Archive | June, 2010

Molten Chocolate Cakes… baked in a toaster oven

30 Jun

I always try to bake for my co-worker’s birthdays.  I think too often we get caught up so much with work that we don’t remember that we have lives on the outside of the office.  Birthdays are a damn good excuse to have something to celebrate and bring a little joy to the office.  I also love any excuse to bake.  When my coworker mentioned how much she LOVES molten chocolate cakes, I knew what I was making for her birthday.  I also absolutely love molten cakes myself, and I remembered Lori had blogged about making some recently.  So Lori gave me the recipe from the NY Times that sounded easy enough.

I was a bit worried, however, as I knew I was going to have to prepare these in advance and then cook them in the office… in a toaster oven.  So I decided to make a single cake at home first to see how it went.  The batter tasted DELISH and I got it all set up to go in the oven…

And then when the alarm went off, I cheerfully turned it over and…

Wah wah.  Bummer!  Since moving in I have realized that my very large, very modern oven needs longer cooking times than recipes usually call for (maybe because it’s bigger?) and I should have kept it in for longer than the recipe.

So I gathered it all up and dumped it back in and put it back in the oven…

and prayed… and…

Wah Wah x2!  Damn.  It tasted good though!

So I figured I had nothing to lose and I bought some ice cream, whipped cream, and berries and figured that if it didn’t work I would make a trifle or put it in a bowl to eat.  So with frayed nerves and a small prayer… into the work toaster oven it went the next day…

And???

Yayyy! It actually worked!  I actually think they got a little over cooked and weren’t as molten as I would have liked, but at least they came out in little chocolate deliciousities.  What is especially curious is that the ones in the muffin tins worked, yet the last one in the ramekin still didn’t come out right (so I ate it myself out of the container).  Perhaps I need to grease the ramekins more next time.

It’s rare that I fail baking, and this was quite the blow to my floured ego, however, it just goes to show you that making mistakes in baking happens often.  Don’t let it get you down

Market Cafe

26 Jun

Right around the corner is a brightly lit place called Market Cafe (9th Ave between 37th and 38th) that looks slightly out of place below the Port Authority area.  Hopefully, for those of us in the neighborhood, places like this will continue to pop up and take over some of the abandoned and not-so-desirable store fronts in the neighborhood.  Don’t get me wrong, I love authentic, old New York, however, this area is still a bit more run down and loaded with the homeless population to be counted as a “desirable neighborhood” to live in.  I have never exactly been one to flock to the hot neighborhoods, however, and much prefer these “up and commers.” 

Anyway… Market has been a place we have been meaning to try since moving in, but it took us about 6 months to get there with dad and Maggie.  I started with sangria… which wasn’t great, but thirst quenching at least.

Maggie went with the salad… which I cannot remember.

Mike went with… shocker… the burger.  He was a good boy and got veggies instead of fries. Bravo Mike!  He liked it.

Dad chose the grilled shrimp with stewed lentils and and parsley oil.  The shrimp were delicious.  Mmmm char.

I chose the (“crisped”) roast garlic chicken with creamed potatoes, spinach, and roast garlic sauce.  It was nice and juicy, but I expected it to be crispier since it did say it was crispy in the description.  The garlic sauce was perfectly sweet.  Quite enjoyable.

Overall, Market is a nice part of the neighborhood and while not outstanding, it seems like an easy, reliable place to grab a meal.  Entrees are a little on the pricey side for a place that is a bit off the grid, but it matches the effort that the place is trying to make by being modern in the neighborhood.  All entrees were less than $20, but even the burger was $14.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Weight Watchers Cooking: Baked Omelette

25 Jun

I wanted something hearty and healthy one night, and after flipping through Hungry-Girls’ 1-2-3 cookbook, I decided to edit one of her recipes.  She had oven-baked omelette lasagna which used zucchini instead of lasagna noodles (a recipe I MUST try, especially after ready about Lori trying it).  Unfortunately, however, on this day I didn’t have zucchini.  So I figured I’d forgo the lasagna part of the recipe and just make a giant baked omelette.  And wow was it easy!

I basically just combined everything I’d normally put in an omelette (tomatoes and mushrooms being the key pieces, plus spices) and used fat-free liquid egg substitute (I happened to use Better’n Eggs since I had so much luck with Better’n Peanut Butter). We also threw in some Purdue Short Cuts for extra protein.  Then I topped it with Weight Watchers shredded cheese…

And baked it…

The portion was HUGE for the points and I was totally stuffed after eating this.

One quarter of the full recipe is FIVE points!  That is insane!

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RECIPE
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Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Better’n Eggs (they come in a 3 pack of 1 cup containers)
  • 1/2 – 2/3 box of Purdue Short Cuts
  • 1/3 cup canned tomatoes, drained
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 3/4 cup Weight Watchers Shredded Mexican Style Cheese
  • Salt & Pepper, Garlic Powder, Oregano to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F
  2. Spray a 9×13 inch baking pan with nonstick spray (sides too)
  3. In a bowl, mix all ingredients except cheese
  4. Pour mixture into pan
  5. Top with cheese
  6. Bake 20-25 minutes or until lightly brown and cooked through

Chicken Tarts

21 Jun

I like easy recipes that look really complex.  And there is something about individual portions that always make a dish look that much more difficult.  Muffin tins are a favorite of mine for making dishes like the Crustless Ham & Egg Tarts and this new recipe for Chicken Tarts.

The secret to these tarts is the Pillsbury Crescent Seamless Recipe Creations Dough.  Someone over there got wise that their crescent rolls were being used for more than just their cut out triangles were originated for and made some that are a single sheet of dough (rather than perforated).  Genius!

For this recipe, you roll the dough out and then push it out a bit more with a rolling pin so you can cut out 12 squares that will line a muffin cup. (The best tool for this is a pizza cutter!)

Then you put the dough into each muffin cup and build it up the side.  It didn’t quite reach the top of most of my cups, but it still worked well.

Then… you fill it!  We went with mushrooms and already cooked chicken slices that we made into bite size pieces (Purdue Shortcuts… another favorite easy food staple of mine).

Then we topped each cup with some canned tomatoes (and shredded Weight Watchers cheese) and popped them in the oven.

The looked and smelled SO good!

And they came out perfectly browned… just a little bit crispy and then that buttery, fluffy goodness on the inside.

With 3 per serving, this was very filling and SO savory and satisfying for just 7.5 points!

Paired with some zero point (frozen) spinach and onions… hard to beat!   

The prep time on these was so little, and with so many pre-made pieces, it just comes together perfectly.  

Bake time was 15-20 minutes (until the edges start to brown) at 375 degrees F.  Even though they smell delicious, let them cool for a few minutes.

Akdeniz

18 Jun

There is no shortage of greek food in NYC, especially falafel.  But it’s rare to find an affordable, quick, delicious one in the Theatre District that you can actually eat in without a reservation.  With those pre-qualifications, Akdeniz (on 46th Street between 5th and 6th Aves) never disappoints.  I have gone there with quite a few people, and it is usually a crowd pleaser.  

Mike chose the Sultan’s Delight this time which is “a classic ottoman dish made with chunks of chicken or lamb over smoked eggplant puree.”  He said it was good, however, see that lovely piece of death on the side of the plate?  That kept me far away due to my pepper allergy.

I went pretty simple and diet friendly with the Mediterranean Sea Bass (de-boned since I’m a wimp) which was served with arugula and shredded carrots. For such a “plain” dish, this was really delicious! And I estimated only about 6 points! WOO!

Overall, Akdeniz is quite reliable, fresh, and relatively inexpensive for Times Square (less than $20 per entree and some dishes on the menu for less than $10).

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Quantum Leap

16 Jun

Esther suggested we meet one night for dinner at Quantum Leap in the East Village.  It’s a restaurant that specializes vegetarian and organic dishes.  Usually not my thing (I like my meat), but Esther said it was good, so I gave it a shot.  Turns out it’s actually pescatarian and they also have vegan items.

It was a long day and I had eaten well, so I treated myself to a beer.  I went with the organic Georg Schneider’s Wiesen Edel-Weisse.  It was so good I took a picture of it.

I actually cannot for the life of me remember what Esther ordered.  Esther: If you read this, let me know!  I remember she liked it very much though.  It MAY have been this: Vegetarian Curry Stew a melange of seasonal vegetables and tofu slowly simmered in our south east asia curry spices. served with basmati-lentil rice

The rice was especially delicious.

I had the Seafood Scampi with skewers of broiled shrimp scallop, flounder and salmon in roasted fresh garlic. served with fettuccini and sauteed garden vegetables in a pesto sauce.

I really liked the seafood and the pasta taste was great, but a little extra oily.

Point estimation?  11 for dinner.

  • Beer ~ 3 points
  • 2 skewers ~ 5 points
  • 1 cup pasta ~ 3 points (I didn’t eat all on the plate)

I think this place was pretty good, and I certainly didn’t miss the “meat.”  I wasn’t overwhelmed, however, and don’t think I’d be chomping at the bit to go back.

Total Nom Points: 5.5 out of 10

Hungry Girl’s S’Mores Stuffed Bananas

14 Jun

I bought Hungry Girl’s 1-2-3 cookbook and was tempted by many recipes, but none so much as the “easy oven-baked s’mores-stuffed bananas.” 

Easy? Love it!

Baked? Yes!

S’Mores? YES YES!

Stuffed Bananas? Definitely!

So you split the banana horizontally and then stuff it FULL with crumbled graham crackers and chocolate.

The you top it with marshmallows and wrap it all up in tinfoil.

Then you unwrap a delicious gift.

Just the banana + stuffing is only THREE points!  The dollop of fat free whip added 1 point.  What a great treat!

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RECIPE
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Hungry Girl’s Easy Oven-Baked S’Mores-Stuffed Bananas

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbl mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 sheet (4 crackers) low-fat honey graham crackers, crushed
  • 4 small bananas, unpeeled, ripe yet slightly firm
  • 1/4 cup mini marshmallows
  • Optional: Fat free reddi-wip

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Mix chocolate chips with graham cracker crumbs in small bowl. Set aside.
  3. Lay bananas on a flat surface and cut a 3/4-inch-deep slit lengthwise in each from top to bottom.  Cut two small slits width-wise at the top and bottom of each banana, to make opening the fruit easier
  4. One at a time, use a fork to pry open bananas slightly and fill each with 1/4 of the chocolate-crumb mixture.  Evenly distribute marshmallows among the bananas, pressing them into the openings
  5. Thoroughly wrap each banana in foil that has been lightly sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, ensuring there are no openings for filling to escape.  Place bananas on a baking sheet.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until bananas feel very soft when gently squeezed with an oven mitt
  7. Serve immediately with spoons for scooping the gooey mixture out of the peels or, if you prefer, transfer the mixture from each banana peel into a bowl.  Top with Reddi-wip, if you like, and enjoy!

Makes 4 servings

Portobello Pizzas

11 Jun

I’m typically not a huge pizza fan, however, sometimes I just crave it.  I read about a “diet” version that uses portobellos instead of pizza crust and I was sold!

I prepped the ingredients: portobello mushrooms, tomatoes, fresh basil, pine nuts, and Saucy Solutions Bolognese sauce.

First you bake the mushrooms for 5 minutes.

Then you fill them with all the goodies and bake for 20 minutes.  (You can stick them in the broiler for a minute or two at the end to get them crispier on top if you prefer them the way I do)

We even topped them with some sliced roasted garlic.

This recipe is a total WINNER. And for just 5 points, it’s hard to beat (just 3 points if you use a fat free tomato sauce!).

I really enjoyed the bolognese.  It was hearty and full of flavor.  It was even better over pasta.  Nom Nom Nom.

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RECIPES
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Portobello Pizzas (Serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 2 portobello mushrooms, cleaned with stems removed
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tomato, sliced or 1 cup grape mushrooms, cut in half
  • 1 Tbs. basil, sliced
  • 1 Tbs. pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup bolognese
  • 3/4 cup Weight Watchers shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

  1. Preheat to 350 degrees F
  2. Spray baking dish/pan with cooking spray and place mushrooms in
  3. Bake for 10 minutes
  4. Fill each with half of the remaining ingredients (cheese on top)
  5. Bake for an additional 5 minutes (broil at end if desired)
  6. Serve warm

Pongsri Thai- Take 2

9 Jun

This isn’t my first post about Pongsri Thai and I’m sure it won’t be my last. This time I found myself there with my friend Travis. 

Travis proved that the Big Bird’s Love Nest is just too irresistible a name to resist.

I went with something brand new to stay healthy (I love Thai but I always order either Pad Thai or Pad See Ew). It was tons of sauteed veggies with shrimp in a garlic ginger sauce.  DELISH! I hardly missed my noodles for eating a whole plate for 7.5 points.

And that left me with points left for… dessert!  We decided to try the Coconut Ice Cream Delight which was young coconut, taro, jackfruit and palm seeds.  I couldn’t stop eating this and was happy the portion was small and Travis graciously shared some.  I counted it for 4 points… so hard to tell with ice cream!

Overall, Pongsri is reliable and delicious.  It’s also in a pretty convenient area (there are 3 in the city).

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

Ostrich: The perfect diet food

7 Jun

I have the incredible fortune of working right by the Union Square Greenmarket. Besides going out for awesome lunches, fresh veggies, wine tasting, and buying   beautiful flowers, they sometimes have some rareties.  It was here that we secured our bison meat as well as the ramps (and miscellaneous other goodies!).  As I was searching for lunch, there was a vender cooking up some ostrich meat and singing it’s praises. 

What is so good about ostrich? Glad you asked! It is high in protein and very low in fat (even less than turkey and less than half of chicken!) It’s low in calories and high in iron (the meat is almost as red as steak).  Oh… and it’s delicious!  The vendor was giving samples and good thing as it convinced me to buy them (even though they were quite expensive at $20 for this steak for 2).

We paired it with delicious roasted cauliflower.

It was a FANTASTIC portion and my whole plate came to just 8 points.

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RECIPE
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Ingredients:

  • 4-4oz Ostrich Steaks (no thicker than 3/4”)
  • 1/4 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt

Directions:

  1. Marinate ostrich steaks in wocester sauce, garlic powder, and salt for about 30 minutes to an hour 
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  3. Roast for about 15 minutes per pound (internal temp should be about 155 degrees)
  4. Remove from oven and slice