Thursday, January 22, 2009

100 days, 14 Changes

I've had it. That's it. I'm done. I'm fed up with being fat. Diets never seem to work (I lost 55 pounds and found it again, rather quickly).

So, I've started changing the way I look at food. And to change my habits, I'm...changing my habits, week by week. Here's what I've done so far:

Week 1: Stopped consuming sugar.
Well, cut down drastically. No more ice cream (light or not), no more Christmas candy, etc. Also, have cut my Venti Non-fat, no-whip Caramel Mocha down (360 cals, 61g of sugar) to a grande non-fat, no-whip, two-pump mocha (180 cals, 22g of sugar).

Week 2: Stopped consuming alcohol.
Okay, no alcohol the first week, but I did enjoy two glasses of red last night with Top Chef.

Week 3: No take out.
This is a big one. Lots of times when I'm coming home from work I'll swing past the Hawaiian take-out or the giant burrito place. No more. And I'm trying very hard to bring my lunch to work, as well.

I haven't decided what Week 4 will bring, but I think it might be salad with every dinner or fruit with every meal.

I haven't weighed myself. I'll do that when I start to notice a change in how my clothes are fitting. I *will* take my measurements. Okay, back to work.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Meat Pies for My Love

I don't know why I never have my camera when I make something that looks just as it should, this being one of those times.

For New Year's Day I like to make something special, especially because we normally don't do anything fancy for NY Eve (this year I managed to stay awake till midnight, but just barely). This year, Juiceboy had mentioned that I never make meat pies, or pasties, which he loves. And it's true, I don't.

I guess it's memories of horrid, little, cheap pot pies with gummy crusts and gloppy centers, and dry meat and frozen chunks still floating around in a tasteless sauce. Doesn't that sound dreadful?

I tried to envision a meat pie I'd like to eat: thick chunks of meat, potatoes, fresh and fragrant vegetables, all held together with a flavorful gravy. And on top of it, it needed to be fast, as I seem to have no time these days, even though I am on vacation (till tomorrow).

This dish was a big hit with all concerned. The Bug had two slices! Serve with salad to make up for the lack of peas or corn in this recipe.

Beef and Lamb Pie
(Makes two pies)

2 boxes Pillsbury refrigerated pie crusts
1 pound quality beef cut in stew sized chunks (about 1.5-2"). Stay away from cuts like shoulder or pot roast which need to cook a long time to be tender. This won't spend long cooking.
1 pound ground lamb.
1 large yellow onion, rough chopped
2-3 large carrots, rough chopped in quarters
3 large celery ribs, rough chopped
2 pounds russet potatoes, medium-thick sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
Splash of red wine
1-2 teaspoons Lea & Perrins Worchestershire Sauce
Crushed red pepper to taste
About two cups of your favorite beef gravy (I used the kind in a jar)

Heat your oven to 400 and let the pie crusts warm to room temp. Season both meats with salt and fresh ground pepper.

Brown the lamb, reserve the meat and keep any fat in the pan. Brown beef cubes, taking care not to cook through (they'll cook in the pie and won't be overcooked and dry). Remove the beef to a bowl to rest. Pour off all but three tablespoons of fat.

Brown the onion, carrots, and celery in the same pan with the fat (if the meats were very lean add butter, not oil).

While veg are browning, cover potatoes with hot water and cook for five minutes in microwave (or on stovetop). Drain potatoes on paper towel.

When vegetables are brown and fragrant, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add a splash of red wine to deglaze the pan. Then, add the gravy. Mix well, adding the juices from the beef. Add red pepper, Lea & Perrins, and adjust seasonings to taste. Mix in ground lamb.

If beef cubes are large, cut in half. They should be about two bites large. Be sure to add the juices to the lamb/veg mix. Also, don't be alarmed that the meat is raw in the center. It will cook.

Next, unroll one pie crust and press into ungreased pie plate. I like a large one with very sloped sides. Arrange potatoes on bottom of crust, then put beef on top of potatoes. Add lamb/veg mix over top, shaking slightly to fill in holes.

Unroll second crust, and place over top. Pinch edges together, making a strong seal. I don't worry about crimping the edges--this is a rustic pie. Cut three slits in center to allow steam to realease and repeat for second pie. At this point, pies can be frozen (defrost before cooking).

Bake for about 40 minutes at 400 degrees, checking your crust periodically. If the edges brown to quickly, cover the edges with tin foil. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown.

IMPORTANT: Let your pies sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing into them, or you'll have pie disappointment.