Sunday, February 22, 2015

Potato Soup

What's a better way to use up leftover potatoes than making a big pot of potato soup?  It's pure comfort food.  It works as a stand alone meal, or you could serve it as a first course or as part of a soup and sandwich or soup and salad combo.  Top with your favorite mix ins, such as chives, shredded cheese and crumbled bacon.

See my note below the recipe for a simple tip about how to easily add festive color to your soup.  Enjoy!
 
Potato Soup
Makes 8-10 servings.

Ingredients:
64oz potatoes, chopped into cubes
18g no-sodium chicken bouillon
12oz sour cream
1 tbsp tex-joy
8oz chopped onions
3c (24oz) water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 caps of liquid smoke
1 tbsp of shredded cheddar cheese (per serving)

Method:
In a large pot, boil cubed potatoes until tender. 
Saute chopped onions in a separate pan.
Drain potatoes.
Add all other ingredients to the potatoes. 
Mix with an immersion blender.





mixed with carrots

mixed with peas
Note: For a little extra fun, you can add some color to your soup by mixing in a little of one of your favorite veggies.  For example, I mixed in some peas to make the soup green, which would be perfect for Saint Patrick's Day, and to make the soup a pretty peachy color, I mixed in some pureed carrots.  Just add however much you want to make the soup the color you want.   My grandmother shared this easy trick with me, and it works for mashed potatoes too!

Happy eating!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Feast

Last week, my husband and I had a much needed date night.  As new parents, we definitely appreciate our time together and try to maximize it, but we also try not to splurge too much (diapers add up!).  Well, this date night was one of the best.  We got a good deal on tickets to see Wicked at the Pantages theater in Hollywood.  Wicked was the first musical my husband ever saw and the first musical we saw together; it's definitely one of our favorites.  We thought about eating dinner at Cleo, but we knew we'd easily spend over $100 just on dinner, and that was more of a splurge than we were willing to make.  So, I did a little research (thank you, Yelp) and saw Feast.  Apparently, it used to be called Chicken Dijon.  I remember seeing Chicken Dijon before when seeing a play at the Pantages, but it never occurred to me to eat there.  It looked like fast food, like El Polo Loco or something, and I wanted to eat somewhere nicer (like Wood and Vine, which is right next door).  However, after I looked at the menu and the reviews on Yelp, Feast had zero strikes against it.  What I gathered was that it was a Greek restaurant, the style was what I think is called "fast casual" (where you order at the counter, get a number, choose a table, and they bring the food to your table for you), and the prices were around $10 per meal.  My husband in particular loves Greek food, so I definitely thought Feast was worth trying.

We parked, picked up our tickets at will call, and walked across the street to Feast.  It was a beautiful night, perfect California winter weather (meaning, you might need a sweater).  Most of the tables at Feast were occupied, but there were a few empty ones.  There wasn't a line to order, so we looked over the menu and let the people who came in behind us order first.  We wanted to try a variety of things, and we always like to share, so in the end, we ordered the Gyro Fries, which are described on the menu as a "large order of fries tossed in olive oil, parsley, garlic and topped with feta cheese, pepperoncini, red onions, with chopped gyro meat on top. Substitute chicken upon request."  We also ordered the 1/4 Chicken and Gyro Combo, which is described on the menu as "White or Dark meat Rotisserie bone-in chicken & slices of gyro meat. Includes 2 sides."  We went with white meat, and for the sides, my husband chose Stuffed Grape Leaves and Falafel.  The grand total inlcuding tax and tip was less than $30.  Score!


We chose to sit at a bar height table right in the window, which probably meant that everyone walking by was watching us, but it also meant that we got to watch everyone who was walking by, and we could see the Pantages from our table.

I held the table while my husband got us water from the self-serve soda area.  Napkins and silverware were already on the table.


It didn't take very long for our food to arrive.  Maybe 10 minutes or so.  I wasn't really paying attention, but I think we arrived around 6:45pm, and I think we already had our food at 7pm.  The two huge plates of food barely fit on our table.  The waitress listed off the sauces they have available, and we said we wanted to try them all, so she brought a bottle of each over to our table.  Well, except for the BBQ sauce which wasn't available at the time, so we tried that later.

So, what did we think?

Yum!

The fries were amazing, but, I mean, it's hard to mess up fries, right?  They were evil.  (Guess that goes well when you're about to see Wicket, haha.)  But, seriously, the fries were amazing.  The combination of everything on them was just incredible.  If I'm going to splurge on the fat and calories I'm sure are in all fries, these are definitely worth the splurge!


The combo plate was perfect for trying everything.  I really don't know which meat I liked better.  The chicken was tender, juicy, flavorful, and just perfect.  No complaints.  We picked the bones clean.  The gyro meat was very flavorful, the perfect texture, and addictive.  If I had to choose only one meat, I'd choose the gyro just because you can't get that everywhere and chicken is pretty common at restaurants, but since the combo plate is available, who needs to choose?

I wasn't a huge fan of the sides, but they were my husband's choice.  He used to be in the Air Force, and when he was stationed in Turkey, he ate stuffed grape leaves that tasted just like these.  It was kind of like a mouth full of lemony rice, and I'm not a huge rice person.  I let my husband eat them because he loved them.  The falafel was good for falafel.  I'm not a huge fan of falafel in general, but if you are, you'll love it at Feast.  It wasn't greasy, which was nice.

As far as sauces, our favorites were the Dijon Mustard and the BBQ.  We ate them with the chicken and the fries.

The meal also comes with your choice of pita bread or another kind of bread, but I can't remember what the other bread was called.  We asked to have half and half so we could try both.  I liked the pita bread better, and next time I'd just get that.

We were stuffed, but it was impossible not to finish all of the food.  It was just so good!  Next time we should order less food.  Actually next time (probably when we see Newsies at the Pantages this Spring), I'll probably get the combo plate and my husband might get the gyro and rice plate because after seeing that order at another table, he really wants to try the rice.

That's another thing that's great about Feast; it's good for a group.  They have meals that are meant to be shared, like the Family Combo which is described on the menu as "1 whole chicken and 1 plate of sliced gyro meat. Includes a choice of 4 sides. Perfect for 4-6 people."  You could totally order that, but the normal meals are plenty big for 2 people to share if you're not super hungry or if you want to save room for dessert after the show.

Thanks, Feast, for a great pre-show meal!  It certainly was a delicious Feast!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Skinny Pregnant (or Breastfeeding) Girl Pina Colada

I love pina coladas.  Those are my all-time favorite tropical cocktails.  I started out drinking virgin ones as a kid and learned how to make the real deal as an adult.  Well, as I'm sure you know, pina coladas are loaded with calories (and rum!), so if you're worried about your waistline (hello!  I just had a baby 5 months ago and I still have that stubborn last 5 pounds to lose!) and if you want to skip the alcohol (Hello again!  Breastfeeding here!), then I have the answer for you (and me!).

The secret is R.W. Knudsen Pineapple Coconut juice, but the trick to a bubbly alcoholesque taste is Chateau de Fleur...it's non-alcoholic California champagne, people!  If you didn't know, you totally wouldn't know that it's non-alcoholic.  Enjoy!

Skinny Pregnant (or Breastfeeding) Girl Pina Colada
Makes 1 4oz serving

Ingredients:
2 oz Chateau de Fleur
2 oz R.W. Knudsen Pineapple Coconut juice

Method:
Pour the juice in your favorite cocktail glass and top with Chateau de Fleur. Cheers!

Calorie count?  58 in 4 oz.  Oh, yeah!

If you like this mocktail, you should also try my Skinny Pregnant Girl Mimosa recipe.

Happy drinking!



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Healthy and Delicious Overnight Oatmeal


As a busy new mom, I’m always looking for easy and healthy breakfast ideas. Thanks to pinterest, I’ve been experimenting with overnight oatmeal. I love oatmeal, and it’s supposed to help with breast milk production. The problem is that I never have time to make it in the morning.  Overnight oatmeal solves that problem because I can make it before I go to bed (or anytime during the day when the baby is napping), and it's ready for breakfast (or a healthy snack) the next morning.  But, the absolute best part is how delicious it is.  Seriously, it's like eating pudding with granola in it.

So far I have 6 overnight oatmeal recipes that I make and eat almost every day.  They are my Dark Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal, Milk Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal, Peanut Butter Cup Overnight Oatmeal, Elvis Overnight Oatmeal (because it features peanut butter and bananas), Chocolate Covered Strawberry Overnight Oatmeal, and (because it's almost Christmas) Eggnog Overnight Oatmeal.  All of these recipes except for one (my Eggnog Overnight Oatmeal) feature chocolate because I just can't get enough chocolate right now.  I think this oatmeal is as good as dessert, but there's no guilt.  It's so easy to make and tasty enough that your whole family will probably enjoy it.

Dark Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal
Serves four
Serving size: one cup

Ingredients:
2 cups Quaker oatmeal (minute or old fashioned)
4 tablespoons Hershey unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons milk chocolate malt Ovaltine
Three-quarter cup Splenda
Quarter teaspoon salt
2 cups Silk light vanilla soymilk
1 cup plain fage Greek yogurt

Method:
Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together.  Add the soymilk and mix well.  Add the Greek yogurt and mix with a fork.  Separate into four airtight containers. Refrigerate overnight.


Milk Chocolate Overnight Oatmeal
Serves four
Serving size: one cup

Ingredients:
2 cups Quaker oatmeal (minute or old fashioned)
6 tablespoons milk chocolate malt Ovaltine
Three-quarter cup Splenda
Quarter teaspoon salt
2 cups Silk light chocolate soymilk
1 cup plain fage Greek yogurt

Method:
Combine the first four ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together.  Add the soymilk and mix well.  Add the Greek yogurt and mix with a fork.  Separate into four airtight containers. Refrigerate overnight.


Peanut Butter Cup Overnight Oatmeal
Serves four
serving size: one cup

Ingredients:
2 cups Quaker oatmeal (minute or old fashioned)
4 tablespoons PB2
4 tablespoons milk chocolate malt Ovaltine
Three-quarter cup Splenda
Quarter teaspoon salt
2 cups Silk light chocolate soymilk
1 cup plain fage Greek yogurt

Method:
Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together.  Add the soymilk and mix well.  Add the Greek yogurt and mix with a fork.  Separate into four airtight containers. Refrigerate overnight.


Elvis Overnight Oatmeal
Serves four
serving size: one cup

Ingredients:
2 cups Quaker oatmeal (minute or old fashioned)
4 tablespoons PB2
4 tablespoons milk chocolate malt Ovaltine
Three-quarter cup Splenda
Quarter teaspoon salt
2 cups Silk light chocolate soymilk
2 ripe bananas

Method:
In a large bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.  Add the first five ingredients, and stir to combine.  Add the soymilk and mix well.  Add the Greek yogurt and mix with a fork.  Separate into four airtight containers. Refrigerate overnight.

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Overnight Oatmeal
Serves four
serving size: one cup

Ingredients:
2 cups Quaker oatmeal (minute or old fashioned)
4 tablespoons milk chocolate malt Ovaltine
Half cup Splenda
Quarter teaspoon salt
2 cups Silk light vanilla soymilk
2 5.3oz containers Dannon Light & Fit strawberry Greek yogurt

Method:
Combine the first five ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together.  Add the soymilk and mix well.  Add the Greek yogurt and mix with a fork.  Separate into four airtight containers. Refrigerate overnight.

Eggnog Overnight Oatmeal
Serves four
Serving size: one cup

Ingredients:
2 cups Quaker oatmeal (minute or old fashioned)
Three-quarter cup Splenda
Quarter teaspoon salt
2 cups Eggnog (I used So Delicious Coconut Milk Nog)
1 cup plain fage Greek yogurt


Method:
Combine the first three ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together.  Add the eggnog and mix well.  Add the Greek yogurt and mix with a fork.  Separate into four airtight containers. Refrigerate overnight.

Happy eating!

Little Caesar’s Pretzel Crust Pizza


My husband and I used to get Little Caesar’s Pizza all the time.  We have some friends who don’t think their pizza’s very good, but we always thought the Hot & Ready pepperoni pizza was so simple with classic cheese, sauce and crust that it was often our go-to dinner when we didn’t have time to cook.  This past Spring, we strayed to Pizza Hut when they had their 5 Cheese Please pizza, and more recently, Dominos' hand tossed pizza with white sauce became our favorite pizza.  In case you haven’t noticed a trend, I’ll point it out for you.  We prefer pizza that has a white sauce instead of a tomato sauce.  That’s where this blog post comes in.

A couple days ago, my husband told me that Little Caesar’s has a Hot & Ready pizza with a pretzel crust.  I was instantly interested.  I looked it up at http://littlecaesars.com, and I was even more interested.  Here’s the description from the website: Little Caesars new Soft Pretzel Crust Pepperoni Pizza is a large specialty pizza that starts with a flavorful, buttery, soft pretzel crust made fresh daily in store. It is topped with creamy cheddar cheese sauce, a blend of 100% real cheese, and pepperoni, and then finished with an irresistible four-cheese gourmet blend of Asiago, Fontina, Parmesan, and White Cheddar cheeses.

They had me at “buttery, soft pretzel crust,” “cheddar cheese sauce” and “White Cheddar.”  We decided to pick one up for dinner tonight.

According to the website, this pizza is Hot & Ready from 4-8pm.   Well, we went over to pick one up at 4pm, and there weren’t any ready.  We had to wait 10 minutes for them to make one.  That’s not a huge deal, but it’s false advertising.  Perhaps that’s just an issue with the particular location we visited.  At least our pizza was freshly made.   

The guy who waited on us said that this pizza will probably be discontinued within the week, which is why I’m writing this blog post now.  Save the pretzel crust pizza!

We brought the pizza home and dug in.  I was impressed that it looked exactly like the picture on the website.  I was impressed that the crust did indeed taste exactly like a big, soft pretzel.  The part of the crust that didn't have any cheese on it was even quite delicious.  It had salt on it just like a big, soft pretzel.  I was also impressed by the cheesiness.  The cheddar cheese sauce and all the cheese piled on top of the pizza made for quite a tasty pizza experience.   

A big, soft pretzel and cheese is such a classic combination that it's really surprising that no one thought to turn a pretel into a pizza until now.  It should've been obvious.  It tastes obvious.  Basically, for $6, I’d totally get this pizza again! 

I asked my husband how he heard about this pizza since I only knew about it after he told me.  He thought he saw a commercial when we were visiting my mom.  If Little Caesar’s is having trouble getting people to buy this pizza, perhaps they’re advertising in the wrong places.  We don’t have cable, so I see most ads online.  Buy some ad space on Google, Little Caesar’s, and don’t take the pretzel crust pizza off your menu, or I’m going to have to figure out how to make one myself.  For $6, I’d rather just buy it than wait for a homemade crust to rise.  Save the pretzel crust pizza!

We just may have to have another pretzel crust pizza for dinner tomorrow night!

Happy eating!