pasta

What I Ate For Dinner

First order of business: announcing the giveaway winner! I picked a winner for a copy of Diane’s book, 150 Pounds Gone Forever: How I Lost Half My Size and You Can To. The winner is:

#14 – KATHIE!

Kathie- email me asap so I can get the book out to you.

Dinners are my favorite meal. I love trying new recipes, and also eating some of the same basic types of meals. It’s comforting to know how many calories my meal will be because dinner is usually a combination of protein + veggie + salad. Dinners change with the seasons. In the summer time, it’s more fresh produce from our garden and there’s lots of grilling involved. In the winter I tend to try out more recipes than in the summer time simply because of the busy factor.

Here is a week’s worth of dinners at home to give you an example of a standard week.

Monday

It was the kind of Monday where we were both tired and not in the mood to cook anything complicated. Blackened salmon with steamed broccoli, and a side salad. This is a good standby dinner because we always have salmon in the freezer.

It’s also a good low-calorie dinner. This runs about 500 calories.

Tuesday

I cannot remember the last time Michael and I made burgers out of ground beef. The only time we have ground beef is in a restaurant. Our usual burgers are turkey burgers. But it was such a gorgeous day out that we wanted to grill something.

I have to say, there is just something amazing about a ground beef burger from the grill. The flavors were outstanding, from fat of course, but delicious.

I had a few chips with my dinner and a beer, too.  Michael measured out 4 ounces of meat on the kitchen scale and topped it with a slice of Havarti. Delicious!

Wednesday

This dinner was out of the norm and completely bizarre, but it worked. I got home from the gym and Michael said nothing was defrosted. Ooops! He wanted to get a quickie meal from the grocery store but I suggested shrimp instead. Shrimp defrosts very quickly.

We cooked some spinach raviolis, topped them with the cooked shrimp and then added sauteed Brussels sprouts.

The flavors worked well together and dinner was around 500 calories total.

Thursday

One of my favorite dinners was on the menu! Fajita salads. Why I love this dinner: it tastes great, it fills me up with the protein in the steak and the fiber in the beans, and I get lots of veggies on my plate.

This time was a little bit different; usually we have Michael’s amazing homemade guacamole with this salad and of course some chips. Doing that adds a ton of calories and make for a gut-bomb kind of dinner where I usually feel like I ate too much.

We skipped the chips and guacamole this time and I was pleasantly satisfied.  On the salad was the following: lettuce, black olives, jalapenos, cooked red peppers and onions, steak, salsa as dressing, black beans, steak and sour cream.

Friday

Fridays are long days for me. I am usually off to the pool right after work and don’t get home until fairly late. Michael is a sweetie and always has dinner planned and nearly ready when I walk in the door since I’m usually famished. It’s appreciated in so many ways! This time, I got home first. Michael was taking his friend Shoe to the airport so I made dinner for us after swimming.

I wanted to use up the red curry lentil soup that had been in the pantry far too long, yet it was only 140 calories a serving. I needed more than that! I decided to use it as a base and sauteed some carrots and onions and added that to the soup. It went together really well but I wished that I’d added chicken or rice to it. Next time.

We had the leftover sourdough bread from the night we had grilled cheese as a side with the soup. The soup was really tasty, with a hint of ginger and cinnamon. It was a tad on the sweet side and I bet chicken would really balance that out.

Saturday

It’s been months since Michael and I did a homemade pizza night! Michael got it started and I helped with the toppings. This time we used pepperoni, black olives, fresh Roma tomatoes and mozzarella cheese.

It tasted great and it was nice to have it again after so long.

Sunday

Pork chop night! I have become a fan of pork chops, even though I thought pork was bland for so long. What changed it? Proper seasoning (thank you Michael) and combining the pork chops with my new favorite veggie: Brussels sprouts.

And I admit it, there might have been a teeny bit of bacon in that sautee of sprouts. But in my defense, it was only one slice of bacon. So we each had 4 ounces of boneless pork chops seasoned with steak seasoning from Costco. It’s a good seasoning for most meats–basically just salt and pepper.

I also had a spinach salad with some croutons, crumbled feta cheese, pepper, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. This has quickly become one of our “staple” dinners because it’s easy and healthy and fairly low in calories.

QUESTION: What are some examples of a typical dinner in your house?

Taking the Training Wheels Off

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that I am a recipe follower. As someone who never really cooked until just a few years ago, I rely heavily on recipes and follow them to a T. I rarely deviate from what the recipe says, simply because I am not confident in my cooking skills. That being said, I’ve been trying my best to try altering recipes to practice.

Recently, Michael was out of town and I decided I wanted to try my hand hand creating my own recipe from scratch–no recipe following here. This is that meal.

Lisa's Florentine Casserole

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 6

Calories per serving: 280

Ingredients

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni pasta
  • 2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Colby Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup onions, sauteed
  • minced garlic
  • 2 cups marinara sauce
  • salt and pepper
  • onion powder
  • Italian seasoning
  • Basil

Instructions

  1. 1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. 2. Cook pasta al dente.
  3. 3. Saute the onions, zucchini and garlic in a skillet. I used Grapeseed Oil.
  4. 4. Mix all the ingredients in a big boil to coat with the sauce.
  5. 5. Pour into greased pan, top with some shredded cheese, and bake 20-30 minutes.
http://www.110pounds.com/?p=30864

I chose to do a casserole type dish because I knew it would be pretty hard to screw up and I wanted to use some of the frozen shredded zucchini from last summer’s garden. I defrosted the zucchini (I’d shredded and frozen 2 cups individually packed and put in the freezer for later use) and tried to get as much of the liquid out of it. It was pretty soupy.

I cooked the pasta until it was al dente, drained the water and then mixed the following ingredients in a large bowl: pasta, pasta sauce, onions, zucchini. I added some of the shredded cheese into the bowl and then the spices.

Note: I used 3 cloves of garlic and minced it. I did not add enough! Next time, I will add more garlic. I defrosted one cup of frozen peas and added that to the mixture.

I topped the casserole with some of the leftover shredded cheese and then baked it.

While dinner was baking, I cleaned up the disastrous kitchen and made myself a small baby spinach salad to go with dinner. I also calculated the calories according to a website I use pretty frequently. I am skeptical about the calorie results, but that’s what the website said.

A dish with a bunch of pasta and cheese is less than 300 calories? Hmmm…I don’t know about that! (What do you guys think?)

The casserole was bubbling, the cheese was melted and the sides were looking a little crispy so I took it out.

The verdict: it was tasty but needed a lot more garlic, or a spice of some kind. Or both. It was a tad bland, but it wasn’t bad. I love the gooey cheese and the flavor of the vegetables in it.

I am not delusional in that I know this recipe is nothing special or difficult! But it was my first stab at creating something of my own completely from scratch. And it was a success!

QUESTION: Do you ever create your own recipes? Tips?