Tag Archives: Light

The Wizard of Gaz

And August begins…Doesn’t it feel like it was just Memorial Day? I would say Happy August, but that’s like saying Happy Sunday.  August, like Sunday, is great. But the greatness is overshadowed by the lingering feeling that it’s all about to end soon.

So, while it is still sunny and hot, and the fruits and veggies are still in season, take advantage of what Mother Nature, and your corner produce stand, is offering…tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers oh my! Thinking salad? Think again.  In this heat, the best use for those oh so fresh veggies is Gazpacho.  This cold soup will fill you up and cool you down, without blowing you up.  This dish is gluten free, dairy free, vegan, low fat, high fiber and wheat free.  The only thing this soup isn’t free of is flavor!

Gazpacho

Ingredients
3 pounds ripe tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 yellow pepper, chopped
1 medium Vidalia onion, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Red pepper flakes

Directions
Place the tomatoes and garlic in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth.  Add the puree to a bowl.  You can strain the puree if you want a smooth soup.  I personally like a little texture, so I leave the mixture as is.  Add the cucumber, onion and peppers.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat! Chill for at least 2 hours before serving.

Ice Ice Baby

The summer heat makes it nearly impossible to be near an oven, so what’s a dessert lover to do to keep cool as the temperature creeps up?  Frozen dessert, duh! I love ice cream and Haagen Dazs really does know their stuff.  But, where’s the fun in serving someone else’s hard work? I felt like all the stars aligned when I came across this recipe in Bon Appétit, “Freeze Right Where You Are.”  This article is all about making frozen dessert without an ice cream machine, and since I don’t have an ice cream machine YET, this article spoke to me. 

So, what did this Bite-Sized Blonde make? A watermelon granita, that’s what.   A granita is similar to a shaved ice, like Ralph’s for all you New Yorkers.  It’s cold and refreshing and oh so yummy.  It takes less than 10 minutes to prepare; the freezer does all the hard work here! Plus, it’s low in calories.  Jackpot! My guests were impressed and I know yours will be too.

Watermelon Granita

Ingredients
4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
½ cup sugar substitute
1 tbsp. Fresh lime juice

Directions
Puree all the ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Pour into a baking dish and wrap in plastic wrap.  Place in the freezer for 1 hour.  Set a timer otherwise you will definitely forget. * After an hour, remove the granita from the freezer.  Stir the mixture, and smash any frozen parts with the back of a fork.  Cover the mixture and place back in the freezer for about 2 hours, or until you are ready to serve it.  To serve, scrape the granita vigorously with a fork to form ice flakes.  Scoop into a cup and serve!

*Don’t worry if you forget.  Let the granita sit on the counter for about 10 minutes.  You should be able to remove it in pieces.  Place the pieces of the frozen mixture back in the blender for a couple minutes and then refreeze until you are ready to serve!

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/06/watermelon-granita

Lucky for Bon Appétit

I traveled down to Florida this weekend and like any well-read traveler, I made a stop in Hudson News pre-flight to stock up on some much-needed light reading.  Lucky and Bon Appétit were my magazines of choice.  True story: I ended up using every Lucky sticker for my Bon Appétit magazine.   I don’t know if I’m slowly moving out of an apartment Fashion City and headed for a home in Food Town USA, but it looks like that may be the case.  Hope I don’t forget to pack my skinny jeans.

There were so many recipes in Bon Appétit that I wanted to try that I couldn’t wait to get home to try one, or three.  You know what they say, go big or go home. Plus, can you really prepare a proper meal and not include an appetizer, entrée and dessert? I don’t think so.  To start my glorious meal of new recipes, I made a Shaved Summer Squash Salad; now that’s an appetizing alliteration.

This salad is crisp and light and the perfect opening act to any dish, and most importantly, it’s easy!  The salad was followed by Grilled Chicken in Peach BBQ Sauce and a Watermelon Granita for dessert.  Now that’s a serious summer supper.

Shaved Summer Squash Salad (Serves 4)

Ingredients
3 tbsp. almonds, chopped
1 lb. summer squash (mix of yellow and green)
2-½ tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
Baby Arugula
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Pecorino Romano

Directions
Trim the ends off of the squash.  Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the squash lengthwise into strips.  Transfer to a large bowl.  In a small bowl, whisk together the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and garlic clove.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the dressing over the squash.  While the squash is absorbing the great flavors of the dressing, toast the almonds in a pan over medium heat.  Watch them carefully or they will burn, and burn quickly!  Set them aside once toasted.  Add the arugula to the squash and toss.  Shave the Pecorino Romano over the salad.  Garnish with the toasted almonds, serve and enjoy!

Recipes for Grilled Chicken with Peach BBQ Sauce and Watermelon Granita to follow soon!

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/2011/06/shaved-summer-squash-salad

Breakfast of Champions

Are you a wake up and snooze-er? I’m usually not, but I have been snoozing my alarm recently. I don’t know if it’s cause I’m tired or tired of the same old boring breakfast.  I enjoy cereal as much as the next girl, but it keeps me full for about an hour.  My stomach is screaming at me shortly after even the most delectable bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.  Eggs are always yummy, but who wants to take the time to cook before work.  Not me, that’s for sure.  And let’s face it; oatmeal is about as exciting as a beige sweater set.

Sure, I can pick up a breakfast sandwich from my local deli, but it’s about that time of year when I think less about bacon and more about bikinis.  What can I say, I’m a sucker for a cute two-piece.

So what’s left to eat in the Wonderful World of Breakfast Options?  Quinoa, that’s what.  Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a high-protein grain that is prepared just like rice.  Once it’s cooked, its fluffy but with a slightly nutty flavor.  It is great as a side dish for lunch or dinner, or as an unexpected and delicious breakfast!

This recipe for breakfast quinoa can be made ahead of time and reheated in the microwave.  So, it’s an easy solution for the breakfast blues and a great way to kick start your summer slim down.

Sweet Breakfast Quinoa (4 servings)

Ingredients
1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup slivered almonds
½ cup dried apricots, diced
2 tbsp. pure maple syrup
½ tsp. finely grated orange zest
½ tsp. cinnamon
¼ cup fresh ricotta (optional)

Directions
In a small saucepan, cover quinoa with water and bring to a boil.  Cover and cook over low heat until the water has been absorbed and the quinoa is tender (about 15 minutes).  When all the water has been absorbed turn off the heat. Lightly fluff the quinoa with a fork and cover again.

In a medium skillet, heat the extra virgin olive oil.  Add the almonds and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally until the almonds are golden (about 2 minutes).  Add the apricots, maple syrup, orange zest and cinnamon and stir until heated through.  Add the quinoa and stir gently to incorporate.  If you are going to serve immediately, top each portion with a tablespoon of ricotta cheese.  If you are going to save this for work, pre-portion it into Tupperware and refrigerate until ready to eat! Then, just reheat, top with ricotta and enjoy!

http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sweet-breakfast-quinoa

Is this New York or Seattle?

It seems we have gotten a break from the rain this morning…but according to weather.com, we are looking at more rain this afternoon.  You know what Seth Meyers would say to this…Really?   Really, rain gods.  We get it; you are good at your job.  Now, really, take a leave of absence…go on vacation…do something, just get out of New York, really!

Spare me the lecture on how we need rain, blah blah blah.  I know the benefits of rain, but it has seriously been raining cats and dogs for months now.  I feel like I’m on the set of The Killing, which by the way, is a great new show on AMC that takes place in, you guessed it, Seattle.

On the bright side, because there is always a bright side with this Bite-Sized Blonde, the world is green again.  Let’s face it, green equals good.  As a new shade brightens our city, I am also using it to brighten my kitchen.  Peas have a bad reputation, and one that is quite undeserved if I do say so myself.  So, I am giving my peas a makeover with a hint of mint and a splash of love to accompany a delicious filet of halibut.

Halibut with Pea Puree (Serves 2)

Ingredients
Halibut
Two 6-ounce filets of halibut
2 tbsp. dry white wine
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp. salt
Fresh ground pepper

Pea Puree
½ cup of peas
5 mint leaves
1 small shallot, minced
2 tbsp. water
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mushrooms
1 cup of assorted mushrooms
1 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. water
½ tsp. salt
Fresh ground pepper

Directions
Season the halibut with salt and pepper. Place the fish in a hot skillet with olive oil, skin side down. Move the fish around immediately after placing it in the skillet to make sure that it does not stick. After 3 minutes, add the white wine and cover the pan. In a small pan, sweat the shallots. Add the peas and cook until they are heated through, no more, no less! If you leave them in the pan too long, they will discolor. Once the peas are cooked, add the mixture to a blender with the mint leaves and water. Blend until smooth.  Add more water if you need to; the mixture should be smooth.  Season with salt and pepper. In another small pan, add the mushrooms,  water and butter. Partially cover the pan and cook for about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms are tender and they have absorbed all the liquid. Add the pea puree to the plate first. Then, place the halibut on the puree and top with the mushrooms. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of lemon.  Serve, enjoy, and wait for the compliments to roll in.

Spring into Your Beach Body

We finally got our first real taste of spring this week…minus the intermission of isolated thunderstorms yesterday, of course.  The flowers are blooming and the trees are budding, which can only mean one thing…summer will be here before you know it! If you are anything like this Bite-Sized Blonde, you love summer.  If this was a video blog, a shot of the lake at camp would be panning out on your screen right now while reveille played in the background.   Yes, I just went there.  I love camp.

Whether you love summer because of the great memories you made at camp as a child, or the great memories you are making now as an adult on the beaches of the Hamptons and Fire Island, the power of summer is undeniable.  So, excitement is not only natural right now, it’s expected…unless of course you have been slacking at the gym this winter.  I would be lying if I said I’ve been a gym junkie all winter long.  Hey, a girls’ gotta live a little. But now, I am in full-on summer prep mode.  As a true Foodie, I don’t exactly believe in diets.  Would you tell Picasso to only paint in oils or Amare Stoudemire to only make lay-ups?  Of course not! So, you can’t tell a Foodie to only eat low cal foods.  It’s just wrong.  (I’m sure there is a clever analogy in there somewhere). 
 
To get bikini ready, I pray to the gods of spin class and Physique 57.  If you don’t know about Physique, you should check it out.  It’s the most, rewarding and painful experience you can have in NYC.   And spinning is the best way to work up a sweat at the gym.   But I’m told exercise alone won’t cut it.  So, when I am in summer mode, I opt for lighter meals every once in a while so I can still enjoy my guilty pleasures, which right now is a carton of vanilla ice cream.  Thank you Haagen Dazs.

Lighter doesn’t have to equal less flavor.  Sacrificing flavor for calories is like wearing a designer knock-off.  It looks similar, but you know it’s just not the same.  And would you really be caught dead in a knock-off? I didn’t think so.

My go-to “Summer is So Damn Close I can Taste it” meal is Steamed Cod with Ginger and Scallions.  This dish is so packed with flavor, you don’t even realize it’s a light meal. 

Steamed Cod with Ginger and Scallions (serves 4)
Ingredients
3 tbsp. rice vinegar (unseasoned)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. finely grated peeled fresh ginger*
4 skinless cod filets (about 1 ½ pounds)
6 scallions, chopped
 
Directions
In a large skillet with a tight lid, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and scallions.  Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.  Place the fish in the skillet and bring the liquid to a boil.  Once the liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer.  Cover and cook until the fish is almost opaque, which should be about 6-8 minutes. 
 
*Ginger can be tricky to peel because it is so misshapen.  An easy way to peel ginger is to actually forgo the peeler altogether! Use the back of a spoon to peel the skin away; it helps with all the nooks and crannies! Once the ginger is peeled, grate 2 tbsps. If you have extra ginger left over, freeze it!! You can actually grate frozen ginger into your meals in the future when a recipe calls for it.

Rain, Rain Go Away!

Is it just me or did you think Spring was going to be warm and sunny this year too?  I don’t know what’s going on with this crazy weather, but I don’t like it one bit (queue the temper tantrum).  On a dreary day like this, the best thing to do is curl up on the couch with a big, fat bowl of soup.   There are few things that warm the soul quite the way soup does.  The brilliant thing about soup is that it is easy to make.  So easy, that I make 10 servings at a time.  I eat what I want immediately, put a serving or two in the refrigerator for the coming week, and pop the rest in the freezer.  That way, on a dreary day, much like today, I don’t have to do much to enjoy a nice, hot, delicious bowl of my favorite soup.

Tuscan Vegetable Soup

Ingredients
32 ounces of low-sodium chicken stock
15-ounce can of low-sodium cannellini beans
15-ounce can of no salt added diced tomatoes
1 large onion
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 small yellow squash, diced
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh sage leaves
1 head of escarole, roughly chopped
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. fresh black pepper
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp. olive oil
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions
Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until the vegetables start to soften.  This should take about 5-7 minutes.  Then, add the zucchini, squash and sage.    Season your vegetables with the salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes.  Continue to let this cook for another 5-7 minutes.  Then, add the chicken stock and diced tomatoes with the juice and bring to a boil. Drain and rinse the beans thoroughly and then add them to the soup.  Now, you can add your escarole.  Make sure it is washed thoroughly.*  Let the escarole wilt; this will take about 3 minutes.   You can serve it immediately with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, or freeze it! If you are going to freeze it, I suggest pre-portioning it.  That way, when you want a soup, you can simply grab one from the freezer!

*Escarole is really dirty; the leaves hold a lot of sand and dirt.  To wash your escarole, fill a large bowl with cold water.  Place the head of escarole into the water, upside-down.  Shake it around and make sure the water gets in between the leaves.  The sand and dirt will start to fall to the bottom of the bowl.