Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Anthony Bourdain has a new book out!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


I had to make some cupcakes for my daughters end of year Brownie party tomorrow, so I used my Vanilla Fairy Cupcakes recipe, and then did the pale green icing with the confectioners sugar/water mixture and made it a little bit runny and then dipped the tops of the cupcakes in that, let it set and then used Martha's Basic Butter cream frosting tinted pink to decorate with my very basic piping set.

I think they are really cute. I'm no crash-hot piper, but today I had good luck with the whole thing. Usually I mess it up and then just end up having cupcakes with blobs on it.  I also used some little pearls to decorate the top of the piping.

Yesterday I ran the Race for the Cure in DC and then promptly forgot to tape the special CBS showed last night, and then today my friend Hannah, who ran in the race with me, said that I was on TV running!!!  I have search and search the Internet but the show is not posted anywhere, so Hannah kindly didn't delete the show, so I can go over and have a look. I'm sure I'll be horrified. It was a big day for me because that was the first time I have run since my calf injury, and I managed the whole 5K with no incident and a nice time of 29:20 mins. It was also really hot at 8:30 in the morning, so that also slowed me down a bit.

So today I made two Banana Cakes,  the cupcakes, a Warm Lentil Salad for lunches during the week, and then dinner, which was lemon and thyme chicken breasts with roasted potatoes and carrots and brocolli for the girls and peas for the boys!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Made from scratch Chocolate Pudding

Yesterday in the Local Living section of the Washington Post they had a great article about a new book called Real Food Has Curves, about weaning ourselves off processed foods. And they shared a recipe from the book,  made from scratch chocolate pudding.  I had a quick look at it and had all the ingredients, so I whipped it up before the school bus arrived in the afternoon and we had it for dessert last night. It makes 4 huge serving, but it could easily be 6 regular servings or 8 nice small ones.  I served it with a dollop of whipped cream and some raspberries. The kids loved it, I loved it, and Marc thought that it could be a little sweeter. I'm really into the more bitter chocolates at the moment, so I was happy with the outcome.


2 large eggs
2 cups low-fat milk
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup flour, preferably unbleached
1 ounce unsweetened or baking chocolate, finely chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt


Have four 6-ounce ramekins or custard cups at hand.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until they are smooth and creamy, with no remaining floating bits of translucent egg white.

Combine the milk, brown sugar, cocoa powder, flour, chocolate, vanilla extract and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat; whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture just begins to bubble. Cook for 30 seconds, whisking, while the mixture thickens considerably. Remove from the heat.
Whisk half of the warm chocolate mixture into the eggs in a slow, steady stream, until smooth and well incorporated. Then return the combined mixture to the remaining chocolate mixture in the saucepan and place over low heat. (If you're using an electric range, it may be helpful to have a second burner set on low.) Whisk constantly over low heat for 2 minutes, reaching into the edges of the pan and letting the pudding come to only the barest bubble. If the pudding starts to bubble, reduce the heat as needed or take the pan off the heat and keep whisking for a few seconds to cool it down. The consistency will be silky, with body.

Transfer to the individual ramekins or custard cups. Cover with plastic wrap directly on the surface to keep a skin from forming, if desired. Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until well chilled and set.

Calories: 260,Total Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 5g , Cholesterol: 115mg, Sodium: 260mg, Total Carbohydrates: 36g , Dietary Fiber: 3g , Sugar: 18g ,Protein: 11g

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Why would you want to do this? Isn't that why we have ovens?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Grass Fed Beef

We just bought 70lbs of grass fed beef from a local farmer in Virginia. In fact it's the farmer from the movie Food Inc.  His farm is Polyface Farms in the Shenandoah Valley.  If you haven't seen Food Inc I encourage you to watch it and you'll rethink your whole meat situation.  It was more expensive than buying our meat at Costco, but we wanted to give our money to a local farmer, eat good meat, and hopefully help the environment at the same time.

We picked it up yesterday, all nicely vacuumed sealed and labeled, and made burgers for dinner. The meat definitely smelled different while it was cooking and it was totally delicious.  We got about 30lbs of ground beef all in 1lb packages, some Chuck Roasts, Flank Steak, New York Strip, Fillets, Top Sirloin, Sirloins, Round Roasts and a Brisket and an Arm Roast, which I had to look up because I've never heard of it.

We have pledged to eat less meat but a better quality of meat when we do eat it. We are thrilled with this purchase so far and it should last us for a while.

Now I just have to figure out what to do about the chicken.  We eat a lot of chicken and it's really expensive to go organic free range, around $4.00 a pound.  I'm buying hormone free chicken at the moment, and staying away from Tysons chicken all together, but we are looking at getting better chicken in our diet.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Warm Lentil Salad with Goat Cheese

I absolutely love this dish. It's yummy, crunchy, filling and good for you. I usually make it on Sunday's and then I have it there ready for lunch all week, or as a side dish, or just a couple of spoonfuls if I need a quick snack to fill me up.  I found it on Martha's website, she uses lentils quite a lot and I have tried lots of the recipes, but this is one of the best ones.  I have changed a few things from her recipe, mainly I use onions instead of shallots, because it's much cheaper and basically tastes the same and I use a whole cup of lentils, and different coloured bell peppers.

1 cup green lentils
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 shallots/onions, thinly sliced crosswise and separated into rings
1 carrot, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 red bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 yellow bell pepper
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons balsamic or sherry vinegar
6 ounces spinach, stemmed and coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces fresh goat cheese


Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add lentils, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium heat until hot but not smoking. Add shallots/onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add carrot, celery, and bell pepper; continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes more. Stir in parsley, vinegar, and remaining tablespoon oil. Transfer to a large bowl.

Drain lentils, and add to bowl with vegetables. Stir in spinach, and season with salt and black pepper. Crumble goat cheese into bowl, and toss gently to combine.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Vegetable Lasagne Rollups

Tonight's dinner!!  Look good don't they? And very easy and great if you just want a single portion and not much cheese.  I'm trying to do at least two vegetarian dinners a week now, and it's working out well and there is not too much complaining from the kids.  I saw this recipe in In Style and changed it up the filling a little bit and did not use jarred sauce, I made the sauce myself, (although I did use canned tomatoes)

1 teaspoon olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
1 16oz container skim milk Ricotta cheese
1/4 cup Parmigiano/Reggiano Cheese
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 onion
1 clove garlic or 1 teaspoon minced garlic
12 lasagna noodles, cooked, drained and layed flat to cool.

Preheat oven to 350F
In a skillet heat olive oil, and saute chopped carrots until  tender, and then let cool.
In a large bowl mix ricotta cheese, baby spinach, parmigiano/reggiano cheese and cooled carrots.

For Tomato Sauce:
Chop onion and saute with garlic until tender, add the can of crushed tomatoes and simmer for 5 mins.

Using a spoon, spread filling onto each lasagna noodle, leaving 1/2 inch at each end so roll-ups don't overflow, roll each one tightly. Spread half of tomato sauce on the bottom of a deep backing pan, place roll-up seam side down.  Cook in  oven for 45 minutes. Remove and top with remaining tomato sauce and any cheese that takes your fancy (cheese entirely optional), cook for 15 minutes more.

Calories:  Around 171 per roll, 4.5gs fat.  You have to take into account how much cheese you use on yours and also if you use skim or full milk ricotta, but this gives you an idea.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Whole Wheat Cranberry Choc Cookies

For my first baking experiment since I got my new oven I made these yummy and low calorie cookies. I adapted the recipe from Cooking Light, and that recipe used dried cherries, and as I would probably never have dried cherries lying around I threw in dried cranberries and they work just as well. I also used the Ghiradelli Bittersweet Choc Chips. The cookies also use a mixture of whole wheat flour and regualr flour and oats and only 89 calories per cookie!  What's not to love?

1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
5 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used the Ghiradelli Bittersweet choc chips)

Pre-heat oven to 350F

Combine flours and next 3 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stir with a whisk.

Melt butter in a samll saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and whisk in brown sugar, stirring until smooth.  Add sugar mixture to flour mixture.  Beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.

Add cranberries, vanilla and egg, beat until combined. Fold in Chocolate.

Drop dough by tablespoonful 2 inches apart onto baking sheets (I use parchment paper or silicone mats on my cookie trays).

Bake at 350F for 12 mins.

Cool on pans for 3 mins or until almost firm then cool on wire racks.

Yield 30 cookies.

I worked out the calories on the calorie calculator on Calorie Count, which is an extremely handy tool:
89 calories per cookie, 4.2g fat, 2.5 g sat. fat, 14mg cholesterol, 104mg Sodium, 11.7g Carbs.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Induction Cooking... I am, are you?

I just got a Samsung Range Induction yesterday. I love it already. It makes a weird buzzing noise when you cook, but that is something that you can definitely get used to.

Here's a brief description of Induction Cooking:

How Induction Cooking Works:

The element's electronics power a coil (the red lines) that produces a high-frequency electromagnetic field (represented by the orange lines).That field penetrates the metal of the ferrous (magnetic-material) cooking vessel and sets up a circulating electric current, which generates heat. The heat generated in the cooking vessel is transferred to the vessel's contents.Nothing outside the vessel is affected by the field--as soon as the vessel is removed from the element, or the element turned off, heat generation stops.

So only the elements are induction, the oven is convection, huge with 3 racks. I was set on a double oven, but I gave that up to have the induction burners.  You can only use stainless steel pots or cast iron, so I have had to get some new pots and pans and some saute pans, but other than that, it's been fantastic. I made a Seafood Risotto tonight for dinner, and the response on the burners is amazing. There is so much control!!  I'm very excited. So excited in fact that I totally forgot to take a photo of dinner, and now it's all gone.

I think induction is going to be the new wave of stoves. It's energy efficient, and just like cooking with gas, and you get a nice flat glass stove top, which looks sleek and fabulous.

I haven't tried the oven yet, and I'm dying to bake some cookies with the convection oven, but that won't be happening until I get full use of my calf back and I can do all the cardio and running that I want.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Walking for Hope

Today the whole family walked in the Race for Hope in Washington DC, for my husbands friend who died of Brain Cancer last year. We had a huge team and raised over $11,000 for brain cancer research and it was really fun.

I had planned to run in the event, but 4 weeks ago I tore my calf muscle.  We had just had a March Madness event at my gym (Golds!), in which you had to complete 25 classes in the month of March. Being insane I decided to complete the classes in 3 weeks, as well as keep up with my running. I only run about 12 miles a week, but considering that I ran zero miles a week for the 42 years before that, it's a lot. So for 4 weeks I didn't have a day off from the gym and then on 4/3 at 8:00am Body Step class, my calf muscle tore!! So the moral of the story is warm up your calf muscles properly.

Anyway, it's about a 6-8 week recovery, with lots of physical therapy and exercises and major inconvenience. You can't do any cardio at all for the first two weeks when you are on crutches, so when I could limp into the gym, I decided to use the hand bike or the "fluid ergometer", and it's surprisingly difficult!! You really break into a sweat. And then when I eventually could get my heel to the ground I started using the Stair Master (which I never would have jumped on before), very very slowly, to do about 30 minutes of cardio. During the whole thing I was still able to do pilates, because a lot of that is core, you you are not using your legs or putting weight on them.

I've still got about 4 weeks to go until I can start running again, and it will be work to get back into shape.
It really makes you think about what you have been doing or not doing when you get an injury like that, and it also makes you discover new ways that you can work out. I had to completely grind to a halt for two weeks and then rethink the whole thing for upper body work outs and limited cardio. It's also difficult when you have lost a lot of weight, you immediately think that you are going to balloon out in two days and then have to start your weight loss all over again - which I'm happy to say didn't happen, because I went back to counting calories, and that is the best way to make sure you are under control if you can't exercise.