Sunday, August 31, 2008

My Healthier Lasagna

I'm watching my figure, so
I made a traditional heavy Lasagna recipe a little lighter. I used low fat ricotta and provolone, but left the mozzarella full fat for better flavor.

My Healthier Lasagna
Serves 8
7 Weight Watchers Points per serving

6 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
26-28 oz can or jar tomato sauce
1/3 pound cooked lean ground turkey
1 Tbsp ground oregano
1 tsp McCormick Ground black pepper
2 tsp table salt
1 1/2 cup water
3 Tbsp dried parsley
2 egg
2 serving Sargento Reduced Fat Provolone
1 1/2 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese (yes, you could use skim mozzarella)
1 cup spinach
9 pieces Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Pasta Lasagna Noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Brown Turkey in a large Pan.

While browning meat, in a large bowl, mix
Ricotta, 3/4 Cup Mozzarella, Parsley, Eggs, and 3 Tbsp Parmesan.

Drain turkey and add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, oregano, water. Stir and Simmer for a few minutes.

In a 13x9 baking pan, Pour a cup of the turkey sauce mixture on the bottom of the pan.
Lay down 3 sheets of lasagna noodles in a row on top of the sauce in the pan.
pour 1 cup of sauce on the noodles.
Lay out half the spinach (rinsed and dried)
on top of the noodles and sauce.
Spread half of the cheese mixture on the layers.
Lay down three pieces of pasta.
Pour one cup of sauce over this pasta.
spread remaining spinach and then remaining cheese for the next layer.
Place three more slices of pasta down.
Pour the remaining sauce over the layers.
Sprinkle remaining grated mozzarella on top, add the slices of Provolone, and the remaining Parmesan.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Uncover and Bake 10 Minutes more to Brown the Cheese.
Remove from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes before slicing.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A Cook Killed the DJ - A Playlist

I made a playlist for you to play while cooking.
Most of it is embedded right here in video form, just press play:

Make It With You - Bread Make It with You and Other Hits

Come On In My Kitchen - Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings

Banana Split For My Baby - Louis Prima Capitol Collectors Series: Louis Prima

Think - Aretha Franklin The Blues Brothers: Original Soundtrack

Green Onions - Booker T and the MG's The Very Best of Booker T. and the MG's

Sugar Sugar - Archies Absolutely the Best of the Archies

Whip It - Devo Freedom of Choice

Feed Me (Git It) - Howard Ashman and Alan Menkin Little Shop Of Horrors (1986 Film)

The Candy Man - Sammy Davis Jr. The Candy Man

Any Way You Want It - Journey Greatest Hits

C is For Cookie - Cookie Monster Sesame Street - Cookie Monster's Best Bites

Eat It
- Wierd Al Yankovic Weird Al Yankovic - The Ultimate Video Collection

Because of limitations on embedding on Blogger, only 9 of the 12 are playing on the site. Check it out at YouTube for more information and the rest of the videos: A Cook Killed the VJ

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Michael Phelps vs. an Average Woman on Weight Watchers

The newspapers have been reporting on the incredible amount of calories that Michael Phelps has been
eating per day to maintain his weight as he trains and competes for the gold.

According to The Guardian UK, CNBC, and a whole mess of other media outlets, Mr. Phelps up to 12,000 calories a day. What would that mean to Michael if he was on the Flex Plan of Weight Watchers? Michael Phelps would need to eat 240 points a day.

Compare this to an averaged sized, moderately active woman on Weight Watchers who might get about 24 points a day.

Here is a sample menu for that Average Woman.

1 cup light artificially sweetened yogurt - 2 pts
2 Tbsp dried cranberries - 1 pt
1/2 cup low-fat granola cereal 3 pts

(Breakfast total - 6 pts)

1/2 Cup Tomatoes - 0 pts
Turkey Sandwich on Wheat Bread with one slice of low fat cheese - 5 pts
1 Cup Carrot Sticks - 0 pts
2 Small Plums - 1 pt

(Lunch total - 6 pts)

Healthy Snack
1 Apple - 1 pts
1 Tbsp Peanut Butter - 2 pts

(Snack total - 3 pts)

For dinner, lets say Average Woman eats at the chain restaurant called Islands...
1/2 Small Caesar Salad - 3.5 (She puts the other half in a to go box before she even has a bite.)
1 Bowl of Tortilla Soup (no sour cream or Guacamole)- 8 pts
1 24 oz Diet Coke - 0

(Dinner total - 11.5 pts)

Total Points for the day... 26.5
Just a bit over the 24 point goal, but luckily Average Woman has 35 extra points a week to use when she goes over her daily limit.

What would a sample menu for Michael look like?

5 Slices Wheat Toast - 6 pts
2 Tbsp of Butter - 6 pts
1 Tbsp Jelly - 1 pt
8 Egg Cheese, Mushroom, and Spinach Omelet - 24 pts
6 Mini Sausages - 5 pts.
3 Pancakes Prepared from Scratch - 9 pts
2/3 Cup Maple Syrup - 11 pts
2 Cups Melon - 2 pts
16 Oz 2% Milk - 5 pts
24 Oz Fresh Orange Juice - 6 pts

(Breakfast total - 75 pts)

3 Cups of Caesar Salad -7 pts
3 Dinner Rolls - 10 pts
1 16oz Steak - 36 pts
2 Large Baked Potatoes - 7 pts
2 Table Spoons of Butter - 6 pts
4 Tbsp of Sour Cream - 3 points
2 Cups of Peas in Butter Sauce - 6 points
1 Cup of Berries with 1/2 Cup of Real Whipped Cream - 3 pts

(Lunch total - 78 pts)

Healthy Snack
3 Apples - 3 pts
1/2 Cup Peanut Butter - 20 pts

(Snack total - 20 pts)

For dinner Michael also visits Islands and has...
1 China Coast Salad - 28.5
1 Pipeline Burger - 36
1 24 oz Coke - 6

(Dinner total - 70.5 pts)

Total Points for the day... 246.5
Oh no... just a bit over the 240 point goal, luckily, Michael has those 35 extra points a week to play with, otherwise, he would have to hit the gym for a good workout.

Stumble It

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Monsieur Marcel - A Sweet Surprise

An old friend was visiting this weekend and I wanted to take her to experience some of the Southern Californian sweet life. We ended up toddling around Santa Monica by the ocean and eventually wandered up to the Promenade. My friend wanted a glass of water and I wanted to get the kids some milk so we went to what we thought was a coffee bean type of place in the middle of the walk. It turned out we had stumbled into Monsieur Marcel, a wine and cheese bar.

We had wine and a cheese plate, and the girls had their milk. We chose three cheeses, a
taleggio, Saint André, and something else... This is the problem with cheese plates, you spend a while going back and forth on which cheeses to get and by the time it comes to the table, you forget what you actually selected. The best cheese plate I have ever had was found at Patina in Downtown LA and they gave us a summary of the cheeses to take home. Back to the matter at hand, at Monsieur Marcel, our waiter was very attentive and kind to the baby girls. It was a lovely stop on our journey and very So-Cal.

This Monsieur Marcel is related to the Wine and Cheese bar and Shop at the Farmer's Market at 3rd and Fairfax.

Monsieur Marcel Pain Vin Fromage – french bistro, wine and cheese bar
Santa Monica - 3rd Street Promenade at Arizona
(310) 587 1166

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Gift of Southern California

Growing up in Midwestern America and living on the East Coast through my college years, I now know the great gift I have living in Southern California. Is it the sun, the ocean, the access to great comedy? Maybe all of these things, but above this... I have the pleasure of living in a part of the world where really good Mexican Food can be found. I find myself missing terribly it when I visit other places, even parts of Mexico. It is astounding that places like Del Taco and Taco Bell can stay open in this area of the country when delicious authentic Mexican Food can be attained quickly and cheaply at any time of Day or Night. Good Mexican food is the standard in this town and great Mexican Food is hardly rare.

I was recently reminded of our bounty when an East Coast friend came to visit. She developed a fondness for something I take completely for granted, fresh Guacamole. She said that the stuff they serve on the East Coast is a premade green paste. How unacceptable! Guacamole is easy to make with fresh ingredients, and it is often made table side at restaurants here.

Here is my "recipe" although, if I make guac, it's a pretty improvised affair:
2-3 ripe avocados, the ones that feel a bit soft with the skin on.
Half an onion chopped up
One clove of Garlic crushed or minced
Maybe a tablespoon of cilantro, fresh if you can get it
Half a tomato
1-2 table spoons of fresh lemon or lime juice
A touch of Chile pepper or Cayenne for heat
Dash of salt

Mash it up in a bowl or with a pretty mortar and pestle at the table for your guests.

There are some Guacamole recipes in some of my favorite cookbooks, I am not sure what the fair use laws are, so I won't print them, but I will link to the books here.

Mexican Family Cookingby Aida Gabilondo.
Guacamole with Zucchini or Guacamole con Calabacitas.

This recipe is unusual because of the Zucchini.


The New Moosewood Cookbook (Mollie Katzen's Classic Cooking)

Ms. Katzen suggests leaving the avocado pits in the Guacamole until just before serving to retain its color.

For even more ideas, on the California Avocado Comission Website, I found a treasure trove of Guacamole Recipes. I have tried none of these, so if you do, please leave a comment and tell me how it goes. They also provided the lovely picture of the Guacamole above... thanks California Avocado Commision for the picture and thank-you for your gifts, Southern California.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One is Pure Gold, The Other Not So Much

While in Las Vegas, The Family of Food loves to visit Lindo's Michoacan which we profiled before in the post entitled Ole.

Yesterday, we went back at an off hour for lunch with the twins. The meal was started with Lindo's tortilla chips, salsa, and bean dip. Then we were given soup which was quickly requisitioned by our toddlers for spoon in mouth practice. They need more work. The staff was kind and patient with our many spills and thrills. For our lunch, we had a combo platter with Chile Relleno, Chicken Enchilada, and Beef Taco and Fajitas de Gallina. I tried a small bite of the chicken enchilada, but for the most part the combo platter ended up in the the belly of my mate. He may have even licked the platter clean, which indicates it was probably pretty good. My fajitas were delicious. I shared them with the kids. The impressive thing about Lindo's is that the basic things are so good. The flour tortillas are some of the best I have ever had. The whole family was happy. The Lindo's experience is always golden.

Later we went to Planet Hollywood and grabbed some late night sandwiches at The Earl of Sandwich. The "Original" roast beef sandwich was decent for a fast food type of situation, but otherwise I was not impressed. My "All American" Turkey was below par. I wish I would have saved my appetite for the Lindo's leftovers.

Lindo's Michoacan
2655 East Desert Inn Rd.
Las vegas, Nv. 89121

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Healthy, Satisfying, Low Calorie, 4 Point Breakfast

For those on Weight Watchers, or for those who just want a healthy start to their day, here is a completely satisfying 4 point breakfast.

3 Egg White Scramble
Spray the pan with Cooking Spray (I use Wolfgang Puck's Spray Olive Oil) (0 points)
Add 3 scrambled egg whites with a touch of yolk for color, texture, and nutrition. (1 point)
Salt and pepper to taste. (0 points)
Add 1 wedge of Laughing Cow Light Cheese. (1 point)

Add any two of the following ingredients:
1/2 cup of spinach (0 points)
1/2 cup of tomatoes or (0 points)
1/2 cup of red,green,orange,or yellow pepper(0 points)
1/2 cup onions(0 points)
1/2 cup mushrooms (0 points)

Scramble over a medium heat.

1 slice of whole wheat toast. (1 point)

1 cup of Blueberries or Cherries (1 point)

Total = 4 points

It works for me.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cooking Stone

I recently acquired a cooking stone. I knew it would help with my baking, but I didn't realize the difference it would make for my pizzas. Father of Food can make a fantastic pizza with any old cookie sheet from the grocery store, but I have always had trouble getting my dough crisp. I have a terrific cookie sheet, with two layers of metal separated by a thin chamber of air to even out the heat, which is terrific for cookies, but not pizza crust. I also have a pizza sheet with holes at the bottom, which is decent for crisping, but this sort of pizza pan has its problems. The dough gets stuck in the holes and you don't get the same coverage for cornmeal at the bottom a must have ingredient for me.
For Pizza, the stone is the only way to go.

Today, I made a variation on the dough I have been using lately for pizza, the calzone recipe from The New Moosewood Cookbook .
I substituted ½ cup of flour with ½ cup of cornmeal and only used 2+1/2 cups of flour total. I should have added a bit more flour, because the dough came out a bit sticky. Nevertheless, the test pizza I made for lunch was still crispy and delicious. It was not pretty, as you can see, but the stone made it quite good.

If you get a stone, here are some tips for its care:

  • One is not supposed to wash the stone with soap just water and a scraper. Anything you put on the stone can sink into its porous surface, and affect the flavor of your food.
  • For the same reason, keep high fat foods (like cookies) off of the stone. You can put aluminum foil or a cookie sheet directly on the surface instead.
  • Spots and discoloration can be scrubbed off with a scouring pad and a paste of baking soda and water.
  • Keep the stone in the oven and it is supposed to even out the temperature of the oven. When I make cookies with the stone on the lower rack, they do come out more even.
  • Heat up your stone in the oven as the oven pre-heats.
  • Always use hot pads or oven mitts when touching your stone. It can retain heat for a long while after cooking.
  • Do not submerge a hot stone in cold water or it will crack.
  • To put your uncooked pizza or dough on the stone, use a pizza peel covered with cornmeal (to help the pizza slide off) and slide the dough on to the stone. I like to use the peel and a spatula to get the pizza back off of the stone.

This is my Pizza Peel.

It doubles as a cutting board and can be washed in the dishwasher.

If you make pizzas and breads, I highly recommend investing in a stone and peel.

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