Does one pappardelle dinner mean I’m cooking again?

I’m afraid to look at how long it’s been since I posted a recipe. (And it would be so easy, what with that giant tag cloud and that category I named, oh, ‘recipes.’)  But I will refrain from feeling badly, and instead post about the fact that I actually cooked ONE, count-it, ONE dinner last week.

And it was pretty good, so I’m posting it here.

Cooking Light’s April 2011 issue had a ‘Spring Pasta’ feature, and I bought ingredients to make two of the dishes.  Sadly, I had to throw out one set of ingredients as the veggies wilted — what on earth was I thinking buying ingredients for TWO dishes when I haven’t cooked in weeks months rather a long time?

But I did manage to make a dish that was GREAT for leftovers for lunch – and was pretty easy to prepare.  And while I won’t rave about the recipe as is, with a few easy tweaks, I bet it could be terrific.

Plus, with it’s mild creamy sauce (that’s not cream based!) I bet even my son will like it.  Though lying would be required: I’d have to dice the spinach and tell him the green stuff is herbs…which is TRUE – there’s parsley and dill!  Such a slippery slope.  Let’s hope he doesn’t choose today to start reading my blog!

So here it is:  Pappardelle with Baby Spinach, Herbs and Ricotta from page 118 of the Cooking Light April 2011 issue.  And here’s what I’ll change the next time I prepare this dish (click here for PDF of this recipe with my adjustments):

  • Make sure you chop (or dice!) the baby spinach – the picture in the magazine shows it chopped but the recipe doesn’t include that key step.  Start there.
  • 3 cups of baby spinach is too much, even for me, who loves spinach.  I’d cut this roughly in half.
  • I really do not love dill, so would consider leaving it out.  Though the dill does deliver that fabulous oh-so-fresh herb aroma and taste – will have to think on this.  If you like dill, great.  If not, maybe cut the amount in half.
  • Too many big peppercorns for me.  Either I’ll reduce the fresh pepper OR (probably more likely) adjust my pepper mill for a finer grind.
  • One idea (note:  I have no idea if it’ll work as I’m not a chef): if you don’t love the gritty feel of raw spinach, consider steaming the chopped spinach for just a bit – maybe 30 seconds or a minute in the microwave.
  • An alternate and probably better idea for the spinach that was  suggested in the recipe reviews (I reviewed it too) was to put the spinach in the colander and the run the hot pasta water over it – that, I think, is brilliant!  Will totally try that!
  • Another reviewer suggested arugula instead of spinach.   Which of course, I had just purchased (and tossed) as the key ingredient for that other recipe…  Sigh.

So think about giving this recipe a try.  I will be heading to Trader Joe’s to buy  more pappardelle to make this again, with these adjustments.  Let’s hope I can muster the motivation to make it before the spinach (or arugula) liquefies… again.


A tiny glimmer of lo-co motivation

The outpouring of support and ideas that flowed after my past 2 blog posts (and their woe-is-me theme) was inspiring and amazing.

Better watch out or I’ll whine more.

Seriously, though – I am very grateful to those who commented (check out some great ideas in the posted comments).  It was fantastic – can’t tell you how much it meant to me.  Didn’t get me all the way to motivated but it helped.  A lot.

Many thanks.

So I took the advice many of you gave, and decided to give the I-can’t-manage-to-eat-the-right-things-and-I-feel-like-I’m-failing routine a rest.

Perfectionist that I am, this began as a rather difficult challenge.  But as the alternative is to, oh, plan dinners – and that is SO not happening right now – I am working at giving myself a break.

So here goes:  big points to me, for not trekking to Wendy’s this past week!  Woot!  (Oh come on, that is SO LAME.  Really?  That counts?)  I guess, when I consider the multiple Wendy’s trips in the recent weeks past, that it does, kind of, count.

Obviously, I have not been able to let go of this feeling of food failure.  So  I decided to focus on the exercise thing – try to do something positive on that front.

Truth be told, it wasn’t so much a decision as serendipity.  Flipping through my Tivo (yes, I was eating Phish Food), I was delighted to see that Cougartown is back on!  And that inspired me to get on the elliptical…and laugh my way through a workout.

Then I backed that up with a brisk walk today.


Though I must admit – I felt badly that I didn’t run.  Walking doesn’t really feel like exercising to me.

Mental face-slap!

Even I get that my double-brisk walk (both quickly and in the cold!) is better than just lying on the sofa.  So I am officially awarding myself points – and feeling good about – having exercised for 2 consecutive days.

Even though in between, there was a pasta with gorgonzola sauce for dinner.


Still Demotivated

It has become clear in the last two weeks that my sudden lack of motivation to keep at this low cholesterol ‘program’ has a bigger root cause than my mostly-positive blood test results.  Got that good-ish news a few weeks ago, and I am still not cooking dinner.

Worse, on Sunday, after picking my son up from driver’s ed, we drove TO THE NEXT TOWN to grab some Wendy’s.  The other 2 times I went to Wendy’s it was at least subliminally motivated – I’d driven by one.  But this time, we trekked there.

Sad.  Truly sad.

I don’t think that I can blame my test results for my current lack of motivation.

Maybe it’s just that this low cholesterol thing just takes so much PLANNING.  And I’m sick and tired of it.  Here’s how I feel about it at the moment (huge whining warning):

  • I’m having trouble not shouting, “I don’t expletive deleted know” when my teenage son asks what’s for dinner.
  • My husband has stopped asking about dinner – and is dialing for takeout.
  • I’m tired of oatmeal every single day.  Which is frustrating because I never got tired of a bagel and lox.  Ever.  I ate that every single morning for YEARS.

Even the comment posted by Jennifer L. with a great cookbook reco hasn’t kicked my butt into gear.  As I adore and collect cookbooks, the fact that I didn’t rush out to buy the one she recommended is alarming.

OK, this has to change.  Jennifer, thanks for your inspiring comment and cookbook recommendation.  I am off to find The 28 Day Mediterranean Diet Plan on Barnes & Noble or Amazon.


Heavens to Mercury

To lower my my suddenly-sky-high triglycerides, my doctor wants me to take fish oil.  She also wants me to drink less alcohol, but: a) I’ve pretended not to hear that, and b) I think it’s only fitting to try a fish oil supplement before succumbing to that drastic a plan.  I mean come on, it is not reasonable to ask me to cut out my single glass of wine with dinner every night.  It’s just not.  So fish oil pills, here I come.

Now, you’d think that obtaining a fish oil supplement would be easy, right?  Just go to your local drugstore or WalMart or Target, and stroll on over the vitamin aisle.  But apparently some of the fish oil pills out there may contain mercury.  And given my apparently unbreakable daily-tuna-sandwich-for-lunch habit, my doctor wants me to take ONLY a particular brand of fish oil supplement that is audited by three independent agencies to be mercury-free.

And of course, that brand is sold only in doctor’s offices.  Sigh.

Finding other fish oil brands that are definitely mercury-free is nearly impossible because there is no governmental oversight of these nutritional supplements.  They may CLAIM to be mercury-free, but it’s not clear that is true.  The Environmental Defense Fund’s Fish Oil Supplements Guide, for example, explains why you should NOT buy Kmart or RiteAid brand fish oil, among others.

This sorry state of affairs is exacerbated by sham ‘Product Review’ sites, which abound in the nutritionals arena.  Here’s what you need to know:  if a site has general info and product ‘reviews’ but has links to or recommends JUST 1 product or brand, that ‘review site’ is actually a devious marketing ploy to sell that one brand.  Like this site I found while researching fish oil for this post: it looks like a product review site with info about mercury in fish oil and even talks about the product in the third person:

“Looking for the benefits of fish oil without the mercury in fish oil supplements? A company we personally use called XYZ manufactures an omega 3 supplement that uses only a cold deepwater fish known as the Hoki that comes from the depths of the oceans in New Zealand.”

I would bet serious money this site is actually run by the company selling the ONLY product recommended on the site.  I won’t name the company (changed it to ‘xyz’ above), but check this site out so you’ll know in the future what a fake review site looks like:

So frustrating.

It’s likely that there are many legitimate fish oil supplements that don’t contain mercury, but since I can’t kill my tuna-for-lunch jones, I’m going with the brand sold in my doctor’s office.

For now, at least.  But I’m going to keep researching this topic.  And if I can find a way to remember to take this horse-pill sized supplement every day, that’d be good too.