Friday, March 12, 2010

Celebrating My 30th

Our posts have not been as regular as we like them to be, but that's because we have been busy celebrating. If one is forced to turn 30, I stand firmly on the grounds that a month long celebration is indeed in order. That being said, we have been traveling around and filling our tummies. We have saved up our "processed" meals for this time, and I thought I would give you an idea of how we have been splurging. The following photos document some of our culinary delights. We'll have to go on a cleanse once it's all over and done with, but for now, I'm just enjoying the moments!

*Tacos at La Taqueria on Mission St.*

*The cellar at Mt. Eden Vineyards - high up in the Santa Cruz Mountains*

*Enjoying the wines at Mt. Eden with some Vosges chocolate from Chicago!*

*Dinner at The Plumed Horse in Saratoga*

*Showing off our purchase at Ridge Montebello*

*Riding horses and drinking wine at Cooper-Garrod*

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fighting Childhood Obesity - Chili Mac & Quesadillas

The Boston Globe ran a story yesterday dedicated to the efforts being made to fight childhood obesity and better nourish our children. (Click on the previous link to read the full story and get tips on how to improve your family's health.) I contributed to the article by styling Sheryl's Sweet Potato Quesadillas (a tasty gem of a simple recipe) and creating/ styling the Chili Mac recipe. Both dishes contain lean proteins and an addition of more veggies than are found in traditional versions.

Sweet potato and turkey quesadillas with cheddar
March 10, 2010
Serves 4

2 large sweet potatoes
8 large flour tortillas
2 cups shredded cheddar
4 slices cooked turkey breast, cut into strips
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Set the oven at 425 degrees. Pierce the sweet potatoes 6 or 8 times with a fork. Set them in a roasting pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a skewer. Remove the potatoes from the oven; leave the oven on.
2. Let the potatoes sit until they are cool enough to handle. Halve them lengthwise and scoop the flesh into a bowl. Mash it with a fork.
3. On 2 large baking sheets, arrange 4 of the tortillas so they are not touching. Heat them in the oven for 3 minutes or until they are warm but still pliable; leave the oven on.
4. Line the tortillas up on the counter. Spread them with a thin layer of mashed potatoes, add a sprinkle of cheese, some turkey, salt, and pepper. Cover each round with another tortilla to make a sandwich. Return the tortillas to the hot oven.
5. Bake the quesadillas for 5 to 8 minutes more or until the top round is crisp and the cheese is melting at the edges. Transfer to a cutting board and cut the rounds into quarters.
6. Set 4 quarters on each of 4 plates.
Sheryl Julian

Chili mac
March 10, 2010
Serves 4

Old-fashioned versions of this classic rely on ground beef, ready-made tomato sauce, and regular pasta, and typically do not contain other vegetables. This updated recipe uses ground turkey instead of beef. Choose a mixture of white and dark meat, or use only ground breast meat for the leanest option. Bell pepper, celery, and zucchini provide a healthy dose of veggies; young diners may not even notice them in the dish. Use whole-wheat macaroni, but let the kids choose the shape. Elbows, shells, and even bow ties will work with this presentation. Top each bowl with a few pieces of avocado, giving the dish a fresh look and healthy fats.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey (mixture of white and dark meat)
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup water
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, with their liquid
2 small zucchini, chopped
1/2 pound whole-wheat macaroni or other small pasta
1 avocado, peeled and chopped

1. In a large flameproof casserole, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Brown the turkey, breaking it up with a spoon, for 5 minutes or until it begins to brown.
2. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, salt, and black pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.
3. Add the chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Stir for 1 minute.
4. Add the water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
5. Stir in the kidney beans and zucchini. Return liquid to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and black pepper, if you like.
6. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni or other pasta. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 7 minutes or until pasta is tender but still has some bite. Drain the pasta into a colander; shake it but do not rinse.
7. Divide the noodles among 4 deep bowls. Top with chili and garnish with avocado.