Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tilapia Masala with Rice

For about the last two years (maybe longer), I have been exchanging e-mails with two of my great friends-- Amanda and Trish.

(L to R) Elizabeth, Amanda, and Trish at Amanda's Wedding :)
It's been so great to keep in touch and use each other to share successes, vent about life, and everything else in between.  Both are also wonderful cooks and have been such a good support system with my Weight Watchers.  They are often sending me recipes to try out, and tonight was one of those recipes.

I thought it was great-- I loved the flavors, but Austin was less than impressed (didn't care for the yogurt flavor).  He said he would eat it if I make it again, and I think I will; it was that good in my opinion.

Tilapia Masala with Rice



  • Cook rice to directions. When cooked, add peas. Set aside. 

  • Puree 1/2 cup yogurt, the garlic, ginger, lime juice, cumin, cayenne and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor. Transfer all but 3 tablespoons of the mixture to a large bowl. 

  • Pierce the fish a few times with a fork and season with salt; add to the bowl and toss. Marinate 15 minutes. Preheat the broiler. Place the fish on a broiler pan; top with the marinade and butter. Broil until opaque, 6 to 8 minutes. 

  • Mix the remaining 1/4 cup yogurt, the cilantro, and salt to taste with the yogurt mixture. Serve the fish and rice with the yogurt sauce.  8 points a serving.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Shrimp and Quinoa Salad

Quinoa is one of my favorite foods!  It was introduced to me when I was visiting my friend, Amanda, in Seattle, and I was hooked.  I used to have Austin bring me up quinoa from the Trader Joe's in Williamsburg until I moved here and could stock up on my own :)

As a result, I try to find any recipe that will let me use quinoa.  There is a problem, unfortunately, with my favorite food.  It's very high in points :( so I love even more when I find quinoa in my Weight Watchers recipes!

This is adapted from Weight Watchers online.  Instead of the veggies they suggested, I used a package of frozen veggies I got at Wal-Mart.  Wal-Mart has a fantastic selection of mixed vegetables, and I like trying all the different kinds.  The asparagus mix was a rousing success.

Shrimp and Quinoa Salad



  • Cook quinoa according to package instructions, with adding the vegetable mix in the water and quinoa.  Let cool after cooking.

  • Combine lemon juice, broth, oil, dill, salt and black pepper in a cup; stir well. Pour oil mixture over salad and toss gently but well. Yields about 1 1/2 cups per serving. 7 points a serving.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Great way to spend a Saturday...

Today was a combination of being busy and then doing absolutely nothing.  It was wonderful!

First up was a trip to Movie Tavern-- the coolest movie theater ever.  The seats are big office chairs, and they roll up to a back-lit table.  The place offers a full menu of good and reasonably priced food (in addition to the typical popcorn and candy).  The best part when you see a movie at night is their selection of beer-- if you order two beers, you get one right away and the other one delivered to you 30 minutes into the movie.  On the weekend, they show movies at 9 am and have a breakfast menu.  My friend, Sadie, and I saw the Iron Lady.  The movie was okay, but my breakfast quesadilla was delicious.

Afterwards, I went home and watched Netfilx and knitted for hours.  I had some other things on my weekend to-do list, but this was so much better.  Even Ryan Gosling thinks so :)

For dinner, I met another friend (Lauren) at a mexican restaurant near her house.  We live about an hour apart, but we have an awful tunnel that is always backed up with traffic between us.  We've met halfway through, but since I had another stop after dinner on her side of the bridge-tunnel, dinner was on her stomping grounds.  Taco salad was great; tastes like all the other, but nothing to complain about.

After dinner, I traveled to Virginia Beach to see my cousin play basketball.  Family is super important to me, so I jump at any chance to spend time with them and support them.  My cousin, Nicholas, is an amazing basketball player; I've seen him play twice, and I admit that I am a little biased.  His school team had a rough first half but came back strong and won the game by a small margin.  It was so much fun to watch, even though it was incredibly nerve-wracking.

When I made it home around midnight (on Sunday am), I checked the mail and found the last bit of my tax documents waiting for me....so I logged onto turbo tax and did my taxes.  I didn't get as big of a refund as last year, and Turbo Tax's prices went up...double sad face.  BUT yay for getting those done and getting some money back :)

Besides for my afternoon of laziness, it was a good Saturday.  Maybe on Sunday I will actually work on that to-do list.  For now, it's time for bed!  Good night. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Beer Soaked Beef

Two nights ago, I cooked the much anticipated beer soaked beef.  Austin's been eyeing this recipe because of the beer; I've been wanting it because I love beef.  The makings of this dinner actually started 3 nights with the marinade.

I took the flank steak I bought (about 1.5 pounds) and cut it in half.  Since there's only two of us, a whole steak wasn't necessary, and I already found another recipe to try with the flank steak. :)  So with the recipe below (from Weight Watchers) is halved-- and Austin didn't mind finishing the beer that I didn't use in the marinade.  We used an Irish Red Ale for the marinade-- I love red ales, and I think it complemented the other spices used.  The recipe calls for cloves, and I didn't have them.  You could use a combination of cinnamon and nutmeg-- I used apple pie spice.

We let the meat marinade for about 24 hours, turning the meat over occasionally, meaning before we went to bed and the next morning before we went to work.  The meat could either be cooked in the oven or on the grill.  The original recipe suggested 3.5 minutes on each side, and that made it severely rare-- even too red for me.  We put it back in and on each side for about 5 minutes left it medium-rare to rare.  Cook longer based on your preferences.

We had the steak with green beans, and poured the sauce over both the meat and beans.  The meat was sweet, a little bit unexpected for steak, but we both really enjoyed it.  I don't think it will be a staple, but I would make it again.

Beer Soaked Beef



  • In a 9- X 13-inch glass baking dish, combine beer, oil, garlic, lemon juice, sugar, salt and cloves; add steak. Cover dish and marinate in refrigerator, turning once or twice, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
  • Place a grill pan in broiler; preheat broiler to high. Remove meat from marinade and broil about 5 minutes per side for medium rare, or longer until desired doneness.* Remove meat from broiler and place meat on a plate; loosely cover with aluminum foil and let stand for about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, place grill pan on stovetop over high heat; carefully pour marinade onto grill pan. Bring to a boil (beer will foam) and cook until all alcohol burns off, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Thinly slice steak against the grain and serve with sauce. Yields about 4 ounces of steak per serving.  6 points per serving.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hawaiian Curried Chicken with Pineapple Salsa

Last night was another first; I made curry for the first time!  I LOVE curry, so I was excited to make my own.  I adapted the recipe from Weight Watchers-- I added celery because it's fresh and awesome, and I didn't want it to go bad.  We also tried a cilantro base instead of fresh cilantro.  It was surprisingly good-- made by Goya and $2.08 for the jar.  It's a great substitute since I'm so bad about using fresh produce before it spoils.

Hawaiian Curried Chicken with Pineapple Salsa



  • Coat a large skillet with cooking spray; set over medium heat. Add oil; heat until oil starts to shimmer. Add ginger, celery, and onions; sauté until onions turn translucent and start to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add curry powder, salt and sugar; cook, stirring, until curry becomes fragrant, about 1 minute.

  • Push vegetables to side of skillet and sauté chicken until lightly browned, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add coconut milk and reduce heat to low; simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until chicken is done, about 20 to 30 minutes. 

  • Meanwhile, to make salsa, combine pineapple, shallots and cilantro; toss well to coat.

  • To serve, top chicken with salsa and sprinkle with coconut; sprinkle with salt if desired.  Serve over brown rice.

  • Yields about 3/4 cup chicken and 1/3 cup salsa per serving.  5 points per serving (I think that the serving sizes are too small, so I always round up the points).  

The only problem is that over 24 hours later, my kitchen and house still smells like curry.  I guess it's a small price to pay for a delicious meal :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Manhattan Clam Chowder

I'm not sure how it happened, but I never had Manhattan Clam Chowder during the last 25 years on Earth....until last night.  I made my own-- I thought it was pretty tasty, even though I have nothing to compare it to.  It was great to make during a Sunday afternoon since it made the house smell awesome!

Austin is a great potato peeler (and he got a haircut on Sunday, so he looks extra handsome!).  I hate peeling potatoes, so I am so happy that he doesn't mind doing one of the things in the kitchen I dislike.  Growing up my mom and grandma both had gadgets that peeled potatoes, so I never had to peel a potato, apple, etc without the aid of the "stripper," but I can't find one now that I have my own kitchen :(

Again, we (I) was too hungry to remember to take a picture, so below you'll see the pot of chowder and a picture I borrowed from the Weight Watchers website.  I adapted the recipe from them too, using canned clams instead of fresh (cooking clams makes me nervous....).  If I were to do it again, I would cover the pot when simmering the soup; we lost too much liquid when it was simmering.

Fresh Manhattan Clam Chowder



  • In a large heavy pot, sauté bacon over medium-high heat until crispy, about 5 to 6 minutes; remove bacon, crumble it and set aside.
  • In the same pot, heat olive oil over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add onions, carrots, celery and potatoes; stir vegetables, scraping bacon drippings from bottom of pot with a wooden spoon, to mix and coat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions wilt, about 10 to 15 minutes; add clam juice, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil for about 1 minute and then reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are tender, about 50 minutes.
  • Add clams to soup, cover and increase heat to high. Boil soup just until clams open, about 6 to 8 minutes. Remove clams from shells, discard shells and place clams back in soup. Toss in parsley, crumbled bacon and serve. Yields about 1 cup per serving.  3 points per cup!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Dinner without a Plan

A big focus of our Weight Watchers meeting this past week was planning.   I had the best intentions, but when Thursday night came along, I had no idea what I was making for dinner.  On top of that, we had friends coming over for dinner in an hour.

Looked in the fridge and found frozen tilapia...perfect!  Defrosted it in a bowl of hot water and pre-heated the oven to 325 degrees.  Salad dressings and marinades are one in the same for me, so I used sun-dried tomato flavor dressing-- spread a couple tablespoons on the fish and popped it in the oven for 20 minutes.

As sides, we had frozen green beans and cheddar-broccoli rice (Knorr rice sides, made according to package directions, with the exception of the butter).  While the meal itself wasn't necessarily planned until the last minute, every item in the pantry and fridge are already labeled with their PointsPlus values.  Assembling the meal was easy enough since I know what the points were as I was deciding to add to the meal.

Fish was 3 points, marinade 1 (probably lower since the total points- 4- were split between 5 pieces of fish), rice 6, and green beans 0.  Then our friends brought cake (delicious-- 4 points per small piece) paired with pumpkin ice cream (3).  17 points-- not the best but we were entertaining and the dessert was worth the points.  I went 2 into my weekly points, so nothing to feel too bad about.

Today, however, I have planned and am sitting writing as my Manhattan Clam Chowder simmers.  Pictures and the recipe to come!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Food...Colorado Style

While the best part of last weekend's trip was seeing our awesome friends, the food came in at a very close second :)  Weight watchers points be damned- the food was so worth blowing all my daily points and my bonus weekly points.  I was 20 in the hole by the end of the weekend...

Saturday morning started off with with a trip to the Walnut Cafe.  The special that day was chorizo eggs, guacamole sauce, hashbrowns, and tortillas.  It was delicious-- a hearty breakfast to get us through the hike that day.

Breakfast almost lasted us until dinner, and the 8:30 pm reservation at Aji, a Latin American restaurant on Pearl Street, was worth the wait.  The owners of Aji also own several other restaurants with one right next store-- Leaf, a vegetarian restaurant.  We were able to order food from both restaurants, so we picked the best food from both places!  The food was different that I am used to having, but I was excited to try some new and different meals.

Every part of the meal was delicious.  We started with drinks and my margarita hit the spot-- this is a picture of my friend Caroline's drink-- mine was about half done before I thought about taking a picture :).

Next, they brought us homemade cornbread and banana bread with poblano butter and chipolte butter.  The spreads were a little spicy, but I would definitely try it again.

Our friends (Katie and Caroline) who lived in Boulder got an appetizer from the Leaf side-- tempura avocado.  It was mango salsa, avocado, and a black rice cake.  The avocado seemed to be breaded in something and fried-- a great combo with the salsa and the rice cake.

Then dinner came, and wow!  Here are 3 of the 5 meals we had :)

I had tamales from Leaf- black quinoa and corn tamales, acorn squash hash, confit ciopollini onion, jalapeno-coconut sauce (my mouth was on fire, but I couldn't stop eating), and jicama-radish escababeche.  I'm still not sure what all the ingredients are-- something to learn about and add to my cooking repertoire in the future.

Austin had  Pescado De Colorado-- skillet roasted blue corn masa crusted  Colorado stripe bass, Peruvian stuffed potato (looked like a double baked, guacamole potato...yum!), napa cabbage tomato slaw, adobo butter, mango chutney.

Our friend Ward had Feijoada Brasilena-- chorizo, pork belly, braised pork cheeks, black beans, white rice, braised greens, farofa, fresh orange.  Looks can be deceiving, and even though his dinner didn't necessarily look appealing to me, Ward said it was amazing.  I trust his judgment and make take a bite next time around :)

After spending the next day skiing, we were all spent and didn't want to go out to dinner (it didn't hurt that many of us had already switched to pj's by the time we thought of dinner).  On the way to Breckenridge, we saw signs for Colorado pizza and decided to give it a try.


What is Colorado style pizza?  Well, that what we wanted to know.  That's Beau Jo's specialty-- pizza is sold by the weight with mountains of toppings and cheese.  The crust is thick and big and brushed with honey.  The two pizzas we tried were a vegetarian one (the artichoke hearts made this pizza) and a meat pizza.  The hearty pizza (and the boxed wine-- Big House Red) was the perfect meal to end our trip in Colorado.

I would back to Colorado just for the food (good thing great company is there too)!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What to do with leftovers?

I feel like now that I am watching what I'm eating more carefully, I'm ending up with so many more leftovers :(  Last night, I made an attempt at repurposing and making another meal at what I had left.  Here it is...tomato basil polenta with beef (sound surprisingly similar to another meal with shrimp?!?).

I pan fried the remaining half tube of polenta, nuked the tomato basil sauce (next time, I would chop the garlic smaller-- it hurts me to see those giant chunks of garlic in the picture above), and made the beef.  I love making roasts but always make too much.  To solve this problem, I cut a larger roast I bought into serving size (for 2) hunks and froze the portions.

Making the roast is easy-- sprinkle (or cover/rub) with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.  Put in oven at 325 degrees in roasting pan (or I used a cooling rack on a cookie sheet since the meat was lean and there weren't many drippings-- a cookie sheet fits much better in my dishwasher than a real roasting pan...lol).  My digital meat thermometer recommended to cook until 145 degrees, but it wasn't rare enough for me (next time I would do closer to 140 degrees).

The meal was super easy and super tasty and having the beef instead of shrimp made it seem like an entirely different meal....yay!

Polenta was 3 points, tomato sauce 2 (because of non-veggie ingredients), and the beef was 3-- dinner total was 8.  Not bad since just my sandwich at lunch was that many points...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Activity Points Galore!

The weekend in Colorado lived up to and exceeded expectations-- I did more physical activity than I did in a long, long time, and I'm still sore sitting here writing this post 2 days later...

Day 1 included a hike at 6,850 feet.  Not only am I a little out of shape, but the lack of oxygen and the elevation didn't help.  But it was worth the view!

We hit the ski slopes on Day 2.  I was incredibly excited but also nervous.....on the way to Breckridge, we stopped at the Continental Divide (water flows to the Atlantic on the one side and the Pacific on the other).  Here's a picture of the group at almost 12,000 feet.

While I strapped on skis for the first time in what seems like forever, Austin tried snowboarding for the first time.  He struggled a bit on the hill, but skiing was almost like riding a bike for me.  I stuck to the green circles for most of the day, but eventually ventured to a blue square.  Going incredibly slow down the hill and making big S's in the snow was the way to go for me...that was until I hit one ice spot too many and did an epic spill.  Luckily, my bindings were set loose, so it didn't hurt when I fell, but then I had to crawl up the hill to get my ski gear.  Of course, a tiny little girl checked in to make sure I was okay...appreciated the niceness but was still super embarrassed.

We skied until it was close to dark, and I was proud that I made it until the end of the day.  Being on the slopes again made me realize how much I like skiing and made me wonder why I stopped...can't wait to go again!

AND, I accrued almost 50 activity points between the two activities, a great way to offset the AMAZING but not Weight Watchers friendly food that we ate this weekend  :)  Stay tuned for pictures and descriptions of the food in Boulder.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Colorado Bound!

Heading to Colorado this afternoon, and I am psyched!  Going to see one of my best friends, experience Colorado in the winter, and ski (I haven't skied in almost 10 years, so it could be interesting).

One of the biggest challenges will be to stay on the Weight Watchers plan.-- between traveling in airports, going out to eat, drinking, and the like.  I don't imagine I'll be under my daily points, but as long as I don't blow my additional points, I'll be good to go.

Expect a lengthy post when I get home, and here's what I'm expecting to see in Colorado:

With a lack of a White Christmas for me this year, I am so excited to see snow!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weigh-in Week One and a Favorite/Easy Dinner

Today was my first official Weight Watchers weigh-in (at least time around), and I was down 2.6 pounds...yay!  It's probably only water weight, but I'm happy nonetheless.

When I got home, all I wanted to do was a make a trusty old favorite for dinner, and it's also very health conscious :)  I originally found a version of the recipe on a calendar for my oil hear company and adapted it to things I had in the pantry.  It's one of my favorites.  Hope you enjoy it too!

Polenta with Shrimp and Tomatoes 

1 Bag Frozen Shrimp- uncooked, detailed, and deveined
1 Large Can Diced Tomatoes with Basil and Oregano
1 Tube Polenta (I got mine at Trader Joe's)
2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1/2 tbs Basil
2 tsp Sugar
Garlic Salt
Olive Oil
Grated Parmesan Cheese

In frypan, cook shrimp in pan until shrimp is bright pink.  While cooking, sprinkle with healthy dose of garlic salt.

In saucepan, coat pan with oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cooked until browned.  Add can of diced tomatoes, sugar, and garlic.  Boil and then simmer on low.

Cut tube of polenta into 1/2 inch circle.  Pan fry with olive oil.

Serve layered (from bottom to top) with polenta, tomato sauce, and shrimp.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

I forgot to take a picture of this awesome meal because I was so hungry!  It's easy to make, and I will serve left-over tomato sauce over whole wheat for an additional meal.