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cholesterol diet

I just found out I have astronomical cholesterol levels. You know your obese Uncle Tiny who's 6 feet tall and 400 pounds and eats nothing but McDonald's hamburgers? Yeah, my cholesterol is probably worse than his. My doctor said she had never seen it so high. Awesome.

Obviously this means I need to change my diet. I'm planning to cut out cheese in a major way (because cheese is a MAJOR component for me), but other than using less butter and whole milk when I cook I am not sure what to do. I really wasn't eating hardly any fried foods.

I'm also not sure what to look for on labels. Do I check the cholesterol of a product or the saturated fat? Or both? If so, how much saturated fat is too much?

Does anyone have any experience working on a low-cholesterol diet? I've researched this on the web, so I'm not looking for maxims like "eat less saturated fat"; I'm looking for specific recipes, strategies, menus, etc.

Any help is greatly appreciated!

Spinach and Feta Quiche

I love making quiche - made this one yesterday and it was one of my more successful attempts. This recipe is for those who really love cheese. If you aren't as big of a fan of cheese or want to cut the fat and salt, I'd recommend reducing the cheese and adding a couple more eggs instead for filler.

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3 3/4 spoons. A little too salty, but that is easily rectified. We ate it with a small salad of romaine and cherry tomatoes with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, and some avocado slices and cantaloupe on the side. Awesome!

Tater Tot Casserole

I admit I was surprised at the success of the tater tot casserole. I did not expect it to turn out so tasty. Then again, part of the success of casseroles is making sure it's seasoned enough.
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The tots on the top were crispy and delicious. Very flavorful. Again, I think I oversalted, but that's fixable. 3 spoons - I'd give it more but it is just a simple casserole.

Mexican food

Tonight the Hubz took me out for a much-needed respite of Mexican food and margaritas. The great thing about living in Texas is that there is Mexican food anyplace you go, and most of it is fantastic - the smaller and more Mom-and-Pop, the better.

The place we go in our small town has frozen margaritas for $3.50 each - they're strong and tasty. One is enough to make you tipsy.

The entree we are both addicted to is a fajitas platter that combines a carne asada steak atop carmelized onions next to two Monterrey Jack enchiladas. The enchiladas are served in the sizzling platter and by the time you eat them the bottoms are crusted in baked cheese. It's...amazing.

I'm also addicted to chips and salsa.

I won't say that Mexican food is my absolute favorite; I think Asian food is ultimately my favorite (most notably, Thai), but I do crave Mexican food often. Blame my Texan upbringing, perhaps. I've eaten a lot of Mexican food in a lot of states, but the stuff we can find in Texas is always the best (and not necessarily because it's Tex-Mex - this restaurant is more traditional).

Do you like Mexican food? If so, what's your standby (mine is enchiladas)?


Cranberry-Orange-Nut Bars

I made these delicious bars for dessert tonight, and wrote up the recipe and review of it here: http://pidgeinthekitch.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-cranberry-orange-nut-cookie-bars.html

Is it a keeper?

OH MY YES. It was delicious. Five out of five spoons. A definite win!
Tried a new recipe tonight!

I posted the recipes and full review of it on my blog here: http://pidgeinthekitch.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-spicy-shrimp-and-bok-choy-stir.html

Is it a keeper?
Flavor-wise, it needs some modifications to be a whole-family pleaser. Cost-wise, it's a little high but not TOO bad; this would rank it as an 'occasional' dish and not a staple. Health-wise, it seems to be fairly decent. Overall, three spoons out of five; would make again, but with some modifications.

A localvore's challenge

I have

a beef brisket (NOT a corned beef brisket, just a "brisket") and

a whole lot of green tomatoes.

What do I do with a beef brisket?  This is not a cut I've ever cooked before other than boiling corned beef at St. Patrick's Day.  But it's not corned!

And what do I do with green tomatoes?  I've only let them just rot before.  :-(

In addition, I also have lots of onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, some carrots, a huge cabbage and there is still swiss chard and brussels sprouts in the garden.


(Cross-posted to  bitchnkitchn  and my journal.)

Chicken Caesar Salad

I made chicken caesar salad last night and was impressed at how delicious it was. This is an entree that's often gross when you make it at home. What's key is making your own dressing, buying high quality chicken and paring off the gristle and fat, and using fresh grated parmesan cheese.

I used this recipe for my dressing, but eliminated the parsley, oregano, and marjoram since I didn't have any. I didn't miss any of those things, but I did add additional lemon juice. I'd say just keep tasting it and add stuff until it tastes the way you want. I wanted a tangier taste (less mayonnaise-y). I made it in the food processor and it was so easy. We buy the little jars of chopped garlic and keep it in the fridge, but for this recipe I actually bought fresh garlic and it did make a difference.

We grilled chicken that had been marinated in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic. I used fresh romaine (that was indeed unusually crisp and firm - it was fantastic). We tossed the dressing and grated parmesan with the romaine and added grilled chicken on top.

It was perfect! 3 and a half spoons (would have been four but the chicken was a little dry).

I am really warming to the idea of using all homemade dressings. I have been making my own oil and vinegar-based Italian for a while, but I want to experiment more with more flavors.

Pasta Puttanesca

Here is the recipe I use to make this. If you don't like things spicy (or you like them really spicy), adjust the amount of red pepper you infuse into the oil. Also, this is pretty fast to make. The whole sauce is done in the time it takes me to boil water and cook the pasta 'n stuff.

1 pound pasta, prepared according to package directions (I like spaghetti or linguini, but you should use what you like)
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 tin anchovies (rinse them)
1/3 cup capers (rinsed or not; I like foods saltier than most do so I don't rinse them)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
7 cloves chopped garlic
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 - 3/4 cup oil cured olives, pitted and chopped (or kalamata)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped basil

Put oil and chile flakes in a saucepan and turn the heat on to very low. Let it infuse for 10-15 minutes, then add garlic and anchovies, increasing heat to medium. Stir to keep the garlic from burning and to break up the anchovies and cook until the garlic is lightly growned but not burned. Add in the tomatoes and cook for about 10 minutes, then add in the capers, herbs and olives and cook another 10 minutes. Serves 2-4.

(picture is here because I am entirely too lazy to sift through ~500 pictures of food to find it)

(oh yeah; I put vegetarian in the tag, even though that's kind of a big fat lie. But since I always hear pescatarians refer to themselves as vegetarians for simplicity in talking to people, I thought it'd be okay to use that tag)

Quick Veggie Chili - Four Spoons

This is such a yummy, comforting and stick-to-your-ribs dish - you'll never miss the meat.

I'm one of those "a little bit of this, a lot of that" kind of cooks so my recipes may be frustrating for some. I promise this recipe is delicious and almost impossible to mess up. 

Quick Veggie Chili

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I served this in shallow bowls with thick tortilla chips around the edges.  We each topped it however we liked -  my preference was for a big dollop of sour cream in the middle, cheese and avocado around the dollop and cilantro everywhere.  

I'm going to make a big ol' pile of nachos with the leftovers tomorrow.  This would also be great as a filling for tacos, or served over rice.