Super Bowl Salad (Plus a Chart Update)

February 7, 2011

Yesterday afternoon I headed over to my cousins’ place for the Super Bowl.  We had decided, earlier in the week, that my contribution to our little family party would be a salad, so after going to Sherri’s Sunday morning class at Slimmons, I got to work on a super salad for the Super Bowl.

I decided to make a pretty traditional spinach salad, but I’d make it special by doing two things I normally don’t ever do: make my own dressing, and make my own croutons.  I can’t remember the last time I made an actual salad dressing, and I don’t think I’ve ever made croutons, but how hard can they be?  (This is what they call foreshadowing.)

I invented my salad dressing recipe, which was a Grapefruit Honey Mustard.  I juiced a grapefruit that I had plucked from Tavi’s tree, and added a few tablespoons of dijon mustard (I should have measured, for the recipe’s sake, but oh well), and a few tablespoons of honey.  I also threw in a teaspoon of poppy seeds, and three scallions.  After incorporating it all with a whisk, it was ready to go:

In addition to being delicious, this dressing is almost fat-free (that teaspoon of poppy seeds added 1 gram of fat, hence the ‘almost’).

For the croutons, I cut up 5 slices of sourdough bread, sprayed them with a little Pam – just enough to get some seasonings to stick – then started ransacking my spice rack:  I tossed in garlic salt, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and a little Mrs. Dash, then tossed the croutons a little bit, spread them out on a baking sheet, and popped them under the broiler to toast up.  Couldn’t be easier, right?  Well, here’s what happens when you leave croutons under the broiler for too long:

Not so tasty.  But since one of my cousins had specifically (although jokingly) requested croutons, and I didn’t want to have to stop at the store, I decided to salvage what I could.  That involved about fifteen minutes of cutting off a lot of burnt parts and tossing a lot of croutons in the trash altogether, but in the end, I was able to put together this presentable container:

I also hard-boiled some eggs for the salad, which went off without a hitch, unlike the last time I hard-boiled eggs, when I didn’t cook them enough.  I love Horizon Organic eggs – I think they may be my favorite eggs out there!

Oh, and I nearly forgot – here’s the salad itself:

That’s a whole lotta spinach, four hard-boiled egg whites (I didn’t use the yolks), cherry tomatoes, 1/4 of a red onion (thinly sliced), and mushrooms.  I forgot to take a picture at my cousins’ place of the finished product, but it looked like that, with dressing and croutons.  I’m sure you can imagine it.

The salad was a hit, and there weren’t any leftovers, although I wouldn’t have minded if there were, since it was a good salad!

Lastly, I don’t know why I haven’t blogged about this yet, but the other day I had a weigh-in, and I’m down another pound!  That puts my weight at 241 pounds, and my weight loss at 161 pounds.  Here’s my updated chart:

Keep it up, David!

What’s In The Crockpot? Part One

January 4, 2011

Don’t fret.  The very-popular What’s In The RediSetGo? posts aren’t going away, even if it has been a long time since I’ve posted one (see the most recent one, from before Thanksgiving, here).  In the meantime, I was inspired yesterday to dust off the ol’ Crockpot, one of my favorite kitchen vessels, so remove your shoes, belts, and any metal from your pockets, and place all your liquids in a clear one-quart bag, because it’s time to play What’s in the Crockpot?

Are you ready?

What’s in the Crockpot?

Squash and Sweet Potato Soup is in the Crockpot!

Like most crocked foods, it took hours for the soup to look like this, so I’ll start at the beginning, which, in this case, was in November, when I came home from the store with a table queen squash.  Remember this guy?  Probably not.  I forgot all about him until I came home the other night from my travels and saw him there on my counter.  I placed an apple alongside to provide a size comparison:

A table queen is a type of winter squash, like butternut or acorn, and they’re called winter squashes because they’ll last from when they’re harvested in the fall all the way through the winter, which was helpful for people back in the days before refrigeration, when fresh food in the cold winter months was sparse.  Because of this, I had no qualms that this squash, purchased 6 weeks ago, would be perfectly good and delicious.

I found this recipe for Butternut and Sweet Potato Soup on the New York Times website, and decided to adapt it, first by using table queen instead of butternut squash, and second by using a crockpot instead of cooking it on the stove.  Adapting recipes for a crockpot doesn’t involve rocket science – in many cases, you can just throw all the ingredients in the crock and then walk away for, like, half the day or more.

The first step was prepping my ingredients.  I started by peeling the table queen and scooping out the seeds.  Has anyone peeled a squash before?  It’s a pain in the ass.  At least butternuts are smooth – this table queen has valleys all around it, like a pumpkin, and my crappy little vegetable peeler can’t get in there.  I was half done when I took this picture:

I also peeled two sweet potatoes, and 2 regular potatoes, and 1 small knob of fresh ginger (in the bottom right of the picture):

I diced up the veggies, along with 1/2 of a large white onion, and grated the ginger, and it all went in the crockpot:

I skipped the first step of the NY Times recipe, which was sauteing the onion and ginger, and because I skipped it, I omitted from my crockpot the tablespoon of oil the recipe called for.  Leaving out the oil means leaving out the fat!  The recipe also called for 6 cups of stock, but I only added 4, partly because crockpots have a way of pulling much more water out of every ingredient than you thought could ever exist, and partly because I only bought one 4-cup box of low-sodium vegetable stock at the store.

I set the crockpot on high, and walked away for 4 hours.  When I came back, I sampled a few pieces of the veggies, and they were definitely cooked through and tender.  So I pulled out the blender, and began pureeing the soup, in batches:

After I had it all pureed, it went back into the crockpot for about another 1/2 hour, while I ran out to the store to buy croutons, because I really wanted croutons with my soup.  Here’s the finished product (the croutons are Marie Callendar’s fat-free caesar croutons):

The soup is tasty, with a smooth and creamy texture, and it doesn’t taste fat-free, even though it is.  It may be a little on the bland side – perhaps I could have used more ginger (crockpots tend to bleach out spices and things like ginger or garlic, so maybe I should have just added it later in the cooking process).  I ate two bowls nevertheless.

And, there’s lots of leftovers! Now I have 4 Gladware containers of soup – 1 in my fridge for tomorrow or the next day, and 3 in my freezer to eat at a later date.  I love healthy meals that I can just reheat and enjoy!

Keep it up, David!