How to Cook While Juggling

17 Nov

After I came back from our honeymoon, I started studying almost immediately. I am trying to get into grad school, so I started taking prep classes for the GMAT and working on my applications to school. Pairing that with a crazy work schedule, my husband having to work several weekends, and trying to get enough sleep every night, I have been neglecting not only my little blog but also my kitchen.

The first week of classes and studying, I was totally overwhelmed. We ate out most nights and I totally was transported back to college where I had the munchies and just ate whatever. Obviously I’ve gained a few pounds since my honeymoon, and it became quite clear to me that the goal this month should be to not gain any weight (and to be honest, that’s usually my goal around the holidays).

By my second week, I had some new ideas about what to do to eat well and not get carry out every night. We have been doing lunchmeat for some lunches (usually I cook enough that we have leftovers for lunch and I make something new for dinner) and eating leftovers for dinner. I’ve been making quick meals — chicken sausage fajitas, gyros, roasting some veggies while studying for a bit — and I started buying yogurt with fruit already in it to save me time in the morning.

(If anyone else has any time saving suggestions, I’d be happy to see them!)

One thing that has helped me immensely is my slow cooker. And with that, I give you my slow cooker cassoulet (inspired by a Cooking Light recipe).

*warning: this doesn’t taste like cassoulet whatsoever; picture a hearty and flavorful chicken stew and that’s what this realllllly tastes like

Serves: 6
10 WW points plus (but super filling!)

Ingredients:
2 parsnips, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
2 carrots, cut in 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
A few sprigs of fresh thyme
1.1 lb of chicken or turkey sausage, mild flavoring, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 15 oz cans of Great Northern beans, rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste

For breadcrumbs:
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 oz Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil in a pot or pan (I used my trusty Dutch oven) and throw in parsnips, onion, garlic and carrots. Cover and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Take cut sausage and put into pot, cooking until browned (a few more minutes). Put into slow cooker.
3. Add thyme, bay leaf, canned tomatoes and beans into slow cooker. Add salt and pepper to taste and combine everything.
4. Cook on low for 8 hours.
5. Melt butter in microwave and add cheese and breadcrumbs. Stir until combined.

Serve 1/6 of stew and top with 1/6 of breadcrumbs. Enjoy!

And some pictures:

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Cooking in my Creuset pot.

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Getting cozy in the crock pot.

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Deliciousness!

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Food Culture in Italy/Paris

23 Oct

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(In Paris, outside the Louvre)

Obviously, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I was looking forward to trying all sorts of dishes during our honeymoon in Italy and Paris.  After months of dieting, I was ready to let loose and let my food-obsessed flag fly high.  And to be honest with you, in Italy especially, it seemed like everyone we met wanted to talk about food, eat food or make food.  What a wonderful country!

Our itinerary included: Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre, Rome and Paris.  We spent the most time in Florence, and we were in Europe for a total of two weeks.  Each city had some high notes and low notes in terms of food, and we loved being tourists in every city.

 

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(In Venice… the canals here are breathtaking)

Since 10 out of our 14 days were spent in Italy, I felt like we really got to participate in Italian love of food.  There is a whole romance about it. Everywhere you go — at any time of day — Italians were smoking (everyone smokes there!), sharing a glass of wine, and eating something delicious. Beautiful cafes and wine bars lined every block — none of them chain restaurants — and even the humblest of cafes still had amazing food. I could seriously relate to those food sensibilities; my Italian-Hungarian family very much shares those ideas. Food should be lingered over, savored, never rushed and always delicious.

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(from a small cafe in Florence)

Everything was delicious there, almost decadent.  Everything was also portion controlled (Chris and I joked that we couldn’t find a decent cup of coffee anywhere — the cappacinos, although delicious, were miniscule).  No super-sized fries. It seemed like almost every restaurant had extreme pride in their food (the only exception we found was in Rome; however, although we couldn’t find a good restaurant there — except for this random amazing Indian restaurant — that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good restaurants, we just could not find any!).

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(Croque madame sandwich in a Parisian cafe/bar)

There is a real celebration of local cuisine and fresh ingredients. We had the best pesto in Cinque Terre smothering a bed of freshly-made gnocchi and an amazing carpaccio in Venice surpassing anything I’ve ever had before.  There was this life-changing burrata in Florence (check out La Giostra if you’re headed to Florence any time soon!) served with honey and nuts and jams. We found pear and pecorino raviolis in multiple restaurants in Italy and fell in love with the salty-sweetness.  We had amazingly flaky croissants in Paris, and delicious crepes at 10pm in our quirky Marais neighborhood. 

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(pulled burrata — best 40 euros ever spent)

I reconsidered the obvious, but rarely utilized in the US, pairing of salad with almost everything in Paris (quiche, egg dishes, sandwiches).  I thought about how sometimes we rush through dinner, even eating it while multi-tasking (I am especially guilty of multi-tasking while eating lunch at the obvious). I thought about how gelato should be present at every meal (only slightly kidding). 

(deliciously fresh pasta with simple ingredients at a small restaurant on a square in Florence)

My goals: to savor food more every day, living in the food moment. To consider lighter sides with heavier entrees. To continue to eat locally and in season. To get back to Europe as soon as possible. To spend longer with loved ones over dinner.

My elopement, picnic and honeymoon were literally the three most magical weeks of my life. I hope to continue to travel and be romantic with my husband for all the years to come.

Our Wedding

26 Sep

The last three weeks have been hands-down the best weeks of my life.

Chris and I eloped to New York City. We had a private ceremony in Central Park. Everything was magical that day — from my hair and makeup being done, to our bouquet arriving and being more beautiful than anything I could have asked for (including our florist attaching the crown from my grandmother’s veil to the bouquet), to Chris’s face as we saw eachother for the first time, to taking a cab to Central Park and giggling in the back like excited kids on Christmas morning, to Chris’s beautiful vows by the water, to everyone on the streets shouting their congratulations like all of New York was celebrating with us, to a wonderful dinner in Columbus Circle (which we found out as we were leaving is owned by Marc Murphy) overlooking the city with free appetizers and desserts, to flowers and chocolate cake left by our hotel in our room — seriously, a magical day. The best part was getting married to the love of my life.

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And guess who wasn’t worried about my weight or feeling fat that day? This girl. I felt beautiful — if not a little bit constrained by my corset dress. And who totally owned that burger in a wedding dress? Oh yeah, I did — not feeling like a fat girl at all! Just a lady celebrating her romantic Central Park elopement with her man. With grease and cheese and fries 😉

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Totally blissfully happy.

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Just a few pictures — more to come! And we followed our elopement with a picnic with our loved ones and a wonderful two week foodgasm touring Italy and Paris… aka a honeymoon.

More to come with food porn and details about each place we visited — as well as thoughts on food cultures in other countries and ideas for fall meals!

New Joy

29 Aug

Sometimes, it is just all about the little things.

Recently I feel like I’ve just been breathing, trying to hold on until the honeymoon.

Going shopping for our honeymoon and feeling awesome for fitting into a middle size (instead of the largest size in the store or no size at all because everything is too small) is a great joy now. I’ve always loved to shop, but shoes used to be my favorite thing to buy because of my weight.

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I picked up some sexy lingerie in a size medium. I tried on dresses in size mediums. My pants are size 8s.

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Deep breath. Exhale. With all the stress recently, I’ve decided to stop stressing about the weight. Work, relationships, getting everything done in time… I just cannot be bothered about my weight right now. I guess just maintaining until after the honeymoon is the goal. Now onwards to the wedding!

Easiest Salad in all the Land

24 Aug

When I get lazy (all the time) I make this salad. It’s filling, different, delicious.

I’m talking one bowl, baby. One knife, one cutting board.

Customize as you see fit:

Greek yogurt (I use one container of Fage 2%)
Tomatoes
Some red onion if desired
Cucumbers if desired
A little bit of fresh herbs (basil? Thyme? Possibilities are endless!)
A splash of white wine or balsamic vinegar
A little bit of olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

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First, cut your veggies and toss them with salt and pepper and oil and vinegar in a bowl.

Then, dump your yogurt and mix it up.

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Easiest salad ever. Never gets old. Big on flavor, little on effort… My kind of meal!

Carb Attack!

21 Aug

It all started out with one tortilla chip. Fresh, hot, homemade. I smelled it. It smelled like sin. It called to me seductively.

Chris convinced me to eat it (ha! Love blaming the future husband!). And thus on Friday, after two months carb-free, I ate some carbs. Repeat on Saturday… And then on Sunday.

Chris was all, “Babe, I think you need to either do carbs or do no carbs, but you cannot do this in moderation.”

Understatement of the year.

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(me in some classy work attire, post-binge)

So, here I am, day two of no carbs… Again. Going to try to make it to the gym 3 times before Sunday… Again. We live to fail better, right?

The plus side? I get to eat healthy salads like this:

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Who needs carbs anyway???

And here is the ultimate plan– either track religiously through weight watchers or no carbs, but nothing in between. When I start eating carbs again, I will start tracking once more.

No Sugar Added Frozen Yogurt

21 Aug

Yummmm. Nothing I like more than ice cream or frozen yogurt during the summer time. But how to make it healthier? Simple! Use frozen fruit!

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Ingredients:
1/2 container of no sugar added jam (the key is in the ingredients– it should be fruit and juice!)
Some frozen berries
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
Large container of Greek yogurt (my favorite is fage 2%)
Some vanilla for flavor — I use about a teaspoon
(Optional) some stevia

1. Mix your yogurt, vanilla, lemon, and stevia if using in a large bowl.
2. In a food processor, crush the frozen berries.
3. Add berries to the yogurt mixture and combine thoroughly.
4. Add it all to the ice cream maker and let it do it’s thanggg!

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Whip it reallll goodddd.

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And enjoy!!!! Here I used raspberry jam and frozen raspberries — but the possibilities are endless! Next I will try fig jam! Yum!