Wednesday, November 24, 2010

This takes the cake.

Wow, can't believe that it's been 10 days since I've posted, but the next few days will hopefully be worth it. I promised in the last post to let you know how the cake turned out, so sorry that it's taken so long. The cake was in honor of my father in law's birthday and he got to enjoy it for four long days. Happy Day, Papa!!

The best story of the whole adventure had to do with the eggs. Norah had gotten up from her nap early and aided me in making the batter. She's a great sous chef and handed each egg to me as a painstakingly cracked each one into the stand up mixer which was running on low. Just a reminder, I NEVER bake and in hindsight should have cracked the eggs into another bowl first, but I didn't. So, on egg four, PLOP, in goes the egg and half of the shell. Damn. I quickly turn off the mixer, but flip the switch the wrong way. HOLY CRAP!! Once I finally got it turned off, I spend the next five minutes fishing shell out of the batter. Not good. Thankfully, I seemed to get all of the shell out, at least no one mentioned anything crunchy.

It was definitely a labor of love (started it at 2:30pm and sliced it at 7:30pm) and I screwed up a bunch, but it was SO worth it! The cake tasted great. It was moist, chocolaty (if that is a word), and crumbly. But, the best part of the cake had to be the frosting....Oh, that frosting. Make it and find out. You'll NEVER have frosting out of a can again.

Oh, and we had leftovers! Here's your piece:

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Warm Salad Dinners Part 2

Wednesday night was a bit cooler here in Connecticut, so my warm salad theme worked a little better than the night before. I found this recipe, but wanted to add a bit to it to make it dinner sized.

Ham and Eggs with Roasted Squash and Pecorino

1 large butternut squash
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground coriander
18 slices of prosciutto
5 cups baby arugula
4 tbls olive oil, divided
2 tbls white balsamic vinegar (regular would work as well)
1 1/2 oz pecorino cheese
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a small bowl, add your balsamic, then whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside.

Peel butternut squash and slice in half, discarding the seeds. Cut into 2 inch cubes and place in roasting pan. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the squash then sprinkle with the chili powder and coriander. Cook for 45-60 minutes or until tender. Keep warm.

Now, the prosciutto preparation is up to you. I like mine a little crisp, but some don't. I took the slices and put them on a cookie sheet and threw them into the oven with the squash until they were just starting to get crisp. Take out and set aside. I like to cut into strips or crumble, depending on how crisp you like it.

In a big bowl, add your arugula, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then add your balsamic viniagrette to your taste. I used about half. Toss well and add equal portions to 4 large plates.

The egg is up to you. I either pan fry mine, sunny side up, with a little cooking spray, cook it in a coffee mug, ala the egg mcmuffin, or poach it. Which ever way you choose, just make sure the yolk is a little soft.

Ok, after all of that, place the squash on the greens. Add the prosciutto. Grate the pecorino cheese over all of it, then top with the egg.


Serves 4 (453 calories per serving)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

"That's Hot!"

It's cold here in Connecticut and when I woke yesterday morning there was a fine layer of white on the grass. So, what do you suppose I would conjure up for dinner? Soup? Stew? Warm biscuits? Nope, salad.

My sincerest apologies to those of you who thought this blog post was going to be about Paris Hilton. I'm taking this opportunity to jump into a realm of food that I haven't spent much time thinking about and took it as a challenge when Amy suggested that we do another salad week. So, with respect to our favorite non-celebrity celebrity, I give to you: The hot salad.

While perusing the Internet for ideas, I came across a Bon Appetit recipe for a spinach salad and became intrigued. As most of you know, the fun of cooking these days for me is finding a recipe and lightening it. So, I set off to do just that. The salad by Bon Appetit, as written, was over 700 calories a serving and didn't have enough components to be a "dinner" salad, thus giving me two challenges: Lighten it while adding more ingredients. Needless to say, I was happy with the results. Hell, that's why you're reading about it!

Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Feta Dressing
(As adapted from Bon Appetit)

24oz cherry tomatoes
1 large red onion
4 tbls olive oil, divided
6oz turkey bacon, cut into small pieces
10oz baby spinach
6oz feta cheese, fat free
2 tbls sherry vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place tomatoes and whole unpeeled onion in separate roasting pans. Drizzle one tablespoon of oil over each pans component, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

When oven is preheated, add the pan with the onion and roast for 1 hour. When the onion is finished, take out and let cool. Add tomatoes to the oven and let them roast for 15-20 minutes. Take out and set aside.

While the tomatoes are roasting, cook the bacon in a skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Drain and set aside. Save pan.

When onion is cool enough to touch, cut off the root, peel and slice thinly lengthwise.

In bacon pan, place the feta cheese and vinegar, cooking over medium low heat for 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the remaining 2 tbls of oil and turn off heat.

On 4 large place, evenly split the baby spinach and top each with equal portions of onion, tomatoes and bacon. Spoon dressing over each to taste or put it into a bowl for guests to add for themselves.

Serves 4 (375 calories per)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Dear time change,

Thank you so much for the extra hour of sleep on Sunday except, of course, for those of us with young kids. In that case, thank you for completely wrecking what was a blissful and wonderful stretch of good sleep in our house.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

A corny story....

Tonight Norah had her weekly dance class and I was left alone with "the boy." I enjoy him immensely, but he is very busy and it's hard to get anything accomplished. I was in charge of preparing dinner while the girls were gone, so Cole and I headed to the market. Cole LOVES the market and the trip was uneventful. Picked up some salad greens, ginger, firm tofu and baby wipes....the wipes were not for dinner.

Headed home and unpacked while Cole drew with chalk on the deck and brought leaves into the house. Unfortunately, dinner preparations were derailed by one moment. The following is a reenactment:

Cole @ my spice drawer: "SHAKE!" (wanting one of my spice containers)

Dadda: "Ok, bubby. Here's the fennel seed."

Cole: "MOE SHAKE!" translation - "I would like another container to shake, please"

Dadda: "Really!? Fine, I need to get something done, so here are the peppercorns."

Cole: "Dank goo." translation - "thank you"

Now I'm back to prepping greens in the big a$$ bowl and start grating the ginger for the salad dressing......

Cole: "OPEN!"

Dadda: "Bubby, I am not opening the peppercorns."

Cole: "OPEN!"

Dadda: "It's going to make a mess."



Dadda: "Where's the vacuum?"

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hey there, cupcake!

My kids love a project. Whether it's Norah donning her apron and stirring my dressings or like right now, it's Cole ravaging my spice cabinet....."COLE, GET OUT OF MY SPICES!" Today, Amy and the kids ran behind the house and grabbed some cupcake mix.

Anyone here not like cupcakes? No one? I didn't think so. Really, cupcakes may be the perfect dessert. Moist, frosted cake in handheld form. But, I may be biased. I LOVE cake......but.

The "but" of this joke are the nutritional facts on the classic cupcake. Did you know that a Betty Crocker mix yields 12 delicious cupcakes that weigh in at 250 calories each? Oh, and those are unfrosted. Yikes!! Now, I'm not one of those ccrraazzzyy, no sugar, no way, no how sort of people. but the reason that we've been so successful with our weight loss is that we're always looking for alternatives. These are really flippin good. really. really. good.

Enter Hungry Girl's Pina Colada Cupcakes.

Pina Colada Cupcakes (modified)
For cupcakes:
2 cups moist-style yellow cake mix (1/2 of an 18.25 oz box)
1 1/2 eight oz cans crushe dpineaspple in juice (not drained)

For frosting:
4 oz canned crushed pineapple in juice (drained)
1 Jello sugar Free Vanilla Pudding snack
1 1/2 tablespoons fat-free cream cheese, room temp
1 no-calorie sweetener packet

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all frosting ingredients and mix until blended. Refrigerate until cupcakes are ready to be frosted.

In a large mixing bowl, combine cake mix with undrained pineapple. Mix until thoroughly blended.

Line a 12 cup muffin pan with baking cups and/or spray with nonstick spray. Evenly distribute the cake mixture among the cups.

Bake in over for about 20 minutes, until a toothpick interted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Allow cupcakes to cool completely, then evenly distribute frosting over the tops. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Nutrition info: (per one FROSTED cupcake): 115 calories, 1.75g fat, 171 mg sodium, 23g carbs, <0.5g>

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Dora inspired cuisine pt 2

As promised, I'm back with highlights and the taco recipe!

Overall, I was very happy with the results, although I need more practice with making the tortillas. I couldn't seem to get them thin enough for my taste, but they were still very delicious. Also, my grill decided not to work, so I had to use the broiler. Besides that, it went well. It helped that Norah sang the "map" song during most of the prep. I was certainly in the spirit!
Here's the recipe and a couple of pictures to whet your appetite. I'll be back later with yet another Dora inspired meal. This time, something souper.

Pork and Pineapple Tacos
adapted from Steven Reichlen's Healthy Latin Cooking

1 small pineapple, cleaned and diced (you can use canned tidbits in a pinch)
1 lb pork loin, cut into 1/2 in cubes
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs chili powder
1/2 tbs salt
1/2 tbs pepper
1/2 tbs cumin
1 large onion
1 cup pineapple juice
2 tbls red-wine vinegar
1 cup finely shredded cabbage
1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
salsa of your choice
8 corn tortillas*
*note- one 6 in. corn tortilla = 45 calories
one 6 in. flour tortilla = 110 calories

In a bowl, mix the pork, garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cumin. Slice the onion thinly and add half to the bowl with the pork along with the pineapple juice and vinegar. Cover and marinate in the fridge for an hour.

While your grill is preheating, put the other half of chopped onion, chopped cilantro, chopped cabbage, and salsa into individual serving bowls.

Strain pork and onions from marinade and discard (the marinade not the meat....) In a grill basket or on foil, grill your meat, pineapple and onions until pork reaches desired doneness, approx 2 minutes a side. Transfer to platter or large bowl. Place tortillas on still warm grill for 10 seconds a side or until soft and pliable.

For service, take tortilla and place pieces of grilled pork, onions, and pineapple in tortilla and top with some onion, cabbage, cilantro, and salsa. Enjoy!

(1 taco = 197 calories)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

What's in your glass?

Last night I had the pleasure of consuming one of my all time favorite beers, Shipyard Brewing Co's Blue Fin Stout. First brewed by the company in 1993, I still remember my first taste during my tour of the brewery. Since then, it has been the stout that I judge all others by and am thrilled to have access to it again now that we're back east.
This jet black classic Irish stout is incredibly smooth and is not overly filling. It also has a very low ABV% (alcohol by volume) at 4.7, which means I can sip a couple and not feel badly about it.

What's in your glass tonight?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dora inspired cuisine

I'm sure we're not the only ones, but our house has been invaded by Dora. Dora dominates the conversation, pretend play, and pretty much everything else. So, I've decided to embrace it.

Latin cuisine has always been a passion of mine and I tend to steer toward those flavors when I'm just throwing something together. I love the way cumin seeds and chilies smell when they're toasting. I love the way a simple pork dish tastes after it has simmered in tomatillos and cilantro. I love the taste of fresh made corn tortillas. Ummm.....starting to get hungry.

This morning, Dora, Boots (Norah and Cole) and I headed to Whole Foods to procure a bag of Masa Harina which is a type of corn flour used to make tortillas. Tacos are a major favorite of mine and it's so nice to have warm homemade tortillas to fill. They're (tortillas) very easy to make, but living in New England limits my access to Masa Harina. It seems that it is sold seasonally here, which makes no sense to me. Back to the taco topic.

Tonight's taco of choice: Tacos al pastor, a pork taco made on a vertical rotisserie (think gyro meat style) with a giant ring of pineapple placed on top while it cooks. Since I have no such gadget, I will be marinading my pork loin cubes (1/2 inch sized) in pineapple juice.

I'll be back later today with pictures and the recipe.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bright like the son

A couple of posts ago I introduced you to my daughter Norah and so, felt it was time to introduced the other member of McBee party of 4. Cole Michael. Born at a robust 10.5 lbs (God bless my wife) he has remained large in more ways than just his size.

Someone asked me one time whether my daughter was a happy baby. I answered "I guess. Aren't all babies happy?" Well, Cole changed that for me. He was/is happy....almost always. We were very worried about how he was going to change the dynamic of our little family when he was born, but he has added pure joy.

That said, we think he is brilliant. I know, I know, everyone thinks their kids are brilliant, but I really think he might be. He's very verbal with somewhere around 60 words and he also has about 50 signs that he uses as well. And, last night, he counted to 8.....really. Not just once. He glances over the 5, but the kid can count to 8. Now I'm sure there is some logical explanation for it, but this is my blog, so I get to brag and think he's amazing. By the way, he's only 16 months.

So, that's Cole. More from him later.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cool Running

I am a runner.

Wow, that doesn't seem possible. See, I have never had any interest in running. Pretty much zero. When I was in 8th grade track, I switched to the field sports after two weeks....I was maybe 100 lbs.

But, after dealing with the ups and downs (mostly ups) of my weight over the last ten years and ballooning to nearly 220lbs after the birth of Cole, I decided enough was enough!

We (Amy and I) started running in December of last year. At first, I could barely make it 10-15 minutes without stopping, but we slowly progressed. In Jan, we took the kids to Disney World and fell in love with the idea of running the Disney Half Marathon the next year. I even talked my sisters and brothers in laws into running it with us.

And so, we have been training. It's been a lot of fun and we've had a lot of hurdles, like finding time to run 4 times a week with 2 young kids and one of us having a VERY full time job. But, we've figured it out and we have just completed our second really long run: 7 miles. I've amazed myself, really, considering where I'd been 9 months earlier.

Why am I just talking about this now? Well, if you've seen me in the last year, you would know that this is all I talk about..... If you haven't, I figured that we still had 3 months to go, it will be one of the bigger parts of my life during that time, and assumed it would make the blog a couple thousand times.

Stayed tuned!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You think you're SO smart...

Just in case you didn't know or don't know me, I have kids. Two, actually. This is where I could go on and on about how they're the "light of my life" or the "best thing that ever happened to me" and......that would all be absolutely true! Seriously, I love my kids. They are a joy and they make my days very interesting.

As a stay at home parent, I have lots of opportunities to enjoy them and to deal with the moods that come over most 3 year olds and 1 year olds. Most moods are great! Lots of giggles, hysterical laughter, and all around silliness. Some are....not so good, but those only come up from time to time. For this post, I'll stop and leave you with an anecdote and an introduction to my 3.5 year old:

Norah is my daughter. She is, well, her mother. Amazing, emotional, intense, brilliant and an absolute joy to be around. As the first born and a pure gift (we had 2 miscarriages before we were blessed with her), she has stolen my heart. With all of that, the best thing about Norah is that she is a walking "sound bite." I couldn't begin to retell the stories about Norah and the way she sees the world, but every once in a while, I'll post a little snippet:

Yesterday, Norah and Amy (my wife) were looking at a toy catalog that we had received in the mail that day. After Norah had flipped through it a few times, she began to tell us what she wanted for Christmas and her birthday. The one that stood out to her was a large play hospital for Playmobil figures that had everything from the doctors and nurses to the beds and ambulance. Amy asked her if we should start her letter to Santa to let him know and she responded, "No. He'll only bring me the ambulance. I think I'll write to Nana. She'll bring me the whole thing!"

Monday, September 13, 2010

Texas surprise

For the last four days, I have been in Texas.....more specifically, North Richland Hills, TX. It's between Dallas and Fort Worth, but it is more Fort Worth than Dallas. The moment I landed, I began to sweat. Not a, "Oh, it's a little warm here" sweat, but a "OH MY GOD! IT'S F'ing HOT HERE! sweat. It was 9am.

Anyway, I headed to Texas to spend a little time with my father in law, by myself, no kids. It was the first time I had left the fam for this long and I was very anxious. But, Amy approved the visit and we called for reinforcements; Nana. They were in good hands.

So, the trip to Texas was a little break from the norm for me, but it was also a working trip. My FIL retired in June from his job down there and needed to move his things back to Maine, so I volunteered to help. The days were very busy, but we did find time for some football (bar for OSU v Miami (FL) and great seats for TCU v Tennesee Tech @ Amon Carter Stadium), beer (lots of Shiner Bock....mmmm), and a couple of amazing meals (Old Barn BBQ for brisket....yum and tacos al carbon @ Anejo.)

"What's the surprise?" you ask? Well, in a word, Sangrita. No, not the Spanish wine made with fruit. That's Sangria, no T. This, my friends, is an amazing concoction of tomato juice, orange juice, lime juice, worchestershire sauce, chilies, and onion. Fan-flippin-tasic! Picture a very spicy Bloody Mary with orange juice served in a shot glass.

I've had this many times, as it's commonly served with tequila (future post), but this specific Sangrita was so spicy, so pungent, yet a little fruity, that I had to have more. The first two shots I consumed as I was savoring a shot of Don Eduardo and a plate of lightly fried plantains, but the last came in a tumbler which I enjoyed with one of my favorite Mexican beer, Modelo. Happy!

All in all, a great trip to Texas (Thanks, Mike) and a rediscovery of a favorite beverage!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ode to the Tomato part 2

When it comes to these delectable spheres, I'm a purist. I do mostly salads with herbs (basil/oregano) or cheese (goat/mozzarella) or other veggies (fennel/cucumber/olives) or just throw together a huge bowl of gazpacho (see recipe below). This time, however, we had some unexpected guests stop by and I wanted to show off at least a little bit. Enter the Tomato Tart.

Now, I'm pretty new at this blog thing and so some of you might not know what my biggest culinary fear is. Well, it's flour. I have a fear of flour or really, anything that has to do with baking. I suck at it. Really, truthfully, suck. Thank god for puff pastry. Two sheets of frozen dough that, once thawed and cooked, makes you look like Julia Child.

This stuff was as hard as a rock when it came out of the freezer, but a quick zap of the microwave allowed me to unfold and roll out the dough pretty easily. The key to this tart thing is to make sure that the tomatoes don't make the dough too mushy, so they suggest making a barrier under the tomato. I decided on mustard, as I didn't have the sour cream that the recipe suggested. On top of the mustard, I layered the tomatoes and put the whole thing in the oven. 45 minutes later, we had a piping hot masterpiece.

Did I mention, Thank God for Puff Pastry!!

Chunky Gazpacho


  • 4 cups coarsely chopped tomato (about 2 pounds)
  • 16oz tomato juice
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped peeled cucumber (about 1 large)
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped Vidalia or other sweet onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced


Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; stir well. Cover and chill.

(4 servings - 95 calories per serving)

Ode to the Tomato part 1

There is but one season that Amy and I live for: Tomato season. It's exciting! It's glorious! It's....tomato-tastic!

Seriously though, there are few foods that get us more excited during the summer growing season. Why? Well, in short, it is one of the few foods that cannot be duplicated during it's "off" season. *Those tomatoes that you buy in the grocery in December just can't stand up to the August tomato. Sure, they taste fine, but they are best left to soups, stews, and sauces.

With that said, the McBee family made their way to our favorite farmer's market over the weekend and ended up with a plethora of heirloom and garden variety tomatoes. So many that we pretty much had some sort of tomato dish for every meal from lunch Sunday to lunch Thursday....well maybe not EVERY meal, but I did contemplate adding some to my rice krispies this morning.
*no, I am not a tomato snob and yes, I do make salsa in December. Ok, I got that off my chest.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


To all of my reader (ahem), I apologize for my lack of posts as I have been on vacation. A wonderful, relaxing, food filled trip to my beloved Maine: where lobster throw themselves onto your plate ready to be cracked and dipped into butter. A full report to follow!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Beet It!

Amy is a beet fanatic. Really, she loves the things. So, because of that, I try to find a lot of ways to prepare them. Let's call them "brownie points." We've enjoyed them in many ways (see post #1), but our absolute favorite has to be with goat cheese and oranges.

I've made this recipe a bunch of different ways, but tonight I decided to make a quick vinaigrette and throw everything onto a bed of greens. After roasting the beets all afternoon, ok, actually I bought them precooked from Trader, after opening the package, I diced them small and put them in a bowl with a little of the vinaigrette I made using orange juice, a little beet juice, and canola oil. Tossed in some segmented orange that I diced and then added crumbled goat cheese. Remember, a little goes a long way with goat cheese......An 1/8 -1/4 cup is fine for one orange and 6 medium beets. Little salt and pepper and set it aside while I prepared the greens.

Greens went into the BAB (big ass bowl...see last post) with vinaigrette to taste and then to the platter where they were united with the purple (and orange) goodness. Very simple, very easy and VERY delicious!

Tomorrow, Bean Supper!

Friday, August 6, 2010

"The bowl"

Where would I be this week without "the bowl"? It is silver, dented and VERY large. Oh, and I found it on the side of the road. Don't worry, it wasn't garbage, but it was in a pile of things marked "free" in some one's driveway. When we found it, Amy exclaimed that I would never use it, but I have and I do and I will there.

"The bowl" is what I use to help save us from, what is quite possibly the biggest caloric issue with salads today, the salad dressing. In general, there is not a lot of nutritional value in salad dressing, but they taste SO good. Not to mention, who wants salad without dressing? Rabbits?

I've learned 2 things about salad:

1) Salad still tastes good and sometimes better with less salad dressing, but the key is to make sure every ounce is covered. Grab a bowl and put all of your ingredients in it. Add a little dressing, then use your hands (or spoon) and mix until your ingredients are all covered. Taste it. If it's not enough, add some more.

2) Don't be afraid to make your own salad dressing. It's easy! No, really. Do you have a bowl? Do you have a whisk? Oil? Vinegar of some kind? The best way to cut calories in any food is to cut the oil from its preparation, so make your own and decide how much you like. The standard equation for a vinaigrette is 2 parts oil (1 tablespoon equals 100 calories) to 1 part vinegar (1 tablespoon equals 20 calories), but I really prefer more of a 1:1 ratio......saves me 100 calories in my dressing alone. Put the vinegar in a separate bowl from your ingredients. Add anything else you like (spices, 1 tsp mustard, maple syrup) and slowly add your oil while you whisk. Tada!

Now, go out and find your really big bowl!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Basic Math

That's what makes Salad Week so productive, so simple, so...awesome. For today's word problem, let's tackle Jicama Pineapple Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette (as adapted from Bon Appetit Cookbook).

Cilantro Vinaigrette:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil (100 calories/tablespoon x3 tablespoons=300 cal)
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar (3 calories/tablespoon x3 tablespoons=9 cal)
1 small shallot, minced (free)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (1 calorie)
1/4 tsp cumin (free)

Jicama Pineapple Salad:
1 small Jicama cut matchbook sized (140 calories)
1 1/2 cups cubed pineapple (78 calories/cup x1.5 cups=117 calories)
3 ounces salad greens (15 calories) (Yes, REALLY.)

Combine salad ingredients in large bowl, toss with vinaigrette to taste.
Serves 2 entree portions.

Okay, here comes the math. If you're following at home, that comes to a grand total of 582 calories. Or 291 calories per person. If you use the whole vinaigrette and lick the plate. I used 3/4 of the vinaigrette which takes the total per person down to 254 calories. If you round up. That's what makes Salad Week work. Three ounces of salad greens (do you know how much that is??? You're exhausted from greens before you run out of available food) for 15 calories. A satisfying salad with good flavor, texture, and plenty of calories left over for dessert.* Yum, dessert.
*We have been eating on a roughly 300 calorie breakfast/ 300 calorie lunch/ 500 calorie dinner plan with 2 x200 calorie snacks and 100 calories of dessert daily= 1600 calories. It worked both before we worked out and since we've started exercising regularly. This is referred to in future posts as the 3/3/5 plan.

What's on your kitchen counter?

Amy and I had a moment today that could only be explained with a picture. So, what's on your kitchen counter?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Feeling blue......

The market behind my house is a godsend. It allows me to decide what I'm going to make for dinner completely at the last minute.....which is what I do.....almost every day. When I don't have a market in my backyard, I screw-ed.

So, I head through the yard with my 3 year old and 1 year old in tow and have to make the first of many important decisions: which shopping cart? You see, our market has MANY different choices and they all elicit different responses.

The "wagon" is a favorite, but doesn't hold much food and the two kids end up bashing poor old women in the legs with it. The "regular" cart, well, it's just not fun at all. The last cart is the mini kid sized cart. Let's just say we imposed a McBee family ban on these types of carts.......before the market banned my children altogether. Apparently, sharing is not an option.

BUT! What's this? Someone has left two oversized car carts outside of the market. You know, the ones where the car (or fire truck, or police car) is attached to the front, they seat two kids, have steering wheels, seat two kids, have seat belts, and did I mention, it seats two kids. Who cares that the market has REALLY small aisles and that this monstrosity is impossible to turn with both kids in seats two kids!!

This shopping trip was glorious. I almost forgot that I had brought the kids. I quickly maneuvered my way through the store picking up ingredients for Cobb Salad with Green Goddess dressing. Parsley, tarragon, green onion and garlic from produce, chicken cutlets from the butcher and lastly, the biggest piece of blue cheese you have ever seen. Seriously. I love my market, but it is small and while they do have most things I need, they don't always have a lot of choices. So, need 1 oz of blue cheese equals buy 12 ozs. Let me know, I'll mail you some.

So, Salad Week Day 1 is ready to go. And what better salad to kick off Salad Week than our favorite? This Cobb Salad is low cal (approximately 453 calories for a pretty darn big salad, including dressing) and fantastic. It has flavor, texture, and lots of food which makes it very satisfying as a first salad for the week. You don't leave wanting more.

Without further ado, Cobb Salad with Green Goddess Dressing!
(modified from Cooking Light 20 salads in 20 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup plain fat-free yogurt
  • 1/8 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons anchovy paste
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • SALAD:
  • 8 cups torn romaine lettuce
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 2 tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges (about 1 pound)
  • 2 hard-cooked large eggs, each cut into 4 wedges
  • 1/2 cup diced peeled avocado
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 ounces) crumbled blue cheese


To prepare dressing, place first 10 ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth. Chill.

To prepare salad, place 4 cups lettuce mixture on each plate. Arrange 6 tablespoons chicken, 4 tomato wedges, 2 egg wedges, 2 tablespoons avocado, and 1 tablespoon cheese over each serving. Serve each salad with 1/4 cup dressing.

Serving size: 2 (453 calories per)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Salad Week

Welcome to Salad Week!

You may ask "What the heck is Salad Week?" First, thanks for asking. Second, Salad Week is what my wife, Amy, and I use to kick start better eating in our house.

Here's the short version of our story. We are yo-yos. In the 14 years we have been together, our weight has, let's say, fluctuated. So, after our second child was born, my wife and I started thinking a little more about what we were eating. After 6 months, she hit a plateau and wanted to do something about it. She asked for my help and Salad Week was born.

Stay Tuned!

Peachy keen

A bag of peaches. That's what I brought home from the farmer's market last week and I had no idea what to do with them. They looked great, but there were a TON of them and they were REALLY ripe....I mean, two handed, juicy faced, two paper toweled, ripe.

So, as the fruit flies started making a plan about how they were going to invade, I quickly decided on a chilled peach soup from a Whole Foods recipe. Verdict: Amazing. Just ask my wife.

Chilled Peach Soup Recipe (adapted from Whole Foods)

8 peaches
2 cups water
1 cup apple juice
1/4 cup honey
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Salt and pepper to taste
Mint sprigs


Bring a medium pot of water to a boil. Cut a small “X” through the bottom of each peach, then drop them into the water to blanch for 20 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer peaches to a bowl of ice water. When peaches are cooled, drain well then peel them, starting from the “X” at the bottom of each peach. Discard skin and pits and transfer peaches to a blender.

Add water, apple juice, honey, lime zest and juice, salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, about 2 hours.

Serves 6 to 8 (Serving size: just over 1/2 cup (90 calories per)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hot. Soup.

Most of us don't tend to think of soup on days where the temps are reaching mid 90's, but that's exactly what happened for me this week. The Sunday trip to the market unearthed some wonderfulness that screamed to be made into a big bowl of soup.

See, I love soup. I make a lot of it, mostly during the colder months. But, I remembered an amazing chilled soup I had enjoyed, with the company of my mother in law, long ago when I lived in St. Louis. I was out to duplicate it!

The large bunches of beets and raspberries were my start, but I needed to find a "base" recipe. The soup in St. Louis was called "Raspberry Borscht," but it had a lighter consistency than any borscht I had ever had. Enter Nigella Lawson and her "Spiced Pink Soup" recipe. It is a very simple combination of beets, lime, coriander, cumin, scallions, and sour cream, but it wasn't quite what I had in mind. It did, however, give me the base that needed.

I choose to slowly roast the beets instead of boiling, as most seem to do before making a traditional borscht. Chilled them, peeled them and threw them into my food processor with some lime, coriander, orange juice and the berries. Strained the whole thing (to get out the seeds) and added some chicken stock.

The result? The pinkest soup you've ever seen. It was earthy and it grew on you, but it wasn't what your palate expected with that color. Definitely worth the time to make, but will need some fine tuning. The chilled peach soup on the other hand....(coming soon WITH recipe!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The joys of the farmers' market

Ah...Sunday in CT means only one thing. The Coventry Farmers' Market. For those of you not fortunate enough to live nearby, this is one bad ass farmer's market. Dozens of white tents in an open field with surprises galore. Goat cheese, short ribs, beet greens, and a guy with a wood-burning oven in the bed of his truck. All under scorching hot sun (or in a muddy soup) with musical accompaniment to boot. And chocolate donuts. It is what I look forward to on Sundays all summer long.

The family and I started our Sunday morning routine with a trip to Target and 5 things on our list. With a full cart and an empty wallet we were done. First the ATM, then the market.

I had nothing specific in mind, but the thing I love about the market is that it is full of inspiration. Previous trips have awarded bags of organic beef, squash blossoms, giant zucchini (for 50 cents each), peaches, cherries, herbs of all kinds, and the requisite cookie...or cupcake...or pie.

Today was hot. Very hot. Undaunted, we put hats on kids' heads and set forth. 45 minutes later, we had a full bag, another empty wallet, and happy kids with chocolatey faces.

Today's loot included 8 giant red beets, 2 pints of juicy raspberries, a brown bag full of ripe peaches, two packages of monstrous organic short ribs, and 3 chocolate donuts (didn't actually make it home).

Now, what to do with them?

And here we go...

I guess this first post should be about me. My name is Zac and I'm passionate about two things in my life-- my family and food. I am a stay-at-home dad to two wonderful kids which is both consuming and entertaining. My goals in life are to be a good husband, a good father, and to have my own identity at the same time. I am by no means a trained chef, but what I lack in training I make up for in enthusiasm. This is my story.