Manly (and Slimming)

Hey all you Manly Men out there! Take a bite of this! 

20151203_204614_001-1[1]London broil is a rather inexpensive piece of beef, can easily be frozen and thawed, and doesn’t get tough in the soup-making process. It was also convenient since I happened to find a ton of it in the freezer… Cubing the steak is super easy when cutting a partially thawed piece.

Vegetable Beef and Barley Soup

makes 16 servings

    • 1 1/2 lb london broil, trimmed of fat
    • 6-8 Tbsp brown gravy mix, low sodium
    • 2/3 cup onion, chopped
    • 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
    • 2 Tbsp paprika
    • 1 Tbsp thyme, dried
    • 2 tsp oregano, dried
    • 1 tsp parsley, dried
    • 1 Tbsp minced/chopped dried onion
    • 1 tsp ground rosemary
    • 3/4 to 1 tsp black pepper, to taste
    • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt, to taste
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 6- 7 cups water
    • 4 cups chicken broth, fat free, low sodium
    • 2 cups beef broth, fat free, low sodium
    • 3/4 cup barley
    • 1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes, low sodium
    • 2 1/2 cups celery, chopped, including leafy ends
    • 1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
    • 2 cups kale greens, rough chop
    • 2 (10oz) mushrooms, white button, chopped
    • 1 cup green beans, cut (frozen will work)
    • fresh parsley, chopped, to garnish (optional)
    • oyster crackers (optional)

Cube the london broil into equal bite-sized pieces and place in a large pot. Add the onions through rosemary. With a large spoon, toss everything in the pot to coat the meat and onions.

Place the pot over low heat, add water and broth and cover. Allow to simmer for 40 minutes, or so. Add barley, cover, and bring to a boil. Once at a boil reduce heat back to low, add vegetables, cover and allow soup to simmer for 1 to 2 hours.

*I’m curious if using Italian seasoning could substitute many of the green herbs… let us know in the comments if you try!

20151201_220447-1[1]

Keep covered, remove from heat, and allow soup to cool. Refrigerate, freeze, or my favorite recommendation… Mangia! Top and garnish to your liking.

Nutrition based off 6 Tbsp gravy mix

119 calories!

Ha! I’ll take TWO!

Eggplant Pie

It was nice to sleep in yesterday and not have anything to do! I spent all day studying for the NCLEX, filling myself with brain food, like Saturn peaches, sugar free chocolate pudding, and a delicious dinner! (recipe to follow) My family has really been lucking out these past few weeks. Since I’ve found an outlet in cooking, my family has been eating really well. During my studying, I reward myself with breaks to cook, or prep to cook. Yesterday the result was baking Strawberry Muffins, and Eggplant Pie. Both were so good! Frank, my biggest critic, said the muffins were very good and the Eggplant Pie was,”Outstanding!” Having the word “outstanding” come from him was definitely a treat!

WP_003503 WP_003504

The muffins came in handy when I woke up this morning to find a tray of donuts on the table from an apparent late night craving they had while out on the town… To resist the urge, I warmed up a strawberry muffin, sliced it in half, and added to the already gooey strawberries inside it with some sugar free strawberry preserves. Take that, donut!

After dinner, and along day of brain overload, I rewarded myself with Zumba. Unfortunately, my booty shaking was cut short when a girl got light headed and fainted. I ran to help her. Behind me, I hear my girlfriend yell,”It’s okay! She’s a nurse!” It was thrilling hearing someone yell that so close to my exam!

WP_003511Following Zumba, I got really hungry. Thank goodness Zumba is early on Monday nights and I went home to enjoy an Orange Cream Dannon Light & Fit Greek, with cheerios for crunch. I got antsy and wound up finishing a head of romain with salsa, filling up on water. I’m such a bunny rabbit…

I headed to bed with a mug of chamomile tea and fell asleep in NCLEX-mode.

After Sunday’s adventure at the Ren Faire, and my brief time at Zumba, last night, my calves we starting to feel it today. I began the WP_003512gloomy day with my normal routine of a shake. Since my vanilla protein powder has been replaced, I began with an Apple Eggnog Shake:

  • 2 scoops Vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 md fuji apple, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sugar free Eggnog Da Vinci syrup
  • spinkle apple pie spice
  • water
  • ice

A total winner that Barry didn’t think would work! I made Frank a very bright Watermelon Shake.

Today was so gloomy that my dad’s boss told him not to come to work because there was so much flooding! It was also gloomy in my kitchen when my spare Magic Bullet bit the dust. I’m glad I had my smoothie maker to fill in.

Before heading to work, I filled up on some watermelon and I’ve really been digging the beet scene lately. I actually made another beet salad for dinner tonight, for work. I even used some Fakin’ Bacon Tempeh! And what goes well with bacon? Bleu Cheese! I steamed together sliced onion, chopped tempeh, sliced petite carrots, and chopped, sliced beets and served it over a bed of spinach, topped with crumbled reduced fat bleu cheese. The warmth from the vegetables warmed up the cheese and this salad was “no dressing required!” I’ve been trying to talk dad into trying beets, but I haven’t quite gotten there. Maybe I’ll sneak it into something one day. What can I say? You can’t beat beets!

WP_003513

Usually, being clerk at work makes me want to eat. Not because I’m hungry or burning calories, but because I’m bored. Tonight was great because I ate my delicious salad for dinner, and had some grahams and PB for a snack! Plus, with studying and all the paperwork at the desk, I kept busy!I’m serious! As soon at 7pm hit, this place went crazy, like full moon crazy! Eureka!

I picked up a pack of sliced eggplant from the farmers market last week and wanted to use it up before it began to turn. My intent was to make an eggplant parm pizza, but then this brain of mine began to crank some gears and this little beauty was born. Its like if eggplant parmesean and spaghetti pie had a baby…

Eggplant PieWP_003507

Serves 4

1 large eggplant, sliced 1/8in
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2/3 cup bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup fat free ricotta
1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 pkg Fettuccine Tofu Shirataki noodles
3/4 cup fat free shredded mozzarella, divided
4oz 96% lean ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh spinach, packed (25g)
1 Tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan

Peeling the eggplant is your preference. Over high heat, in a skillet, cook slices of eggplant until they begin to shrivel from the water loss, flipping to ensure both sides cook. Transfer to a paper towel while cooking the remaining slices of eggplant. While eggplant is still pliable, lay the eggplant strategically in a sprayed 9in pie pan to create a pseudo-pie crust (about 7 slices). Sprinkle the bottom on the pan with 1/4 cup of mozzarella.

WP_003492 WP_003493 WP_003496

Empty the noodles into a colander, rinse, and snip through the noodles with scissors, as these these noodles can be pretty long. In the hot pan, after the eggplant has been cooked and removed, briefly toss the noodles in the pan, tossing constantly to remove excess fluid, and return to the colander.

Spray skillet with non stick cooking spray and briefly cook down onions, garlic, and bell pepper, until onions are
mildly translucent. Transfer warm vegetables into a bowl with uncooked mushrooms, ricotta, spices, and egg. Then add the noodles to the ricotta mix. Transfer into eggplant crust and distribute evenly.

WP_003497

Brown the ground beef. Once crumbled and browned, add the can of diced tomatoes. Stir together and top over the noodles in the crust. Sprinkle a pinch on mozzarella and the grated cheese. Add the chopped spinach and cover with the remaining eggplant (about 5 slices). Top with remained shredded mozzarella and bake in a preheat oven  at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.

WP_003498 WP_003499 WP_003501 WP_003502

 

Slice and enjoy!

WP_003508 WP_003510

Nutrition (1/4 recipe):

Calories: 149, Fat: 0.8g, Sat. Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 22.5mg, Sodium: 294mg, Carbs: 15.8g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4.7g, Protein: 16.8g

Maggie’s 22nd!

I had an appointment this morning to get my eyebrows done, so I decided to got for a run to the salon, about half way home, I started getting this uncomfortable pain in my back and stopped running because it was so uncomfortable. What’s up with that?

I felt kinda crappy and lazy about not finishing my run. I find, that with running, its not the running thats the hump, although some runs I just feel beat, it getting started. Once I get running I just want to keep going. I love those days when I don’t have work, or homework, and I can just run and walk and wander all around city. That’s my favorite! And before I know it, I’ve been out for hours, walking for miles! I can’t wait until I get those days back!
I get a lot of grief from people because I go to so many stores to get my groceries. Today, I went to the store and two of the main things I went there for, they didn’t have. Grrr.

After an afternoon of working on a project for school, dad and I met up with a girlfriend of mine, that I have known since I was four years old, for her birthday, at Applebees. I got the bar tender to make me a skinny margarita,  while Maggie got a Raspberry Long Island Iced Tea. Happy Hour at Applebees just wouldn’t be complete without apps: Mozzarella sticks and Boneless Buffalo Wings. I also got a Chocolate Cake Shot for Maggie. Hello, chocolate cake… birthday… duh!

WP_002145 WP_002146

After this, I headed to dads house for dinner. Dad really enjoys the ease of Lloyd’s BBQ containers. Tonight we had the BBQ beef that served with collard greens. I live green! I found that when I but them seasoned and in a can, they are really salty. I tried my hand at seasoning greens tonight and it was a success! I simply sprinkled frozen greens with minced garlic( its National Garlic Day, by the way) , season salt, and red proper flakes. Dad wanted a sandwich, but I created a bowl. I topped both with a bit of Cole slaw mix for added crunch.

WP_002148 WP_002151

To finish our night we rented Taken 2 from the Redbox. ( I love Liam Neeson!) what I live about the second movie * spoiler* is that daughter kicks butt! I like to think that if I were in that situation, id be that bad ass daughter taking on the terrorists to save my family.

Speaking about bad ass and terrorists we finally have some closure from the Boston Bombings. They caught the the last suspect. Way to go Bad Ass Boston PD!

Beef Stew: Crock Pot Recipe #6

I got everything ready for tonight’s crock pot dinner, then left mi casa. Breakfast was on-the-go this morning as I was on my way to the hospital to gather information on some patients for clinical this week. I stopped by 7-Eleven a grabbed a small coffee, with a shot of sugar free hazelnut syrup, and a protein bar. It was definitely filling, with just the right amount of toffee and chocolate.

WP_001123

Toffee Chocolate Chip Harvest Power Bar

This week, my instructor chose me to be Clinical Manager. This is kind of my opportunity to take the management roll of Charge Nurse. I assigned two patients to each of my two classmates.

In the hallway, there was an older couple holding hands. I overheard one of the nurses asking how long these two patients had been married… 76 years! WOW! And still so in love! This gives me so much hope that marriages can last! It was a beautiful sight.

After I got home, I completed Day 2 of my Couch to 5K challenge. 3.3 miles feels great! It is so needed for this girls mental health!

My mom’s beef stew is pretty Plain Jane, but always a stick to ribs mouthful of yummy!

After making it with her for the past 20 years, I wanted to see if I could add a Sammy flare.

Typically, mom uses a whole bag of potatoes. I wanted to cut down on the white starchy carbs, so I substitute a few baby red potatoes and some cuber butternut squash. I don’t see why sweet potato wouldn’t work, as well. I like my stews full of veggies so theres a lot of carrots.

There are very few ingredients to my mom’s recipe, but it makes for a winner.

Bundo Crock Pot Beef StewImage

(serves 5)

1 lb london broil, fat trimmed, cubed

4 large carrot sticks, cut into discs

4-5 baby red potatoes, washed, roughly peeled, cut into fours

1/2 to 1 cup butternut squash, cubed (found in produce department)

2 cloves garlic, minced

black pepper, to taste

1 (28oz) jar fat free beef gravy

1/4 cup powdered brown gravy mix

2 1/2 cup water

Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray and toss in cubed meat for a quick sear. Remove meat and set aside. In the same skillet, empty gravy in skillet and whisk in the dry gravy mix. Fill the jar with the water, swirl and empty into skillet. Simmer until power is dissolved. Pour into crock pot.

Spray skillet again and add the potato wedges and squash cubes. Brown the outsides, especially the squash since this will dissolve easily in the stew.

Add all the ingredients into the crock pot, give it a light stir, cover, and cook on low.

WP_001116
WP_001115  
Nutrition: (1/5 of recipe)

Calories: 253

Total Fat: 8.5g

Sat. Fat: 2g

Cholesterol: 60.4mg

Carbs: 18.6g

Fiber: 1.5g

Sugar: 3.4g

Protein: 22.9g

         

Mom makes Bisquick dumplings to serve on top, which makes this even heartier. I just topped mine with some gold fish crackers. The expert, my mama’s, review? “Excellent!” Woo hoo!

WP_001129                           WP_001128

I spent my Sunday night watching lectures. During one of my study breaks, I completed Julie’s Super Sweaty Ab Workout. This must have done me in because for the rest of the night I had the munchies. Nothing seemed to do the trick. Even drinking water wasn’t helping. I took out some celery sticks, as a debated packing them for lunch tomorrow, and it hit me. Celery and PB, the perfect crunchy snack! Why didn’t think of it before?! Its elementary! No, really… it used to eat this all the time in elementary school…

I feel so silly that I did all that snacking only to remember the best snack of all!

I have an incredibly busy day tomorrow, so hopefully I burn off some off some of this snack attack.

Good Night!

Immediato’s Bistro

Last night, we celebrated my Uncle’s birthday at his favorite restaurant, Immediato’s Bistro.

                        

Jen and Tony used to be my neighbors and I babysat their two boys! It amazes me every time I see the boys how much they have grown! They moved down to Middletown a few years back and opened the bistro and hoagie shop! (great turkey sandwiches, by the way)

Image

Jen and Uncle Eddie

Image

Jen and Me

To celebrate, about 12 close family members joined us for dinner. Each table is welcomed with a basket of fresh ciabatta-like rolls and olive oil. Vinnie, Tony’s brother prepared bruschetta, broccoli rabe topped with freshly grated Locatelli, and chopped antipasto salad! One of my favorite thing about Immediato’s is that they are not cheap with the fresh garlic! I’m not typically impressed with bruschetta, but wow! I literally could have eaten a whole bowl by itself. In fact, the bruschetta went so fast, this half eaten plate was the only picture I could snag!

Bruschetta

Bruschetta

Antipasto

Antipasto

Broccoli Rabe

Broccoli Rabe

During dinner, the loud Italians were silent! Everyone was completely focused on theirs meals.

 

 

Among the entrees chosen were:
Farfelle Immediato

Chicken ala Tony (top) and Farfelle Immediato (bottom)

Chicken alla Tony (top) and Farfelle Immediato (bottom)

Chicken Marsala

Penne with Pesto and Meatballs

Linguini with Meat Sauce

Ravioli in Meat Sauce
Marsala Braised Short Ribs
and the birthday boy and one of my cousins got the

Chicken alla Tony.

Marsala Braised Short Rib

Marsala Braised Short Rib

My dad got the Farfelle, which I’ve gotten before, and loved it. Its not quite an alfredo, but the cream sauce is perfectly complimented by the peas and prosciutto. The braised short rib was something I would have never thought of getting, but our family-friend said that she had it earlier in the week and has been craving it ever since! Naturally, I had to try it. I had never seen gnocchi in anything other than your typical Italian gravies, but this was a like a Marsala-BBQ-y goodness! The beef was pull-apart, fall-apart amazing, and smothered with mushrooms and gnocchi. I believe we will be going back for my cousins birthday in a few weeks. This may be a contender for dinner that night.

The birthday boy isn’t a huge fan of asparagus, but who isn’t a fan of pasta, chicken, and crab meat… He graciously shared the asparagus , of the Chicken alla Tony,with my aunt and me. Perfectly steamed, perfectly crisp.
My meal of choice was actually an appetizer: Mussels White. You can make it a meal by adding a side of pasta. Like I said, they do not skimp on the garlic! My dad, whos not the biggest fan of mussels, couldn’t stop raving about how perfectly cooked this bowl full of  yummy was! And my godfather sweetly asked, “Hey Sammy, could… could I try one?” He was sold! The white wine sauce was fantastic! Once I finished the mussels, I kept scooping my fork in the broth and pulling up chunks of chopped garlic! Yum! To compliment the shellfish, I saved some of the broccoli rabe and ate them together.

Mangia

Mangia

My cousin, Kyle, apparently enjoyed his meal as well…
Yeah, its just THAT good!

Yeah, its just THAT good!

To add to the celebration, Immediato’s had a performer playing guitar and harmonica and singing beautiful Italian songs. My Uncle and dad really enjoyed themselves as they began some vino-induced singing of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York!”
The Birthday Serenade

The Birthday Serenade

And now for the desserts! I think I may have gone up a pant size last night. I could not get enough of the desserts! Vinnie prepared a special birthday dessert for my Uncle, and I have to say, I was shocked, impressed, and in it for the long hull: Fried Gnocchi drizzled with cinnamon, sugar, and chocolate, with a center piece of cannoli filling and homemade pizzelles!They also brought out a cake with a candle, while the guitar player sang and played “Happy Birthday.” Kyle and I had no trouble tapping into that baby while Uncle Eddie enjoyed the Chocolate Truffle Cake!
Blowing out the candles!

Blowing out the candles!

There is a whole case of cookies, cannolis, eclairs, giant cream puffs and truffle cakes, and multi-layer cakes! My cousin, Kyle, and I went to town on the cookies!

MMMMMMM!

MMMMMMM! Birthday Surprise!

They have the best macaroons I’ve ever tasted; and being the chocolate lover that I am, I opted for the chocolate covered ones. Have you ever known me to turn down PB? I got an array of cookies from the case… Raspberry filled shortbread, PB, macaroons, and cheesecake filled.

Some cookies I HAD to bite into!

Some cookies I HAD to bite into!

To top off the night, we cheersed with a shot of my Uncle’s homemade lemon cello.

Salud!

Salud!

I also got my mom a slice of the tallest strawberry shortcake I’ve ever seen! Sorry mom, but I had to tap into that on the ride home.

Decorated with a wafer roll cookie...

Decorated with a wafer roll cookie and stuffed with strawberries and smooth creme!

Once I got home, it hit me light a lightening bolt! PB cookie+Raspberry shortbread= PBnJ! Genius! With my first bite of the PB cookie, I was hooked! It was not just a PB cookie, but a PB STUFFED cookie!

Now thats how a cookie should be!

Now thats how a cookie should be!

As always, it was a wonderful night at Immediato’s Bistro! If you’re in the area, I highly recommend swinging by Main Street for lunch or dinner, just don’t forget the dessert!
Thanks for a great night Jen, Tony, Vinnie, and the crew and Happy Birthday, Uncle Eddie, and many more!!