Friday, November 30, 2012

Out to Dinner: 18 Asian Sushi Bar

Tonight's dinner was at 18 Asian Sushi Bar in Blakeney.

Salad with ginger dressing:

Chicken noodle soup:

Garden roll (avocado, carrot, cucumber):

Breakfast Quesadilla

Good morning!

1 8-inch flour tortilla
1 egg, scrambled
Sauteed onions and mushrooms
1/4 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
Served with salsa verde and 1 tbsp. light sour cream

300 calories

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Chicken in Red Wine Sauce

I was going to call this "coq au vin", but it wanders so widely from the traditional recipe that it probably shouldn't be called that. One member of the household remarked that "The chicken was better than it looked." High praise indeed! I cooked the chicken in the pressure cooker, so it only took 15 minutes under pressure, and it was tender and juicy.

1 tbsp. butter
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
4 chicken leg quarters, skin removed
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbsp. tomato paste
8 oz. white mushrooms, quartered
8 oz. carrots, cut into chunks
8 oz. frozen pearl onions
2 tbsp. cornstarch in 1/2 cup water

Melt the butter in the pressure cooker, and saute the chopped onions and carrots for 5 minutes with the lid off. Add the chicken, wine,  chicken broth and tomato paste, and cover the pressure cooker with its lid. Cook on high heat until the cooker comes to pressure, then lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes. While the chicken is cooking, saute the mushrooms, carrots, and pearl onions in a non-stick pan with cooking spray. After the chicken has been under pressure for 15 minutes, release the pressure and open the cooker. Remove the chicken and put it in a 200 degree oven to keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and boil to reduce by half, then thicken it with cornstarch mixture. Add the cooked mushrooms, onions, and carrots to the sauce, and serve it over the chicken.

I have not done the calorie math on this recipe, but with the skin off the chicken and little added fat, it's probably not too bad.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Sneaky Snack

Remember that innocent-looking packet of fruit and nut snacks I bought a few days ago?

The nutrition label says it's 160 calories per serving, but apparently there are 2.5 "servings" in that tiny bag. Here's what a serving looks like:

Also the second ingredient is neither fruit nor nuts, but "sesame sticks" - sugary crackers.

Caveat emptor.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The best-laid eggs... er, plans

This was supposed to be a perfectly circular poached egg perched on top of a circle of avocado slices, atop a circle of toasted white bread, in a neat little column.

Oops. It still tasted good though.

1 oz. white bread: 75 calories
1 oz. sliced avocado: 47 calories
1 egg: 70 calories

Monday, November 26, 2012

Baked Chiles Rellenos

I cooked dinner with some of the ingredients I got from Compare Foods today.

Baked Chiles Rellenos:

Peppers and filling:
4 poblano peppers
4 oz. shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
4 oz. queso fresco, crumbled
2 green onions, minced
1 egg
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup water

Roast poblano peppers over a gas flame or under a broiler until they are black and blistered all over.
Let cool in a 1-gallon Ziploc bag, and then remove the skins under running water. Cut a slit in each pepper and remove seeds and ribs.

Mix the cheeses and green onions together, and stuff the peppers with the cheese mix. Coat the stuffed peppers in the batter. Bake at 375 for 20 minutes.

Makes 4 chiles rellenos, 230 calories each.

Served with yellow rice, refried beans, and a salad of tomato and avocado with lime juice and cilantro.

Out to Lunch: McAlister's Deli and TCBY

Today I was doing some errands in Blakeney and stopped for a quick lunch at McAlister's Deli. I had their "Choose Two" option with a cup of chicken tortilla soup and a veggie spud.

Chicken tortilla soup: 200 calories
Potato: 390 calories

I then went next door for dessert at TCBY, one of the many local self-service frozen yogurt stores. I like this because they charge by weight, so if you want a small taste, you pay a small price!

I had fat-free fruit punch flavored sorbet, with a small spoonful of waffle cone bits and a small spoonful of granola. The whole thing was 3.2 ounces, which had approximately 75 calories, and cost $1.57.

Lynx to Food: Sharon Road West and Arrowood Road

Today's episode of Lynx to Food brings us to the Sharon Road West stop, where the sum total of food establishments is two convenience stores and a Papa John's pizza. I didn't choose to eat a meal at any of these places, but I did buy these:

in honor of Sharon Road West being the closest Lynx stop to the Lance snack factory.

I then proceeded to Arrowood Road, where I paid a visit to Compare Foods.

I got poblano peppers, limes, cilantro, green onions, and queso fresco for about half the price I would have paid at Harris Teeter. The three things at the top are frozen fruit purees - mango, blackberry, and tamarind. I'm going to try using them to make syrups for cocktails or to add to sparkling water.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving wrap-up

Take-aways from this holiday meal:

This was the first time I brined a turkey, and I'm not going to do it again. The turkey was saltier but not appreciably juicier, and the whole thing was kind of a pain. I've made better turkeys without such a hassle.

Gravy and stuffing were spot on - I'll continue to do turkey stock in advance.

I seasoned the carrots with a spice mix called "Tagine seasoning" - in other contexts it might have worked but in this one it ended up tasting too much like pumpkin pie. (I should have known, given that cinnamon and ginger are in that mix along with cumin, paprika, and cayenne.) I'm sticking to unsweetened carrots with dill, or carrots sweetened with maple syrup from now on.

The big winner was the mini pecan tarts - the flavor of pecan pie without the leftovers hanging around to tempt me. I ran the recipe through a nutrition calculator - they're 210 calories each! Not bad!

A Yankee in the South

I read somewhere a few years ago about the way to identify a Yankee. The saying was, if you ask a southerner, then a Yankee is a northerner. If you ask a northerner, a Yankee is a New Englander. If you ask a New Englander, a Yankee is a Vermonter. And if you ask a Vermonter, a Yankee is someone who eats pie for breakfast. I'm from New Hampshire, not Vermont, but I proudly claim my Yankee heritage.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Feast

Roast beast:

On the plate:

Appetizer time

Time to start munching:

Life is uncertain...

Make dessert first.

The pumpkin pie recipe is the one on the back of the Libby's pumpkin can. The other things next to it are mini pecan tarts in phyllo dough. It's a riff on this recipe for pecan pie bites from Southern Living. I made these because I like pecan pie but don't want to have a whole pie to eat all weekend.

1 cup chopped pecans
1 egg
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. melted butter
6 phyllo sheets
2 tbsp. melted butter

Beat the egg, mix in sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, 2 tsp. melted butter, and pecans. Layer the phyllo dough, brush each sheet with melted butter. Cut the stacked phyllo into 12 pieces and put 8 of the stacks into a standard muffin tin (The filling as I made it only makes enough for 8 tarts - I thought it would make 12 so that's how I cut the phyllo dough. Those squares are the right size to fit into the muffin cups.) Fill the cups with the filling, and bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

I said the recipe makes 8, so why are there only 7 on the plate? Well, this is the first time I've tried to make these, so I had to test one just to make sure they came out well.

They're delicious.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving prep: Turkey in the brine

Turning the turkey in the brine, observed by a curious cat.

For my brine I used a gallon of water, a cup of salt, and a cup of maple syrup. We'll see tomorrow how it comes out.

Out to Lunch: Malaya Kitchen

Today's lunch was at Malaya Kitchen in the Arboretum. No pictures because I forgot my camera. (Bad blogger!) I had tofu in garlic sauce with brown rice. This was delicious - savory, sweet and very spicy. It had broccoli and red bell peppers stir-fried with the tofu, and the garlic sauce had lots of red pepper flakes. One thing that sets Malaya Kitchen apart from other strip-mall Asian restaurants is that their lunch special comes with a salad (a small bowl of iceberg lettuce with ginger dressing) and the portions are substantial but not overwhelming. It makes a nice change from the default greasy egg roll and pile of fried rice that many places give you.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thanksgiving prep: Cranberry sauce

Just a small tweak from the recipe they put on the back of the cranberry bag:

1 12-oz bag cranberries
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur

Leftover Lunch: Meatball sub

5 meatballs: 125 calories
1 slice 2% provolone cheese: 60 calories
2 oz. sandwich roll: 170 calories

Monday, November 19, 2012

Another lazy night

Pasta, meatballs, tomato sauce, and salad:

Frozen meatballs, 8 cocktail size: 210 calories
Whole wheat rotini, 1/2 cup: 100 calories

Thanksgiving prep: Turkey stock

I always make turkey stock before Thanksgiving so that I have it for gravy and stuffing.

5 pounds turkey legs
2 carrots
2 celery ribs
1 onion

Into the oven for 1 hour at 400:

Then into the pressure cooker for 30 minutes under pressure:

Strained through a cheesecloth-lined fine mesh strainer and ready for the refrigerator:

Healthy hash browns?

This post at the blog Free the Animal inspired me to try making hash browns on my Cuisinart sandwich grill.

I peeled and shredded one red-skin potato, tossed with 1 teaspoon canola oil, and put it in the grill. I would say the results were mixed. They got a good crust, and they cooked through in the middle, but the whole thing was kind of tough and not very flavorful. If I tried it again I might use russet potatoes and par-cook them first.

5 oz. shredded potato with 1 tsp. oil: 140 calories
Egg: 70 calories

Dinner gets lazy

With the onslaught of Thanksgiving cooking on the way, I'm relying a bit more on prepared foods for other meals:

Goya brand black bean soup, 1 cup: 130 calories
1 tbsp. light sour cream: 20 calories
1 tbsp. shredded mozzarella: 20 calories
Corn muffin (made from Jiffy corn muffin mix): 150 calories

Sunday, November 18, 2012

It's a wrap

Flatout Light wrap with 1/4 cup Trader Joe's hummus, shredded carrots and sliced cucumbers

250 calories

No "Mc" in this muffin

Toasted English muffin, fried egg, 1 oz. ham, 1/2 oz. shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese.

250 calories

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Warm breakfast for a chilly morning

Steel cut oats:

1 cup cooked steel cut oats: 150 calories
1 tbsp. each sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and maple syrup: 150 calories
1 tbsp. ground flax seed: 30 calories

Friday, November 16, 2012

Dim sum and then sum

Today's brunch:

Char siu bao and chicken pot stickers from our good friends at Trader Joe's, and MAMA brand instant noodles (pork flavor) with a poached egg on top.

Char siu bao: 160 calories
Pot stickers: 90 calories
Noodles: 260 calories
Egg: 70 calories

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lynx to Food: I-485 and South Blvd.

Today I'm starting a weekly series that I call Lynx to Food. Each post in this series will investigate the food shopping and dining within an easy walk from a station on the Lynx Blue Line. I'm starting at the south end with the I-485/South Blvd. stop.

My favorite food shopping destination here is Cost Plus World Market. It's my place for picking up quirky snacks and sodas, and wine and beer. Here's today's haul:

The only other shopping of interest at this stop is the Mecklenburg County ABC Store. I picked up some rum and vodka.

Restaurant dining at this stop is heavily biased toward chains and fast food. I had a bite at what may be the best of a bad lot: Golden Corral.

It's not the sort of place I'd ordinarily go on my own, but it happens to be my son's favorite place in the world, so I've managed to develop strategies to extract an edible meal from the overflowing cornucopia of mediocrity they serve.

Here are my rules for eating at Golden Corral. First, choose only foods that hold well on a steam table. Mashed potatoes are good, french fries are not so good. Second, choose foods that are at their best when they're inexpensive. Pot roast is good, steak is less good, seafood is right out. Third, choose only foods that are part of the Southern-American idiom. Anything that purports to be Mexican, Chinese, or Italian is very unlikely to be edible. Last, skip dessert. Those cakes and pies look pretty, but they taste of artificial flavorings and corn syrup. It's just not worth it.

Over the next few weeks, I'll move north along the Blue Line, bringing the best of what's available at each stop.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Chicago-style Deep Dish Pizza

Monday night dinner was a Chicago style deep dish pizza with artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and black olives. This is a recipe that I only make a few times a year, because it's not what one would call low-cal. My husband grew up in Chicago and introduced me to the wonders of pizza as served at Gino's East. It was our favorite food when we lived in Illinois. Seriously, we went to Gino's the night we got engaged. Unfortunately, we no longer live within driving distance of a Gino's East, so I have to make my own.

After many years of trial and error, this is the closest I can get.
For the dough:
1 pound all-purpose flour
1 envelope dry yeast
1 cup water
1/3 cup corn oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar (this is a leavener which gives the crust the airy crunch of a Gino's pizza)

Let the dough rise, then press into a 10 inch springform pan
(The easy way to do this is divide the dough in half, press one half of the dough into the bottom of the pan, then make the rest of the dough into two long snakes and press them around the sides, sealing the sides to the bottom and pressing the dough all the way up the sides of the pan.)

Then, in this order, add
1 pound shredded mozzarella cheese
Any vegetable or meat toppings desired - pre-saute any vegetables and press out any remaining liquid with paper towels, or your pizza will be soggy.
One 14-oz jar of pizza sauce

Bake at 425 for 45 minutes.

Makes 8 slices, approximately 500 calories per slice. It's not health food, but sometimes it's healthy to indulge in a favorite!

Out to Lunch: The Q Shack

Friday lunch at The Q Shack
Attempting to keep things lower-fat, I eschewed the traditional pulled pork in favor of turkey, and got baked beans instead of a side of fries.
Smoked turkey breast with cole slaw, baked beans and hush puppies

The turkey had a great smoked flavor and was not dried out. I like the Q Shack cole slaw. It's very vinegary and makes a good contrast to smoked meat. I tried the baked beans for the first time and didn't really like them. They didn't have a lot of flavor. Hush puppies hot and tasty as always. No calorie counts here.

Steakhouse Style

Saturday night dinner:
Prime filet mignon from The Meat House, with a poached egg and a baked potato with sour cream

6 oz filet: 250 calories
Egg: 70 calories
Potato: 150 calories
Light sour cream: 30 calories

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election night snack: Vodka with a side of fingernails

No picture for dinner tonight, as it was the leftover curry from last night. Now I'm just waiting, crossing my fingers, hoping I have something to celebrate soon.

Out to Lunch: Salsarita's

Today, Election Day, is a school holiday here, so after voting I took my son out to lunch. We went to Salsarita's, a chain burrito restaurant. I had a small bowl:

This bowl had black beans, pork, lettuce, and cheese. The pork was tender with a mild flavor. The pico de gallo on the side perked everything else up a bit. One trick to eating light at these burrito places is to skip the tortilla. My bowl was 320 calories; a small burrito with the same contents would have been 520.

Salsarita's has a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, so I was able to accompany my meal with a fruit-punch flavored Fanta Zero. I'd have preferred a beer, but, you know, driving and all that.

Breakfast "Skillet"

My homemade version of a dish that many restaurants around here serve as a "skillet":

Home fries with onions, mushrooms, peppers and Muenster cheese with a fried egg on top. Served on a plate, because I don't have those cute little mini cast-iron skillets the restaurants serve them in.
Home fries: 100 calories
Cheese: 80 calories
Egg: 70 calories

Monday, November 5, 2012

Yellow Curry with Tofu and Vegetables

Tonight's dinner was Yellow Curry with Tofu and Vegetables.

1 can coconut milk
2 tbsp. yellow curry paste
1 block (15 oz) tofu
Mixed vegetables to taste
(I used cauliflower, peas, carrots and bamboo shoots)

Cut tofu into squares and saute in non-stick pan with cooking spray until the tofu is brown on all sides, then set aside. In the same pan, combine the coconut milk with the curry paste and cook together for 5 minutes, then add vegetables. Cover the pan and simmer until the vegetables are tender, then add the tofu and simmer until it is heated through.

Serves 4; 360 calories per serving.

Served with 1/3 cup brown rice (75 calories) and cucumbers in vinegar.

Leftover Lunch: Chana Masala with Naan

Today's lunch is what remains of last night's dinner: about 3/4 cup of Chana Masala and half a piece of Trader Joe's naan.

It tastes better than it looks, I swear!

Chana masala: 250 calories (est.)
1/2 piece naan: 125 calories

Home Fries with Poached Egg

Good morning and welcome to my food blog! Good for Me is my place for discussing healthy eating, cooking, shopping and dining out in and around Charlotte, NC. I plan to share recipes, photos, and restaurant reviews, along with anything else that relates to my food life. Thanks for joining me!

Today's breakfast was home fries with a poached egg.

Home fries:
4 oz. cubed cooked potatoes (these were left over from last night's dinner)
1/8 cup each diced onion and bell pepper
1/4 oz. (1/2 tbsp.) butter
Salt and pepper
175 calories (You could shave off 50 of those by using cooking spray instead of butter, but to me the flavor is worth it.)

Poached egg:
(for an excellent tutorial on how to poach eggs, see here)
70 calories