Sunday, June 26, 2011

Series: Law School and Weight Gain, Part 2

Since the last time I wrote about this topic, I've lost 3 pounds, so I'm down to 105.

I know it doesn't sound like much but for someone my size, it makes a big difference to me. I want to lose about 5 more pounds.

As for actually losing weight, here's what's worked for me so far (and when I lost my weight initially between 2007-2010):

  • Sitting down at table and eating a legit dinner (i.e. a drink, all the proper utensils, place-mats, etc.). Crazy, right? But when we sit at a table, I see exactly how much I'm eating, which means I eat less and more gracefully and intentionally. When we eat out of bowls on the sofa, I lose track of what I'm eating and I eat faster, which makes it harder to tell whether or not I really want seconds. 
  • Not eating slices of bread as a snack! Duhhh! 
  • Having fresh fruit on hand, especially my fave summer fruits, like peaches, green grapes, and nectarines. 
  • Going to bed a little hungry. Unless I've really gone crazy with food during the day, I won't gain weight if I'm just a little hungry when I go to bed. 
  • Lifting weights regularly 
  • Knowing that it's OK to be hungry sometimes, i.e. not snacking right before dinner. It really helps to have super quick meals on hand, like this chili,- takes even less time to make than brown basmati rice and beans! If I know it will it take me a while to make dinner, I'm way more inclined to snack. 
I want to use the rest of the summer to get comfortable with the bullet points above, since I haven't really practiced these habits much since Todd and I have been married/since I've been in law school.

I'm also going to experiment with avoiding bread, chips, and white floury things and see if that does anything...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Caramelized Chicken with Mushroom Sauce (and Grilled Herb Bread)

Hi!  How are you?  Did you have an amazing day?!  

With the temps around 110, I get so tired even when I'm inside.  Or, at least I hope that's the reason!  Thank goodness my amazing work-buddy Jessica and I get along - chatting around 2:30 saves the day!!

Todd and I were super productive this evening!  First, we made this recipe.  We tweaked it a bit - didn't use butter and didn't use bread (we baked some super awesome bread on Sunday, but by today it was gone).  I've put the original recipe here, though, because while ours was really good, I think it'd taste way better without our tweaks, even if it adds a little more decadence to our usual weeknight meals.  

After dinner, we went to gym for chest and triceps!  It's the longest of our three weight lifting days, but it's been getting easier now that we go to the gym more often... yeeeeeeaaaaaa!

What are your weekend plans??  Mine include:
Friday: Al Moro in PHX for swing dancing with the PHX crowd
Saturday: back and biceps at the gym and other fun adventures TBD
Sunday: B-day party and teaching Charleston to the newbies in our lindy-hop series (I think people love this class most hahaha)

Caramelized Chicken with Mushroom Sauce and Grilled Herb Bread 
How Sweet It Is, Serves 4

4 thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/3 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 onion, chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup white wine
bread of your choice
salt and pepper

for bread: 1/4-1/2 cup butter, softened + herbs of your choice (I used parsley, basil and thyme – a good sprinkling of each)

Season the chicken breasts (make sure they are very thin or slice them thin!) liberally with salt and pepper. Add the flour in a bowl and dredge the chicken in the flour – you want a very thin and light coating on the chicken. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat and add the olive oil. Add the chicken to the skillet and brown on each side, about 3-4 minutes per side. While the chicken is browning, chop the onion and get out your mushrooms. Slice your bread as desired. Combine 1/4 cup of butter and herbs of your choice (you really can’t go wrong here! I’ve used dried and fresh, just add a sprinkling to the butter.) and mix. Spread on one side of bread. At this point you can either use a grill pan and grill the bread buttered-side down first, or heat your broiler and set the bread underneath for 30-90 seconds.
Once chicken is done cooking (after about 7-8 minutes total), set it aside on a plate. Turn heat down to medium and add 1 tablespoon butter and onion. Saute for 1 minute. Add the remaining butter (2 tablespoons) and mushrooms. Stir and saute for 6-8 minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add in wine to deglaze the pan and stir well to remove brown bits from bottom of the pan. Add chicken back in with the mushrooms.
Serve hot with bread for dipping. I made a lot of bread and refrigerated it – it was still great the next day! You can also do this with thicker chicken breasts, your total recipe time will just take a bit longer.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Rotini Pasta with Sausage and Greens

Three portions tonight!  

I got to work at 8am and skipped out right around 4pm - just in time to make it to mat pilates at 4:30.  Scooted home after that and before I knew it was time for Gayl to come over and work on the by laws for Vernacular Revolution.  I wasn't quite finished with dinner, but Gayl hadn't eaten yet it either so it worked out ... and we even managed to get some work done :)

Ms. Simply Recipes topped this pasta with some parm, which I totally support.  Unfortunately, Todd and I ate all our parmesan cheese last week.  Darn.  Kale has a strong taste, and if you're not used to it, I would definitely recommend using the parmesan.  I also seasoned my portion with salt, pepper, and red pepper ;)

Rotini Pasta  with Sausage and Greens
Slightly adapted from Simply Recipes, serves 4-6

1lb. rotini pasta

1 lb. hot Italian pork sausage
1 bunch kale, chopped (center stem removed & discarded)
1 bunch green onions (including white parts)

6 garlic cloves, diced
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (or add more to your portion to taste)
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1.Cook pasta as directed. 

2. While pasta is being prepared, cook kale in chicken stock for about 12 minutes.  Set green aside, or if pasta is done, just dump greens on top of pasta (including extra juices).

2. While greens are cooking, sauté Italian sausage until brown - about 8 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove sausage from pan. Add green onions to pan, sauté until soft. Add garlic and cook for a minute more.

3. When pasta is done, drain and return to pan. Toss together with the greens, sausage, garlic, and Parmesan cheese. Add chile pepper flakes to taste.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Triple Layer Cookies and Cream Crunch Bars

If you didn't make it out to 520 Swing last night, our special announcement is that the Hot Club of Phoenix is going to play at 520 Swing in August!  They've played at the Albuquerque Lindy Exchange and at Al Moro in Phoenix, so they know just what dancers want.  Todd and I danced to them at the Albuquerque Lindy Exchange and had a great time!  Can't wait to hear them again in August!

And gosh dang, I forgot to take a picture of these crazy awesome and super sweet Triple Layer Cookies and Cream Crunch Bars.  I cut them up into bite-size pieces and brought them to 520 Swing, and when it came time to leave, they were all gone :)  

I do have one strong recommendation: use an 8 x 8 inch pan, or use your 9 x 13 and squish them in real good.  I used a 9 x 13, but I don't think I squished the batter enough.  My bars came out on the harder side, which was fine, but I don't think that's how they're supposed to be.  

Also be very liberal about buttering and flouring your pan.  A mix of the batter being too hard and not enough butter in the pan made these guys insanely hard to pop out of the pan.  I recruited Todd to slice through the bars and shovel them out of the pan ... between Todd's grunting and oreos flying, it was definitely a sight ... =D

Triple Layer Cookies and Cream Crunch Bars

From How Sweet Is
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
20 Oreo cookies

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter and flour an 8 x 8 cake pan.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, then add remaining teaspoon of vanilla. Add in cocoa powder and mix until combined. Add flour and salt, mixing well until batter is smooth and comes together. Fold in 1/2 cup chocolate chips.

Spread in the 9 X 13 pan. Sink 9 Oreo cookies into the batter and press gently. Bake for 25-30 minutes. While baking, crush the remaining Oreos in a ziplock bag. When brownies are finished baking, remove from the oven and sprinkle with 1/2 cup chocolate chips and crush Oreos. Place back in the oven for about 2-3 minutes. During this time, melt remaining chocolate chips and peanut butter together. Remove brownies from oven and pour melted chocolate mixture over top, spreading with a spatula. Make sure chocolate gets down into the Oreo crevices, as it is the “glue” that holds the top to the bottom. Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

Let brownies sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before cutting. Don’t worry if some of the cookies spill out from the middle or the top cracks – they are still delicious!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Italian Sausage and Cabbage Stew

I bet I know exactly what you're craving right now - you're in Tucson, it's going to be 103 degrees any day here, and you want some hot Italian sausage and cabbage stew. I just knew it.

I'm always collecting new recipes to try, but sometimes I just don't get around to them for a while because I'm stuck on my favorites. Well, I finally got around to trying this hearty winter weather recipe in the middle of an Arizona summer. And guess what? It still rocked! I can only imagine how great it'll taste when it's cold outside!

A few notes: 

1) you could use sweet instead of hot sausage, 
2) you could sprinkle chopped parsley on top with the cheese at the end (unless you're like me and aimlessly buy cilantro instead), and 
3) you might use two can of beans instead, since the beans kind of disappear otherwise.

Italian Sausage and Cabbage Stew
Slightly adapted from Simply Recipes, serves 5
  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage, bulk, or removed from casings
  • 1 large yellow onion, half sliced and half minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 cups salt-free chicken broth
  • 1 15-ounce can of white beans (cannellini, Great Northern, or Navy), drained
  • 1 quart salt-free chicken broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 head cabbage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup to a cup of freshly grated Parmesan or pecorino cheese for garnish

1. Heat a medium-high heat in a large (8-quart), thick-bottomed pot. Add the sausage, breaking it up into pieces as you put it into the pot in a single layer. When the sausage has nicely browned, remove it with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2. Add the minced onion (save the sliced onion for later) and sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Once the onions give up some of their water, use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

3. Add the white wine and the beans and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. If you want, for a thicker base, use an immersion blender to blend some (or all) of the beans and onions.

4. Add the water, stock, salt, cabbage, sliced onion half, bay leaves and browned sausage. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking until the cabbage is tender, about another 10-20 minutes.

To serve, sprinkle with grated cheese.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Spring Risotto with Lemon, Asparagus and Peas

This is the first risotto I ever made.  

Since then, I've made bunches of other risottos.  No matter what you do - cheese, no cheese; simple, decadent - risotto always tastes amazing.  It's also a great dish to prepare when, after a long day, you're feeling sort of moody and want to zone out over your stove with your wooden spoon.  

Still, this risotto is my favorite - the lemon juice and zest make it so flavorful, and it doesn't feel too heavy, like some others.  This recipe is the first in my recipe book ... I sure hope you give this one a try!

Spring Risotto with Lemon, Asparagus, and Peas
Slightly adapted from Pink of Perfection

Serves 4

3 small shallots
1 1/2 cup arborio rice
6 cup chicken stock
1 pound asparagus
1 bag frozen spring peas
zest of one small lemon

2 tablespoons lemon juice
handful of grated parmigiano reggiano

In a medium saucepan, bring your stock up to a simmer. Meanwhile, dice the shallots, and snap off the woody ends of the asparagus. If the asparagus is quite thick, you may want to also peel them. Then chop on the diagonal into 1/2 inch pieces.

Heat broad-bottomed saute pan. Add the shallot and cook until soft. Then add the rice and stir to coat.

One ladle-full at a time, add the stock to the rice and stir constantly until completely absorbed before adding more stock. After about ten minutes, add the asparagus, and continue adding stock until the rice is soft and risotto creamy, about 20 or 25 minutes, adding the peas in the last minute.  I love this with a few crunches of pepper from the pepper mill.

Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in zest, juice, and cheese. The risotto will continue to thicken, so you should hurry your dinner guests to the table and serve them as soon as you can.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Tonight's Highlights:

Sweet hip hop class with Anton Smith of the Human Project.  Our choreography was to this song - so fun!  If I remember, maybe I can upload a video of me doing the routine ... ;)

5-minute naan and yummy boxed Indian food.

ANNNND, ahhhem, The Bachelorette!  How did I not know it was on until tonight?!  Good gracious, I have work to do!  So far, I'm rooting for the wine maker and the West-compass guy.  The pink floss gimic was pretty adorable, too!  Haven't finished the first episode yet, but here's to hoping my guys can bring it!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Red Kidney Bean Curry (Ramjah)

Just finished my first seven days on the job, and so far, it's been exciting! I've seen lot of interesting things, and now I'm getting started on some real consumer protection work!

Oh, my first year law classes have been so helpful, it's incredible! AND, today one of other other interns and I went to the recorder's office to look up a deed of trust ... property professors do not make that stuff up!

But about this ramjah here, stand back if you don't like spicy foods, or if you are spice averse, don't add the green chili and go easy on the cayenne. If you're like me, add the chili pepper with some seeds and a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne. Although, if you are like me, you'll probably also almost not be able to eat it because it's so spicy (so good). Smitten Kitchen suggests a dollup of plain yogurt on top, which would probably be amazing and take care of any extra undesired spicy.

Red Kidney Bean Curry (Ramjah)
Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen, Serves Me and Todd for dinner (by itself)
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 medium onion, chopped
1 plum tomato, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large green chili, chopped (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon ground tumeric
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
8 ounce can of tomato sauce or 8 ounces of one of your choice
3 cups boiled red kidney beans or 30 ounces canned red kidney beans, undrained

Heat a deep sauce pan over medium heat for one minute. Add ginger, garlic, onion, green chili, and let sizzle for one minute. Add the tomato sauce, salt and remaining spices and cook for an additional five minutes, stirring frequently. Add the kidney beans with water or canned red kidney beans (undrained) plus one additional cup of water, and tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, then reduce to medium heat and let cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve in bowls with rice or naan or on its own.