Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Healthy Adventures: Working out this week...

Alright.  So yesterday I stepped on the scale and weighed myself and I'm back up to 162!  Yikes...that's 5 pounds I've gained in just a couple weeks.  I've been somewhat of a slacker about working out these past few weeks, and also been eating out a lot lately...and so that all stops today!

I pulled out one of my biggest loser workout DVD's and pushed myself through the level 2 workout today.  Man is my body sore and my muscles are sore, but I feel so energized and good about myself after working out.  It's amazing what a good workout does for the body.

One of my goals was to be down to 150/155 by beginning of November.  Guess I have a little work to do!

So far this week I've done a Sunday and a Tuesday workout...I need 3 more days this week to hit my goal of 5 times a week...can I do it?

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Cooking Adventures: Maple-Walnut Chicken Thighs and Cheddar-Apple Rice

So tonight kicks off week 3 of trying out a new recipe, and tonight I made Maple-Walnut Chicken Thighs and Cheddar-Apple Rice.  It turned out amazing, even though I messed up the sauce to glaze the chicken and had to start it over!!! Both Matt and I agree that the chicken tasted yummy, but that the rice was the best part of the meal.  Attached to the bottom here is the recipe...ENJOY!!!

1 cup walnut halves
2 tablespoons butter
1 1/4 cups long-grain white rice
2 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 honeycrisp, gala, or golden delicious apple-peeled, seeded and chopped
3/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/4 cup packed fresh dill
Salt and coarsely ground black pepper
One 6-ounce brick sharp white cheddar cheese, cut into small, 1/4 inch cubes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup dark maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and roast until well toasted and fragrant, 10 to 12 minutes.

In a large saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, melt the butter over medium heat.  Add the rice and toast for a minute or two.  Add 2 cups chicken stock and bring to a boil, then lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the apple and simmer for 8 minutes.

While the rice cooks, using a food processor, pulse 1/4 cup chicken stock, the parsley, dill and 1/4 teaspoon salt until finely chopped. Stir into the rice during the last minute of cooking. Turn off the heat and let the rice stand, covered, for 1 to 2 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Transfer to a serving dish and stir in the cheese.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the EVOO, 1 turn of the pan, over medium-high heat. Pat the chicken dry and season liberally with salt and black pepper. Add to the skillet and cook, turning once, until browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat in the skillet and add the vinegar. Cook, scraping up the pan drippings, then add the remaining 1/4 cup chicken stock, the maple syrup and black pepper to taste. Cook until thickened, about 1 minute. Add the chicken and walnuts and spoon with the sauce. Loosely cover the pan with foil and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve the chicken, sauce and nuts with the rice alongside.

The Cooking Adventures: Homemade Tomato Soup

Last week, we had the perfect fall day, and so I was craving grilled cheese sandwiches with tomoato soup.  I came across a recipe for homemade tomato soup in this cute little cookbook in the dollar pin at Target, published by Disney's Family Fun magazine. It's called Everyday Fun Foods: Creative Recipes for Kid Friendly Meals.  They still have them in the dollar bin at Target...every mom needs to pick one of these up!!! (BTW...this magazine is great!  It has so many fun crafts and recipes and activities for kids.  My mother-in-law got me a subscription and I LOVE IT!!!)

Here is the recipe:

Roasted Tomato Soup
6 Cups (3 pints) cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons olive oil divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup chopped onion
1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 cup whipping cream

1.  Heat the oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet, combine the cherry tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and the salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients to coat the tomatoes evenly and spread them in a single layer. Roast the tomatoes until they are shriveled with brown spots, about 35-45 minutes.

2. In a large pot, heat the butter and the remaining tablespoon of oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and saute until softened, about 6 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes with their juice, the broth, thyme, and roasted tomatoes, including any liquid on the baking sheet. Bring the mixutre to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, for 40 minutes.

3. Using a food processor or blender, puree the soup until it's smooth. Return it to the pot and stir in the cream. Without letting the soup boil, warm it over medium heat, stirring often, until steaming. Serve the soup garnished with Grilled-Cheese Croutons, if you like. (I just made regular grilled cheese sandwiches)

A couple of things to note with this go around:  I put about half of the soup in the freezer to pull out for later this winter to re-heat.  Also, this soup was a hit with both Noah and Matt, and even our dog Shelby.  When trying to jump up onto our dining room table to finish the last of what was left in Noah's bowl, she knocked over the bowl and got tomato soup all over my cream colored carpet. Sigh :( So now I've been trying to resolve it out!!!

The Cooking Adventures: Lasagna

Wow, so I realized that I had started this blog a week before my birthday, and almost a month and a half later, haven't posted anything but the original post.  Sorry about that folks! I have been trying to follow through with some of the goals outlined in the first post, and I am going to share with you today my new recipes from last couple of weeks.

The first one is a recipe that I re-tried.  Here is why I decided to give it a second shot.  In the recipe it calls for 7 cloves of garlic.  Before I had never used fresh garlic in any recipe I had tried, and so I put 7 bulbs of garlic in...wow...that was a lot of garlic!  It still turned out okay, but now that I know what the difference between a bulb and a clove is, I thought I would give this recipe a second go around, and it turned out fabulous!  This recipe is for Lasagna, and I found it in a Rachel Ray magazine a few years back.  It takes quite a bit of prep work to get it done, but it turns out fabulous in the end.  Here is the recipe so you can try it too:

7 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 pounds bulk sweet italian sausage
7 cloves garlic - 5 smashed and peeled, 2 finely chopped
2 - 35 ounce cans crushed italian tomatoes
salt and pepper
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1 pound dried ruffled lasagna noodles
2 pounds ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded

1. In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking up the meat, until no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl. Add the smashed garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour; season with pepper.

2.  Meanwhile, heat the milk in a microwavable measuring cup for 90 seconds. In a medium saucepan melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add the chopped garlic and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the flour, then gradually whisk in the warm milk and bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the 2/3 parmigiano-reggiano and season with salt and pepper.

3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, combine the remaining 1/3 cup parmigiano-reggiano, the ricotta, eggs, basil and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

4. Preheat over to 375 degrees. Grease a 10x15 inch baking dish and a 10x15 inch piece of parchment paper. (I didn't use the parchement paper!) Coat the bottom of the dish with tomato sauce. Top with a slightly overlapping crosswise layer of lasagna noodles. Layer with half of the cooked sausage, 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, half of the ricotta mixture and 1/3 of the mozzarella. Arrange another single layer of noodles crosswise in the dish. Spread evenly with the white sauce. Layer with more noodles, the remaining sausage, 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, the remaining ricotta mixture, half the remaining mozzarella, a final layer of noodles, and the remaining tomato sauce. Top with the prepared parchment, greased side down. Cover with foil, place on baking sheet and bake for 1 hour. Discard the foil and parchment; top with remaining mozzarella and bake for 15 minutes. Let stand before serving.