needed and serve immediately. Serves 8. Points Plus: 3.
Rinse and drain 3c fresh cranberries. Place them in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped but not mushy; alternately you can chop the cranberries by hand until about 1/2-1/4 their normal size. Place cranberries in a bowl; add 2 medium mangoes- cored and diced, 2 medium papayas– seeded and diced, 1/4c chopped scallions, 2T jalapenos– minced, 1/3c sugar, 1/4c cilantro– finely chopped, 2T ginger– freshly grated, and 2T lime juice. Combine ingredients thoroughly. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving. Serves 8. Points Plus: 3
Dutch Baby Pancake
*I did not make this recipe, my brother did. If you have never had a Dutch Baby (pancake) before – you should try ASAP.* Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a 12″ skillet (must be ovensafe) with nonstick spray. Break 3 eggs – room temp, into a mixing bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed. Add 1/2c skim milk and blend well. Sift 1/2c flour and 1/2t salt onto a square sheet of wax paper. Lift the waxed paper up by 2 corners and let the flour slowly fall into the egg mixture, whisking steadily. Add 2T melted butter and mix briskly so the batter is smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with: lemon juice and powdered sugar. Serve immediately. Serves 8. Points Plus: 2
Chicken Breast Sauteed in White Wine
Trim any visible fat off of 2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts. Brown the chicken in 1t olive oil and 1t butter. Season both sides with salt, pepper, and herbs de Provence. Stir in 1/2T minced shallots, 1/3c chicken broth and 1/4c dry white wine to the pan. Cover the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes. Baste and turn the chicken a few times during cooking to maintain moisture. Remove chicken from the pan and keep warm. Boil down the liquid and melt in 1t butter. Pour sauce over chicken and serve. Serves 2. I served this with 1c whole wheat couscous and 1c greek salad. Points Plus: 13 (does not include salad)
Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies
Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, cream together 2T butter, 2t oil and 1/2c brown sugar. Add 1t vanilla, 1/8t saltand 1 egg white; mix thoroughly to combine. In a small bowl, mix together 3/4c flour and 1/4t baking soda; stir into batter. Add 1/3c chocolate chips, 1/3c toasted nuts– chopped and 1/4c coconut to batter; stir to distribute evenly. Drop rounded half-teaspoons of dough onto cookie sheets. Bake cookies until golden around the edges, about 4-6 minutes. 2 cookies per serving. Points plus: 2
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread 1c nuts on a baking sheet. Toast the nuts in the warm oven for about 3 minutes – your nose will know when they are done. Remove the nuts and let them cool, then coarsely chop them. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together 2c flour, 1/2c cocoa powder, 1t baking soda and 1/4t salt in a bowl. In a large bowl cream 6T unsalted butter (room temperature) and 1c sugar until light and fluffy. Add 2 large eggs, beat gently until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat to form a stiff dough. Mix in nuts and 1/2c dried fruit -diced, until just combined. Transfer dough to prepared baking sheet and form into a slightly flattened log (about 12″x4″). Bake until slightly firm, about25 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300. On a cutting board, using a sharp knife, cut biscotti diagonally into 1″ slices. Arrange cut side down on baking sheet – bake until crisp about 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Makes about 24 cookies. Points Plus: 4
Lite Shrimp and Corn Chowder
Heat 1t olive oil in a sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 large red onion (diced), and 1 celery stalk with leaves (chopped), and cook stirring occasionally for 5 minutes. Add 1T flour and 1/2t paprika and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat, add 1/2c non-fat milk and 1/2c fat-free half and half, whisking until smooth. Add 3/4c frozen corn kernels and 1/4t salt – cook over medium heat stirring constantly for 3 minutes. Add 1/4lb medium shrimp – halved, and cook stirring often until shrimp turn opaque, about 3 minutes. Serves 2. Points Plus: 5
Yummy Grilled Cheese with a Twist
Melt 1t butter and 1t olive oil in a large skilled over medium-high heat. Build 2 sandwiches using 4 slices of Carver’s White Bread, 4 slices of deli meat, 4t spicy mustard, 1 tomato-sliced, and 2oz brie (split all amounts between 2 sandwiches). Cook about 3 minutes on either side, top sandwiches with a plate and something heavy to add pressure. Cut in half and ENJOY….. Points Plus: 9