Wednesday, August 31, 2011

More on Greek Yogurt

So I'm making my way through the flavors of my favorite brand (so far) of Greek Style Yogurt. Tonight I had the Lemon. ...Hang on while I finish licking the carton...

So far I think this is my favorite flavor of yogurt. I didn't expect it to be so good. Instead of the fruit being at the bottom, it has lemon pulp mixed in. When I opened it, I thought it had gone bad and had to do a recheck on the date because it wasn't smooth like I'm used to seeing. I stirred it up, and with the grainy, almost lumpy texture I reluctantly took a bite... heaven! The pulp gives it an unexpected look, but it's still the same creamy, smooth yogurt as the base with bits of flavor mixed in. Not too tart, not too sweet, the tangy-ness of the yogurt comes through but is muted a bit with a wonderful lemony overtone. Simply delicious!

yes... I'm obsessed...

Sustainable Foods

I saw this on Google+ and just had to share.

I wish everyone in America felt this way!

As an avid Coldplay fan, and someone who does not like country, I don't like the country version of their song 'Scientist' here in this video, but I do like the choice of the song, the meaning, and the simplicity of it. +1 Chipotle for this video!

Monday, August 29, 2011

My Husband Found Stir-Fry That I Like!

Apparently my weekend of cooking was not enough and I needed more. After work tonight my husband and I decided to try a new recipe. Actually, we had intended to do it last night but in a moment of weakness went out for dinner instead. This broke my streak of 7 days of not eating out. I will attempt this again next week as this week I have a birthday dinner celebration for a friend at one of my favorite Italian places, and agreed to eat at a favorite Asian restaurant for lunch later in the week. At least my eating out splurges are now on favorites and are not a regular part of my eating habits anymore. So back to dinner tonight...

I received the Healthy Family Cookbook by
America's Test Kitchen for Christmas last year. I have had very little time since then, and what time I did have was spent making delicious meals that where anything but healthy. While I very much enjoyed my splurge of cooking and eating for 5 months, my weight did not. Now it's back to Weight Watchers for my husband and I and back to getting creative in the kitchen while not sacrificing flavor.

My husband loves veggies and stir-fries, while I'm not a fan of either. I have warmed up to asparagus and carrots lately (if cooked to my picky tastes), so he thought I might like this recipe.

Stir-Fried Shrimp and Asparagus with Lemon Sauce:
This recipe uses fresh asparagus, carrots, ginger, garlic, scallions, lemon juice, and pepper to create a full flavored, fresh tasting dish.

The shrimp quickly marinated in a mixture of low-sodium soy sauce and Chinese rice cooking wine. We could not find Chinese rice cooking wine so we used their substitution suggestion of dry sherry. We let them marinate while we prepped everything else.

Less than 2 tablespoons of canola oil were used in this dish, and was used to help cook the shrimp and veggies. The shrimp were partially cooked first, then the asparagus and carrots were cooked until crisp-tender. The center of the skillet was cleared and the other seasonings were added to bloom and then were mixed in to the veggies. The lemon sauce which contained chicken broth, lemon juice, Chinese cooking wine (I used dry sherry again), low-sodium soy sauce, sugar, cornstarch and pepper was then added to the skillet. Everything was cooked a few more minutes to finish cooking the shrimp and thicken the sauce.

This was an excellent dish that was very complex. I served mine over a bed of brown basmati rice while my husband has his over whole wheat thin spaghetti. I'm now has me on an Asian kick. We used to eat Thai food once a week and I have tried creating it at home with no luck. Maybe this will start teaching me how to build Asian flavors so I can start creating my own dishes.

UPDATE: This keeps surprisingly well in the fridge!

Fage Yogurt:
For dessert, I again went to my Greek Style Yogurt. I tired a new brand: Fage. While I didn't like the yogurt by itself as well as the Chobani, it was extremely good when I mixed in the blueberry acai segment. I will be buying it again!

Instead of fruit on the bottom like the other Greek Yogurts I have seen with fruit, this brand keeps it in a separate compartment. It did however, allow me to try the yogurt plain. This brand's yogurt is much stronger, tangier, and thicker. I really liked the thickness of it, but it was a bit too tangy for me. I think I might appreciate this yogurt funk flavor more when I get a little more used to it. I hear it takes a little time. The only real thing I didn't like was that this brand uses sugar, where Chobani only uses evaporated cane juice to supplement the sweetness of the fruit. I will have to try the Chobani blueberry flavor to see which one I like best.

I think I have a new Greek Yogurt obsession starting. I guess it makes a better dessert than what I used to eat!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cloudy and Lazy Sunday Morning

I have been in a serious cooking mood all weekend. So this morning I decided to dig out an old recipe to see how I could make it better now that my cooking skills have greatly evolved and my tastes had changed.

Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins:
Back a few years ago I needed whole wheat flour for something, but then had a ton left over. In search of what to do with whole wheat flour, I ran across a recipe for Applesauce Oatmeal Muffins on

It's definitely a recipe you can play with. Taking a tip from a pumpkin break recipe my mom makes, I used fresh OJ instead of milk. For the other ingredients I used natural applesauce without any sugar added, unsalted butter (because it was less Weight Watchers (WW) points than the oil), probably 1 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 2 1/2 Tbs sugar. I played with the points on WW before settling on the sugar amount, and it's a little less than half of the optional amount.

The OJ gave them a unique flavor that in my opinion just didn't work with the other warm flavors, so I think I will try the milk next time. They are not out of this world or anything, but was a nice change from my bowl of oatmeal I eat every day.

It's definitely not enough for a breakfast, but at 3 WW points these make a great snack. I did one of these, a hard boiled egg, and a new flavor of Greek Yogurt and was very satisfied all for 8 points. It was a nice brunch.

Chobani Greek Yogurt: My new love!

I recently picked up 3 brands of fat-free Greek Yogurt to see what I thought of it, and to find a brand I liked. I figured I would start with fat-free before I feel in love with a full-fat or reduced-fat version. I got Fage Blueberry acai, Chobani Peach, and Yoplait Strawberry. The Chobani Peach was so good that I bought more in the Black Chery, Vanilla, Lemon, and the 2% low-fat Pineapple flavors. The next one on my list was this vanilla one (3 points).

Normally I like the "fruit at the bottoms" ones for some extra natural sweetener, but I decided to give this Vanilla one a try. It was a bit too tangy for my tastes, so I took a tip from my brother and added some honey. I just happened to have some fresh honey from a former co-worker and his wife. Great stuff! Just a small drizzle sweetened the yogurt just enough.

I don't think I will be buying this particular flavor again until I get a little more used to the extra tang in Greek Yogurt. I never did like just plain American Yogurt before, but the Greek Yogurt is so much more complex I think I might really get into it.

This weekend definitely focused on food for me and I very much enjoyed it. I hope now that life is not so hectic right now and we are finally settling down into a routine that weekends will once again be used for food creation time!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Nice Weekend with Dear Husband

My husband and I had an entire weekend to ourselves. No major plans, nothing pressing to get done, just us doing our normal (or what used to be normal) routine on the weekend. We decided to use our new found time to create something new in the kitchen. We were sorta getting board with the usual recipes we had become comfortable making. It was nice being able to whip up a flavorful dish quickly after getting the prep work and cooking down to a T with our favorite recipes, but we needed something new!

I had wanted to make this Low-Fat Chicken Parmesan recipe I had seen in Cook's Country a couple years ago, but had not had much time lately. Based on past experiences, trying out a new recipe when you're on a strict time schedule was not a good idea.

Low-Fat Chicken Parmesan:
I started off by making a simple and quick tomato sauce that consisted of diced tomatoes ran through the food processor, and then garlic, tomato paste, oil, and a bit of red pepper flakes that had been allowed to bloom in the saucepan first. The sauce was reduced and then fresh basil was added. I made a double batch knowing my husband likes tomato sauce, and we had planned to have some whole wheat pasta as a side. I thought it would be good to toss some of this sauce in with the pasta!

Instead of frying the chicken breasts, chicken cutlets were lightly dredged in a flour and garlic powder mixture, then moistened with an egg-white wash, then "battered" with a toasted panko and parmesan mixture. They were set on a wire rack over a rimmed backing sheet and baked. Right before the chicken was done, we spooned some of the warmed sauce over each chicken breast and then topped it with part-skim milk mozzarella cheese and put it back in the oven. The chicken was done just as the cheese had melted and started to brown slightly and was then topped with fresh basil.

SO good!

Butter Pecan Ice Cream:
For dessert, my husband wanted to make Butter Peacan Ice Cream. We recently purchased the Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker with Extra Freezer Bowl from William-Sonoma as a sort of wedding gift. So far we are really happy with our purchase!

The Instructional booklet comes with some pretty good recipes. In our attempt to eat healthy and loose weight, my husband, knowing my love for ice cream, decided to make the Butter Peacan one because he knew I wouldn't eat it. We are following the Weight Watchers Points Plus plan, and he has about twice as many points as I do, so he can afford something like this, whereas I cannot.

He sauted the pecans in butter and salt, and then made the base of the ice cream. After dinner we poured it into the machine, and 20 minutes later we had fluffy, creamy ice cream. The base was too good to pass up, so I had some and just picked out the pecans. Very rich and creamy!

I don't know if we will be making the ice cream anytime soon since it was definitely not healthy, but we will definitely be making the Chicken Parmesan again and will be adding it to our rotation of meals.

Wonderful dinner and a fun time in the kitchen with the hubs on a Saturday night!