Black Bean Chili

This winter has been especially cold and rainy. During times like these, I gravitate towards noodle soups or just soups in general, stews, and chilis. You know, the comforting stuff! I found this particular recipe in a Cooking Light magazine, which is extra points in my book. Yummy AND “light”? YAAAAAAS.

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I made some tweaks to the recipe, but nothing substantial. I like my chili thicker so I eliminated the water. Also swapped one can of black beans for one can of diced tomatoes because tomatoes > beans. I mean, I know this is called black bean chili, but come on, FOUR cans of black beans?! WHY?

Oh, and a word of caution… When I first made this chili, I interpreted “3 canned chipotle chilis in adobo sauce” as 3 cans of chipotle chilis instead of 3 chipotle chilis. Oops. Don’t make the same mistake as I did. I love spicy foods but that was almost unbearable! I use 1 can now 😊

Tupperware Tuesday: Stir-Fried Lemongrass Chicken

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


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Adapted from Cooking Light, January 2013.

I substituted chicken breast for chicken thighs since I’m really not a big fan of dark meat. I don’t mind it so much if it was fried, but then again, practically anything is good fried! This was the first recipe I made with lemongrass that didn’t involve broth. I was kind of clueless about what to do with the lemongrass, but that’s what YouTube is for! amiright???

Unless you want a big block of rice noodles in your tupperware, I would recommend vermicelli noodles. However, if you’re making this recipe for dinner then I would serve with thicker noodles.

Tupperware Tuesday: Spicy Thai Basil Chicken

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


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Adapted from Cooking Light, January 2013.

I found this recipe in the January 2013 issue and I’ve already made it a several times! A couple times as lettuce wraps (using Boston Bibb) and a couple times, as pictured above, mixed with quinoa. Both lettuce and quinoa provide a nice contrast in texture and a balance to the flavorful ground chicken and bell peppers. And while lettuce is great when I want to go low carb, I seriously love me some quinoa. I really don’t understand why Henry doesn’t like it. Quinoa is the best thing ever! I think I appreciate it more because it’s not as heavy as say, brown rice, and more importantly, doesn’t give me heartburn.

Tupperware Tuesday: Maple & Soy-Glazed Steak

Tupperware Tuesday, a real look at the food I make each week. No fancy cameras, no lightbox contraption, no perfect angles. Just what’s for lunch.


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Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2010.

I made the steak pretty much as directed except I used tri-tip, which was on sale at Fresh & Easy, and significantly increased the amount of Sriracha. I also made extra marinade to toss with whole wheat thin spaghetti. Since I had left over baby spinach, I sandwiched leaves between the steak and spaghetti, drizzling extra sauce over to finish. The heat from the microwave wilted the spinach just enough to take away the raw taste.

I loved the sauce. I definitely saved this recipe just for the sauce.

I make: Mapo Tofu

When I found this recipe in Cooking Light Magazine, I welcomed the change since the only other Asian recipe we make involving ground pork is our Ground Pork with Green Beans. Is it weird that we don’t make a lot of Asian food?? Anyway, this recipe is traditionally made with soft tofu, but my preference is medium-firm because it holds up nicely while cooking and is soft enough when eaten. Also, though I love eating spicy foods, my stomach can’t handle that much heat anymore so the recipe, as is, might be too tame for some people (you can tell by the picture below since the sauce isn’t BRIGHT RED).

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine (April 2010)

(yields ~6 servings)
Ingredients:

Meat
1 lb ground pork
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried sweet basil
1 tsp less-sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp canola oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 tbsp minced ginger
1 (14 oz) package medium firm tofu, drained

Sauce
2 tbsp Sriracha (increase as desired)
1 1/2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp black bean garlic sauce
2 tsp sugar
2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp less-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp chili oil (increase as desired)

White rice
Scallions for garnish

Directions:
1. Place tofu on paper towel; cover with paper towel. Top with heavy skillet and let stand 30 minutes. (One reason why medium firm tofu works better vs. soft tofu, plus I just prefer firmer tofu anyway). Cut tofu in 1 inch cubes.
2. Season meat: Combine all ingredients under “Meat” section. Let rest for 10 minutes.
3. Sauce: Combine Sriracha through sugar in one bowl. Combine chicken broth through chili oil in another bowl; whisk until smooth.
4. Heat canola oil in a large skillet (or wok) over medium heat.
5. Add garlic and ginger; stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
6. Add pork; stir-fry for 5 minutes or until almost cooked through.
7. Add Sriracha mixture; combine thoroughly and cook for 1 minute.
8. Add broth mixture; bring to a boil and cook until sauce thickens.
9. Stir in tofu.
10. Serve over white rice and garnish with green onions.

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No beauty shot this time – just straight out of the wok, but you get the point 🙂

Note: I changed the ratio of tofu to ground pork because Henry specifically requested less tofu.

Bon appetit!

Working On My Fitness

I was tired of being a piece of lard, so I finally did something about it. After a year of failing to get back into an after work gym routine, I came to grips with reality: I’M TOO DAMN LAZY TO GO TO THE GYM AFTER WORK. 10+ hours of work makes me just want to chill out and do nothing afterwards… is that so wrong????? Anyway, if I really wanted to work out and get back into shape, mornings were my only option. Thanks to J, I signed up for 10 sessions of morning boot camp that meet 2x a week at 6AM!

6AM!!

Crazy right? On Mondays and Wednesdays, I get up at 4:30AM, eat a light breakfast and head out to Marina del Rey before 5. There are usually about 10 people and this class kicks all of our asses. TRUST.

Henry and I have also been trying to eat more healthy. This week we poached a big batch of chicken and split it into two recipes. We made pesto chicken sandwiches for lunch…


{via Cooking Light}

Note: I omitted lemon juice, walnuts and celery from the recipe. I used Classico Traditional Pesto Sauce, fat free mayo and regular wheat bread. SO DAMN GOOD.

… and chicken salad with cranberries for dinner.

{via Cooking Light}

Note: I omitted almonds and celery from the recipe and reduced the ground pepper (1/2 tsp is a bit much, I think). I used fat free mayo and plain fat free yogurt.

Notice a theme? I HATE CELERY.

I make: Salisbury Steak

When I think of salisbury steak, two images immediately pop into my head:

1) hungry man dinners
2) elementary school lunches

Not exactly selling points, right?

Well, seeing the recipe in the December issue of Cooking Light was enough for me to try to make it myself (you can find the recipe in the “Dinner Tonight” section).

Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

(yields ~ 4 servings)
Ingredients:
1/3 cup grated onions, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp soy sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 lb ground sirloin
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
8 oz baby portabellas (I cheat and buy pre-washed/pre-sliced)
1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium beef broth
1 1/2 tbsp Wondra flour
1 tsp red wine vinegar

Directions:
1. Combine 1/4 cup onion, pepper, salt, garlic, soy sauce and beef. Shape into 4 (1/2 inch thick) patties.
2. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
3. Add patties and cook each side until browned (~3 min).
4. Remove patties and add butter to the pan. Saute mushrooms and remaining onions in melted butter (~6 min).
5. Sprinkle flour into the mushroom mixture and cook for about 1 minute. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Gravy should thicken up in about 10 minutes – stir to ensure no clumps.
6. Add patties, vinegar to pan and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

I really loved the mushroom gravy – it was the best part of the recipe! The vinegar enhances the gravy’s earthy/beefy flavor. Even though I adjusted the original recipe, I still think the patties needed more seasoning. Oh, and make sure you don’t form the patties thicker than 1/2 inch. Otherwise, the steak/gravy ratio will be off and that’s a bad, bad thing. Or you can just make extra gravy 🙂

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Bon appetit!

I make: Crispy Fish

I’ve been testing a lot of recipes from the April issue of Cooking Light. Last week, I made spicy gumbo for lunch and saffron fish stew with white beans for dinner. I bought 2 pounds of cod and decided to use a little more than half for the fish stew and use the rest for another recipe: crispy fish with lemon-dill sauce.

The recipe was easy to follow and it really did only take 30 minutes to prep and cook, as the magazine advertised. Since the cod was breaded with panko and broiled in the oven (instead of fried), I didn’t feel guilty eating it. To keep in line with our healthy meal, I substituted low-fat mayo for the suggested canola mayo to make the “tartar sauce”.

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Note: it is imperative that a broiler pan is used, otherwise the fish will turn out a soggy mess.

This recipe was a quick, healthy alternative to fried fish that I would make again. I just wished the panko would’ve browned a bit more evenly; I have a love/hate relationship with my oven.

Bon appetit!

Great Escape

A weekend in Mammoth is never enough. It’s always depressing when we have to pack up and go home. I wish I won the lottery so I could stay up here for the whole winter!

The conditions were spring-like this weekend: hard-packed surfaces in the early mornings that turned into slushiness in the afternoon. This was due to temperatures reaching 40-50 degrees during the day (which is super HOT!) and cooling down to 20s at night for the past week or so. Despite dying from the heat while waiting in the lift lines, I was more than pleased with the beautiful clear blue skies and low winds. You win some, you lose some, right?

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Us at the top with Henry’s friends that we met up

We stayed in the Bradley building of Summit Condominums (#246), which is about a 5 minute walk from Eagle Lodge. We found a pretty good deal and booked our 1 bedroom/1 bath condo through 101 Great Escapes. While this was definitely a better experience than the one I had two weeks ago, there were still a few issues with the condo. Being on the 2nd floor, we had to walk up three flights of stairs from the underground parking garage to get to our condo. When you’re exhausted from a full day of boarding and fueled by only a few hours of sleep (or about half an hour in Henry’s case), the last thing you want to do is climb stairs. It would have been nice if the website stated which floor the condo was located, though I’m not sure how much this would have swayed my decision at time of booking since this was the cheapest and best looking condo we found. Best looking was determined by the pictures provided and as I first walked through the condo, I realized that the pictures on the website made the condo look nicer than it really was. I didn’t mind this too much at first because everything seemed clean, but the kitchen was HORRIBLE! All the dishes/utensils/cookware were dirty, and by dirty I mean I found food particles and grease stains. I didn’t go on vacation to clean someone else’s mess!

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Despite the dirty kitchen, we still cooked our meals as usual. I used two recipes from the Cooking Light magazine that I recently bought. Both recipes happened to have bacon; bacon makes everything better, doesn’t it? I did change the recipes slightly, such as using 2% milk instead of non fat and adding more cheese, so I guess I wasn’t really “cooking light”. But hey, there’s nothing wrong with extra cheese. 🙂

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Spicy shrimp and grits

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Bacon, ranch and chicken mac and cheese

Changing Priorities

I’ve canceled my subscriptions for Us Weekly and InStyle in favor of Cooking Light. Yes, you read correctly: Cooking Light. My last few purchases have been an All-Clad 12 inch fry pan, a Wusthof Classic 8 inch hollow-ground chef’s knife and a Wusthof honing steel. I stress not about my outfits for the week, but about my meals for the week. At this point in my life, I feel like I live and breathe food.

My love for food and cooking has evolved from calling 2 packets of beef flavored ramen a meal in college to creating and executing a 5 course meal this past Valentine’s Day. I’ve come a long way, to say the least.

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