December 12, 2014

Miso-Glazed Salmon Bowl

By the time the end of the week rolls around, I just want to lay on the couch and binge watch The Tonight Show until I'm all caught up. I don't want to spend a ton of time laboring over dinner. This salmon took about 10 minutes to cook and maybe 3 minutes to finish. It is so tasty and so quick that it's the perfect end-of-the-week meal. Not only is it incredibly flavorful, it's low in PointsPlus, so you can add yummy sides like edamame and brown rice and turn it into a rice bowl (I LOVE FOOD BOWLS OF ALL KINDS). 

Miso-Glazed Salmon Bowl
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 2, Serving Size: 5-oz. salmon fillet, 1/2 cup edamame, 1/2 cup cooked brown rice, PointsPlus: 13pp (salmon: 8, edamame: 3, rice: 2)
Ingredients:
  • Frozen edamame
  • Brown rice (I used boil-in-a-bag from Stop & Shop)
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 tsp mirin
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp prepared ginger
  • 2 5-oz. salmon fillets
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
Directions:
  • Preheat the broiler. Bring two pots of water up to a bowl for the edamame and brown rice. Cook both according to package directions
  • Mix miso, mirin, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, and ginger in a small bowl
  • Place fish on a baking sheet lined with foil and spread the miso mixture evenly over the fillets
  • Broil for 8 minutes or until desired doneness. Sprinkle with sesame seeds
  • Place 1/2 cup edamame and 1/2 cup brown rice in a shallow bowl. Lay salmon over top and dig in! Sriracha gives the bowl a nice punch and so does a little extra soy sauce
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December 11, 2014

Lightened-Up Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

Lightened-Up Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
When it's cold, the best thing to eat is warm and gooey casserole of any kind. I found this chicken and broccoli casserole recipe last year and I got so excited when the weather started getting colder because I knew it was the return of this AMAZING dish. I had this last night after a run in the cold, wet, rainy, disgusting weather and it warmed me right up!

Casserole: cheese, mayo, some sort of condensed soup, milk - it sounds disgusting but it bakes off into creamy, homestyle deliciousness. Every time I make this, I anxiously pace the kitchen waiting for the timer to ding because it is THAT GOOD. The best part about this particular recipe? It is only 7 POINTS for a full, heaping cup of the tasty stuff. It's retro, it's easy to make, it's so filling and it's budget-friendly because all the ingredients are pretty cheap. Top it with hot sauce and you'll be in casserole heaven. 

Lightened-Up Chicken and Broccoli Casserole
Recipe modified from Cooking Light
Serves: 8-ish, Serving Size: 1 cup, PointsPlus: 7
Ingredients:
  • 16-oz. frozen broccoli spears
  • 24-oz. skinless chicken tenderloins
  • 1 cup fat free mayo
  • 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 10.75-oz. can 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 12-oz. fat free milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Dash of nutmeg
  • Cooking spray

Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 400f
  • Cooking the broccoli spears according to the package (most likely boiling them). Drain and set aside to cool. Once cooled, chop them into pieces
  • Bring 3 quarts of water in a large pot over medium-high heat. Once boiling, add the chicken, reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes or until the chicken is done. Drain and set aside to cool. Once cooled, chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces
  • Combine mayo, sour cream, vinegar, Worcestershire, soup, and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese in a large bowl. Add in the broccoli and chicken pieces, stirring to combine thoroughly
  • Combine milk, flour, salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a saucepan, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. The mixture will get thick! Remove from heat and stir thoroughly into the bowl with the broccoli, chicken, and mayo mixture
  • Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and pour the mixture into the dish, spreading out evenly. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheese and bake at 400f for 50 minutes or until the mixture bubbles and the cheese brown (just keep an eye on it!)
  • Remove from the oven and let cool as long as you can so it doesn't burn your mouth and DIG IN. Top with hot sauce because it goes SO WELL together
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December 10, 2014

Coconut Curry Soup

Coconut Curry Soup

So I don't know where you live but around these parts, yesterday was a Noah-style rainstorm. As if the rain wasn't bad enough, the wind was blowing from literally every direction. I was soaked by the time I got  home and my umbrella stayed closed in my bag because the wind would rip it apart (and it's too cute to die). Luckily I came home to this soup which was warm, spicy, filling, and so perfect for a rainy night in. I made this a few days ago and let the flavors all get together and hang, so it really packed a delicious punch. 

Made simply from coconut milk, red curry paste, and broth, this soup base is really versatile so it's up to you to add whatever veggies you like! I followed the recipe so I stuck with carrots, green beans, and tofu but I think it would be amazing with seared shrimp, some crunchy kale, and other veggies.

Coconut Curry Soup
Recipe adapted from Cooking Light
Serves: 6, Serving Size: 1 1/3 cups, PointsPlus: 6
Ingredients:
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup red curry paste
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 (13.5-oz.) cans light coconut milk
    • I only had one can and about 1 cup coconut milk on hand so I upped the broth
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
    • I always use lower-sodium, regardless of what the recipe says
  • 2 cups matchstick carrots
  • 1 bag frozen green bean pieces
  • 1 14-oz. package extra firm tofu, drained, cut into cubes
  • Hot sauce to taste
Directions:
  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté until lightly browned. Add curry paste and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the brown sugar and stir for 1 minute. Add coconut milk, broth, lime juice, ginger, and soy sauce. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour
  • Add the carrots and green beans, cooking until the green beans are defrosted and warmed through. Add the tofu and cook until warmed through, another few minutes
  • Ladle it out and serve with hot sauce
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December 8, 2014

Meatless Monday: Personal Tortilla Pizzas

Meatless Monday: Personal Tortilla Pizza
Soooooo let's talk pizza - it's gooey, it's cheesy, it's tasty, it's delicious - it's fattening. I don't know about you but I can't just eat ONE slice of pizza so keeping my portions under control doesn't cut it when it comes to chowin' down on the 'za. I look for lighter pizza alternatives all the time but it usually ends up saying "serving size: one slice" and I end up eating 3. 

I made this mini, personal pizza based off a Weight Watchers recipe that I found last week. It's gooey, it's cheesy, it's tasty, it's delicious - it's only 8 POINTS. I didn't want to reach for my slices since my mini pie allowed for four and I was full and satisfied! 

Personal Tortilla Pizza
Serves: 1, Servings Size: 1 pizza PointsPlus: 8
Ingredients:
  • 4-oz. mushrooms (I used a mixture of baby bella and shiitakes)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • Cooking spray
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 medium whole wheat tortilla (I used Mission brand)
  • 2 tbsp pizza sauce
  • 1 slice 2% provolone cheese
  • 1-oz. crumble goat cheese
  • 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 450. Put mushrooms and shallot in a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, tossing to coat, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for at least 30 minutes or until shallots are caramelized
  • Spray another baking sheet with cooking spray and place your tortilla on it. Once the mushrooms and shallot have about 10 minutes left of roasting time, add the tortilla to the oven to crisp
    • It took me another pass over the open stove flame to really crisp up the edges of the tortilla and make it crispy crunchy, so you may want to do that
  • When the tortilla is crisped to your desired crispiness, top it with the pizza sauce and spread around, leaving 1/2 inch around the edge. Break up the provolone cheese into little pieces, evenly spreading around the tortilla. Layer with mushrooms and shallots, then with goat cheese and Parmesan cheese, finishing off with salt and pepper
  • Stick the tortilla pizza back into the oven so the cheese gets melty, about 8-10 minutes (keep an eye on it). Bite into crispy pizza and PointsPlus perfection!
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December 5, 2014

Salmon with Orange Pepper Pesto

I'm all about quick for dinner during the week. After commuting home, changing, and going out for a run, the last thing I want to do is get home to cook a big, fancy meal. This salmon took me under 15 minutes to make and was really delicious! The original recipe called for jarred, roasted red peppers but the jar I had at home would not open. I tried slamming it on the counter, running it under hot water, smacking the bottom, using a jar opener - literally nothing worked so luckily I had an orange pepper on hand to substitute.

Pestos are usually made with nuts but since I'm allergic, I obviously have to find another option. I used sunflower seeds in this pesto and they worked really well - just run the food processor or blender for a little longer so they break down. I really like this recipe because it's quick and easy and SO low in points!

Salmon with Orange Pepper Pesto
Serves: 2, Serving Size: 5-oz. salmon, 2 tbsp pesto PointsPlus: 8
Ingredients:
  • 2 6-oz. salmon fillets
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 orange pepper (or whatever color you prefer), chopped
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp sunflower seeds
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
Directions:
  • Season the fish generously with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet lined with tin foil and broil for 8 minutes, or until cooked to your liking
  • While the fish is cooking, combine the orange pepper, olive oil, tomato paste, sunflower seeds, garlic, and hot sauce in a food processor (I have a mini-chopped that works really well for this). Process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste, if desire
  • Top the fish with 2 tablespoons pesto and serve with some veggies!
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December 1, 2014

Meatless Monday: Sunny-Side-Up Egg Pizza

Meatless Monday: Sunny-Side-Up Pizza
I'm no stranger to eggs and if you're a reader of this blog, you know that already. Any food that can have an egg on it will have an egg on it. A runny yolk just makes everything better, don't you think?

This 'recipe' comes from Cooking Light but you can really just wing it and add whatever ingredients you'd like to your pizza crust. I divided the pre-made Pillsbury Thin Crust into two and made individual, personal pies! Not sure why I haven't thought of that before...

Sunny-Side-Up Egg Pizza
Recipe modified slightly from Cooking Light
Serves: 2, Serving Size: 1 mini-pizza, PointsPlus: 15
Ingredients:
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pre-made pizza crust, such as Pillsbury Thin Crust (which is what I used)
  • 1 tbsp
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups mixed greens 
    • Your choice here, I used a mixture of baby kale, spinach, and arugula
  • 1/8 cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2-oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 425 (or whatever degree necessary, depending on the cooking instructions for your crust)
  • Spray two round pans (I used pie pans) generously with cooking spray. Pop open the pizza crust and cut in half. Unroll the pizza crust and form it around the pan
  • Mix 1 tablespoon olive oil and the garlic in a small bowl and brush it all over the dough
  • Bake the crust according to the package directions
    • I always like my crust extra crispy so I add a few minutes onto the cook time
  • While the crusts are baking, cook the eggs to your desired doneness, though I recommend sunny-side-up and set aside until the crust is ready. Season with salt and pepper
  • Combine the greens, red onion, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl
  • Once the crust is finished, arrange the greens mixture on top, then top each crust with two eggs and Parmesan cheese, finishing with more salt and pepper
  • Place on a plate and enjoy your individual pizza!
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November 10, 2014

Meatless Monday: Fingerling Potato & Swiss Chard Hash with Eggs

Do you want an egg on that? Yes. The answer is always, always yes. I will top anything and everything with an egg. Aside from the obvious, I have yet to find a food that isn't improved with a gloriously runny, perfectly cooked egg perched on top. Poached, fried, over easy, sunny side up, hard boiled, soft boiled, you name it - I'll eat it. I love eggs every which way and when I can eat them for dinner, I love them even more.

I've been observing Meatless Monday for almost a year now, give or take a few Mondays here or there, and guess what? It's easy. It's not hard to find delicious, filling, exciting recipes that omit meat so you can remove it from your diet for one day a week. More and more bloggers are on board with the movement meaning there's no excuse for not being able to find a vegetarian recipe online cause look you just did!

This hash combines lots of my favorite things which is why I'm so excited to share it with you: Swiss chard, leeks, cheese, and EGGS. Plus, it's healthy so there's that bonus. It also takes about half an hour to cook, some of which is just letting it sit and you don't have to do anything so this recipe ticks off several boxes: healthy, delicious, fast. Let's get to it.
Fingerling Potato & Swiss Chard Hash with Eggs
Recipe modified slightly from Cooking Light
Serves: 4, Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups potato mixture, 1 egg: PointsPlus: 7

Ingredients:
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups sliced leeks
  • 12-oz. fingerling potatoes, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar (to taste)
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 cups thinly sliced Swiss chard
    • I like the ribs and ends of Swiss chard, if you don't - be sure to trim it
  • 4 eggs
  • 1-oz. shredded Gruyere cheese
Directions:
Heat a large, cast iron skillet over medium heat (don't have a cast iron skillet? SHAME ON YOU. Use any large skillet and then after cooking, go buy yourself a cast iron). Add oil to pan and cook leeks until translucent, about 8 minutes. Add potatoes and garlic, cooking 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally. Once potatoes are tender, deglaze the pan with apple cider vinegar. Season with 1 teaspoon paprika, salt, and pepper.

Add Swiss chard and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Using a spoon, make 4 egg-sized spaces in the hash. Crack an egg into each spot then season again with 1 teaspoon paprika, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook 3 minutes. Sprinkle Gruyere cheese over the mixture and cover and cook until the egg yolks are lightly set, about 3-4 minutes, depending (just check on it).

Divide the mixture among 4 bowls and enjoy! I added hot sauce to the final product and it was deeeelicious, I recommend doing the same if you are a hot sauce person.

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Crafty: Make a Leaf Wreath

Fall leaf wreath DIY
Crafting a leaf wreath
Heads up - first 'crafting' post comin' atcha! The apartment doors where I live are big, plain, and brown with a plastic number nailed into the door frame above. Every season, I like to make a sign with our names (AIMÉE, DAN) and sometimes our apartment number (8) to jazz up our doorway just a little bit. This DIY is better later than never, because I hadn't updated our door decoration since March (the shamrocks were really starting to look out of place).

Rather than make a Halloween or Thanksgiving-specific decoration, I decided to go with a simple leaf wreath. Since I don't have a ton of crafting storage spaces or all the fancy supplies that other bloggers out there do, I took to the classics and hand-drew leaves onto construction paper, cut them out, and glued them to a circle I made out of cardboard. How about THAT for innovation?
Supplies needed:
  • Construction paper
  • Glue, markers, tape, scissors
  • Enough cardboard to make a circle
  • Cardstock
  • Clothespins (though not required!)
Start by drawing different types of leaves on construction paper, whatever colors you'd like. I went with yellow, orange, green, brown, and purple for mine. I free-hand drew the leaves, though I know there are tons of templates out there online - just do a quick Google search and find your favorite.
Craft a leaf wreath
Craft a leaf wreath
Cut the leaves out carefully and group them by color (this helped me with placement on the wreath). 
Craft a leaf wreath
Craft a leaf wreath
Make a circle from cardboard and begin gluing the leaves down around it.
Craft a leaf wreath
Once you're done gluing the leaves, fill in any open spots with a marker or crayon. At this point, your wreath is good to go! But if you'd like to personalize it, add the letters of names of your household like I did! I traced an A and D on cardstock, colored gold polka dots all over them, and the attached them to the wreath with small gold glittered clothespins.
Craft a leaf wreath
When you're satisfied with your wreath, punch a hole in the top so you can hang it up and get decorating! (The lighting isn't great in our hallway, so forgive the blurriness)
Leaf wreath DIY
Leaf wreath DIY
How are you decorating for the fall? I can't wait to make the next wreath for winter! I'm thinking snowflakes? Or maybe cotton balls.
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November 5, 2014

BAGELS!

Bagels | hardparade.blogspot.com
Let me start off my saying that I'm from New Jersey and we know how to make a good bagel. Bagels are boiled, then baked, and they come from individual bagel shops - not chains. I would rather just not eat a bagel than eat one from Bruegger's Bagels or Dunkin' or whatever. Bagels are an art - they can't be mass produced! 

The problem with living in Massachusetts is that you just can't find a good bagel up here (or pizza crust! But more on that in another long, exhaustive, ranting post). Maybe it's the water, maybe it's the technique, but it's definitely the fact that they have weird bottom crusts and aren't fluffy and chewy and MA doesn't really have individual places that do BAGELS and that's it. Yes, a new place called Bagelsaurus just opened and I saw a few pictures and they looked pretty legit and have an adorable logo and store name but ONE store does not a bagel state make. Sure, not eating bagels everyday has been good for my waistline but sometimes you just NEED that carby goodness so I tried making them myself. Although these aren't the best, they will do until my next trip home to the tri-state area. 

NYC-Style Bagels
Recipes combined from The Sophisticated Gourmet and A Beautiful Mess.
Makes 8 bagels
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water
    • This is to activate the yeast. If it's too hot, it will kill the yeast but too cold and it won't activate it. The water should be about 110 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, use your inner arm to test the temperature. It should be tolerable, like a nice hot bath
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg 
    • For an egg wash to get seeds to stick
  • Toppings: poppy seeds, flax seeds, sesame seeds, dried onion flakes, garlic powder, kosher salt, cinnamon, raisins, whatever you like
Directions:
Combine the yeast and sugar in bowl, stirring to dissolve. Add the hot water and stir to just combine. Set aside in a warm area so it can activate. If it hasn't bloomed after 10 minutes, it won't so start over! I bought alot of yeast packets in case this happened (and it did). Bloomed yeast should look like this:
Bagels | hardparade.blogspot.com
While the yeast is activating, mix the flour and salt in a large bowl. Once the yeast is done bubbling up, add it to the flour mixture. Stir until the dough becomes "shaggy" like below:
Bagels | hardparade.blogspot.com
On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it becomes elastic-like and soft. Kneading by hand is hard and it will take awhile but the effort is worth it! The better you knead, the less tough your bagels will be. I didn't knead my for long enough, honestly. 
Form the dough into a ball and put it in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it and let it proof (rise) for an hour in a warm place. After an hour, punch it down and let it rest for another 10 minutes. 
Bagels | hardparade.blogspot.com
On a floured countertop, divide the dough into 8 equal pieces as best as you can. Work the dough into a bagel shape and poke your finger through the center to make a hole. Here, I worked cinnamon into 3 of the dough balls before shaping them. After you form the bagels, let them sit for a few minutes. 
Bagels | hardparade.blogspot.com
Preheat the oven to 425. While the bagels are sitting, boil some water in a medium sized saucepan. Carefully drop bagels one at a time into the boiling water, cooking them for about a minute on each side. Fish them out with tongs or a spider/ladle.
Bagels | hardparade.blogspot.com
Place the boiled bagels onto a baking sheet lined with a bit of cooking spray. Use an egg wash, brush a layer onto each bagel then sprinkle on seeds, etc.
Bagels | hardparade.blogspot.com
Bake the bagels at 425 for about 20 minutes. 
Bagels | hardparade.blogspot.com
Cut open, shmear, and enjoy!
Bagels | hardparade.blogspot.com
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October 28, 2014

Leek & Potato Soup

Fall has officially rolled in, cold and wet, to Boston. It rained all week and has been chilly ever since which means I have one thing on the brain: SOUP. The other night we made an awesome lightened-up New England clam chowder and it was SO good, despite me being a liiiiittle weirded out by canned clams. Side note who really likes Manhattan style, anyways? I don't know of anyone who prefers it and it'd be blasphemous to make that red calamity in my Boston apartment.

Maybe this intro was misleading because this isn't a post about clam chowder...
Leek & Potato Soup
Dan is obsessed with leek and potato soup (ah yes, our focus for this post - leek and potato soup). He will not stop talking about it so I figured why not give in? I've always found it just a bit boring, a bit bland - it never offers anything exciting. This version, however, is (kind of) exciting because it has spinach, giving it an extra vitamin-rich punch and flavor boost. I added crumbled turkey bacon on top to add some saltiness and texture (and make it a little less booooring). Next time, I would definitely not purée all of the soup, so it had a little more variety - I like a chunky soup.

Leek & Potato Soup
Serves 6
Ingredients:
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
  • 4 medium leeks, both white and green parts, rinsed well and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 medium potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes (Yukon Gold works well, I used a medley)
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 packed cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 2 slices turkey bacon, crumbled (optional, but delicious!)
Directions:
In a large pot, heat the butter over medium low heat. Once melted, add the leeks and garlic and sauté until the leeks are translucent and garlic is fragrant
leeks

Add the potatoes and cook another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth and bay leaf and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes
potatoes
Remove the bay leaf and using an immersion blender (if you're lucky enough to have one), purée the soup until it is smooth and creamy. If you don't have an immersion blender (like me), just purée the soup in a regular blender in batches. Add the chopped spinach leaves to the purée soup and pulse to blend
spinach purée
Season with salt and pepper and garnish with spinach leaves. Top with crumbled turkey bacon, if desired. I like adding hot sauce to literally everything I eat so if you're like me, load it UP
Leek & Potato Soup
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October 20, 2014

Meatless Monday: Baked Eggplant with Mushrooms

Meatless Monday: Baked Eggplant with Mushrooms | Hard Parade
I have a serious love-hate relationship with eggplant. I used to steer clear of it but then sort of fell in love with it when I tried this recipe. Now I don't usually go for the eggplant-centric dish on a menu nor do I look for it as the key ingredient when I'm searching for recipes but I figured after the positive stuffed eggplant experience I'd like it smothered in tomato sauce and topped with cheese (I was right). One of the best things about this recipe is that it's like, barely any Points - no seriously, it's only FOUR for a serving. FOUR!

Baked Eggplant with Mushrooms
Recipe modified slightly from Cooking Light
Serves: 6, Serving Size: 1/6th dish PointsPlus: 4 (!!!)
Ingredients:
  • 1 1/4 pound eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 8-oz. mushrooms (of your choosing)
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 8-oz. can tomato sauce, divided
  • 3-oz. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 1-oz. grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley, for garnish
Meatless Monday: Baked Eggplant with Mushrooms | Hard Parade
Directions:
  • Preheat the broiler
  • Arrange the eggplant slices on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and broil for about 3 minutes on each side, or until browned
  • Preheat oven to 375f
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spring over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, tomato halves, oregano, and mushrooms and sauté until tender, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Increase heat and cook for 2 minutes or until liquid evaporates
  • Coat a baking dish with cooking spray (whatever size you have readily available) and spread half of the mushroom mixture on the bottom. Arrange half the eggplant slices on top of the mixture then top the eggplant with 1/2 cup tomato sauce and 1/3 cup mozzarella. Spread remaining mushroom mixture on top of that, top with remaining eggplant slices and then the rest of the tomato sauce
  • Cover and bake for 1 hour
  • Sprinkle with the rest of the mozzarella (1/3 cup) and the Parmesan. Bake, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and bubbly
  • Let stand for 10 minutes, divide among bowls and top with parsley
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October 17, 2014

Soynut Butter Roll Up

Soynut Butter Roll Up | Hard Parade
I'm allergic to nuts. This is unfortunate because I love peanut butter, I love toffee, I love pistachios, and I love nut-things (etc). I also love going out to dinner and it sucks being 'that person' at the table. I'm sorry future waiters, I have an allergy, I'm going to tell you all about it, and I'm going to double check all my food. I won't however, complain to you and I'll be nice. Promise.

While soynut butter isn't quite peanut butter, it is damn close enough for me since it won't close up my throat or give me itchy hives (or the variety of other things that happen to me when I ingest nuts). This soynut butter roll up is almost like a PB&J - without the unpleasant reaction. Obviously, you can make this with regular ol' peanut butter if you don't have an allergy to it (LUCKY YOU). 

Stop & Shop started making these store brand flatbreads that I really like (and they're only 2 points, yippee!). I've used them for both sweet and savory sandwiches (roll ups, if you will) and they're always a nice change up to plain bread. 

This isn't really a recipe, considering it's just mixing things you have in the house and rolling them up, but I figured I'd share with you a healthy breakfast/snack/light lunch that you can take on the go.
Soynut Butter Roll Up | Hard Parade
Soynut Butter Roll Up
Serves 1! PointsPlus: roughly 6 points, depending on how much soynut butter you use
Ingredients:
  • 1 flatbread (I used S&S brand honey wheat)
  • 2 tbsp soynut butter (I like I.M Healthy brand)
  • 1 small apple, cut into slices
  • 1 banana, cut into slices
  • cinnamon
Directions: (okay, you really don't need these...)
Take your flatbread and spread on the soynut butter. Cut up the apples and banana
Soynut Butter Roll Up | Hard Parade
Arrange the banana and apple slices down the center of the flatbread, about 1/4 inch away from the edges
Soynut Butter Roll Up | Hard Parade
Sprinkle with cinnamon. You can also drizzle some honey on at this point, too - YUM.
Soynut Butter Roll Up | Hard Parade
Carefully roll that shit up, pushing in the sides as you go since the filling will want to bust out
Soynut Butter Roll Up | Hard Parade
Soynut Butter Roll Up | Hard Parade
Slice in half and maow, maow, maow! Any of you have allergies? Sucks, doesn't it?

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October 16, 2014

Crock-Pot Sesame Chicken

Crock-Pot Sesame Chicken
I've always loved sesame chicken, especially from the Chinese takeout place down the street from my childhood home in New Jersey (Sunny Wok, how I miss thee). I don't order it much anymore because it's not exactly within my PointsPlus range and now that I've found this recipe there's no need for delivery.

When I started Weight Watchers, I praised the blogging gods for delivering SkinnyTaste to me (and I still do). This blog has so many recipes it's insane and all of them have the nutrition information and PointsPlus values. Oh, and all of them are delicious, let's not forget that. 

On Sundays, I like to make Crock-Pot meals so that I can lounge around all day while dinner is happily cooking away on the counter top. I paired this sesame chicken with some brown rice (1/2 cup to be exact) and broccoli to keep it feeling like takeout. Gina rules.

Crock-Pot Sesame Chicken
Recipe modified (just a tiny bit) from SkinnyTaste
Serves: 8, Serving Size: heaping 2/3 cup, PointsPlus: 4 (plus more for brown rice)
Ingredients:
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • Scallions, sliced for garnish
Crock-Pot Sesame Chicken, Slow Cooker recipe
Directions:
  • Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place in the Crock-Pot (slow cooker, what have you)
  • Combine soy sauce, honey, tomato paste, rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp water, sesame  seeds, and Sriracha in a medium bowl and then pour over the chicken. Cook on LOW for 3.5 hours
  • Once the chicken is done cooking, remove from the slow cooker and shred, setting aside
  • In a small bowl, dissolve the cornstarch into the remaining 1/4 cup water and add to the sauce in the slow cooker, stirring to combine
  • Cover and cook on HIGH until slightly thickened, about 20 minutes
  • Return the shredded chicken to the slow cooker and mix well to combine
  • Serve over brown rice and alongside broccoli (if desired) and top with sesame seeds and chopped scallions. Enjoy that takeout flavor at home!
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Running in the Morning

Hey! This is my first post about running!

Let's talk about early AM runs. Sometimes I have to run in the morning if I have a late meeting or if I have to go grocery shopping after work and IT SOOKS. I don't run well, I am exhausted (read: SLOW), I feel sick because I'm always dehydrated (I don't spend my night sleep-drinking water to get hydrated for a morning run), and I always am achy because my body is like GURL, I AM NOT AWAKE YET. Morning running sucks.

That being said, I still do it and I raise my arms champion-like at the end because I get to drink tasty glasses of wine in exchange for those activity points. HEYO. (Is it bad all my extra points go to drinking? Am I in the minority here or can someone back me up?) I've finally made peace with the fact that for those morning runs, it's not about how far I've gone or how quickly, it's that I woke up at the asscrack of dawn, got myself out of bed and into running tights, and out the door before 6am. A year ago, six months ago, even one month ago, I never thought I would be waking up that early, let alone waking up that early to go RUNNING.

Here's my run from Wednesday, October 15. I was pretty slow (for me) but I finished, didn't I? That trailing off at the end is me hitting 30 minutes and walking the rest of the way home to cool down. I earned 7 activity points for this run, woohoo!
Running in the morning stinks
If you want to virtually run with me, friend me on RunKeeper! I need all the support I can get. My profile is currently a little wonky since I stopped using RunKeeper for about 3 weeks and switched to MapMyRun and I recently switched back to RunKeeper (I know, I know, flip-flop). 

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October 13, 2014

Meatless Monday: Garlicky Linguine with Kale & White Beans

Meatless Monday: Garlicky Linguine with Kale & White Beans | hardparade.blogspot.com
I love love love garlic. I always up the amount asked for in a recipe and a big, smushy head of roasted garlic is seriously mana from the gods. I remember one anniversary early on in mine and Dan's relationship (I think it was our first year anniversary, to be honest), we went out to dinner and had an appetizer that was a head of roasted garlic with crispy toasts and blue cheese. I think I knew I loved him right then because we both dug in, despite knowing we'd have hot, fiery garlic breath later that night.  Whenever we roast vegetables, he always adds in extra garlic cloves, knowing I will dive right in for them and eat them straight out of the pan with my fingers.

I upped the amount of garlic in this already garlicky recipe but left the original amount in the ingredients because I'm not sure anyone is up for that much garlic. I don't usually go for pastas that have light, oily sauces because I'm a sauce fanatic, the more the better I say, but this dish was pleasantly filling and flavorful. The recipe suggests serving it with toasted bread rubbed with even more garlic, which I'd usually say YES YES YES to but I skipped it in my version to keep the PointsPlus value down.
Meatless Monday: Garlicky Linguine with Kale & White Beans | hardparade.blogspot.com
Recipe modified slightly from Cooking Light
Serves: 4, Serving Size: 1 3/4 cups, PointsPlus: 10
Ingredients:
  • 8-oz. uncooked, fresh linguine
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 12-oz. kale, chopped (I like the ribs, so I didn't remove them but you can if you don't eat them)
  • 1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
Directions:
  • Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté for about a minute, until garlic starts to sizzle. Add 1/2 cup water and kale, cover, and cook until kale is tender, stirring occasionally
  • Add cannellini beans, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook until heated through
  • Add pasta and cooking liquid, tossing to coat. Season again with salt and pepper
  • Divide among 4 bowls and top with grated Parmesan cheese
  • Serve with toasted, crusty bread slices, if desired (this will bring up the PointsPlus value, but not sure by how much!)
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October 10, 2014

Runnin', Runnin'

Alright two things:
1. Were you surprised when you saw this blog's redesign? (that is, if you were a reader beforehand - not sure there any out there...) It's pretty and clean and full of succulents which makes me happy - they're the most gorgeous, low maintenance flora I've ever encountered. It's more grown up than the last version and it's making me want to post more and connect with you (the readers, if I have any?)

2. I have a confession to make...I love running.
Never did I ever think that I would write or say the words, "I love running." But I'm a convert. I decided to just get up and go out one day and since then, I've been setting small goals for myself and busting through them. Run 15 minutes, done. Run 2 miles, done. Run to the next T stop, done. Run for an hour, DONE! Sure, I'm slow and yeah, I am bright red and I breathe like I'm gasping for my last breath but I'm running and I'm feeling my legs get stronger and my mind get clearer and I am loving it.

I have to say, alot of this good feeling is because of my sister, Laura, who has been supporting me and helping me through the newness of all this (Why is my body feeling that way? Why do I always burp when I finish a run?) and telling me what to eat before I run and what to wear and giving me her sweet Road Runner Sports discount so that I can get awesome new sneakers. In fact, I'm so excited about running I bought two pairs of sneakers, the good socks (I didn't know there were bad socks before), custom-fitted inserts, and a foot roller all at once because I'm committed and I am a runner. Apparently.

So what does a new blog design and a new found desire to run have to do with one another? Not a ton, other than the fact that I'll probably start posting some more about running here and my struggles and triumphs with it.

Boston Marathon here I come! Just kidding, trying to get through a 10k first.

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