Diet cookbooks are generally a turn off. They use a lot of ingredients I don’t like to have in my house, especially powdered milk, sugar substitute (I happen to be one of those people who thinks Splenda has an aftertaste), powdered dressing mix and plain yogurt, and the texture of the food frequently leaves a lot to be desired. But I really like reading Hungry-girl.com, and I was tempted to try her cookbook.
The author has followed the same Diet Program that I do, and I really like many of the products that she’s promoted online. So, I waited for a coupon from my local bookstore and bought the book.
The first recipe I tried was for shrimp and asparagus corn chowder, and it is freakishly good. It has all vegetables I like to eat (red peppers, asparagus, onion, potato, corn) and the shrimp was easy to roast with the asparagus and created a minimal number of dishes. An overall success!
I’ll let you know how I do in the dessert section of the cookbook…
I tried this recipe for stuffed peppers the other night, and it was certainly a hit in my house – who doesn’t like turkey, garlic and mashed potatoes, really, but I felt like I got WAY more food out of it than I needed. Here’s what happened:
I boiled 2 lbs. of potatoes as directed. I cooked a small amount of ground turkey. I bought four green peppers. I boiled, mashed, stuffed, drizzled and baked.
And then 2 nights later I sent the other eater in my household to the grocery store for three more peppers so that I cold get rid of some of the leftover potatoes and the other half of the package of ground turkey. And tonight one of us will still be eating leftover turkey and mashed potatoes out of a Tupperware container.
I’m sure I found this recipe for orzo salad because I was looking for something to do with all the fresh mint that grows from my window boxes (gotta love townhouse living), but it solved so many of my food problems this weekend:
- 1) LEFTOVER FISH I enjoyed a fabulous Mexican meal Friday night with old friend who recently moved to my hometown, but I came home with half the blackened fish from fish tacos. Hot Tamales makes some of the best around, served with fresh tomato salsa, pineapple salsa, warm flour tortillas, and a HUGE portion of fresh fish. But, I’m always a little unsure of what to do with leftover fish. Microwaving it for lunch at work seems unkind to my colleagues, but the fish needs to be addressed quickly, if at all. Thus, this orzo provided the perfect bed for the fish. I split the leftover portion in two, laid it over the orzo and was quite happy with the results.
- 2) LEFTOVER VEGGIES In my refrigerator I had a few cherry tomatoes from pesto pasta I’d made earlier in the week, parts of a red onion from the Barefoot Contessa’s shrimp salad I’d tried, and some sliced black olives from something so unremarkable I can’t even remember why I opened them. So, I ignored Giada’s recommended veggies (especially the chickpeas. I love hummus, but not so much the whole bans) and used up my own mix of leftovers. It worked great!
- 3) SURPLUS FRESH HERBS I love the way my window boxes look from the outside of my house (which is for sale, by the way) and the way you get a nice scent in my kitchen with the warm summer breeze blows just right, but sometimes I feel pressure to trim them back and make use of them before they get all spindly and weird. This recipe make use of just enough herb to give my boxes a little haircut early in the season.
- 4) COOKING IN BROTH I’d read a lot about this, but never tried it. It was great! I’ll definitely do it again soon.
Also, I served it with a yummy lime spritzer. 10 Cane white rum makes everything better.
A few weeks ago a popular food blogger that I also enjoy reading discussed how blogs have the best recipes, and that newspaper recipes didn’t excite him. While I agree that blogs offer a personal insight that newspaper style doesn’t allow for, I certainly do not hesitate to try a newspaper recipe that excites me.
But not all of them do.
Take my roommate’s mother, for example, who spent this beautiful, leisurely Sunday morning combing her newspaper, and got the urge to try a dinner menu she found for Greek chicken and watermelon salad. Not apt to fry an otherwise healthy chicken breast, this amateur chef used the flavors in the friend chicken recipe to make a marinade for boneless, skinless chicken breasts that we grilled (the other eater in my household acted as the grill master) at the end of the day – YUM! The mayonnaise-based sauce was delightful on the chicken, contradicting my previous aversion to olives and orange. Oh well.
The watermelon salad was fine (our hostess generously left out the strawberries because she know I don’t care for them), but it remained an odd blend of flavors and textures that I wouldn’t serve to a group of people, and one my roommate flat out didn’t like. I happily cleaned my plate, but no doggie bags, thanks for the offer.
My point is this: I admire this chef’s courage in turning a newspaper recipe into something more palatable, and I’m no worse for the wear in trying the watermelon salad. I’ll read the food section again and try to be as creative in my own kitchen someday.
The highlight of the meal, though, was a cold carrot dish our dinner group first fell in love with during a trip to Portugal in 2002. The Portuguese served finger bowls of these carrots on the table at every meal the same way we serve rolls, and they are just as refreshing as I remember. I took this recipe home with me in lieu of the leftover watermelon salad:
- 3 carrots, blanched and sliced into rounds
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 glass of red wine vinegar (not the most precise measurements, but it seems foolproof, right?)
Mix carrots with parley and garlic. Add vinegar. Let set for 3 hours before serving.
This may be the easiest, most heavenly recipe I have ever found online:
- Equal parts Nutella and evaporated milk (I used Fat free, but to relieve a fraction of guilt), plus 1 T. skim milk.
- In an ice cream machine.
- Freeze before serving.
The ice cream comes out with somewhat of a grainy quality, but it didn’t bother me or the other eater in my household enough to put the stuff down for even a second (he actually licked the bowl while he was supposedly washing the dishes, but that’s a different blog). It tastes like the richest chocolate ice cream you’ve ever had, but without making you want to push back from the table or save the rest for later. That could be the fat free milk talking.
Just one note on the simplicity of the ordeal: I mixed the Nutella and milk together in a medium size bowl before putting them in the ice cream machine, which was good. Next time maybe I’ll use a larger bowl to save my t-shirt from the sloshing of the milk and the chocolate spread. Also, I chilled the smooth batter before dumping it into the machine because both of my ingredients were stored at room temperature. It worked well, but created more dishes for said roommate to lick.