Friday, May 27, 2011

Zucchini Bread

Instead of making my usual wheat bread this week (I have an amazing new bread making method to share with you all in the future), I decided to sneak some extra veggies in and made zucchini bread. I used a recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, and I was sadly unimpressed.

While the recipe was very healthy (minimal sugar and oil), it came out quite dry. (Don't worry, it was still great sliced thinly with butter.) I was disappointed the loaf lacked substantial moistness.

Does anyone have a great, moist zucchini bread recipe? (Preferably one that doesn't rely on a gallon of oil to achieve said moistness...)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The First Official Blog Contest!

The Longoria family has invested in a new kitchen appliance...or should I say a new family member. Ironically, I was not the catalyst in decision: Operation Espresso Machine. Daniel, the naysayer of all things coffee-for as long as I have known him, decided that as an alternative to his morning chocolate milk he would like a mocha instead. Thus, the search commenced. After chatting it up with a Sur La Table employee for a lengthy amount of time he concluded that the Breville was for us. He (she?) arrived last week and we have been LOVING it! Seriously, words can not express my excitement when I wake up and have a cafe' latte' (as Kramer would say it) within seconds of walking into the kitchen.
To share our good fortune I am hosting the first LoTC contest! All you have to do is think of a clever name that we can call our new family-errr, I mean-kitchen appliance. Post your best idea in the comment section and feel free to enter as many clever names as you can think of. To the reader who posts our favorite name, I will be awarding a complementary coffee card to the Longoria coffee cart (good only at one local)-your pick of drink.
Daniel and I will consider all entries and post the winner next week!
P.S. Sugar detox is over tomorrow! I will be providing a recap of my sugar free weeks shortly.

Lord of the Chard - Now in Color

The gloomy blanket of rain and cool temperatures still envelopes New England, but here at the Boston LotC headquarters we have decided to press on with spring - whether or not the elements are with us. This means injecting a little color into our lives.
New season = new running shoes. I won't get hit by a car in these!
Laura and I were talking last week about the fruit/veggie composition in our diets. We both felt as though we had no problem getting the recommended fruit servings each day, but vegetables were more hit or miss. I will mindlessly snack on apples and plums all day long, but I seldom reach for a green pepper when I want to munch.

For me the key dominating the vegetable category is working in two categories. First, green smoothies. Are you making these yet? Good. You just got a few servings of vegetables just by sipping a delicious treat. Zam! Secondly, I've got to remember to load up the extra vegetables in my actual meals. It is far to easy for me to whip up an egg quesadilla and walk away from dinner with a goose egg for a veggie score. I actually do really love most vegetables, so I just need to make sure I get them stuffed in all of the little crannies of my meals. I think a good way to check myself on this is to make sure my meals all have lots of bright colors - no all beige plates!

Sweet Potato and Greens: The Enchilada Edition
2 Large sweet potatoes
Large bunch of greens (I used kale and collards)
1 medium onion
1 clove garlic
1 bell pepper
1 cup cooked black beans
1.5 cups enchilada sauce (I have used this recipe before, this time I went for the can)
1 T butter
1 t vegetable bouillon + 1 cup water (or veggie broth)
1 cup grated cheese
1 can Black olives
6-8 whole wheat tortillas

First you want to take care of your greens and onions. Cut up your onion into half moons and separate them. Cook them in a large saucepan with the butter until they are soft and turning translucent. This will take about 5-10 minutes. Meanwhile cut up your greens. I have demonstrated my method for collard cutting below.
Cut the collard leaf in half, removing the tough inner stem in the process.
Stack the Leaves and roll them up so they look like cigars.
Cut the collard cigar horizontally but continue to hold the halves together.
Slice vertically down the collard cigar.
You will find yourself with perfectly chopped collard pieces!
Ok, now your onions are ready and your collards are chopped. Throw them all in the pan along with the broth. This will seem like a lot of greens, but they will cook down significantly.

Place a top over the pan and let the greens simmer away for about 15 minutes, stirring them regularly so they don't stick to the bottom of the pan. If you need more liquid - well add some.

Do you have a mandolin? Good, because it would be a pain to slice all of these sweet potatoes by hand.
Watch your finers, there were several slices of ellen in those piles.
This would also be a good time to slice up your black olives, peppers and grate your cheese. You guys don't need me to show you how to do that. You are all stars. This is also a good time to preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

When the greens are done and you have finished your prep work start your assembly line. I like to make enchilada pie rather than individual enchiladas since it makes it easier to have the portion size you want, but this is personal preference. Pour a little sauce into a baking dish so that the bottom is covered. Add a tortilla and then layer a all the filling components. Add more sauce. Add another tortilla. Ad infinitum.

Bake for 60 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown cover it with foil for the remainder of the time. After baking let it sit for a bit. Otherwise you will burn your tongue and that will be sad.
Look at those layers...
I think this is a fantastic dish for leftovers throughout the week, and it even tastes better on day two.

Anyone have any other good make ahead meal ideas? How about tips to load up on the veggies?

Friday, May 13, 2011

Merry Making and Carrot Shaking

I took my last final yesterday. Let the celebration commence!

If you want to join in on the carrot shaking I suggest you make this salad, as it is a celebration itself.

Shred up a good sized portion of carrots with a cheese grater (this is annoying but good for your arm muscles!)
Shred up an equal sized portion of beets (careful - beets stain)
Put the carrots and beets in a big saucepan on low heat with just a smidgen of olive oil
Add salt and pepper and maybe some crushed red pepper
Stir it around for a few minutes until the carrots are a bit soft, but still have some bite
Turn off the heat and a sprinkle of feta cheese (I bet parmesan would be good too)
Nom nom nom

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

(un)Natural Selection

The first week of decreased sugar (I'm going cold-turkey for the next three weeks) went satisfactory, though it will be a long road ahead.
This is a conversation that happened the first day:
Daniel: "You are grumpy!"
Laura: "I am not grumpy, I am suffering from sugar withdrawal."
Daniel: "Eat some ice cream, I do not want to deal with your grumpiness for the next month."
That pretty much sums it up.

This weekend was a mix of sunshine and rain, but I was determined to get some serious gardening done. First job on the docket: transplanting my tomato starts. I used my trusty power drill to make holes in the bottom of used yogurt containers which are unrecycable in our city (I am such a handy woman) .
When I was my seeds I put a few in each starter section, thinking that not all the seeds would germinate. However, in a weeks all the sprouts were at least two inches tall. I realized that tough decisions needed to be made. Having 20+ tomato plants did not seem like a good idea, unless I wanted to set up a farmer's market stand (wait a minute...that doesn't sound too bad...). So I had to sacrifice baby tomatoes for the good of the garden. I felt very bad condemning them to death (Note: Atticus sniffing the fallen soldiers).
The good news was that I have 14 healthy tomato, 3 cantaloup, and 6 pepper plants left, that now have to room to develop healthy root systems. To celebrate making it through the selection process, I took my seedlings on a field trip to the sunshine in the side yard.
In other news, as reported before, the RWAs (robins with attitudes) ate half of my pea plants. The picture below demonstrates the devestation that occured. I am planning on planting additional rows next weekend. Anyone have any suggestions what I can do to scare away the birds? Moses is a useless guard cat!
The rest of the gardening chores accomplished were: aerating and thatching the front yard (if you don't know what this is, be thankful), Daniel "moding" his sprinklers (he likes to take parts off the new sprinklers and modify them into Frankenstein sprinklers), and cutting back the rose bushes further than the WA state legislature can cut back teacher's LID days (just kidding, they already cut back all of our LID days. I just thought of that joke when I was pruning and chuckled to myself). All in all, I felt like I had accomplished a good deal this weekend.

Cheers to week one of no/less sugar and sunny spring weather!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

My Sugar-Free Week In Review

As of last night I made it one week sans sugar. And it was... not too bad? Not as bad as I thought it was going to be at least. Here are some notes I made during the week.

Sunday: Not too bad. Was almost thrown off course at the start of the morning when I went to add honey to my tea as if on autopilot. The second waver came when Erik waved strawberry cheesecake jelly beans under my nose. I stayed strong. Also if I am going to eat leftover easter candy it is obviously going to be Reese's peanut butter cup eggs. Duh.

Monday: Yawn, yawn, yawn - all day long. Had a very filling, healthy dinner. I am hungry less than an hour later and want a piece of cake! Or a sliver of pie. Or even just a crumble of cookie.

I always believed that hummus was one of those things you just had to buy - but no more. It is hard to get hummus smooth and creamy when you are using beans from a can. I find the secret is to cook dry beans and then puree that.
My "recipe"
Combine cooked beans/lentils/split peas, a squeeze of lemon juice, spices (pepper, penzeys seasoning, hot sauce, whatever.), saltiness (e.g. sea salt, miso, bouillon, soy sauce). Blend it up until very smooth. Add a small amount of liquid if too thick.
The majestic peaks of Mt. Hummus

Tuesday: Had peanut butter for breakfast that after observing the label has a ton of sugar in it. Also you can't trust ketchup!
Spring is finally defying the winter overlords.

Wednesday/Thursday: Didn't note any specific troubles. Perhaps I am past the worst? My study group passed around starburst and I didn't even consider them!
In the blender: Frozen cherries, beets, strawberries, spinach, frozen banana

Friday: Brushed my teeth after dinner and didn't even think about having a sweet snack!

I have never liked cottage cheese that much (except when my mom made pear bunnies with cottage cheese tails!) but I bought some this week to try as an alternative to greek yogurt. I made a "dip" with it that was actually pretty good with tortilla chips. I just mixed plain, non fat cottage cheese with Penzeys Chip and Dip Seasoning.
Yummy but still can't completely get over the texture.
Saturday: Almost broke this morning. We went for a long walk since it was nice out, and stopped by our neighborhood diner for frozen lemonades. I knew this would be breaking my rules, but I wanted one because they are AMAZING, not because I was craving sugar. But alas, I was protected from myself. The diner's frozen lemonade machine was broken, and thus I was kept from slushy lemonadey goodness. The walk was still nice however, we did about five miles and walked by the ocean.
First toes in the sand of the year.
Erik even busted out his boat shoes.
With iced coffee and not frozen lemonade :(

I ran around in a field of dandelions doing impressive leaps and cartwheels, but the photographer was unable to capture the magic. Ahem.

Not a good action shot.

Since Laura tells me it can take three weeks for sugar to leave your system and this week didn't kill me I am going to try to keep it up. I have finals this week so I'm not making any guarantees. You have to confront the EVIL tricks the finals monkey throws at you with whatever defenses you have - sometime that means ice cream sandwiches.

I hope everyone had just the best week. And happy mother's day to my awesome mom who made pear bunnies with cottage cheese tails for me when I was a kid :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


I made these the other night and was quite tickled with myself. They taste fresh like summer :)


  • Red leaf lettuce (1 leaf makes 1 wrap)
  • 1 cup Shredded carrots
  • 1 ripe mango
  • Bean sprouts
  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 pound shrimp, cooked & deveined with tails removed (I cooked mine in a little butter and sweet curry powder from Penzey Spices)
  • For dipping sauce mix to your liking: soy sauce (I use Bragg's liquid aminos), lemon juice, a little sugar or honey. Wisk well.


One lettuce leaf = 1 "taco." On lettuce place:
2 basil leaves
A few pinches of shredded carrots
A few pinches of sprouts
2 slices of mango
2 pieces of shrimp
A spoonful of the dipping sauce
Wrap up and enjoy