The Cheesecake Addiction

My Life in Food

Archive for the category “healthy”

Simply Rustic

Hello Readers. Upon a fridge raid yesterday, I discovered that the only thing that really grabbed me were the little cherry tomatoes in the corner. And I had that left over Italian bread…and the garlic and fresh basil on the counter. Bruschetta. Boom.

Really simply, I just chopped two big cloves of garlic and all the tomatoes. I tossed it with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of balsamic, salt, pepper, and fresh basil. Absolute perfection. And so wonderfully rustic.




Summer Salad, Risotto, and Chicken!

Well, I guess I should play a little catch-up, huh?

When last we met, I had mentioned that I was FINALLY going to get around to fulfilling a New Year’s resolution. Roasted Chicken. And ladies and gentleman, it was finally successful. Granted, CDR made it. I only helped a little. But I watched closely. And I think I learned where I’ve gone wrong. First and foremost…I think I haven’t been cooking thoroughly thawed chicken. I think I’ve been putting it in the oven when the cavity is still partially frozen. Secondly…I think it’s just a lack of patience that I’m dealing with.

Anywho, the cavity of this four pound chicken was stuffed with lemon slices and parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Then, under the skin went a mixture of honey, melted butter, salt, pepper, and paprika. On top…more melted butter, and then a dry rub that had chipotle, paprika, turmeric, and some other stuff. A Be Your Own Chef moment. We roasted potatoes and carrots underneath. The photo below is before it was even finished (we actually ate it so fast that we forgot ?to take fully-cooked photos…but doesn’t it look delicious?)

It baked for about 2 hours at 450 (knock it back to 350 after about an hour). Note the trussing method! We cut slits in the skin and stuck the legs through. Be sure to cover the breast meat with foil while it bakes (you can take it off for the last 45 min).

We also threw some aromatics (cinnamon stick included…on a personal mission to use up all my cinnamon sticks by January and there’s A LOT to use up) into a crock pot with the chicken carcass…sorry for that visual and made an amazing stock out of it. It just cooked on low for ten hours. Strain it, jar it, and fridge it. That picture is coming soon, but here’s one of the aromatics.

Celery, Cinnamon, Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, Onions, Garlic, Carrots

Other culinary adventures? CDR and I went to Hopleaf Bar in Andersonville and had mussels for two! Amazeballs.

Last night, I made some mushroom risotto using the chicken stock that we made. That was pretty fantastic, although I would have like to use a few different kinds of mushrooms–but I was lazy and in a hurry. I used a sweet white wine as well and some thyme, sage, garlic, and shallots for additional flavoring. Salt and pepper, too, of course.

For lunch today, I sliced up 5 strawberries, 1 roma tomato, and a few sprigs of rosemary and drizzled it with the tiniest bit of olive oil and balsamic. S&P as well. It was delicious, though it could have used a little something extra. Maybe garlic or mint?

Don’t let those summer berries go to waste!

Life continues to go on. A series of DIY projects are taking over my room and garage and that keeps me a little busy (despite the rest of my crazy schedule). Off to the Cape in a week, where I’m sure the real healing will begin.

If you’re lost and alone Or you’re sinking like a stone…Carry On. May your past be the sound of your feet upon the ground. Carry On.

And so I do.

It’s a photo blog!

Hey everyone!
It’s been a few days. Tonight, I will attempt to roast a chicken (and I will succeed).
But it has certainly been a food-filled couple of days. Yesterday, while baby sitting I made kale quesadillas…and got little Janine to eat them. We also made really yummy vegan brownies. Lots of fun.

And a couple days earlier, I made a Mexican feast! Marinated flank steak, lemon-cilantro rice, peppers and onions, and mango avocado salsa. I won’t lie to you. I rocked the shit out of that night’s dinner. See below.

So, a more heartfelt blog post is coming at you either tonight or tomorrow. Tomorrow morning I have an interview for a part time teaching position at a preschool. I’m wildly excited and horribly nervous, but hopefully I’ll have good things to report. Last night was a wonderfully therapeutic night out with friends. We caught up and laughed and seethed about the happenings of Summer 2012. I hope you enjoyed the photos, people. Back soon.







Loaded Tuna Melt

Hey, kids. Wow. 6 weeks flew so fast. I find myself hours away from the opening of Wizard of Oz–exhausted–but determined to stand up and steer the ship (or balloon, or…Oz puppet…or something…). An hour ago, I was trying to catch up on a bit of sleep when I got an email from my grandmother: The Stratford Festival has released its 2013 season…and would I like to go? Back to Canada?

Again, six weeks has flown. Feeling that dip again, I decided I needed to pull myself together. Stop moping, turn the news off (thoughts and prayers to CO, by the way…how absolutely heartbreaking), wake up, and for cry eye! Stop listening to Eleanor Rigby. Seriously, crazy. Stop it. You have cupcakes to make, a green dress to slip into, and a great show to call.

So, I get into the kitchen…and decided something. I don’t NEED to make cupcakes today. It is someone’s birthday–but I’m allowed–just this once–to buy the cupcakes from a store. I’m frickin exhausted and simply can’t spend two hours making 70 cupcakes. I just can’t. This is big, guys. This was Anna taking time for Anna.

But I was still hungry. And the potlucks at tech the last few days have been one carb and sodium overload fest that I decided I needed to make something healthy, packed with protein, and veggies need to at least make an appearance. Tuna Melt, anyone?

Let’s start with the tuna. The trick with tuna salad is to keep it moist enough, and for a a tuna melt–simple enough, without losing the integrity of the tuna. Just took two small cans of tuna (still too much for one person, but the leftovers are good) and drained them and mixed it in a bowl with 1/4 cup diced onion, 1 heaping teaspoons of dijon, 2 1/2 heaping teaspoons of mayo (I used LIGHT), and a couple dashes of hot sauce. And to try something new, I also added a few dashes of fish sauce. Salt and pepper, too, of course.

I buttered two pieces of bread (just on one side), and began layering up the sandwich (in the meantime, I had a small frying pan heating up on the stove). Extra sharp cheddar cheese, some tuna, lettuce, tomato, red peppers, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

And you should all know the cooking method. Just like a grilled cheese. Pan fry till the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.

Delicious. Sure, not as healthy as it could have been…but it really wasn’t that unhealthy. The worst of it was the butter and mayonnaise, but there are always other options for that. You can pan fry in a little bit of olive oil (or even coconut oil), and omit mayo from the salad. Options, options, options. Experiment.

I am thankful tonight, that I get to go make art with some of the world’s best people. Never have I been a part of a process  in which every single member of the production team, crew, and cast are of the purest of hearts. Perks of working with kids, right? Their wonderful energy and spirits have really helped me get through the last month. And I am so proud of all of them. I hope you all come see it. Stahl Family Theater on Austin and Belmont in Chicago. Tickets are $12, curtain is at 7:30. You should all come.

Hold on to your breath, Hold on to your hope, Hold on to your heart…

One Week Left…

Last night, I sat with my director, Geoff, and my assistant stage manager, Paul, in a booth at Baker’s Square for “post-rehearsal feelings eating” pie. We all decided to give something up.

“Let’s all give up something,” Geoff said. “What should we give up?”

“Last year, you tried to give up biting your nails,” I offered, searching my brain for the thing that I would give up. Geoff’s eyes got wide, as he put his hand down in the center of the table, waiting for us to make up our minds.

“What should I give up?” I asked

“Facebook statuses,” Paul said. I gave them a look that said, “I never turn down a dare,” and put my hand in the center. Immediately though, I pulled back.

“Wait. I have to advertise my blog.”

“Facebook statuses that are song lyrics,” Paul offered again.

“YESSS! Do it!” Geoff encouraged.

My heart grew heavy. It’s true that I have heavily overused the song lyric Facebook status lately–especially the sad song lyric status update. Now let me clarify, when I do that, it’s NEVER to get sympathy or comments or likes. EVER. It’s in all honesty, just for me. It is how I am feeling in that moment, and I do not need anyone to sympathetically comment with a “:-( I hope you feel better.” But, it’s gotten a little out of control and I suppose this heart could stand a little shelter and would do well to come off of my sleeve.

Mildly desperate,  I said, “What if they’re happy lyrics.”

“NO!” Geoff and Paul exclaim. “It’s gotta stop.”

A deep breath. I put my hand in the middle of the table and say meekly, “Ok.”

“I’m going to give up pop!” Paul boldly announces.

Gasps all around. Best of luck, Paul.

So, no more song lyric updates, I promise. Good thing I found the loophole. What’s that you say? I have a blog? And song lyrics frequently appear in the entries? LOOPHOLE. But I’ll hold off as long as I can.

While I sat, eating chicken tenders and pie and Baker’s Square, CDR was elsewhere, making paper boats for our solstice celebration. And we are one week away, people! And I think I have done very well in terms of eating divinely. 🙂 Oatmeal and fruit for breakfast everyday. Often a light lunch of veggies, fruits, crackers, cheese (and ok, sometimes a glass of wine). Dinners have been packed with lean proteins and delicious veggies. And I haven’t baked yet this week.

Here’s a picture of a yummy–and ok, maybe decadent–lunch for two:

Cheese, bread, tomatoes, prosciutto, and a fig balsamic glaze.

And my dinner last night was DELICIOUS! I boiled up some whole wheat angel hair with a yummy sauce. I put three smashed cloves of garlic in a cold skillet with several tablespoons (maybe 1/4 cup) of EVOO (thanks, Rachel Ray), with maybe half a teaspoon of crushed red pepper.  When the garlic was sufficiently fragrant and toast-y, I added three chopped tomatoes and let those cook down before adding about a cup of arugula. Once it wilts, add the juice of one lemon. Be sure to salt and pepper as you go and to taste. Toss the pasta with the sauce and add 1/4 cup of grated cheese of your choice–I went with cheddar. Delicious. And totally Divine.

Mmm, girl!

So, I’ll stay in my kitchen listening to a playlist about 50 songs long that features such gems as Jaded, What’s In It For Me, and The Middle. (yep, I’ll milk the loophole). I’ll keep it off of Facebook, but no promises for this space. And if you’re ever curious, you know where to find me.  I leave you with:

I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell…


You Are What You Eat…

If this was a facebook status, it would go as follows: Anna Rose Morrell is [coming] back from that soul vacation, tracing her way through the constellations…

Yes. It’s a Train kind of morning…and of course, on of those “I had an emotional epiphany last night” kind of morning.

When last we met, I spoke of ringing in the solstice feeling like a Goddess. Well, you know what? I feel like one. I went to the farmer’s market yesterday to pick up something for lunch. I landed on some beautiful fresh arugula and some deliciously ripe organic strawberries. All I needed was a balsamic vinaigrette to drizzle on top. It was so good, guys! And so rustic and simple. Natural. If you’ve been a reader long enough, you know that arugula–or rocket lettuce–is my favorite green. It is so peppery and spicy. And I guess this is total ignorance on my part, but I always thought that arugula had the nutritional value of iceberg lettuce. Nope! It’s really healthy for you! It is low-cal, rich in Vitamins A and C, and is rich in copper and iron. SO yay. GO arugula. Here’s a photo of the salad…

Green Goodies

But tell me, did you fall for a shooting star? One without a permanent scar…and did you miss me while you were lookin for yourself out there…?

Yep. The epiphany part. As if it wasn’t coming…

The last week was rough (I won’t bore you with the details), and it essentially all culminated into a cleansing, soul-purging sob-fest on the beach at midnight last night (or early this morning). Thanks CDR, for the company, by the way.  The “why” is difficult to say exactly. I just know that sentiment got the better of me, and after a week of living with my heart in my throat, being distant and detached the tears started to fall. It was a beautifully calm night–the water was like black glass, and there were lots of stars out. Heckate–Goddess of the Night and Crossroads–was present in the breeze. And all through the tears, a desire growing. A need to feel exhilarated came over me and as always…the water beckoned. The water was freezing. SO cold. But I kept wading in–gospel style–weighing my options. I could plunge, get my clothes soaking and not have anything to wear to church (the perks of staying away from home for a few days)…or I could stay dry. Well, people, staying dry is never an option for me.  CDR threw our shoes and electronics on the beach, and on the count of 3, we dove! Heckate gave way to Demeter, as we came up gasping for breath–cradled in the arms of Nature. Exhilarated, dripping, and Goddess-like I returned to shore with music in my head. And are YOU reading this? For the first time in a week, it was happy music.

Can you imagine no love, pride, 8-hour bus rides….🙂

Feel stuck? Dive, baby. And eat from the Earth.

On this spinning ball in the middle of space, I love you from your toes to your face…


Healthy Eatings

Is everyone else diggin the fact that it hasn’t rained in five days? I certainly am. And Happy Fourth of July, by the way. So, I’ve said that I haven’t been able to cook a lot lately, due to my rehearsal schedule. I leave home at five pm and usually don’t get back till around eleven or later , depending on whether or not we go out to Baker’s Square for some pie afterwards. Usually, that means I get home and if I’m not full from the pie I just ate, I eat whatever is left over from my family’s dinner–often a heavy pasta dish. So, my eating schedule has been completely wacked out. And I’ve been feeling gross and quite lethargic. The past few days I’ve been trying to eat as healthily as possible. I mean, my daily chocolate intake was getting out of control.

So, my breakfast has been either oatmeal (which I’ll be honest, is NOT my favorite) or yogurt and strawberries. The probiotics in all natural yogurt are so good for you and they also speed up your metabolism. I’ve been going for low fat plain yogurt (I really like the sour taste, as opposed to vanilla) and some strawberries on top. It’s also been reminding me of a cup of frozen yogurt from Pinkberry, a chain in California. To calm my sweet tooth, I’ve crumbled some graham crackers on top. For snacks, I’ve been eating a lot of fruit, mainly bananas with some peanut butter. I’ve also been keeping hard boiled eggs in the fridge.

But I wanted to tell you about the salad I just made for lunch. I pan fried (in very little olive oil) a boneless chicken breast, seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin. I cubed it up and put over some spinach. I added tomatoes, dried cranberries, slivered almonds, and a sprinkle of some parmesan cheese. I made a very light vinaigrette using olive oil and my fig balsamic vinegar. The olive oil I’ve been using is actually a blend of sunflower oil and extra virgin olive oil (75% sunflower, 25% olive). It’s a healthier option, and has much fewer calories per serving. Anyway, I put a little bit of honey into th dressing for some low-fat sweetening, salt, pepper, and some rosemary. After dressing the salad, I helped myself to about a cup of it. I’m trying to keep portions in mind–which has been difficult.

Pictures on the way, I promise. But, yeah, I misplaced my camera cord again.

In other news…well, there really isn’t any. I’ve been doing well for the most part. A little ups and a little downs. Catch you guys later. Enjoy the holiday weekend while it’s still here, and enjoy this amazing weather.

Tuna Burgers

Hey everyone! I just finished reading (literally two hours ago) Richard Russo’s That Old Cape Magic, a novel that takes place largely on Cape Cod. It wasn’t very sad at all, but often, my eyes would well up as the Cape was described in perfect detail, and made me long to return. August. It’s not that far away. But anyway, as I was closing the book, Rachael Ray was on tv, cooking up some cod burgers and recalling her childhood on Cape Cod. All of a sudden, I was craving a lunch that reminded me of sitting on our deck, a block away from the ocean, and enveloped by trees (Woods Hole, guys). I could have run out to the store and bought seafood salad, and put it in a pita pocket with some avacado…a standby lunch when I’m there, but I don’t trust seafood salad in the midwest. I looked through my pantry and saw a small can of tuna. Okay, tuna burgers…um, burger.

Drain the tuna and put it in a bowl. I added a few heavy-handed tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, half of a clove of minced garlic, about a teaspoon of chopped scallion, a pinch of ginger (if I had fresh ginger on hand, and a larger quantity of tuna, I would have used that instead), half of a beaten egg, and a few crackers that I had crushed completely so that they resembled bread crumbs. I mixed it all together and then formed it. An interesting tip in forming tuna burgers—because they aren’t as sturdy as ground beef—is to line a small tupperware container with plastic wrap and put the tuna in there. Remove the tuna from the container (wrapped in the plastic) and there you have a nicely formed burger. Put it in the fridge to set up–that’s what mine is doing right now. It can hang out in there as long as you want, and that’s a good thing, because I’m not quite hungry yet.

Okay, a few hours later. I heated a little bit (a VERY little bit) of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet and pan fried the tuna burger—about three minutes a side. I toasted some whole wheat bread and sliced some tomatoes. I put some whole-grain mustard on the toast, then the burger, then tomatoes, and a few pieces of lettuce. I can’t even tell you how satisfying it was. Healthy, too. I wanted to take a picture, but this time I couldn’t find my camera. Here’s a picture of my house in Woods Hole. Is that better?

Mexican Comfort Food

Hey guys! Now, I honestly made this food on Saturday, but I had been meaning to tell you about it for a while. I’ve said before that when I’m feeling down or stressed I usually go for foods that remind me of California or Cape Cod. Saturday, I went for California. The pictures I took were not that great, so you’ll have to use your imagination. I made salsa and guacamole along with all the fixins for chicken burritos. The chicken was seasoned with salt, pepper, and cumin and then pan fried in a VERY hot and olive-oiled pan. When it was done cooking, my mom shredded it using the two forks method.

For the salsa, I halved A LOT of cherry tomatoes and finely diced one and a half small white onions. In went three or four finely minced cloves of garlic, a couple tablespoons of  chopped cilantro, and half of a jalapeno pepper–de-seeded and diced. About a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, the juice of one and a half limes, and salt and pepper finished off this salsa nicely. Let it sit for about twenty minutes before digging in so the flavors can mingle. The guacamole was made up of four avocados, three cloves of garlic, half of a finely diced white onion (though red onions work really well too), one chopped roma tomato, some chopped cilantro, salt, pepper, and the juice of a lemon. Mash the avocado with a fork, and mix together. Voila.

For the burritos I also made rice, which was seasoned with lime juice, garlic, and cilantro. I made a side of black beans, also seasoned with lime juice and cilantro. Cheese to top it off and it was one helluva comfort meal.

I have a feeling that the next few days will yield a lot of baked goods. Cheers!

Orzo, Oranges, and Grapefruit…OH MY!!

Thank you Giada de Laurentiis! Her recipe, calls for a pasta called fregola. It’s like an Italian cous-cous, but basically impossible to find–even in an Italian market! So, I used orzo instead.

Her recipe is here:

I excluded fenel seeds, because I didn’t have them. First I made orange oil. That’s 1/2 cup of olive oil, with the zest of a whole orange. I cooked the orzo in half water, half chicken stock. I put it in a 9×13 to cool down. In the meantime, I segmented my orange and grapefruit and squeezed out the juices in a separate bowl. I diced the red onion and chopped 1/2 cup of mint and 1/4 cup basil. The mint really makes the dish. Really! Toss it all together

Oh my god! Just follow Giada’s recipe, if mine’s not detailed enough. But this is the best salad I’ve ever had. Seriously. I made this on Monday, and spring popped up the next day…I’m not saying the two are related, but maybe this salad had something to do with it because it is so wonderfully springy. Enjoy!

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