Author Archives: meganbrocato

Fresh Corn and Goat Cheese Salad

So I’m in day 10 of my Weight Watchers plan and I’m feeling great. A little hungry at times, but I know to fill up on fiber-rich fruit when that happens. I think I will get the swing of it by the end of the month and have lots of go-to foods. Last night, I made homemade sweet potato chips that were low fat and completely delicious. Take that, potato chip craving.

Weight Watchers is an awesome program because it provides me with endless food and health related resources. There’s daily recipes on the website, message boards for discussing dieting highs and lows, and even little reminders on my phone to ask me if I’ve tracked my breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It sounds like a lot of work and counting and paying attention, but I think for someone who really wants to drop a few pounds all of that is not so troublesome.

I found this recipe on WW but tweaked it to my liking. I made it with corn meal crusted tilapia, which I simply baked on high heat in the oven. But, I can’t say that I wouldn’t have minded making this fresh summer salad an entire meal.

P.S. — I L-O-V-E goat cheese.

Fresh Corn and Goat Cheese Salad (WW points:3 per serving, total servings in this recipe: 2)

2 ears of fresh corn

Fresh corn and goat cheese salad with corn meal crusted tilapia

2 oz goat cheese, crumbled

one tomato, diced

juice of half a lemon

salt and pepper to taste

Season the corn with salt and pepper, wrap in aluminum foil, and grill over high heat. Rotate the ears every few minutes with a pair of tongs, so that the heat distributes evenly. Remove from grill and let cool. Use a knife to cut the kernels off the cobs, and toss with the chopped tomato and goat cheese. Drizzle lemon juice over the top and season with more salt and pepper if you’d like. Optional garnishes: basil, thyme, or dill.

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Welcome to Weight Watchers – It’s a New Day

It’s so hard for someone who loves food so much –from the grocery shopping to the preparation to the plate — to admit that you need to cut back. At some stage, the butter and the cream and the sugar all add up to… um…fat? And, that glamourous lifestyle of veal chops and risotto followed by exquisite dessert no longer seems so sexy.

First, I tried to just cut back to lean meats and vegetables for dinner and eating light throughout the day. That didn’t work, because I am a notorious snacker and I was still baking. Then, I jumped to this ludicrous conclusion that all I needed to do was to go to GNC and buy a meal replacement shake. Right. Plan B ran me into a binge eating frenzy. Moving on to Plan C (which, thinking back, should have been plan A all along), I started Weight Watchers last week.

This lead me to an even harder truth to admit — that I needed help. No, this was not the first time that I’ve struggled with such an admission. My inability to ask for help — or my bull-headed tendency to not want to ask for help — traces back to sixth grade pre-algebra. But WW does a lot of people a lot of good, including my mother who lost a whopping sixty pounds on the program (High five, momma). So, I took the plunge.

The website calculated my height, weight, weight loss goals and allotted me 29 points per day with an extra 49 points for  the week. It works kind of like a caloric spending account. Every morning, I wake up to 29 points that I can eat and I can do that in any way I’d like. I have an app on my iPhone that I can use to plug in fat, carbs, protein and fiber to tabulate my points. If I use all my daily points, the website automatically pulls from my 49 extras. The way I see it, it’s kind of like a credit card — the one you only use in case of emergency. In this case, the emergency is that you’ve had an awful day and you need a glass of red wine to take the edge off. It’ll set you back 4 WW points, but don’t sweat it — the Plan’s got you covered.

I’ve been a little bit hungry, and for some reason I am craving potato chips. I’m still in week one but I’ve already lost all my water weight (6 lbs) so it’s all downhill from here!

I plan on posting some WW friendly recipes soon.

Stay tuned.

MB

Homemade Pickles

For the sake of not being redundant, check out my post on 303’s website for my recipe for homemade pickles.

http://303magazine.com/2011/06/summer-grubbin-homemade-pickles/

These are fresher, crispier and even a little more sour than a jar of pickles you’d buy at the store and they only take 2 days to make.

 

 

Ricotta Gnocchi

My mom gave me a cookbook a few years back – Rosalie Serving Italian. Rosalie is an Italian American woman who just decided that she needed to share her family recipes…and thank God she did.

The thing about authentic Italian food is that it’s not ingredient-packed. There’s not really a “secret spice.” Fresh tomatoes, fresh herbs and great cheese can all speak for themselves — its just mostly a matter of the technique used to combine them.

Gnocchi means “knuckle” in Italian, which makes sense because that’s kind of what they look like. I’ve been wanting to make gnocchi for a long, long time. The problem is that I don’t have a potato ricer, which you definitely need to make classic potato gnocchi (shameless buy-me-this plug). But Rosalie’s cookbook offers a recipe for ricotta gnocchi, a traditional Florentine dish. This was an attractive idea to me because a) it’s lighter, b) it doesn’t require kitchen equipment that I don’t have (shameless plug strikes again), and c) I’d never had it before. Also, the flavor of ricotta is so light that it can be easily melded with just about anything.

Since the ricotta flavor is so mild, I’d recommend flavoring them up a bit, like I did with basil. You can most definitely do that with a jazzy sauce, but I chose to let the gnocchi stand alone for the most part.

Ricotta Gnocchi 

adapted from Rosalie Fiorino Harpole

1 eight-ounce container of ricotta cheese

2 eggs

1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

8-10 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 stick butter and 3 cloves garlic, chopped

1. Mix the ricotta, eggs, flour and cheese in a large mixing bowl. Refrigerate for at least an hour to let dough firm up.

2. When dough is firm, it should be a little sticky…but not too sticky to work with. Sprinkle flour on a clean surface and split the dough in half. Working in portions, roll the dough into a rope about 1/2 inch thick. Cut the ropes crosswise, making about 1/2 inch dumplings. Keep the gnocchi floured while you’re working to avoid them sticking together.

3. Boil a large pot of salted water and drop in the gnocchi. (I did this in two batches to avoid clumping). Cook the gnocchi while stirring gently until a few minutes after they’ve risen to the top of the boiling water.

4. To make garlic butter sauce, melt the butter in a sauce pan. Throw in the chipped garlic and saute until fragrant. Toss dumplings in sauce, garnish with basil and serve immediately.

Mangia.

Cinco de Guac

 Guacamole is one of those recipes that I think everyone should have up their sleeve. Everyone loves it, it easily serves a crowd, and it’s so simple to make. But unfortunately, I’ve been to lots of restaurants and seen lots of pre-packaged stuff (YUCK) that can’t  seem to handle the stuff. I mean, how hard is it to mash up some avocados and mix in some fresh ingredients?   I think the main issue is that people just try to over season the guacamole to compensate for the mildness of the avocados, which is largely unnecessary and ends up spoiling your chips and dip.

Fresh ingredients are key. I was lucky enough to find avocados at 3 for $1 at Sunflower Market, so naturally I bought six. The reason they were so cheap though was because they were so under ripe. They were green as can be and I needed to make guac in 48 hours. There’s an awesome and easy trick to solve this problem. Take your avocados and wrap them in something opaque – I used a brown paper grocery bag – and then tuck them away in a cabinet or drawer…somewhere they’ll stay in the dark. Voila! 48 hours later you’ve got soft, ripened avocados!

Guacamole  

5 ripe avocados, mashed

1/4 small red onion, chopped

1/2 fresh tomato, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 3 limes

1 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and serve with chips.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo!