Monday, January 31, 2011

What's For Dessert: Chocolate Whoopie Pie

D and I stopped by the Fitler Square farmers market on Saturday. I couldn't resist picking up a whoopie pie (or two) along with a carton of eggs. The whoopie pie definitely didn't disappoint. And one of these days, I may just have to make up a batch of my own. A couple of years ago I followed this recipe that was in the New York Times, and as I recall the results were quite delish.


Friday, January 28, 2011

What's For Dinner: Broccoli Tofu Cashew Nut with Soba Noodles

A quick trip to Whole Foods and I had all the ingredients necessary for this dinner. In all, it took about 20 minutes to put together; it probably would have gone faster if I hadn't decided to serve the stir fry over noodles at the very last minute (I had originally planned to serve it over some leftover wild rice). The next time I make this I think I'll try to make the sauce from scratch -- one of my fave dishes at Anong's Thai Cuisine in Laramie was the broccoli cashew nut (with tofu), and the ginger soy sauce that I used in this dish is just so not the same.

Broccoli Tofu Cashew Nut with Soba Noodles (printer-friendly version)
makes two servings

1/2 pkg soba noodles
3 cups frozen (or fresh) broccoli florets
1 pkg lite firm tofu
1/2 cup ginger soy sauce (or sauce of your choice)
1/2 cup roasted cashew nuts

1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the soba noodles and cook according to the manufacturer's instructions.
2. Cook the frozen broccoli florets per the manufacturer's instructions or steam fresh florets. Set aside.
3. Drain the tofu and cut it into 1" cubes. Place the cubes on a towel and wrap it in the towel's free ends. Place a heavy book or weight on top of the cubes and soak up the excess moisture for at least 10 minutes.
4. Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add in about half the tofu cubes. Brown on each side (about one minute per side). Repeat with the remaining cubes. Remove from the heat.
5. Reduce the heat to medium. Add in 1 T sesame oil and stir fry the cooked broccoli florets for about one minute. Add in the cooked tofu cubes and cashews and toss to combine.
6. Add in the sauce of your choice (I used about 1/2 cup, you can use more or less). Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
7. Once the soba noodles have cooked, drain and run cold water over them. Then add the cooked noodles to the saute pan and toss until all the ingredients are combined and the noodles are coated in the sauce.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Philly Takeout: Fuel

When the weather outside is frightful (continuing on yesterday's theme) and you're in need of a grocery run, what do you do for dinner? You order in. When I was in Chicago I ordered from grubHub a few times, and I was excited to see that they serve Philly, too. Since D had eaten a large lunch, he was looking for something light, and initially suggested we walk over to Fuel. However, given the sleety conditions, I was more apt to stay in and have the food come to us. Luckily, Fuel offers delivery through grubHub!

According to their website, "Fuel is a cafe right out of the hills of Hollywood dropped into South Philadelphia. The first of its kind in the area, Fuel features a delicious menu of panini’s, wraps, and salads all made fresh and all under 500 calories." Sounds good to me!

I ordered from the "Filler er' Up" section of the menu and opted for the eggplant and goat cheese wrap (275 calories, 9 g protein) -- it featured roasted eggplant, goat cheese, pesto, roasted red peppers, and arugula, all in a wheat wrap. It also came with a salad of mixed greens with a vinaigrette dressing on the side. D decided to "Go Green" and ordered the shrimp and avocado salad (395 calories, 12 g protein), which featured sliced avocado, spinach leaves, red onion, cherry tomatoes, and a dijon lemon vinaigrette dressing.

We both enjoyed our meals -- D couldn't get over how large the shrimp were. And I was a huge fun of my wrap sandwich, and will definitely have to try to recreate it.

1917 E. Passyunk Avenue
Phila., PA 19148

1225 Walnut Street
Phila., PA 19107

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snacktime: Clementines

When the weather outside is frightful (and as I type this I can hear the sleet hitting the windows), it's always nice to peel open a clementine for a little taste of summertime. A few weeks back we picked up a bag of these little gems at Whole Foods and they have definitely hit the spot when hunger strikes in the late afternoon.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Snacktime: Afternoon Tea

I don't think a day went by when I didn't drink a cup (or two) of hot tea during our trek in Nepal. And now that I'm home, I find myself gravitating toward a soothing cup of tea when I get a little hungry in the afternoon. Whenever I've reached for tea before it's been green tea, but the trek reminded me how good a cup of black tea can be. I've been trying out a bunch of flavors and one of my faves thus far is pictured above -- Archer Farms Organic Breakfast Black Tea (from Target).

And of course, it wouldn't truly be tea time without a few biscuits, right? Currently we have some Lu butter biscuits (le petit beurre) in the pantry (somehow I was able to ignore the chocolate-covered Petit Ecolier on the store shelf); however, I think I prefer Leibniz butter biscuits as they're a little sweeter. But what I'd really love is a packet of Nepalese Coconutties (coconut-flavored biscuits) -- now those were a quite tasty snack after a long hike in the mountains!

What's For Breakfast: Greek Yogurt with Blueberries and Honey

I went for my old standby this morning for breakfast -- yogurt with a little honey and a small handful of blueberries. Last weekend I trekked around town and over to Trader Joe's (just over a mile from our apartment). While there I picked up a few items, including a couple containers of store brand Greek yogurt (one plain and one vanilla flavor). I don't like Trader Joe's as much as I like Chobani Plain 0% Greek yogurt, but the price is definitely a bit more wallet-friendly.

To amp up the protein content even more I added in about a half-scoop of vanilla soy protein powder that D had picked up at Whole Foods over the weekend. I topped it all off with the honey and blueberries, and after I took the photo above I also sprinkled on a little Kashi GOLEAN Crunch! for a little added texture (and even more protein!). This should definitely keep me full 'til lunchtime!

Friday, January 21, 2011

What's For Dinner: Fried Egg Sandwich

I've got another sandwich to close out the week -- and it comes full circle, as this one features a fried egg! To make this sandwich, I started by roasting some sliced eggplant and portobello mushrooms (ah, leftovers!) on my stovetop Lodge griddle. This was followed by cooking an egg on the griddle. To construct the sandwich, I slathered one side of a slice of bread with pesto, then layered on the roasted veggies, a slab of mozzarella cheese, some spinach, and the egg. I topped it with the other slice of bread, then returned the whole shebang to the griddle to toast the bread and melt the cheese. Pretty easy, and rather delish!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What's In My Kitchen: Lodge Logic Pro Grid/Iron Griddle

One of the only pieces of cooking equipment we had when we first moved into our apartment was a Christmas gift from D's parents -- a Lodge Logic Pro Grid/Iron Griddle. This thing is awesome! So far we've used it to cook breakfast (the flat side is ideal for making pancakes and cooking eggs) and also to make a variety of panini sandwiches using the grill side. I definitely get a workout moving it around (gosh, cast iron is heavy!), but I have a feeling it's going to be used a lot in the future, and I'm sure it will last quite a long time.

Eggplant, Portobello Mushroom, and Goat Cheese Panini (printer-friendly version)
makes one sandwich

ciabatta roll, cut in half
4 thin slices eggplant
4 sliced portobello mushrooms
1 tablespoon goat cheese

1. Heat your grill over medium-high heat. Spray it with a little olive oil.
2. Once the grill has heated, add the veggies and cook for about 2-3 minutes per side, or until slightly browned.
3. Spread the goat cheese on both halves of the bread.
4. Pile on the veggies.
5. Place the sandwich back on the grill and use a grill press to heat the sandwich through.
6. Serve immediately.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's For Dinner: Broccoli Tofu Stir Fry in a Soy Ginger Sauce

Though it might sound fancy, it was actually a breeze to pull together this dinner. Within 15 minutes the stir fry was ready to be plated. And with only four ingredients, it doesn't exactly break the budget, either.

Ginger Soy Broccoli Tofu Stir Fry (printer-friendly version)
makes two servings

1 cup jasmine rice
2 cups water
1 pkg frozen broccoli florets
1 pkg extra firm tofu
1/2 cup sauce of your choice (I used a Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Organic Soy Ginger sauce)

1. Cook the rice according to the manufacturer's instructions. As usual, I set the rice to cook in my rice cooker and forgot about it. Love!
2. Cook the broccoli florets per the manufacturer's instructions. Set aside.
3. Drain the tofu and cut it into 1" cubes. Place the cubes on a towel and wrap it in the towel's free ends. Place a heavy book or weight on top of the cubes and soak up the excess moisture for at least 10 minutes.
4. Spray a large saute pan with olive oil. Heat over medium-high heat. Add in about half the cubes. Brown on each side (about one minute per side). Repeat with the remaining cubes. Remove from the heat.
5. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cooked broccoli florets to the saute pan. Warm for about one minute. Add in the cooked tofu cubes and warm.
6. Add in the sauce of your choice (I used about 1/2 cup, you can use more or less). Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
7. Serve over a bed of rice and eat!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

City Livin': Exercise

One of the aspects of moving back to the city that I've been looking forward to is the ability to walk more. As a carless resident of Chicago, I relied on public transit and my own two feet for transportation much of the time. In Laramie, we often drove to our destinations in town, though we also walked a fair bit to the cafes and restaurants in the historic downtown district near our home.

In moving to our new neighborhood in Philadelphia, I was curious about the area's walkability. According to Walk Score, our neighborhood gets a score of 92 out of 100 -- a veritable "Walker's Paradise"! In comparison, our old neighborhood in Wyoming got a "Somewhat Walkable" Walk Score of 52.

Yesterday I ran a bunch of errands around town, and after I came home I used one of my favorite websites for planning training runs, Map My Run, to estimate how far I had walked -- and was actually a bit surprised to find that I had walked over four miles (though admittedly my feet were quite aware of the mileage, particularly since I wasn't wearing the most walk-friendly shoes). Over the past week I have done a fair bit of walking -- in one epic early morning walk D and I schlepped across town to get our PA drivers licenses. (While it took me two years to switch my IL license to a WY one, it only took four days for me to switch over to a PA license, mainly due to all the paperwork and things we need to complete to get a parking permit for our neighborhood.) Our close proximity to cafes (er, Starbucks, though yes, there are a lot of independent cafes in our neighborhood that I must explore) means that I can easily get out of the house and change my office scenery during the workday.

I haven't quite figured out an exercise routine yet -- I definitely miss the twice-weekly Body Shock class at the Laramie Recreation Center (not to mention the uber-inexpensive membership fees) -- but in the meantime, hopefully walking around town will keep me in check. And once the winter time temps become a little less brisk, I am so looking forward to hitting up the Schuylkill River Trail for daily runs. Perhaps the Philadelphia Marathon is in my future? We shall see!

Monday, January 17, 2011

What's To Eat: Eggs

On our first weekend in town, we checked out a couple of farmers markets in the area. One was in nearby Fitler Square and the other was in West Philly, just beyond Penn's campus. As we expected, there were a lot of winter vegetables, particularly a great variety of squashes and winter greens such as kale. Since at that point our movers hadn't yet arrived, it didn't make much sense to buy fresh produce since we had no cooking tools on hand. However, on our return trip to our neighborhood, we stopped off at the Fitler Square market and bought a carton of farm fresh eggs. Now these are my kind of eggs -- all different shades of brown, some with speckles, some without. These eggs came from Sunny Side Farm in Elysburg, PA (which is actually about a 2.5 hour drive northwest of Philly.) In addition to chickens, the farm also has 60 goats, and the other products for sale included goat milk and goat cheese.

Eggs are a good source of protein; a large egg has just over 6 grams of this key nutrient. At 70 calories, an egg is a low-cal choice. A large egg has just under 5 grams of fat, but only about 1.5 grams of this is saturated fat. Other nutrients found in eggs include choline, lutein, phosphorus, and potassium. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin A.

In a perfect world, our eggs would come from our own hens in a backyard coop -- unfortunately, that will likely not be the case for awhile. A better-case (and more likely) scenario would be to purchase them from a local farmer or purveyor who can vouch for how the chickens are raised/what they eat/etc. When purchasing eggs in the grocery store, I typically opt for the carton that says "vegetarian fed" and "cage-free," though "free-roaming" would be even better. (Although, admittedly, these labels don't mean all that much for large-scale egg production, and "cage-free" may just mean that there's a door that the hens could go through to a dirt lot if they wanted to, but likely won't.) Hence, why I strongly advocate for finding a local egg-source that you can be assured allows the chickens to be themselves and behave naturally.

This is what I had for breakfast on Sunday -- one egg over medium alongside a slice of toast with organic strawberry conserve. I sprinkled a little bit of flax seed over my egg by accident -- I neglected to remember we had put the flax seed in our pepper shaker, but no worries, just means I added a few extra nutrients to my meal! I later seasoned the egg with a dash of salt and pepper. It doesn't get much more simple than that!


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

City Livin': The Granny Cart

When I was a resident of Chicago, I lived about four blocks from the nearest grocery store, and often only bought what I could easily carry for the short walk home. There were some rules I followed, such as only purchasing one heavy thing (e.g., either a half-gallon of milk or oj, but never both) and making sure that what I bought would only result in a few bags. Since I didn't have a car, if I needed to do a bigger grocery trip, I'd tag along when one of my vehicled friends was making a trip of her own.

Here in Philadelphia, the nearest grocery stores are about six blocks, or just over a half-mile, away. Since I'm no longer the Single Girl in the City, I can't get by with short trips to the grocery store. Hence, it made sense that one of our first purchases was a granny cart from Rittenhouse Hardware. After our purchase we made an inaugural trip to our local grocery stores, making a few purchases at Whole Foods (of course!) and then buying the rest of our groceries at the SuperFresh grocery store located just across the street from WF. I have to say, it is much more convenient wheeling a cartful of groceries than it ever was trying to wrangle an armful of bags!

Monday, January 3, 2011

What's On My Mind: The Big Move

Just a short note to let you know that posting may be a bit sporadic this week (and possibly next week, too) -- apparently blogging (and cooking things from scratch) gets bumped to the bottom of the priority list when dealing with a cross-country move! I hope to be back to posting regularly soon.
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