Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Veggie Stacks | 17 Day Diet

hyp·o·crite  /ˈhipəˌkrit/ noun
1: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings

I have said before that being skinny isn't everything, that food = love. I have said that I think diets are a four letter word. They make you set unrealistic goals and feel bad when you can't reach them. And then I said that I planned on sticking to one, despite all that. And you know what, it didn't work. And of course, I felt bad.

But instead of giving up, I started to do more research. All the other "diets" I had tried left me to own devices. Something I've never been good at. The rules were not strict enough. I'm one of those weirdos that really like rules and order. After looking around, I came across The 17 Day Diet. Appropriately named because it takes 17 days something to become a habit. There are 3 cycles of 17 days with one final set of rules to help keep the weight off. Not so bad when you think that 17 days is only a little bit more than half a month.

Well I'm proud to say that for the last 17 days I have actually stuck to the diet. As of today I'm on to Cycle 2! I am down 11 lbs in a healthy way. And you know what, I've really enjoyed it! 

I enjoy the way I feel. I don't crave certain things like I use to. While I can't say I'll never eat a big ol' slice of sourdough bread with butter on it (*drool*), for now I can eat a roasted carrot with a balsamic glaze and kale chips and feel satisfied. Actually there are a batch of kale chips in the oven as we speak! Hurray!

And then there are these guys. For the first couple days I lived on these things. Simple little cups of veggies but they were really tasty. I should admit that I'm no veggie lover, or at least I never have been. This diet has forced me to eat them and actually enjoy them. Go figure!

They aren't very complicated to make as you can imagine. Please ignore the butter in the background, sorry, it isn't included in this dish.

Veggie Stacks
Adapted from For the Love of Cooking
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 gloves of garlic, minced
1 zucchini
1 Yellow Squash
3 Tomatoes
Salt and Pepper
Dried Thyme
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375f. Cut all the veggies into 1/2 inch thick slices.
2. Saute the onions in olive oil. When the onions are translucent, ad the mince garlic. Cook for a minute or so longer.

3. Stack them in the cups starting with the tomato. Layer the zucchini and yellow squash. Fill the cups with additional slices until there are no more or no more space.
4. Place the sauteed onions and garlic on top of the veggie stacks.

5. Sprinkle with cheese, cover with foil and bake for 25 mins. Remove the foil. Bake for another 5-10 mins depending on the way you like your veggies. I like them on the crispy side so I bake for a little less. 

6. Eat them all and feel guilt-free!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kitchen Remodel: Part 1

New years are almost always about change. Resolutions to do better, feel better, be better. It's not like we can't make these choices, say, in April but it just seems more fitting to do it at the beginning of the year.

So in the spirit of change, resolutions, and renewal I'd like to share our kitchen remodel.

Who doesn't love a kitchen before and after??

I know I do!

Especially when it's MY kitchen getting the overhaul! Wahoo!!

And boy, was it a perfect candidate for a before and after. To say it was a little cramped is an understatement.

I badgered asked my boyfriend to do a remodel this year for Christmas. No gifts. Just new kitchen. He was excited and we got started right before Christmas.

The first thing to go was the roll-around dishwasher. (Yes I said roll around. A royal pain.)
Second thing was the stove top. Lucky for us that was two birds with one stone.
Wouldn't you know it, some saintly person was selling their range AND dishwasher together for a SCREAMIN' deal. So when those were purchased we got rollin'! (hehe)

Day 1 of the remodel, Rob's parents came over and helped with the whole process. First we removed the upper cabinetry. This instantly made the kitchen look bigger. But we didn't stop there! The so called "island" was the next to go. It cut the kitchen in half. The only purpose it served was a few shelves and the stove top. And a place to collect unholy amounts of clutter. Seriously, seriously messy counter.

Robert's dad was happy to help destroy it and we were happy to let him do so. No salvaging anything, not even the stove top. It was gone. For good. HOORAY!

Next Rob's mom and I went shopping. I was too excited and wanted a really good reveal. So we left the men to hammer it out, literally.

When we returned a couple hours later, this is what we saw:
 I was so excited to see the cabinet and island completely gone! He had installed the new dishwasher and its housing (where the mixer is) and it's hard to see but in the back by Robert the new stove was also installed. O.M.G!

Together we all helped clean the newly spacious kitchen. Found new places for things and did our best to sweep up all the dust. By the end of the weekend we had done it. An almost total kitchen remodel!

Okay, so here's one last look at the Before:

 Phew, makes me tired just looking at it.

And now, are you ready?

I'm in love!
It's open and more than one person can fit at a time! hehe A real Christmas miracle!
Side by side you can really see the difference!

Of course painting and overall organization is still to come. But for now, I'm to be cooking in this big space!

Well, I hope this is inspiring. I know it is for me.
Hope everyone is having a great week so far!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Bean Salsa in Tortilla Cups

I am so proud of these little gems! The day before Christmas Eve my mom and I were going over the Christmas Eve menu and what other folks were bringing. We wanted to make sure the food  "went together" as best as it could for a potluck. As we read down the list we realized something: Everyone was bringing something Mexican/Spanish/Latin! We'll our stuffed mushrooms and eggplant lasagna were gonna be great but we needed something to compliment the enchilada casserole, chicken molé, and chili spiced chocolate truffles. (Heaven, that stuff was yummy!) In comes bean salsa in tortilla cups.

 It all starts with the baked tortilla cups. Heat the tortillas up in the microwave first or they will just crumble. I went with corn because it pairs so well with pinto beans, but you can use flour if you desire. I cooked these bad boys up at the beginning of the day and they weren't stale by dinner time. If you wanna make them a day ahead, just remove them from the muffin pan and place in a airtight container to get their crunch!

 I didn't bother to cut my tortillas down. I realize I could have trimmed them and saved the pieces but lets be honest, I wouldn't actually use them on Christmas Day. So I went whole tortillas. After a few mishaps (read: bottom right tortilla "cup") I managed to get the hang of the shape. I wish I had a photo of it but the best way I can explain it is this:
Imagine the tortilla is a clock. A hot clock cause it's right out of the microwave! Please be careful.
Pinch the tortilla at 3 & 5 in your right hand and at 9 & 7 in your left bringing 8 & 4 together. Place in the cup and repeat.

Viola! Tortilla cup! (Can you tell I'm a teacher? I'm so visual!)

Now on to the filling.

 Pinto beans, tomatoes, lime juice, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, olive oil, and s&p. That's it. 
If you wanna leave out the tomato, go for it. If you wanna add bell peppers, try it! I love recipes like this. You can really experiment around.

Now, I'd recommend letting the mixture set up for about an hour or 2. This allows the flavors to really meld well.

 OH YEAH! I almost forgot. Then you get to add avocado right on top. You could leave it out... but why would you want to??

 And there you go! These were crazy simple and delicious. And healthy too! If you are vegan or vegetarian, these would be a perfect side dish. I doubled the recipe for the party but you could half it and it would make a great dinner!

Bean Salsa in Tortilla Cups

12 flour tortillas
2 cans of whole pinto beans, drained
1 small red onion, chopped
slices of pickled jalapenos, to taste
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 lime
2 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
Salt, pepper, olive oil
avocado, cubbed

1. Preheat oven to 350f. Fold tortilla into muffin cups. Bake for 20 mins until crispy.
2. Mix beans, onion, jalapenos, cilantro, juice of one lime, tomatoes and a drizzle of olive oil in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste.
3. When you are ready to serve, scoop about 2 tbsps of the beans into the tortilla cups. Add a slice or two of the avocado on top and enjoy!
4. Serve them in the pan. They are a little top heavy ;0).

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