Friday, June 10, 2011

Best Summer Dessert Ever

1 white peach
2 scoops French vanilla ice cream
honey, warmed in the microwave until runny

When you're done grilling your burgers and hot dogs and whatever else, slice one white peach in half (a ripe one!) and remove the pit. Place on the grill (I recommend a light brush/spray of oil or nonstick) for about 2 minutes on the cut side, one minute on the other side.
Serve with a drizzle of honey and the ice cream straight from the grill.

Mom and I split one peach this way, and it's the most amazing sweet, toasty, fruity flavor EVER. Perfect for a warm summer night.

(Dinner was hamburgers, corn on the cob, and asparagus. Trick for the asparagus: double-layer of foil to create a 'bucket' shape, rather than a closed pouch - it will take on the smoky hint of the grill's flavor as it cooks. Don't close the foil pouch! Cook until just crisp-tender, no more.)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Summery Dessert - nearly free Points, too!

I saw this idea posted over on Amateur Gourmet, and as I am a cardamom fiend, it immediately appealed to me. Seriously. I cannot get enough of that spice. I love it. (I blame my Scandinavian roots.)

Mom found some ready-cut pineapple spears at the store (I'd rather not lose a finger or pint of blood to trying to core and peel a whole pineapple), and as we're both on a diet, we used Cool Whip lite rather than whipped cream. And it was still DARN tasty - the tangy pineapple contrasts with the warm spice and cool cream topping. VERY delish.

* Heat a pan. I used about a tsp of butter in a heavy nonstick omelette pan we have on hand (no cast iron in our collection... yet).
* Lay the spears in the pan (I cut them into 3" sections to fit), and let them start to turn golden. It took a few minutes. Turn, repeat until all sides are golden.
* While your pineapple is browning and the kitchen smells like the sunbaked tropics, take 1/3 tsp ground cardamom and stir it into half cup of Cool Whip. (Or more, or less, to your preference. I was making only for two people.)
* Once the pineapple is done, plate up and place a generous dollop of your spiced Cool Whip with it. Enjoy!
(No pics - it didn't last long enough. Maybe someday when my plating and photography skills have improved...)

(And now, back to my usual radio silence. Once work slows down, I'll have more time to spend in the kitchen or on makeup - though I have managed to incorporate putting on my war paint in the mornings successfully for two weeks now.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"Mango Lassi" Pistachio Pudding

So, as previously mentioned, I have new cookbooks and an ongoing love of learning to cook various ethnic foods. I have been poring over my new cookbooks all week; last night I spent a good two hours thumbing through Bal Arneson's Everyday Indian. Sunday is eat-leftovers-and-make-ahead day in our house.  After a dinner of leftover roast pork tenderloin, green beans, cauliflower mash, and roasted sweet potato, we moved away from the Continental US to approach Chinese-inspired stir-fry chicken (marinated in ginger, garlic, lemon, orange, Hoisin and five-spice) for lunches later in the week. Then we backtracked to India for dessert (finally keeping in mind our waistlines, albeit slightly).

This is the result:

Pistachio Mango Pudding
1 package sugar-free Jell-O pudding, pistachio flavor
2 cups reduced-fat or non-fat milk
1 ripe-bordering-on-overripe mango
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 cup heavy cream (or Cool Whip, if you're on a tighter calorie budget)

- Prepare the pudding per package instructions with the milk. Let set in fridge.
- Peel and slice the mango, being careful not to remove any fingers or significant chunks of your own flesh. Mangoes can be slippery! (Best trick: Slice off the broad end to create a flat surface. Prop it on this flat surface, and use a good vegetable peeler or be very careful with a paring knife to peel off the skin. Once peeled, slice off each side in a wide plank, careful not to get too much of the pith, then the sides.) Take your mango slices and cut them into cubes.
- Toss the mango with the cardamom. (If your mango isn't as ripe as it should be, add a spoonful of sugar and let it all macerate for a bit.) 
- By this time, the pudding should be set. Spoon the mango into a dish and top with pudding, or vice versa.
- Drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp heavy cream, or a dollop of Cool Whip.

Enjoy!  (With one mango and a half a cup of pudding each, we had pudding to spare, but were greedy and the mango only made two servings. So plan on pistachio-and-fruit parfaits again later. :) Or buy more mangoes!

I should note that our favorite "diet" dessert lately is sugar-free pudding with Cool Whip and fresh fruit (berries, mango, whatever the local market had that's ripe) -- the whole thing is usually only 2-3 Points, and it's surprisingly filling and satisfying.

I have learned that I cannot succeed at a diet unless I do not feel deprived, which means that I am filling up on veggies and lean proteins (like pork tenderloin or shrimp or chicken) for two out of three meals, and loading up most of my carbs in the morning. I have lost 12 pounds without giving up my jalapeno-cheese bagel with very light cream cheese. I'd call that a successful diet. (I'm certain dance class once a week plus walks around the block twice the day have nothing to do with it... ;P ) In addition to being actually, physically FULL from veggies (I pack gallon-sized bags of carrot, celery, and bell pepper sticks to take with me to work and nosh with hummus), I have to get my sweet tooth fulfilled now and then. These sugar-free pudding desserts do the trick. Now that the weather is changing, I'm going to start using fruit-and-gelatin desserts (but they take more planning, because of how long the Jell-O takes to set up in the fridge). 

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Lamb Kebabs (Meatballs) - Kabab Laham

With the recent bonuses paid out at work (finally! Yay!), I splurged on a few books, one of which is "Cardamom and Lime: Recipes from the Arabian Gulf" by Sarah Al-Hamad. [The other is Bal Arneson's book, Everyday Indian - you will likely be seeing recipes from that one, as well.]

As it's freezing outside (by California standards) and we don't have an indoor grill, I modified this recipe to be meatballs rather than kebabs. I also adjusted a few ingredients (skipped the saffron, as I couldn't find it at the store, added fresh jalapeno for a boost of bright green flavor). It's not diet food by any stretch*, but it's darn tasty.

Kabab Laham Meatballs
Modified from the original recipe by Sarah Al-Hamad

1 lb ground lamb, 85/15
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1/2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic puree
1 generous tsp ginger puree (I used a microplane and a knob of fresh ginger)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/3 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, minced fine
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 japaleno, core and seeds removed, minced
1 egg, beaten

Combine in a bowl and mix well. (I combined everything but the lamb, added the lamb last, and had a grand old time using my bare hands to make a squishy mass of more-or-less evenly combined ingredients.)

Heat a nonstick pan with a few tsp of oil over medium heat. Form the mixture into patties, balls, or whatever shape you fancy, and cook until deliciously golden and crisp, turning once to cook the other side to the same level of done-ness. (I also set the oven temp to 200*F and placed the cooked meatballs on an oven-proof plate to stay warm while I made the next batch, etc.)  I think I made 18-20 meatballs that were about golf-ball sized or a teensy bit larger.  This would also be a fabulous recipe to use to shape patties for burgers, though I'd recommend reducing the bread crumbs and using butter (per the original recipe, 3/4 cup) instead of olive oil.

The original recipe calls for shaping these over metal skewers and grilling over charcoal; serve in pita or with salad. I suspect the flavor would be even more incredible if I had a grill to use.

Served with pieces of fresh lavash bread from the local market and a side of steamed cauliflower. I sprinkled the meatballs with some of the leftover chopped parsley. :) 

* In late January, I joined Weight Watchers, and have lost 12+ pounds to date; I have about 15 more to go before I reach a weight I want to try to maintain. Part of my success is having a larger breakfast and much lighter rest of the day. The other part is not going wild on weekends, but not counting Points, either - there's a limit to how much guilt and paranoia I can handle when it comes to my food. :)

Friday, February 18, 2011


Well, don't expect any photo posts from me for a while - burglars got into the house and in addition to taking just about ALL of my jewelry (I have a few plastic and costume pieces left that weren't in my jewelry box at the time), a large amount of Mom's good stuff, and my late father's wedding ring (from the funeral box, no less - we are PISSED about that one), they also snagged both of my digital cameras from the shelf above my computer. Mom came home and interrupted them before they could get her laptop or my computers (I have an ancient Mac laptop in addition to the ancient IBM thinkpad I use for my internet habits).

So. No camera. Bah. (Also, the graphite for fingerprinting gets EVERYWHERE and I'm still reaching into my BPAL stash to come up with black all over my fingers. And I thought I'd cleaned it all thoroughly. So.)

I did hit up Sephora today on the recommendation of several blogs in the past -- snagged the Clinique bottom lash mascara (OMG, holy grail indeed!), Buxom lip gloss in Dolly (Jury's out on that one - I didn't notice any plumping and I thought it dried my lips out a bit, but the color is nice...), and the Too Faced Shadow Insurance in Candlelight, because I am a lazy sonofa... in the morning and the less my routine takes to look put together, the better.

I also got hit on in the mall. ^___^ It went from "Where'd you get your boots?!" to "... do you have a boyfriend?" Nice guy, trying very hard to NOT be creepy, and the little ego boost was what I needed after a very long few weeks.

So. No makeup pics (like I ever got around to them, anyway) and no kimono shots for a while. I'm considering a Nikon S4000 on sale right now and could get another memory card and a tripod for the rebate amount that's taken off the total price. It works a lot like my long-gone S360, but only comes in silver or red. I miss my purple camera. :( On the bright side, it's a touch-screen instead of all buttons, so that's nice. Either way, it's another expense, and non-essential makeup aside, I already bought some jewelry today to at least have something to wear in my ears at work, so it's going to be a pricey month. Hopefully that bonus that work keeps promising will come in...

Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year, everyone!

That was the kimono I wore today - a lucky motif of shime-kazari / ropes, with a punch of the lucky color red, on a blue muji kimono (since I had to go work at a Tea event, no flashy komon for me). I think it looks festive without being too flashy.

What did you wear today? Any fun outfits?