Monday, January 2, 2012

Day 2, and my favorite sandwich.

I really promise I won't be blogging every day, but I mentioned that I would share my favorite sandwich when I made it this week. Recipe (and way too much annotation) is below.

Worked out more intensely today for the first time in a long time. Since November, I think. I did my super dorky step aerobics workout - Everybody Steps with Gin Miller. My senior year of college, I was trying to figure out a nice piece of exercise equipment that I could fit in my 400 square foot studio apartment, and I decided one day that I was going to start doing step aerobics. I am insanely uncoordinated, and hadn't really worked out in a long time at that point, so I decided to get a very basic intro video. That's exactly what this is. It's for beginners, but add a couple risers to the step and run around a little during the more boring parts, and you can definitely get a really, really good workout. I learned the basics of stepping with this video and I still go back to it when I haven't worked out in a long time. It's a 50-minute video, and according to my heart rate monitor, I burned 520 calories doing it. Not shabby! 

Emotionally, I am a little anxious, because i go back to work after a four-day weekend and that's always hard. I'm also emotional because it's my last week that I have at this location (with my beloved coworkers) as they are moving my unit (essentially, only 3 people at this point) to the main building. I've known about this for a few months now and I'm still not used to, or okay with, the idea. Typically, the day before I go back to work is the day where I definitely have some wine, so it feels odd to me to not have a glass (or 3) with dinner. To relax, I might do some yoga tonight on my Wii Fit - I plan on logging into the Wii every day because it wants to do a "body test" daily. I'm also planning on having some tea and working a bit on the novel I'm writing that I haven't opened in a long time. 

I am a boring blogger; sorry. I don't suspect that anyone reads this, but I like keeping it, and I figure I'd offer this delicious recipe to anyone who happens to stumble upon here. :)

Portobello and Red Bell Pepper Sandwiches

Here's my favorite sandwich that I just threw together one night and now I can't stop eating it. It's extremely variable, so I've made some notes underneath the recipe for possible customizations. My only camera is my iPhone, so I won't have any beautiful pictures to share, unfortunately. I love this sandwich because it can be served hot or cold. For dinner I like to serve it warm with steamed vegetables (such as the sad-looking broccoli in this picture); for lunch I don't bother reheating it and serve it with baby carrots.

Ingredients for four small-ish sandwiches

4 2-oz sandwich rolls (or bread) of your choice (see note)
2 large portobello mushroom caps (mine were about 80g each), stems removed and gills scraped out with a spoon, cut in half (to make 4 roughly equal pieces)
1 medium red bell pepper, each side sliced off (to make 4 roughly equal pieces)
2 oz fresh light mozzarella (see note), sliced into 4 roughly equal pieces
4 tbsp of reduced-fat mayonnaise (I use Kraft olive oil reduced-fat mayonnaise)
1/2 tsp honey mustard, or to taste 
1 clove garlic
a few baby spinach leaves, or greens of your choice
salt and pepper, optional

If the bread needs to be baked, preheat the oven to the required temperature; otherwise you can heat the rolls/bread any way you would like (toaster, on the "warm" setting in an oven or toaster oven). 

Heat a good non-stick pan over medium-high heat. If you don't have a good non-stick pan, you'll probably need to spray some cooking spray or add oil (I use an all-clad nonstick skillet that doesn't require any oil). Add the bell peppers and portobello mushrooms, and allow to cook. Flip them and press down on them occasionally.

While the vegetables cook, crush and mince the clove of garlic, and make your aioli by mixing together the mayonnaise, honey mustard, and garlic. If you want to get creative, feel free to add some herbs.

When the bell pepper starts to get brown spots and the mushrooms start to shrivel and release their liquid, they're almost ready.  For me, this usually takes about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the heat, and slice the peppers and mushrooms into manageable pieces so that they'll fit on your bread of choice. You might want to season them with salt and pepper - it depends on what type of cheese you use. If you use a salty cheese, there is no need to add salt.

Melt your cheese a little. You can microwave it briefly on a plate; otherwise, I typically spray the pan with a little cooking spray and add the cheese just until it starts to melt (if there's enough liquid left in the pan from the mushrooms, I just melt it in that.) You don't want it to be a big gooey mess, you want to be able to lift it with a spatula to put on your bread.

To assemble sandwiches, spread aioli evenly on the top half of each roll. Scoop up the melty cheese and place a slice on the bottom half of each roll. Top with the bell pepper and mushrooms evenly. Add a few leaves of greens of your choice (I like baby spinach) and top with the other half of the roll.

Serve hot or cold with a steamed or roasted vegetable (I like steamed broccoli or roasted brussels sprouts), or cold baby carrots.

Notes: You can use any bread you want, but I like using crusty bread rolls. The healthiest choice would obviously be a whole-wheat bread or roll, but I used Trader Joe's mini ciabatta rolls that you buy and then bake at home. There are a lot of "take and bake" breads available, and I like these for this sandwich because it tastes like freshly baked bread. They take about 12 minutes to bake, which is the perfect amount of time for the mushrooms and peppers to cook.

You can use any cheese you like; I like using a light fresh mozzarella (in the log form) because it is pretty mild and doesn't overpower the flavor of the mushrooms or aioli. However, today i didn't have any on hand, so I used a delicious parmesan-gouda blend and it was amazing. Might be too much flavor going on, though. The nutritional information I calculated was using the parmesan-gouda blend, which has 120 calories and 9g fat.  If you use a reduced-fat fresh mozzarella, you'd save about 40 calories and 5g fat.

Nutritional info per sandwich (calculated with parmesan/gouda blend):
254 calories
34g carbs
8.5g fat
11g protein

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