Happy Thanksgiving! I hope all of you had a fantastic day with your family and friends, and got the chance to spend some time relaxing. But if I'm being honest, what I really want to know is....what did you cook?
I love Thanksgiving prep - I always volunteer to do side dishes because I'm not a huge turkey fan and I'm certainly not the world's best baker (I like to leave the pie to the pros). Every year I spend the days leading up to Thanksgiving watching the Food Network Thanksgiving videos, pouring over my Thanksgiving magazines and trying to find a way to do something unique with traditional sides (i.e. mashed potatoes are great but isn't there something EXTRA that can be done to make them even better? this is my quest).
This year I was in charge of the stuffing, the brussel sprouts and, according to my mom, "something else." I became fixated on the 'something else' and finally settled on cranberry sauce, Thanksgivings most underrated side dish. Every year the cranberry sauce sits practically untouched, and the canned stuff has just never worked for me. After some digging around, I came across Claire Robinson's Spicy Cranberry Chutney - I knew that adding jalapenos to traditional cranberry sauce was a risk worth taking.
This recipe couldn't be easier to make, and if you've never had homemade cranberry sauce - I absolutely suggest you give it a try. Homemade cranberry sauce doesn't have that syrupy sweetness that the jarred and canned stuff has - I love the tartness and the ability to control the flavor. This recipe has sweetness that comes from the juice and zest of two limes and two oranges with a kick of heat (think quick kick of spice, rather thank overwhelmingly hot) from 2-3 jalapenos. What I really loved about this recipe is that the cranberry sauce really soaks up the flavor of the peppers making it so unique and interesting (perfect for my fellow non-traditionalists).
The other benefit of making 5 cups of homemade cranberry chutney? The leftovers. This would be great spread on toast or used as a glaze on poultry or pork (or as a condiment served alongside grilled vegetables).
Now for a word on the healthy benefits of this recipe. I do consider this a healthy-ish recipe because it's made with natural ingredients. However, if you're watching your sugar intake just don't overdo it on the serving size (a few tablespoons should be enough).
What did you make for Thanksgiving? Would love to hear about anything that was epically awesome (or even epically not awesome).
Enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Spicy Cranberry Chutney
Put all of the ingredients in sauce pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until desired consistency, about 40 to 50 minutes.
I have to admit something. I am really sick of reading magazine articles, blog posts, and newsletters that want to advise me on how to "Have a Healthy Thanksgiving!!" Don't get me wrong, diet tips are great and when you are working hard to lose weight, they can be really supportive and inspiring. In fact, I truly believe that the key to weight loss is education. But, as an adult woman who is 100% in control over the things that I decide to consume, I find myself resenting the fact that the media (women's media in particular) won't even give us one day to enjoy ourselves, our family and the food that has become such an important tradition.
Do I sound like I'm getting on my soapbox? Well, maybe I am. There is nothing wrong with spending one day cooking and eating whatever you want. There is nothing wrong with buying butter and cream and making your grandma's mashed potatoes by following the real recipe, with no low-cal substitutions. There's nothing wrong with eating real food, made with real ingredients. You do not have to bring healthy side dishes to your family's Thanksgiving dinner because you are afraid of getting fat.
Do you want to have a healthy Thanksgiving? Then make the recipe that you drooled over on the Food Network. Spend the night before turkey day listening to your favorite radio station, drinking wine and cooking food that you can share with the people that you love. Show up at Thanksgiving and be thankful for your life and your friends and family. Eat an extra piece of pie and go to bed early, full and happy.
Like I said earlier - you are in the driver's seat when it comes to your diet. You decide what you eat, when you eat it and how much you want to have. Eating what you want on Thursday is not going to make you fat. It's the decisions that you make everyday that really make a difference.
So go forth and enjoy yourself and your holiday. Screw the media and the magazines that tell you what to eat - it's not their choice - it's yours.
Have a Happy (and mentally healthy) Thanksgiving! - Katie
Sunday night dinners are important. After a weekend of running errands, seeing friends and general taking-care-of-business activities, Sunday night dinner is your last chance to kick back before the work week. For that reason, I have a few criteria for the recipes that I make on Sundays:
1. Must be comfort food
2. Must be fairly simple to prepare (slow cooker is always a great option)
3. Must be a tried and true recipe (no surprises with food that doesn't taste great)
Last weekend I celebrated my birthday with my family by spending the weekend at the wineries in eastern Long Island. By the time Jared and I got home on Sunday, we needed to unwind and spend some time on the couch. I was dead-set on cooking dinner for us because I was gifted a giant bottle of Sriracha hot sauce for my birthday and I was longing to put it to good use. Sriracha is a Thai hot sauce made with chilies and garlic - it's hotter than your average everyday hot sauce, but is way more flavorful (plus it's 100% natural, which rocks). It's easy to find and delicious (go get some!).
Now, the rule is that Sunday dinner recipes must be tried and true, however I bent the rules a bit and turned to an un-tried recipe on Cooking Light, because never let me down and their recipes are generally simple and delicious. And ladies and gentleman, I am so glad I took a risk, because now I can share this recipe for the most delicious Sriracha-Glazed Chicken and Onions. In fact, this recipe is so delicious, that I suggest you make it tonight. It's so good that I am making it AGAIN tonight.
This recipe succeeds because of the way that the savory flavors are layered. Hoisin sauce is spiced up by the sriracha and ginger and the curry rounds everything out (not to mention that it makes your entire home smell amazing. I served the chicken over jasmine rice with a side of sugar snap peas.
So if I haven't already convinced you to make this tonight, let me be clear - if you want a warm, comforting flavorful Sunday night dinner, this is the recipe for you. To keep this healthy-ish, stick with one serving and don't overdo it on the rice.
Now, regarding wine (because let's get serious for a minute, Sunday night cooking requires a glass of wine to sip as you prep). Since we had just returned from the wineries, we had a bottle of our favorite White Merlot from Sherwood House Vineyards in Mattituck on hand (p.s. you can order this wine online directly from the vineyard, it's called 'Sandy Blush' and it's soooo good). It cut right through the spice and paired so well. Now, I know it's not technically Rose season, but I drink what I'm in the mood for (seasonality be damned!) - so I recommend a bottle of dry rose. However if you are a traditionalist I'd go with a Sauvignon Blanc, red just doesn't work with this dish as far as I am concerned.
Happy Sunday - go cook, relax and enjoy!
Sriracha-Glazed Chicken and Onions
from Cooking Light
Prepare rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.
While rice cooks, combine hoisin, ketchup, and Sriracha in a small bowl.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes or until tender. Add ginger and remaining ingredients; sauté 6 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in hoisin mixture; cook 1 minute, tossing to coat. Serve over rice.
I love my blog, I really do. I love testing healthy recipes and writing about how they turned out. I also love getting your feedback, and even though this blog is pretty new - I really appreciate the comments and ideas that you've sent.
But this post isn't about this blog. This post is a shout-out to the foodie blogs that I love to read. Some are healthy-ish, some aren't. Some have beautiful pictures that make me drool. Some post recipes that read like a good book. All of them help me relax after long days at work, inspire me to create my own dishes and make me want to be a better cook. So, without further adieu, here are some great blogs....and in the words of LeVar Burton...."you don't have to take my word for it":
1. Aggie's Kitchen: Aggie posts the perfect balance of healthy-ish and non healthy-ish recipes. I always turn to her blog when I'm looking for something delicious and healthy - and quick. Her recipes are perfect for the working woman, balancing it all and enjoying good food.
2. Smitten Kitchen: Every time Deb posts a recipe I immediately click over and stare at the beautiful pictures. Deb's an advanced chef, and her recipes are not for the timid. I must credit her for posting the most delicious cookies that I've ever made (crisp salted white chocolate chip cookies, go make them now!). I also love this blog because it encourages you to make food that you love and throw caution (and calories) to the wind.
3. Diet It Up: My cousin Trish was healthy-ish and a blogger before me, and she does it with style. She takes fattening recipes that you love to hate and puts a healthy twist on them. Her husband Joe tastes the food and takes the pictures (and is a great supporter!). If you visit her blog, make sure you email her a recipe and she'll help you 'Diet It Up.'
4. Skinny Taste: Gina started blogging because she couldn't find any good websites with Weight Watchers recipes, and her blog has grown and grown. I love that this is a diet blog that uses real natural ingredients. Visit her if you want to eat food that you love without feeling guilty (plus she calculates weight watchers points, which is a score if you're counting).
5. Foodista NYC: I live in Astoria, Queens and I love trying out the restaurants and local food in my neighborhood. Judith is on the pulse of the food scene in Queens and really, the entire metro-area. She also posts delicious original recipes. If you're coming to NYC - you must check her out, she's the first blogger I turn to when I need a dinner recommendation.
What's your favorite blog? Where do you get your recipes and inspiration?
There's nothing better than spending a Saturday doing absolutely nothing. And by nothing, I mean doing ZERO things. That means no errands, no chores, no putting on of clothes other than pajamas. Yup, totally irresponsible....but totally awesome.
Maybe you're saying to yourself, "Oh Katie, that's silly - I couldn't possibly neglect my plans/errands/life to do nothing for an entire 24 hours." Oh but you can. Just sleep in and make a choice to do nothing. Oh wait, you will need one thing to if you plan to do nothing....sustenance.
Autumn weather and pajamas make me think about warm and cozy suppers. I'm talking about the kind of comfort food that warms your entire body. If you're going to be lazy, your food should be lazy too, and a slow cooker is the perfect solution. You can lay on the couch while your food cooks itself, making your entire home smell fantastic.
When I was a kid, my dad always made goulash during the winter. Traditional goulash is a hungarian stew, that pulls most of it's flavor from paprika, red peppers, lots of onions and caraway seeds - and my family always had it over egg noodles. When I decided to make goulash a few lazy Saturday's ago - I was faced with a problem: 1. I had no idea if it was healthy 2. I had no idea how to make it.
Since most recipes that I try from Eating Well turn out great - I decided to try their lightened-up version of goulash. It's very non-traditional, but tasted really fantastic. This recipe really helps you stay lazy, you don't even have to sear the beef before you let it braise! The spice rub ensured that the meat was really flavorful and by the time it was done cooking it was literally falling apart. I tasted the broth within the last hour of cooking and adjusted the seasoning a bit, just based on my own tastes (increased the salt a touch and added a bit of cracked black pepper).
I decided to serve my goulash on its own without any added carbs - but I think it would be great over egg noodles or with potato. We had ours with a simple salad with vinaigrette and a bottle of red wine (hey, it's the perfect way to end a lazy Saturday).
What's your favorite comfort food from your childhood? Leave a comment or shoot me an email because I'd love to try the recipe.
PS...wondering what happened to my promise of a month of chili recipes? Coming soon, it's taken me awhile to gather the best of the best, but you will not be disappointed.
Hungarian Beef Goulash from EatingWell.com
Fall Favorites: Apple Cake
The weather this weekend was incredible. Seriously, if you looked up 'autumn' in the dictionary, you'd see a picture of this weekend. Jared and I spent lots of time celebrating the best things about fall. There's something about the cool, crisp weather that feels so cozy and makes adults crave the things that they enjoyed as kids - things like apple picking, carving pumpkins and eating comfort foods. This weather also makes me want to spend more time outdoors (which generally means ditching yoga for a walk outside in the evening).
On Sunday, Jared and I decided to head upstate to go apple picking. We decided to head to the Hudson River Valley (right near where we went to college) because we know the area well and wanted to see the new Walkway Over the Hudson....and I'll be honest, we were both really eager to drive by campus and reminisce about our college days. It was so nice to spend the day together outside, and I returned from our trip with a ton of apples that are ready to be made into healthy recipes
A few things that I learned this weekend:
1. Apple picking can easily spin out of control. You SAY you're not going to get too many apples and maybe you even promise that you won't get more than ten - next thing you know, you can't even carry all of the apples that you bought and you have no idea what to do with all of them.
2. Thinking about the good ol' days feels really good. After Jared and I did the Walkway over the Hudson, we walked over to Noah's in Poughkeepsie, which was our favorite college bar. It was really nice to stop in there, look at how things have (and haven't) changed and talk about how much fun we had at Marist.
3. It's important to make time to relax. Seriously you guys, I know you're busy but you need to make time to turn off your phone and go outside. You'll feel better and when you turn your phone back on and come back to reality, you'll be a more productive and calm member of society (or at least I am).
So on to the apples. I have a huge bag of beautiful apples (Empire, Fuji and Golden & Red Delicious) that are begging to be eaten. When I woke up this morning, I decided that I absolutely must have apple cake with yogurt sauce. This cake isn't too sweet so it makes a perfect breakfast, and at 159 calories a slice, it also makes a perfect snack or dessert. I'm also a big fan of my apartment smelling like delicious baked goods, and the cinnamon, sugar and apples really handle that job.
In sum, my advice to you this week is to enjoy the weather, turn off your phone and bake something that tastes like fall.
Scrumptious Apple Cake (from All New Light Cooking from Publications International Ltd. 2003 edition)
3 egg whites
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups cored peeped apple slices (I used Fuji)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg whites until slightly foamy; add sugar, applesauce and vanilla. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl; add to applesauce mixture. Spread apples in a 13x9 inch pan or 9 inch round springform pan sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Spread batter over apples. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until wooden toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack. Prepare yogurt glaze; spread evenly over cooled cake.
Combine 1 1/2 cups plain or vanilla nonfat yogurt, 3 tablespoons brown sugar (or to taste) and 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Stir together until smooth.
Note: This post is brought to you by Jared, sharing one of my favorite meals he makes. This post is also the official kick-off to 'Chili Month,' which means I'll be posting one healthy-ish chili recipe per week for the entire month of October - get psyched!
When the weather gets cold there is nothing like a good bowl of chili for dinner or lunch, especially on football Sundays. Since we try to keep it healthy-ish around here I went looking for a recipe that was an alternative to a full fat chili and also easy/quick to make. When I came upon this one and saw it included cooking with beer I was sold. Chipotle is the key ingredient that gives the smokey spice to the meat and the beer adds a pretty awesome flavor to the broth. This is a thin chili, that can pack a lot of heat if you want it to, just add an extra chipotle and another spoon of adobo, and it's very easy to double the recipe to have leftovers that taste even better the next day. Other modifications that I've tried using are lean beef instead of turkey (they are surprisingly comparable health wise), different styles of beer, and different toppings, our favorite is low fat grated cheese. The recipe below is supposed to be 4 servings..but it's more realistic to say it's for 2-3 hungry people.
30-Minute Chipotle Turkey Chili (from Food Network Kitchens)
• 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
• 5 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tablespoon kosher salt
• 2 teaspoons chili powder
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1 chipotle chile en adobo, coarsely chopped, with 1 tablespoon sauce
• 1 pound ground turkey
• 1 (12-ounce) Mexican lager-style beer (Corona Light for the health conscious, Modelo works too)
• 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, with their juice (diced tomatoes if you don't want to get messy)
• 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
• Sliced scallions, cilantro sprigs, sour cream, grated Monterey jack cheese, and/or tortilla chips are all optional
*Reserve 1 additional beer for drinking while cooking.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt, chili powder, and oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and the chipotle chile and sauce; cook 1 minute more. Add the turkey, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, and cook until the meat loses its raw color, about 5 minutes. Add the beer and simmer until reduced by about half, about 8 minutes. Open you're reserve beer and enjoy while this happens. Add the tomatoes--crushing them through your fingers into the skillet--along with their juices and the beans; bring to a boil. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 10 minutes.
Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with the garnishes of your choice.
Fall is officially upon us, and that's fine by me because it's my favorite season. I love chilly weather (really, I'll take any excuse to wear a hoodie), the changing leaves, apple picking and anything pumpkin flavored (including pumpkin beer. This season's choice? Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale).
So technically, I should be preparing food that celebrates the season. I should be making apple pies, pumpkin soup and chili. But I've never been one to follow the rules, so when I came across a recipe for quick Coconut Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa in the latest issue of....you guessed it...Everyday with Rachel Ray, I was amped because 1. it's fairly healthy without having to modify the recipe 2. there aren't a ton of ingredients (it's nice to keep it simple). So I decided to extend the tastes of summer for one more week before I settle into autumn.
Before I get into how this recipe tasted, I need to tell you about the lesson I learned while cooking it. Ladies and gentleman - never, ever, ever cook chicken cutlets on top of the stove, in a pan with oil ever again. You know how it usually goes - the chicken breast is thick, the outside crust cooks quickly but the center of the chicken takes forever and the next thing you know your house is filled with smoke and the chicken cutlets taste OK but are usually dry and not awesome. This recipe had me brown the cutlets for 3 minutes on the stove, and finish them off in the oven. The result? Golden brown, juicy chicken. Which rocked.
The mango salsa was super easy to make and was really delicious - I love cilantro so I really love the way its fresh flavor played off of the light sweetness of the coconut breading on the chicken. The rice vinegar was such a smart addition to the salsa, it wasn't overpowering and really helped to help the flavors come together. If I was going to make this salsa on it's own, sans chicken, I'd probably throw in a jalapeno for some heat.
I made some polenta as a side for this dish. I just used the kind that you can buy in the organic section of the produce aisle, where you can slice it and either bake or fry it. I sliced up about half of a tube for Jared and I, sprinkled it with salt and pepper (but you should get creative - think chili powder, cumin or dried cilantro) and baked it along side the chicken.
Now, go forth and make this summer meal, and if you do - let me know how it comes out.
(and hey, speaking of seasons - what's your favorite healthy-ish fall recipe? send it to me, and I'll share it here)
Coconut Crusted Chicken with Mango Salsa
Last evening in my nightly travels across the Internet (i.e. checking in on the blogs that I read, getting some updates from Facebook and looking for recipes), I stumbled across Dove's Movement for Self-Esteem. Basically it's Dove's campaign to educate young women about their value and self-worth. I'm a little bit of a social media junkie, so I really liked that they've launched a blog and have encouraged women to send them messages answering the question, "What Do You Wish You'd Known at 13?"
Thirteen. Do you remember being 13? It's such a strange age, and I have to be honest, sometimes when I'm walking home through Astoria Park on my way home from work - and I see the young girls sitting on park benches whispering to each other and tugging at their clothes self-consciously, there's a little part of me that wants to stroll over and tell them that life isn't what they think it is. They're 13, they have no frame of reference.
So how does this fit into this blog (I know what you're thinking - more recipes, less talk)? Well, I think that a lot of our adulthood habits (eating habits included) grow from how we feel about ourselves when we're 13 (especially for girls). I also think that at 13, most of us decide how we feel about our bodies...and those feelings travel with us for the rest of our lives. Which is kind of weird - why would we trust a 13 year old's take on anything, let alone the way we feel about ourselves and our health?
So, if I could walk over to those girls in the park - I would tell them:
1. He's not as important as you think he is (because seriously, when you're 13 there's ALWAYS a guy involved)
2. It doesn't matter what your friends think
3. Do the things that you want to do (join clubs, dance and sing, be in a book club), like I said, it doesn't matter what your friends think
4. At 13 you're not even half way to what you are going to become (so don't worry so much)
5. Your value is not tied to the way you look (when you're a grown up, people will love you for the person that you are)
6. Take care of yourself. Eating well and being physically active will make you feel better
7. Your parents aren't your enemies (when the chips are down, you'll always want to turn to them)
8. Always do what you know is right (and you know what's right)
9. Be kind to others
10. Be kind to yourself
What am I trying to say? I'm saying that we've all come a long way from being 13. Let's remember how far we've come, how far we have to go and to remember that 'healthy-ish' is't just about the food that you put into your body, it's about the thoughts that you allow into your head.
You know when you're dating someone...and you do the first date (maybe a drink, to see if you like each other), and then a second date (possibly doing dinner, maybe a movie), perhaps a third date (something a little more casual but still romantic because now know you actually like each other) and then, inevitably someone is going to invite someone over for a home-cooked meal.
Ahhh, the dinner date at home...your chance to buy a nice bottle of wine and impress your date with your skills in the kitchen. But it's a challenge, what should you make? You have to rule out something with too much garlic or onion (kiss-ruining ingredients), anything too spicy and anything too 'out there.' My rule for the dinner-at-home date? Make pasta.
Everyone loves pasta and its carby-goodness. In my opinion you should pick a pasta recipe that allows your date to help you in the kitchen and is simple enough that you can sip wine and chat while you work.
So where am I going with this?
Well, you can thank me later because I've found the perfect date night recipe. Linguine carbonara my friends (AND it's healthy-ish! Score!). This recipe tastes impressive - the sauce is creamy and rich, and the pancetta takes it over the top. I also love the way the parsley cuts through the richness and adds a really fresh flavor. The onions and garlic season this perfectly (without requiring you to need a mint afterwards) and you won't feel overly full (especially since the recipe makes exactly two servings). This recipe is a lightened up version of a carbonara sauce (which often has more cheese and egg and more pancetta)...plus it's quick and fun to make.
This dish needs to be served as soon as it's ready, so don't make it in advance. You can ask your date to help you chop and stir and then enjoy the meal together. Now get out there and get your romance on - let me know how it goes!
PS - need a wine to pair with this? Try a red wine with a high acidity (to cut through the creaminess of the sauce), but not too heavy or if you like white, try a Sauvignon Blanc. Personally, I think you should go full throttle and drink champagne ;).
Linguine Carbonara (from Cooking Light)
Yield: 2 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)
1. Cook pasta according to the package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain pasta in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.
2. Combine milk and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a small bowl; set milk mixture aside.
3. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pancetta to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until onion is lightly browned. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add milk mixture and pasta to pan; toss gently to coat.
4. Place egg in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Gradually add 1/4 cup reserved hot cooking liquid, stirring constantly with a whisk. Gradually add egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly; cook 4 minutes or until sauce is thick and creamy.