Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Come on, Irene!

Bet you didn't think that Central Virginia was susceptible to hurricanes.  Yeah, me neither.

Hurricane Irene made her appearance on Saturday and it feels like she hasn't left yet.  Primarily because she knocked out our electricity and its still out.  And do you know how hard it is to work from home with no power and no internet?  More importantly, do you know how hard it is to BLOG with no internet?  And cook with no food (I threw the contents of the fridge away yesterday, and it was a delightful task)?

So I'll need to take a short hiatus until we have electricity.  Which I'm being told will be Friday (today is Tuesday).  Want to play over/under on whether my husband gouges his eyes out from the sheer pain of having to put up with me when I'm bored between now and then? 

Oh!  Oh!  Oh!  I started writing this blog post this afternoon (meaning all of the above words were written HOURS ago) and then I had to leave the internet zone I was in to go back to the dark ages that is my house before I remembered to hi "publish post".  And then I went to pick out bathroom tile (this is way harder than it sounds) and then to dinner.  And I forgot that I never posted my latest entry.  And THEN, as we were driving home, we noticed that things seemed....brighter.  More....deLIGHTful.  Is that....wait....do I see....ELECTRICITY!??!  Indeed it is!  Our power is BACK!  I've never been more excited in my life, I swear it.  I missed my TV terribly.  And air conditioning.  And Internet.  And cold beverages (although in case you were wondering, red wine is the PERFECT cocktail for those without electricity).  And now I can post my entry about my lack of electricity...now that I have electricity.

I threw away all the contents of the fridge yesterday.  I mean ALL of them.  Re-stocking will be fun.  And expensive.  But that means I can get back up and running on maintaining this thing they call a food blog.  So, stay tuned for that!

Nice knowing you, Irene!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Knock-Off Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Hickory Dickory Dock.  Ann has writer's block.

Life has been pretty uneventful lately (besides having an earthquake yesterday and a hurricane on the way this weekend), so I don't have any witty stories to tell or any fellow travelers to complain about.  Luckily, this will all change next month since we're going to Austin City Limits and then Italy for 10 days.  So excited!  Think of all the barbecue I can eat in Texas and all the wine and cheese I can have in Italy!  I'm pretty sure neither of these locations fall into the "Try not to be so fat" category, but what can you do?  I guess what you can do is exercise a lot, so I'm going to plan on that.

Anyway, I've had a lot of time to cook since I haven't been traveling.  I ran across this recipe and thought I'd give it a try.  It really does taste just like the soup at Panera, even after I made a couple of adjustments to make it a little healthier.  Enjoy!

Copycat Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup
Source: Recipe Secrets

1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 medium chopped onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half and half (I used fat free)
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb fresh broccoli
1 cup carrot, julienned
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese (I used half full fat, and half 2% cheese)
salt and pepper

Saute onion in butter. Set aside.

Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for about 4 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently.
Slowly add the half-and-half, continue stirring.  Add the chicken stock whisking all the time.  Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat until the veggies are tender, about 20 minutes.  Add salt and pepper.  By now the soup should be thickened.

Pour in batches into blender and puree.  Return the puree to the pot and place over low heat, add the grated cheese; stir until well blended.  Stir in the nutmeg.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Second Most Delicious Chicken in the Whole Wide World

Awhile back, I posted about The Most Delicious Chicken in the Whole Wide World.  This bad boy is a close second.  Hard to go wrong with pecans and chipotle and orange zest and cheese, I'll tell you what.  I'm always looking for a yummy way to make chicken less boring and more juicy since chicken's a huge part of my new "try not to be so fat" diet.  And I served it with, you guessed it, mashed cauliflower (which is also a part of said diet).  I'm hoping that the new diet won't make my husband waste away to nothing.  Guess I'll just have to feed him lots and lots of beer and ice cream with dinner every night.

Spicy Pecan-Crusted Chicken
Source: Eating Well

4 boneless/skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup pecan halves
1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs (I used seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs)
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly grated orange zest
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
1 large egg white
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided

Place each piece of chicken between sheets of plastic wrap and use a meat mallet to flatten them to about 1/4" thick.

Process pecans, breadcrumbs, orange zest, salt, cheese and ground chipotle in a food processor until the pecans are finely ground. Scoop mixture into a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, whisk together egg white and water. Dip each chicken breast in the egg white mixture and then dredge both sides in the pecan mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Faux Chipotle Burrito Bowls

I love Chipotle.  I mean, who doesn't?  The food is so good and they make your burritos so FAST!  And they are quite generous with the guacamole, which is the best indication of a good restaurant in my book.   FACT - Chipotle and Chick-Fil-A are the only acceptable fast food restaurants in all the land.

I've enjoyed burritos at Chipotle more times than I can count, but there is one burrito that I consider to be the most memorable and the most delicious.  It was the one I ate after my first session with a personal trainer.

For some reason, a couple of years back, I thought it would be idea to get a personal trainer.  The way I saw it is, if I decided to be a lazy waste of space and skip the gym, I would essentially be fined for my laziness (because if you skip a personal training session, the charge you anyway.  How rude!).  Plus, someone would show me how to get buff and push me harder than I usually push myself.  Plus, I figured they might scream at me and make me cry, since I work better under pressure and take advantage of people who are too nice to me (except for my friends and family, of course).  Seemed like a foolproof plan!  I told him that I was a former athlete (true story) and that although I was CURRENTLY out of shape, I had the POTENTIAL to be in really good shape and that I'd like to try to get back there, and pronto.  He suggested circuit training, and I said, "sure, sounds great!!!"

Big mistake.  BIG.  HUGE!  My personal trainer was a 17 year old kid who was like 5'2" and 100 pounds soaking wet.  And he kicked my behind and then kicked it again just for fun.  At one point, I asked him if it was normal that I tasted blood and that I couldn't feel either butt cheek.  Evidently not, because at this point he did let me finally get a drink of water.  I practically had to crawl to the water fountain.  And then he made me do more squats even though I couldn't feel my butt.  And said that tasting blood was character building.

When it was mercifully over, I managed to get to my car and then literally had to sit there for 20 minutes before driving off because I couldn't lift my arms to the steering wheel.  It was that bad.  But once I regained use of my limbs, I drove myself directly to Chipotle and got me a burrito.  It was the best thing I've ever tasted, to this very day.  It was amazing. 

And it contained 1200 calories.  That's quite likely more than the calories I burned during the personal training session from hell.  That is the kind of stuff I do all the time!  Gah!  Its the very definition of counter-productive, yes?  This whole concept is probably why I've only been at my goal weight like once in my life.  And that didn't even last long because I got older (and richer) and discovered my love for nice restaurants and fancy wine.

So, the moral of this story is, if you are looking to MAINTAIN your weight, hire a personal trainer and eat Chipotle after every session.  Works like a charm.

P.S. - Since I've recently gotten serious about getting in shape, I have only eaten Chipotle once.  And it was a salad with no dressing, no cheese, and no sour cream.  It was...not as good as a burrito.  But better for the size of my midsection.

Anyway, because I love Chipotle so much, I decided to try making it at home.  This is less of a "recipe" and more of an "idea".  And the idea is to think of all the things they put in a Chipotle bowl or salad, make them at home, and put them in a bowl.  That's, uh, about it.

Faux Chipotle Burrito Bowl Bar

What You'll Need:
Shredded chicken (I cheated and used a rotisserie chicken)
Black Beans
Sauteed onions and peppers
Fresh corn, cut from cob
Rice with lime juice and chopped cilantro (not pictured)
Shredded romaine
Fresh Salsa, recipe below

Set up burrito bowl bar with above ingredients.  Make a bowl.  Eat it.

Lauren's Salsa Fresca
Source: My friend Lauren

1 medium onion, roughly chopped
1 or 2 jalapenos, roughly chopped with seeds
1 can fire roasted tomatoes
1/4 bunch cilantro
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 1 lime

Combine all ingredients except the lime juice and salt/pepper in a food processor until desired consistency.  Add in lime juice and salt and pepper to taste

Monday, August 15, 2011

Rhode Island and the No-Pants Wedding

I'm back!  You probably didn't even notice I was gone, did you?  This past weekend we were in Rhode Island for a wedding and I'm pretty sure it rivaled only our own wedding in terms of the aggressive moves on the dance floor and general debauchery.  This wedding featured a DJ that wasn't shy about playing the songs that we all memorized when we were in the 9th grade and then felt the need to "rap" right along whenever the song came on the radio.  Remember the song, "Regulators" by Warren G?  Yeah, they played that.  And I still remember all the words.  And I rapped right along.  Then, the strangest thing happened.  All of the groomsmen took their pants off.  And danced for the rest of the night in their boxers, dress shirts, and ties.  One even had suspenders attached to the top of his boxer briefs.  It was amazing!  I have no idea why this happened or whose idea it was, but everyone just went along with it and the party didn't skip a beat.  Then later everyone was having so much fun dancing (and laughing at the pants-less men), that we missed the last shuttle bus and had to walk the mile back to our hotel carrying our shoes.  That's my idea of a good party.

I've also never been to Rhode Island and totally fell in love.  Its so...comfortable there in the summer.  Its like only 80 degrees and not 150 like it is in Virginia.  You can sleep with your windows open!  And read outside without having to bring a sweat towel.  And guess what else?  They have lobster rolls there.  Even on trucks on the side of the road (which is genius, because one never knows when you'll need a lobster roll).  Now, lobster rolls aren't exactly on my new diet, but we walked around a whole lot, so I feel that the lobster roll and a half I had this weekend was justified.  Plus, its seafood (which is healthy, yes?)

We spent most of our time at Narragansett Beach (holy crowds, Batman!  Those northerners know how to pack it in) and the little coastal town of Newport.  Both were amazing.  I so want to go back, and not just for the lobster rolls.

Now I'm back and its time to get back to cooking my own meals.  First up is shrimp and veggie skewers.  And some pics from my trip!

Shrimp Kabobs
Source: inspired by a million different recipes, marinade a Cooking with Wine original

1 lb shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/2 cup lite soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
few splashes rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon McCormick grill seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
1 small container chunked pineapple
1 zucchini, cut into chunks
1/2 large onion, cut into chunks
1 green pepper, cut into chunks
1 yellow pepper, cut into chunks

Combine shrimp and next 7 ingredients (through salt and pepper) in a large ziplock bag.  Mix and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Thread marinated shrimp with pineapple and vegetables on metal skewers.  Grill on medium high heat for 7-8 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fashion Faux Pas and Healthy Bruschetta

Just now, I had a mildly disturbing realization.  I'm currently wearing shorts that resemble Umbros (but are NOT, for the record) and a kickball T-shirt from 2005 that has a hole.  Okay, three holes.  And that's not the disturbing part.  THAT would be the fact that I've been wearing some iteration of this very same outfit for close to 72 hours straight and have not put on real clothes since a baby shower I attended on Sunday morning.  Sometimes the shorts are red, and sometimes they are black, and I happen to have 5 different colors of kickball shirts, but really, the concept is the same.  I am not sick, nor am I on vacation, or working out 24/7 like the bionic woman.  No, I've just been attending to my usual business and suppose I've never felt the need to wear something public-worthy.  ***Just for the record, I HAVE showered an appropriate number of times during this 72 hour period.  If I hadn't, I sure as heck wouldn't be blogging about it.***

You see, I work from home and sometimes fail to see the point in dressing like a regular person when gym clothes are so much more comfortable.  I'm kind of ashamed of myself, but not ashamed enough to give up the fake Umbros.

And now that I'm thinking about it, my taste in casual wear has always been, well...pretty abysmal.  I like to think I have pretty good style when I'm out in public and feel like my clothes say a lot about me.  Fun, put together, a little out there at times, willing to take risks, colorful and unique....you get the gist.  But my casual wear says nothing good about me at all....it screams apathy with a side of shabby chic without the chic.  I go through phases where I'm obsessed with certain pieces of "lounge" clothing.  For awhile it was a pair of men's Calvin Klein plaid pajama pants that were about 5 sizes too big.  I loved those pants so much that I literally wore a hole in the butt.  And then begged my mom to sew them up until another hole appeared.  Sew them up again, a new hole, sew them up again, a new hole.  This went on for years until finally an Intervention was staged and it was time to say goodbye.  I traded the plaid pants in for these black velour yoga pants (before Juicy Couture even existed), and I wore them EVERYWHERE.  Like, until they too fell apart.  Then it was time for my husband's personal favorite, the dreaded green sweatpants.  Not only were they actual sweatpants (did you know they even still made those?), but they were CAPRI sweatpants.  Genius!  A four season monstrosity!  I wore those bad boys around the house every day for the first couple of years of our relationship.  He's a lucky man, I'll tell you what.  I eventually retired them after we got married, and actually thought I had lost them or given them away.  But THEN, I was cleaning out my car, and guess what I found in the trunk?  Yep, the green sweatpants.  I'm thinking of bringing them back when it gets too cold for Umbros.

Er, now that I've sufficiently embarrassed myself, I guess I'll talk about food.

Operation "Decrease the Size of Ann's Belly" is fully under way.  I've attended 4 spin classes in 5 days and have been planning healthy meals and not shoving food into my face just because my Umbros are stretchy.  So far, so good.

This grilled pork tenderloin and bruschetta on whole wheat bread was delish, and you don't even notice that it contains very little fat.  Score!

Bruschetta on Whole Wheat Bread
Source: Adapted from Epicurious

2 cups assorted cherry, grape, and teardrop tomatoes, halved (or quartered if large)
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for brushing
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 small loaf whole wheat french style bread loaf
1 garlic clove, peeled, halved

Combine halved tomatoes, finely chopped onion, 3 tablespoons olive oil, chopped fresh basil, minced garlic, and balsamic vinegar in medium bowl; season tomato topping with salt and pepper.

Preheat broiler. Place bread slices, cut side up, on baking sheet; brush bread with olive oil. Toast bread in broiler until top is golden brown, watching closely to avoid burning, about 2 minutes. Immediately rub cut side of bread all over with halved garlic.

Top toasted bread with tomato mixture and serve.

Grilled Balsamic Pork Tenderloin
Source: Adapted from Cooking with Chrissy

3-4 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon grill seasoning
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 pork tenderloin (about 1 pound)

Stir together garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, olive oil, grill seasoning, and Italian seasoning in a small bowl. Rub the paste all over pork. If you like or have the time, marinate several hours or overnight. 
Heat grill to medium high.

Sear the tenderloins on all sides, then grill for about 20-30 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes, until the internal temperature is 155 degrees.  Let it rest before slicing.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Its About That Time

Well folks, its about that time again.  Its a special time that has come and gone several times throughout the years, with varying outcomes.  But we're persistent here at Cooking With Wine, and we're going to give it another go.  What time is it, you ask?  Well my friends, its time to get back into shape and reduce the general size of all the bits throughout the mid-section area.  And hopefully increase the size of my muscles.  Or, more accurately, make some muscles.  Because you know what you get when you multiply something with zero...

And, well.....we've been here a time or two before.  I've gotten in shape tons of times in my life and then managed to get myself right on out of it.  Guess which one is easier?  Getting out?  You betcha.  But it must be done because being chunky makes me grumpy, and NOBODY likes a grumpy Ann.  So I'm going to reintroduce my slightly larger behind to the spin bikes at the gym and also the weight room.  And perhaps we should reintroduce my big mouth to some healthier food, specifically the kind of food that's not loaded with carbs.  What we are not going to do, however, is introduce any sort of wine abstinence.  Everyone knows that wine is healthy and is a vehicle for motivating one to attend the gym.  Its true - give it a try!

But what about the cooking?  Don't fret, my friends, cooking will still be happening!  It'll just be featuring slightly lower-cal dishes and might contain some moaning about how hard spin class is.  Sounds fun, eh?

I went to a baby shower this morning and ate some various breakfast casseroles and monkey bread about about 800 pieces of gouda.  So I'll be having dry lettuce leaves for dinner.  Not really blog-worthy.  Luckily I have photos of the basil/arugula/lemon pesto I made the other day and served over garlic whole wheat fettuccine with chicken sausage.  It was delightful and not so much on the new diet.  But that was before the time came, so its totally okay.


Lemon/Basil/Arugula Pesto
Source: Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 1/2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 cup fresh arugula leaves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil (I used meyer lemon infused olive oil)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup pine nuts
3 medium sized garlic cloves, peeled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil and arugula in a food processor with the pine nuts, pulse a few times.  Add the garlic and lemon juice, pule a few more times.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Serve over whole wheat fettuccine and sliced Italian sausage.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Grilled Peanut Butter Chicken and the Coffin Shower

We bought our house a year ago and its the most adorable little city home a girl and her husband (who wants to live on a farm) can ask for.  Its still in the city so its walking distance to shops and restaurants (if a mile each way to dinner is a "lovely stroll" in your book) but still a single family home in a neighborhood with a big yard for the hubs to do man things like yard work and for me to garden kill flowers and herbs of all kinds.  A perfect compromise!

There are so many awesome things about our house, (mainly the kitchen, especially after the mini renovation we did), and a couple of less than awesome things.  And by "a couple of less than awesome things", I mean "a couple of atrocious bathrooms".  It has two, and they both left a bit to be desired.  But a bad bathroom is basically a clean slate if you have a good contractor/tile guy, so here we are.  The tile guy was in today to do demo on the Coffin Shower Bathroom.  The coffin is gone, but luckily we have picture memories of its beauty:

That's the kind of place you'd like to shower, yeah?  Doesn't it look cozy?  Kind of how cozy you'd imagine a....COFFIN would feel?  I mean, really, who doesn't want to start every morning surrounded by yellow fiberglass?  

I love yellow fiberglass, but I love ceramic tile even more.  And a shower space TWICE as big as a coffin.  So today the tile guy ripped this monstrosity out and will begin building our new shower tomorrow.  I'll be sure to post pictures when its done.  In the meantime, I'll share some photos of the REST of the house, which isn't nearly as ugly.  Thank goodness for THAT!

Anyway, on to cooking talk.  I found this grilled peanut butter chicken recipe on Nicole's blog, Prevention RD.  It rules, so check it out!  Its easy to love a recipe with chicken, peanut butter and hot sauce.  I mean, really.  I served this with grilled corn and grilled zucchini.  And white wine.  Of course!

Grilled Peanut Butter Chicken
Source: Adapted from Prevention RD

1/2 cup natural peanut butter (I used regular creamy and added a bit of peanut and sesame oil)
3 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
Few splashes of Frank's hot sauce
1 tsp ginger, grated or finely chopped
1 lb chicken breast tenders

In a bowl, prepare the marinade by mixing all of the ingredients except the chicken.

Put chicken in a Ziploc bag and pour marinade over chicken. Make sure chicken gets completely coated. Set in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Place chicken on hot grill (or foil tray) and cook for 3-5 minutes per side, until chicken is cooked thoroughly.