Monday, January 28, 2013

Weekend Eats

Mr. PT and I trekked through the blizzard to visit my sister and brother-in-law in the Richmond area this past weekend.  Man, was it worth it!  We did a lot of laughing, eating, watching stupid TV and funny movies, and beer/wine drinking.  Well, they drank.  I mostly tasted and chugged water.  Higher calling these days!!

We ate some really tasty meals!  Friday night we headed to a Thai restaurant and had sushi and vegetable lo-mien (guess which one I ate).  Saturday night my brother in law grilled some chicken and we made quesadillas on the George Foreman!

These were filled with sauteed onions and peppers (in olive oil and taco seasoning), Mexican rice, grilled chicken and cheese.

Dipped in your choice of toppings!  Guacamole, lettuce, sour cream, salsa...

Saturday morning, my sister Kelly felt adventurous and made a fantastic vegetable quiche!

She sauteed onions, peppers, and spinach in olive oil with a pinch of salt.  She pre-baked the pie shell for about 10 minutes then filled it with the vegetable mixture.  On top, she spread 4 eggs mixed with a touch of milk and cheddar/mozzarella cheese.  This baked for about 30 minutes.

Delicious! So much good food!  So much fun!

Combine with...traveling exercise!  Don't know what to do?  Offer to take the family dog on a walk.  You'll get a good workout while giving your hosts a break for the day.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thinking of warmer times

Remember back in the summer, when we went on a long hike up a mountain in tee shirts and shorts?  Remember when we came home and sipped on cold beer and cool wine?  Remember when we made a fantastic dinner filled with fresh ingredients?

Well, those days are in hiatus until June.  However, I try to bring some summer memories into the kitchen in the dead of winter just to keep our spirits up.  Recipes usually come out differently when the temperature is 15 rather than 85, however, we still end up saying "delicious!"

Last night I served a warm vegetable pasta dish with a side salad.  I started with garlic-lemon infused olive oil in a pan with mushrooms and sun-dried tomatoes.  I boiled 1/2 bunch kale then drained and added it to the pan.  I boiled 1/2 box of whole wheat spaghetti and added this to the mix.  I topped our bowls with feta cheese (cheese makes any dish amazing!).

This pasta reminded me of the summer when we got bunches and bunches of kale from our vegetable share.

Tonight, we ate leftover veggie pasta alongside a winter version of the zucchini tomato gratin.  I started with regular olive oil in a medium heat pan with most of one red onion (sliced) 3-4 sliced mushrooms, one sliced zucchini, and 3-4 chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I'm kind of obsessed with these right now!).  I took1-2 cups of bread crumbs and toasted them in a 350 oven for about 15-20 minutes.  Once the veggies were soft and bread crumbs were crunchy, I split the veggie mixture in half, leaving half in the pan.  I spread them evenly on the bottom of the pan and topped with half of the bread crumb mix and a hefty sprinkle of mozzarella cheese.  I topped the cheese with the other half of the veggies, the rest of the bread crumbs, about 1 tbs. of dried basil, and more cheese.  Then I baked the whole darn thing at 350 for about 25-30 minutes.  

Watch so it doesn't burn!!

So a little different, some would say less fresh than the summer version, but still incredibly healthy and awesomely yummy.

What's your favorite summer recipe?  How can you alter it to make it a runner-up in the winter?

Combine with a free-weight or band exercise at home.  Hit biceps, triceps, back, chest, and shoulders.  Add a few squats and lunches to hit the caboose.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Better Batter

I don't know if it's the surplus of Ihop and Denny's commercials on television for the NFL playoffs or my baby's love of breakfast food, but I have been craving pancakes all weekend!

I know I've made some pretty healthy pancakes with buckwheat and whole wheat flour in the past, but today is a different day with different cravings and I wanted fluffy, buttermilk pancakes.

Mr. PT and I almost stopped at a diner after church, but we thought it would be better to save our money (not only do we have a baby on the way but we have a car on the way out...) and make our own.

I stopped at the store for some essential items and came across this intriguing package in the organic section of the store.

I realize pancakes are not that hard to make from scratch, however, my stomach was growling and the word "buttermilk" was calling my name.

They turned out beautifully!  Thick and fluffy, just what I wanted.  Pancakes and waffles taste the best with real maple syrup.  I know it's expensive ($8? Seriously??) but the taste of real maple is irreplaceable.

Fresh fruit in the winter is also a refreshing reminder of what is to come in a few months.

If you scoff at packaged pancake mix, try Ruth Reichl's version of the real thing.  She was the editor of Gourmet Magazine and a food critic for both the LA and New York Times.  She has written some fantastic memoirs and writes a killer food blog.

Combine with a day of rest if you need it.  Swim, bike, run, rest.  Give yourself a much needed break once in a while.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Before the veggies go bad...

The vegetables in your crisper are getting stale or soggy!  Quick!  Think of something to do with them before they end up as compost!

My go-to vegetable meal?  Pizza of course!

Slice them up and stick them on some homemade dough for a gourmet meal.

I piled fresh tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, green pepper, feta cheese and a sprinkle of mozzarella on my side and green pepper and pepperoni on Mr. PT's side (he loves his pepperoni).  Let's take a closer look at this.


Don't let those veggies go to waste.  You must bake now!!

Combine with a morning walk in the snow.  Snow looks best when it's freshly laid and the sun is peeking its rays out through the trees.  Plus, the snow forces you to use your balance and muscles for stability, a whole new workout.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Not your typical spaghetti

What should you do when you feel like eating pasta but are tired of the same old spaghetti?

The solution is a lovely mix of greens, eggplant, sun-dried tomatoes, hearty noodles and tangy feta cheese.

Is your mouth watering yet?

This recipe was inspired by this fellow blogger who recently celebrated National Spaghetti Day.  How did I not know this day existed??

Anyway, I started this dish by asking Mr. PT (nicely, of course) to boil some rigatoni.  Normally I would prefer whole wheat noodles but this is what we had in the cupboard.

I then warmed a skillet with olive oil and dropped in several handfuls of spinach leaves, 6-7 thin slices of peeled eggplant, and chopped sun dried tomatoes.  After the vegetables were starting to wilt, I added a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and crushed pepper.  I skipped the salt since feta cheese is pretty salty.

Once these were cooked to perfection and the pasta was ready, I tossed everything together in a bowl with about 1/4 cup feta cheese.

This was so delicious and so easy to make.  Baby and I enjoyed leftovers for lunch the next day!

Combine with a 30 minute run/walk session.  Walk for 5, run for 10, walk for 5 run for 10 (or the other way around if you are less of a runner).

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Bring back the Veggies

I can cook and eat vegetables again! JOY!

Veggie burgers are tough.  They are tough to successfully order and enjoy at a restaurant and even tougher to master at home.  They always end up too mushy or too tough, in my opinion.

So when I saw this recipe for black bean quinoa veggie burgers, I was intrigued!

I basically followed the recipe as you'll see on her blog, with the exceptions of using regular flour, no egg, and vegetable flavored quinoa.

I used a can of refried black beans instead of processing whole beans (no lard added).  If you are concerned about salt, use regular beans and process as she instructs.  

I got this snazzy balsamic reduction for Christmas so I had to try it out!  It was awesome!

Instead of a full-sized onion, I used these smaller pearl onions (they were in my pantry).  If you have these, make sure you boil them first for about 3 minutes.  Cool them in cold water, cut off the root, and the onion meat should slip right out.
So, the flavor of these little patties was fantastic, however, the texture was not quite ideal.  No matter how much flour I added, they were still quite wet.  Reading the comments on the blog made me think I didn't need the egg, so I shrugged my shoulders and treated my mixture more like pancake batter.

I dropped about 1/4 cup in a hot pan with olive oil and flattened it with a spatula as they cooked.  I then baked the patties in the oven (350) for about 15 minutes to toughen them up.  They were crispy on the outside and soft in the middle...a fair victory!

I topped them with honey mustard and avocado and sandwiched them with slider buns.  You can double stack the veggie patties for more "meat."

Burgers, patties, them what you want, they were quite delicious and nutritious!

Combine with a sunny winter day hike when you can!  If the sun is shining and it's above 48 degrees, get yourself outside for at least an hour!  All natural vitamin D is hard to come by these days!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Big news for the new year!

Hello again readers, and happy new year!  Can you believe it's 2013?  Where did 2012 go?

I hope everyone had a fantastic holiday season filled with friends, family, and good times.  Mr. PT and I hosted a holiday party here in Roanoke and traveled to Columbus, OH to be with my family.  Our timing could not be better because my sister had her first baby, dear little Caroline, on Friday December 28.  I was so thankful we could be nearby to see the little bambina before heading southeast.  Although now I'm going through baby withdrawl...need to see that baby again!

If you have been disappointed with my blogging lately, I do not blame you.  I'm disappointed in myself.  I'm hoping you have not forgotten about me and have enjoyed flipping through old posts to find ideas for recipes.

The truth is, I have not been cooking a lot lately.  In fact, I have not been excited about food for the past three months.

Why, you ask?

Because I'm pregnant, of course!!

That's right...Mr. PT and I are happy to announce that baby PT is on the way!  I have completed 16 weeks of this incredible journey and it has been quite the roller coaster, to say the least.  My appetite started out great.  I was hungry all the time, eating everything in sight.  Then, around week 6, I hit a gustatory wall.  I could eat practically nothing.  I never actually got sick, but I spent my days in a constant state of nausea.  I'm not sure what is worse.

So, my action in the kitchen took a definite break.  Here is what I ate for about 2 1/2 months.

waffles supplemented with fruit

 cereal of all varieties, hot and cold

plain cheese pizza, prepared by Mr. PT

toast, toast, and more toast

I also ate a lot of yogurt, bananas, granola bars, and string cheese.  It was pretty boring!  Around week 13 I was finally able to force myself to stand above a stove long enough to make some pasta.

This was cooked pasta tossed in a pan with olive oil, basil, fresh spinach, mozzarella cheese, and salt/pepper.  Normally I would add fresh garlic but garlic was a no-no throughout this nauseating time period.

So, it's been quite an adventure so far.  My appetite has finally returned and I am back in the kitchen once again.  Hopefully you will continue to visit my blog to find easy, fun ways to improve your health by eating and exercising.  If any of you are expecting, I hope I will inspire you stay active and supplement your prenatal vitamins with whole fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy.

Also, you might be surprised to see more meat in my dishes.  After a few fainting spells, protein and iron are key players these days.  Feel free to substitute meat with more veggies or just do without.

Thank you for reading my humble blog and sending thoughts, prayers, and good wishes our way as our little one continues to grow!

Combine bouts of nausea with continued exercise.  Afraid you might never want to eat again?  Take a 45 minute walk or a 20 minute run and you may feel differently.  You may think lounging on the couch feels the best, however, forcing yourself to get up and move (especially outside in the fresh air) will boost your metabolism and give you renewed energy.