Monday, May 24, 2010

The Bitch Stopped Feeling Fat and Tired - End of the Cleanse!

I finished the four-day cleanse! The final day was quite similar to the one prior, roasted vegetables and all. I spent part of the day getting food for this week because..... I have decided to go forward with phase two of the cleanse/diet/become-as-fabulous-as-Gina-plan. Speak of the devil, Gina and I went to Allandale Farm in Brookline to get some fresh and delicious produce. There are a lot of opportunities in the summer for city-dwellers such as ourselves to get fresh, local produce. You just need to know where to go. First, there is Allandale Farm, which opens in April. There is also Marshall's Fenway Farm Stand which has, in addition to delicious fruits and vegetables, the most delicious chocolate milk I have ever tasted in my entire life. And lots of yummy prepared meals. Another good option is Russo's in Watertown. Always really busy but if you can handle that and pick the right fiddleheads at the same time, all the power to you. All of these are good options where you can get yummy local produce almost all year long. There are also farmer's markets in each part of town throughout the summer, there just weren't any when we went shopping. I encourage you, fellow Bostonians, to visit these farmer's markets and rely on them for your produce and let them rely on you for your dollars. You'll both be much happier. Another path you could go down is becoming a member of a CSA. Read all about CSAs here.

Anyways, here I am telling you where to get your peaches and asparagus and expecting you to listen to me. Why? Because you should. Because I'm Fabulous now. Because I can wear pants that have been hanging up in my closet, knowing they are too small, crossing their legs every time the Goodwill truck drives by. Not anymore, pantaloons. You're mine forever. I lost six pounds doing the cleanse. Although I am not entirely sure where it came from, I do feel a lot better, and the fact that I could even button those pants makes me know it came from somewhere. Dan told me my skin looked radiant the other day, and Dan doesn't tell anyone that anything looks radiant. So I guess this isn't all a crock of shiitake as I was secretly predicting.

I felt really empowered being able to change something as "simple" as the food I eat and then feel so much better (science!). I decided that I am going to go forth with phase 2 of the O2 Diet. With caution. I really don't want to turn it into something that I fight with, grow to hate, and then spite with cheeseburgers. I want it to be something I follow -not necessarily swear by- but guidelines by which I will try to dine. This was tested my first day of phase 2 when I unexpectedly made dinner plans with a friend in need. She's a friend, indeed. We went to one of my favorite restaurants in the universe, the Parish Cafe, and instead of ordering my fa-vo-rite steak sandwich ever, I decided I could be a little more sensible and have something a little more healthy. I didn't want to get a salad since I had been living off that for days, so I settled for a chicken dish, swapped out the garlic mashed for rice, and only ate half of it. I ate until I was full, not until I was Thanksgiving Full, as I usually do. It was delicious! And satisfying! And I left the stupid leftovers in my car! I even had a glass of wine. I decided, from that meal forward, that I wouldn't make myself feel guilty about it because a. that will only make me hate it, and b. it is so freaking annoying listening to people complain about how they violated their diet. So here I am, liking phase two as a friend.

Phase two adds more dairy, fat, and carbs to the diet. It lasts for two weeks. There is a recommended meal plan and then also guidelines for doing it yourself. I am going to follow the recommended meal plan because I love the idea of someone just telling me what to eat. I have really enjoyed the ability to eat really varied things after eating the same exact thing every day for four days. I have also been really open minded about trying new things. Like the recommended breakfast for today was a smoothie that had fruit and yogurt and juice and other normal stuff in it, alongside avocado and grapeseed oil. Weird. But it was delicious. As long as I didn't think about it.

I am going to keep blogging through phase two and I will keep you posted about the funny things I eat and the love-love relationship I am going to maintain with this diet. I have had a number of questions from people who are interested in starting this, so I will answer them next time I post, but I currently have a suspected sinus infection to attend to. (I never said this diet was magic!)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Bitch Stopped Feeling Fat and Tired - Part Three

The third day of my cleanse went quite well. I had the whole day off so I was able to spend more time preparing my food than I had the two days prior. I said to hell with the eggs and had the apple, the prescribed midmorning snack, for breakfast. Considering I slept until 11, I felt that this was an appropriate choice. Now I am going to talk about cinnamon for a hot second. I had absolutely NO IDEA the havok it can wreak on your mouth. The cleanse calls for a teaspoon of cinnamon on a sliced granny smith apple. Totally seems doable, right? It's not!! It's horrible! On the first day I did exactly that and I was scraping cinnamon off my apple slices with the ziplock bag it was in. I was plugging my nose just to get the slices down. I was sweating. My eyes were watering. It took me an hour to eat the apple. Needless to say, I put an end to such torture on the second day and only put in a half teaspoon of cinnamon with my apple. The other half I mixed in with a glass of lemon water. The apple experience was only slightly improved and the water only brought back flashbacks of Granny Smith and her masochism the day before. Third time's the charm. I realized that I didn't go to college fer nuthin and poured myself a shot of lemon juice mixed with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Down the hatch. No chaser. Problem solved. Now let's do green tea keg stands.

Lunch was delicious. I made salmon again but instead of having it over raw spinach I sauteed the spinach with the pecans in some peach balsamic from Gustare. a-m-a-zing. I am always fascinated by the shrinking power of spinach when you cook it and I think I probably ate about a pound of it. It smelled and looked so good that Dan wanted some. Jumping at the opportunity for him to be the earthy-crunchy-big-mac-refusing organivore that I have always dreamed of, I made him a plate too. Minus the pecans; I didn't have time for anaphylactic shock. He loved it! Amazing!

Having bought four artichokes before starting this whole cleanse hoopla, I really didn't want to waste them, despite my Artichoke Comprehension Disorder. So I looked at ten more youtube videos about how to prepare and eat a goddamn artichoke and I found something that appealed to me. Roast it! Maybe THEN the heart will appear and save me, antioxidants pumping through its ventricles. No such luck with the heart, but the 'choke itself was pretty delicious. I sacrificed some of my olive oil from dinner and drizzled it over the artichoke and topped it with some ground black pepper and a dash of cayenne before roasting it. The olive oil made my fingers messy and I almost thought that I was eating something with butter on it. Almost.

The roasting of the artichoke, along with the oven that was still on, inspired me to roast more. So I threw in some cupcakes. Just kidding. I threw in all the vegetables that my dinner salad calls for, tossed them with a touch more olive oil and black pepper, and charred 'em up nice and good. While they were cooking I George Foremaned (sorry mom, I know verbing weirds words) some chicken with lots of seasoning on it. When the veggies were done I chopped up the chicken and tossed it in. On the side I made a salad with romaine and tomatoes and pomegranate vinegar. It was a little different than I had prepared this dinner in the past three days, and it was SO delicious.

Annnnnd the best part of my day, the blueberries. They are JUST SO GOOD. Can't get enough of them.

I was so excited for my cardio today because I was planning to take a free Zumba class at Healthworks in Cambridge. The class was at 5:30. I left my house at 4:45. It's a 15 minute drive. I got there at 5:40. SO disappointing. So then I was too stubborn to leave Porter Square without having done a thing. I popped into Cambridge Naturals to look at all the delicious foods I couldn't eat. They are so nice in there and I really wanted to support them after bringing all my negative moping energy, so I bought some green tea and some face mask. I even signed up for their email list. I'm supposed to get a free tote bag for that one. The face mask is so nice! It's Burt's Bees Pore Refining Mask. It was really fun to do. It is just a powder and you mix it with water, green tea, tomato juice, or carrot juice, depending on your skin type. I just squeezed out one of my tea bags into the powder. I couldn't decide whether my skin was more mature or troubled. So you mix in your liquid of choice and then put it all over your freshly cleaned face. I put it on with a spoon. It was like painting. It was so much fun. It has some peppermint in it so it felt really cold on my face. I filled up a basin and soaked my feet in that luxurious soap my mom makes and sat there with the face mask on, trying to enjoy pampering. The mask was so interesting. I felt it drying while it was on my face and I completely expected that when I looked in the mirror my face would look like Benjamin Button. In his early days. It didn't. When I took it off I can't say I felt any explosions of cleanliness or pore refinedness, but it certainly was nice.

When I was done I realized that bumming around Porter Square still didn't count as cardio, no matter what my intentions had been. So I sat on the couch and watched a couple workout videos, well aware that that also did not count. I finally found one that wasn't too annoying, too intense, or called Cardioke. I did the whole 30 minute video and then I did situps for as long as it took Not Siobhan Magnus #1 to sing Come to My Window on American Idol and the judges to, well, judge it. As soon as Not Siobhan Magnus #2 piped up I decided to call it quits, and that 35 minutes or so was just enough exercise for me.

Oh, yeah, also. Coffee. Two cups today. Not even considering abstaining. At least I'm having it black. Unsweetened. With cinnamon, of course.

One more day!

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Bitch Stopped Feeling Fat and Tired - Part Two

Yesterday was TOUGH. I had to get up really early so I had even more trouble with the eggs. I ate about half of them, though. This time I put some asparagus and spinach in there, which helped a little, but I just really don't like eggs by themselves. End of story.

When I was in the shower in the morning I pampered myself, just like they tell you to. I made a facial scrub that called for yogurt and coffee grounds. It was nice. I sort of wanted to scrub the inside of my mouth because it felt so good, but I refrained. I was thinking that maybe the coffee grounds would go into my brain and make it feel like I had a cup of coffee. No dice.

I didn't have time to have my midmorning apple snack so I had it at lunch after I ate everything else. This time I put about half as much cinnamon on because the first day the cinnamon had me in tears. The other half teaspoon of cinnamon went into one of my lemon waters. It wasn't bad. The apple with cinnamon was good but it was still really cinnamony. My lunch was good. I had salmon again on a bed of fresh spinach and eight whole halves of pecan.

I had class in the evening so I had brought everything with me early in the morning. I tried my hand at the steamed artichoke again but I still couldn't find the heart!! I swear I didn't cut it off this time. Perhaps I purchased heartless artichokes. When I was sitting in class I was really tired and I had a headache. I made myself a cup of green tea and it really didn't help. SO I CAVED. I had a cup of coffee. Black, unsweetened, horrible coffee that you make out of packets in the lounge at my school. It was the most delicious thing I have ever had. I perked right up, my headache went away, and I felt so much better. Apparently I looked better as well. So it turns out I can't live without coffee. Fine. With. Me.

My dinner was delicious last night. I put the asparagus in with my salad this time, which was yummy. I did find myself wishing there was more chicken, but perhaps that was just because there was so much of everything else. I think I am discovering that I don't like yellow peppers. I had no idea. I thought I loved them. Maybe I just don't like them in salads.

When I got home I poured myself a glass of blueberries and sat down to watch an accumulation of tivo-ed shows with Dan. I started getting really hungry about a quarter of the way through Modern Family and by the time Claire put mud on Gloria's dress I was almost in tears. I sent a desperate text to Gina, who encouraged me to have some protein. It was okay, after all, since I didn't eat all my eggs in the morning. So I made a salad with romaine, tomatoes, chicken, and pomegranate balsamic vinegar from Gustare Oils and Vinegars. It was so good. It 90% hit the spot. The rest of the 10% of the spot was hit with........


I'm sorry, cleanse gods. I couldn't help myself. I was so hungry and the way the mayo oozed out the sides was too much for me to handle. It was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten. I only had one (or three) bite(s), though, so I think it's okay. I mean, I know it's not ideal, but I think it's okay. Maybe I'll count that as my pampering for the day.

I totally failed on the exercise front. While I did do a lot of walking and stuff during the day, I really didn't exercise. I didn't have time during the day and then when I got home at 9 I just wanted to watch tv and drool. But I'm okay with that.

Today I drank a lot more water than is prescribed. I had my eight cups of lemon water and probably had an additional three or four cups. Also, I woke up with really dry skin. And the humidifier was on. Granted, I have been nursing a cold for about a week.

Overall I am feeling pretty good being halfway done. I weighed myself this morning when I got up and I have actually lost four pounds. I'm not sure if this is just my IKEA scale being fickle, or if I really have, but that is very interesting. Perhaps because so much sodium is cut out that I am losing water weight. Who knows.

Well, halfway done is good. I have screwed up a couple times but not with anything huge. Other than my sandwich bite(s) I haven't eaten anything that isn't allowed and I have been putting in a good effort for the rest of the lifestyle stuff. I think that if I had a normal 9-5 job then it would be a LOT easier.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Bitch Stopped Feeling Fat and Tired - Part One

Jeepers creepers I’ve been so busy cooking that I haven’t had time to blog! I made it through the first day of my cleanse! It was actually rather easy and sort of nice to already know what I was going to be eating for every meal, and to already have it prepared and with me. I will say that the cooking took a long time… but I also had to prepare lunch, dinner, and snacks ahead of time because I had class all day and night.

I did make a valiant effort with the eggs. In the morning. Off a plate. I used one egg and two egg whites instead of three egg whites, added a little extra black pepper, and gagged down about half of it. I think the whole point was to have a. the protein and b. the basil. So later in the day I used an extra half teaspoon of basil in my salad. I didn’t make up for the protein but I probably could have. I didn’t find myself particularly ravenous all day, although I did want something delicious like bread or pizza.

The lemon water wasn’t too bad. I ended up bringing a straw with me at the last minute and I am really glad I did because it is SO sour and when I am one of the Beautiful People I’m gonna need to still have teeth.

The artichoke was…. Interesting. I steamed it the night before and I really didn’t know what to do with it. My dear friend Marisa, who happens to be an Licensed Artichoke Expert informed me that I need to peel off all the leaves and then peel off all the fuzzy stuff to get to the heart. Turns out I cut off the heart when I was attempting to prepare my artichoke. Whoops. But I did eat all the “meat” out of the leaves. That was good. And time consuming.

My dinner exhausted me. First of all I ate it in my disgusting Dysphagia (swallowing disorders) class so we were talking about gross stuff and seeing videos of dead bodies and their tongues and mouth mucosa. So that put a little damper on my dinner. I think I may have brought too much. You’re supposed to eat as many vegetables as you want and I guess I was anticipating being starving so I brought a ton. I couldn’t finish it all but I did eat a lot. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, but it was just a lot.

Coffee, coffee, coffee. I tried to replace my caffeine with the prescribed green tea and ended up drinking about six cups of it in order to stave off a withdrawal headache. It worked until about 9pm and I was hit pretty hard with a headache. I was also pretty lethargic all day and sort of sad. All I wanted to do was come home and hang out with Dan. Maybe I have an emotional addiction to coffee. I am going to try one more day without coffee and then I might have to have a cup of unsweetened black coffee the last two days.

You’re supposed to “pamper” yourself twice a day. I did double pampering just one time, in the evening. After I had gotten everything done around the house I made a face masque that the nutritionist recommends. It uses yogurt, oats, and honey. I made it and put it on, and while wearing it I soaked my feet with hot water and this heavenly soap that my mom makes. And I sat there for about fifteen minutes reading and hoping Dan wouldn’t walk through the door and get frightened by the fact that I had breakfast all over my face. I sort of just got anxious about the fact that I wasn’t doing anything and I had a lot to do, along with the fact that I hadn’t grabbed a towel before soaking my feet. Pampering is for the birds.

In addition to pampering, you're supposed to do 45 minutes of cardio. I did.... maybe 25 minutes (on the wii). BUT I did jumping jacks a few times throughout the day. And I took the stairs whenever I could. And parked far away. So I am counting it.

You are also supposed to set some personal goals, which I did. You can see my little checklist of things I am going to try to do for myself while cleansing.

So, pardon my tardiness in posting this, but that was day 1. Stay tuned for day 2, which is actually today. BIG SURPRISES await you, readers. Big surprises.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Bitch Stopped Feeling Fat and Tired - Part Zero

Tomorrow I (Maria) am starting something that is extremely uncharacteristic and foreign to me.

I have been feeling really uninspired by food lately, I’m sick of all my recipes, and I keep just buying food and letting it go bad in my fridge. I have also been feeling pretty low on energy and I feel like my skin and my waistline have also been feeling a little low on energy. When I was in college I could eat whatever I wanted and I would never feel the difference, but lately I haven’t felt so lucky. In order to bring back my energy and perhaps feel a little better in my bathing suit this summer, I decided to try a cleanse. Don’t stop reading just yet!

I can still eat FOOD and I don’t have to drink maple-syrup-cayenne-pepper-and-cat-litter concoctions all day every day. This all started when I hadn’t seen my friend Gina in about a week and I had class with her last week and she sauntered in with a new glow, great hair, and a water bottle with some yellow stuff in it. With concerns that she was now way out of my friend league, I asked how she was looking so damn fine. She told me she had started this cleanse I was very skeptical. Then she told me more about it and it turns out you can still eat, it’s only 4 days long, and you don’t have to get obsessed with calories. I can do that. The cleanse turns out to be “phase one” of a 3-phase antioxidant-based diet plan called the “o2 diet”.

I think that the structure will be helpful for me because my lack of culinary inspiration has made me put off eating until I am starving and then eat something bad for me that I probably spend money on. With the cleanse, you eat the same thing every day for four days and I went to the grocery store today and bought everything I will need. The next “phase” lets you eat more quantity and variety, but the focus is still on antioxidants. We’ll cross that bridge (or perhaps stay on this side of the river) when we get to it, but I wanted to blog about the cleanse for two reasons. I want to stay motivated to do it by writing about it (because I know our thousands and thousands of readers will yell at me if I don’t) and I also want to let you all know about it in case it turns out to make me look as wonderful and feel as fabulous as Gina. Because if it does ya’ll will have some catching up to do.

Here is how it goes. Every day for four days I have to eat the following:

Throughout the day:

8 cups of water, each with 1oz lemon juice and some lemon zest

2 cups green tea


1 whole egg and three egg whites*

1tsp basil


Granny smith apple with 1tsp cinnamon on it


Spinach (as much as my little heart desires) with 4oz salmon, oil, vinegar

8 pecan halves


Steamed artichoke. Yeah, I’ll let you know how that goes.


Romaine salad with 4oz lean protein, oil, vinegar, veggies

Steamed asparagus


1cup blueberries

*Hey, do any of you have any thoughts of what I can do with the egg yolks I don’t use every day? I could make something delicious for Dan, perhaps. Ideas?

Note that there is no dairy, sodium, or sugar. I'm going to get so clean inside! We’ll see if that all keeps me full. Note that two things near and dear to my heart are missing. Coffee and red, red wine. I think green tea miiiight stave off caffeine withdrawal headaches, and I think it is the whole curling-up-on-the-couch-with-a-glass-of-wine-at-the-end-of-a-long-day thing that I like the most, so maybe I’ll just put my blueberries in a wine glass. Turns out both coffee and red wine are high in antioxidants, so if I do continue with it then I can consider bringing them back into my life.

I am sure I will be fine without the wine, but I am actually a little concerned about the coffee. I might have to resort to drinking 750 cups of green tea per day; I did the math and that is how many I would need to match the caffeine I regularly get from coffee. I am also a little concerned about this thing you all call breakfast. I can barely brush my teeth in the morning without gagging and the thought of straight eggs makes me cringe, but we’ll see how it goes. Maybe I can switch the mealtimes between the blueberries and the eggs. Although I don’t really want to eat scrambled eggs out of a wine glass.

There are some other components of the cleanse. You are supposed to take good care of yourself by pampering yourself, getting 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and it turns out that making whoopie (the no-calorie kind) is good for you, too. You’re also supposed to get 45 minutes of cardio. Not sure if those are one in the same. I’m going to use the wii fit every evening (after curling up with a glass of scrambled eggs, of course) for cardio at least for the first couple days because I won’t have time to ride my bike and I am allergic to all other types of cardio. I think the wii fit will also be helpful because then I can monitor my weight as well.

So, I’ll try it, I’ll keep you posted (literally), and if you don’t hear from me for a while it’s safe to assume it’s because I’m going to be so gorgeous and energetic that I’ll be off on some tropical island with Gina and all the other Beautiful People.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day Brunch Recipes

It's Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 9. A perfect day for a bitch to stop cooking! We want to make it as easy as possible for any mother (or woman) to stop cooking, so why not start on Mother’s Day? Here are some easy recipes that the rest of the family can prepare.

We here at TBSC like to have a family brunch on special holidays and birthdays. We like it because it’s more casual than dinner and you have an excuse to eat lots of sweets, which is really why we all eat anyway, right? For those who are more fans of the savory stuff (this author’s husband is one of those crazy people), there are good choices, too. It’s the best of both taste-bud worlds. The best thing about brunch is that if you suck at cooking, you can always buy everything you need pre-prepared at your local grocery store and bakery. If you just sort of suck at cooking, you can try one of the recipes below and then get the rest at the store. If you are a good cook, or are just adventurous (or your wife/mother/step-mother/grandmother has threatened to stop cooking entirely if you don’t at least try to cook on her special day), check out the spread below and get cooking. Some of the recipes have a lot of flexibility built into them so you can use ingredients that you already have or are easy to find. All of the recipes are pretty much fool-proof, so if you’re not sure, give it a shot. She’ll still love you. We promise. And, if it turns out that you’re an awful cook, as the song says, maybe she’ll make you stop.

Fruit Salad

Fruit! Chop it all up and mix it up in a bowl. Serve with yogurt and granola if you want a heartier dish. Some ideas: strawberries, grapes, orange slices, watermelon, kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries.

This recipe is one of our favorites. Crepes are one of those things that seem fancier and harder to make than they actually are. The following recipe is modified from the Fannie Farmer cookbook, which is a good basic cookbook to have in your collection. You might want to double the recipe ingredients, as this doesn’t make that many crepes (maybe 10 - 12). They freeze well if you end up with leftovers.

2 Eggs
1 cup Milk
1/2 tsp Salt
1 cup Flour
2 tbsp Butter; melted (or oil)

Beat the eggs well, then beat in the milk, salt, flour, and butter till smooth. Lumps tend to taste kind of yucky, so try to get them out if you can. (Or mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.) Cover and let stand for at least 30 minutes. We have let it stand for less than this and they come out just fine. Heat a 7-inch or 5-inch skillet or crepe pan until moderately hot (we like to use a cast iron pan), then add a small amount of oil. You can spread it around with a spatula or brush if you’d like. Using ladle or small cup, pour in several tablespoons of batter, then quickly tilt the pan this way and that so that the batter spreads evenly in the thinnest possible layer. (If there is too much batter in the pan, pour it back into the bowl of batter and use less for the next crepe.) You’ll be surprised about how little batter you need. Cook for a few more minutes, until the bottom is lightly browned and the edges lift easily from the pan. Turn it with a spatula or by catching an edge with your fingers and flipping it over. Cook the second side for a few minutes (or less); it will brown in spots, not cooked as evenly as the first side, but it doesn't matter because this side should be used inside when the crepes are rolled and because she’ll just be so glad she didn’t have to cook she won’t care what it looks like. Remove to a plate and add more butter or shortening before cooking the next crepe. If the batter seems to be getting too thick as you get toward the end of it, add a little milk to thin it out. We have found it is easiest to do this with a cooking partner. One person to pour the batter in and one person to quickly tilt the pan around. Makes it more fun, too!

Crepe Filling Ideas:

Yogurt – plain or flavored, sour cream or ricotta cheese
Fruit from the fruit salad you made
Chocolate syrup, maple syrup, honeyPowdered sugar and cinnamon

Prosecco Mimosas
Prosecco is Italy’s version of French Champagne. Makes a very tasty mimosa!


Some good quality orange juice. Don’t skimp on this part. We have found that Simply Orange is pretty good if you can’t afford or can’t find Naked OJ or some other brand of flash pasteurized OJ.
a bottle of Prosecco

Pour 2 ounces of orange juice in a champagne flute (or water glass or coffee mug). Add 4 ounces of the prosecco. No need to stir. Enjoy!

Egg Scramble

Like an omelet, but easier. The great thing about this dish is that any combination of veggies work well. We’ve listed some suggestions here, but use whatever your tummy desires.

Eggs 1 – 1.5 per person (there’s so much other food that there’s no need to make a lot)
Milk (cow’s, soy, almond or rice)
Veggies (some ideas: mushrooms, green onions, bell peppers, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, spinach or swiss chard
Seasonings (some ideas: salt and pepper, Old Bay Seasoning, cumin, Italian seasoning)
OilChop the veggies in small pieces. Scramble the eggs together in a bowl with a splash of milk. Heat a small amount of oil in a large skillet. Cook the veggies until tender. You want to cook out a lot of their water. Otherwise, the scramble gets really wet and runny and will taste bland. If you add spinach or chard, cook the other veggies first and then add these towards the end. They don’t need much time in the pan and the longer you cook them, the more nutrients are lost. After the veggies are done, add the eggs. Let it stand for a few minutes and then push the eggs around a bit in the pan. Let stand again and do this until the eggs are cooked to how you like them. Make this right before you eat because nothing’s yuckier than cold eggs.

Get keys. Get in car. Drive to nearest locally owned bakery. Buy enough pastries for each person to eat ½ to 1 full pastry. Go home and be merry.

Other Ideas:
Some kind of baked bread or muffins – zucchini bread or banana bread are both relatively easy.
Oysters on the half shell.
Sparkling water and juice.
Deviled eggs.
French toast or pancakes.
Bagels with cream cheese and lox.
Mozzarella, basil and tomato salad.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spicing Things Up on Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, which is actually September 16. On that date in 1810, Mexico declared its independence from Spanish rule. But today isn't Dieciséis de Septiembre, now is it?

Cinco de Mayo actually commemorates the Mexican army's unlikely defeat of French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Yet Cinco de Mayo is celebrated only sporadically in Mexico, mainly in the southern town of Puebla and a few larger cities. Did you get that? Cinco de Mayo is celebrated only sporadically in Mexico. Then what the jalapeno are we doing celebrating it up here?!

In recent years, though, Cinco de Mayo rapidly gained popularity in the U.S., where it is suspected that changing demographics (no, not more college kids) have helped to turn the holiday into a cultural event. Latinos are the largest minority in the U.S. today with 44.3 million people, representing 15 percent of the population, according to a July 2008 U.S. Census Bureau report. And the rest of us... well, we'll just do anything for a party.

Here at La Perra Dejó de Cocinar, we put together some recipes to help you celebrate Cinco de Mayo with great cheer and great beer.

Roasted Poblano and White Bean Crostini

2 poblano peppers, roasted and peeled
1 can of white beans
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
Juice of 1 lemon
Grilled bread
1/4 bunch cilantro, picked but not chopped

Roast peppers on the grill until blackened and charred. Place in a bowl and cover with saran wrap for 20 minutes. Peel peppers. Heat olive oil over medium heat and fry cilantro very quickly (about 30 seconds). Remove and pat dry with slotted spoon. Reserve. Puree beans with garlic, cumin, lemon juice and poblano peppers. Serve warm on grilled bread. Garnish with crumbled fried cilantro.

Chicken Enchiladas

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped
4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes

Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.

Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.

Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat.

Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.

Pineapple-Chile Margaritas

makes 4 servings
coarse salt
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 cup tequila
1 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tsp agave nectar (you can find this by the honey at the grocery store)

Wet the rim of 4 short glasses and dip in a mixture of 2 tablespoons coarse salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder. Fill a cocktail shaker two-thirds of the way with ice. Add 1 cup tequila, 1 cup pineapple juice, 1/2 cup fresh lime juice and 11/2 tablespoons agave nectar. Shake well, then strain into the glasses.

Cerveza, cerveza, cerveza...

I know what you're thinking. You will go grab a 12-pack of coronas and a lime or two and you'll be all set. Just like in the commercials. Well, if you want to get real authentic, you might follow these suggestions.

If you can find them, Cucapa Brewing Company makes a mean hat trick of Mexican beers.

The Obscura is a brown ale, absolutely delicious and available in 22 ounce bottles.
Cucapa Honey is a blonde ale that has a hint of honey flavor. It's light, flavorful, and just sweet enough.
If you're a Mexican Hopping Bean and you can't get enough, try their Chupacabras Pale Ale. It's a pale ale with lotsa hops.

If you can't find these (though I think you will be able to), check out Allison Boyer's Top Ten Mexican Beers.

Have a happy, safe, and picante Cinco de Mayo!