Friday, February 4, 2011

Its snowing!

In Austin!
That means no school, which I'm actually not too happy about because I'd rather go to school instead of extend my school year another day. This also means that I couldn't go to the gym like I was planning to ):

The good news is that I got to sleep in a couple extra hours!
My dad took some snow pics, so there really wasn't much left for me to photograph so I'm just using some of his.
It never snows here, so this amount of snow is a huge deal!!

After I eventually woke up, I had one of my favorite breakfasts...the egg sandwich!
With a slice of jalapeno jack cheese, absolutely yummy. On the side I had my fave Greek yogurt w/blueberries and lemon curd combo so this breakfast was definitely up there on the yum scale. (If you're curious about my egg cooking method then take a look a this post.)
And for lunch I had a humongous Greek salad!
So big I had to mix it up in a huge Tupperware container :P
The salad includes:
*romaine lettuce
*leftover chicken
*artichoke hearts
*blob of hummus
*feta cheese
*dash of light sun dried tomato salad dressing
Super delish but so big.. had a hard time finishing it all!
For dessert I had a gingersnap cookie-
I made these yesterday because my mom wanted me to buy her gingersnap cookies at the grocery store and I was convinced I could make her some at home that were just as delicious. The kind we get is a good brand with a good list of ingredients (Sprouts brand) that really aren't too bad nutritionally as far as cookies go, but I really wanted to try out a unique recipe I found.
This recipe seemed unique because it had ingredients like black pepper, balsamic vinegar, and real bits of crystallized ginger that stood out compared to the other recipes I've seen. I halved it and changed it up a bit:
 Gingersnaps with Crystallized Ginger 
Yields: 26 cookies
1/4  cup  unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4  cup granulated sugar, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons more for coating
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup  molasses
1/2  tablespoon  balsamic vinegar
1/2  teaspoon  pure vanilla extract

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2  tablespoon  baking soda
1/4  teaspoon  salt
2  teaspoons  ground ginger
1/2  teaspoon  cinnamon
1/4  teaspoon  cloves
1/4  teaspoon  cardamom
1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup crystallized ginger, chopped

Heat oven to 375° F. Cream the butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Lower to medium and add the egg, molasses, vinegar, and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ground ginger, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and pepper. With the mixer on low, slowly add the flour mixture to the butter mixture. Beat until incorporated. Fold in the crystallized ginger. Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a log about 13 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap and chill for 2 hours. Slice the log into disks, 1/2 inch thick. Drop into the remaining sugar, and flip, giving it just a light coating. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake until crinkly around the edges, about 10 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

 Mmm! I think these gingersnaps were a lot better than the kind we get at the store. I like my snaps with a little less snap and a little more chew so I made half cooked a little less and half cooked a little more so my mom could have her snappy ones and the rest of us could enjoy ones that are crunchy on the outside but still a little chewy on the inside. 

I did my calculations and these cookies came out to be a little less than 100 calories a cookie and unlike the Sprouts ones, these have the benefit of some whole wheat flour. I'm sure you could probably get away with all whole wheat flour since the flavors in this cookie are so prominent and I definitely want to try using Brummel & Brown butter to see if that works out. But since these cookies are already pretty low fat, it would only shave off around 10 calories and 1 gram of fat each. 

The bits of crystallized ginger are so good and add a great pop of gingery flavor; don't make these without them. Oh, and these cookies get even better with age!
Ever wonder what to do for dinner when you want something fast and healthy? A couple nights ago it was just me and my mom for dinner so we decided to make Mexican pizzas! 

I got the idea from Taco Bell's Mexican pizzas that I used to get all the time as a kid. I also used to get their Crunch Wrap Supreme, so this is kind of a mix between the two that is, of course, much healthier and not filled with their 36% actual beef "mixture".  I ate so bad as a child... I loved Taco Bell night, frozen pizza night, papa johns, and would put butter on EVERYTHING. Butter on rice, butter on pre-buttered popcorn, I even spread butter on my cinnamon frosted pop tarts!

Anyway, we had non fat "refried" black beans left over from the night before that gave me the idea. We get the Sante Fe Bean Co. brand that is super awesome. Its not canned, but comes in bags with flakes of dehydrated black beans. The only ingredients are "Black beans, salt." gotta love that! They're great because all you have to do is combine the flakes with some water on the stove and cook them for 5 minutes and you got yourself super tasty "refried" black beans :D

In case you're unfamiliar, a Taco Bell Mexican pizza has- Two crisp pizza shells filled with seasoned ground beef, hearty beans and then topped with pizza sauce, a blend of three real cheeses – cheddar, pepper jack and mozzarella – melted to perfection, and topped with diced ripe tomatoes.
and the Crunch Wrap Supreme has-A warm, soft, flour tortilla filled with seasoned beef, warm nacho cheese sauce, a crunchy tostada shell, reduced fat sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes and then wrapped up and grilled for maximum portability. (descriptions from their website)

We went with- a baked tostada shell topped with non fat refried black beans, hot chunky salsa, and a blend of sharp cheddar and habanero jack cheese toasted to perfection. Each tostada is then topped with chopped plum tomatoes, romaine lettuce, green onions, and a dab of Greek yogurt.

These tostadas are H-E-B brand and are baked instead of fried. They are a great canvas for a multitude of applications!
With salsa and Greek yogurt ("sour cream")-
And all the veg!
Here's mine (times three)-
Uh yeah, who needs the "beef" when you have this? Super fresh and satisfying. Taco Bells got nothing on me!
We also have Santa Fe Bean Co.'s non fat refried pinto beans so I plan to make some of that, add some seasonings, and use these tostada shells as dippers (just like their Pintos N' Cheese.. another one of my old favorites).
The other day I experimented with another store bought short cut that was on sale at Sprouts. Its the Simply Organic Alfredo mix.
The mix said to blend milk, 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter, and just a quarter cup of Parmesan cheese in with the mix to achieve alfredo-y goodness. My mom would only let me make this if I used white alfredo noodles because she said the whole wheat would be way too overpowering... pshhh whatevs. I decided to bulk up the pasta and add a little more flavor by adding steamed broccoli and grilled chicken that I marinated in a mixture of oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and Italian seasonings.  The sauce said it was enough to sauce 8 ounces uncooked noodles, but even with the extra add ins there was a little extra sauce!
Served with a spinach salad on the side-
So how did the sauce taste? Hmm it was alright.. it needed a sprinkling of pepper and some red chili flakes but was still kind of boring. Also the pasta was kind of cold, but that was my fault. Eh, I wouldn't get again but it definitely wasn't bad and it was almost all eaten by the three of us with only a little bit leftover. 

I really want to try this recipe that uses greek yogurt as the "creamy" agent and has chicken stock in it that I think would add more depth to the flavor. And I'll be using whole wheat fettuccine :P
And last night we had a quick-to-come-together dinner of veggie stir fry with grilled chicken that was marinated in a soy ginger sesame sauce. Served on top of quinoa (which I have missed soo much!!)-
I love,love,lovee quinoa. We used up the last of a bag of Costco frozen stir fry vegetable blend which was around 1/3 of the 5.5 pound bag. This stir fry was packed to the brim with veggies :D

And I'd just like to point out that I've hit many different cuisines in this post: Greek (salad), Chinese (stir fry), Mexican (pizzas), and Italian (Alfredo pasta)!
I love variety :D
And I thought this was funny so I wanted to share it with you guys. Someone in my neighborhood accidentally left the sprinklers on in just one small area where there is a couple bushes and the water froze overnight!
My dad and my dogs.
It wasn't icy anywhere else but in this small little area so it was quite a sight to drive by!
The bushes
The grass!

It was like a miniature winter wonderland :D

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