Monday, June 26, 2006

We interrupt this Diet for a Wedding

DISCLAIMER:I have been trying to keep my recent posts healthy and on the lighter side. But for me denial does not work. I have to give myself permission to occasionally be "bad". So please heed this disclaimer. There is NOTHING healthy or light in today's recipes. There are no LOWFAT, or LOWCAL or Fat Free ingredients. Today is about creamy, indulgent foods.

I love my job as a paramedic;but after a back injury I have come to the conclusion that I need to start exploring "back up plans" I am not looking to leave EMS in the near future but I can't physically do this job until retirement (Which at the hospital I work at would be about another 20 yrs or so) One of the "Second careers that I am exploring" is Catering. I got my first opportunity to try my hand at this yesterday. A lady in my church recruited myself and my friend Savanna to be in charge of food for her wedding. Estimated number of guests 200. I honestly had no idea how to figure how much food that was going to be. So, I concentrated on the menu and let Savanna take the lead on that stuff. We also had prep help of two other women Susan and Lila(who were also in charge of decorations). We worked great together and could not have pulled it off without the whole group along with the MANY other people who pitched in on the day of the wedding for all of the final setup. We pulled it off without a hitch and had lots more food than we needed which we felt was better than the alternative. Tons of compliments and most importantly the Bride was very happy! I learned a lot and have a starting point for my next endeavor.
The menu was heavy Hor d' Oeuvres. We had alot of the usual suspects like veggie trays meatballs and finger sandwhiches but I really wanted to do some special, elegant things that would hopefully, knock the socks off of the guests. One thing a little different ;I did I credit to a fellow Blogger Indyfoodie, was tortillini with dip. We had to modify the dip because the bride wanted to avoid anything with nuts and guess what, Pesto has nuts. So basically I used all the ingredients of pesto sans the Nuts. It was really nice but I think her original recipe would be better and hope to get to use that next time.
A recipe for Savory Ham Cheese Cake I found in "A Taste of Home" magazine. It was very elegant and was all that I had imagined it would be. I plan to keep it as one of my top signature dishes.
Savory Ham Cheesecake
3cups Oyster crackers, crushed
1 cup Grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup melted butter
4- 8oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
4 eggs lightly beaten
2 cups(8-oz) shredded swiss cheese 2 cups finely chopped cooked ham
1/2 cup snpped chives
1/4 cup fresh minced basil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper
Combine crackers,parmesan and butter. Reserve 1/4 cup for topping. Press remaining crumb mixture in the bottom and 2 inches up the sides of a greased springform pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Add eggs, beat on low until just combined. Add remaining ingredients
and beat until just combined. Pour mixture into crust. Sprinkle top with remaining cracker crumbs.
Place pan on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 60-70 mins until filling is almost set. Turn oven off. Leave cheesecake in the oven with door ajar for 30 mins. Cool on a wire rack for 10 mins. Carefully run a knife around the edge of pan to loosen; cool for 1 hour longer. Refrigerate overnight. Remove sides of pan. Serve chilled or at room temp. with assorted crackers. About 40 servings
Visually, I think the most popular item was stuffed cucumbers, inspired by a wedding episode of"Semi- homemade" on Food Network. I did not however use Sandra's actual recipe. It is a Sindy original if I do say so myself was a great success.

Stuffed Cucumbers
12- english cucumbers
4- 8oz pkgs cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup drained and finely chopped roasted red peppers
2 cloves garlic finely minced
1/4 cup snipped chives
Beat all ingredients except cucumbers and place in a pastry bag with a large star tip
Run a grater or zester randomly down side of cucumbers to make a nice pattern. slice cucumbers very about 1 1/2 inches. With a small melon baller or grapfruit spoon make a small hollow inside of cucumbers. As you are cutting place cucumber slices upside down so that liquid does not pool inside. Pipe cream cheese mixture into cucumbers mounding it up well over top of cucumber. These can be made the night before. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Aprox 100 slices

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Summer Wrap

Ok, Ok I know its been awhile since I have posted. Hopefully, I still have some readers left. I have been busy doing all that summer stuff. I recently came back from a long weekend at Myrtle Beach. I did make my weightloss goal before I left but... With dinner one night at the Melting Pot (YUM!!!) and another at Captain Georges seafood buffet and snacks and cocktails(lot's of cocktails) I am afraid to get back on the scales until I get back to my good eating habits for a little while. This wrap was inspired by the Thai tuna from Roly Poly one of my favorite "fast food" places. I have tried about half the stuff on the menu and have NEVER not liked something and I feel like I am giving my body something healthy as they use lots of fresh ingredients. I usually opt for extra spinach on my wraps to add bulk and help fill me up. Sorry about the picture quality. I took the pictures then ATE THE WRAP and THEN looked at the pictures. Let's just say it tasted better than the pictures look. Sweet and Spicy Tuna wrap
1/2 cup (total) cubed mango, pineapple and avacado
1 Tbs minced red onion
1 Tbs sweet chilli sauce
1 pouch Sweet and spicy tuna
4 Tbs shredded sharp cheddar cheese
baby spinach leaves
alfalfa sprouts
Mix together fruit, onion and chilli. Layer spinach on each tortilla. Place half of tuna on each tortilla. Spoon half of fruit mixture on each. Top each with half the cheese and a handful of sprouts. Roll tightly. ENJOY!

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Basily Good Idea

Some of you may have already heard me say that I like to add Pesto to my Ranch dressing and I will say again it is soooo Yummy. BUT...... I am trying to cut calories and fat these days so adding pesto with all that olive oil is not helping that (although olive oil is heart healthy ..still adds the calories) . I can't stand the taste of any "white" fat free stuff (mayo, ranch, sour cream , ect....) I will eat light versions of these but there is just something "off" tasting about the fat-free stuff. Catalina, French , thousand Island are all ok fat-free. Anyway, I digress. I love ranch on my salads but also for snacking with carrots, celery, cucumbers, radishes, ect... So, here is my latest experiment. I would not make more of this than you plan on using in a day or possibly two. I am not sure how well the basil will hold up in this for longer. Thinning the dressing out a little makes that 2TBS serving of dressing go a little farther without adding as many calories ( for dipping veggies you won't miss the thickness). The basil makes up for the flavor loss.

Light Creamy Basil Ranch Dressing
1/4 cup Light Ranch dressing
2 TBS skim milk
1-3 TBS Fresh basil leaves finely chopped
Mix together and let hang out for a half hour or so to give the basil time to permeate the dressing.

Here Fishy Fishy

Good News! I am happy to report that I have lost 6 lbs!!! Whoo hoo!!! I have been really sticking to my good eating habits. I have added tons of veggies to my diet (raw for the most part because they are more filling and easier for snacking) No special meals but trying to make lower fat and carb choices (but still eating normal food) and strict portion control. I am allowed a snack anytime I wish but it is fruits (usually 2 a day) or Veggies (unlimited). I am also working on getting more dairy with yogurt and an occasional 1/2 cup of low-fat ice cream (vanilla with a handful of blueberries is my favorite) This is the secret for me ...Working on adding good stuff instead of concentrating on eliminating bad stuff. If I eat all of the good stuff I am supposed to ..There is not much room in there for the bad stuff. People at work are making fun of me and my never ending lunchbox of food (mostly veggies) but HEY ...IT WORKS FOR ME!!! I also go for the "eating from the rainbow" thing, this helps with taste boredom and takes advantage of all the different vitamins and anti-oxidants from different fruits and veggies.Last night I made fish which I love but don't eat that often because my children won't eat it. This recipe was inspired by an episode of "Good Eats" with Alton Brown. He did a fish in parchment paper. I have to say this is a quick and painless way to cook fish. There is no mess and it does not smell up the house as much as other cooking methods. The other thing is it comes out SUPER MOIST. I have done this with a variety of fish (salmon, talpia, tuna and this time Mahi- Mahi) and veggies. My favorite veggies to put in it are Sugar snap peas(but I ate all of them with my hummus, thanks INDYFOODIE that was a great idea) and carrots but I was out of these so I went for what I had on hand. INGREDIENTS: Fish Fillet (Mahi- Mahi is pictured) ,1 cup frozen spinach thawed and drained, 1/4 cup jullienned carrots ,1/4 lemon, salt & pepper to taste, dab of butter ,Parchment paper Tear of about and 18 inch piece of parchment paper. Fold in half and cut into a heart (just like you did in grade school). Unfold and place spinach on 1/2 of paper near fold. Add a dab of butter.salt and pepper to taste. Place fish fillet on top of spinach. Salt and Pepper to taste. Add another dab of butter. Squeeze lemon over top. Fold paper over and starting at V of the heart make about 2 inch folds over laping each one by 1/2. When you get to pointed end twist. Place on microwave safe plate and NUKE for 4 mins. TA DAHHHH ! Perfectly cooked fish with no fishy smell in your house. I served mine with Rice. I would have preferred Brown rice ..But ...I REALLY need to go the store! Note: Alton added a splash of Vermouth to his. The last time I made this I used a splash of Bacardi limon which added a nice depth to the flavor but I totally forgot it this time.