Monday, March 29, 2010

Spring is awesome(sauce)!

Ah, spring. I can't believe it's finally starting to prevail against the long and cold winter. I'm really looking forward to getting out for some walks, taking photos, getting some yard work done, and cooking with some fresh, spring-y produce.

I'm lucky enough to work across the street from the Discovery Center, so daily walks (when the weather cooperates) have become my thing over the last few weeks. I love seeing the ducks and geese and squirrels and whatnot celebrating the arrival of a new spring season. I also love that I have a peaceful, serene place to go to get some mid-day exercise. I may curse the building I work in for being in disrepair, but location-wise, I couldn't be happier.

However...

Even those of us who are trying to live healthier have sweet tooths. I know I do. So what's a trying-to-be-healthy girl to do when a sweet craving comes on (one can only eat so many grapes)? Why, make cookies, of course!

These cookies are, by far, the best cookies I've ever made. And they taste even better when you realize that they are not terrible for you! As I've said before, and I'll say again - just because something isn't bad for you doesn't mean it tastes bad. Not only do these NOT taste bad, they taste better than darn near any cookie out there. Make these, and you won't go back to the basic, high-fat chocolate chip cookies. I promise.

Lynn’s Awesomesauce Cookies



Servings: about 40 cookies
Weight Watchers Points: 1.5 per cookie

3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) salted butter, softened
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla
1 egg
2 c. whole-wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. milk chocolate chips
3/4 c. peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix sugars, butter, applesauce, vanilla and egg in a large bowl. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt. Stir in chocolate and peanut butter chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 8 – 10 minutes or until light brown (centers will be soft). Cool on a rack and enjoy!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hook, line and sinker.

This is Coco. He's a happy, if a tad aggressive, resident of our fish tank.



Coco has big plans for the weekend...

If things go as expected...



He'll be showing you his O Face.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Raw and the Cooked.

Brag time.

I'm finally down to fitting in a jeans size I can't remember wearing since high school.

I wore a shirt the other day for the first time that I bought 3 years ago - at the time, I thought I'd fit into it "eventually."

I'm actually looking forward to summer for the first time in many years, because I'll be able to wear short-sleeved shirts without feeling self-conscious.

AND - how's this for TMI - I have now lost enough weight that I finally had to invest in new bras.

I'm not done yet, but I'm getting there. If I have any regrets, they are that I didn't do this 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago. But I'm doing it now, and every day I'm healthier than the day before.

Okay, enough bragging. Well, maybe not quite. I finished a sewing project the other day - I made a set of sushi-themed dinner napkins for some friends and gave them to them when we met for a sushi dinner at Sakura.

That was such a fun project! I'm working on another set in a different theme right now, and have lots of ideas for projects waiting in the wings.

With the weather getting nicer, it's going to be harder to find time to spend sewing, but I'll make it work. Especially since Mr. Awesome and I started a marathon of Lost last week (thanks, Hulu!). We hadn't watched the show, so we started watching over the weekend and have made it almost to the end of Season 2. Our goal is to catch up by the time the finale airs, but that's ambitious. Lost is like a Dan Brown novel - every episode ends on a cliffhanger so you can't wait to get to the next episode. We're liking it a lot - DON'T TELL US ANYTHING ABOUT IT!!

Speaking of the weather changing, with spring trying desperately to make an appearance, I thought I'd try coaxing it on with some artichokes, tomatoes and fresh basil. The resulting dish is one we'll be making again. It's easy, healthy and, most importantly, delicious.

This has it all - the richness of salmon, the freshness of basil and tomatoes, the savoriness of artichoke and mushroom, and what isn't great about pesto? Nothing, that's what.

Pesto Salmon with Roasted Artichoke Hearts, Mushrooms and Tomatoes
Servings: 2
Weight Watchers Points:  9 per serving

2 c. fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp. walnuts, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 (9 ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and rinsed
1 small package mushrooms, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
2 (6 ounce) skinless salmon fillets

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat an appropriately sized baking pan with cooking spray.

In a blender or food processor, combine the basil, walnuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, olive oil and salt to taste. Blend until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.

Toss the artichoke hearts, mushrooms and tomatoes together and arrange in 2 separate mounds in the prepared pan. Sprinkle with the thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Place one salmon fillet on top of each vegetable mound and season with salt and pepper. Spread the basil mixture on the fillets.

Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the fillets are no longer translucent in the center and the fish flakes when pressed with a fork. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Four boxes + packing tape + Exacto knife + 30 minutes of time = Awesomecat condo!

Inspired by a post over at reddit.com, we took advantage of an abundance of empty computer boxes from work and made Grizz his own Tower of Power!



We'll be expanding it outwards and upwards in the coming days, but for now he seems pretty content with the current results.

In other news, I roasted my first chicken the other night and, despite my noobish self roasting it upside down, it was delicious. Cook and learn, right? ;)

We've been keeping up with the cooking of new stuff lately, and in that spirit, I will share with you one of the hits. Luckily, there have been very few misses. Aside from being tasty, this dish has the distinction of having one of the funniest names around.

Singapore Chow Mai Fun
Servings: 4
Weight Watchers Points: 5 per serving

5 ounces mai fun (rice sticks or rice noodles)
1/2 c. chicken broth
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
3/4 tsp. chili-garlic sauce
1 tsp. sugar
6 ounces lean ground pork
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. curry powder
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat; add the mai fun and soak until softened, about 5-6 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Combine the broth, soy sauce, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce and sugar in a small bowl and set aside.

Spray a wok with cooking spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the pork and stir-fry until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the onion, garlic and curry powder. Stir-fry until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Add the broth mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, about 1 minute. Add the noodles and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

NOTES: This dish tasted just like something you’d get from a good Chinese Restaurant. The ground pork is so juicy and different from the normal protein we usually use. The noodles are so good in this, too – a nice change from rice. Be careful not to add too much heat or it will become overwhelming. Trust me on this.