Twice Baked Potatoes

>> Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Now that I'm detoxing from my detox, it's time for a cheese smorgasbord! This recipe for extra cheesy twice baked potatoes is perfect for watching sports if you're into that sort of thing or awards shows if you are me and my sous chef and our motley crew of friends.  I whipped these babies up for the golden globes along with some pretty darn delicious hot wings. I'm still tweaking that recipe but this one is ready for action. I use neufchatel cheese because it has less fat but when you're eating carb blobs laden with butter and cheese, I doubt it makes much of a dent healthwise. Still, I can't tell the difference between full-fat cream cheese and this stuff and that means one less sit up I have to do (ha!)

These are so good and they travel well. You can make the up to a day ahead and all you have to do is bake them for the second time when you're ready to eat!

- 5 lbs Russet Potatoes
- Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt

- 8 oz Neufchatel or cream cheese, softened
- 1 stick softened or melted butter
- 8 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese, reserve 1/2 cup to sprinkle on top of the potatoes before they bake a second time
- sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- Potato innards once they've been baked once

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash and dry potatoes and pierce each one a few times with a fork. Place potatoes in roasting pan and drizzle with olive oil then sprinkle liberally with kosher salt. Roll the potatoes around and make sure they are nicely coated with olive oil and salt. Bake for 1 hour - 1 1/2 hours, remove from oven and cool for 10-15 minutes.

Cut the top 1/4 of the potatoes off, scoop the potato off the skin tops into a large bowl and discard the skins. Scoop out the rest of the potato leaving a 1/4 inch of potato on the skin so you have a substantial enough potato skin "bowl" that will hold up when you fill it.

Once all the potatoes are hollowed out, add the butter, cream cheese and shredded cheese to the bowl of potato innards.  Mash until the mixture is thoroughly combined and not too lumpy. Add up to 1/4 cup cream to smooth mixture. Taste and add salt and cracked black pepper as needed.

Fill the potato shells with the mixture and top with a sprinkle of cheese.

Increase heat to 475 and put the stuffed potatoes back in the oven. Bake until cheese is melted and potatoes are heated through.

You can also add some crumbled bacon or cooked chorizo to the mixture for more pop. This recipe is a huge crowd pleaser.



>> Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Welcome to the NEW and IMPROVED Picky Gourmet!
Hope you enjoy the new artwork and layout changes*.
Please let me know what you think!

*Special thanks to Brian for making all these changes!


Dark Chocolate Banana Bread Pudding

>> Friday, January 15, 2010

This, my friends, is why I had to detox. I spent much of December gorging on goodies like this awesome bread pudding, steaks in rich sauces, chips and dips and all manner of unholy buttery treats. January is my time to get back on track but I still have to share this amazing dessert with those of you who are NOT subsisting on beet juice and smoothies. I made this gluten free but it's even easier for you gluten eaters out there. You start with a loaf of white bread. I made mine from a mix using my new baby, the breadmaker (If you can't eat wheat, I highly suggest investing in a breadmaker. It has truly changed my life.)

If you've never had bread pudding before, this is a great recipe to try for your first time. Traditionally bread pudding has raisins (nasty!) and nutmeg (blech!) This recipe has chocolate and bananas and is sooooo comforting and yummy. It's great hot out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.


- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 4 eggs
- 1 cups milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup sugar
- big pinch of salt
- 14 ounces gluten free bread, preferably slightly stale, cut into 3/4"-1" cubes (about one loaf, cut it up and leave it out overnight to "stale" it up)
- 6.5 oz high quality, dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 1 large or 2 small bananas, peeled and cut into small pieces (I cut the bananas into 1/4 inch round slices then halved each slice.)

Preheat oven to 350 F
Cut bread into chunks and fill a buttered large shallow baking dish, around 9" x 13"

Beat the eggs. Whisk in the milk, starting with just a little at a time until the eggs are well distributed. Whisk in the cream, vanilla extract, sugar, and salt. Chop chocolate into chunks.

Mix the chocolate and bananas into the custard mix.

Spread out the bread pieces evenly in the pan.

Pour the custard evenly over the bread and swish it around lightly, trying to get it to absorb without squashing the bread too much. Fill any spaces and make sure the bread chunks are in a single layer.

Push chocolate chunks and bananas into the cracks and spaces and make sure the bread has absorbed enough liquid.

Cover the pan with tin foil and cook until it reaches an internal temperature in the center of 185 F. Then remove foil and cook until edges turn golden brown. Mine took 40 minutes covered and 10 minutes to finish.

Let rest ten minutes and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Adapted from:


It's Ovah!

>> Saturday, January 9, 2010

I made it! Seven days of clean, healthy eating.

I started this diet to push the reset button on my body. It worked. Instead of craving big heavy meals followed by sugar drenched desserts, I now want healthier, smaller meals. I woke up today knowing I could eat whatever I want...and I wanted oatmeal and blueberries.

I feel so great about the weight I lost and the healthy nutrients I put into my body. I don't want to undo all that good now that I the rules don't apply. My plan moving into 2010 is to eat healthfully during the week and give myself free reign on the weekends. Now that I have some healthy and tasty recipes up my sleeve, I feel prepared to nourish myself without feeling deprived. Now that my body is used to being properly fueled, I need to keep it up so I can have the energy to work out and the mental clarity to achieve my goals and make this my best year yet.

One benefit I haven't mentioned yet is the financial one. I spent about $65 on food for an entire week! That is nuts! I have been eating great and feeling full and satisfied for less than $10 a day. Not bad.

Now, a recipe: JUICE! I love juice almost as much as I hate cleaning my juicer. It's a conundrum.

 This juice gives me huge doses of kale and celery which I do not usually enjoy. My last juice recipe gave me two beets! Juicing really helps me painlessly incorporate the healthiest fresh fruits and veg into my diet. If you have a juicer and don't mind cleaning all 900 parts, give these recipes a try. You'll feel the effects immediately. This is like hulk juice.

Green Juice:

- 1 cup tightly packed kale
- 4 stalks celery
- 2 pears, cut into large pieces
- 1" piece of fresh ginger
- 1 lemon, zest and pith removed (I juiced mine with a citrus squeezer right into the glass)

Juice everything into a glass, being sure to alternate the kale with the other ingredients to help it get through the juicer easily (I follow each small bit of kale with a celery stalk). Give the juice a stir before drinking.  MMMMmmmmm!


On the 5th day of detox...

>> Thursday, January 7, 2010

I'm feeling the effects. The good, the bad and the ugly. I'll tell you about the good and the bad but spare you the ugly.

The good:
- I've lost 6 lbs so far! I can tell that my face looks thinner and I am less puffy everywhere.
- I've learned some tasty and super healthy new recipes.
- I feel more energetic
- I have more mental clarity and focus, I find myself able to get a lot more done during the day
- My appetite has decreased considerably
- My cravings for sweets and salt have gone way down (I still crave cheese but I think that's my soul talking)

The bad:
I've experienced every negative side effect you can imagine from this diet. Most of them started to dwindle by day 5.
- headaches
- skin rashes
- having to pee every 30 seconds
- nausea
- temperature fluctuations
- intense cravings
- having to eat some nasty stuff

Up until today, the good seemed to outweigh the bad but I can feel the scales beginning to tip and I am happy to be moving into the next phase of the detox.

Day 5 went like this:
- Wake up: 7:00, glass of room temp lemon water
- Mug of herbal tea: 7:15
- Smoothie made with almond milk, frozen mangoes, raspberries and blueberries and protein and greens powder: 8:00
- Coconut Water: 11:30
- Asian Pear: 1:00
- Beet, Apple, Carrot Lemon Juice 5:00
- Cucumber Avocado Soup: 7:30

The beet juice was AWESOME! I don't usually love beets (I am learning to like them) but this juice was sweet and sour and just plain tasty. If you have a juicer, you really should try it. The SOUP on the other hand was basically inedible. Maybe I did something wrong or maybe my lime was too old but the soup was really bitter and incredibly sour and salty. Not a great combo. I love limes and can drink lime juice straight but this tasted like thick, salty lime juice. No thanks.

Here is the recipe for the juice:
- 1 large or 2 medium beets, peeled and cut into wedges (if the core is really tough and fibrous, discard it or it can make your juicer cranky)
- 1 lemon, zest and pith removed (I juiced mine with a citrus squeezer right into the glass)
- 2 large carrots
- 1 large apple, cut into wedges
- 1" piece of ginger

Juice everything into a class and stir well, then drink up!


Four down, three to go!

>> Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Detox day four was my best day yet, despite facing temptation the likes of which would bring any foodie to tears.

Tuesday was the day of my weekly cooking class and this weeks subject was yeast breads. Now I can't eat yeast breads even when I am NOT on a detox diet but that doesn't mean that the smell of a freshly baked sticky bun doesn't make my mouth water and sock me right in the gut. Even though I can't eat wheat breads, I still need to know how to make them and I also love school and my classmates and never want to miss a day of class so I geared up with a super hearty, detox friendly breakfast and went to school.
In class we made this:

and this:

and these:

And, this is the one that really hurt my feelings, this:

I took the bottom two pictures but after the pizza nearly caused me to commit hari kari, I got out of Dodge. One of my awesome classmates took the top two pics and sent them to me so I could see how the challah I made came out. Looks delish. I cry.

The important thing to note about all this was that I made it through! I survived and I even felt SO good, I went to the gym for 40 minutes of cardio and came home to do some Wii Fit yoga. The gym went well, the yoga, not so much. Does anyone else have an issue with that bitchy yoga instructor bossing them around? My pants were slippery and I kept losing my balance in tree pose and that skank kept yelling at me to "GET BACK ON THE BALANCE BOARD!" When I flipped her off instead she said "I know you took a break back there but it's important to keep at it." That's when I turned off the game and collapsed on the couch.

Day Four's food was awesome. Here's a breakdown:
- Wake up: 6:30, glass of room temp lemon water
- Mug of herbal tea: 7:15
- Smoothie made with almond milk, frozen black cherries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries and protein and greens powder: 8:30
- Gluten Free Oatmeal made with almond milk topped with fresh blueberries and toasted pecans: 9:15
- Coconut Water: 1:00
- Miso Soup: 3:30 (I used a packaged mix, don't tell Gwyneth!)
- Dinner of Salmon steamed on leeks, garlic and lemons with spinach and brown rice: 6:45

The oatmeal was hearty and delicious. Even my non-detoxing boyfriend had a bowl!

The Miso soup was surprisingly filling. I only ate half a bowl and I didn't eat any of the tofu or scallions (I cheated by using a mix but I still tried to follow the rules by not eating the soy.)

The best meal was dinner, this salmon is redic. I am thinking about having this meal once a week to make sure I get some of that healthy fish in my diet. Here are photos and the recipe:
- 1 leek cut in half across the middle and then lengthwise
- 1 6 oz. salmon filet (Gwyneth says Organic, mine was not)
- 2 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- a cup of your favorite fresh greens (kale, spinach, dandelion, chard, etc.)
- 1/2 a lemon
Line your steamer with the leeks, lemons and garlic.
Rest the salmon filet on top of the leeks and add a pinch of salt and pepper.

Steam for 11 minutes. Put the greens alongside the fish and steam for an additional 7 minutes.
Squeeze the lemon over the fish and greens and serve.
SOOOOO filling and tasty. You won't believe how much flavor is infused by the leeks and garlic.

Onward and upward to detox day 5!


Day 3 of Detox

>> Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Day three I deviated a bit from the GOOP plan because it's not terribly convenient for me to make smoothies or oatmeal at my job. Instead of having oatmeal for breakfast, smoothie for lunch, and various juice concoctions for dinner, I did this:
- Wake up: 7:00 - glass of room temp lemon water
- Mug of herbal tea: 7:30
- Smoothie made with almond milk, frozen mangoes, raspberries and blueberries and protein and greens powder: 8:00
- Coconut Water: 11:00
- Asian Pear: 1:00
- Butter lettuce, cucumber and avocado salad with carrot ginger miso dressing: 2:30
- Braeburn apple: 4:30
- Dinner: 1/2 can Anderson's Pea Soup (I didn't make my own soup because I was on the go. This soup is vegetarian, gluten and fat free and doesn't have any detox no-no's but I still felt guilty eating it: 7:00
- Snack - handful of roasted peanuts in the shell
- Smooth Move Tea and tsp of olive oil before bed

Cravings for cheese and peanut butter were intense. The worst part of the day was the salad. I was SO looking forward to it but the heartburn I experienced last time I had this dressing was NOTHING compared to what I felt today. It felt like my chest was in a vice. A vice made of fire. With spikes in it. It hurt SO much I could barely breathe.  Clearly my body reacts poorly to something in that dressing. I think it might be the shallots or the ginger. I only ate half the salad which left me pretty hungry but I was able to resist temptation and stay strong.

Here is the recipe for the broccoli and arugula soup I had yesterday. It looks gorgeous and tastes almost as good :)

- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 yellow onion, roughly diced
- 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets (about 2/3 pound)
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1/4 teaspoon each coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup arugula (watercress would be good, too)
- 1/2 lemon

Heat the olive oil in a medium nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté for just a minute or until fragrant. Add the broccoli and cook for four minutes or until bright green. Add the water, salt and pepper, bring to a boil, lower the heat and cover. Cook for eight minutes or until the broccoli is just tender. Pour the soup into a blender and puree with the arugula until quite smooth. Be very careful when blending hot liquids; start slowly and work in batches if necessary (you don’t want the steam to blow the lid off). Serve the soup with a bit of fresh lemon. Makes two servings.


Detox Diet Day Dos

>> Sunday, January 3, 2010

Todays detox took roughly this form:

- wake up: 9:30 (slept in! crazy!)
- Glass of room temp lemon water: 10:00
- Giant mug of herbal tea: 10:40
- Smoothie made with almond milk, frozen mangoes, raspberries and blueberries and protein and greens powder: 11:45
- Coconut Water: 1:00
- Handful of raw almonds: 2:30
- Dinner of Detox Chicken and brown rice: 5:30
- Dessert/Snack of CranPeary Granita

I didn't eat enough today because my schedule was out of whack. I woke up late feeling a little yucky and didn't want my smoothie until late. I basically skipped out on lunch and ate lunch for dinner. I don't recommend this but I wasn't hungry enough to stuff more meals into the day. The chicken recipe was not my fave. You really missed the salt and it was too "chicken-y" for my taste. I just don't like poultry no matter how much I try to convince myself I do. Unless it's fried with some sort of garlicky dipping sauce, count me out. I was, however, craving protein so I tried to eat at least half of one large boneless, skinless breast with a heap of steamed brown rice.

I still don't feel like I have loads of energy. I think going to the gym at some point will help. Some yoga might help kick things into gear.

The highlight of today was my granita. This is a recipe I made a couple of days ago to try out my new ice cream maker (X-mas gift from sous chef!) I would tweak this recipe if I weren't using it for the detox but as it is now, it really hit the spot. Leaving the pulp and cranberry seeds IN and not straining them gives this dish an interesting texture. It's more toothsome than your average sorbet or granita but when you're detoxing, that can be a welcome change.
Here is the recipe:

- 1 package (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
- 2 ripe pears, peeled and cored
- 1/2 cup agave nectar, or to taste
- 1/2 cup pomegranate juice (or cranberry or cranberry blend)
- juice of 1/2 of small lime

Chop pears into chunks and put into food processor.

Add cranberries and liquid and blend until completely pureed.

Pour mixture into ice cream maker and turn it on.

Check mixture after 20 minutes. When it's frozen through, transfer to an airtight container and freeze for an additional 2 hours or until it has reached your desired consistency.

Adapted from


Detox Week: 1 down 6 to go!

>> Saturday, January 2, 2010

Today was the first day of my week long detox diet. So far, so good! Using recipes from GOOP, I feel great about the food I've eaten today. So far I have lost 13 pounds, my hair has grown two inches and I have so much energy, I no longer need more than 20 minutes of sleep per day! Yeah, no. Not really. Truth is, I feel kind of crummy. I think this is to be expected. It's called a detox for a reason, out you toxins, out!
I started the day with lemon water then some minty herbal tea. Mmmm. Lovely way to start the morning. Breakfast was a smoothie made with fresh blueberries and almond milk with some protein and greens powders thrown in for good measure. It was super tasty and kept me full for a long time.
Mid-morning I had a coconut water. I love that stuff. It has to be icy cold though or it tastes like hot tub water. Gross.
Lunch was a salad and O! what a salad it was: butter lettuce, radicchio, avocado and cucumber. The best part was the dressing. Here is the recipe:
- 1 large carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 large shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh ginger (easy to peel, use a spoon!
- 1 tablespoon sweet white miso
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame seed oil
- 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
- 2 tablespoons water

Pulse the carrot, shallot and ginger in a blender until finely chopped. Scrape down the sides, add the miso, vinegar and sesame seed oil and whiz together. While the blender is going, slowly drizzle in the grapeseed oil and the water.

This dressing is SO flavorful. Detox or no detox, I will be eating this dressing a lot in 2010. Unfortunately, it gave me awful heartburn so tomorrow I will remember to take an acid reducer in the morning.

Afternoon snack was a handful of pepitas and sunflower seeds. Meh. Filled me up enough.

Dinner was another GOOP recipe, broccoli and arugula soup. It was ok. Very filling and warm. I am enjoying this diet so far. Feeling full but knowing I am eating healthy, cleansing foods makes me happy. At this point I'm not having any major cravings and I look forward to tomorrow!