Tag Archives: food

I Scream, You Scream

Comfort food is amazing.  Well, I should amend that statement.  It tastes amazing.  It isn’t amazing for one’s health.  And for someone who sought comfort in food for a good part of her life, I can tell you that it’s not amazing for my health.  That doesn’t change the fact that sometimes, you simply need it.  Mom’s American Chop Suey, Nana’s Pepperoni Bread, meatloaf, mashed potatoes…comfort food.

For me, it’s a simple choice – ice cream has always the best comfort food out there.

Outset

Pretty much any flavor, with the exception of anything orange creamsicle or coconut flavored or weird culinary flavors like Lobster Ice Cream (which I have tried),   is fair game when it comes to comfort.

Ben and Jerry are personal heroes of mine.  They have managed to create some of the best flavors of ice cream on this beautiful planet.  The creaminess of the cream; the swirls of chocolate, caramel, marshmallow, peanut butter, or whatever else is in there; the flavor of the cream; the chunks of chocolate, brownies, cookies, chocolate dipped waffle cones…all of it is a masterpiece that, as I type this, is making my mouth water.   Most recently, the limited batch of Cannoli ice cream (hands off those who live near me – it’s mine – all mine!)  was called upon during the last week when I was waiting for some results from the doctor.  It is now probably my most favorite ice cream on the planet.  It’s savory and sweet.  It’s creamy and crunchy.  It’s heaven in a pint.

cannoli-wtgi

I know it’s not a healthy way to respond to stress or a bad day, but sometimes, there is nothing better than eating some ice cream right out of the little pint. I suppose that is also why I have to attend Weight Watchers weekly but enough of that talk.  Right now, we’re talking about comfort food.

Why does ice cream have this effect on me?  Why do I always feel better after I have a little bit (or a lot) of this delicious frozen treat?  For the answer, we can thank some pretty awesome scientists.

How my inner child feels when I eat ice cream.

How my inner child feels when I eat ice cream.

A few years ago, a group of scientists and doctors actually proved that ice cream does something to the brain.  It actually can make you happy!  I know that it’s a temporary happiness but seriously – did you ever think that ice cream could impact your brain like that?

Apparently, comfort food, as a whole category of food, has been the subject of many studies.  Psychologist, neurologists, all kinds of people, seeking the truth behind the reasons people turn to the foods they turn to.   I find it fascinating to know that ice cream, of all of the comfort foods out there, has been proven to actually activate the sections of your brain that make you happy.

This post was written as part of the May NaBloPoMo.  This month’s theme is “comfort” and today’s prompt was “What is your biggest comfort food?  Share the recipe if you have one.”  And being an expert of comfort foods and eating for comfort, today’s post was easy peasy…What’s your favorite comfort food?

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Filed under Food, NaBloPoMo

Wasted Energy

There are times when I wish I didn’t have feelings.  I know it sounds odd.  But for someone who learned very early on in life to emotionally eat, feelings are still hard to process.  As I work on  my weight loss journey, it has made me realize that these emotions are the real causes of my eating.  I have said it many times before but it bears repeating.

I find certain emotions are worse than others.  When I’m bored, I will often be able to talk myself out of eating as a way to “amuse” myself.  It’s when I’m sad or angry that I end up having the real issues.  If I’m anxious, forget it.  There’s no stopping me short of locking the cabinets, fridge, and freezer!

At times I get sad about this and think “Why can’t I be normal and have a normal relationship with food?”  Lots of people make it through the day without having the urge to eat because they are nervous about bills getting paid on time or because they are upset that someone said something negative to them.  Normal people shrug it off, other people find they can’t eat during those times.  Why can’t I be one of those people.

This is where my energy gets wasted.  I end up going round and round in my head and end up making myself exhausted. It’s tiring to constantly be thinking about the whatifs and the could’ves.

Then, when I eat those emotions rather than feel them, I get angry with myself for giving in to the pattern.  It’s borderline insanity.  Ok, maybe not borderline.

This is the worst form of energy wasting.  This merry-go-round of emotions and eating.  If I could just re-train my brain to go for a walk or do some crunches when I feel those emotions, I will gain energy rather than continue to lose it.  But see, dear reader, this is where my neurosis kick in big time.  Will I replace my eating with exercise and go from one extreme to the other?  HAHA! Yeah – probably not, but do you see what I’m saying.

What is it that I’m so afraid to feel and allow myself to to just use my energy for more positive outcomes.  As I type this confession, dear reader, I realize that there are things that this blog has allowed me to work out and I thank you for bearing with me while I have these mini self-realizations.  One day it’s all going to click and I’m going to be able to just get everything where I need it to be!  Hopefully that day will be sometime before I’m 70 years old!

This blog is part of January 2013 NaBloPoMo. The theme this month is Energy.  Monday’s topic was “What emotion do you think is the biggest waste of energy and why?”  Even though I didn’t directly say it, I think I was trying to say guilt and anxiety were the most waste of energy.  What do you think?

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C is for Cake; K is for Kryptonite

kryptonite

Superman was weakened by kryptonite.

GLLamp

Green Lantern was unable to fight against wooden objects and then later anything yellow.

martian_manhunter

Martian Manhunter was weakened by fire.

wonderwoman

Wonder Woman just needed her hands bound and she was rendered a non-threat.

 

My weakness?  My one true thing that just makes me forget everything about myself?

~ps431.tmp

Doesn’t matter what kind it is (well except coconut or lemon), but cake is the one thing that renders me useless.  I lose myself.  I may think I have the willpower to resist anything while on Weight Watchers, but when I see a beautiful piece of cake, I get all weak in the knees.

Funfetti Cake - the best cake ever!

Funfetti Cake – the best cake ever!

It’s something about moist cake, sweet sugary frosting (none of that whipped cream kind please!), and if it’s a layer cake, even better!  My arch nemesis would have it relatively easy.  If they themselves can’t bake a  yellow cake with chocolate frosting (possibly the best combination of cake and frosting), then they just need to go to a bakery or grocery store and buy a cake.  I would be defeated. It adds to my growing waist line and causes me to lose focus on my weight loss journey.

vanilla-cake2

Yes, I am a cake fiend. I cannot resist it.  There, now you know my weakness.  Do not exploit it.

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Filed under Food, NaBloPoMo, Weight Loss

A New Recipe to Keep Me On Track!

I haven’t posted about my weight loss journey much lately.  My heart has been half in it.  I just felt like it was never going to end because there is just so much I need to do!  I let the mind game win.  But I didn’t throw the towel in completely.

This past week, I was 100% back on track.  I wrote down every BLT (bite, lick, and taste).  I was moving more.  I really focused on doing what I know I can do.  Last night, it paid off.  The scale rewarded me with a 4.2 loss. It felt good to have such a great loss.  Why do I depend so much on that scale dictating what I feel?  Why does it matter?

diet journal

I suppose the easy answer is that it is instant gratification.  The number pops up in a matter of seconds and then I know, for a fact, that something worked.  I know that even though I don’t feel like it, I am lighter than I was 7 days ago.  I don’t deprive myself, but I cannot eat whatever I want, whenever I want. I never have been able to.  Accepting that as life rather than a sentence that forever forces rice cakes and celery sticks on me is probably the biggest thing.

The scale is a measurable way for me to see that I’m getting healthier.  I suppose I could have my cholesterol checked every other month, or have my blood pressure taken every other day, but I really am all set with going to the doctor’s office so frequently.  I could take my measurements but to be honest, those numbers depress me.  Lots of people like to see the measurements as a great non-scale way to track the changes, but at this point, I just am not feeling those really high numbers that are known as my measurements.  Maybe someday.  So YAY for a great loss at the WW Scale!

Now…we tried a pretty good recipe recently and I thought I would share it with you all.  It was very low-calorie and very filling.  It was a success with half the family but part of that may have just been the topping choice.

Cheesy Polenta & Mushroom Pizza
(from the March 2012 Woman’s Day magazine)

Active: 25 minutes, Total: 30 minutes, Serves 4

1/2 instant polenta (I use Indian Head Old Fashioned Stone Ground Yellow Corn Meal to make my polenta)

1/4 grated Parmesan (1 oz) (Stop and Shop sells the good grated Parmesan in the cheese section or you can grate your own – I just try to avoid the kind that comes in the green tube because it does make a difference in taste)

2 oz Gruyère or Swiss cheese, shredded (1/2 cup) (I opted for the Gruyère because I love Gruyère!)

Kosher salt and pepper

3 TBSP Olive oil

8 oz small button mushrooms, quartered

8 oz shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, caps sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 shallot, thinly sliced

1 TBSP small fresh thyme sprigs

Mixed green salad, for serving

1 – Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cook the polenta according to package directions.  Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan, 1/4 cup Gruyère, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper.  Scrape the polenta onto the parchment paper and spread out to form a 3/4 inch thick oval.

2 – Heat Broiler.  Heat 2 TBSP of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add half the mushrooms and cook, tossing often, until golden brown and just tender, 4 to 5 minutes; transfer to a plate.  Cook the remaining mushrooms with remaining TBSP of oil.

3 – Return the first batch of mushrooms to the skillet and toss with the shallot, thyme, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/4 tsp pepper (I eyeballed the salt and pepper.)

4 – Scatter the mushroom mixture over the polenta and sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 Gruyère. Broil until the cheese begins to brown, about 3 minutes.  Serve with a salad, if desired.

Switch it up: Use the polenta as a base for other tasting toppings. Try roasted tomatoes, or replace half the mushrooms with cooked sausage and spinach.

cheesy-polenta-mushroom-pizza-180

As I said, half the family liked it, the other half was not sure what to think.  If you like polenta, try it.  It’s filling and it’s low-calorie.

Here’s the NI per serving:

288 calories, 17g Fat (5g saturated fat), 20 mg cholesterol, 492 mg sodium, 10g Protein, 26g carbs, 2g fiber.

In the land of WW, it works out to 7 pts.  It’s a little higher than you would think but that is in part because you use two kinds of cheese.  You can probably try to substitute low-fat Swiss in place of the pointy Gruyère or use less Parmesan in the polenta which would also bring down the point value.  Either way, it’s tasty!

Do you have another polenta recipe you’d like to share?  Please do, because I love the stuff!

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Win Your Own Kimco Wine Bottle Cover!

With the holiday season now official upon us, many of us will be invited to family gatherings, friend’s homes, and holiday parties.  If you’re like me, you hate going to these types of parties empty-handed.  My go to host gift is a bottle of wine.  I admit that may sometimes be the easy way out but let’s be honest, most everyone I know loves to get a nice bottle of vino.

Picking the wine is never a problem.  I know what my friends like and I’d like to think that I make delicious selections.  The problem is finding a way to present the bottle.  Yes, there are gift bags with lots of superfluous tissue paper.  Yes, there are very pretty bows and ribbons.  But what if you could wrap the bottle and not only give the gift of wine but also give the gift of a great way to present bottles at dinner parties or just dress up the bottle you are having with dinner?

Kimco Wine Bottle Covers are the answer.

With a variety of patterns, Kimco Wine Bottle Covers now provide a way to have a fashionably wrapped bottle of wine to present to a friend or family member for any occasion!

Made from a stretchy material, the Kimco Wine Bottle Cover simply slips over the bottle.  The bottle is completely covered and also gives a good grip to the bottle for pouring.

When I put the bottle on the table for our last Sunday family dinner, there were instantly a round of compliments on how great the bottle looked.  Just be sure to write down what kind of wine it is before you cover it so that if a foodie asks what you’re serving, you can easily provide the answer without having to unwrap the bottle right there at the table.

At the end of the meal, the bottle cover just slid right off and was read to be used again at our next family party!

As you start getting ready to attend all the holiday events, be sure to head over to Kimco’s website and purchase this great cover.  Not only do you get a wine bottle cover, you also will get a gift bag to place the wrapped bottle of wine in.

Now, dear reader, you have a chance to win a Kimco Wine Bottle Cover of your own!  Two lucky readers will be able to win one of these great covers and all you have to do is comment below and share your favorite wine.  Two winners will be picked at random.  Post your reply by Friday November 30, 2012 and the winners will be announced on Monday, December 3, 2012.

As the holiday season marches on through the end of the year, look for more product reviews or gift ideas to be featured!  If you have something you would like reviewed, please give me a shout and I’ll see what I can do!

Disclaimer: I was given this product for free in order to provide a review of the product.  The contest being run is being run in conjunction with the company that provided  me with the sample product.  All opinions expressed above are my opinions and not that of the manufacturer or of the company which distributes this product.  If you have any other questions about my opinion of this product, just let me know!

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Filed under Food, Gift Ideas, Reviews

Confession Time: My Affair with Rolos

This week, I did not go to my weekly Weight Watcher’s meeting.  I knew it wasn’t going to be a good week and it was the first time in a LONG time that I did not want to see that scale number go up.  Let me rephrase that, I never want to see it go up but this week, I didn’t think I could handle it going up.  It would just upset me too much.

That would have been me last night had I gone to Weight Watchers.

I can hear you asking “How did you know it would be bad?”  I knew.  I tracked halfheartedly this week and when I did track, I was over.  I didn’t move as much as I should have and then there was Wednesday.  The Husband, thinking he was being kind and thoughtful, brought home a bag of Rolos.

Chocolate and Caramel in one delicious bite-sized candy = Bliss.

There is a time in every woman’s life when chocolate is necessary and a time when I crave it more than any other time.  Chocolate and salty foods – never fails.  I can mark my calendar as to when the craving will hit.  So the Husband heard me muttering about wanting some chocolate.  This was his attempt to help.  Now, I have been in Weight Watchers for almost 2 years.  I appreciate the fact that he thought of me, but why the bag? Why not just the little candy bar size?  Didn’t he realize that I have no will-power?  Didn’t he realize that I am most likely a food addict?  Didn’t he know that the bag would not last very long (which it didn’t)?

Now the trick is to minimize my shame over that fact.  Forgiveness is something I do not handle lightly.  I have been working on it as I make this journey.  Forgiveness is key.  If I cannot forgive myself when I make a mistake, I will never be able to succeed.  If I beat myself up over every Rolo I eat, then I will not succeed.  I am a master at guilting myself, convincing myself that it’s my fault.  Again, I could explain my past but that matter of sending you my therapy payment gets in the way every time, sorry.

Yeah – that was how I looked after throwing away the empty bag of Rolos.

So, the Rolos are gone.  Today has been good.  No processed foods.  No added sugars with the exception of my one cup of coffee this morning.  If the Rolos come back into the house, I will kindly ask the Husband to remove them or hide them.  They are not worth it.  Did I enjoy them?  Yes.  Did I enjoy what number the scale at home showed me?  No.  Were the Rolos, therefore, worth it?  Definitely not.

I am hoping that next week, I can report a loss.  I am hoping that next week, I will have not gone over any of my daily points allowances or gone over my calories one single day.  I am hoping that next week, I will have earned 14 activity points.  It’s the little things that make the biggest difference.  That being said, every day is a tracker day.  Every day is a good health guidelines day.  I cannot lose sight of that no matter what.  I know it sounds like a broken record but it’s important that I keep reminding myself of these things.  They seem like small steps to someone who has only a small amount to struggle with but for someone like me who is looking at losing a full-grown person – these small steps are crucial.  Talking about them is necessary.  Keeping them in my forefront is the only way I can ensure that my next snack or meal will be one that is on program.

There’s a quote someone on the Weight Watcher’s message boards used to share:

It’s time that I stick to my choice.

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Filed under Food, Healthy Me - Yay!, My Relationship with Food, Uncategorized, Weight Loss

Delicious New Recipe Added to the Repertoire

The last day of August wanted let us know it was still August.  It was a little humid, warm, sunny, a very beautiful summer day.  The Daughter and I did some errands and then went for a nice walk around the neighborhood with the Husband.  It was a nice Friday.

We saw the blue moon over the ocean and it was gorgeous.  I wish that I had a camera that could have done the sight justice.  The blue-gray waves with foamy white caps crashing on the sand saw the pink moon rise brilliantly while the sun set in a fiery glow in the opposite direction.  As the moon rose, it slowly went from a bright pink to a blush to a pale pink tint before taking on its normal glow.  There is something truly beautiful about the moon on the water.  For me, there are few things more beautiful than moonlight on the ocean.

Full Moon over the ocean – Susanne van Hulst

Before all of that though, I tried a new recipe.

It was quite simple but really delicious.   It was pretty easy to modify for less or more people if you need.

Pasta with Spinach and Meatballs

3/4 lb pasta like fusilli or gemelli – I bet though that any past would work if you were in a real pinch.

20 small meatballs (recipe to follow)

12 oz mushrooms, quartered

1 tsp chopped thyme

butter

grated pecorino (again – Parmesan works too if you like)

5 oz baby spinach

salt & pepper, for taste
How to make the meatballs according to this Real Simple article:

3 slices white sandwich bread, torn into large pieces

1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges

1 c fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 cloves garlic, peeled

1/4 c whole milk ( you could use lower fat milk too)

1 TBSP Worcestershire sauce

2 lbs ground beef or turkey

2 large eggs

salt and pepper

Combine bread, onion, parsley, and garlic in a food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  Transfer to a medium bowl, add the milk and Worcestershire, let stand for 5 minutes.

Add the beef , eggs, and 1TBSP salt and pepper and gently combine (get your hands into it – it’s the only way to really combine everything.)  Form into 40 meatballs (2 TBSP each)

To cook immediately –  place the meatballs on  foil lined broiler-proof baking sheet and broil, one sheet at a time turning once, until cooked through, 8 – 10 minutes.

To freeze and cook later: Freeze the uncooked meatballs on wax paper-lined baking sheets until firm, transfer to a freezer bag, and freeze up to 3 months.  To cook, broil the frozen meatballs as above adding 2 – 4 minutes to the cooking time.

These meatballs sound similar to my Grandma’s recipe so I’m sure they are delicious.  However, tonight I cut corners and used the frozen turkey meatballs.  They worked out wonderfully and cut the prep and cooking time down.

On top of spaghetti, all covered with cheese, I lost my poor meatball, when somebody sneezed…

Back to the pasta dish now…

Cook 20 meatballs (or heat up some frozen ones as I did).

Cook 3/4 lb of pasta of your choice (for a healthier alternative, there are some great whole wheat pastas that would be much better on the calorie counter), reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking water.

Cook 12 oz quartered mushrooms (I used Portobello mushrooms because I like them) and 1 tsp chopped thyme in butter in a large skillet until tender, 8-10 minutes.

Toss the mushrooms with the pasta, meatballs, 5 oz of baby spinach, 1/2 c grated pecorino, and the reserved cooking water.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

It took no more than 30 minutes to cook and serves four people.  It was filling, got in a veg serving, and just really was a nice dish.  I couldn’t get the daughter to try it, though she did love the turkey meatballs which was a first for her.  The Husband declined this tasty dish also and opted for red sauce instead which I kind of expected.

So, the verdict…

I would definitely make this one again.  It was just so good!  I can only imagine how much better it is with the homemade meatballs.  Someday, when I have more time, I will do the homemade meatballs.  I bet it will taste even better!

Plugging this dish into MyFitnessPal gave me the following nutritional info per serving:

Calories: 642 – Kind of high so you can tweak it.  Thinking about it though, this recipe is supposed to be served between 4 people, that means 5 meatballs per person. That’s a lot of meatballs…

Carbs: 70 g – pasta.  Need I say more?

Fat: 5 g – low-fat though.  That’s good!

Protein: 19 g

Fiber 6 g

Sugar: 3 g

Making some minor adjustments to the recipe as written could really change this recipe.  Use whole wheat pasta, cut down on the number of meatballs, maybe use less cheese (not sure that one is too feasible since cheese makes everything better.)?

The Swedish Chef would know how to make this a little more calorie friendly. I just know it!

Plugging it into my Weight Watchers calculator showed that it was 10 PP.  I had the Points so it was ok.  Though this recipe did put me well over my calories for the day.  I wonder how that works?  It’s odd.  Tomorrow will be a light food day.  Going to stay under calories and under Points.  I find when I have a day like today and then go light, I keep my body guessing. At least in the past, when I’ve done that, it works.  So tomorrow I’ll be giving it a go!

 

 

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Filed under Food, Healthy Me - Yay!, Italian, New Recipes

Thursday’s Scale Tale

Yesterday was a good day.  I had my second post-op appointment.  It went very well.  Everything looks like it’s healing properly which was music to my hypochondriac ears.  The surgeon then got to the topic of my weight loss.  Thankfully, he was not of those surgeons that pushes Weight Loss Surgery.  He easily could have done the whole lap-band while he was taking the gallbladder out but it was not something he even brought up.  I don’t know if it’s because since day one, I told him I’ve been doing Weight Watchers but he just didn’t bring it up.

I told him how six days after surgery, I lost 7 lbs.  Then the following week, I had gained back 1.4.  Oddly, I wasn’t upset by it.  I knew that after a super big loss, I tend to gain a little the next week.  He agreed that the gain was good.  He reminded me that the loss was an unhealthy loss and that I should gain a little back and then start losing again.  By a little, I think tonight’s .2 gain was in line with that.

I did not feel badly about my gain tonight.   I know that I have one more week of mild activity before I ramp it up.  I am counting the days!

Tonight though, I did have the points plus left over and really all summer had been dying to have some fish and chips.  I was a little nervous to eat it because it’s fried and I had heard that for some people the fried foods didn’t really work very well after having the gallbladder removed.  It smelled delicious.

mmmmmm….fried fish and french fries….mmmmm

After a while of not eating something, you build it up in your head.  You imagine the first bite, you think about how good it’s going to taste.  Or maybe that just me?  Either way, I took that first bite and felt that it was good.  Though half way through the filet, I realized it wasn’t as good as I thought it would be.  It wasn’t as good as the barramundi we had two weeks ago.  It wasn’t as good as the Arctic Char that we cook.  It wasn’t as good as the non-fried stuff.  I don’t know why, but I was a little sad.  I loved fish and chips.  I guess the key word is “loved.”

It was a really big moment for me.  What if everything I have gone so long without eating no longer is good to me.  Would that be a bad thing?  Probably not.  Would I be missing anything?  No.  Will I gain weight back if I go back to eating those foods like I did before?  Most likely.

So why did I feel slightly dismayed?  After all it’s just food.  Part of this whole process for someone like me who developed a relationship with food that was not normal, is to re-learn that relationship.  Food is fuel.  Food is not comfort.  Food is not socializing.  Food is not something for when I’m bored.  Food does not make me feel better.  Food is fuel.  Food is nutrition.  Food is supposed to help make me healthy.

After this little brain storm this evening, I am understanding more.  I am realizing that I am slowly making the changes I need to make in order to make this a lasting lifestyle.  It’s slow but it’s progress.

Tomorrow starts a new WW week.  Tomorrow starts a new slate.  Tomorrow starts one more step toward the person who is inside me just itching to see the light of day.

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30 Minutes to a Delicious Italian Dish

I like free stuff.  Most people do because if you can get it for free, it’s like a little prize.  I follow a lot of the coupon blogs and on very special days, these coupon blogs offer free magazine subscriptions.  I love those days because the magazines are usually great magazines.  Last year, I signed up for La Cucina Italiana, knowing that I love Italian food.  It might be my most favorite type of food on the planet.  I’m not just talking pasta and sauce (or gravy as some people are known to call it), but the flavors: the garlic, the tomato, the eggplant, the cheese, the meats, the olive oil.  So very delicious!

My most favorite foods on the planet.

This magazine features these flavors in so many wonderful ways and presents some amazing plates.  A recent issue featured about a dozen recipes on polenta alone. It’s no wonder I love looking over the pages of what a certain celebrity chef/travel show personality calls “food porn.”  Also, being someone who is always on the lookout for healthy ways to change my relationship with food, this magazine presents a whole new world of whole food cooking and fresh ingredients which is another great plus for me.

This month, the feature article was on fresh pasta but before the feature article, they always have a few recipes that they call “Cooking by the Clock.”  Basically, quick and easy meals to make on those nights when you don’t have time to cook a five-course meal.  I don’t know about you, but for me, five-course meals are presented on a nightly basis.   Ok, so that’s in my next life when I have a personal chef and the metabolism of a hummingbird.

I’m sure like a lot of you, dinner is decided late in the afternoon based on what is in the house and how long it will take to cook. That is why this new recipe was tried today, when there was time to kill.  We know now how long it takes, even though the magazine told us it would only take 30 minutes.

The recipe was called passato di ceci con gamberi in its original Italian.  For those who are not fluent (sign up for a class today and learn something – can’t hurt to learn a new language), that translates to creamy chickpea soup with shrimp and tomatoes.

The ingredients were all items that I liked:

12 large shrimp
2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas
1/4 cup plus 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil plus a little more for drizzling
3 leafy thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, gently smashed and peeled
fine sea salt
1/2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
freshly ground black pepper

My Mother was home tonight and she was really the one who wanted to give the recipe a go so she took the job as master chef.  As she prepared the recipe, the smells from the kitchen made my mouth water.  Reading the steps below, you can understand why it would smell so wonderful.

First, Reserving shells, peel and devein shrimp.  Reserving liquid from cans, drain chickpeas.  Set aside 1 1/2 cup chickpea liquid discard remaining liquid.

Chickpeas or Garbanzo Beans

In a medium saucepan, combine 1/4 cup oil, thyme, and garlic.  Heat over medium heat until fragrant about 3 minutes, then remove and discard garlic and thyme.,  Add Chickpeas and 1/2 tsp salt, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add chickpea liquid and bring just to a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer and cook until chickpeas are very tender, about 10 minutes

Those smells just waltzed from the kitchen to the living room and filled our small house with an amazing tease of what we were in store for.  She continued to cook.
In a small skillet, melt butter over medium high heat.  When foam subsides, add shrimp shells and cook stirring occasionally until shells just begin to brown, about 3 minutes.  Add wine and pinch of salt, simmer until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.  Reserving shrimp stock, strain and discard shells.

In a blender, combine chickpeas and their liquid and shrimp stock; puree until smooth, in batches, if necessary.  Return soup to saucepan and gently reheat.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

After the blender started whirring, I knew that it was almost time to taste what had been smelling so wonderful.  The anticipation was building.  She cooked on.

This is not my blender, but how cool is this?

In a large skillet, heat remaining tablespoon oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.  Add shrimp and cook, turning once halfway through, until opaque and just cooked through, about 4 minutes total.  Add tomatoes, 1/2 tsp salt and generous pinch of pepper cook, stirring occasionally, 30 seconds more.  Remove from heat.

Divide soup among 4 serving bowls.  Top with shrimp and tomatoes.  Drizzle with oil.

Now, in the magazine there was a picture of this dish.  It was colorful.  The soup was a golden yellow, the tomatoes a perfect red and shrimp a lovely pink.  The dish my Mother presented was close in color.  The only difference was the soup, it was a little darker – maybe because of the beans we used?

It was also a little thicker than we thought it would be.  For some reason, the word creamy means smooth and liquid to me.  This was closer to a humus/grits type consistency.  It wasn’t bad, just not what I expected.

The taste though, was smooth.  The creaminess of the soup was nice and not heavy.  The shrimp and the tomatoes brought out the creaminess that much more.  It was filling and perfect for this cool, drizzly August night.  A definite keeper and I’m sure it will come back out in the winter when we need something to warm us all up from the cold.

I wish I had thought to take a photo of it before eating it, but then I still have mixed feelings of taking too many photos of food.  Maybe next time I try a new recipe, I’ll remember to take a photo of it so I can post it.

I plugged the recipe into MyFitnessPal.com and came up withe following nutritional info per serving:

Calories: 401

Carbs: 38g

Fat: 23g

Protein: 11g

Fiber: 13g

Sugar: 1g

Not too shabby.

Plugged into my WW calculator and the value was 10 points.  I’m guessing because it was a little high in the carbs.  10 points though for a filling meal is not a bad thing when you have as many points as I do in a day.  This dish was worth every point!  On the plus side, all the main ingredients count as a Power Food so that’s a good thing too.

Try this recipe.  Your taste buds will thank you.  And if you really like Italian food, not what some chain restaurants tell you is Italian food, get a subscription to La Cucina Italiana.

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Filed under Food, New Recipes, Seafood

Scallops Worthy of A Certain Reality TV Kitchen

Post-op visit number one went very well today.  I go back in two more weeks after the bruising is down a little more.  I am the worst patient because I hate how slowly the recovery process moves.  I am not one who enjoys sitting around, doing nothing.  When I say nothing I mean no driving, no housework (well, that one is not too bad I suppose), no real serious exercising , NOTHING.  I’m getting stir crazy.  I enjoy reading and crafting but I also enjoy going out into the world every now and then.  Sigh.   Only a few more weeks for a lifetime of no gallstone pain, right?  Right.

I suppose Mr. Emerson is right  Nature does know best.  I mean, Nature had some hand in creating wonderful diver scallops, the very same type of scallops that I pan seared this evening for dinner.  Diver scallops, for those not familiar with the difference between the varieties of scallops, are the really big scallops that are hand-picked off of the rocks by divers.  Hence the name Diver Scallops. They tend to be bigger because the divers usually go for the more mature mollusks which are usually the meatier kind of scallops. They do taste very different from Bay Scallops which are smaller and often more sweet than Diver (Sea) Scallops.  Bay Scallops, or Nantucket Bay Scallops in particular, are really my favorite variety, especially when baked and covered in a wonderful buttery ritz-cracker crumble (I think the recipe posted in this blog is a tried and true recipe for anyone from southeastern MA and possibly all of New England though I never use the wine…will have to try that next time)…mmmmm….

This blog has another similar recipe too!

They are the scallops made famous by a certain British chef and his wonderfully foul-mouthed show full of aspiring “chefs” who do more swearing than cooking on some episodes.  But more to the point, on the show, one of the appetizers is pan seared scallops (they pronounce them “SKAL-laps” and people from where I live tend to pronounce them “sCALL-ups”).  The wannabe chefs often find themselves struggling to produce the perfect scallop.  I can understand, to a certain degree, that it might be hard to learn how to do if you aren’t someone used to cooking seafood on a very regular basis.  But after seven or eight episodes, you should be able to pan sear those shellfish in your sleep.  Again, I am judging something that I’m sure is much harder than it appears but seriously, is it really that hard?

Tonight, I pan seared some wonderful Diver Scallops to near perfection.  They glazed on the outside to a perfect caramel brown.  They were simply seasoned with freshly ground sea-salt and pepper.  Nothing fancy.  Maybe two teaspoons of butter in the pan (have to watch the fat/oils for a while after all) and then the scallops were done in a few minutes.  I tend to not always pay attention to the clock and watch the scallops but if I had to guess, I’d say 3-4 minutes per side on medium heat.  Maybe 4-5 minutes but again, I eyeball the actual food to make sure the colors are looking right.

I didn’t cook a veg because I was being lazy and also cautious of the side-effect of some of the veggies so I’m taking them slowly as I add them back into my no-gallbladder diet but I did serve them with the Near East Wild Mushroom and Herb Couscous – another personal favorite.  I love couscous.  Usually we have plain couscous on hand all the time but oddly, tonight, we were out.   For the sake of saving time, I bought some of this and it was perfect for the scallops.  Now if only I had a nice Sauvignon-Blanc with it, I think I would have been an even happier girl.

Well Nature, good things come to those who wait, right?

 

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Filed under Food, Healthy Me - Yay!, Seafood