Leftover Veggies Pizza

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My refrigerator is often like a jungle of commestibles, plastic and tin cans, a dense, Amazonian jumble of meals, future meal ingredients, and condiments, where no light gets through.

Sadly, from time to time, I lose something in this food jungle. I hate wasting food, but like everyone else, it does happen from time to time. I’ve been trying a little harder lately to avoid being wasteful, and the recipe I have for today is one of the things I’ve done recently toward that.

I found myself with roasted tomatoes, from this sophisticated BLT idea (though I adapted it a bit to make it more flavorful; see below). I also had extra sauteed kale (again, see below). I took these leftovers, placed then on a garlic pita, topped then with an ounce of mixed Italian cheese, and had a sublime vegetarian pizza.

Roasted Tomatoes Recipe

Four medium-to-large, or 8 small tomatoes, sliced. (The original recipe called for Roma tomatoes, but the regular ones I had on hand did just fine. I’d cut the Romas into thirds, and regular tomatoes into quarter-inch slices.

1T olive oil

Salt, garlic powder, oregano, and red pepper flakes to taste

Put the sliced tomatoes in a bowl. Top with the oil and spices and mix thoroughly.

Place the tomato slices on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Place in an oven heated to 250; roast for 2 to 3 hours until desired doneness. (Mine weren’t super-dry like sun-dried tomatoes; I left in a smidge of liquid.)

Sauteed Kale Recipe

1/2 bag washed kale (next time, I’d remove the thick stems)

1/2 large onion

1 or 2 garlic cloves

1 T olive oil

1 c fat-free chicken broth

Heat the olive oil, and add the garlic and onions; cook until the onions are translucent. Add the kale in handfuls at a time. When some has wilted, add the chicken broth. Simmer until desired tenderness. (I left mine a bit crunchy still.)

Notes: if you wanted, you could add a couple slices of center-cut bacon or grilled or roasted turkey or chicken. Turkey ham our pork loin would also work.

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Guilt-Free Eating

I started getting more diligent about logging my eating again via Weight Watchers, to work through a “fun holiday season,” with events with friends and family, a work function, and just general lack of inertia that comes with one’s bed (or comforter-draped couch) becoming too comfortable when it’s cold outside. I find myself doing a precarious tap dance of trying to be more accepting of myself and wanting to do better for myself, at the same time.

It’s been an interesting go-round so far. Apparently some Points values have changed on the plan. Other than surprises here and there, though, it’s been like getting back onto a bicycle, so long as I’m willing to have total honesty about myself and my eating.

Part of my blind spot has been just that–not having the courage (or respect, depending on how you look at it) to face the music on choices that I know are less than healthy. I want to just keep walking past the meal tracker like that snack, heavy dinner, or dessert never happened. But, the scale never lies. And neither do our pants!

So I’ve forced myself to log things that I haven’t before. This weekend, it was a sandwich made of chicken liver pate.

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I first had this delicacy at at Bistro San Tropez, a French restaurant that my husband and I visited during Philadelphia Restaurant week a number of years ago. The pate, the crusty bread, the cornichons (aka baby pickles) and the mustard… Delicious!

Sometime after that, I set out to make it myself, and I found it surprisingly cheap to make, and not too difficult, either. (Here’s the recipe I use.) But the catch: it requires nearly two sticks of butter. So I stopped making it when I embarked on my weight loss journey.

I thought about making it this year, thinking it would make a great addition to a Valentine’s feast for a couple of parents without a babysitter. I ended up not making it for the holiday, but I did make out soon after.

And it tasted just add good as I remembered! The silky, melt-in your mouth feel, the meaty taste… it was nice to eat it again.

And then it was done, and I was left with the task of coming clean to Weight Watchers about having eaten it. That part I didn’t like so much. But I did it, and I was surprised to discover that it wasn’t quite add bad nutritionally as I had feared. And I kept everything else light, eating it on a medium-sized spinach wrap with lettuce and some fruit. I had faced a fear about eating and survived… and had a delicious meal. How’s that for guilt-free eating?

Roast Beef Chipotle Mini Pizza

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After I completed the challenge of making as many things as I could off a turkey breast last week, I got the insane idea to get a turkey breast again this week. Needless to say, we’re getting tired of turkey.

So I backed away slowly from the turkey and the carving board. And put on my thinking cap. I did some grocery shopping list night, and I knew I would need something to make that night that would be easy to put together. So I went with deli roast beef, and I went with pizza. And I went with my adventurous taste buds and came up with this idea.

1 pita of your choice, wheat or white (I went with a flavored one: garlic pita)
1 to 1.5 oz deli roast beef (with the size of my slices, this meant about 1.5 slices; be sure to weigh yours!)
2T Taco Bell chipotle sauce (found with the Mexican/Southwest foods in the international aisle)
1 oz mozzarella or Italian cheese blend

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. On an oven-safe pan or cookie sheet, assemble your pizza: top the pita with the sauce, top three sauce with the cheese, and tear/shred the roast beef and put that in to of the cheese.

Put your pizza in the oven until the cheese is melted to your liking.

Notes: if I had time and the ingredients, I would’ve added some grilled onions and peppers to this, to add another dimension of flavor.

Not in the mood for pizza? Try this as a wrap sandwich in a tortilla. Add the peppers and onions and salad greens of your choice.

Healthy and Convenient? Here, It’s a Yes

On the Friday before Super Bowl Sunday, I had jury duty. Basically I sat around for four hours, watching morning shows and reading from the Sherlock Holmes anthology. (High point: learning five ways to make nachos from Rachel Ray for guilty pleasure moments. Low point: when a couple of potential jurors spoiled some Downton Abbey plot points for me.)

When the jury pool’s “babysitter” announced that it was time for lunch, I happily left the courthouse, not just in excitement at the opportunity to stretch my legs, but also because I was excited to check out the restaurant offerings in the area.

The courthouse is nestled in a quaint, burgeoning trendy community, with lots of restaurants. I wanted to check out a Mexican place (naturally), but I ended up going to a local produce/food spot instead.

I had duck confit and a parsnip salad, both delicious. While I was savoring the food, and marveling at the fact that I would get a juror discount for it, I overheard the owner say that she was opening another location in a suburban shopping center…and that it would have a drive-through window.

It sounded like an interesting idea: fresh ingredients, local food, available for a few bucks (she was planning for a lower price point than the restaurant I was in) and a quick lean out my driver’s side window for it all? I would love to check it out.

This restaurant would be taking over an old KFC building, which explains the drive-through window. I don’t how many restaurants there are like this, but I hope to see more of them.

Imagine how much easier it would be to eat healthy if you could get something healthy–food as close to your own cooking as it gets, food that doesn’t have “extreme,” “super,” or “grande” in the name–quickly and with little effort. (This is me assuming that the restaurant won’t cut corners with its new endeavor.) I would love to have options besides rotisserie chicken or salad, and I would love for it to cost less than Whole Foods. (I gotta say that Trader Joe’s has economical options that come together with minimal effort, but unfortunately I don’t have one nearby.)

I’d like to think that I’m not wishful thinking. If I had a wand to wave, I’d turn food deserts into healthy food oases, and I’d have a convenient, wallet-friendly healthy eating spot next to each regular fast-food joint. It would be nice if our neighborhoods actually reflected the healthy environments that we claim to want.

In the meantime, I’ll have to track down this mythical healthy drive-through and see if the reality lives up to my imaginings of it.

How to Make a Turkey Disappear: Salads, Etc.

I gushed last week about the turkey smell in my house that had me daydreaming about tasty meals. Well, that turkey is a distant memory. I have to say thank you to my family for helping me to gobble up the gobbler!

I made several salads with the turkey and had some other ideas that I didn’t get to execute, but will definitely do it next time. Here goes on where the six pounds of turkey went…

ImageCranberry Blue Cheese Turkey Salad

  • 2 oz turkey
  • Salad greens and veggies of your choice
  • 1T pecans, crushed
  • 2T dried cranberries
  • 2T light or fat-free blue cheese dressing

Mix, eat, and enjoy!

Fajita Turkey Salad

ImageGrill some peppers and sliced onions, or, while closely monitoring them, char them in the oven set to broil.

Add some to:

  • Salad greens of your choice
  • 2-3 oz. turkey
  • 2T guacamole
  • 2T fat-free Greek yogurt
  • (You could also add cheese; if you do, go with 2 oz of turkey.)

Satay Turkey Salad

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  • 2-3 oz turkey
  • Broccoli slaw
  • 1/4 c peanut sauce
  • 1T peanuts, crushed (measure 1T of peanuts and then crush them)

Mix the turkey, broccoli slaw, and peanut sauce. Top with the peanuts.

Turkey Club Salad

  • Salad greens and vegetables of your choice
  • 2 oz. turkey
  • 1/2 c whole wheat pasta (I went with rotini)
  • 2 slices bacon (center-cut pork bacon or turkey bacon), cooked
  • 2T light or fat-free ranch dressing

Mix all ingredients together and enjoy! (You could also add 1/2 oz. of cheese; I’m thinking a sharp cheddar.)

Buffalo Turkey Salad (I didn’t make this one, because I ran out of turkey, but here’s the idea I had!)

  • 2-3 oz turkey
  • 2T light or fat-free blue cheese dressing
  • Cholula garlic hot sauce to taste

Add your turkey and salad greens to your bowl/plate. Mix the dressing and hot sauce together; add on top of the salad. Top with 1T of sunflower seeds or a serving of garlic croutons. And/or add 1/2 to 1 oz of cheese–mozzarella or cheddar.

So, obviously a handful of salads doesn’t make a big ol’ turkey breast disappear. How else did my family help me make it disappear? These recipes offer light options and heavy options to accommodate all eaters in your household.

Turkey burritos, tacos and nachos:

  • Go heavy with a large flour tortilla, rice, turkey, cheese and a good hot sauce (I used Cholua lime hot sauce).
  • Go lighter with a smaller, fat-free flour tortilla, 2 oz. turkey and 1/4 c fat-free refried beans (or turkey and grilled peppers and onions), cheese and hot sauce.
  • 2-3 oz turkey, 1 oz. cheese, and salsa verde (all ingredients split between taco-sized corn tortillas).
  • 2 oz turkey over 1-1.5 oz baked tortilla chips, with 4 T salsa con queso. (2T fat-free Greek yogurt and 2T guacamole are optional.)

Turkey, steamed peas and polenta:Image

2 oz turkey, a serving of steamed peas (from a frozen steamer bag heated in the microwave); and polenta made to the instructions on my bag of corn meal, plus a little minced garlic

Turkey club sandwich: Go heavy with turkey, 2 slices of bacon (center-cut pork or turkey), light or heavy mayonnaise to taste, cheese slices (optional), and bread of your choice. Go light with 2 oz. turkey, 2 slices of bacon, 1T light mayonnaise (or 2T light ranch dressing), 1 slice of bread, or a fat-free flour tortilla.

And, of course, a Thanksgiving-worthy entree of turkey, a starch and vegetables!

Start a Love Affair With Food

Eating is serious business, no? As we gear up for Valentine’s Day, who e’ll likely have visions of sumptuous meals to share with loved ones…or maybe visions of something tasty and a single fork or spoon if we are trying to treat ourselves independent of the holiday.

There’s clearly a sensual component to eating. All of our senses can be employed: the sound of a sizzling fajita plate; the scent of your favorite food instantaneously entering your nostrils and unlocking memories as soon as you enter your family home for a holiday meal; the tantalizing sight and taste of your favorite food; the feel of the tender morsel of crab that you gently pull from the shell, or the weight of a juice-laden orange in your hands. Good food grabs ahold of your brain and takes up residence there, in your short-term and long-term memory.

And yet we sometimes try our hardest to run on the opposite direction from the aspects of dining that are more art than science. In Michael Pollan’s noteworthy book In Defense of Food, he shares that President Martin Van Buren lost his re-election bid, in part, because he had hired a French chef for the White House, a move that was seen as being too highbrow, too focused on food as something other than fuel.

I have written about relegating food to fuel status, but I’m learning that making the experience enjoyable and treating the food lovingly, rather than giving it a cursory once-over with your utensils, goes a long way, even for healthy food. As does sharing a meal with someone you love. If you’re partnered up for Valentine’s Day, when it comes to your first date, the combination of the restaurant, the food, and the conversation–the experience in its entirety–all made the event memorable.

Tomorrow, many of us will smile a little brighter when we think of Valentine’s Day. If you don’t already have a love affair with food–eating the best ingredients, opting for flavorful accents whenever possible, or otherwise paying attention to the quality of the food you eat–why not start on one of the most love-focused days of the year?

Like Thanksgiving on a Weeknight

I’m writing this post at almost 9:00 p.m. on a weeknight, with the smell of roasting turkey wafting through the air. Crazy? Maybe, but I’ll be thankful to have a boatload of turkey breast for the next few days to use for whatever my mind comes up with.

The thing that’s most on my mind is salads. I ate at Saladworks a couple of weeks ago, for the first time in years, and I saw a sign in the restaurant that said all their salads are 500 calories our less. (I’m assuming that’s without dressing or a roll on the side, but still.) That got me thinking about what kinds of salads I could come up with, using turkey. And that’s why my house smells like Thanksgiving several months after the fact.

It’s been a year since I’ve done a salad challenge; why not do another? This time, though, rather than a month’s worth of salads, I’ll report back at the end of next week on my ideas.

I still have a good two hours to go on cooking this mouth-wateringly scented bird. I would’ve much rather just bought a cooked turkey breast, but I never seem to time my weekday market visits right for when they’re available. (If someone knows a good process for cooking a turkey breast in the slow cooker, please let me know for the future!) I’ll keep up my inhalation of this heady aroma, and see what visions of turkey salads start dancing in my head. Thank goodness I’ve just started getting into Doctor Who on Netflix; that’ll also keep me busy in the meantime!

Stop back next week, and I’ll share what became of the turkey salad challenge.