My recent birthday as reminded me that although at times I still think of myself as twenty five, the harsh reality reveals forty looming on the horizon. The twenty plus pounds of baby weight that has taken up residence on my small frame needs to go to prevent a list of potential health issues (physical and mental) including the anguish I feel when summer arrives and I have to wear the required Cape Cod uniform. My dreaded bathing suit emerges from the back of the bottom drawer where it has been out of sight and out of mind for the better part of nine months and dares me to try it on my winter pale post baby (of two years, way to long!) flabby body. I'm ready to throw in a tent sized towel.
You may be thinking that I shouldn't be complaining. Based on my articles, it appears that I am constantly indulging. Yes, I recall the doughnut article (Falmouth Bulletin 3/20/08 and falmouthbulletin.com/food) and yes, I do sample all of my recipes. (What kind of food writer do you think I am?) My behavior does not make it easy to shed the extra flesh. However the birthday mentioned before reminds me that now is the time to take another stab at it. But how? My love for all things fatty and naughty (extra butter, anyone?) as well as my work on the cook book and the column present challenges like brick walls I must hurl my Rubenesque body over.
A stack of mocking magazines showing gorgeous, super slim women in bikinis with uber abs on the covers litter my bedroom floor. Headlines scream, "Get Fit in 10 Days!", "Super Abs in 5 Minutes!" and (my favorite) "Eat Your Way to Thin!". The list goes on and they suck me in every time. The most annoying to me have to be the fashion magazines featuring the latest celebrity mom on the front photographed 2 days after giving birth and fitting perfectly into a size subzero designer gown. (Don't even get me started on the article inside where she is quoted about motherhood. That's a subject for another diatribe.) Obviously, for me, this magazine reading technique will not work.
Since my taste buds have a detrimental love affair with all things decadent, a touch of willpower is required. I must control myself at least a little bit and try not to dive in with such reckless abandon. Breakfast and lunch do not present a problem as I am at home with the "fighting Irish". My two year old and four year old make it nearly impossible to eat anything while it is hot or before the bread on my sandwich gets hard and stale. No, my friend, the witching hour for me arrives at 5:00pm when the wild ones are splashing in the tub and I give myself permission for the first glass of wine. It all starts innocently enough: I begin to cook dinner, nibble a few bites, drink a few sips, imagine, create, nibble, sip some more, create and taste again. By the time my husband gets home and "helps" by finding something for the children to watch on television, I've already had an entire meal consisting of tiny bites here and there accompanied by some glistening Merlot with nice legs. Now I'm ready to sit down and enjoy the meal I've made (this time on a plate) as well as another glass of wine. Let's not forget dessert.
Revamping my favorite recipes as well as developing new ones with less caloric ingredients is my only hope. (That along with counting calories, portion control and a stepped up exercise program, all way to boring to mention here.) Of course, reworking a recipe holds its own host of problems. I recently attempted a low fat version of cheesecake. The author of the article and recipe promised, "Once you have this one, you won't miss the real thing."
Liar, liar, pants on fire.
Woman cannot live on celery sticks alone. So, here's the dilemma: find real food that satisfies which will also pass when doing the dreaded calorie count for the day. I'm talking about cookies made with real sugar, not some substitute, sandwiches put together with 2 pieces of bread and even PIZZA! Yes, I said, "PIZZA!" There must be a way to make a diet friendly yet flavorful version of the famous, so called, "junk food".
While I'm still searching for the ultimate guilt free cookie and I continue to ration slices of bread, I've managed to come up with a pizza recipe that will keep me from gaining 10 pounds by merely inhaling its cheesy aroma. It make not make the list of "Top 5 Diet Foods You Must Eat NOW!", but this recipe rocks. This is not a miracle pizza that has zero calories but tastes like 1000. However, you can eat a few small slices and have a glass of wine. If you have been really good for the day, eat a Dove Chocolate for dessert (only 42 calories for one). Just don't claim I gave you permission to eat the whole pie. I haven't yet lost enough weight to walk on water.
Basic Pizza Dough
makes 3 12" medium crust pizzas
I think King Arthur Flour for all types of flour mentioned below is the best brand.
A Kitchen Aid fitted with a dough hook is my favorite tool for this recipe.
2-3 cups all purpose flour, divided
1 teaspoon sugar
2 packages dry yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
2 cups warm water, divided
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup self rising flour (substitute: 1 cup ap flour, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp baking powder)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
for brushing edges:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup all purpose flour, sugar, yeast and 1 cup warm water. Let rest for 15 minutes until bubbles form in mixture. Add remaining cup of warm water, whole wheat flour, self rising flour , salt, olive oil and 1 cup of all purpose flour. Mix well. Add enough remaining all purpose flour, one tablespoon at a time, until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Transfer dough to lightly greased bowl (use cooking spray) and cover with greased wax paper and kitchen towel. Place in warm area to rise to double its size for 30-45 minutes.
Place pizza stone on middle rack in oven and preheat to 500 degrees. Flour hands and punch down dough. Remove dough from bowl onto floured board and knead to remove air bubbles. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll out into 12" rounds.
Using a pizza peel, place well floured dough round onto pizza stone and partially cook for 3 minutes until dough is just firm enough to hold its shape. Remove from oven. Keeping it on pizza peel, brush edge with olive oil, salt and pepper mixture. Continue with other desired toppings (see recipes). Place back in oven for 8-10 minutes until pizza crust is golden brown on edges and cheese is bubbling. Remove from oven and place onto cutting board. Let pizza rest for 5 minutes and cut into desired pieces.
Zoomin' Shroomin' Pizza
topping for one 12" pizza
2 lbs mixed mushrooms (I use white and bably bella)
6 slices turkey bacon
1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
6 green onions
juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
5 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Slice mushrooms to 1/4" thick and set aside. Chop bacon into 1/2" pieces. Heat medium sized pan on medium high. Add bacon and cook until just started to crisp, about 5-8 minutes. Add butter and olive oil. Add mushrooms and stir once to coat. Let cook for 5 minutes and stir again. Add green onions and cook for 3 minutes. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
Using a slotted spoon (to drain any juices), arrange mushroom mixture over prepared pizza crust (partially cooked and oiled on edge, resting on pizza peel.) Sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese. Cook in preheated 500 degree oven, on pizza stone for 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown.
Remove from oven, let rest on cutting board for 5 minutes and cut into desired pieces.
Mexicali Masterpiece (or, Debbie's favorite)
Topping for one 12" pizza
1 chicken breast
2 tablespoons tequila
juice from 1/2 lime
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon honey
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 cup salsa (I like Stop & Shop Simply Enjoy Black Bean and Corn Salsa)
5 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
chopped black olives
chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
Place chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using rolling pin, pound until chicken is 1" thick all over. In a small bowl, combine tequila-cayenne pepper. Heat a grill pan to high. Brush chicken on both sides with tequila mixture and grill for 3 minutes on each side to sear. Turn down heat to medium and continue cooking until chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat and let rest on plate for 5 minutes. Remove to cutting board and shred into small pieces. Pour any juices from plate over shredded chicken. Set aside.
Top prepared pizza crust (partially cooked, brushed with oil and resting on pizza peel) with salsa , chopped chicken and cheddar cheese. Cook in 500 degree oven on pizza stone until cheese is bubbling and crust is golden brown (8-10 minutes). Remove from oven to cutting board. Sprinkle with cilantro. Let rest for 5 minutes then cut into desired pieces. Serve with list of toppings.