Skinny Jeans

DSC03536Everyone has them, even those who claim they don’t. Doesn’t matter if you are girl or boy, somewhere in the recesses of mind and closet stands a pair of skinny jeans. And depending upon just how long it’s been since you’ve been able to raise them higher than thigh, button and zip, they are usually more a symbol of hope and achievement than fashion choice. I mean, unless it’s Halloween, you’re not likely going to sport those self-embroidered hip huggers you bought because Bobby Sherman was wearing a pair in Tiger Beat magazine. At least, please don’t.

Some have a “collection” of the svelte denim. An indigo history if you will, tracing the expanse of time (and ass). Perhaps there’s a pair you have from high school senior year, before gravity and beer worked its cruel magic. Or that pair in your “dream” size, which only fit for one glorious day in college, after a three-week bout of mono. Or the more recent pair you’re currently dieting to achieve, because you’re  determined to squeeze into them for that reunion, even though it means encasing the wobbly bits in Spanx and not breathing for a few hours. Whichever pair you have, the ultimate goal is the same — the feeling of wonderful smugness that you’ve achieved a goal, even if no one but you knows it.

Here’s something I’ve discovered about my personal skinny jean collection. As brain has gotten wiser (and body older), I realize that skinny jeans are completely subjective to the wearer. Sure, their name implies one is a wispy reed, but the wearer is the one who defines the width of that reed. In the end, all that matters is that particular pair is the one your end felt great in. The other day, after working pretty hard toward skinny-jeandom, I pulled out my pair and ventured in. While I’m not quite there yet, I’m well on my way. No, they aren’t the pair I wore at my thinnest. But they are the pair that made me feel terrific. And just the knowledge of that brings the final pounds to goal a bit closer. ;-)

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You’re thinking this is a “diet food” recipe aren’t you? Something that will doubtless get those skinny jeans closer to fanny. It’s not. It is how I look at losing weight. You see, I’m a cook (uh, duh) and an avid eater. Meals are not fuel, they are something to be enjoyed. And over the years I’ve learned that denying luscious tasty things all in the name of reducing Karin isn’t going to work for very long. So, I make those yummy things, just a bit smaller, and maybe adjusting one component to lessen the amount of hiking I need to do to work it off. That’s how my Individual Crustless Quiches came about.

Ok, so something that has cream and cheese as major components doesn’t sound like a skinny-jean inducing dish. And if you have a big slab of it wrapped in all-butter crust, it wouldn’t be. But, if I take the bones of my favorite quiche recipe as a start, make it in an easy single serving size, and leave out the crust altogether, I can have my quiche and eat it too. These are also a great way to get veggies and those “super greens” in me, without having to resort to conspicuously eating kale and chard. Skinny jeans, here I come!

Individual Crustless Quiches

One recipe makes four 1/2-cup ramekin sized servings.

For the custard:

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • pinch teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • pinch nutmeg
  • a pinch of cayenne or a shake or more of hot sauce (optional)

For the fillings:

This is where you can really go wild if you like. The key is not to overload the ramekins with goodies, because the point of a quiche is that luscious custard. Here are some options:

  • Chopped mixed hearty greens, like arugula, spinach, baby chard, baby kale. The “baby” greens are more tender and work better in these than the usual ones.
  • Roasted red peppers, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, diced summer squash, etc.
  • Thinly sliced asparagus
  • 1-2 ounces diced cooked bacon, pancetta, ham, chicken
  • 2-3 ounces cheese: feta or goat are lovely, so are any cheeses that melt well, such as swiss, cheddar or jack, fontina, havarti, etc.
  • 4 tsp grated parmesan to sprinkle on top.
  • Minced fresh herbs – tarragon is particularly good with asparagus, parsley or basil are terrific too, as are chives or tender thyme leaves.

Technique:

I have a convection/toaster oven, and it’s perfect for making these. Eggs are always best cooked slower in a low oven, and with the added circulation of convection, these go a little faster. Don’t worry if you don’t have one, though – they work fine in a regular oven too. (You just have to be a little patient…something I rarely am when I’m “getting into skinny jeans”-mode.)

Preheat the oven to 325°F. Spray the ramekins with baking spray (I always have a can of olive oil spray around for this.) Beat the eggs, then add cream, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and cayenne or hot sauce. Add in a teaspoon minced herbs if you are using, and beat until well combined. Add half the cheese and other add-ins into the custard and mix well.

Take the remaining cheese (except the parmesan) and add-ins and divide evenly between the 4 ramekins. Top each ramekin with 1/4th of the custard. Sprinkle each with a teaspoon of parmesan.

Place the ramekins on a cookie sheet or pizza pan, and bake until the custard is set, and the top is nicely browned. Since ovens vary (especially if you are using a toaster oven or convection), start with 20 minutes and go from there. When they are done, the edges of the quiche will have pulled away a little from the sides of the ramekin. Run a knife around the edges, and invert onto a plate. Serve with a green salad, and enjoy your quiche, and your skinny jeans! Calories = approximately 200 to 250 per serving, depending upon the amount of cheese and meat you add.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com. Thanks!   :-)

Love Bites

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Yes gentle readers, it’s here. Again. That day named after a saint, filled with flying fat babies with arrows, and “officially sanctioned” by Hallmark as a retail holiday. There’s no getting away from it – we are in the post-Super Bowl, pre-Mardi Gras holiday slump, and retail and TV alike are desperate to tag our attentions to something.  And when it comes to observing, this holiday always seems particularly well-set with land mines as it relates to what to and not to do.

Of course, if you aren’t “coupled” and you want to be, the options lean towards a blue possibly kleenex filled day, which isn’t helped much by airwaves filled with sappy rom-coms, tear-jerking love stories, modern day fairytales and the like. There are even channels devoted to nothing else for the weeks following the end of Santa-themed TV. Funny how Rambo is never scheduled for Valentine’s week, isn’t it? I mean, there should be at least one channel devoted to things blowing up, slashed, or hacked. You know, maybe to commemorate the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. For me, when the infamous day rolled around at a time I was “non-observant”, I’d definitely select pyrotechnics over boy-meets-girl. Unless Dirty Dancing was on. I don’t know why, but I’ve always been a sucker for Dirty Dancing, having never tired of Baby being rescued from that corner. And if you’re paired-up, the path isn’t necessarily rosier. Let’s face it, due to all the hubbub and folderol associated with the heart-shaped box and rose-filled festivities, there’s a good shot at disappointment rather than loving joy filling the day.

Over many years of both V-Day options, I’ve realized the best way to avert disaster is the simple approach. I’d much rather cook something luscious (and easy) than pay exorbitant prices for a limited menu of someone else’s ideas of what makes romance. Simple pasta with cheese and butter, a great bottle of wine and your pjs can be the most romantic night with the right person. Add in a great pint of ice-cream and two spoons… heaven! Can’t find a card that says what you want? Make one. Seriously. Wouldn’t you rather get red construction paper and doilies than something mass-produced and $3.50? Remember how excited you were in 4th grade when you got one? You’re smiling right now aren’t you? Go with that.

Don’t have a special someone? Get together with special someones. You know an evening with great friends will end in laughter induced sore sides. Order a pizza and spend the big bucks on a fabulous bottle of wine to go with it. I guarantee it will be an evening you’ll never forget! And if your sweetie is far away? A package of homemade treats will remind them of your love, with every sweet love bite.photo

dsc06139To honor that saint, those chubby weapon-wielding flying babies, and countless greeting card dollars, I’ve compiled a bunch of my favorite V-Day love bites. These are all pretty simple, and any of them is guaranteed to bring a blush to the cheek and a flutter to the heart. <3

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com. Thanks!   :-)

Rat Bastard

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Why? As representatives of the top of the evolutionary chain, why have we given the estimable role of spring prognosticator to a rodent? A big, furry, buck-toothed, beady-eyed rat? He doesn’t look like he wants the job, does he? Yet every year, on the second day of the shortest month, he is ripped from his mid-winter nap and thrust at a throng of screaming fans by a man in a top hat. Does that seem right to you? He doesn’t think so. No wonder he subjected us to 6 more weeks of winter.

I think he takes pleasure in making us miserable at the thought of a prolonged slog through slush, mud, and gray. Because if you are unwillingly given the official title of meteorological rat, you may as well be a bastard about it. Take THAT you silly two-legged hairless creatures! Rip me from my nice warm den in the middle of the night into the cold glare of klieg lights and TV cameras? Go right ahead. You deserve what you get. And should you happen to squeeze my middle too tight, or drop me on my head (thank you Mayor DeBlasio), I’m happy to add in a bite on your stupid gloved hand or pee on your $400 loafers too.

So thanks a lot Phil, or Chuck, or Dave, for seeing your shadow yet again. Perhaps we brought this upon ourselves, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t still one bucktoothed furry rat bastard.

To ‘celebrate’ the onset of 6 more weeks of belch, I’ve compiled a hit parade of CIMH comfort food recipes. In honor of Phil and his vermin brothers, I start with the mother-load of cozy, cheesy, comfort food goodness….Rat Bastard Mac & Cheese.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com. Thanks!   :-)

The 12th Woman

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I’m a lazy football fan. If the game is on I’ll watch it, but more likely as background noise than something I’m riveted to my couch to watch. I considered it much like golf or pro bowling. Turn the volume down, and it makes nice company for a lazy sunday nap. That’s before I moved to the pacific northwest.

Up until last year, my loyalties to gridiron gladiator were somewhat anemic. I’d cheer the local guys, happy if either one made it all the way, but not particularly undone if they didn’t. If invited to a Super Bowl party, I’d try to match my outfit (or at least my socks) to the team color, but beyond that, no major effort was made. Then I landed here. Sure it helped that the local team not only made it, but won the BIG show last year. But here was something else too. In a world of jerseys and painted faces (and guts, which takes a lot of guts to do when you’re in Green Bay or Buffalo), I was given a number. Suddenly I wasn’t just a fan, I was part of the team. I know the phrase “the 12th man” is not new to football, but these guys had a flag. I’m a sucker for a flag.

So this afternoon, when the hype stops and the game begins, I’ll be firmly behind the blue and white flag. The 12th man now has a 12th woman too. GO HAWKS!!

Lazy Chicken Enchiladas

Lazy Chicken Enchiladas

This recipe came about yesterday morning when I needed to clean out some room in the fridge. Seriously. I have some recipe development projects to start for a client in the coming week, along with truffle orders for Valentine’s Day, and needed space. I actually LOVE recipes like this. It uses up leftovers while satisfying a couch full of hungry fans, and the variations are endless.

This recipe truly is the height of laziness. The bones are familiar, basically a redux of my basic enchilada recipe that I shared a few weeks ago. But as I piled the ingredients up on my counter, the thought of warming the tortillas, then dishing out quarter cups of filling and rolling just wasn’t looking like much fun. See what I mean…lazy.

However, what if I just laid the tortillas in the casserole dish, and layered everything on top? Lazy Chicken Enchiladas has all the best parts of the original, but far less fuss.

Lazy Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 6

  • 1 16 oz. jar of your favorite enchilada sauce (about 2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken (rotisserie is fine, or bake/poach about 12 oz. of boneless skinless breasts, thighs or a combo of both)
  • 10-12 corn tortillas, cut in 1/2
  • 1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups shredded cheese (I used a combo of cheddar and mozzarella)
  • 2 oz. block of havarti, muenster, or jack cheese, sliced thin (I do this will a vegetable peeler – works great!)
  • 1/2 cup drained and diced pickled hot peppers (I used peppadews)
  • 1/4 tsp each of garlic powder, cumin and chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp each of salt and black pepper

Preheat over to 400F.

2015-01-31 11.42.36 Add the thawed and dried chopped spinach and the diced hot peppers in a bowl, along with the garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and mix well. Put aside 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese for the top, and add in the rest and toss until combined.

2015-01-31 11.43.20Put 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish (I used my 8 1/2″ x11″ dish.) Layer in a third of the tortilla halves. I halved the tortillas so they were easier to line the pan and cover the sauce. 2015-01-31 12.00.08Now, like a lasagna, add half the spinach/pepper/cheese mixture, top with half the shredded chicken, and drizzle over a third of the remaining sauce. Do another layer of tortillas, filling, chicken and sauce, then finish with the last third of the tortillas and sauce, making sure to spread the sauce so it covers the tortillas.2015-01-31 12.01.03

Layer the thin slices of cheese over the top, and sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup of cheese. Cover with a sheet of oiled foil (helps keep the cheese from sticking), and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake another 15-20 minutes until the cheese is melted and browned a little.

2015-01-31 12.08.41Serve with wedges of lime, sour cream, and chopped avocados on the side. Calories: approximately 350-375 per serving.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com. Thanks!   :-)

THE SKY IS FALLING!!!

snowheadThis past week the east coast was hit with a blizzard. Which, naturally, is portrayed by the various forecasters, meteorologists and sundry other weather people as SNOWPOCOLYPSE!! BLIZZAGHEDDON!! SHOVELPALOOZA!! Stock in Charmin is sky high due to demand outpacing supply. Easterners are forced to buy FULL FAT milk, as shelves are emptied of their precious 1 and 2%! The only cereal left in the aisle is All Bran, because everyone knows natural disasters and MEGA STORMS mean Captain Crunch and Fruit Loops are allowed as a meal substitute.The. End. IS. NEAR!!!!!

Ok CNN and the rest, get a grip. Sure it’s entertaining as hell to see all those broadcast Chicken Littles work themselves into a lather as they get footage of a lone snowflake on mitten (yes, we know each is unique, we too learned that in second grade), and flail arms over computer generated storm track maps.But it’s just snow. Butt-loads in places perhaps, but still just snow. Frozen water. Something that will melt, eventually. Inconvenient? Yes. Messy? You betcha. And isn’t it fun to hunker down in a cozy home with snuggly people, and the treats everyone allows themselves when the frozen stuff pours from the sky. Even the authorities know this. Orders of “shelter in place” translate to ‘stay inside and drink’. Surely that’s what they meant. And if you weren’t one of the hungry hoards standing on line in the markets during pre-snow hours of non-stop TV doom, you knew the unexpected joys of creating meal plans out of what you had in your bunker.

I think Mother Nature throws these meteorological events at us just for this purpose. After all, just how many boxes of the ‘San Francisco Treat’ do you plan on collecting before you die? There’s no contest you know. Add some cheese, a little of that full fat milk instead of water, roll in breadcrumbs and you’ve got the best fried rice balls you can guiltily have without guilt. You know there’s no guilt in a snowstorm, right? It’s a barometric pressure thing. You want pancakes and french toast and eggs and bacon and sausage? Go right ahead. You’ve got to keep up your strength…there’s SNOW out there!

The basic food groups shift too. Again, barometric pressure. And there are more of them. There’s the chocolate group, the butter group (dip is included in this, and cheese, lots of cheese), the wine group (or whiskey, or both), the “carrier” group (pasta, bread, potatoes, chips), and peanut butter. And anything you can bake with eggs, butter, flour and sugar. Incidences of baking seem to increase at the thought of snowflakes. If you’ve got peanut butter you don’t even need the flour. Peanut butter cookies are as easy as sugar, eggs and the Skippy. Gluten free too…see, it’s HEALTH FOOD!

Of course, by dawn’s light and the plow’s third pass, the crisis has passed, CNN turns back to whatever else is going on, and things go back to a slushy slog, and longing for spring’s first buds. So embrace it while it lasts. The shovel can wait ’til tomorrow…

DSC07878I love the opportunity to peruse the pantry and clear out. It’s a nice exercise in the Karin thought process. For example, why exactly do I have 4 cans of cannellini beans. I know why I had one, but apparently I kept thinking I needed more. Same goes for chickpeas. I really like hummus, but I’m one person. I don’t like it enough to warrant 3 cans of garbanzos worth. So with my wealth of beige legumes, and the Superbowl this weekend, I thought I’d try to come up with something that would purge these beauties from my pantry, in a snacky kind of way. Enter Garlicky Cannellini Bean Dip, and Roasted Spiced Chickpeas.

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

Makes about 1 1/2 cups of chickpeas

This is a ridiculously simple recipe. Which is good, because the key to a snow day is not slaving over the stove, but rather lying around, eating, drinking, and generally saving up your strength to face the elements at some point. It’s also totally up to you what spices you add. Like curry instead of cumin? Go ahead. Want them a little sweet rather than savory? More cinnamon and a little pinch clove. Hotter? Have at it. You get the idea…

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2-2TBSP olive oil
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp salt, depending on taste (I used sea salt, which is a bigger flake, so if you use regular table salt, you may want to cut back a bit.)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp smoked hot paprika (or cayenne or whatever spicy mix you like)

Preheat over to 375F. Drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas. I put them on a paper towel lined  sheet pan, then rub them with another paper towel. Some of the skins will probably come off, that’s fine. Just pick the skins out (they have a tendency to burn).

In a bowl, add the olive oil, salt, pepper and spices of choice. Whisk to combine. Toss in the now dry chickpeas and toss so they are all coated. Taste a chickpea and adjust seasoning if needed. Just don’t over salt. These shrivel up a little so a bit under salted is fine. You can always sprinkle a little more over at the end.

Pour out the seasoned chickpeas onto a foil-lined baking sheet, and arrange so they are all in one layer and spread out a bit. Roast for 40 minutes, shaking the pan a few times during roasting. Taste one and decide if you want them just crispy on the outside and creamy inside, or crunchy through. If you want crunchy, continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes, keeping an eye on them so they don’t burn.

Cool and serve. These are best the day you make them. Calories: approximately 125 per 1/4 cup.

Garlicky White Bean Dip

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Garlicky Cannellini Bean Dip

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com. Thanks!   :-)

 

Cawfee Tawk

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“One coffee, dark” I said. ‘Um, we only have one brew’ she said, looking puzzled. “OK”, looking puzzled myself, “that’s fine, and I’d like it dark.” The look changed from puzzled to a little apprehensive, and the cadence of her speech slowed to ‘english is not your mother tongue’ speed. “I’m sorry, but we only have one brew, and it’s medium, not dark.” I was about to embark on another round of this early morn banter when the thought hit me…Karin, this lovely young woman speaks coffee, NOT cawfee.

A couple of years ago I wrote about the ritual of ordering coffee in Italy: pay first, then go to counter with receipt, or face the mockage of barista and local. I suppose a visitor from a foreign land could be forgiven her ignorance. Countries have their language and cultural norms to respect, and once I learned how, I could practically pass for local. But it wasn’t until the exchange with my local barista that I realized that coffee here (or back in my old there) speaks its own dialect too.

If you grew up in or around NYC, by the time you came of coffee age you knew the language. Step up to any deli or bodega or coffee cart counter, plop down your buck, place your order. Your choices? Regular, light, dark, black. The cardboard cup placed in your hand with its snappy “We are happy to serve you” and random blue and white Grecian theme contains the fully formed caffeinated quaff. Pull back the plastic tab on the cap, try to secure it to the thingy sticking up in the middle, fail, just rip a hole in it, wrap multiple napkins around blazing hot cup, and drink. If you ordered a “regular”, that cup contained your morning joe with milk and one sugar. Light and sweet was, well, light and sweet (lots of milk, 2 sugars.) Dark, my coffee of choice, was a touch of milk. And black, sans cow.

My guess is this ‘cawfee’ shorthand was created sometime shortly after the earth’s crust cooled and the first naugahyde diner banquette was installed, in an effort to help speed things along. Coffee in NY up until the time of the revolution sparked by Starbucks, was purely utilitarian. That first cup a necessary early morning stimulant to get you from point A to B without ripping someone’s head off, or cluelessly stepping off curb and getting hit by a bus. Civilization could function seamlessly as long as that cardboard “We are happy to serve you” was in your hand. Out here in the PNW, coffee is religion. A java church on every corner, the sacrament dosed in ounces from beans lovingly roasted in-house and lavishly described with terms like “after notes” and “floral”. It’s good, great in some cases, but it takes a Gotham gal a little time to get used to. So the next time I order from my favorite drive-thru, I’ll try to remember to translate my cawfee dark before I get to the window.:-)

DSC07832A coffee-themed recipe is clearly called for, and in the spirit of caffeine-fueled indulgence I’ve got one that’s quick, easy, and under 200 calories to boot. Fast Espresso Pudding is just a variation on a chocolate pudding recipe I found a few years ago. I was having one of those days, when the incoming crap storm from work was making me cranky, and something soothing and chocolate was necessary to calm jangled nerves. Already in my jammies (ok, so what if it was 5:30pm), the thought of leaving my cozy nest to go to the market for box pudding just wasn’t going to fly. So I figured, why not make it on my own? Happily, the experiment worked, with just a few ingredients I already had and could pronounce without consulting a chemistry text. To be fair, this isn’t as good as my more elaborate chocolate pudding recipe, but for a quick fix, it’s perfect!

Fast Espresso Pudding Makes 4 approximately 1/2 cup servings

  • 3 TBSP instant espresso powder
  • 2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 TBSP corn starch
  • 5 TBSP sugar (or more, according to taste – I like things a little less sweet)
  • 2 cups whole milk (I’ve done it with 2% but anything lower and the pudding tends to be a little grainy)
  • A pinch salt

Whisk together everything but the milk in a saucepan. Add the milk and whisk until combined. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture comes to a boil and thickens. IMG_0418Pour into cups and let cool for 30 minutes on the counter. Refrigerate for another hour until set. If you want to avoid a skin on top, cover with plastic before cooling on counter, making sure to press the wrap onto the top of the pudding. I like to froth some milk and add a dollop on top and a little cinnamon before serving. Calories: approximately 170 per serving.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com. Thanks!   :-)

The Unresolved

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I’ve mentioned more than once (usually this time of year) that I hate New Year’s resolutions. Considering the sheer number of them cast on calendar day 1, the odds that they are actually fulfilled is slim, meaning you start off the fresh slate of a new year with failure. I know this from experience. Therefore for a few years now I’ve planted myself firmly in the unresolved category. Nope, no stinkin’ perky overly optimistic New Year resolutions for me.

Yet, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit there are a few things I’d like to change now that 2014 is behind and 2015 all bright, shiny and new. Specifically, my 2014 behind, and sundry other jiggly bits that seem to be spilling over. In other words, just like all the other folks tipping scales a bit too much to the right, I’m going on a “diet”.

Yes, I know it’s not “in” to use that word anymore. It’s a “lifestyle change”, or “correct choices” or “taking control of your life”. At least that’s what the countless commercials that seem to start the minute the clock strikes twelve on January 1st say. The only thing running more than enticements to join Jenny, or watchers, or Marie’s microwaveable boxes are dating site ads (Farmers Only dotcom… Seriously!) Obviously Madison Ave is sure the key to New Year happiness is skinny jeans and a date (and maybe Ol’ MacDonald.)

Whatever it’s called, the point is there’s more of me than space in my jeans, and if I want to feel better about my reflection, I’d better do something about it. So I have. At any other time of the year, this would not be considered a resolution, therefore I am resolute to be unresolved. I’ve just started my March diet a little early. :-)

h8RkHMLfK9o3yaad7dsP8hsw1m4ROmk7GLkArJpzmYY[1]Resolution Enchiladas

Makes 8 enchiladas, or 4 servings

This is my go-to enchilada technique for two reasons — it’s adaptable to whatever I have on hand, and it’s quick. That means when I’m trying to cut calories but still have something filling and tasty, it’s a perfect fit. When I’m not counting, full fat cheese and chorizo. When I am, lower fat cheese, spinach and black beans. Simple, satisfying, and very tasty. This recipe also features a favorite appliance when I’m hungry and want something NOW…my can opener.

N_tfiPpDSTVO8xK5P8ExE-1t4it2iOj9mlacIz1ft6E[1]Ingredients:

  • 1 cup drained canned black beans
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 TBSP chopped cilantro (leave out if you are one of those who HATE cilantro)
  • A tablespoon or two ( or toss in the whole can) fire roasted chopped green chilies, depending on your tolerance of heat – could substitute chipotles in adobo here too.
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese – (I used a lite mix of cheddar, jack and queso blanco. Go full fat if you like- just don’t go fat-free, it doesn’t melt well.)
  • 1 16 oz. jar of enchilada sauce (try Frontera if you can find it – it’s swell!)
  • 8 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 400F. Pour about 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce in a casserole or au gratin dish and swirl around so it coats the bottom. Take your tortillas, wrap them in foil and pop in the oven to warm up for a few minutes and get a little more pliable. (You can also do this in the microwave, wrapped in a damp paper towel and nuked for about 30 seconds.)

Add the beans to a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mash them up a little with a fork (you don’t want a paste, just some squished and some whole beans.) Add the squeezed-dry spinach, chilies, cilantro, salt and pepper and mix well. Toss in half the cheese and mix well. Taste the mix and adjust salt and pepper if needed.

When your tortillas have softened up, lay one tortilla on your work surface and put about a 1/4 cup worth of filling in a line down the center. Roll up and place, seam side down in the casserole dish. Continue with the rest of the tortillas and filling. Pour the rest of the enchilada sauce over the rolled tortillas. An edge sticking out is fine (I like a little bit of crunch) but the enchiladas should be mostly cover with the sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

Bake in oven covered for about 15 minutes, then uncovered another 5 until the cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Wait about 5 minutes before serving. I like to serve with some chopped avocado, limes, cilantro and low-fat sour cream on the side. Calories: approximately 170 per enchilada.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com. Thanks!   :-)

 

What’s Up Doc Redux

I first published this post about two years ago, but considering my (and possibly your) current state of snot, it’s worthy of a second look…ACHOOOOO!!!

©cookinginmyheels.com

©cookinginmyheels.com

Here’s something I was wondering recently: Is it possible to drown in your own, how shall I put this delicately, snot? Ok, as gross as that sounds, if you are one of the gazillions who are suffering from the head cold or flu that is going around, I bet you’ve asked yourself that very question. How could you not, between the sneezing,  wheezing, coughing, and blowing of snout more times than that poor little button deserves yet there’s still no end of gook in sight. Yes folks it’s that time of year, the cold and flu season. The annual reminder that despite how powerful and mighty we at the top of the food chain think we are, a teeny microscopic being and several hundred million relatives can reduce an otherwise healthy human to a wheezy sneezey snotty wretch. You think you’ve been spared, gotten through all those holiday parties and crowds with nary a sniffle, and then when you least expect it, SURPRISE!! Mr. Rhinovirus or worse, his sister Influenza invite their many many cousins to a party in your nose…and chest…and head.

Like many of you, these very unwelcome guests recently visited me. I was actually quite surprised and more than a little pissed that I succumbed to the current plague too. Smugly I thought I’d taken all of the necessary precautions. I washed my hands like a happy little obsessive-compulsive germophobe, eliminating every possible villain. I armed every pocket with hand sanitizer and tried to avoid crowds (not an easy feat when you live in a city of millions). I treated the visibly infected in my life like lepers (sorry, you know I love you but it’s every woman for herself in sicky-avoidance-ville), and even beefed up on Echinacea and vitamin C. But alas, all my prophylactic efforts proved useless. When those nasty buggers want you, you are like the poor slow-moving schlub closest to the zombie hoard. You’re a goner.

So here I sit, looking oh SO attractive with a head the weight and density of a bowling ball, my honker red and threatening to exit my face if I blow it one More TIME, and a pile of Kleenex that just might take over the living room. The only good thing is my voice sounds like Kathleen Turner circa “Body Heat”. Unfortunately, I’m so repellant that the only use for it is to record a new voicemail message so future callers think I’m really hot.

At least I know from previous afflictions that at some point in the next day or so the snotty mob will leave my body. So since I’m useless for anything else until then, I think I’ll just hunker down on the couch with some good old movies and some healing, soothing food. After all, it’s “feed a cold”, right?

When it comes to battling a bad head cold, my go-to menu follows the advice of doctors (and moms). Liquids, lots of them (a hot toddy couldn’t hurt), and for mealtime, soup. While chicken matzo ball soup always factors into the mix, when I’ve had my fill and need a change I make my Carrot Cumin Soup. Packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, this tasty healing elixir gets warmth from the addition of toasted cumin seeds. It’s terrific on its own with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream on top, or alongside a therapeutic grilled cheese sandwich. I prescribe a bowl for lunch or dinner and repeat as needed. Nine out of ten docs (and Bugs Bunny) agree…this soup will make you feel better in no time.

Carrot Cumin soup

Makes about 4 cups

  • 1 TBSP butter
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped about the same size as the onion and celery
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 ½-3 cups chicken stock (you could substitute vegetable stock)
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice (or just a pinch)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Sour cream or yogurt for garnish

Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan until they become fragrant – be careful not to burn them (they go fast so don’t walk away from the pan.) Set aside.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, cinnamon stick and a pinch of salt and sauté about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, the toasted cumin seeds, broth and the pinch allspice. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until the carrots are very soft, about 20-25 minutes.

When the carrots are done (take one out and if they squish easily they’re done) turn the heat off under the pot.  Puree the soup in a blender in batches, or with a hand blender in the pot until completely smooth and velvety. Add a teaspoon of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt. Calories: About 110 per cup.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button). Thanks! :-)

Grown Up Vacation

FullSizeRenderYeah, it’s the first week of January. The first week of a new year, after weeks of holiday merriment. The week when you decide this year you’ll lose that weight, run those miles, save those pennies, hold that sharpened tongue, blah, blah, blah. The week when the mail holds not those cute/corny holiday cards filled with bad sweaters, bedecked pets and smiling babies, but the credit card aftermath. Grim reality hits, the days are gray, my mood grayer, and all I want is a vacation. But not the kind you might think. After two lovely weeks of off more than work, I’m not talking about going away geographically. I want a vacation from being a grown-up.

I was born a baby sister, and as such, spent much of my kidhood  yearning to be older. Oh to be a grown up! No bedtimes, no homework, no “not until you’re older”, no “NOs”. Well, that’s what we thought it would be until it actually happened. Sure there’s a lot to be said for being taller than the clown’s hand at the start of the ride, but in the first week of January when I’m grumpy and blue, I can’t really think of any. I want fuzzy slippers, cartoons, coloring books, and no blahs, or blues, or bills, or stupid vegetables, or yucky grown up stuff. I’m not playing…so THERE!

Of course, there’s very little chance behaving like a child is going to get me anything except a self-imposed time-out, and an even bigger pile of grown-up crap to sift through when released. But there is something I can do tonight. Tonight, I can make a culinary grown-up break and have a meal any kid would like. Tonight I can have Breakfast for Dinner. You remember what that was like. As kids we thought it was the ultimate treat! We had no idea pancakes or waffles for dinner was an easy fix for an overstressed parent. Who cared, as long as there was syrup!

Grown-ups don’t do breakfast for dinner nearly enough. I hadn’t even thought about its magical qualities until it was recently requested for the weekly dinner and a movie night. There’s nothing better to melt the heart and warm the corners of one’s soul than to be handed a pair of cozy slippers, and placed in front of a platter of bacon, eggs, chocolate chip pancakes and sweet rolls. Trust me, THIS is the best dinner party you’ll ever throw, the one that will be remembered best. You can be a grown up in the morning.

The menu for your Breakfast for Dinner Party is really up to you and how elaborate you want to go. I did cheesy scrambled eggs (eggs, cooked slow in a very generous amount of butter, with a generous handful of cheddar thrown in just before the eggs were fully set); hash browns (diced potatoes and onions generously sprinkled with salt, pepper and paprika,and sautéed in a combo of butter and olive oil until cooked through and golden brown), chocolate chip pancakes (you can use a packaged mix and add in the chips, or google Martha Stewart’s buttermilk pancakes – REALLY good recipe from scratch); and bacon (made in the oven, for the crispest bacon you can get.) All of that was swell, but the star of the table were the sweet rolls.

I first made these, Butterscotch-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls on Thanksgiving. The reaction convinced me that if I wanted to make a special someone’s son smile and react with the most glee a teenage boy can for something other than dirt bike gear, these had better be in my repertoire.

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Andrew Scrivani for The New York Times

Butterscotch-Glazed Cinnamon Rolls (adapted from Melissa Clark, New York Times)

Makes 18 rolls, or two pans full. I like to bake off one and freeze the other for another time.

You’ll notice that I’ve highlighted some parts of the recipe in bold type. That’s because I’ve made this a few times now, and it’s important to read the recipe carefully and section up the sugar and butter or you’ll be tempted to throw it all in with the dough. Trust me on this :-)

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, more as needed
  • 2 cups dark brown sugar
  • I envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • About 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon (you could use apple cider, but why?)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

In a small saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Add milk and heat until just warm to the touch (120 to 130 degrees). Pour into a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, yeast, salt and cardamom. Slowly beat flour mixture into butter mixture using an electric mixer set with the paddle attachment. Beat in egg, then beat until dough comes together in a ball, about 3 minutes; it should be slightly tacky but not sticky. If it feels very sticky, beat in more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. Form into ball. Transfer to a large, lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 2 to 3 hours.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt 4 tablespoons butter. Cook until the foam subsides and the butter turns a deep nut-brown; cool to room temperature.

In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and a pinch of salt.

Punch down dough and roll into a rectangle about 15 inches long and 11 or 12 inches wide. Using a pastry brush, coat dough with butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border all around. Sprinkle sugar mixture evenly over butter. Starting at a long end, tightly roll up dough over filling. Arrange seam side down. Cut the dough crosswise into 18 slices (about 1/2-inch thick).

Lightly grease two 9-inch square baking pans. Transfer rolls to pan, cut side up; they will fit snugly. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees; bake rolls until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and cool 10 minutes.

While rolls bake, place remaining  3/4 cup brown sugar in a small saucepan. Sprinkle with bourbon and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter until melted, whisk in vanilla, then turn off the heat and whisk in the confectioners’ sugar. Pour warm glaze evenly over the tops of the warm rolls. Let rest for at least 20 minutes before serving to allow glaze to set.

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com. Thanks!   :-)