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WIAW: Sur La Table Cooking Class

Last night we had the opportunity to attend a cooking class at Sur la Table. It was the first time I had ever been to a formal cooking class, and I was so excited. I made sure we were front and center…because I wanted to take everything in.10647398_10105641241079471_1033180862_o

Aaron, Jenna, Josh and I took turns making everything for our dishes. We should have waited for instructions (my bad on over dressing the salad), but overall I think we learned at least three things.

Our menu was surf and turf and included scallops, steak and a banana pudding. Since you wanted the dessert to set, we started off with that first.

Bourban-Banana Pudding with Candied Pecans

Double teaming the candied pecans
Double teaming the candied pecans
It took a lot to caramelize that bourbon
It took a lot to caramelize that bourbon
Assembling the pudding
Assembling the pudding

 

Pan-Seared Scallops with Oranges in a Ginger Vinaigrette

In addition to learning how to properly cook scallops (something I have always wanted to make at home but was just too darn scared), I also learned the trick to chopping shallots and onions…and using a paring knife on oranges to create a garnish. That last one needs a little more work.

You have to remove the membranes before you cook. Sometimes that makes for a not so round scallop.
You have to remove the membranes before you cook. Sometimes that makes for a not so round scallop.
Learning to chop
Learning to chop
Making the ginger vinaigrette
Making the ginger vinaigrette

Herb-Crusted New York Steak with a Red Wine-Peppercorn Sauce 

I feel like I am still a newbie to steak. It certainly isn’t something I feel comfortable cooking. Last night I learned that you should let the steak come to room temperature to cook (same apparently goes for fish). Also, and this was a big learning for us…we need to be using vegetable oil instead of olive oil.

I jumped at the chance to learn how to make the sauce. I want to be a better sauce maker…and last night I got my chance.

You place the steak away from you
You place the steak away from you

 

Making sauce
Making sauce
There is serious concentration here
There is serious concentration here

We also made green beans to accompany our steak. They were roasted and were delicious.

Seasoning the green beans
Seasoning the green beans

Our finished products

Which we actually ate and didn’t die from…

Scallops
Scallops
Steak and green beans
Steak and green beans
Banana pudding
Banana pudding

 

I believe this was a success…and of course am now addicted. Private pasta making class anyone?

The chefs!
The chefs!

 

Most Googled Diets of 2012

Google prepares a list the year’s most popular searches including diets. I thought it was an interesting look at what fads and healthy eating ideas peeked people’s interest–supermodels and fad diets galore!

10. Marissa Miller Diet: The Victoria Secret model said one of her go to healthy foods is quinoa or brown rice, which she keeps in her fridge so that when she is hungry she can quickly whip something up. Of course she also said she ate in the buff…so maybe that’s what people were looking for.

9. Juicing Diet: I’ve always been intrigued by the likes of the Blueprint Cleanse or following my own. But I have an immediate fear that I will become an angry person because of lack of protein and headaches.

8. Feeding Tube Diet:  Also known as the K-E Diet is only available in my home-state of Florida and works by slowly feeding the dieter with a fat and protein-based solution. I think it is just a bad idea.

7. NV Diet Pill: Not only can you burn fat, but you can tone your body and improve the appearance of skin, nails, and hair. MIRACLE PILL (sarcasm)

6. Miranda Kerr Diet: She adopted the 80/20 rule. She also said she follows the Blood Type Diet.

5. Adriana Lima Diet: She went all liquid the entire nine days before the Victoria Secret fashion show.

4. P.I.N.K. Method Diet: Designed specifically for women, it encourages physical activity and nutrient-rich foods. However, some of the claims might not hold up.

3. Raspberry Ketone Diet: A Dr. Oz approved diet that hasn’t been proven in research on mice.

2. Beyonce Diet: She works hard for her body.

1. Michael Phelps Diet: Dude takes in a TON of calories. So this probably was less about “what does he eat to stay fit” and more “he eats how much and stays fit?”

Cookies N Cream Popcorn

I have a ridiculous sweet tooth. And when my sweet tooth is really bad it is followed by a craving for something salty. That’s why I usually have yogurt with some sort of salty topping.

Then I saw this gem of a recipe on Pinterest and thought “perfect.” Mostly because it was something sweet that also excited my cookies n cream loving husband. A few of my friends (more like a lot)  immediately responded to a picture I posted about starting the experiment so I decided to write up a quick recipe post. (This is for you, person who was having trouble with understanding how to crush Oreos.)

Ingredients 

1. Popcorn (we used microwaveable, natural..no butter)

2. Oreos (we were suckered into purchasing Cookies N Cream Oreos, which taste exactly like regular Oreos)

3. Vanilla candies (we went with Hershey’s Cookies N Cream, please see hubby’s favorite sweet)

Making It

1. Pop the popcorn as directed. Try to remove all the unopened kernels.

2. Place the Oreos into a plastic bag (use as many as you want depending on your chocolatey desire) and crush with the back of a spoon.

3. Mix the Oreos and popcorn together in a SUPER LARGE bowl (this keeps the spill over to a minimum).

4. In 30 sec. intervals melt the vanilla candies in the microwave. Stir after each.

5. Once melted pour over the popcorn/Oreo mixture. Stir. (Our large bowl comes with a lid so I shook mine up to spread the wealth.)

6. Place on a cooling rack.

We will be enjoying ours while watching the Walking Dead this evening. Hope you like it!

 

Freshman 15 a Total Myth

My freshman year I went to the gym every day, sometimes for 2 hours at a time. I lived on campus it was really easy to get there (parking wasn’t an issue) and it was the first time since volleyball season that I had a gym available to me always. I was in the best shape I had been in a long time.  I didn’t eat dinner at the sorority house, but made it at the dorm (limited options there but it worked).

I wasn’t a Two for Tuesdays Pokey Sticks gal (I had them once in all my four years) and my late night snack was typically apple and peanut butter.

So when I saw the recent study about the Freshman 15 being a media myth it made sense to me. Investigators found that women gained an average of 2.4 lbs during their freshman year. Also, about one in four reported actually losing weight.

The typical weight gain is over the course of the four years, women gain about 7 to 9 lbs. I can attest to that after moving off campus sophomore year I put on some weight. There was a beautiful kitchen where I could make things late at night when we got home from the bars.

I think it might be time to make it the “College 15,” which certainly isn’t as catchy, but sheds more light on the weight gain that is possible.

 

Kitchen Tools for a Healthy Lifestyle

Studies have shown that portion control may be the single most effective thing you can do to promote lasting weight loss. Unfortunately, people don’t really know what the right portions are. Sure there are specific images like a baseball that can represent the right amount of pasta or a hockey puck for the 1/2 of bagel you should be eating. That however, isn’t the easiest thing to remember or visualize of course unless you keep them in your kitchen, which doesn’t sound right.

An easier way is to look into special kitchen tools that take the guesswork and visualization out of the process. While at ADA this past weekend, I was introduced to Healthy Steps. Healthy Steps products are designed to help you prepare properly portioned foods at home and gives you the tools necessary to enjoy the foods you currently eat in a more healthy manner.

They have everything from a pasta basket that measures, cooks and strains to the coolest tool I saw a lid that goes on dressings that you squeeze and measures out the exact amount you should be having. Now, I haven’t actually tried them, but I certainly want to, at least the ice cream scoop (you know my issues with sweets there). More information at www.myhealthysteps.com

Restaurant Review: Cava Mezze

There are a few genres of food that I can eat on a regular basis; Mexican and Greek. It might be because of the variety of dishes, it might be because I love rice and beans and fish.

I practically jumped up and down when Cava Mezze opened up a few doors down from my new apartment.  The place was so busy the first few weeks that it took us almost a month to get in (they only take reservations on Sundays and Mondays).

The ambiance was VERY cool. I adored the hanging wine bottles and really liked the wooden tables. I even found the silverware design pretty perfect.

Josh and I seriously indulged ourselves since the last time we had a good Greek meal was almost three months ago, also because when you say small plates we really try to take advantage.

We got the Crazy Feta and Chick Pea 3 Ways to share. They were both amazing. We ate way too much pita and the Crazy Feta was incredibly rich, but overall two thumbs way up for those dishes.

Josh got the Lamb Kapama for his dish, which he liked for the most part. He wasn’t a huge fan of the yogurt, so he just took it off and devoured everything else.

My dish, the Scallops Mushroom Risotto, unfortunately was not good at all. The scallops had this really bad taste to them that pretty much screamed THESE ARE BAD. I thought at first they were charred, but after a second bite I decided that was most certainly not the case.

I am not one for sending food back; I wasn’t even hungry at this point, so my telling our server was strictly because I didn’t want them to continue serving the scallops to others.

As a concession Cava offered us dessert on the house. Music to my ears!  We got baklava and Greek donuts. O-M-G both are absolutely fantastic. The pistachio ice cream was the perfect topper on the baklava. It balanced out the dryness with just the right amount of creamy.

Aside from the scallops fiasco, our experience at Cava was pretty good. I am a little nervous to try any of the other seafood dishes, but those vegetarian options are superb and could keep me satisfied every time I go.

Chickpeas 3 ways
Crazy Feta
Lamb Kamba
Baklavah and Pistachio Ice Cream
Greek Donuts

Slim & Scrumptious (and a Giveaway)

I love new recipes, especially quick and easy ones that are healthy. So much so, that my bridesmaids collected recipes from all my friends and family members to make this really sweet book for me.

Anyway, I also got a bunch of new recipes when a member of Joy Bauer’s team contacted me and asked me to review Slim & Scrumptious. So I obviously took the offer.

The things that make a recipe good for me: quick, easily adjusted to fit my vegetarian lifestyle and healthy.

So far we have made two recipes from the book.

Sesame Chicken Tenders

I made these with Quorn Chickun (vegetarian chicken) and real-life chicken for Josh. I also made it with vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. It didn’t take too long, but making the sauce was a little laborious.

This wasn’t bad and I was pretty satisfied. Josh however, wasn’t a huge fan and added a lot of hot sauce. I probably should have added a few more spices into it for more flavor.

Fake Chicken

 

 

Real Chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baked Tilapia with Spice Tomato-Pineapple Relish

We both LOVED LOVED this recipe. It was quick, simple and spicy. We had time to go to the gym beforehand and make a delicious dinner. 

They gave me another book that I can give to one of you lucky people, so here is the deal.

There are two ways to enter:

#1) Mandatory: Leave a comment telling me what makes a recipe top-notch for you.

#2) Bonus Entry: Tweet this giveaway saying: “Check out this tasty giveaway from @lanes0220 & @joy_bauer. Enter to win Slim & Scrumptious http://bit.ly/hMSJxE″

Winner will be announced August 10th on Twitter and on the blog.

 

 

Restaurants and Obesity: Yep

Experts have identified a link between eating out at restaurants and obesity. According to the USDA, 1/3 of American calories come from restaurants.

 

“For the average consumer, eating one meal away from home each week translates to roughly two extra pounds a year,” said Lisa Mancino, a food economist for the USDA.

More than half of adults eat out three or more times a week, and 12 percent eat out more than seven times a week. I certainly fall into that category. Typically my week looks like this: really good during the week, three meals at home and then Friday comes and BAM eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes we make breakfast at home, but usually we are all about the brunch.

How many more calories a diner consumes out depends on the meal. Eating lunch out has the largest effect, adding 158 calories to daily caloric intake, compared to lunch prepared at home. Dinner out increases intake by 144 calories, and breakfast out adds 74 calories, according to the USDA.

J made a comment the other day that when we eat out, we go all out. See exhibit A below from a recent Friday night dinner at Boulevard Woodgrill in Clarendon.

Spinach Crab Dip as an App
Sweet Tea Vodka drink for me
Ribs and fries for him
Ahi Tuna Asian Salad for me

I may not have finished the whole salad (took it home and had it for lunch the next day), but that didn’t keep us from stopping by our new favorite Friday night sweet spot.

My god those sinwiches are good

So yeah, eating out most likely does have some link to obesity and consuming more calories. I am really gonna have to watch that indulgence. It is just hard after a long week of work to want to cook on the weekends.

What do you do on the weekends for food?

 

Stick to Your Diet Even with the Biggest Distractions

I am trying to watch my weight because there is thing in September where I will be wearing a really pretty white dress. I am an active runner and I really don’t eat poorly (aside from my ridiculous sweet tooth), but in the last few months (let’s go with six) it has been really hard to stick to my eating plan.

That’s because I moved in with my fiancé, who loves Mexican food with all its burritos and rice and beans. It’s tough to stick to a healthy eating plan when those around you are indulging. These stick-to-it tricks will help you side step temptations without becoming a diet czar.

  1. Serve yourself: You can still stick to your healthy eating streak while having others are having—just adjust your portions. Fill half of your plate with fruit or vegetables, a quarter with meat or protein, and a quarter with starches like potatoes or bread. If you are eating out there is nothing wrong with asking a server for a smaller portion.
  2. Monitor your pace: In addition to Mexican food, my fiancé eats really quickly like intensely fast. While I can’t slow him down (I have tried, oh how I have tried) I can avoid getting caught up in the eating frenzy. I try to take a breath between forkfuls and drink plenty of water during dinner.
  3. Menu plan: Starches and heavy carbohydrates are not the greatest for my body. Men however just lurve to eat things like pasta, rice and pizza. I try to space out the heavy carbs for days that we won’t be eating late and add more veggies wherever possible.
  4. Exercise together: Hopefully when it gets warmer we will start running the river again. Even if we just take walks together before or after dinner it will be better than stuffing our face and sitting on the couch.

 

Color Me Yummy!

March is National Nutrition Month®. The campaign is part of the American Dietetic Association’s effort to educate and focuses attention on the importance of making informed food choices, developing healthy eating and physical activity habits.  It was started back in the 70s as a week and has exploded to a month.

This year’s theme is “Eat Right with Color.” Meaning RDs are focusing on the benefits of pigment-related phytonutrients found in fruits and vegetables that supply them.

Ok enough background. If you want more click here.

I LOVE, with a capital L, eating color. If I don’t have enough color in my salad it just looks sad. Being a pescatarian I don’t get a lot of variety when it comes to my protein colors. Sure, my salmon is pink, but so are my tuna and shrimp.

So I turn to my heaping pile of fruits and veggies. There are times when I crave a fruit salad simply because you can have so much variety that is good for you. I am always the first person to jump into the crudités plate at a party. (See below for the RIGHT portion.)

The point is, when I go to the Union Square farmer’s market and see all the gorgeous radishes, rainbow carrots, apples and pears I get excited. I can’t wait for spring to return so that my colors come back.

Radishes from the farmer's market

Portion sizes

Fruits:  The food pyramid suggests two to four servings of fruit per day. An example of a serving size of fruit would be:

  • One medium apple, orange or banana
  • 1/2 cup of chopped, cooked or canned fruit
  • 3/4 cup of fruit juice

Vegetables: The food pyramid suggests three to five servings of vegetables per day. An example of a serving size of vegetables would be:

  • 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of other vegetables, cooked or raw
  • 3/4 cup of vegetable juice