Category Archives: Dinner

Bertha

Yesterday was not one of my finer moments. It started off great with my new HUGE coffee mug from Bed Bath & Beyond that got me more excited for my morning fix than I’d like to admit.

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But the day quickly deteriorated as work threw a few punches and I let them get the best of me. It was a long, stressful day with lunch eaten at my desk during a 2 hour conference call from hell.

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I’m not going to get into details because in the words of the almighty Dooce, “be ye not so stupid” to write about work on the internet. Winking smile

Let’s just say 5pm was more than needed and it’s days like these that I’m so incredibly thankful and happy I’ve found an outlet in running. I went out for a music-less 3 mile run and got all my frustration out on the pavement. Does any one else have mock conversations in their head while running? Totally did that. If I can’t express my feelings in real life, I’ll just play the scene out in my head. I’m probably sounding like a head case right about now!

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It wasn’t my best or my fastest run (I’ll blame my screaming sore glutes<—hello 40lb dumbbell lunges!) but it did the trick.

And then Bertha came out.

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Yes, I’ve named my dutch oven Bertha. She’s big and ugly and it seemed like the only fitting name.

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After our wedding, I had a few hundred dollars in gift cards and returns from duplicate items on our registry to a store called Fortunoff. It’s out of business now, but it was local to NY,NJ,CT and was basically a department store on steroids/bridal registry palace. You could waste hours of your life in there from bedding to china to furniture and more. I could’ve gotten a lot more with the money, but I spent it on Bertha. I had wanted a Le Creuset dutch oven forever and it’s a lot easier to convince yourself when it’s not your own $275 you’re throwing around. Her color looked so nice and rustic online but when she came in the mail it was all I could do to not puke at the sight of her. In real life it’s the color of poop. Ass grass, and now poop. What has come of this blog? It’s unfortunate really to have to cook delicious meals in something so offensive looking, but we make do and she hasn’t let me down yet.

On the menu was Anne’s turkey barley vegetable chili. Is there a food more comforting than chili? I don’t think so. I’ve made this before and followed her recipe almost exactly but I did take out the mushrooms (didn’t have any) and threw in some carrots & fresh tomatoes.

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I’m pretty sure ground turkey meat is one of the least appetizing looking things ever.

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Garnished with some sharp cheddar and avocado.

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Perfect.

Other good things about chili? 

It’s a one pot meal = less dishes

There are tons of leftovers = don’t have to cook dinner for the next 2 days = more time to bake cookies.

So for the math nerds out there, if bad days = chili and chili = cookies then bad days = cookies, right? I could handle a few more bad days in that case. Winking smile

 

What was your major in college? I was an overachiever and double majored in International Business and Spanish. I loved math in hs and never took an ounce of it in college, go figure.

27 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Running, Work

Mud, grass, sauce & sprinkles

How do you like that randomness for a title?

After leaving Ginger at home on Sunday for 9+ hours I felt like I owed her one. So after work I sucked it up and put her in my car for the 2 mile drive to the bike trail. I had done a quick 25 HIIT run on the treadmill earlier and wasn’t feeling much else besides a walk.

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Doesn’t she look thrilled? For 2 miles I had one hand on the steering wheel and the other keeping her wet little nose from touching my dash everywhere.

The damage:

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And I thought I lost a lot of hair! You can bet I wiped that off within 2 minutes of being home. I kind of have OCD tendencies with keeping my car clean. It probably stems back to my childhood and a father that wouldn’t let us eat in the car or get in with dirty feet. I blame you, dad.

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Ginger enjoyed the hour walk minus the bikers. She’s a little skittish around them. Not sure what a bike has ever done to her but she apparently found them scary enough to hide between my legs anytime one would pass. Wuss.

We stopped by the creek that runs under the bike path at one point to let her have a drink since it was kind of hot out and she was panting like crazy.

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And this is the payback I got.

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A bike went by on the bridge above us while she was drinking and rang it’s stupid little bell horn which freaked Ginger out and she jumped out of the creek, flinging mud all over me. So then I had a wet, muddy dog and muddy sneakers going into the car! We both got hosed down when we got home.

Oh, but the fun did not end there! Fast forward about an hour and I’m outside grilling dinner when Ulysses comes home and Ginger runs onto the deck to see him. That’s when he points this out.

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Can you see it? ASS GRASS!  And yes, I’m holding her tail up so I can get a better picture. Wouldn’t you? This has happened before so Ulysses knows full well I draw the line here. Ass grass removal is his job. I just take pictures and blog about it. That piece of grass ended up being a good 6 inches long (guess we don’t mow the grass often enough). Perfect dinner time entertainment.

Speaking of dinner, we had roasted vegetables and tofu on the grill with Mmmm Sauce. I’m starting to think I should rename the blog to “Running to Mama Pea’s Kitchen” considering how many recipes I make of hers. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it though, right? I actually saw Caitlin post about it yesterday and finally decided to take matters into my own hands and make it myself instead of drooling over everyone else’s.

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There’s a reason it’s called “Mmmm Sauce”. It is tasty! So tasty that I was lamenting the fact I couldn’t get it all out of the blender without risking some digits.

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Does it drive anyone else crazy that you can’t get the stuff under the blade out?

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I pretty much slathered it on everything. This was the first time I grilled tofu and all I did was season it with olive oil, salt & pepper. I purposely kept it simple because I knew this sauce was going on top of everything anyway. It reminded me of a sauce you’d find in an Indian dish. Loved it. Glad there is at least a cup left in the fridge.

And since it was the first day of summer and all, this was necessary.

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And promptly devoured in about 3 minutes.

Happy Summer!

 

Sprinkles or Jimmies? Sprinkles!!!

Would you pull grass out of your dog’s butt? Heck no, that’s what husbands are for!

37 Comments

Filed under Around the house, Around town, Dinner

NROLFW update & more mango

I’m halfway through the first stage of NROLFW and wanted to do a quick update on my thoughts/progress so far with the plan.

Stage 1 calls for 16 workouts, alternating between workout A & workout B. After 3 full weeks, I’ve completed 8 of the workouts at the “2 set” phase and just today moved into the second half of stage 1 which increases the sets to 3.

I’m not going to do any updates on measurements yet, I’ll wait until the end of stage 1 for that. Sorry, no awkward full body muscle pictures today. Winking smile 

In general, I love it! In these 3 weeks, I’ve learned to live and function in a perpetual state of soreness (in a good way!). This is the longest I’ve ever stuck with a strength training program before. I seriously look forward to each and every workout. I think a few things are contributing to that:

  • The way the program is structured it encourages you to add heavier weights as the workouts progress.
  • It gives you “beginner” moves when necessary so it’s easy to tell when you’re gaining strength because they start to feel easy and you move onto the “real” moves (push-ups are an example here).
  • I think the emphasis on dumbbells and barbells instead of machines makes it more easily recognizable when you can handle increased weight.
  • I already see a difference in muscle definition. Positive reinforcement baby!

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These are me not flexing. I’m going to call them my “rolling hills” and I’m pretty sure they weren’t there before. Winking smile Well on my way to looking like the book cover.

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Click here for before pictures (granted, I am flexing in those so they’re not totally comparable).

A few fun facts:

Prone jackknife is my favorite move of this stage.

Step-ups are my least favorite (boring and tedious)

-I can now do 3 sets of 10 full push-ups!

-In general this is how I feel about deadlifts:

Diet wise I haven’t been doing anything out of the ordinary besides being more cognizant of my protein intake. I will try to have a protein smoothie or something high in protein after each session. It doesn’t always happen, but I’d say about 75% of the time.

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Today’s smoothie, which overflowed the second I put the camera down and which Ginger promptly licked up.

Stay tuned after another 3 weeks for a full Stage 1 recap.

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Now, let’s talk about mangoes. Again.

I actually bought 2 mangoes for last week’s Mango black bean salad but only ended up using one because the other was hard as a rock. 6 days later after hanging out next to the bananas getting all ripe, it was begging to be used. After reading Jenna’s recap on her fruit detox, I had been craving fruit and couldn’t even think about “real” dinner foods. I just wanted fruit. The practical side of me kicked in though and somehow I ended up with this.

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Quinoa, mango, spinach salad.

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With a piece of whole wheat sunflower seed bread. Delicious, light dinner.

Quinoa Mango Spinach Salad

Makes 2-3 full dinner servings or 6 side dish servings

  • 3 cups cooked red quinoa
  • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1 mango chopped
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/4 cup pepitas
  • 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • juice of 1 small orange
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Rinse quinoa and toast with coconut oil before adding water and cooking normally (optional, but recommended). Combine next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. When quinoa is finished cooking, add to bowl and mix to combine. Whisk together last 5 ingredients and pour over salad. Toss. Chill in refrigerator for at least an hour before serving.

 

What’s the weirdest craving you’ve ever given into for dinner (or any meal)?

18 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Strength training

Bloggers + Greek festival

For as lame as Friday night was, Saturday more than made up for it.

We had a little blogger meet-up at Gouveia Vineyards in Connecticut. A bit of a hike for me but very much worth it for the friends, conversation and scenery. The wine was just ok. Winking smile

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Picture stolen from Kat because apparently I have no good group shots on my camera!

Left to right we have Loucindy, Kim, Kari, me, Molly and Emily. Kat of course was taking it since it’s hers. Smile

We started with a little tasting.

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And then decided on a bottle to split.

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We spent the next hour or so listening to Kat explain the difference between Russian and American animal sounds. Bet you didn’t know pigs don’t “oink” in Russian. I don’t even know how to spell out the sound they do apparently make according to the Russians, but let’s just say it’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard and it had us all in tears we were laughing so hard. Thank you, Kat Smile

We kind of forgot to bring any food and by about 4:30pm we were all ravenous and contemplating crashing birthday and bachelorette parties at the vineyard for food so we said goodbye until next time. Thank you ladies, it was a fun day!

{Enter 1.5 hour drive home + Large DD iced coffee + wheat bagel w/ cream cheese to keep me from eating my arm here}

As soon as I got home we pretty much headed back out the door for a local Greek festival nearby with some friends.

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Nothing better than some Greek food,

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with my Greek man,

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his Greek friends,

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and their Greek kids.

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How adorable is she? I also love that she’s eating the one thing that was not Greek at the festival, a hot dog.

No Greek festival is complete without some dancing right?

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And definitely not without some Loukoumades.

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These are the sole reason I go to Greek festivals. Fried dough, rolled in powdered sugar, cinnamon, honey and walnuts. It’s like the Greek version of Zeppole for you Italians out there. I could’ve eaten all 12, but I made myself stop at 3. Baklava can’t even compete.

Hoping these don’t sit too heavy for my run this morning.

Happy Father’s Day!!

16 Comments

Filed under Around town, Dinner

Spinach & cheese stuffed portobello mushrooms

Alternately titled, “creamy delicious bites of heaven”. Seriously, this dish came out way better than anticipated. Make it.

In Florida we had this horribly phallic mushroom, apparently called a “stinkhorn” according to Wikipedia, that would occasionally grow in our front yard. As if it’s shape wasn’t bad enough, the smell it would give off was, let’s just say “appropriate” for it’s appearance. If that doesn’t make sense, google it. mushroom

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How something like this can be related to the amazingness of an edible mushroom like a portobello baffles me. Fungus is a weird one.

I love mushrooms, at least edible ones. When I see grocery stores with a section for all types of wild mushrooms I can’t help myself. This is why it’s probably a good thing that there is no whole foods even remotely close to my house. Mushrooms aren’t cheap and I have no self control.

I’ve been craving a calzone lately and that gave me the idea to basically use the stuffing of a calzone but in a mushroom cap instead when I saw these at the store.

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The thing is, I’ve made plenty of calzones at home before and they usually come out disappointingly bland, so I didn’t have incredibly high hopes for this. I shouldn’t doubt myself so much, these were amazing.

First, I just cleaned off the mushrooms and removed the stems. Drizzled them with some extra virgin olive oil and seasoned with salt & pepper.

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Portobellos remind me of eggplant. They soak up a ton of olive oil. I was pretty generous with it because of this and I think all that olive oil gave it great flavor when roasting. I roasted them for about 20 minutes at 450.

In the meantime I got the filling together.

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Added all these goodies plus some sautéed onion & garlic to about 1.5 cups of ricotta.

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I used whole milk ricotta. Could you use part-skim? Yes. Do I recommend it? No. Ricotta is one of those things that I don’t think the “low fat” version tastes nearly as good. Mayo is another. There’s only 1.5 cups of it, split among 6 mushroom caps it’s 1/4 cup a serving. That’s not enough to worry about in my opinion. Winking smile Whole milk ricotta is so incredibly creamy and almost “sweet”. Part skim just doesn’t live up.

By this time the mushrooms should be all roasted and shriveled up.

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They lose a lot of water while roasting. If there is any excess water in the pan, drain it out before stuffing them.

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Want to know about the perils of food blogging? An ant climbed into the tray while I was taking these pictures outside! I’m a firm believer in the 5 second rule. I figured it was about to get roasted at 450 for another 10 minutes anyway.

During the last minute or so, I sprinkled some bread crumbs on top to give it a little crunch. And voila!

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I think the sautéed onion & garlic really helped bring out the flavors in the filling. And let’s be honest, when there are 3 cheeses involved it’s hard to taste bad. This could be a great side to some grilled chicken or eat 2 and call it a day like we did!

 

Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms

Makes 6 stuffed mushroom caps

  • 6 portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and stems removed
  • 1.5 cups chopped baby spinach
  • 1.5 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 14 oz. can artichokes in water, drained & coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 a medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • breadcrumbs (optional)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450. Arrange mushroom caps on greased baking sheet and drizzle with evoo, season with salt & pepper. Roast mushrooms at 450 for about 20 minutes. While mushrooms are roasting, combine spinach, 3 cheeses, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes in large bowl. Sauté onion & garlic until soft and then add to bowl. Mix to combine all ingredients and season with salt & pepper. Once mushrooms are done roasting, drain any excess water and then fill caps with stuffing generously. Put back in oven for another 10 minutes. If topping with breadcrumbs, do so in the last 1-2 minutes.

 

Fungi lover? Yes or no? 

21 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Meals, Recipes

Tao NYC

Oh, New York City.

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You will forever be a place I regret not living for at least a year.

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When I was 22 and graduating college, more than anything, I wanted a job in a city, where I could work in a glamorous high rise building, pay exorbitant rent, take a subway to work, have drinks outside in the summer with friends & coworkers and eat at every amazing restaurant around. I got 3 job offers my senior year, 2 in cities and 1 in Madison, CT. Guess which one I picked? In retrospect, I probably picked the best “job”, but I will always regret not living in a city at some point in my life. Ulysses absolutely despises cities. Part claustrophobia, part obsession with land, garages, and cars. So we will never live in a one, and to be honest, at this point in my life it wouldn’t make sense but, at 22 and single it would’ve been cool for a little bit.

Living only a little over an hour away by train, I try and find any excuse to get into the city and yesterday I had a good one! I met my friend Corinne, who I hadn’t seen since her wedding in November, for dinner at Tao. Corinne actually lived in Florida the same time we did. She was my only friend down there and we bonded together over our hatred for FL and desire to move back north (my, how things have changed since then, for me at least Winking smile). We both enjoy food as much as the other so our get togethers are usually centered around a good meal.

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The atmosphere at Tao is pretty cool. It’s almost pitch black inside (hence the dark pics) but then there is this giant buddha statue that is literally 2 stories high with those colored lights around it. We ate upstairs and with a 6pm reservation were one of the first people in there but it was packed by the time we left.

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I started with a Bamboo Gingerita.

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Delicious. Kinda strong, but that just means I only need one then. Smile 

I try to take advantage of any chance to have tempura. It’s one of the few fried things I actually really like, mainly because it’s usually so light. So we decided to split a sweet potato tempura as an appetizer.

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Unfortunately, it was super greasy. Still tasty, but I’m pretty sure tempura is supposed to be a bit lighter than what we got.

We also split a spicy tuna roll that was really good.

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Shoestring onions on top? Yes, please.

Ok, I have a pad thai weakness. Anytime I see it on a menu I feel like I have to get it. It’s something I would never make at home and I just absolutely love it. Funny side note though, although I’ve never had any allergic reactions to food, I’ve been tested for allergies multiple times for my shots and each time it comes back saying I’m allergic to soy and peanuts. The doctor doesn’t get it and I continue to eat both without any reactions. Every time I order pad thai though I think to myself, “what if this is the time I react?” and then check to make sure I have my inhaler with me before I stuff my face. Well, I saw pad thai tonight and came sooo close to getting it but ended up with the wasabi filet with tempura onion rings instead. Corinne actually got the pad thai though so I got to taste it. Both meals were great. My beef was cooked perfectly and the wasabi crust was just enough to taste, not incredibly overpowering as wasabi can sometimes be.

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Neither of us was really feeling dessert, although the people next to us had this giant fortune cookie filled with chocolate mousse that looked pretty cool.

Corinne caught a cab to the bus station and I had enough time to walk the 16 blocks back to Grand Central day dreaming about the city and pretending I lived there.

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Maybe in another life?

 

Do you live in a city? Love it? Hate it? Where was your first job?

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Filed under Dinner, Meals, Restaurants

Pea & radish risotto

More continued fun with the camera at breakfast time. Smile

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That would be a variation of Ashley’s amazing buckwheat bakes. If you haven’t made one yet, check out her recipe page for a whole section dedicated to them. I made a bunch of modifications to this morning’s bake but it included banana & blueberries on the inside with an almond butter, coconut butter and almond milk frosting on top. Worth every one of the 30 minutes it takes to bake!

This weekend was kind of a wash weather wise. Yesterday, it was cold and rainy and today, while a little warmer, was still gloomy. Instead of normal summer foods I was craving something more comforting. Risotto is one of those dishes that defines “comfort food” to me. My mom makes a wonderful dried porcini mushroom and sausage risotto in the winter that is creamy, cheesy and everything risotto should be. So many times I’ve ordered a risotto dish at a restaurant only to be served something that is masquerading as a rice pilaf. The difference is in the method. People say risotto is time consuming but it’s really not. Rice takes the same amount of time to absorb the necessary liquid whether you set it all in the beginning and walk away like a typical rice dish or, you slowly add the liquid in stages like a risotto. Risotto is not any more time consuming, it just needs a little more tlc. And I can assure you that added tlc is more than worth it when it results in this.IMG_0291

Since it’s at least supposed to be warm weather season, I decided to keep this risotto on the lighter side with peas and radishes. This was served as a side dish to some grilled steaks but could definitely steal the show as main course if you wanted it to. In fact, it would be excellent with some grilled shrimp as a stand alone dish.IMG_0204

I actually found some brown Arborio rice at the bulk bins last time. This was the bottom of the container though so it was mixed with a little bit of regular, longer grain rice that was left when I poured it in. They technically have different cooking times, like different shaped pastas would, but I just rolled with it. I wasn’t about to pick apart the different shaped rice.

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Aren’t those radishes cute with their little tails? They kind of remind me of tadpoles.

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Anything that starts with butter has gotta be good, right?

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Some diced onion, garlic and shallot.

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You know where this is going…sauté.

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Once the mixture has softened, add the rice to toast and absorb all the oil & butter.

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And if you haven’t yet been convinced to make this. Maybe this will help.

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Some for the risotto, some for you. It’s only fair.

After the risotto absorbs the wine (anywhere from about 1/4-1/2 cup will do)  slowly ladle some heated chicken broth (or veggie) into the pan with the rice until it just covers it. Once it’s almost completely absorbed, add more until all the broth is gone and the rice is fully cooked. Here’s where I’ve heard many an Italian swear by different methods. Some say do not touch or stir the rice at all while it’s going through this process. My mom and family fall into this group. Others say to stir every now and then during the cooking process to release the starches in the rice which makes for a creamery risotto. I’ve tried both and actually prefer the latter. Sorry mom. This works especially well with white rice as it breaks down easier than brown.

While the rice is cooking, prep the veggies.

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And grate the cheese.

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When the rice has absorbed all the liquid and it’s fully cooked (taste test here, ours was a little al dente last night) add the frozen peas, radishes, some fresh chopped herbs and grated cheese.

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Season to taste and top with some crumbled bacon.

Why?

Does bacon even need an explanation? I didn’t think so.IMG_0287

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Pea & Radish Risotto

Makes 6 side dishes

  • 1 1/4 cup brown Arborio rice
  • 40 ounces chicken broth
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • 1-2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/4 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup diced radishes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (I used parsley & mint)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked well until crispy (optional)
  • salt & pepper

Directions:

Heat chicken broth in small sauce pan over low heat. In large skillet, heat evoo & butter on med heat. Add shallots, garlic and onion and sauté until softened. Add rice and toss to coat. Let rice toast for 1-2 minutes. Add wine and stir rice until wine is completely absorbed. Slowly ladle chicken broth into rice until just covering the top of the rice. Let the rice absorb the liquid, stirring occasionally. Once liquid is mostly absorbed, add more broth again covering only to top of rice. Continue until broth is used up and rice is fully cooked. Add radishes, peas, herbs and cheese to cooked rice and mix. Season with salt & pepper and top with crumbled bacon.

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Filed under Dinner, Recipes, Side Dishes