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Substitute Yourself Skinny

This book review has been a while coming. I wanted to get it up as we are all in that summer swimwear mode now.I received a copy of Substitute Yourself Skinny by Susan Irby, the Bikini Chef a few weeks back from FSB Associates. Susan is a trained chef who has worked with likes of George McNeill, Todd English, and Ming Tsai. In addition she has cooked for some celebrities. Substitute Yourself Skinny is a pretty good source as diet food books go. The recipes seem full of flavor while cutting back on fat. I will admit I'm not a fan of all the ingredients used (sugar free instant pudding), but for the most part I can get down with most of the ingredients. Eachof the 175 recipes has information on  calories on the original recipe versus the book (SYS) version , and nutritional breakdowns. The  picture above, is Susan's Smitten For Molten Chocolate Cake. Relatively easy, using natural ingredients, its comes in at 191 calories as opposed to the Original recipe of 451calories. The taste was very satisfying and rich. I wont post the recipe directly , as I haven't asked for permission. But....
Here is some more information and recipe below.. I will  hosting  two additional book giveaways coming up this month on some more great summer reading and cook books. Stay tuned.

10 Simple Food Substitutions to Get Bikini Ready
By Chef Susan Irby,
Author of Substitute Yourself Skinny: Cut the Calories, Keep the Flavor with Hundreds of Simple Substitutions!
Bikini season is just around the corner! There's still time to get in top bikini shape and what tastier way than with these easy, simple, and delicious substitutions. Great tasting food doesn't have to be bland, boring, and flavorless. As the Bikini Chef, my food philosophy is fresh, fresh, fresh. Fresh citrus, fresh herbs, fresh natural ingredients that wake up your taste buds, are pleasing to your palette, and give you the satisfying flavors your body craves. In fact, most people love the lower calorie, lower fat substitutions once they've tried them and have gotten past their fear of trying what they perceive will be tasteless food.
The best part to these substitutions, besides achieving your bikini goal, is that they are simple substitutions you can make every day. Easy, affordable, and flavorful, these simple tips will help you stay in bikini shape all year long.
10 Simple Food Substitutions To Get Bikini Ready

  1. Using ½ wheat flour and ½ plain flour will make your scones more bikini but adding fresh wild raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries will also liven up the flavor, wake up the color, and give a fresh, flavorful twist to an otherwise boring biscuit.
  2. Cream sauces and creamy soups get most of their creaminess from fat and calorie laden heavy whipping cream. Use ½ nonfat milk and ½ nonfat sour cream instead for the same creamy texture without the unwanted creamy fat that will sabotage your bikini body.
  3. Eggs vs egg whites. Some people go the extreme and swear off eggs forever using only egg whites. However, using only egg whites can get expensive and eggs are necessary as a binding agent for many recipes. For breakfast, use 2 egg whites for every one egg for a leaner, lighter breakfast and when baking or making dishes such as burgers, use ½ whole eggs and ½ egg whites to keep the texture but save on calories, fat, and cholesterol. As a side note, the majority of protein in eggs comes from the egg whites, not the yolk, making them a deliciously healthy option all around.
  4. Cut back on the beef. If you crave a hamburger, make your own lighter, leaner version by using ½ lean ground beef and ½ lean ground turkey. You'll find you sacrifice nothing on flavor or texture but save yourself plenty on fat and calories. Enjoy these leaner burgers as smaller sliders for lunch, dinner, or for tasty bites at summer pool parties.
  5. Nonfat vanilla yogurt is a delicious substitution for mayonnaise. Use as a healthy substitution in chicken salad, tuna salad, and dipping sauces such as aioli. It is very flavorful and naturally creamy so you don't need to use a lot of it.
  6. Cut the cheese. Skip the cheese altogether but if you must have cheese, go for lower fat versions such as reduced fat cream cheese, reduced fat Monterey jack, reduced fat feta. If you must have your full fat versions, opt for freshly grated Parmesan or parmiggiano reggiano and cut back on the amount you use. Fresh, good quality cheese such as this has great flavor so a little goes a long way.
  7. Add a little citrus. The rind, or zest, of lemons, oranges, and limes is edible and adds a refreshing flavor to steamed or grilled vegetables, sauces, meat dishes, practically everything. Cut back on salt which causes bloating and add a little fine grate citrus zest for tons of flavor with no fat or calories.
  8. Most people love crispy bacon but it adds loads of fat and calories that are often an afterthought for many dishes. If you must have crisp bacon crumbles on your salads or even for breakfast, use leaner turkey bacon instead. It has great flavor and crisps nicely like traditional full fat bacon. Or, better yet, skip the bacon all together. If you are having a luscious salad, add fresh, crisp asparagus tips or diced fresh zucchini. For breakfast, substitute crispy no-sugar added bran cereal or fresh berries. Pass on the bacon, it's just not worth it.
  9. Watch out for sugary pasta sauces and dipping sauces. Sugar has empty calories that add up quickly. Instead, use freshly diced tomatoes with a little freshly chopped basil leaves or cilantro leaves. Add a hint of lemon zest, drizzle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil (½ tablespoon each) and finish with a small pinch of sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Toss with pasta such as penne or fettuccini or serve with baked wonton crisps.
  10. Wonton wrappers are perfect as crispy crackers instead of crostini and tortilla chips. Buy the squares and cut into triangles. Brush lightly with olive oil and bake in a 225º oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until crisp and golden. Top with salsa, serve with chicken salad or other dips as you would crostini and chips. As a bonus, they are inexpensive and unused wonton wrappers keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
© 2010 Chef Susan Irby, author of Substitute Yourself Skinny: Cut the Calories, Keep the Flavor with Hundreds of Simple Substitutions!
It's Greek to Me Greek Salad
By Chef Susan Irby,
Author of Substitute Yourself Skinny: Cut the Calories, Keep the Flavor with Hundreds of Simple Substitutions!

it's greek to me greek salad
Substitutions such as reduced-fat or nonfat feta cheese save on calories and fat; however, cutting back on the amount of extra-virgin olive oil in dressings is another key factor in keeping your recipes slimming.

½ head red leaf lettuce, washed, dried, and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 English cucumber, diced
2 large tomatoes, diced
¼ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
½ cup reduced-fat feta cheese crumbles
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste 

1. In a large mixing bowl, toss together the lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, bell pepper, olives, and cheese. Separately, in small bowl, whisk together the oregano, oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Pour over the lettuce mixture and toss well to coat.

2. Serve on salad plates as an entrée or side dish.

Original recipe: 440
SYS recipe: 177
Fat: 15g
Carbohydrates: 8g
Protein: 4g
Sodium: 469mg

Skinny SecretThis recipe has so many great flavors in it that you can skip on the heavy salad dressing, which can add up to over 500 calories to an otherwise light salad.
From Substitute Yourself Skinny by Chef Susan Irby, Copyright © 2010, F+W Media, Inc. Used by permission of Adams Media, an F+W Media, Inc. Co. All rights reserved. Photos by Albert Evangelista.
The above is an excerpt from the book Substitute Yourself Skinny: Cut the Calories, Keep the Flavor with Hundreds of Simple Substitutions! by Chef Susan Irby. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.
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Crispy Pata

A few months ago Certain Someone and I dined at Sunda, a hip Pan Asian establishment In Chicago. As is usually the case, I ordered the best entree of a Crispy Pata( Lechon). A pork shank roasted until crisp, skin and all and dipped into a garlicky vinegar sauce. Philippine in origin, It appealed  to the German pork lover Certain Someone was. He had no problem finishing off my dish,as it was very filling. 
So one day shopping at my favorite wholesale  meat market, I saw fresh pork hocks in a bin alongside pig  ears, tails, kidneys and hearts. I struck gold as I never see fresh pork hocks in the supermarkets, only smoked, with little meat.I confess I smoked up the house making this at home.But it was worth it .In the Philippines they usually boil and then fry the shank. On the internet I found several oven based recipes that seemed equally successful and less messy. I would recommend perhaps trying this on an outdoor grill this summer. Its tasty and rich. I used the leftovers the next day and placed over warm Soba noodles tossed with the vinegar sauce. It was heavenly.Certain Someone was mad I used the leftover bits for my lunch, naturally.

Crispy Pata ( Lechon)

 Fresh Pork Hocks
A few cloves of garlic( unpeeled) to taste
Bay Leaf
Black Peppercorns
*Fish Sauce (optional)
Vinegar Sauce
3 parts  White Vinegar to 1 part Soy Sauce
Minced Garlic to taste

 In a large pot, cover the  Fresh Pork Hocks in cold water. Add Bay Leaf, Peppercorns, salt, garlic cloves, and fish sauce . Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for approx 1.5  hours.
Remove  the hocks from the water.

On a lipped baking sheet , place a rack. Place the boiled hocks on the rack and roast at 450 F until the the skin starts to crisp and puff.Be sure you have proper ventilation in your kitchen. You will have to turn the hocks occasional to ensure it roasts crisp throughout. This may take about another 45 minutes or so.Remove once crisped to desired  doneness.
Mix up in ingredients for Vinegar Sauce and serve with the Crispy Pata to dip. 

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61st Street Farmers Mkt demo

Here is the video coverage from today's demo at 61st Street Farmers Market. It was an honor that a few fellow bloggers and friends turned out. Also Stephanie Izzard was at the Market doing Market School on behalf of the Common Threads Organization. I made Lamb Sliders with Rhubarb Onion Sauce where you can find here. Note I used Brown sugar in today's demo.

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Some Words on Reinvention

I like to think after all these years of blogging, I am finally finding my voice. The Courtney today isn’t the Courtney of yesterday which is apparent in old photos, views, passions, and beliefs. Today’s post is about reinvention, and not necessarily about food, or food blogging, but then again maybe it is? My friend AfroBella referred me to the PR folks at Eucerin to attend MORE Magazines Reinvention Convention. Eucerin sponsored Dr. Pamela Peeke, who gave a wonderful lecture on how to be your healthy fit best after 40. The same we focus on our overall health care, we need to do with our skin, the largest organ of our body. As cooks, proper care and nurturing of our skin, hands, and arms is essential to aid healing. Click here to take the Skin First Pledge.

More Reinvention Convention

Reinvent your career • Revive your look • Rev up your energy

Reimagine your future • Reinvigorate your sex life • Revise your priorities

Recharge your life

To say the day was so inspiring would be an understatement. Even now as I type this I am still buzzing on the wealth of information and shared stories I took away. With Speakers like Lee Woodruff, Dara Torres, Dana Delany. Dr. Pamela Peeke, and career coach Pamela Mitchell I realized I am in my Prime and there are so many new chapters to my story awaiting. I recognized pieces of me in stories ranging from coping with loss, being in a place career wise you don’t want to be and seeking change, tackling our changing bodies, and mostly important realizing being a woman over 40 is to be very relevant with knowledge to share. Funny thing I never really identified with being in that MORE demographic, but I am and I am proud. If you follow my tweets you will see I shared some tidbits from day with the hash tags of #skin first and #more invention.

For most of us blogging, we are already in some stage of Reinvention. I realized as I listened to career coach Pamela Mitchell that I was already practicing the 10 rules of reinvention by starting this blog. Coco Cooks has opened a whole new world for me that forced me to recognize my passion and give it legitimacy. Through the blog, I had many new opportunities, which parlayed correctly have led me to second career of sorts. It was evident that Age IS just a number (Dara Torres) and regardless if you are in the kitchen, playing field, or boardroom our hunger to succeed and have quality of life hasn’t subsided after 40. I’m reminded of a recent negative situation I have been going through with a person a decade younger. All I could think of as I listened to her know it all opinions, was  to keep on living little girl ( my mother’s favorite words). Life at 30 for you now will so different from when you reach 40.And 40 will be different from 50, etc. What you thought you knew or wanted, you really didn’t know or want at all. Reinvention, be it forced or planned, is key to a successful life.

Thank you Eucerin and MORE Magazine for reminding me of that.

*Disclosure. New Media Strategies, representing Eucerin US sponsored my attendance to attend More Magazines Reinvention Convention. A $198 value.

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Cajeta with Black Strap Rum From a Chicago Point of View

I love the diversity that is Chicago. Yet I have to admit, its still a segregated city in many aspects. 
I find the only areas where you can be truly integrated are the more expensive areas, where money or education is the common denominator. Other than that, your ethnic origin separates you. I live on a street that cuts from the east by the lake and flows  all the way west. If you were to drive down it , you would see how the neighborhood shifts from shabby yet  solid and genteel high rises by the lake inhabited by a racially diverse mix of academics, lawyers,doctors, students, and the mainly bourgeois.My world. A little South off this main road is the home of our nations president, Barack Obama.Continue driving a a few blocks  later  there is an immediate shift. A busy mostly African American  thoroughfare of people ranging from people doing questionable activities, regular folks passing through on Public transit, and just people hanging out. Barber shops,   African Braid shops,liquor stores,cheap fast foods, and neighborhood lounges, I couldn't even conceive of going into, but love to look into while driving by.This little section has another name, Tobacco Road which  is a paradox, because once this section of Bronzeville was alive and bursting with the greats of the African American music, and literary scene. Imagine these names hanging out and performing during the Great Migration of Blacks from the South,Nat King Cole, Lena Horne, Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke, Dinah Washington, Miles Davis, James Brown, Redd Foxx, Richard Wright , Joe Louis,Bessie Coleman, and Gwendolyn Brooks.Off the main road  today , young and affluent  mostly African Americans are staging a neighborhood comeback.Keep driving then it shifts to a little pocket of blue collar  Caucasians who haven't left the area and seems worlds apart from the whole  streets  dynamic. 
Then the road  it shifts to a predominately Mexican  feel with Taquería,Fruterías ,Carnicerías,
Pasteleria and  Panaderia. In addition to the small shops there are
  major super markets catering to the Latinos I want to visit and just explore, which I have been doing on occasion.It has been an education and eye opener . It was in one of these little shops I discovered Cajeta lollipops. Goat milk simmered down with sugar until it hardened to a lollipop .But Cajeta is often more recognized in a more sauce like  form. Spread on toast, , crepes,used as an ice cream topping, or eaten straight out the jar, its up to you to adapt it. I decided to mix my love of  Blackstrap rum with the slow cooked goat milk, vanilla  and sugar.

Cajeta with Buckwheat Crepes
 Cajeta With Black Strap Rum
*this recipe requires frequent stirring and attention. It will take abut 3 hours to complete. I went ahead and did house work while checking on my Cajeta within 10 minute intervals to stir while it was on a lower heat.
1/2 gallon (2 Qts Goat Milk) Cows milk can be used as well.
2 teaspoons of vanilla paste ( Nielsen Massey or 1 vanilla bean)
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda dissolved in 1 tablespoon water  for this reason to prevent the milk proteins from coagulating  and aiding in the caramelizing, browning of the Cajeta.
4 tablespoons Black Strap Rum or dark rum

In a heavy stainless steel pot combine Sugar, goats milk, a seeded vanilla bean and pod, or paste.Whisk to combine. Simmer on a low heat until sugar is dissolved.Carefully add the baking soda water and the liquid will fizz up a bit. Continue to simmer on a low heat but with the simmering action visible. Stir frequently. Over time the mixture will start to deepen and brown ( 1 hour). After the first hour start to add the rum in intervals and continue to stir even more frequently. You may want to adjust heat to less or more.. The  mixture should be reduced by a third, eventually to by half or more. Towards the end of cooking it will be deep and golden and start to bubble and come to rolling aggressive boil  as it's more sugar than liquid at this point.Don't let let the Cajeta get to thick as it will thicken while cooling down. Store covered in the refrigerator. If its to thick heat for 10 seconds in the ,microwave or warm container  in a batch of hot water before use.

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