Tuesday, February 28, 2012

How A Pork Tenderloin Saved My Life - Part 4, The Determined Dieter

In which our heroine picks up the pieces of her broken heart after receiving the devastating news that she won't be headed for a career in food super stardom on the Food Network show Recipe to Riches...

Click here to begin reading previous installments of our ongoing BlogDrama.

***

The next day I awoke, still battered and bruised, but with the slightest glimmer of hope that maybe this wasn’t the end to all my dreams after all; and as I foraged in the refrigerator looking for something to eat for breakfast, I began to formulate a new plan.

When I was given my golden ticket in Vancouver, the judges advised me to come up with a marketing plan for my Gobblers, and in the two weeks since, I had spent a lot of time researching food and nutrition with the niggling feeling that perhaps I could be putting my money where my mouth was health wise - after all, who was going to buy "the next big thing in healthy snacking" from someone who got out of breath tying her shoes?

With that in mind, I decided to  turn my disappointment into opportunity by embarking on a weight loss plan!

I envisioned myself returning  to audition for the show next year, this time branding myself as “The Determined Dieter” - wowing the judges with my new found physique, incredible resilience, and fabulously healthy recipes - and as the brilliance of my plan began to take shape, I could slowly feel the hope seep back into my being. Although I had been on every diet known to the Western Hemisphere, including one that involved an unfortunate incident with Chinese Detox tea and a swimming pool, this time was going to be it! I was grabbing the brass ring to my own happiness and was about to set sail by launching the Determined Dieter as a series of videos that would ultimately chronicle my road back to fitness and health.

The first video debuted on The Kitchen Witch, on March 20, 2011. Wearing a tight fitting white spandex suit, running shoes, and a sporty hair do I, the Determined Dieter, appeared on camera and effusively announced to the world that this time I was going to succeed.

Dieters everywhere know this as the “euphoria stage” of a weight loss plan. The brain, in a calorie deprived and somewhat addled state, cannot figure out what the big deal with weight loss was ever about. We cheer for Jenny Craig as Valerie Bertinelli walks across pool decks on our television screen in a tiny bikini, and become suddenly judgmental toward the weak minded masses and their ice cream sundaes, smug in our new found disdain for sugar, salt, and fat.

Euphoria lasts approximately two to three weeks and usually comes to its unfortunate end during barbecue season, major holidays, or when your significant other goes shopping - which is what happened to me. Three weeks into determined dieting, the man I married bought an economy sized bag of Thunder Crunch chips  and tried to hide them, sneaking into our bedroom like a covert spy, the offending bag stashed under the covers, quietly crunching under the guise of watching the news. But I knew better. Armed with olfactory senses that border on paranormal when I’m hungry, I caught him red handed - not only eating Thunder Crunch chips in our bed, but dipping them into my favourite, creamy dill!


I had now officially moved into the “What the hell am I doing stage” of the health plan. Recognized as detente by determined dieters the world over, in “what the hell am I doing” the brain begins to generate thoughts like “Life is too short,” and “I’d rather be fat and happy” while we once again change the channel and mutter “Bitch” under our breath when the Jenny Craig commercials come on.

In the meantime, though, I was still video documenting my struggle and with only three weeks in, it seemed a little premature to throw in the towel.  I had set goals, after all, and despite food cravings that would drive a lesser dieter insane, I had begun a jogging program and had slowly started to notice increments of success.

During the first few times out I could only run for about a minute at a time interspersing incredibly slow jogging with even slower power walking, but here at the tail end of my first three weeks, I was able to slow jog for ten minutes straight and was quite amazed by my body’s ability to bounce back and recreate itself. Somewhere in the ethers of my soul  I sensed a metaphor – that if the body could bounce back so completely, perhaps a life could too and so I ignored those voices urging me to quit, continuing on as The Determined Dieter so that by the beginning of week four I had lost ten pounds. 

And that was when everything changed. After writing an inspirational blog about my ten pound weight loss, I arrived home from work to find a comment from my blogging friend Brenda at Brenda’s Canadian Kitchen  informing me of a brand new food related contest called The Real Women of Philadelphia. It encouraged home cooks to create recipes with Philadelphia Cream Cheese and feature them in home videos! Better still, it was set up as a community! Not only would home cooks with a passion for video have the opportunity to display their culinary fabulosity to the world at large, they would be among and supported by their own kind.

Despite my initial excitement, though, two questions emerged: Could I cook with cream cheese and remain true to myself as the Determined Dieter? And could I stand another disappointment if it didn’t go my way? In the end I made the decision to take a chance and go for it. The world of cream cheese needed a determined dieter as its spokesperson and who better than me to fulfill the job?

***

Click HERE  for part 5 of our continuing saga!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Bacon Wrapped Turkey Breast with Truffle Butter Infusion

There's nothing I like better than getting creative in the kitchen in order to come up with an interesting new recipe and today's turkey isn't just creative, it's down right delectable! The slight hint of truffle marries perfectly with Applewood smoked bacon. Together, they infuse this incredibly moist roast turkey with flavour that is off the charts.




















A simple pan gravy compliments of Knorr's, truffled mashed potatoes, and vegetables round out the dish making it a perfect Sunday dinner any day of the week and a show stopper for easy and elegant entertaining.

For the printable recipe click HERE.

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step how to video!



Ingredients
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 tsp white truffle oil
  • 1/4 tsp truffle salt 
  • 3 lb boneless turkey breast roast
  • 1 tsp truffle salt
  • 1 tsp Herbes de Provence
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6-8 slices smoked Applewood bacon
  • 1 package Knorr's turkey gravy mix
  • 1/4 cup sherry
Note, this recipe can also be made using lemon herb butter and lemon herb salt.

Directions
  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the butter and truffle oil together. Season with salt to taste. Spoon the butter onto a large piece of plastic wrap and form into a log, about 1 inch thick. Wrap the log tightly and place in the freezer until ready to use.
  2. Using a sharp knife, make 16 slits in the roast as per video instructions.
  3. Cut the frozen butter into 4, 1/2 inch discs and cut the discs into 4 equal pieces. Cut an extra 1/2 inch disc to rub over the turkey. Re-wrap the truffle butter and return to the freezer for future use.
  4. Insert butter into each of the 16 slits.
  5. Massage the last disc of butter into the turkey breast.
  6. Blend the additional truffle salt, Herbes de Provence, and garlic powder and massage into the meat. 
  7. Wrap the roast in bacon as per video instructions, place the roast, bacon seam side down, onto a roasting rack in a shallow roasting oan and roast at 325 for app 2 hours until the roast reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees or 190 for well done.
  8. Remove roast from oven, tent, and let rest for 15 minutes while you make the gravy. 
  9. To make the gravy, remove all but 1 tsp of the fat from the roasting pan. Pour in the package of gravy mix and mix together with the remaining pan fat removing all brown bits from the bottom. Whisk in 1 cup cold water and 1/4 cup sherry. Return to medium high heat and continue to whisk until thickened. 


***

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Asparagus Sole Bundles with Lemon Tarragon Cream Sauce

February. Almost March. It's the time of year I begin to grow antsy for spring - and what says spring better  than fresh asparagus and Dover Sole?

I love this recipe not just because it's super quick and easy, and takes nothing to clean up - I love it because it tastes very fresh and is a great to incorporate fish into your diet.

I hope you enjoy today's step be step video!




For the printable recipe, click HERE

Ingredients
  • 6 large fresh sole filets
  • 24 fresh asparagus spears
  • 1/2 cup water mixed with 1/2 cup good white wine
  • 1 tbsp melted butter 
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • New carrots peeled and kept whole (about 16)
  • 1 container  Philadelphia Cooking Creme
  • juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • milk to thin the sauce if needed
Directions
  1. Salt and pepper the filets and then wrap 4 asparagus spears into each.
  2. Mix the wine, water, butter and garlic in a shallow baking pan and add the fish seam side down.
  3. Add the carrots.
  4. Cover tightly with tinfoil and braise in a 450 oven for 20 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, make the sauce.
  6. Combine cooking creme, lemon juice, and tarragon and whisk until smooth over medium heat. Thin out with a little milk if needed. Serve over the fish and veggies.

Author:

Lyndsay Wells is a professional trainer, writer, and program developer with a passion for food and cooking. She is an award winning recipe developer, and a website ambassador for Kraft Foods Canada. Lyndsay believes cooking should be approachable and easy and has great tips and ideas for putting together sophisticated looking dishes that cooks of all levels can accomplish.

Visit her daily on her blog, The Kitchen Witch or on her YouTube Channel, CHARMED With The Kitchen Witch.

Facebook Twitter YouTube

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How a Pork Tenderloin Saved My Life - Gobblers!

This is the ongoing saga of my experiences in the world of recipe competitions in 2011. To read last week's installment, click HERE.

We left last week with our cooking Divah, aka yours truly, getting ready to take her fabulous offering to the judges during the Season 1 open call auditions for the Food Network Canada show Recipe to Riches in 2011.

Part 3

Cooks of all ages, gender, and circumstance were assigned numbers and waited nervously in holding rooms - each filled with the hope that opportunity would provide that one big break and every time a cook went before the judges and a coveted golden ticket was given out signifying the lucky cook would be going on, the tension in the air thickened so that by the time it was my turn I had already convinced myself I should have stayed home.

Too late for that, I was instructed to walk into a large studio and stand behind a curtain. My offering would be wheeled into the room ahead of me at which time I would be expected to walk in, stand on my mark, and do whatever I could to make an impression on the three judges: Award winning innovator and ground breaking marketing expert Tony Chapman CEO of the advertising agency Capital C, Dana McCauley, chef, author, food trends expert, and culinary director at Jane's Family Foods, and esteemed celebrity chef, author, Iron Chef Judge and expert in French Cuisine, Laura Calder.

There is something intensely vulnerable about presenting food you have created to a group of people who are there with the sole mission to judge, and though I was convinced I had just fed these three Titans of Taste the worst possible entry in the history of food related contests, I was shocked when they not only said they liked my gobblers, they damn well loved them and I was presented with a gold ticket!

The rest of the day was spent walking on air. We made the last ferry back and I excitedly presented my gold ticket to anyone willing to listen to my ebullient claims that “No matter what happened, I had already won!”

There was, of course, not a shred of truth in the statement. Anyone who has the nerve to enter a competition – and by anyone I mean me - does so with the sole intention of going all the way.

I am being honest.

In our human frailty there lies a need to be recognized for the good things we do, and appreciated for our talents  I am no different than anyone else, and certainly, no less fallible.

Two weeks later, I received word that I had made the short list. I was not only in the running for consideration to be on the show, they were serious enough about me to require that I complete a background check!

“This is it,” I thought, and spent the next two days haunting my email and phone, checking, checking, forever checking, waiting for the nod to let me know my ship hadn’t only come in, it was ready to set sail; and finally, that following Wednesday I received the call. It was 8 am BC time. Vaughan answered and then quietly pantomimed that it was them.

“Hello,” I said in the most engaging Food Network Star voice I could muster, “This is Lyndsay...”

It’s funny how quickly everything can change. In one moment I am a person perched on the edge of possibility with open skies and limitless dreams stretched before me, and the next – in one short sentence “We’re sorry but we won’t be asking you to come onto the show” my hopes were dashed into icy stinging shards.

I know there are far worst phone calls I could receive on a random Wednesday - after all my loved ones were all still alive and well - nevertheless, I was crushed, and as I looked over at my husband, his disappointment for me written all over his face, I could feel the tears emerging.

It wasn’t going to happen. My life wasn’t going to change. My dreams were the silly meanderings of a middle aged woman and had no basis in reality.

I wasn’t what they were looking for.

Hell, I wasn’t what anyone was looking for.

Crushed, disappointed, and devastated beyond belief, I vowed never to put myself in a position of that kind of vulnerability again and comforted myself with an economy bag of ripple chips, a tub of dill pickle dip, and a 2 litre bottle of Diet Pepsi because, who needed the extra calories, and proceeded to eat and drink myself into a carbohydrate infused stupor that lasted two days, until my good sense came back and I remembered I’m a fatalist.

I believe that when we look back over the hard times in our lives, the results, in retrospect, are often surprising because it’s usually the things that devastate and disappoint that give us opportunity to learn and to grow and that it isn’t about the situation but rather the way we view the situation that dictates what the outcome might be.

In a burst of the kind of wisdom that comes from twenty five years watching Oprah, I reminded myself that just because the first ball you hit isn’t a home run, it doesn’t mean you should ever stop swinging. This was my first food related contest ever, and in 45 minutes, I came up with an idea that was good enough to almost get me onto a national television show.

Not only does that still make me smile, it begs the very real question: What if this was the best thing that had ever happened to me and I just didn’t know it yet?

***

Don't ever let defeat define you. When you look at disappointment as a gift  and an opportunity and are willing to mold your vision to ride the winds you are currently faced with, all journeys are possible. Don't limit yourself. Take NOTHING personally, and know with your entire being you are brighter than the sun.

That we are even here is a miracle.



***

Click here for the next installment of our saga and come back tomorrow for a delicious video featuring Asparagus and Sole Packets with an easy Lemony Tarragon Cream Sauce.

And now... would you like my recipe for Gobblers? Just click this link!