Saturday, December 13, 2008

Pork with Mustard Sauce

Pork Tenderloin with Mustard Sauce

The cold/flu has gotten the best of me. I tried so hard not to get sick, but it didn't work. Instead, I'm a sneezing, coughing, stuffed up mess and up until yesterday I suffered from a sore throat. Luckily, I haven't gotten it as some in my family.

Sickness really derails the exercise/food plan. Even once I'm better I have to be careful working out because of the nasty hacking cough I get. Back in high school the cough turned into an exercise-related asthma attack more than once. And whoever told me raising your body temp through exercise helps keep you from getting sick lies like a rug ;) I jogged on Monday and was full-on sick by Wednesday.

Before I got sick, though, I made my favorite pork tenderloin with mustard sauce. I love this pork because it's so easy and stays really, really moist. The pan sauce is up to you, although the recipe makes a mustard sauce. Usually, you see recipes that call for roasting the tenderloin, but I think the stove top method works well. Just brown it, cover it, turn down the heat, and let it cook for about 20 minutes.

Perfect easy meal.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup

Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup

My family has the flu. My dad is running a temperature of 101 and my mom thought she was for sure getting sick last night. That left me to make dinner. And after grocery shopping and packing boxes all day yesterday (I'm moving to the cheaper apartment!), I was too pooped to make anything time consuming.

So I cheated.

This soup came from a bag — sort of. I started with potato soup mix. Followed the package's directions for the amount of liquid, but used 1/2 chicken broth and 1/2 water. When it came to a boil, I whisked in a block of shredded sharp cheddar cheese until melted, and then whisked in the soup mix as directed. Then, I added about a head of fresh broccoli florets chopped small.

Then, I let it simmer for 15 minutes like the package says, stirring often. I didn't stir often this time, as evident from the brown-ish chunks of burnt soup. Still tasted OK.

My only complaint about using a soup mix is that the potatoes are clearly reconstituted dried potato chunks. Otherwise, I guess you'd never know I didn't make this from scratch. I can't claim credit for this idea though, the back of the bag suggests adding cheese and broccoli.

Never said I was a genius in the kitchen. :)

I don't have nutritional information for this because I pitched the bag before I thought to write down the number of servings per bag. I found the nutritional information per serving, though, and I would say it serves 6 to 8 depending on what size of bowl of soup you want. I was using regular sharp cheddar because that's what was in my fridge, but you can cut calories with low fat sharp cheddar. But definitely use a sharp cheddar so the flavor doesn't get too lost in with the potatoes.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pan Roasted Tilapia with Buttered Chive Gnocchi

Pan Roasted Tilapia

Friday night before heading to a holiday party for work, I made dinner for my family, Pan Roasted Tilapia with Buttered Chive Gnocchi. I've made it before, except I used cod last time and tilapia this time.

When I got to the party I wasn't hungry so I didn't need to munch much. In fact, a coworker noticed and said, "You're being so good, I wish I had your willpower." I really wasn't trying to be "good." I ate before the party, because while the sign-up list was circulating there were a lot of desserts and not a whole lot of real food on that list. So I decided to eat before I went and sampled some desserts. I had a piece of caramel brownie and a Hershey kiss along with a small sampling of the veggie pizza -- only because it's my party staple and I had to compare it to mine. It was nearly identical by the way.

But eating beforehand is an excellent strategy for holiday parties if you're trying to keep calories in check. This one started at 7 p.m. and if I had tried to wait until I got to the party I would have starved to death and probably inhaled everything in sight. If you know you'll like the food, eat a small snack rather than a full meal like I did. But by eating that full meal I was able to enjoy a couple bites of what looked really good, but wasn't grabbing at everything. Do you have a strategy for holiday parties?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Noodles and Co.

Pan-Fried Noodles

Tonight I had takeout. It's definitely rare for me to grab something out. But I was so happy to fill up my car's tank for less than $10 that I couldn't help myself. Plus my parents went out to dinner and I was on my own.

I ran to the store to pick up more wine (for my semi-nightly treat) and frozen cream puffs for the work party on Friday. I would make something, but my usual work cocktail party fare (a veggie pizza) was already taken. For my own parties, I always make a batch of my homemade caramel corn which is ridiculously easy to make and always goes fast.

So tonight I stopped at Noodles and Company, which is surprisingly not terrible for you. First of all, don't be fooled by their sizes. A regular isn't "regular" it's giant. And a small is good enough. In fact, I was starving when I ate and I had the small Japenese Pan Noodles with the smallest side salad ever:

side salad

And I was stuffed. Too bad they accidentally gave me balsamic vinaigrette when I asked for fat free asian. I didn't use all of it, though. The noodles, with shrimp, clocked in at 7 points, and I estimate the dressing was 2 points at most. I would have preferred the asian, which I'm guessing is zero.

If you decide to try it, definitely check out their site, they have the nutritional info for their entire menu. I love when restaurants do that. Takes the guessing out of it. I always look ahead and decide what I want before I even leave. It's definitely the easiest way to avoid temptation.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Crispy Chicken Fingers with Sweet Potato Fries

Crispy Chicken Fingers

I've been wanting to post more regularly, but things have been hectic lately. The good news is that I made two successful parts of our Thanksgiving dinner: multi-grain rolls and gravy. The gravy wasn't healthy in the least with 2 cups or so of drippings (my mom roasts her turkey with a ton of chicken stock in the bottom of the roaster), two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of flour. But it tasted great.

A week or so ago I was helping my mom clean out her pantry and found a box of cornflake crumbs, which we've always used to make Crunchy Garlic Chicken. It was kind of old, but I wanted to try it in the Crispy Chicken Fingers recipe I saw. My mom already has a standard baked chicken finger recipe (a WeightWatchers recipe incidentally), but the cornflake crust sounded like an improvement.

The dish pretty much failed for two reasons: the crumbs were stale, and the chicken itself didn't have much flavor. I think it could be improved by adding a little dijon mustard to the buttermilk (like our favorite recipe does) and, of course, always use fresh cornflake crumbs. To be fair, we didn't make the sauce that goes with it. We used regular bbq and ranch to dip in.

On the upside: they were crunchy, which is where our usual recipe fails. So I think if you combine the two, you've got one tasty chicken finger.

Oh, and on the side were Alexia Sweet Potato Fries. Tasted more "fried" than the ones I make from scratch, but were just as soggy. I was hoping these would crisp up more in the oven.