Thursday, November 28, 2013

You Can Always Lose a Little More

Thanksgiving came around quick this year, almost sneaking up on a girl.  Thank goodness my retail job company was not one that felt the need to open at midnight or worse on Thanksgiving day.  Funny how you find yourself being more grateful for the lesser gifts, like a holiday off where before it was a given.  Now I think back to past four day holiday weekend stretches and it feels like a dream. Never one to plan ahead, I just got the one day off to celebrate the holiday this year.  That's fine except when you realize all the work it takes to make a T-day meal.
But this year it was to be a bigger challenge.  We're on a temporary no fat, no sugar, no dairy diet of sorts.  I made the turkey skin on which did add fat but we didn't eat the skin, although I allowed myself a small taste while carving that musta covered about half that bird! 
I made roasted acorn squash stuffed with wild rice mushroom stuffing.  It didn't rock my boat but P liked it a great deal and it looked real Purdy.  He gutted that whole sucker.
Then I did a roasted root vegetable mash with carrots, sweet potato and added poblano peppers, garlic and some fat free yogurt for creaminess. 
 You guessed it, roasted brussel sprouts glazed with balsamic vinegar.
I stuffed these giant mushroom caps with chopped sautéed mushroom stems, green onions, garlic and walnuts.  The giblet gravy was made with whole wheat flour (which doesn't thicken much by the way) defatted (sob!) fresh turkey stock and more mushrooms.  To replace the cranberry relish, I just pounded out some seeds from a fresh pomegranate and they were super refreshing with the turkey. 
After eating I was kind of depressed because I really missed the buttery mashed potatoes and the rich fatty gravy, all the bready stuffing and rolls.  But I realized things could be a LOT worse.  That is no joke.  As you get older you not only see but pay more attention to the hardships of others. It could be a lot worse and I am grateful for so many things. Maybe being more grateful for less is the new thing.  It works and it's cheaper!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Asian Ground Chicken Patty

Asian ground chicken patty over baby spinach with steamed stir fry vegetable medley.  No big awards for this dinner but again, this is cooking right now with no fat so give me a little credit here folks!  I'm allergic to fish so what I have is chicken, chicken and more chicken to work with. 

I used oatmeal as the filler to replace the bread crumbs, an egg white, ginger, onion, carrots, soy and a bit of Schezuan seasoning.  Cutting up the burger and wrapping each bite in a little spinach leaf made it feel like a whole separate food style and then dipping each into a bit of the ground mustard, even better. 
Because it wasn't until afterwards that we discovered how to eat it, next time I'd cut up the burger in small bits, and also the pickle in order to eat fork and knife free.

Friday, November 22, 2013

That's Why I'm Giving You the Benefit of the Doubt

Half of my family is living white-flour tortilla free right now for various reasons.  I'm thinking maybe a new cuisine will emerge from the experience.  We could call it AMex (American Mexican) and get paid endorsements from the credit card company! 

I spoke with my dad and he's on the Paleo diet for health reasons and I'm not sure I mentioned he's 90 but he still comes up with great food ideas and even though he can be super grouchy to his kids from time to time (ahem), he loves food and I love food and believe we all do, so that brings us closer together.  My dad said he was not missing the flour tortillas because he now wraps everything in lettuce. Now I had several times made Asian lettuce wraps but it never occurred to me to make a taco using lettuce leaves. 
Big lights go off because of course all the possibilities begin swirling around in the mind.  I mean for years people have put stuff on endive and celery, wrapped cabbage, grape leaves, etc but it was the actual Mexican twist of the taco that I was so fascinated with because I had not been able to find a quick and easy dish to satisfy that particular craving while off the bread and the chips.  I immediately bought a huge head of iceberg because of the crunch and the coldness, it is wonderful with the spicy chicken and accoutrements.

I put everything on a plate as you would fajitas and allowed the eater to put each taco together and pick the lettuce slice.  It was fun food.
I was praising my dad's brilliance in the house all week as me and the Pnut gorged on these refreshing tacos only to find that my sister and her daughter actually had been making these while my father was visiting out in Queen Creek, Arizona earlier in the summer.  So funny because he let me go on at what a great idea it was on the phone.  Of course he doesn't hear so well and only listens selectively so I can't be sure my praises were comprehended.

But I give him props because he was a white tortilla and refried bean eating son of a gun forever and he switched over to a very lean, caveman diet and seems to be thriving.  I wasn't there during his transition and I'm sure it was no picnic to find stuff he approved of but from a distance I'll say it was impressive.

I guess either way the brilliance runs in the family.  Not sure if my sister thought of it or her daughter but these were such an awesome addition to the bad-fat-free dishes menu.  I say bad-fat because slowly we're adding back in some good fats like the avocado. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Nobody Does it Better, Makes me Sad for the Rest

We are still eating with major food restrictions this month but I was determined to eat something slightly kicked up in the taste department.  I'm all for living healthier and even more in favor of losing unwanted back fat, muffin tops, double chins and arm flubber.  But a foodie's gotta live! 
I started with browned chicken tenders, a little whole wheat flour sprinkled into a bit of canola oil, then added in onions, chicken stock, whole tomatoes, garlic, fresh oregano, thyme, black & green  olives, mushrooms, green peppers and frozen broccoli for good measure.
I put this in the oven for about 45 minutes and it was full of flavor and surprisingly rich.  All the veggies still burst with their individual flavors and the herbs added the life.  You don't miss the wine at all to be honest.  The missing chicken fat, not an issue. 

When my blog grows up I want it to be like the Pioneer  She has lovely step by step pictures and then a nice tidy full recipe on the bottom of each post.  Each ingredient listed with precise measurements. I like her graphics and I like the way she cooks.  I never actually wanted to do a 'teaching' blog because I myself am really just learning and have no craft or skillset to pass along, so mostly I just 'share'.  But when you see a blog done so well and the food so inspiring, I really just feel like such an amateur, no talent, lame ass.  Sigh, moan, wimper.....

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Don't Stop Believin'

The Brooklyn Food Monkey is officially endorsing the Misto Oil Sprayer.  Less Fat, More Flavor. Enough said.  Except to say I invented this very thing about 15 years ago but only in my little pea brain, only told one person and well, there ya go.  And here I stay, still living my dreams at retail.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fat Free Chicken Scallopini

If you have a fat chicken breast, you could probably feed a family of six on that thing if you pounded it out right. 
Makes me get the idea right now of pounding it out to the size of a pizza crust and topping it with marinara sauce and making a little stove-top no bread pizza. hmmmm.

Inspiration came from the recipe on  She does it all so well, makes me wonder why the hell I bother.  I made the sauce without the butter and replaced with a bit of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and chicken stock.  I added the herbs and a bit of Greek yogurt in the end to make it feel a little creamy.  I first dipped the flattened breasts in seasoned whole wheat flour. 

Sunday, November 3, 2013

You're Gonna Carry that Weight

I'm really starting to love Fall.  It was never my favorite season.  My favorite was spring.  My sister R's favorite was fall.  We often doled out specific picks for different stuff like this, band members, boys to like in TV shows, era's preferred to live in, states to live in, etc. Fall used to remind me too much of the start of school, the weather getting colder, the loneliness that seemed to overcome me when the sun started going away. 
Spring was new beginnings and blooms and green coming back and more importantly the sun coming back!  It was fresh smelling air, harsh winds turning into light breezes.  The whole mental unthaw.

Foodwise, seems like spring is the appetizer getting you prepared for the main course whereas fall was more of a side dish to me.  That is, until these last few years.  Fall has really upped it's game. With the climate change, the temps have been delightful and the sun stays out when we used to get cold rain.
We had a chance day off together and took a walk up through the neighborhood and the New York City Marathon happened to be taking place and just like many magic moments here, went directly past our area. 
What an amazing run that must be, going through the boroughs and having all the people cheering you on along the route.  Not just people, but normally grouchy New Yorkers.  Strangers.  Strange New Yorkers. Wouldn't that change it up to have neighbors giving heads up during your morning commute to work?  I could get used to that!
Even though as I write this, it's 70 degrees in mid November but on this day it was cold for the runners.  But so many people were out to show support.  When New York comes together in kind ways, it's overwhelming I guess because of how harsh and cold the overall energy usually is. 
I'm beginning to see that Fall, even though being a bit harsher than spring brings beauty too, like all these colorful changing leaves, and there is something awakening about the brisk air. 
You begin to celebrate with decorations, and holidays and food.  Baked goods come back and warm stews and big pots of soups.
I was a serious kid and took real ownership of my picks. I understood this to be a lifelong part of me that could not be altered. George Harrison was my Beatle and I loved him unconditionally, even though at the time I was tormented by Paul's cuteness and watching John perform launched some feelings deep inside me even as a child.  George just seemed nice. But I felt it essential that I discover my connection to the Beatle that was given to me.  I concluded he was quiet like me, he wasn't exactly a knock-out but had his cute moments.  He seemed passive and I could get down with that. I always thought quiet people were very intelligent but have since changed my opinion.
Maybe it wasn't until recently when sister R starting boasting her love for spring that I finally felt comfortable embracing my secret admiration for fall.   The gates of confinement had lifted!
I DO love Fall!  It's sweaters and warm blankets.  It's closing the windows and shutting out all the loud noises from the street and hearing the radiators kicking on.  Summer's so great but by this point you're saying 'enough already' and you just want the city to shut the hell up!
It's New York so there will always be a zillion things going on but finally you can pick and choose what you want to be a part of and have a bit of peace and quiet to yourself in the meantime.

Speaking of restraints, we're still on this dang diet.  Chicken strips dressed in a fat free enchilada sauce, cucumbers dressed in only garlic infused vinegar and steamed broccoli with almonds.