Surprise Feast

Last night Sean and I went over to have dinner with my parents and my uncle & aunt who were in town visiting. Unbeknownst to us, my mom and Aunt Dorothy really pulled out ALL the stops for this dinner. Earlier in the day, I’d asked my mom what we were having. Her answer was simply, “Western food”. I guess that’s technically true, though I have a feeling a meal like this deserved a little more buildup.

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Well, surprise! We ended up with a feast in every sense of the word. It ws the kind of meal that made me tres, tres desole that I forgot my real camera at home. iPhone pics do NOT do it justice!

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There was a dijon glazed pork roast, spanish rice, a cranberry-apple-pear compote, roasted vegetables, and a delicious little caprese salad on the side. Whoo-ee! If I had known that it was going to be such a feast, I would have prepared myself! As it was, however, I’d had a late lunch so I wasn’t able to demolish my plate like it deserved. Sad panda.

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Of course… that didn’t mean I still didn’t have room for dessert. You can’t really see it too well in this picture (fail), but my mom made pears poached in red wine and served it alongside a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream and a li’l slice of apple pie. Random? Maybe. But delicious? Hells yes.

You know, it’s funny, I never really used to consider myself as someone with much of a sweet tooth. I would always prefer an appetizer over dessert, salty snacks over chocolate and candy. But over the past year or so, my appreciation for the sweeter side of life has REALLY increased! I find myself legitimately craving baked goods now, whereas I never used to give them a second thought. Which, of course, is probably a bad thing for my weight loss. But it’s a good thing for my general sense of happiness and wellbeing, hehe.

Do you find that your food tastes change/have changed? This could be a general thing, like my shift in starting to prefer sweets to savories, or something more specific, like my unadulterated love for brussels sprouts now even though I used to fake-gag every time I saw them.

Eating Out, In

You guys know that one of my biggest struggles in terms of my weight loss is how much I love to eat out. I do love to cook, but I also love restaurants. Trying new ones, revisiting my favorites, being social with my friends and family… I just really like to go out to eat. Of course, as I’ve mentioned (and as we all know anyway), going out to eat with such frequency is not good for my wallet OR my waistline.

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There are just too many variables when someone else is preparing your food for you. Even nowadays, when more and more restaurants are offering nutritional information up front, you can never be 100% sure of what you’re getting. Plus, even if you KNOW what the calories are, it doesn’t mean you’re getting the most bang for your figurative buck (we KNOW you’re not getting the biggest bang for your literal buck, since eating out is expensive, hahahaha).

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So part of my Act II weight loss game plan is to cook at home as much as possible. Of course, given all the restaurant-eating that went on this past weekend, I’m kind of already failing, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

Sometimes curbing the urge to splurge (can I get that on a t-shirt) is as simple as upping the ante in your own kitchen. Last night I fixed myself a gourmet meal that I feel any fine dining establishment would have been proud of! And for half the cost AND half the calories. Win-win-win.

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I picked up the most gorgeous tomato at the farmer’s market on Saturday (probably one of my last farmer’s market tomatoes of the season! Cry!) and a GIANT thing of basil to accompany it. Then I zipped over to the regular supermarket to pick up a ball of fresh mozzarella and decided to make myself a super schmancy caprese salad.

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I mean, seriously. Do you SEE how huge these basil leaves are!?

I chiffonaded (can “chiffonade” be used as a verb? Ahaha) the basil to make it look nice. For those of you who don’t have a tried-and-true method of doing so (chiffonade = slicing herbs into long, thin strips), this is just how I get ‘r done:

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After you’ve stacked the leaves on top of one another like in the first pic, roll them up lengthwise into a little bundle. Don’t wrap it TOO tightly or you’ll bruise the herbs, but hold it tight enough so that they won’t slip out from under you.

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Then using a SHARP knife, just slice through the bundle using quick, thin slices. You don’t want to “saw” through or press down with the knife, because again, you can bruise the herbs and that’s what makes them look wilted and unappealing.

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Ta-da! Easy peasy.

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While I was doing that, I was also letting some balsamic vinegar reduce on the stove (with the flippin’ sweet guitar spatula that I got my brother Ben for Christmas).

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And heating up some corn. As always, I like to make a lot more food than just for me because I like to be able to have the leftovers for lunch. Leftovers > sandwiches! I had already broiled up some rosemary-marinated pork chops the night before, so I just reheated one of those and added it to the plate. I drizzled some balsamic reduction on top of the caprese with just a splish of extra virgin olive oil and some salt & peppah, and there you have it!

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Ooh, pretty.

And that’s how you get one beautiful plate of deliciousness. And the total nutritional damage of my dinner was (drumroll, please!) approximately 550 – 600 calories. Not bad considering how decadent it tasted! And a whole lot less than it would have been at a restaurant. Granted, fresh mozzarella is not necessarily the best weight loss food, but hey, when the craving strikes… better to nom on a few slices of delicious cheese now than an entire box of Cheez-Its later, amirite?

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Oh, and just of note: I stored the extra tomato, mozzarella, and basil together in little individual piles so they’re easy to grab and eat. Cute, non?