Monday, September 15, 2008

Michael Phelps Diet: Saturday Night Live

Did you guys watch Michael Phelps host SNL this Saturday? While he wasn't the funniest person ever, this little bit about the MP Diet was HILARIOUS! Enjoy!

And...on a more important note...HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELLY!!!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Carrot Ginger Soup - MmMm Good

So along with my seasonal hankering for all things pumpkin (as I know Mel concurs), the fall also brings with it my soup filled days in an attempt to not succumb to the hypothermia in my ridiculously drafty apartment and to not to pack on the pounds and go into reclusive hibernation. Last year, I became completely OB-SESSED with a carrot ginger soup made by Whole Foods in their special refridgerated section. Imagine my delight when I gleefully found it back on the shelves after a long, hot summer. As I jauntily skipped (in my mind, really it was more of a brisk walk), making my way to the cashier purchasing not one, but two plastic pints of the delectible concoction. After all, it always sold out quickly. What if I came back the following week or two and found the shelves bare? It wasn't until I got home and poured myself a bowl that I saw and tasted something anew. No longer were there delicious chunks of carrots. No longer was there a sweetness coupled with the salty. Alas, could my 70 calories, 2 g fat/serving have been a complete and utter lie? Perhaps I dreamt of the gingery bite that accompanied every hearty slurp. This "new" batch, although the label remained the same listing all of the familiar ingredients, fell short of satisfactory to say the least. Such was my horror that a friend of mine who lives in Chelsea and is also a huge fan of the Whole Foods CGS emailed me saying that her batch from her nearby Whole Foods had befallen the same fate. Thus began my journey to find a CGS of my very own making.

One of the things that I loved about the Whole Foods CGS was the low calorie, fat content and delicious, filling texture. I began to search high and low, scouring the internet for hours, ok, well, maybe minutes, thinking of the exact combination of flavors to achieve the near perfection of the 2007 Whole Foods CGS. Somehow I lucked out and found this:

Curried Carrot Ginger Soup

1 lb carrots, peeled and diced
1 small onion, chopped
1 to 1 1/2 T minced garlic
2 c low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 t salt
2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 t yellow curry powder
6 oz lite silken tofu

In a medium sized pot, bring the carrots, onion, garlic, broth, and ginger to a boil. Lower heat and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes. Add the curry powder and salt and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Take off the heat and let cool slightly. Add the tofu and puree (I cracked out the immersion blender for the first time, and it scared the be-jeeeeesus out of me) to desired thickness.

Makes 3-4 servings.

That's all she wrote. Next time I will add a little cayenne pepper for a bit of a kick, and while I do love curry and understand that not everyone shares this flavor, I'm sure you could try it without (as the Whole Foods recipe never contained curry), though the taste is incredibly mild in this recipe.

I didn't have my camera to post pictures, but just imagie a very orange chunky soupy puree. Yum-o!

All I can say is, butternut squash, you better BRING IT! You've got some hefty competition.

Tuna Fish Sandwiches

So right before Justin went on deployment, he and I along with his dad and another crew delivered his dad's sailboat from Seattle to San Diego. It was a very long and rocky 10 day passage but we did fit in some fresh tuna fishing off the coast of Oregon and I thought I'd share some photos and the "recipe" for these delicious tuna fish sandwiches.

Tuna Fish Sandwiches

First, you should catch some fish. We caught some albacore tuna here.

Once you catch the fish, tie them onto a line attached to the sailboat until they bleed out a bit before filleting the fish.

Then, fillet the fish. And an interesting thing to note here is that Justin is filleting the tuna as the boat is flying along at 8-10 knots while the waves are pretty huge.

Next, season the tuna fillets with olive oil, salt and pepper before throwing them onto the grill and cook to desired doneness. Since this is albacore tuna, we cooked them medium to medium well.

Then serve the tuna fillets with some toasted whole grain bread, good mayonnaise, swiss cheese, and tomato slices. Then viola! A fantastic tuna sandwich that went from the ocean to table within an hour.

And your view? The pacific ocean with an occasional humpback whale breaching in the background. =)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Strawberry Muffins

So sorry that I've been MIA for so long. I've been cooking and taking photos but have utterly failed at posting. Oi oi oi. Well here is my attempt to get back into the game before I leave for Australia on Tuesday. (by the crazy kids who have been traveling really need to post photos!)

Now that I'm back in San Diego I've been hanging out with my nephews a lot. I went over to their house a few days ago to bake some blueberry muffins. (Cooking with kids is SO FUN!) My sister in law insisted that she had some fresh blueberries. Unfortunately they were all moldy when we pulled them out of the fridge. But since I'm not one to accept defeat, we substituted some fresh strawberries instead and made strawberry muffins. Well...they turned out beautiful and the muffin cake itself was DELICIOUS. But the strawberries given the recipe I had were just too tart for the muffin. So, my nephews and I are determined to give it another try later but for now, here are some photos for you to enjoy.

By the way, the recipe we used is one that I'm testing for America's Test Kitchen. I love calling myself a "recipe tester." =) And here is the original recipe we were supposed to use for the blueberry muffins

Best Blueberry Muffins
from America's Test Kitchen
Makes 12

Turbinado sugar is commonly sold as Sugar In The Raw. Demerara, sanding sugar, or other coarse grain sugar can be substituted.

2 cups (about 10 ounces) fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups (8 ounces) plus 1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon zest from 1 lemon
2 large eggs
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 teaspoons turbinado sugar

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a standard muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Bring 1 cup blueberries and 1 teaspoon sugar to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, mashing berries several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced to 1/4 cup, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat and cool, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk flours, baking powder, and salt together in large bowl.

2. Whisk remaining 1 1/8 cups sugar, zest, and eggs together in medium bowl until thick and homogenous, about 45 seconds. Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined. Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined. Using rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and remaining fresh uncooked berries into flour mixture until just moistened (batter will be very lumpy). Do not overmix.

3. Using ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide half of batter equally among muffin cups (cups should be about third filled). Place teaspoon of cooked berry mixture on top of batter. Scoop remaining batter on top of berry filling. (Batter should fill muffin cups almost to the top). Using butter knife, gently swirl berry filling into muffin batter. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top of muffins.

4. Bake until muffin tops are golden and just firm, 17 to 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time. Cool muffins in pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and cool for 5 minutes before serving.


So I just made these blueberry muffins tonight again with my nephews again. Unfortunately, they really didn't live up to the expectations and I'm going to have to withdraw my suggestion to make these muffins. Accordingly, I also gave a pretty negative review of the recipe to America's Test Kitchen. The second time round, the overall muffin was still way too tart and it just didn't rise like I would expect a bakery style muffin too. Additionally, there wasn't an ultra crispy top to the blueberry muffin, as expected. So...I'll be on a search for a better muffin but until then, I'll try the recipe that Karen suggested from Eggs on Sunday.