Sunday, November 9, 2008

Busy day - cooking for company

My sister was in town yesterday and I asked her to come over and help me go over the design of my wedding album (it's a lot of work and she's much better at this stuff than I am!). She asked me to cook dinner and of course I agreed :D I cook a lot for me and my husband but when other people come over there is just slightly a bit more pressure, even if it's just family. I know they say never to serve a new dish to your guests, but I wanted to make something that I wouldn't normally make just for the two of us. I figured I'll make a few things and if one of them is bad at least there will be enough of other stuff to fill the guests. I think it worked! By let me back track to lunch and the preparations for dinner...


While looking through my recipe books (and online) I got hungry. I planned on making brussels sprouts and some chicken. I used this recipe for the chicken and this recipe for the brussels sprouts. Both came out really great!

I skipped the peach chutney suggested in the chicken recipe (didn't even notice that we needed it when I skimmed through the recipe for our grocery list) and we didn't miss it. The chicken breasts only took about 1/2 of the panko/peanut mixture, so each serving came out to a bit less calories than is specified on the bottom of the recipe (works for me!). It was crunchy and delicious! We have some leftovers, which may or may not end up on top of my salad today :D

The brussels sprouts were a huge success too. My husband said he was "ok" with brussels sprouts but he absolutely loved these ones. Heidi (from 1o1 cookbooks) says this recipe turns brussels sprout haters into lovers and I can see why! The parmesan cheese finishing is key. It really makes them extra special for a minimal amount of calories.

So here are a few pictures of lunch:

Brussels sprout branch... so cool looking!

Btw, I cooked all the sprouts off this branch with 1/2 the oil & cheese in the recipe, so this came out to 2 servings.

And my plate:

Close up of the yummy parmesan sprouts:

While I was preparing this lunch I munched on some baby carrots.

Oh and of course there was dessert :)

This was a really great treat and really filled me up. The piece of chocolate is quite big for just 100 calories. The quality was also very good and there was a fun fact in the back: 1 piece of this chocolate, as pictured, has more anti-oxidants than 1/2 cup of blueberries or blackberries... I think this means I should consume more of it :D

Another weird thing that happened with this chocolate... there were only 4 pieces in the package when there should have been 5! I was quite upset about this because clearly some thief in the store dug into the box without my knowledge. If this wasn't as delicious I wouldn't be as mad, but now I'll just have to go back for more sooner. Well I hope the little thief enjoyed one of these babies as much as I did. Shame on you though!

And then we were off to the grocery store for dinner ingredients...


On dinner menu for the night:

- beef meatball sliders
- cornmeal crusted roasted vegetable tart
- make your own salad
- raspberry brownies
- pomegranate martinis and wine

It was quite the project cooking all of this in our small-ish kitchen with just 1 oven. But actually I was able to manage my time very well. Cooking for company can get a bit stressful but last night turned out well. I guess I got lucky! Here are a few pics of the process...

Beef meatballs waiting for the oven to free up...

I followed the recipe to the T, except cutting it by 1/3 (we made 20 meatballs instead of 30). They were sooo good! I think the best part of dinner!!

The vegetable tart was also competing for oven space. Here are a few pics of the process...

Raw veggies cuts up (the recipe didn't call for mushrooms but we all love mushrooms so I threw them in):

Tart crust weighted down by rice (the shadow looks like a bunny... hehe):

Tart crust baked:

Roasted veggies, cooling:

Me assembling the tart (while the meatballs are baking):

And here it is before topping it with cheese:

With cheese, pre-baking:

And this is the salad "bar". I figured since different people like different toppings and dressings, I'll just put a few options on the table and each person can make their own. It worked quite well! The salad ingredients included organic mixed greens, grape tomatoes, sliced cucumber, dried cranberries, roasted sunflower seeds, goat cheese(!) and Annie's goddess dressings (regular and green goddess).

Onto actual dinner... We bought mini whole wheat pitas to make "meatball sliders." It was my husband's genius idea! Again we left it to our guests to assemble them. Here is my first slider:

I also had another meatball "straight up." Oh and I was drinking some red wine with dinner. I think I had about 6oz throughout the night. My mom and husband were drinking the pomegranate martinis. I had a sip and it was super good. I will definitely have one (or more) of these when I'm not counting calories!

While we were eating the meatballs the tart was baking in the oven. Here it is finally ready! It did look very nice. That's what I mean when I say it's too fancy for just me and my husband.

I had 1/8 of the tart (1 serving) + some salad (mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, goat cheese with 1/2 T of goddess dressing):

Here is the feedback on the tart my husband and guests... it needed more cheese and the crust was a bit too dry. I think this is a pretty good base for a recipe but it definitely needs some tweaking. Some of the recommendations included layering either cheese or sauce between the crust and the first layer of veggies (the crust crumbled a bit so something to moisten it would help... I need to find something other than butter to moisten it :D ). Some of the reviews on the website mentioned that more cheese was used, but in the spirit of keeping things healthy I wanted to try it out for myself first with the suggested amount of cheese. I agree, more cheese would have been better (but when is it ever not the case?!). Overall I was slightly disappointed that it wasn't a huge success since it was the star of the show. But I think in general people enjoyed it and I'm glad I finally tried this recipe (it was on my to-make list for a while!).

Onto dessert...

I made the raspberry brownies before and these are my husband's favorite! He claims he's not a dessert person but he actually ate most of them last time around and requested that I make them again. I put this together over the last few days (it's easy you just need time to let things cool/freeze). Here are a few pics of the process.

No pudge original brownie mix with 5.5 oz of dannon nonfat yogurt and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, all mixed in the bowl (oh yeah, licking the bowl is the best part!)

Mixture going into the pan:

Brownies baked, ready to cool:

I let them cool like that in the pan for a few hours then covered them with tin foil and left them in the pantry for a day and a half until I was ready to finish this. A day and a half later I left the sherbert on the counter to soften a bit, then topped the brownies with a healthy layer of it, and covered with sprinkles as such:

Final product after being frozen for a day:

And my piece last night for dessert :) It came out better than last time. I loved it (and my husband and guests did too) !!! This is a fat free dessert but it definitely doesn't taste fat free.

After the stressful task of going over my wedding album layout (I get so weirdly stressed out... I just want it to be perfect!) I got hungry again (I guess it's been a few hours since dinner) so I grabbed a serving of my favorite trail mix:

I wanted more food (or more chocolate to be exact!) but I fought the urge and just made some peppermint tea. I actually ended up only having a few sips of it before going to bed. I probably should have skipped on the trail mix too, but I thought I was going to stay up longer and really was hungry. It could have been worse!

Here is the total for the day...


Calories (1200-1650) - 1723 - ok, since I allowed myself 1 day with extra 100 calories.
Fitness - rest day
Water - DONE- I think I had at least 10 cups
F/Vs - DONE- banana, baby carrots, brussels sprouts, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms

I'll start a new post with today's breakfast and other eats since this one has been probably too long already :) Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


Anonymous said...

Wow, you're quite a cook! I wish I was patient and creative enough! Glad you had fun!

Elina said...

Thanks, Melissa! :)

Amanda said...

ok, I haven't yet dared to eat brussel sprouts..what do they taste like?

Elina said...

Hmm... maybe like broccoli but with a different texture... or maybe I just think that because they're both green :) Try that recipe if you're curious. It's simple and quite delicious! Brussels sprouts are not scary, I promise! :D

inna said...

good job
i hink mom and i were both really impressed! well I know i was :P
hey ... um ... what are you doin this weekend hehehe

Elina said...

I was thinking about coming to NY... what do you think of that idea? P

Kelly said...

Call me crazy, but I always end up trying new recipes out on guests. Like you there are so many recipes that are too involved for a dinner for one. I'm sorry to hear that the tart crust was dry. I made that same tart in the past and really liked it. I've actually used the crust for different recipes like the vegan quiche I made earlier.

ttfn300 said...

i love that ratatouille tart!!! so delish, sorry your crust wasn't up to par :-/ i almost picked up a stalk of sprouts the other day but i'm not a huge fan... soon :)

Elina said...

Wow, Kelly I'm really surprised that you liked that crust... I'm wondering what I did wrong :-/