Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Shrimp and Pasta

Poor Pootie Pie only had 1/4 of a carb left on his allotment for the day, so he got this pitiful little amount of pasta. But he still enjoyed it. This is one from the P90X book. I'll give her points for this one. It's simple as all get-out. We have a version that we actually "Greek-up" with oregano with rice and feta and mint instead of pasta. But this one is a couple of cloves of minced garlic sauteed in a couple Tbs. of olive oil, a tomato chopped (I used canned whole tomatoes, because it's just not tomato season here yet) and shrimp. I added a little pinch of red pepper flakes to give it some punch. I served it over whole wheat fettucine.

I commented to P. that there is something very comforting about the smell of a tomato-based sauce simmering. And I don't have an ounce of Italian blood in me, as far as I know. It just smells like someone cares and is going to feed you something filling and delicious. And it was!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Grilled Salmon over Mixed Greens and Fennel

Oh, OK, it wasn't THAT bad, but I just don't get too excited about salmon. Or any other steaky fish, for that matter. Or fennel, come to that. And honestly, it wasn't too exciting a preparation. This was one in Fine Cooking I'll probably throw back in the pond, so to speak. (Yes, I know salmon doesn't live in ponds.)
It was just grilled salmon, over a bed of mixed greens and fennel (hence the title). The greens were dressed with a decent vinaigrette of champagne vinegar, orange juice, orange zest and olive oil. But it just didn't make my taste buds tap dance or anything.
So you're thinking "Well, Andie, if you don't like salmon, and you don't like fennel, why on earth did you make grilled salmon over a salad with fennel?" Oh, hush. Because Phillip wanted salmon, and I thought it was time to try fennel again to see if we still don't like it. That would be an affirmative. We still don't like it.
So not the best meal I've ever eaten, but not the worst either. And at least it was healthy. Here's hoping I pull off something better tomorrow night. For all our sakes.

Make-Ahead Monday

Today I took some time and prepped some food for the week so we'd have an easier go of it this week for lunches. It will pay off when we're starving and need to eat NOW. Here's a quick-list of what I got done.

  • Grilled Chicken Thighs and Breasts (all boneless-skinless)
  • Chilled Cucumber Soup
  • Roasted Red Pepper Soup (can be served chilled or warm)
  • Chicken Stock (OK, that's not so much for lunches, but I make my own and keep it in the fridge)
  • Salad Dressing (Lowfat Ranch and Lemon-Honey)

In addition to this food prep, we're also stocked up on salad greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, hearts of palm, artichoke hearts and a few other veggies for salads. We have whole wheat pita, whole grain tortillas, whole grain Lite English Muffins and whole grain sandwich thins for sandwiches and toasts. And we have fruit, including some good fresh cherries I picked up.

To grill the chicken, I just salt and pepper it, put it on a foil-lined baking sheet, and toss it on the grill. Having that in the fridge and ready is great for salads, sandwiches, chicken salad - pretty much anything you can think of to do with chicken. The veggie soups can be served straight out of the fridge and are nice chilled this time of year when it's warm out.

This should set us up pretty well for pulling lunch together quickly.

Indonesian Spiced Chicken with Jenn and David

We love the Tuckers! They are rock stars! They're uber-coolio and fun and we love spending time with them. Especially when we can get Jenn away from her hundreds of admirers. (I swear the girl knows everyone in town.)

Here's David. (A little kid beat him up for hogging the rides.)

Here's Jenn. Clearly she has excellent taste in food.

So they got a sitter and came on over Friday night for dinner. I wanted something good, but it also needed to take care of our P90X dietary needs. So with that in mind, I picked Thai Chicken with Lemongrass Glaze. Another one from this last Fine Cooking. (Have I mentioned how much I love that magazine?)

Here was the menu:

Chilled Cucumber Soup
Barbecue-Braised Thai Chicken with Lemongrass Glaze
Coconut Rice
Brown Rice (for us)
Grilled Pineapple with Brown Sugar Ice Cream (OK, I had some.)

No, I didn't get pictures. I'm terrible about that when we have company. I'd rather just visit and get dinner ready. The chicken recipe I modified slightly. It called for chicken legs with skin, and I just used boneless skinless chicken thighs and chicken breasts instead. I already had them, and they were easier anyway. Rub them with a spice mixture of turmeric, fresh ginger, coriander, a little cayenne and kosher salt, then let them sit a little while. Then you make up the braising liquid, which is scallions, lemongrass, garlic, ginger, green curry paste, fish sauce and chicken broth and a little sugar. I simmered that down until it was a little thicker and brushed the chicken with it. Just FYI - I usually cook my meats on the gas grill on a pan lined with foil rather than directly on the grates. It keeps from gunking up our grill and supposedly the charred stuff that gets on your food isn't good for you. Mostly it's because I hate cleaning the grill.
The coconut rice is just Jasmine rice boiled in a can of coconut milk and however much water is needed to round that out to a full 2 cups. I think it's a quarter cup. The cucumber soup is one from the P90X manual and it was GOOD! 2 cups of chopped cukes, 1/4 cup of chopped red onion (I always sautee it a little - I can't stand raw onion) 1 cup of plain nonfat yogurt, a Tbs. of chopped dill and chopped mint each, some salt and pepper, and you frapp that all up in a blender or food processor and stick it in the fridge. "Wah-Lah".

Warm grilled fresh pineapple for dessert is one of my favorites. It gets sweet and juicy and I love it with a small scoop of ice cream that yes, I know, I shouldn't be eating right now, thanks.

We had a great time and they SAID they liked the chicken. Usually people don't tell me they don't like stuff I serve, but they ate it, so I figure that was a pretty good sign.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Almond-Crusted Chicken and Peach Salad with Buttermilk Chive Dressing

The title is a mouthful, but a delicious one! Man, dinner was good tonight! Pootie was very sad he couldn't eat any more of it. This is another one from the June/July '09 Fine Cooking that I wanted to try, and I'm definitely putting this in the "to keep" MasterCook file. It was fast, simple, light, fits our P90X food plan and YUM! (I have to say, I'm glad we're doing P90X in spring/summer instead of winter, when I'd really be wanting to eat Mac and Cheese. I'll have to get over that by fall, I expect.)

The recipe called for nectarines, but the peaches at Fresh Market looked better. They tasted ALMOST as good as fresh farmer's market peaches. (I swear we're going Saturday morning.)

The chicken is dredged in egg whites and chopped almonds and flour (I used whole wheat) and then browned in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a pan. The dressing is a very simple thin buttermilk dressing with chives from the herb bed. The sweet peaches with the nutty and salty chicken and the tangy buttermilk dressing was a great combo. And the chicken had a nice crunch.
Have I mentioned Fine Cooking is my favorite? And this last issue has just been packed with winners.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Spicy Shrimp and Green Beans

Pootie took one bite of this one and said "YUM!" And that was after eating a green bean! (He usually doesn't like them at all.) This was another one from this last Fine Cooking that I wanted to try. Tasty, tasty, tasty! And took me about 20 minutes to cook, start to finish. Well, I did have help. Pootie peeled the shrimp for me this time so I didn't have to take a Benedryl. You don't want to hear that story again.

The shrimp are marinated in mirin, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and a sliced scallion. You mince garlic and ginger and put that in a pan with the green beans and just a little bit of sesame oil, and stir that around for a couple of minutes, then add the shrimp and cook it for about five more minutes. Shazaam! Dinner! And did I mention tasty? We went to Fresh Market on Saturday and they had big baskets of green beans that looked really bright and fresh, and some NC shrimp that were as big as my head. They were also really fresh - you could tell when we ate them tonight.

Dinner was great. I'll definitely do this one again. I'd import it into Master Cook if I could get the stupid import bar to work. I think I have a ganked .dll somewhere. Anyway, this one will be a repeater, for sure. And yes, it met our P90X requirements.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Crab "cakes" and Gazpacho

This weekend has been great. We've been home and mostly unoccupied, so we finally had a block of time to get solid on menu planning so that we're better prepared for this week. We took a couple of hours on Saturday to plan out what we're having that works with this P90X plan so that we don't have to limit ourselves to the recipes in the book, which are fine, but not plentiful. And we are SO not into eating the same things over and over. After menu planning, we went grocery shopping and now there is no room in the fridge for even a wafer thin mint. It will explode if we try to shove anything else in it. Obviously, we went really heavy on the produce.

I got a great issue of Fine Cooking a week or so ago, and there are a lot of things in it I wanted to try that fit in well with how we're eating right now. Tonight was the first one I tried.

As you can see, they aren't traditional crab cakes - no breading, no frying in oil, etc. It's really more like a crab salad. But MAN, they were good. You mix good crab meat with lime juice, basil, shallot, a little coconut milk (not much at all) and salt and pepper and then put it in a sieve and drain it for a little while. The tomato base is a chutney of tomatoes, onion, garlic, and some spices. It's a tiny bit sweet, and it plays off the lime and coconut in the crab meat beautifully. You mold it with a ring mold (or a can that has both ends cut off if you're being cheap like me). Put some of the tomato base in, then crab meat, pack it down, and ta-da!!! Fancy and everything!

I served this with a gazpacho from the P90X book. I find all of the soups in there to be very good. And it's a great way for me to get my vegetables. I get tired of salads REALLY fast. That one is just a bunch of veggies and some seasonings thrown in the food processor with some tomato juice. It was flavorful.

For those of you who care anything about P90X, a note about the food: We were on the first phase for four days before we both noticed a significant drop in energy. It's heavy on protein, almost no carbs. They suggest that if you notice your energy level suffering, move on to the next phase, which adds in more carbs. We discovered that for us, we really need the carbs to push us through the workouts, so we've already moved on to phase 2 and we both see a difference in energy level.

Except for me, right now. I cleaned the house today and it was pretty dusty. This resulted in a need to take a Benedryl so I can breathe, and now I'm stooooooooooonnnnnnnned. I'm doing a lot of staring, so I figure that probably means this blog can be considered done.

Friday, May 15, 2009

More P90X meals

So some have been great, some good, and in the past day or so, we hit a couple of clunkers. I'm sorry, but you just can't make a "stir-fry" by simmering everything in a quarter cup of soy sauce. That is a stir-salt-simmer. You CAN make a stir-fry low fat by minimizing the amount of oil you use, and using a really hot pan. Which is what I did. I don't think I really blew the diet out of the water by doing it this way. It was beef and broccoli and I added some snap peas and mushrooms. It was still ho-hum, though.

I think I've mentioned that the first phase of this program is heavy on protein, light on carbs. As you need more energy when the physical demand intensifies in the workouts, carbs are added. So we've been staying true to it, and my pants are looser and yes, I'm getting more toned. (But I'm pretty tired of protein and brown rice.)

Last night:

Beef with Broccoli Stir-Fry with Brown Rice (yawn)
Wednesday night:
What did we have wednesday night... let's see... Tuesday Phillip's parents were here... Oh yeah.
Carrot Ginger Soup
Black Beans with Ginger and Chili-Garlic Sauce
The Carrot Ginger soup was just a diced onion and minced ginger, chopped carrots, salt and pepper and chicken stock, simmered and then pureed smooth. The catfish I did dredge in panko crumbs (yes, I know this is illegal) and browned in 1 Tbs. of olive oil. The black beans have a diced onion, a chunk of ginger, a can of black beans, and a Tbs. of Chili-Garlic Sauce. It was great, satisfying, and didn't stay us too far off the path.
This weekend we're going to sit down and plan a little better. We've been kind of scrambling on the lunches especially, and we're getting sick of some things, so I need to get in there and start thinking about what we can substitute. There's a decent amount of variety in there, but not as much as we're used to. So it's time to get creative. Fortunately, they give you a breakdown of servings of proteins, carbs, fruits, vegetables, etc. for the day, and that makes it a lot easier.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Roasted Chicken X and Red Bell Pepper Soup

Here you go, folks! Dinner last night!

Ha ha, kiddin'. We are still on the P90X plan. And last night, we served it to company, so that's pretty high testimony from me about their recipes.
Roasted Red Pepper Soup
Roasted Chicken with Barbecue Sauce
Brown Rice (Yeah, tell me. I'm getting tired of it, too.)
The red pepper soup was great. My mother-in-law, an excellent cook, raved about it. Not a drop left in anyone's bowl, either. And simple. Roasted red peppers, some tomato, tomato paste, onion, wine (I'd have rather had that without the soup interfering), and chicken stock and some thyme. Very clean flavor, and satisfying.
The chicken I just roasted on the grill with a spice rub and served with barbecue sauce. (NOT North Carolina - that stuff is vile. How on earth can you call it "BBQ Sauce"? Call a spade a spade. It's vinegar! Straight out of the bottle vinegar! Heretics.)
So that was dinner. Afterward, we played spades. I got a little ticked at my partner, who led with a two of hearts when I was going nil, costing us a hundred points. But he's my father-in-law, and I like him, so I had to just get up on over it. We will be reviewing the rules again before our next game, however.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Lemon Garlic Chicken and Asparagus Soup

Ooof. I'm full. The portion sizes on the P90X plan are generous, to say the least. Frankly, I'll be a little surprised if I actually lose weight on this program. But I'm giving it a shot anyway. Tonight's dinner was pretty good, especially for a package thing like this.

Asparagus Soup

Lemon Garlic Chicken

Brown Rice

Doesn't sound like much, I know. But get a load of the size of the portions.

Yes, I know the picture isn't very good, and I didn't do a gorgeous job of plating the food. I'll do better next time. That's 4 oz. of chicken (I was allotted 6), 1 cup of brown rice, and 2 cups of asparagus soup. I managed to eat about half of all of it before I was full. And I was really hungry when I started. So again, I'll be kind of surprised if I lose weight, and if I do this for another couple of weeks and don't see results, I'll probably drop the portion size down significantly. I'll let you know.
Meanwhile, let's talk about the food.
The chicken thighs were marinated in molasses, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, salt and pepper. They're supposed to be baked, but I put them on a pan on the grill. I just like it better. Interestingly, it tasted a lot like balsamic chicken. Tasty, but just a tiny bit too sweet for me. The soup is onion, asparagus, potato and chicken stock, simmered and then pureed. Simple, and had a really nice flavor. The brown rice was... well... brown rice. Not much to say about that. Tasted like brown rice, which was fine.
More tomorrow, as we move along through this. As far as the workout went, I did chest and back (pushups and pullups), Ab Ripper X, and Cardio X. That's enough about that. This is a food blog.

P90X Meals - The beginning

As both of you know, Phillip and I have been doing the P90X workouts and really enjoying them. P. is already seeing X-cellent results (sorry) and has dropped 25 pounds. So we decided to go ahead and do the full program, meals and all. We just stopped where we were on the workouts, since he was 3 weeks ahead of me, and decided to start over together today. So here we go.

I have to say that I was not sure the meals would be very good on this program. I flatter myself that I am a reasonably proficient cook with a fairly well-tuned palate, and was afraid we'd get the meal plan and it would be crappy recipes for people who don't cook. Not the case at all, thank goodness. Just lots of fresh ingredients, vegetables, well thought-out seasonings, and helpful portion sizes and daily plans to make it easy to follow.

It's got the calorie needs split into three levels. It's based on weight, mostly, and obviously the bigger you are, the more calories you need. It figures in your daily expenditure of calories on the workouts (you average about 600 per day on their workout schedule) and each level has the appropriate serving sizes for the calorie expenditure. Phillip is at Level 3, I'm at Level 2. Here is his breakfast today.

Mushroom omelet, 1 cup of berries, and a glass of skim milk. The omelet is 10 egg whites, 1 cup of mushrooms, 1/2 a chopped roma tomato, 1 Tbs. of chopped green onion, and 4 oz. of lowfat cheddar cheese. That's for his calorie consumption at about 203 lbs. Mine is lower, but I think even I get 6 egg whites. It's plenty of food. He said it was good, and he's full. I had a protein smoothie for my breakfast.

I'll keep you posted on the meals. They really do look to be tasty.