Sunday, August 30, 2009

Miracle Whip is for Simpletons

Miracle Whip, for god's sake. What a repulsive condiment.

Miracle Whip's new, Youthy McHipster television ad campaign exhorts us, "Don't be boring!" That's like Jessica Simpson telling us not to be vacuous nitwits.

We're also urged to follow Miracle Whip on Twitter. And become a fan of Miracle Whip on Facebook. Oh yes... I'll get right on that. With Miracle Whip in my social network, I will be tearin' it up every night for the rest of my life.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Breakfast, Importance of. Blah, blah, blah.

In my thinking, the most important meal of day is whichever one I'm eating. Or anticipating. That said, I like breakfast and I function better when I've had it. But doing the Complete Breakfast routine is spotty during the week.

Now that school is back in session, I no longer have the luxury of ambling into the kitchen to scramble a casual egg and enjoy a leisurely repast. These days it's more like shove food in my face while shoving books and files and computer and workout gear into the backpack, then gallop out the door, sprint to the BART station, and puff gently until my heart rate drops back to normal.

So... what to eat Monday through Friday?

The fast-and-easy stuff is always very carb-heavy (cereal, nutrition bars, toast, bagel), which presents two problems: 1) I can eat a wheelbarrowful of carbs and be hungry again in 45 minutes and 2), I'm not crazy about any of that stuff anyway.

So at 9:00 this morning - Saturday - I took action. I made a batch of breakfast burritos, wrapped them for nuking in microwave-safe plastic, tucked them into the fridge for next week, and patted myself on the back for my foresight.

The fruits of my labor lasted until 11:26am. This is what happens when one leaves one's burritos unattended in a house with two other human beings, one of whom is a high school senior recovering from soccer practice.

So I'll repeat the make-ahead process tomorrow, this time disguising the burritos in protective camouflage, perhaps inside a hollowed out eggplant.

Breakfast Burritos (makes 6)

These are high protein, high fiber, low carb, and tip the scales at a mere 300 calories. They're vegetarian, although not vegan. Best of all, they're portable and super tasty - make sure you get good cheese and salsa for best results.
  • 3 cups egg whites (the kind in a carton)
  • 1 -12 ounce package Soyrizo (soy chorizo)
  • 3 ounces reduced-fat sharp cheddar, grated
  • 6 Tortilla Factory low carb/high fiber whole wheat tortillas
  • 6 tablespoons salsa
  • 3 green onions
  • Microwave-safe plastic wrap (like Press and Seal)
Grate the cheese. Chop the green onions. Cut the chorizo into 6, 2-ounce sections. Spread the tortillas out on the counter. Squeeze each soyrizo section out of its casing onto a tortilla. Divvy up the cheese between each, then top each with 1 tablespoon of salsa.

Heat a large skillet to medium, coat with cooking spray, and add the green onions. Saute for a minute, then add the eggwhites. Let the eggs cook, moving them around the pan occasionally with a wooden spoon, until they're cooked through.

Divide the the eggs between the six loaded tortillas.

Tear off a roughly square-shaped piece of plastic wrap. Put the as-yet-unrolled-tortilla on top. Fold up the tortilla, and then wrap it tightly in the plastic wrap. Mark the end of the plastic wrap on the burrito by folding over 1/2 an inch of wrap to make a little easy-grab tab. That way you can find the unwrapping point easily when it's time to eat. (You will thank me for this tip in the pre-coffee dawn, trust me.)

Each burrito has 300 calories, 14g fat, 25g carbs, 35g protein, and 15g fiber.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Breakfast al Fresco

Ah, August. Saturday was a rare sunny day, with the temperature high enough that we dared venture outdoors without jackets and scarves.

I put the grill to work - even baking the biscuits on the top rack, a happily successful experiment - and we broke our fast out on the deck. The side-burner is a much-neglected component for such undertakings as scrambling eggs. Some day we'll live in a warmer microclimate where we can have an outdoor kitchen and cook everything on the grill. C'mon, California Lottery!

Fresh mint and basil came from the garden; goat cheese from a local Sonoma farmer, tomatoes from the farmers' market. God only knows where the Costco biscuit product came from.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

12 Bucks

This is what 12 bucks gets you at the farmers' market:
  • Pluots
  • Nectarines
  • Corn
  • Yellow raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Strawberries
and a melon that smells like ass.

Scallops on the Grill

Just back from some sun 'n swim action, the last thing I wanted to do was get all complicated with dinner. So:

Grilled Scallops and Asparagus
  • 1 lb. asparagus
  • 1 lb. scallops
  • 1/2 bottle Soy Vey marinade
  • 1/8 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
Whisk the last five ingredients together in a small bowl. Rinse the asparagus and snap off the tough ends. Rinse the scallops and pat dry.

Put the scallops and some of the marinade in a ziplock bag. Put the asparagus and the rest of the marinade in another ziplock bag. Put both bags in the fridge to marinade for 30 - 60 minutes.

When you're ready to cook, heat the grill to high and cook the asparagus for three minutes on one side, then turn them over. Place the scallops on the hottest part of the grill (if you have a "sear" option, use it) for 2 minutes. Turn them over and sear from another 2 minutes. Pull everything off the grill and tent it with foil; allow it to stand about 5 minutes.

Serves three (with some half-hearted whining about not enough scallops). With a cup of brown rice on the side, this dinner rolls in at about 400 calories with a not-bad 5 grams of fiber.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Family Dinner

The ideal pre-game meal for Scrabble: lamb steak, grilled polenta, and sauteed raab. Although we probably should have laid off the Shannon Ridge Zinfandel, considering how thoroughly the milk-drinking Boy walloped us, two games in a row.

Frozen Pizza That Doesn't Suck

I have had a difficult time accepting what Californians refer to as "pizza." It can be a very tasty food, but it's not pizza. The crust is wrong, the sauce is wrong, and more than anything else, the toppings are wrong. Figs and goat cheese? Please. Like I said: very tasty... but not pizza.

Once I accepted that I would never, ever get a decent slice from any so-called pizzeria anywhere in the Golden State, I began exploring options.

First I tried making my own. I had some success, but the results were never like the Star Tavern (Orange NJ) or Pete and Elda's (Neptune City NJ). And really, what could be? Those two joints are as close as I've ever come to pizza heaven.

Despondent at thelukewarm results of my efforts, I did the unthinkable. I started sampling frozen pizza. And predictably enough, most of it was awful. Even with added toppings (which are mandatory), the vast majority of these flabby pies were getting a D+ at best.

Then, on a whim (read: on sale for $3.99) I tried Safeway Select Ultra Thin Crust pizza. And it was actually pretty good. The Garlic Chicken version (while not what I would call pizza) was good enough to eat with only a scattering of grated parm as an add-on. But the real workhorse of this product family is the Margherita: just crust, cheese, fresh tomatoes, and a shred of basil. It's a great base for whatever you want to throw on it. Top it with pepperoni and a shake of parm. Or saute up some fresh mushrooms with basil and garlic for a veggie option. Grated Asiago and sun-dried tomatoes. Etc.

I'm pretty sure the Safeway Select pizzas are simply California Pizza Kitchen pies, repackaged. So if you don't have a Safeway in the neighborhood, look for the yellow CPK box in the freezer (even though it'll set you back eight bucks instead of four).

Sausage and Raab Pizza

  • One Safeway Select Ultra Thin Crust Margherita Pizza
  • 2 links of Italian sausage
  • 1/2 a bunch of broccoli raab
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth (or water)
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 450. Chop the garlic. Chop the raab.

Coat a saute pan or wok with cooking spray or a light film of olive oil. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the casings and saute over high heat, crumbling with a wooden spoon until it's just slightly browned. Drain on a paper towel.

Take the pie out of its packaging and slide it into the oven (directly on the rack, not on a pan) for about 7 minutes, which is as long as it will take you to cook the raab, as follows:

Pour most of the fat out of the pan, leaving a tablespoon or so. Add the garlic and saute over medium heat for one minute. Add the chopped raab and the broth, turn the heat to high, cover, and let it steam down for 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel.

Pull the pizza out of the oven. Scatter the crumbled sausage and sauteed raab over the top. Sprinkle with the grated parm. Put the pie back in the oven (still directly on the rack) and dial the heat down to 400. Bake for about 8 -10 more minutes, or until the parm is golden.

One sausage and raab pizza will feed two people (or one teenage boy). Half a pie is about 700 calories - even so, it's a caloric steal compared to, say, a Round Table Italian Garlic Supreme (medium) at 1200 calories for the same serving size.