Friday, February 02, 2007

Day 32

So, I have to admit, yesterday and lasting until today, with the inhalation of that curry recipe, have been not so fun bathroom wise. Hopefully that's direct enough for everyone. I am not sure that curry is my thing, or else it's one of those things that your body needs time to get used to but I don't have that sense of dedication to the task at hand. I will probably stick to eating it at restaurants once or twice/year again instead. Also, eating it at lunch works slightly better except that I am seriously so bloated that my belt barely fastened and my Starbucks apron was bulging like I was about 4 months along. Sadly, I will need to toss the rest of my concoction, yummy as it is, to give my insides a break from that feeling.

What I ate today. . . .
Mornin' tea, of course, with milk and sweetener, sm. banana, wheat english muffin; five RF ritz crackers with oz cheddar; a white mocha with rasp. from kona (couldn't taste rasp. at all and it cost me $4.56 for a medium!); hot tea; leftover cold white mocha, about 1/2, with rasp. and 1 cup of grapes; baked rotini vegetable and vegan sausage (recipe below), blood orange salad with homemade dressing (recipe below); slice banana bread.

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I wasn’t looking forward to using this Tofurky Italian Sausage. It looked too real, and I’ve been burned enough to think that it looking real meant it was going to taste awful. I’d rather just look at it with anticipation than be immediately let down. Anyway, that would’ve been a waste of $4, so I decided to try it. George and I love this pasta dish that I interpreted from a really long recipe Giada deLaurentis makes on the Food Network. In the original recipe, the pasta and vegetables, gobbed with huge gooey bits of cheese, are stuffed into a puff pastry shell and cooked in a springform pan for nearly two hours. The results are amazing, absolutely. However, there are only two of us, and that one 9” springform of pasta bake lasted for two weeks. I ended up freezing a quarter of it, just to get rid of the thing. I saved the recipe, thinking it would be impressive for a nice meal occasionally, but never intending to use it for regular dinner since it took about four hours to make everything.

So right away, I devised a simpler way of making the dish that also left out some of the bad (but really good) stuff. Poor Giada. She made such a great dish and I go and wreck it from the start. Even the first time I made it, I switched the Italian sausage, which I normally think is too hot for me, with sliced apple sausages. I also cut the amounts of cheese almost in half — I have strong feelings about using 3 lbs of cheese in one dish. But then I followed the recipe exactly the rest of the way. This time around, I completely revised the thing. For one thing, no puff pastry, no third type of cheese, and no springform. I cooked the vegetables and sausages and mixed things the same way and then baked them naked, in a regular deep dish, with cheese on top. George and I found it incredibly tasty, and without the added heavy feeling of all the cheese and pastry.

What follows is the absolute barest bones of the original recipe, completely health-ed up but still good enough to eat for a few days of leftovers. And even George liked the Tofurky Italian sausage, something I did not think I’d see in this lifetime.

Baked Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Sausage
1 eggplant, peeled and cut into 2" chunks
1 zucchini, cut into 2" chunks
1 red onion, halved and sliced about 1/2" thick
4 cloves garlic with skin on
4 Tofurky Italian Sausages with sundried tomatoes and basil, cut into 1" chunks
4 T olive oil
salt & pepper
tsp each of basil, oregano and parsley or tbsp of italian seasoning mix
3 T balsamic vinegar
1/2 lb tube pasta of your choice
1/2 lb fontina cheese, diced into small cubes
2 c. marinara sauce
1 sm. can tomato paste
1 c. reserved pasta water

Turn the oven on to 450 degrees. Pour 2 T of the oil into a jelly roll pan and set it in the oven to get hot. Mix the other 2 T oil in a large bowl with the eggplant, zucchini, onion, garlic and sausages. Add the spices and mix well. Season with salt & pepper. When the pan in the oven is hot, pour the vegetables into it, spreading them out evenly, and cook in the oven for 20 minutes, turning after 10 minutes to ensure even cooking. While the veggies are cooking, boil pasta to al dente, about 7 minutes, and drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. When the veggies are done, turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Fish the garlic heads out of the vegetables, squeeze out of the skins, and chop into a fine dice. Add them back to the vegetables. Place the veggies into a large bowl and add the balsamic vinegar, stirring gently. Mix the 1/2 pasta water, marinara and tomato paste in a large bowl with the veggies, if it's dry, add the other 1/2 c. water. Add the pasta to the bowl and all but a handful of the cheese, stir to coat everything well. Pour entire mixture into a deep baking dish sprayed with cooking spray or brushed with oil. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake for 45 minutes, until golden and bubbly.

Blood Orange Salad
I just love the colors of blood oranges, but you have to be careful with their juice as it will stain clothing and countertops.
1 ripe blood orange
3-4 c. chopped romaine hearts
1/4 c. toasted pecans
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
salt and pepper

• juice of the blood orange
• 2 T orange zest
• 4 T balsamic vinegar
• crushed garlic clove
• 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
• salt & pepper

In a large bowl, place the romaine leaves, sprinkle cucumber over, and add pecans, salt & pepper. Start by zesting the orange, placing half of the zest into the dressing bottle and reserving the other half. Slice off the orange’s top and bottom, and set it on one of the flat spots on top of a cutting board. Skin the orange as you would a pineapple, using a knife to shave off one small strip at a time all the way around, getting as little of the fruit on the skin as possible. Use the knife to wedge the orange out of the membranes in whole segments. When the segments are all out, squeeze the membrane into the dressing bottle and toss the rest of the orange. Arrange the segments of orange on top of the salad and sprinkle with the reserved zest. Mix the dressing as usual and toss with the salad just before serving.

Workouts. . .
Walking warm-up, 10 min. biking, 10 min. cross-trainer, 5 min. jumping rope, 15 min. calisthenics, 10 min. stretching and walking cool-down. (50)

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