Monday, November 30, 2009

Meatless Mondays –Post Turkey edition

If you’ve read my blog in the past few months, you know at our house we go meatless on Mondays.  (And sometimes other days of the week as well.)  Well, after a weekend of indulging in lots of holiday yummies, it was the perfect day to start off with lots of detoxifying vegginess. 

But before I get to that, let’s talk about a little exercise, my other favorite way to detoxify.  I started the morning with 35 minutes of swimming laps.   As much as I love to swim, it is definately harder to motivate myself to get to the gym now that Scott and I have to trade off going, and watching Ava.    That said, it was good workout, and felt perfect after taking a weight lifting class yesterday, I was SORE.  In addition, Ava and I walked to the library for Tiny Tots Time, which is a little over a mile round trip. 

I have featured this recipe before, but to anyone new, I wanted to re-post because it is truly in the top 5 favorites for us.  Along with the salad of arugula, pom arils, goat cheese, and persimmon, it was the perfect fall dinner. 

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Chicken Breasts  Tofu with Spinach, Pears and Blue Cheese (Adapted from Whole Foods)


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 1 block extra firm tofu)
salt and fresh ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1/2 cup diced red onion
1 large bunch spinach, washed, dried and tough stems removed (about 4 to 6 cups of the leaves – I used Swiss Chard)
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 ripe Anjou pears, cored and sliced into 1/2" slices
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Season each chicken breast generously with salt and pepper. Add chicken to the skillet and cook until lightly golden on each side, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to the oven and bake until the chicken is done, about 8 to 15 minutes, depending on size and thickness of the chicken breasts.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon oil over medium. Add onion and cook until just softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach and toss until wilted - if there is excess liquid, drain most of it away. Season to taste with salt and pepper - evenly divide the spinach mixture between 4 plates. Quickly wipe out pan and add remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and vinegar. When heated, stir in pears and reduce heat to low - cook just long enough to warm the pears through. Stir in parsley. Slice chicken breasts and arrange them on top of the plates of wilted spinach. Evenly top each plate with the warmed pear slices and sprinkle each serving with about 2 tablespoons of cheese.
Makes 4 servings.

Note, because you are not using chicken, no need for separate pans and baking in the oven.  I did the tofu, chard and pears all in the same pan.

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I would add that this meal got in 5 servings of fruits and vegetables.    To add a little more cardio-protective benefit, I also had a glass of this wine.

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A yummy zinfandel that I found at Total Wine for about $8.  It was great, and at that price point, perfect for weeknight sipping. 

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Ava having a little play time on Thanksgiving morning. 

How do you get back on track after the holidays?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kudos to Flemings!

Last night we met up with some friends for happy hour at Flemings Steakhouse in North Scottsdale.  It has been a favorite of ours, and recently our friends became big fans as well.  Their “5 for 6 before 7” is one of the best deals in town.  You get a choice of 5 different martinis, or 5 different wines, and 5 appetizers; each being $6.00, before 7 pm.  These are drinks and appe’s that are normally upwards of $15. 

So, last night, being Friday night, not only was the bar already packed, but so was the outdoor patio off the bar when we arrived at 5:30 pm.  The hostess was wonderful and allowed us to sit in the main dining room and get the happy hour specials in there.  We were seated and a highchair was brought out for Ava’s car seat to rest in, since she was imbibing  joining us as well.   So we began catching up with our friends, chatting about their recent marriage, how Ava is growing, etc.  Well, a few (maybe 15-20?) minutes had passed, and no one had come by to ask us if we wanted to order anything.  Finally, we asked the manager as he was passing, and he said he’d send someone right over.  A waitress immediately arrived and apologized for the wait, and the mix up of who was covering our table.   We weren’t upset or complaining at all, just merely looking for a glass of vino. 

We ordered our drinks and appetizers.  The Prime burger is by far the biggest and best burger I’ve ever had, and cooked to perfection and was glorious with the 14 Hands Cabernet Sauvignon.   As Ava’s bedtime approached we asked for our check so that we could finish up the evening.  To our surprise, the server returned with it, saying it was covered by the manager and apologized again for our wait/inconvenience.  We were happily stunned at the generous gesture and initiative of customer service this imparted.  We thanked them profusely and left a nice tip. 

Thanks again Flemings, for a great night, and fantastic customer service!   We will be back for sure and continue to recommend this favorite spot of ours to friends.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Brussel Sprouts!

Once again, it has been a little while since I have posted.  I have been thinking a lot about that lately, and while I’d like to have more frequent posts, we just aren’t creating as many new or exciting recipes now that we are concentrating on our little peanut.  Don’t get me wrong, we still cook almost every single night, it just seems to be things I’ve already blogged about.   And when it comes to pours, we’ve been drinking more of the tried and trues as well, now that we are spending more time in, and less time out.  So, I’ve debated changing the content of Paws and Pours a bit, to maybe encompass more nutrition information, favorite products, or balancing exercise and healthy eating with an infant, etc.  I’d love to hear from readers what draws you to food blogs, and what kind of content you are interested in reading.  Please leave a comment if you have ideas. 

Now, back to your regularly scheduled blog topic…

I don’t know about you, but I’m just loving the fall produce.  Bring on the winter squash, fall apples, brussel sprouts and sweet potatoes.  Also, I start using the grill less, and begin the migration to roasting and braising and even making a little soup.

Up until a few years ago, I didn’t care much for brussel sprouts.  Looking back, it was because I had always had them boiled, with salt and pepper.  They were too bitter, and overcooked for my tastes.  After seeing recipes for roasted brussel sprouts, I thought I’d give them a try.  It was love at first bite!  Since that time, I have looked forward to them every fall.

So, this summer, my mom grew brussel sprouts just for me.  The only problem is, she lives in Minnesota.  I got to eat a few while there, and manage to sneak a few home to Arizona, but alas, now I’m buying them.  Imagine my surprise when I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday and they were selling them still on the stem!

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Did you know this is how they grow?  I have to admit, until I saw them in my mom’s garden, I had no idea how they grew and what they looked like before being picked. 

The way I enjoy them the most is roasted, but sauteeing is another wonderful preparation method for these mini cabbages.  To roast them, I simply preheat the oven to 425.  I lay them on a cookie sheet and spray with olive oil and sprinkle some kosher salt flakes on top.  Roast for 15 minutes, or until the outer leaves are crisp and brown.  Take out of the oven and drizzle maple syrup over sprouts (approx. 1-2 Tbsp.) and stick back in the oven for another 5 min.  Enjoy!  The sweetness of the maple really contrasts nicely to that bit of bitter you get from the sprout.

Another way I enjoy them is to toss them with olive oil and good balsamic vinegar before roasting.   Do everything else the same except omit the maple syrup. 

What is your favorite fall fruit or vegetable?

Leaving you with a picture of the paws and pacifiers part of this blog.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

TurboDog

Note: This is a guest post by Scott (with an assist by Chase)

Every once in a while when we are perusing the isles at our favorite Total Wine store, I have to get one of those marketing-ish brews. Our last visit was no exception. Thinking back to our time in San Diego, the TurboDog was the most apt brew for our golden, Chase.

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TurboDog is from a brewery called Abita Beer from New Orleans. I had previously tried their Pecan Harvest Ale just to see if you really can taste the pecan (my verdict, not at all). After an afternoon of yard work, I needed something to quench my thirst.  Reaching back into the fridge I came out with TurboDog.

TurboDog is a dark brown ale, with a dark body and a slight coffee/toffee/chocolate flavor. It is a nice overall medium bodied brown ale….perfect for an autumn afternoon!

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

Kale Salad!

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Happy Day after Halloween!  Is anyone still on a sugar high – or should I say chocolate high?  I wait all year to eat my fill of candy corn.  It is like crack to me.  I can pass up the candy bars, but give me a pound of candy corn and I can’t be trusted. 

We did fuel up before the Halloween festivities with a great dinner.   Mostly tried and true, except for the salad.  I have only recently started eating kale, and then it’s been only braised, steamed or baked into “kale chips.”  The thought of eating it raw hadn’t really occured to me, until I started seeing it pop up on blogs, and even a local restaurant menu.

So, after browsing the downtown Scottsdale Farmers Market and coming home with some fresh, local kale I was ready to take on Massaged Kale Salad.    I used a combination of about 3 recipes, including the one on the True Food Kitchen website

Massaged Kale Salad

1 bunch of kale (approx. 4 cups) washed and chopped

2 Tbsp. Olive oil

½ tsp sea salt

1/2  avocado

½ tomato, cut in cubes

juice of ¼ fresh lemon

  1. Add olive oil and sea salt to bowl with kale and gently “massage” together for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add avocado and gently keep rubbing ingredients until all of the kale is coated with olive oil
  3. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice to taste and top with tomatoes
  4. Sprinkle nutritional yeast or parmesan on top (optional)

Optional ingredients:

Pom arils

Carrot, grated

Small pieces of jicama

Garlic clove, smashed

Let it marinate together for a few hours to overnight.  (I found it got tastier the longer it sat.)

I think this is my new favorite kale preparation.  So fresh tasting and not at all tough and bitter.  I can’t wait to make it again. 

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Here is a picture of Ava and Chase in Halloween attire.  Of course as a foodie, I had to dress up my kid in some kind of food related theme. 

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Tired out from the festivities…and she didn’t even have any sugar!