Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Present! For Me??

Fun job perk. Every once in a while a vendor sends us something fun as a giftie to thank us for working with them. One of my affiliates has started doing this on what appears to be a monthly basis (I'm hoping).
Got this at work on pretty. And even better is what was inside...fruity spring goodies. And the non-chocolate kind. Making it super easy for me not to eat coworkers love them though. Love you special vendor.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Caught me a Tuna.

Trader Joe's being my favorite grocery store...we do about 99% of our shopping there and get the other stuff we can't maybe on 2 trips a month to the bigger stores. TJ's can be hit or miss sometimes re: fresh fish and all that. So imagine my surprise when I saw they had sashimi grade Ahi Tuna. 2 steaks, 1lb of Ahi for $14? Wow that's a bargain. At Whole Foods it would have been more like $30. Red and fleshy, it looked divine. So I took it home.

Decided to get creative with it on Tuesday night. Tuna doesn't keep very well in the fridge like this, esp sashimi grade. And I wanted to do a sear. So it had to be pretty fresh. Even Tues was pushing it. So even though I wasn't feeling like Tuna, I grilled it up.

I wanted a lazy man's version of a flavorful restaurant sear. So I put on some salt, thyme, soy sauce and dried ginger. A lot of fresh cracked black pepper. I love a blackened pepper seared at a posh restaurant.

Heated up the flat grill then dropped it on. Sizzle, crackle, pop. It's lookin' pretty good. Tasted even better. Served it with TJ's yummy little chicken dumpling potsticker things I can never remember the name of. Asian night at the Tylers' on Tuesday. Greg pronounced it fab. I was impressed too. Who knew I could be so good at searing Ahi. Pronounced a success, next time I might get even more creative. Wasabi ginger paste anyone? Owie!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Winter Means Lasagna.

So last winter I perfected this recipe for lasagna that I originally found on Cooking Light. Every time I made it, I changed something which seemed to make it better. I made it all winter long to Greg's happiness...but I can't seem to find the drive to make it at all in hot weather. So I only pull it out when the weather is BRRisk.

Unfort now I can't find the sauce that I used to use as easily, so short of ordering it online in packs of TWELVE, I am trying to find an alternative. The one I made on Sunday was a very close contender, good in a pinch but I'm still testing.

Funny I never used to be a lasagna fan til I made mine. We both absolutely love it. And I never even bother eating it anywhere else because I don't like it as much as mine. And mine is I like it even more. Because while it's way better for you than most lasagnas out there, you cannot tell..because I'm such a flavor whore that I make sure it doesn't taste the least bit non-saturated.

My 'recipe' is loosey goosey...I basically add whatever I want in terms of quantity..aka if you like mushrooms, add a lot. Like it more meaty, add more meat. Like it more saucey, add more sauce. But here is the jist.

For the meat sauce:
1lb ground 94/6 lean beef (or you can do a ground turkey beef blend)
1/2 diced onion
12oz can of tomato sauce
12oz can of diced tomatoes (use regular or basil/garlic or whatever you want)
Jar of pasta sauce (My fave was Emerils Kicked Up Tomato, a nice spicy lift to it, but I can't find it anymore locally so I have been experimenting. This time I used Trader Giottos (TJ's brand)..see picture below!)
6oz Baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
6oz Crimini mushrooms, sliced
Dried Oregano; Dried Basil
Diced Garlic
EVOO for pan/spray

For the 'ricotta' cheese mix:
1 or 2 egg whites
1 container fat free or low fat cottage cheese
1/2c shredded parmesan
1/2c shredded skim mozzarella

For layering/prepping:
8x8 or 11x8 deep baking dish
Lasagna noodles (I love Dreamfields, it's got a ton of protein and fiber and lower in carbs)
1/2 a can of tomato sauce or rest of Pasta sauce jar

For the meat sauce..I sautee garlic in a spray of EVOO til fragrant. Add onion, cook 1-2 min til slightly translucent. Add ground beef/turkey, toss til mostly cooked. Add mushrooms, basil, oregano. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, pasta sauce jar...stirring each time you add something. I typically only use 3/4 of the jar of pasta sauce. Reserve the rest for later. Let everything simmer in pan for 5-10 minutes, putting lid or screen on to prevent splattering.

I typically make the sauce 4-6 hours before building my lasagna OR let it sit overnight in the fridge. The reason is that I noticed when I did this that the meat soaked up most of the sauce and it became an even richer tasting dish and less 'saucey'. So if you have the time, pour the pan contents into a big bowl, cover and refridgerate. Another option is to pour it into a crockpot at this point and let it simmer on low for 3-4 hours. This will also reduce sauce pretty quickly.

When it's time to build lasagna, mix cottage cheese, parm, mozz and egg whites in a bowl. Put small amount of sauce only on bottom of dish.

Note, I don't use 'no precook' lasagna noodles because you don't have to with this dish. So don't pre-cook your noodles, no matter how much you think 'well there's no way they will soften without a pre-cook'. Trust me..they will. Also don't use those lame no-cook Barilla noodles, they are the most useless flimsy noodles ever and the dish is not the same with them. Dreamfields has those thick deep ridges that lasagna noodles should have. So make sure you use something like that.

Put down Lasagna noodles (I have to break mine 3/4 of the way to get them to fit in a square dish, if you use a 11x8 you won't have to do this) on top of sauce. Pour a bit of the regular tomato sauce over the noodles to wet them a bit (this is where the not-needing-to-bake-lasagna-comes-in. Spoon meat mixture over noodles. Spoon cottage cheese mixture over meat mixture, smooth over to cover. (I use small spoonfulls around the dish to keep coverage even but without building too bulky of a layer). Another pasta layer on top. A bit more basic/plain sauce. More meat. Another layer of cottage cheese. Then on top of the cottage cheese, layer a bit more meat sauce. Meat should be on the top, because the cottage cheese mixture will burn if exposed.

Bake at 365 for about 30 minutes. Pull out, top with 1/4c mozz cheese. Bake for another 15 minutes or until bubbling. My dish is always packed full so I get some boil over, best to cook on a cookie sheet or similar to catch runoff.

Let sit for ~15 minutes to cool a bit before cutting. This stuff is awesome the next day as well. Serve with toasted garlic butter bread...or our favorite, the Moroccan Olive bread from TJ's.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Whadd'ya Want?

Oh the attitude that I get from the fuzzy white one at times.
It's like 'leave me alone will ya? I'm nappin' on Dad'.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Trout...It's What's for Dinner!

Intrigued by a continuation of the Emeril Healthy Fast episode, made this trout dish on Monday. I am such a slack about updating this blog thing.

Anyway, the dish turned out fab EXCEPT for one thing. The nice guy at the fish counter at Whole Foods lied to me when he said that this trout was boneless. Greg and I spent 1/2 the dinner picking the bones out of the thing. Next time I'll use a nice Halibut or Seabass. But overall flavor was good. And it was EASY. Less than 1o min prep. Schwing!

Emeril's Recipe:,,FOOD_9936_100267,00.html

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Home Cooked Meal.

On Friday I watched Emeril on the flat screen at the work gym and they had this Healthy in a Hurry show. One of the dishes looked uber tasty, some sort of pasta crab thing. I looked it up online, and invited our neighbors over to partake of the dinner goodness.

However, since it was a light dish, it didn't really turn out the way I was expecting, a little bland for my tastes and I added a wee bit too much pasta. Greg loved it though, he cleaned his plate AND told me to stop disparaging his wife's cooking.

The salad was tasty though, romaine with stinky bleu cheese and candied walnuts from TJ's. Pear gorgonzola vinaigrette.

At least the bowls were cute. And the basil was fresh. A bit of leftover pasta is in the fridge, I might do some experiments on it tomorrow with additional spices.

Relaxing Weekend.

After the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks, it was great to sit around this weekend and do a whole lot of nothing.

Well not nothing exactly. We cleaned up the rest of the Xmas decor, the house...played a lot of Scrabble.

This morning we thought maybe we'd try this new cafe about a mile from our house for breakfast. But laziness set in...Then I realized I had some blueberries in the yeah we didn't go anywhere for breakfast. Instead I created our own.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tart Creaminess.

I'm sure by now everyone's heard of the fresh natural tart yogurt craze. Well you have if you are in California. It started with Pinkberry in LA and is slowly making it's way North.

I'd heard of it for a while but wasn't quite sure what it meant. Natural creamy tart yogurt? Like Fage right? Wrong.

This is like frozen yogurt but it's natural yogurt, with active cultures and actual protein. It's a bit sweet but actually tart, a little like a lemon tart kind of sweet tart.

There are multiple places locally that have cropped up and I have slowly been working my way through them...and Yelping them in the process of course.

The other night we tried Cafe Delatti in Los Gatos after hearing about it for a while and I think it's jumped up to the top of my tart yogurt loving list. I just wish it was closer.

They have an amazing mango tart yogurt which I blended with original. Fresh blueberries and kiwi top the beautiful treat. Best of all, only 20 cals an ounce and fresh fruit. Now this is the kind of 'dessert' I could have nightly and my trainer would probably agree!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

California Coast New Years.

Dug out the camera cable last nite and did a little uploading. Many pictures to ensue of our fun little jaunt down the California Coast for New Years. Grab some hot apple cider and keep on scrollin.

sea rock inn. ( they were fab.

view from our deck.

our cozy little jr. suite

view from along the road.

amazing old fashioned fireplace. greg had a heyday with this. who knew i married a pyro?

yummy blueberry danish for breakkie both mornings at mendo bakery.

amazing feathery plant alongside road.

barn or house? not sure, but it's cool.

cute little church along the road.

loved this sky shot taken from main street in town. it looks like heaven.

series of sunset pictures, all within a few minutes of each other on the same evening.


where we ended up after a fab 5 star dinner at cafe beaujolais....dick's place.

we were seriously overdressed, but it didn't stop us from ringing in the new year with a drink and a smile.

Hope 2008 is fabulous for us all.

I'm Elite!

Something happened yesterday that is cause for great celebration in the Tyler household. Well mostly by me...the female half. The male half just smiled indulgently.

I've been really into Yelp'ing lately ( and got 2008 Yelp Elite status which means..well..that I'm cool? Who knows what it means...I guess that they like my reviews. So now I have this cute little 08 Elite button on my profile and we get invited to local Yelp events where we can partake of food and booze and meet other local Yelpers who like to write. Sounds like fun, huh. We shall see.

Check out my Yelps at

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Welcome 2008.

Happy New Year!!

I've been remiss in posting the last's called Time Off and I guess I just took some serious advantage of it...thinking 'oh I really should update my blog' but since most of the time I feel like I am just talking to myself..I thought that 'I' wouldn't really miss much by waiting.

But today's a new well the start of the New Work Year for me anyway now that I am heading back to the daily I figured why not pop in for a quick post. 2007 was a great year for us...and we are hoping for an even better 2008.

So, I thoroughly enjoyed being off...we hosted a lovely little cocktail post-holiday party for friends on the was a small group being that most of our friends were out of town for Xmas and New Years, but it was an awesome time with some yummy punch and foodie items (some of which I actually made).

One of my coworkers brought us these cookies...which let's be honest, I was so friggin cookied out from my cookie love-fest the week before Xmas (and umm during and after)...and I thought I wouldn't be able to eat any.

WRONG. These things were tasty. I asked her for the recipe...turns out she mentioned these to me in a previous convo, basically Peanut Butter cookies with a mini-snickers bar inside. Sounds basic but oh so good. I didn't recognize the Snickers bar, instead I thought she was a fabulous magician for being able to get peanuts and caramel and chocolate inside the cookies. DOH.

So here's the link for the recipe...I am definitely going to try these at some point but figure it's safer to wait given how much we loved them here in the Tyler household, the party was on the 28th and we were gifted with about 20 cookies and now umm there are 2 left.

PB Cookie Snickers Heaven ensues below.

Snickers Bar Cookies
1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 13-ounce package Snickers Miniatures (about 60 candies)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine the butter, peanut butter and sugars using a mixer on a medium to low speed until light and fluffy. Slowly add eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. Then mix in flour, salt and baking soda. Cover and chill dough for 2 to 3 hours.

Unwrap all Snickers. Remove dough from refrigerator. Shape about 1 tablespoon of dough around each candy. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Let cookies cool on baking rack. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Note: You will use 1 bag and approximately half the other bag.

Recipe and notes at:

We also took a trip to Mendocino for New Years with some friends, we had a wonderful time and the Mini got some serious breaking in what with all the crazy curves and all, I have some beautiful pictures which I will upload at some point once I can figure out how to magically create more space on my laptop hard drive.

But for now, gotta go get ready for work...have a good one all!