Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March Menu for 2010 Dinner Challenge

Aside from my individual 50 goals for 2010, I'm participating in a competition to complete 10 challenges in 2010 with 40+ other people. One of the challenges is to cook a meal each month consisting of at least 2 courses that is shared with at least one other person.

Because I'm in South Carolina for the year and don't hang out with many people, I've come to rely on my mom to be my dinner companion for purposes of this competition. It's really fun - I get to be as inventive as I want to be, and because she's my mom, she can critique things she doesn't like without bothering me too much. The process is significantly improving my culinary skills, I think.

We had March meal this past Saturday evening. Part of the "egregious waywardness" I mentioned in my last post was related to cooking this meal. Of course, most of it wasn't - everything I prepared was WLS-friendly or at least WLS-tolerable, and the craziest stuff I ate wasn't a part of this meal whatsoever (as you'll see, there's no Edy's slow-churned ice cream or Cheerios on this menu.) But, that's another subject for another post (maybe. If I decide to relive the horror.)

Anyway, here's what I cooked for my mom Saturday night, with photos from my Blackberry:

Spiced Strawberry-Rhubarb Apple Cider
Braeburn apples, strawberries, rhubarb, lemon, cinnamon, ginger, clove, artificial sweeteners

Shrimp & Grits
Carolina shrimp, soy grits, squid ink, fat-free cream cheese, fat-free cheddar sprinkle, extra lean turkey bacon, avocado, jalapeño

Venison Rouladen
mustard, dill pickle, extra lean turkey bacon, scallion, in soffritto

Savory Cheesecake
fat-free cream cheese and sour cream, spinach, chicken breast sausage, mushrooms, leeks, toasted light Italian Flatout triangles, Fiber One-parmesan crust

Braised Cabbage
granny smith apple, pinto beans, tomato, lemon, white sesame seeds

Deconstructed Chocolate-Hazelnut Soup
white chocolate frozen Fage 0%, vanilla caramel sauce (Nature Sweet brown), sweet potato, pecans, baked banana chips, "candied" orange supremes, fresh strawberries, Nutella (NOT WLS-FRIENDLY! Ok for non-op mom! And the soup itself has no Nutella in it - cocoa, choc protein, Almond Breeze, SF syrup - all good stuff)

Cooking is one of my favorite creative outlets. I've already designed the menu for April, and it's going to be interesting! There's a spring/Easter/Passover/pea & carrot theme. I can't wait.

If I can afford it, my next goal is to learn more about plating and get some different shapes of white plates to complement the food better. I know this month's entree looks particularly bizarre. Oh well - I'm a work in progress.

I'll spare you a detailed exposition on the food for now, but can give more details, reviews, or recipes if anyone's interested. However, I must let WLS people know that soy grits leave much to be desired texturally. But with 130 calories, 19 grams of protein, 14 total grams of carbs with 7 grams of fiber, and just 1 gram of fat in 1/4 cup dry (over 1/2 cup cooked), I'll definitely be eating them again.

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