the food bitch

people call me a food bitch. not because of any gourmet tendencies (i go on a weekly fridge-sniff to see what needs to be thrown away), but due to my healthy lifestyle know-how and big mouth. i have a big mouth when it comes to food.

part healthy living, part recipe showcase, part food review - i do a little bit of everything.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Goodbye, Leftovers

It was eat it or dump it night in my apartment. I couldn't bear seeing my last stuffed eggplant half go out with the trash tonight, so I heated that up, cooked up some brown rice, and made a little salad.

Okay, so the eggplant was a little past its prime. Everything was a little more.. moist than on turkey day. But it was still absolutely delicious, this recipe is definitely a keeper.

My recipe doesn't differ much from the original on Cooking Light, but I'll go ahead and post anyway.

Baked Eggplant with Savory Cheese Stuffing
Serves: 6
WW Points: 2

2 slices reduced-calorie wheat bread
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 3/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 1/2 cup seeded, chopped plum tomato
1/3 tsp dried Italian seasoning
3 minced garlic cloves
4 1/2 oz. crumbled fat free feta cheese
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
1/3 tsp black pepper
3 medium eggplants, 1 lb. each, halved lengthwise

Preheat oven to 400°.

Score cut side of each eggplant half by making 4 crosswise cuts. Place the eggplant halves, cut sides down, on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven; cool on pan 10 minutes. Carefully remove pulp, leaving a 1/3-inch-thick shell; reserve eggplant shells. Chop pulp.

Reduce oven temperature to 350°.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 3/4 cup. Drizzle the breadcrumbs with olive oil, and pulse to combine.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped eggplant, bell pepper, tomato, Italian seasoning, and garlic; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in cheese, parsley, salt, and black pepper. Stuff each eggplant shell with about 1/2 cup onion mixture; sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet; bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated and lightly browned.

I was a little worried that my family would spot the fat free feta and call me out on it, but President makes a great block style fat free feta that crumbles up nicely and tastes wonderful. They also have some nice flavored fat free feta crumbles. Basil and tomato in an omelet? Oh yes.

Anyway, a little while later, I heard a small voice coming from the fridge.

"Hey, you forgot about me!"

"Forgot about who?" I replied.


I opened up the fridge, and sitting there on the bottom shelf - the lonliest piece of pumpkin pie.

To be honest, it did look very lonely.

"Don't worry," I cooed, "I wouldn't forget about you. Come here, and I'll make it all better."

And I ate that sucker with some fava beans and a nice Chianti. While wearing my PJs.

Okay, no, I ate it with some Edy's Slow Churned Light No Sugar Added Neopolitan ice cream. If I was inclined to call things "the bomb", I would definitely be breaking the phrase out right now.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Okay fine, turkey!

So I went to see my parents today, mostly to do laundry and grab some turkey. My mother cooked the turkey I gave her on Saturday, and I figured I'd probably be able to do something with a chunk of it. I also left some gifts that I bought there, and some of my measuring spoons. Need those.

I stopped off at the grocery store on the way over to pick up ingredients for pumpkin fluff (you know, the seemingly unappetizing mixture of canned pumpkin, vanilla pudding mix, cool whip, milk, and pumpkin pie spice), and bought her a miniature curly poinsettia plant just because.

I mixed up the fluff while my laundry was on, and we split the goods. Pumpkin fluff. Sounds so gross, tastes so good.

Part of my hunk of turkey turned into dinner tonight. I made a turkey version of Cooking Light's Chicken-Apple Crunch Salad. It was easy, and pretty darn tasty.

Turkey-Apple Crunch Salad
Serves: 2
WW Points: 3

4oz. diced, cooked white meat turkey
1/2 cup diced apple
1/4 cup diced celery
1 Tbsp. diced onion
2 Tbsp. raisins
2 Tbsp. light mayonnaise
1/2 Tbsp. fat free sour cream
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
dash of cinnamon

Mix! Eat!

There was a picture, but it came out blurry and there's no re-do because it's already in my belly.

I stopped at the grocery store again on my way home because I was pretty low on important things like vegetables and assorted breakfast cereals. Cereal is my downfall, seriously. I love my local chain grocery store. I know that's probably sacrilege, and really it is because they don't have the best quality produce, but goodness almighty I do love the employees.

They're all high school students, but they're a charming bunch. Especially my floppy haired jailbait cashier boyfriend to be. But I digress!

I actually don't digress. I finish.

Friday, November 25, 2005

No Turkey!

Yeah, another Thanksgiving's come and gone. I've never been big on Thanksgiving. Well, there's two things I like about it: eating, and looking at the Black Friday ads.

So that's what I did. I ate and got me a newspaper.

Thanksgiving was at my aunt and uncle's house. I had planned on a low-key day with my mom and dad, but it turned out that my uncle wanted everyone together for the holiday. My Nannie passed away in the spring, he's been really big on togetherness since then. I think he was right, though. As much as my family drives me bonkers, I like being around them.

So I was going to cook for my parents, but since we were going elsewhere, I decided on bringing some healthy sides and a healthy dessert. It's expected of me, the healthy.

There were thirteen of us, and two dogs. We had a pretty decent bunch of food, a lot less than we usually do, but still a table full. Dinner consisted of turkey (I don't really know what it was cooked with, and didn't eat any. I like turkey, but I wasn't in the mood. Blasphemy? Maybe!), roasted pheasant stuffed with citrus (didn't have this either, although there's leftovers and I'm intrigued), stuffing (from the bird and oven baked, thank goodness), mashed potatoes, mashed turnips (mm!), green bean casserole (it's a tradition. what an ugly dish, but it's a tradition), boiled onions and brussel sprouts (oh man, the sprouts were heavenly), sauerkraut and kielbasa (another tradition, and a way nasty one at that), sweet potatoes, honey roasted root vegetables (made by me!), eggplant with savory cheese stuffing (also made by me!), eggplant parmesan (my mom's), and an assortment of rolls and bread. Wow. That's a lot more food than I realized.

My aunt loves to bake. So as always, the dessert table was jam packed. There was apple pie, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, ice cream salad, fruit salad, and homemade toasted coconut marshmallows (from the barefoot contessa, yay!). And... also my maple pumpkin pie.

The only thing I have a picture of is the maple pumpkin pie. It's a Calorie Commando (marry me) recipe, which can be found here. To be honest, the crust was more trouble than it was worth, and if I make this again, I may make it a crustless pie. The crust is my least favorite part of pie, and I always eat it backwards to get that part out of the way first. Same deal with pizza. But the filling was delicious, and a whole four pieces were eaten, while none were taken from the full fatty pumpkin pie that was also on the table. None!

Here's what it looked like, fresh out of the oven

I had another piece a few hours ago. Now there's one piece left, and I bet it's gonna go soon.

I wish I had taken a picture of the stuffed eggplant. This was a gorgeous recipe, one that I've been looking at on the Cooking Light website for ages and wanting to make. I made a total of six halves and took three with me to dinner, saving the other three for myself because I am a greedy, greedy woman. I sliced each half into about six slices, and it was devoured!

Also quickly devoured were the honey roasted root vegetables. Sweet potato, parsnips, turnip, carrots, and shallots mixed with clover honey, olive oil, and salt. Roasted in the oven at a high temperature (I had to take the battery out of the smoke detector. Oops!). They tasted so, so sweet. And good god almighty, I love parsnips.

So Thanksgiving was good, family was good, the ads in the newspaper were good. Getting six inches of snow kind of sucked and I'm sick of winter already, but what can you do.

I woke up late-ish this morning (around 9:30, way late for me), had some breakfast, and hit a few stores with my mom. I actually wasn't prepared for more Christmas shopping, so I only bought two presents and some cards to send out. Every little bit helps, and next weekend I'm down to Jersey for some outlet shopping (and Ikea! Ikea Ikea!), so I should get a bunch done then.

My work gave me a free 20lb. turkey, and I handed that off to my mother. She's cooking it tomorrow, and I will get leftovers. I started feeling a little regretful about not eating any turkey, so I'll grab a chunk of white meat and run.

Now it's time to look at Christmas cookie recipes. I may hate snow, but I love the holidays.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Pesto Plum Tomato Pizza

I like pizza. A whole lot. However, I don't eat it very often. You know why?

Because pizza is greasy. Now, I have absolutely no problem with grease. I've been told that it's its own food group, and an important one at that. And while there's a time, sometimes, where nothing is more satisfying than biting into a big slice of pizza that leaves your lips shiny with grease.. there's one thing that will never agree with me on that. My stomach.

Case in point: On the last Friday of every month, my work will buy us lunch. It usually consists of sandwiches and salads from a local deli. And they get pizza. I usually order a salad, but this last month, I decided on a sandwich. I picked carefully, and decided on barbecue chicken on wheat bread with lettuce, tomato, and onion. Nothing special, nothing difficult. Maybe it was too easy, because the deli forgot to make my sandwich. I was offered half after half of everyone's sandwich, but not wanting to take anyone's food away from them, I figured I'd have a slice of pizza. It looked really good. Cheese with big chunks of fresh portobello. And it tasted really good. A nice, thick layer of cheese, easy on the sauce, medium thick crust. I enjoyed it, until an hour later when I thought I was going to die. My stomach was doing somersaults, and I still had a good two hours of work left. That's when I was informed that grease is its own food group, and that I was showing signs of deficiency. That could possibly be correct. But anyway, when I want pizza, I have to make it myself.

Out of laziness, I went with a pre-baked crust. A whole wheat boboli crust, to be exact. And here's what I made:

Plum Tomato Pesto Pizza
Servings: 4
WW Points: 6

1 Boboli whole wheat thin pizza crust
2 Tbsp. basil pesto
3/4 lb. plum tomatoes, sliced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 cup shredded 2% mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

Preheat oven to 450°.

Place crust on a large baking sheet. Spread pesto sauce over crust, and arrange tomato and garlic slices over crust. Top with cheeses, and sprinkle with pepper. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with basil. Cut into 8 slices.

Yield: 2 slices per serving

With a salad on the side, I was pretty satisfied. I used store brand pesto, which isn't the greatest, but there's not much on the pizza so it just added a little aftertaste of pesto when biting through the tomatoes.

Pizza. Comforting after a day of blood work and Christmas shopping.

Tomorrow I'm doing some Thanksgiving food shopping. I'm not cooking a whole meal, just two side dishes, a pie, and maybe some cookies depending on what time allows. I can't wait to get my hands on those parsnips and turnips.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Dinner and Movies

It's been a stressful week for me. First, I was deathly ill at the beginning of the week, and missed two days of work. To make it worse, I have no sick time until January. So that's two days of no pay, but still, there's very little I could do to help it.

I was on a watered-down gatorade diet for a day and a half, and let me tell you - I hate gatorade. Passionately. I love seeing lazy people drink it, though.

So the rest of my week at work was reasonably stressful, it's hard to get caught up after a couple of days. But I got caught up and I think the upcoming week should go smoothly.

To top off the week, I had to babysit my father on Friday night, as my mother's been in Vegas for the last few days, and my father is.. "infirm". Actually, I don't really know what he is. He's sick, but not so sick that he can't leave the house. Still, he doesn't leave the house. So he's been cooped up with no human contact, and being the good daughter I am, I went to babysit. Now, I love my dad. I love him a lot. But he's insane. Not the kind of insane where I have funny stories to tell about crazy family members, insane in a way that scares me to death because I'm afraid of ending up like that too.

Anyway, I brought him dinner and watched movies with him and got out of there by the afternoon, even though he started getting mopey about being left alone again. Kind of like a dog, he knows when you're ready to leave.

To wind down tonight, I had a dinner and movie night. The movies - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Undead. And for dinner - Buffalo Chicken Wraps.

I really wanted to like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I rarely like Johnny Depp, and from seeing previews, I had a feeling this wouldn't be one of those rare moments. However, his semi-goth-rock-retard rendition of Willy Wonka kind of struck a cord with me. Delving into family issues always does that. I enjoyed the movie as a whole. The only parts that bothered me took place inside the chocolate factory. The Oompa Loompas were a disgrace.

Undead, an Aussie zombie/alien flick, was actually pretty cool. Zombie movies are best left in the hands of non-Americans, in most cases. I like a movie without a happy ending.

The dinner came from my favorite food blog in the whole wide world, Culinary in the Desert. I read it faithfully, and drool heavily over the pictures. The pictured wrap looks a lot better than the ones I made, so I have nothing to show. I did make a few substitutions, mostly because I didn't feel like going to the store, but the recipe itself is pretty open to interpretation, I think. My wraps always come ou disastrous. I either buy tortillas that are too small, or I overfill. I think it's a combination of both.

One thing's for sure, blue cheese makes for a happy tummy.

I'm going winter coat shopping in the morning, because it's getting very cold. Well, cold, and then warm, and then it's cold again and I'm unprepared. As a perpetually cold person, it's best to be prepared.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Burgers and Fries (kind of)

Well, what a great day. Seventy degrees, sunny, I woke up early and went to the gym, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. On top of that, the person I'm in love with* called me from Chicago. And he'll be home for Christmas. Now, I can never wait for Christmas, it's absolutely my favorite time of year, but this makes it all the better.

After he called, I took a spritely trip out to the grocery store, and came back to make dinner. Oh, dinner. I haven't had a burger and fries in what seems like a very long time. Well, I haven't eaten red meat in just about two years, and don't plan on eating red meat ever again. But I still like burgers. Frozen veggie burgers are fine in a pinch, but sometimes you've just gotta go it on your own. So I found a Cooking Light recipe that sounded good. Of course, it called for real beef. Scratch that, I'm using Lightlife Gimme Lean. This ground beef substitute is really rather unappetizing to look at, but it's flavored well and makes good meatballs. I've never made a burger out of it, but I figured it was at least worth a try. And success! Combined with a hefty spice rub, this is an incredibly flavorful and filling burger.

This burger don't need no mayo.

Open Faced Burgers with Mushroom-Onion Topping
Serves: 2

1 tsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, sliced and separated into rings
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1/8 tsp black pepper
8 oz lightlife gimme lean, ground beef style
1 thomas' light multi-grain english muffin

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook for 5 minutes or until golden. Add mushrooms and salt; cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add vinegar; remove mixture from pan. Set aside.

Combine the paprika and the next 4 ingredients (paprika through black pepper). Divide the "beef" into 2 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Coat patties with spice mixture. Cook patties in non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray 4 minutes on each side or until done. Place burgers on muffin halves, and top each burger with 1/4 cup onion mixture.

WW Points: 4

What's a burger without fries? I love fries, any fries. Baked, fried, when I was a kid I even ate them frozen. Well, I did it once and learned my lesson. Fries are not to be eaten frozen. I was in the mood for fries, but I wanted to do something a little different. So, another Cooking Light recipe, this one for Crispy Hash Browns. Crispy, indeed. I may have taken my eye off of the oven a little bit too long, but at least I know the recipe doesn't lie. These are a nice, unfried hash brown. If I was eating these with eggs, I might find them a little bland, but matched with the flavor heaven mentioned above, it was a nice side dish.

Crispy Hash Browns
Serves: 4

1/2 pound baking potato, shredded
2 tbsp scallions, sliced
2 tbsp green bell pepper, minced
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp onion powder


Preheat oven to 475°.

Place potato in a large bowl, and cover with cold water. Let stand 5 minutes. Drain and rinse potato. Dry thoroughly in a salad spinner, or pat dry with paper towels. Combine potato, onions, and bell pepper in bowl. Add the cornstarch, salt, black pepper, and onion powder; toss well to coat.

Line a baking sheet with nonstick aluminum foil; coat thoroughly with cooking spray. Place a 3-inch biscuit cutter on prepared baking sheet. Fill biscuit cutter with 1/2 cup potato mixture (do not pack). Carefully remove cutter, leaving potato patties intact. Repeat the procedure with remaining potato mixture. Coat tops of potato patties with cooking spray. Bake at 475° for 20 minutes. Turn and bake for an additional 15 minutes or until golden brown.

WW Points (per hash brown): 1

So, a good, good day.

*I may or may not be in love with him. He's asked me, and I've told him I'm in something with him. It's something, all right.