Friday, December 25, 2009

(123) Scallops with Browned Butter Vinaigrette

I don't make scallops very often, but we decided to add a little surf to go with the turf for Christmas Eve dinner! This recipe was VERY easy and so fantastic! This served 4 for us (3 scallops each), but you could make a full meal of it for 2 people! Don't skimp - use the big scallops!!

Scallops with Browned Butter Vinaigrette

Source: Adapted from an Epicurious recipe
Yield: 2 or 4 servings

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 large sea scallops (about 1 pound)
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1/3 cup chopped shallots
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Cook butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until deep golden brown and most of foam subsides, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Transfer butter to bowl, reserving skillet.

Sprinkle scallops with salt, pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon thyme; add to reserved skillet and cook until just opaque in center, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to plate.

Add shallots, a small amount (~ 1 to 2 tsp, as needed) reserved butter, and remaining 1 teaspoon thyme to skillet; saute until shallots are softened. Remove skillet from heat. Add remaining browned butter and vinegar; stir to blend. Season vinaigrette with salt and pepper.

(121) Spinach Gratin

In my book this recipe is hands down the winner of my Christmas meals!! OH HOLY GOODNESS!! I wanted to eat this and not much else. I thought I had ruined it after I added the salt. It calls for a full Tablespoon. I put half of that in there and it was SALTY. But it sat in the fridge while we went to church on Christmas Eve. Then we came home and I baked it. VOILA. Not salty at all - just right! So try a teaspoon or a tsp and a half. You can always salt it on your plate after you serve it!

Also, we used plain swiss instead of Gruyere. Gruyere cost a fortune ($12 for a small square at my grocery store!) and maybe I'm cheap, but I went for swiss. It was still delish! This is a recipe I see getting repeated often.

PS: This seems to yield 12 (or more) servings, not 8.

Spinach Gratin

Source: Barefoot Contessa Parties
Yield: 8 servings (but to me, more like 12+!)

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
4 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
2 cups milk
3 pounds frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (5 (10-ounce) packages)
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add the flour and nutmeg and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes. Add the cream and milk and cook until thickened. Squeeze as much liquid as possible from the spinach and add the spinach to the sauce. Add 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and mix well. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.

Transfer the spinach to a baking dish and sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and the Gruyere on top. Bake for 20 minutes until hot and bubbly. Serve hot.

(122) Horseradish and Mustard-Crusted Beef

We like to do a beef tenderloin for Christmas. It's tough to come up with different ways to cook it, so this year I thought I'd try this recipe. I had to cook it a LOT longer than the recipe calls for to get it to 145 in the middle. I'm not sure if it was my cut of beef or the fact that my oven was full or what?! It never really browned either (maybe it wasn't supposed to?!), but it was still so tender and delicious! So the moral of the story, go by your meat thermometer. 145 degrees coming out of the oven = is a perfect pink!!

PS: I made it way ahead of time and just stuck it in the fridge! This is so super easy!!

Horseradish and Mustard-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 3 ounces)
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, December 2004

Prep this entrée up to a day ahead, then just pop it in the oven. It'll be ready in only 35 minutes. Be sure to ask for a center-cut beef tenderloin, which has a consistent width and cooks more evenly than a piece with a tapered end.

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 (2-pound) center-cut beef tenderloin, trimmed
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
Cooking spray

Combine mustard and horseradish; spread evenly over tenderloin. Pat breadcrumbs into mustard mixture. Wrap tenderloin in plastic wrap; refrigerate 1 to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Remove and discard plastic wrap from tenderloin. Place tenderloin on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145° (medium-rare) or until desired degree of doneness. Place tenderloin on a cutting board; cover and let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

CALORIES 205 (40% from fat); FAT 9g (sat 3.3g,mono 3.6g,poly 0.6g); IRON 1.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 63mg; CALCIUM 37mg; CARBOHYDRATE 5.5g; SODIUM 199mg; PROTEIN 24.1g; FIBER 0.4g

Monday, December 21, 2009

(120) Pretzel Turtles

These are absolutely the cutest things ever! And they are SO GOOD. One of my favorite candy bars is "Take Five" and this is very much like that (minus the peanut butter part). YUM. So easy, so good. Did I mention they are good?! :)

Pretzel Turtles

Yield: 20 pieces

20 mini pretzel twists
20 chocolate covered caramels (aka: Rolos)
20 pecan halves

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2) Arrange the pretzels in a single layer on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Place one chocolate covered caramel candy on each pretzel.
3) Bake for 4 minutes. While the candy is warm, press a pecan half onto each candy covered pretzel. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Nutritional Information per piece:
Calories 78, Fat 1.9g, Sodium 263mg, Carbs 14.1g, Fiber .6g, Protein 1.6g

(119) Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints

This was another win from the December Cooking Light! These are little bites of chocolaty goodness!! Can't go wrong with chocolate, nuts, and Nutella

Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints

With a double shot of chocolate and hazelnut flavors, kids and adults will rave over these filled cookies. The espresso powder is optional, but it intensifies the chocolate flavor.

Yield: 28 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie)
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, December 2009

4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon instant espresso (optional)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1/3 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt; stir with a whisk. Place butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Stir egg yolks with a whisk, adding espresso, if desired. Add the yolk mixture and vanilla to butter; beat well. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined.

3. Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper; knead 6 times or until smooth and shiny. Shape dough into 28 (1-inch) balls. Roll sides of balls in nuts, pressing gently. Arrange balls 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press thumb into center of each cookie, leaving an indentation. Bake, 1 batch at a time, at 350° for 10 minutes. Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks. Spoon a scant 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut-chocolate spread into center of each cookie.

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 104 ; FAT 6.5g (sat 2.7g,mono 2.3g,poly 0.4g); CHOLESTEROL 23mg; CALCIUM 11mg; CARBOHYDRATE 10.9g; SODIUM 46mg; PROTEIN 1.6g; FIBER 0.8g; IRON 0.6mg

(118) Chocolate Baklava

We forgot to cut it before we baked, but it still came out of the pan just fine! What a neat twist on baklava! The Nutella in the middle is AMAZING. Delish!

Chocolate Baklava

Layered phyllo dough and Nutella—the creamy chocolate-hazelnut spread—form the base of this nutty pastry dish that's sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

Yield: 24 servings (serving size: 1 piece)
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, December 2009

3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup water
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup blanched toasted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray
24 (14 x 9–inch) sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Combine the first 3 ingredients in a medium saucepan over low heat; stir until honey dissolves. Increase heat to medium; cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 230° (about 10 minutes). Remove from heat; keep warm. Discard cinnamon stick.

2. Preheat oven to 350°.

3. Place hazelnut-chocolate spread in a microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds or until melted. Combine hazelnuts and next 5 ingredients (through salt). Lightly coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Working with 1 phyllo sheet at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), place 1 phyllo sheet lengthwise in bottom of prepared pan, allowing ends of sheet to extend over edges of dish; lightly brush with butter. Repeat procedure with 5 phyllo sheets and butter. Drizzle about 1/3 cup melted hazelnut -chocolate spread over phyllo. Sprinkle evenly with one-third of nut mixture (about 1/2 cup). Repeat procedure twice with phyllo, butter, hazelnut-chocolate spread, and nut mixture. Top last layer of nut mixture with remaining 6 sheets phyllo, each lightly brushed with butter. Press gently into pan.

4. Make 3 lengthwise cuts and 5 crosswise cuts to form 24 portions using a sharp knife. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until phyllo is golden. Remove from oven. Drizzle honey mixture over baklava. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cover; store at room temperature.

Nutritional Information:
CALORIES 238 ; FAT 13.4g (sat 4.3g,mono 5.6g,poly 2g); CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 29mg; CARBOHYDRATE 27.8g; SODIUM 148mg; PROTEIN 4g; FIBER 1.6g; IRON 1.3mg

Sunday, December 20, 2009

(117) Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Last Christmas my neighbor (Tonya) made these cookies for the cookie swap. I couldn't stay away!! I had to make them this year. This recipe below includes the recipe for a cream cheese frosting. Tonya just used regular white frosting from a can. We made both ways this year and I have to say, I'm a fan of the white frosting, but you have your choice! Enjoy!

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

Source: My neighbor Tonya

2 packages (18 1/4 oz each) devil's food cake mix
4 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil

1-8oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup softened butter
3-4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
food coloring, optional

1) In a mixing bowl, beat cake mixes, eggs, and oil (batter should be stiff). Roll into 1-inch balls; place on ungreased baking sheets and flatten slightly. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

2) In another mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter. Add sugar and vanilla; mix until smooth. if desired, tint with food coloring.

3) Spread icing on bottom half of cookies. Top with remaining cookies.

(116) Classic Beef Pot Roast

I normally make my pot roast in the crockpot and I use a slightly different flavor/veggie combo. I liked this in the oven because we didn't have to wait all day for it! It's a knife and fork kind of pot roast. It was tender, but it was not falling apart like my crockpot version does.

I will make it again but will make a few adjustments. First, I will leave out the potatoes and instead do more carrots, some onion chunks, and whole mushrooms. We love mushrooms :) I will also serve it over noodles or mashed potatoes. There was so much delicious sauce, it needed something to soak it all up!

PS: I'm not sure this makes 10 servings....

Classic Beef Pot Roast

Cuts of beef that perform well for pot roasting go by many different names: Blade roast, cross-rib roast (or shoulder clod), seven-bone pot roast, arm pot roast, and boneless chuck roast are all acceptable cuts for this traditional recipe.

Yield: 10 servings (serving size: 3 ounces roast, about 3/4 cup vegetables, and about 3 tablespoons cooking liquid)
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, October 2006

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 (3-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 cup dry red wine
4 thyme sprigs
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
4 large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
2 pounds Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Preheat oven to 350º.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chuck roast with salt and pepper. Add roast to pan; cook 5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Remove roast from pan. Add onion to pan; sauté 8 minutes or until tender.

Return browned roast to pan. Add the red wine, thyme sprigs, chopped garlic, beef broth, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a simmer. Cover pan and bake at 350° for 1 1/2 hours or until the roast is almost tender.

Add carrots and potatoes to pan. Cover and bake an additional 1 hour or until vegetables are tender. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf from pan; discard. Shred meat with 2 forks. Serve roast with vegetable mixture and cooking liquid. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 307 (31% from fat), Fat: 10.4g (sat 3.5g,mono 4.8g,poly 0.5g), Protein: 28.6g, Carbohydrate: 23.7g, Fiber: 2.8g, Cholesterol: 85mg, Iron: 3.9mg, Sodium: 340mg, Calcium: 34mg

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday treats

It's that time again! YAY! I am SO not a baker, but I can't resist trying my hand at new treats around Christmas. Our cooking club makes cookies every December. We gather again this coming Sunday and I can't wait!! This year my contribution is a scrumptious gooey sandwich cookie that I got from my neighbor (and baking GODDESS!), Tonya. YUM. I can't wait!

I read an awful lot of food blogs and have recently come across two additional things I plan to make this holiday season. The first is macaroons. No, not the pile of coconut things. Blech. I'm talking about REAL macaroons. The French kind. *DROOL*. I fell in love with macaroons when we went to Paris a few years ago. They are heaven in cookie form! Let me tell you, the airport security guard almost made me leave them behind because the jelly was 'liquid like'!?! SAY WHAT?! There was an angry American woman in Charles deGalle!! Thankfully, he understood the lure of the macaroon and let me pass!! ( but not before he frisked my husband! WEIRD experience... but I digress).

I made basic macaroons a few years ago and didn't screw them up, so this year my attempt will be Candy Cane & Egg Nog Macaroons from one of my recently discovered blogs, Tartelette. She's a French woman living in Charleston, so I'm gonna go with my gut and assume she knows her macaroons!

The second thing I want to try just comes out of a recent craving. I don't know WHY (and no, I'm not pregnant!) but I have been craving caramel corn! Well lo and behold, my Google Reader delivered me this tasty post on Saturday! SCORE! Caramel corn, here we come!

So now, please share with me some other tasty treats that I need to try my hand at this holiday season?!! Let the calories begin!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

(115) Butternut Squash and Leek Gratins

This is one of those recipes that takes forever to put together. Maybe I'm stingy, but if I spend that much time working on a recipe, it better be DARN good and this one was!! My only comment is that the recipe states to test with a knife coming out clean. I don't quite understand how squash is supposed to ever be dry or clean?! So don't make the mistake that I did and cook it an extra 10 minutes! It was a touch dry, but that was my own fault. I will certainly make this recipe again!

Butternut Squash and Leek Gratins
Individual gratins bake more quickly than a large casserole would.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 gratin)
Source: Cooking Light, DECEMBER 2004

1 (2-pound) butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon butter
4 cups finely chopped leek (about 6 large)
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 375°.

Place squash halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 45 minutes or until tender. Cool 30 minutes. Scoop out pulp, and mash with a potato masher or fork until smooth.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Melt butter in pan. Add leek; cover and cook 20 minutes or until tender, stirring once. Reduce heat to medium-low; uncover and cook 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.

Combine sugar and next 5 ingredients (through egg yolk) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add squash and leek; stir until well combined. Divide the squash mixture evenly among 6 (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups coated with cooking spray. Place ramekins in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan; add hot water to pan to a depth of 1 inch. Cover pan with foil; bake at 325° for 25 minutes. Uncover and cook an additional 15 minutes or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven, and place the ramekins on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle 2 teaspoons Parmesan cheese over each ramekin.

Preheat broiler.

Broil gratins for 2 minutes or until cheese melts and begins to brown.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 186 (31% from fat), Fat: 6.4g (sat 2.6g,mono 2.2g,poly 0.8g), Protein: 8.6g, Carbohydrate: 25.9g, Fiber: 3.6g, Cholesterol: 181mg, Iron: 2.9mg, Sodium: 437mg, Calcium: 170mg

(114) Garlic-Rosemary Roasted Chicken

I did not do the entire recipe (roasted garlic & onions) simply because I didn't have the time or energy. But the rosemary and garlic under the chicken skin was AMAZING. So flavorful! I also rubbed about 1 Tbsp of olive oil on the bird to help with crisping. I will make this one again!

Garlic-Rosemary Roasted Chicken

When it first ran in our October 1996 issue, this dish was accompanied by five other roasted-chicken recipes, each one an herb-infused, earthy delight. Of all those recipes, this classic French version proved to be everyone's favorite. It's amazing how the simple combination of rosemary and garlic can so infuse the chicken, making it taste every bit as glorious as it smells when it's cooking in the oven.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 3 ounces chicken and 1 onion quarter)
Source: Cooking Light, APRIL 1997

1 (5 to 6-pound) roasting chicken
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
8 garlic cloves, crushed
2 medium red onions, quartered
2 whole garlic heads
2 teaspoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 450°.

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chicken. Rinse chicken under cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat. Starting at neck cavity, loosen skin from breast and drumsticks by inserting fingers and gently pushing fingers between the skin and meat. Place rosemary and crushed garlic beneath skin of breast and drumsticks. Lift wing tips up and over back; tuck under chicken. Place chicken, breast side up, on a broiler pan.

Cut a thin slice from end of each onion. Remove white papery skins from garlic heads (do not peel or separate cloves). Cut tops off garlic heads, leaving root end intact.

Insert meat thermometer into meaty part of thigh, making sure not to touch bone. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes. Brush onions and garlic heads with olive oil. Arrange onions and garlic heads around chicken. Reduce oven temperature to 350°; bake an additional 1 hour and 15 minutes or until meat thermometer registers 180°. Cover chicken loosely with foil; let stand 10 minutes. Discard skin from chicken. Squeeze roasted heads of garlic to extract pulp; serve as a spread on French bread, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 231 (30% from fat), Fat: 7.7g (sat 1.9g,mono 3.1g,poly 1.6g), Protein: 26.5g, Carbohydrate: 13.5g, Fiber: 2.7g, Cholesterol: 76mg, Iron: 1.4mg, Sodium: 78mg, Calcium: 50mg

(113) 20 Minute Chicken Creole

I got this recipe from our health & wellness website at work. I was a little leary, but figured hey, why not. I'm glad I took the chance! The veggies were a little crunchy, which was a nice surprise!! It was spicy, but not 'light you on fire' hot! I served over rice.

This quick Southern dish contains no added fat and very little added salt in its spicy tomato sauce.

Yield: 4 servings--Serving Size: 1-1/2 cup

nonstick cooking spray
4 medium chicken breast halves, skinned, boned, and cut into 1-inch strips
1 can (14 oz) tomatoes, cut up
1 C low-sodium chili sauce
1-1/2 C green peppers, chopped (1 large)
1/2 C celery, chopped
1/4 C onion, chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbsp fresh basil or 1 tsp dried
1 Tbsp fresh parsley or 1 tsp dried
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp salt

1. Spray a deep skillet with nonstick spray coating. Preheat pan over high heat.
2. Cook chicken in hot skillet, stirring, for 3-5 minutes, or until no longer pink. Reduce heat.
3. Add tomatoes and their juice, low-sodium chili sauce, green pepper, celery, onion, garlic, basil, parsley, crushed red pepper, and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
4. Serve over hot cooked rice or whole wheat pasta.

Each serving provides:

Calories: 255
Total fat: 3 g
Saturated fat: less than 1 g
Cholesterol: 100 mg
Sodium: 465 mg

Saturday, December 5, 2009

(112) Beef Chili with Bacon and Black Beans

I made this for a chili cook-off and I am so glad to have discovered the recipe! It's not quick, but it is fairly easy to make. We really enjoyed it! The bacon makes this dish very smokey and flavorful! I will certainly make this one again!!

Beef Chili with Bacon and Black Beans

Yield: About 3 quarts, serving 8 to 10.
Source: Cooks Illustrated, March 2003.

Good choices for condiments include diced fresh tomatoes, diced avocado, sliced scallions, chopped red onion, chopped cilantro leaves, sour cream, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese. If you are a fan of spicy food, consider using a little more of the red pepper flakes or cayenne--or both. The flavor of the chili improves with age; if possible, make it a day or up to five days in advance and reheat before serving. Leftovers can be frozen for up to a month.

8 ounces bacon (about 8 strips), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium onions , chopped fine (about 2 cups)
1 red bell pepper , cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 tablespoons)
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
2 cans (16 ounces each) black beans , drained and rinsed
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes , with juice
1 can (28 ounces) tomato puree
table salt
2 limes cut into wedges

1. Fry bacon in large heavy-bottomed nonreactive Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring frequently, until browned, about 8 minutes. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons fat, leaving bacon in pot. Add onions, bell pepper, garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, pepper flakes, oregano, and cayenne; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and add half the beef; cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink and just beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add remaining beef and cook, breaking up pieces with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add beans, tomatoes, tomato puree, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Remove cover and continue to simmer 1 hour longer, stirring occasionally (if chili begins to stick to bottom of pot, stir in 1/2 cup water and continue to simmer), until beef is tender and chili is dark, rich, and slightly thickened. Adjust seasoning with additional salt. Serve with lime wedges and condiments if desired.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

(111) Mediterranean Chicken Stew

A little bit of chopping beforehand paid off when it was time to actually cook! We all enjoyed this recipe. I didn't have any kalamata olives so I used regular black olives. This was delish eaten with the Creamy Polenta. For us, this was a 5 serving meal at a little more than 1c/serving. That was plenty!

Mediterranean Chicken Stew

If you plan to make the polenta, bring water to a boil while chicken is browning, then add polenta to water when beginning step three of chicken recipe.

Source: Everyday Food, Jan/Feb 2005
Yield: 4-6 servings

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 3/4-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
3 teaspoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 plum tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
2 tablespoons chopped pitted Kalamata olives (about 5)
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Creamy Polenta, for serving

1. Season chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. In a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook, turning occasionally, until golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

2. Reduce heat to medium-low; add remaining teaspoon oil to skillet. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chickpeas and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 2 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes; cook over medium heat until starting to break down, 3 to 4 minutes. Add olives, vinegar, and chicken along with any accumulated juices to pan; toss until warmed through, about 1 minute. Stir in parsley. Serve over polenta.

Nutritional Information for 5 servings (per
Calories 288.2, Total Fat 6.0 g, Cholesterol 81.7 mg, Sodium 1,163.7 mg, Potassium 355.4 mg, Total Carbohydrate 25.9 g, Dietary Fiber 5.3 g, Sugars 0.1 g, Protein 34.5 g

(110) Creamy Polenta

Delish! I have never quite had the knack for making a good polenta, but this recipe was it for me!!

Creamy Polenta

Source: Everyday Food - Jan/Feb 2005
Yield: 4 servings (approx: 3/4 cup per serving)

4 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon butter

1. In a large saucepan, bring water, salt, and pepper to a boil over high heat
2. Whisking constantly, very gradually add cornmeal. Simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently, until thickened, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Remove from heat; stir in Parmesan cheese and butter until smooth.

Nutritional Information (per
Calories 137, Total Fat 5.6 g, Cholesterol 12.7 mg, Sodium 1,001.6 mg, Potassium 74.3 mg, Total Carbohydrate 17.9 g, Dietary Fiber 1.7 g, Sugars 0.1 g, Protein 4.5 g

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!!

May your table be full of good food, good company, and wonderful memories!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

(109) Stacey's Sausage Stuffing

This comes from Stacey who was kind enough to share the recipe with me! She told me that it is "so good and so easy" and that she was excited for Thanksgiving to get here so she could hog on it :) After having made it, I can't say that I blame her!! She gave me her roundabout way of making it, but I'm going to try to write out exactly how I did it! I tested it today because I hated the idea of making a totally new recipe with an audience of 25 people! eek!

This makes a full 13x9" pan. I used only 8 oz of mushrooms, but I think for Thanksgiving, I'm going to use 16oz because the mushrooms are SO GOOD in this!

1/2 lb mild sausage (bulk - the kind in the tube)
1/2 lb hot sausage (again, bulk - the breakfast kind!)
1 large onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
3-4 Tbsp unsalted butter
16 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
14 oz bag of cubed herb stuffing (Pepperidge Farms)
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup water
handful of chopped sage (I used about 5 or 6 leaves)
handful of chopped fresh parsley (I used a few pinches of dried)
cracked black pepper - to your personal liking (I forgot this step! oops! I will probably use about 1/4 tsp next time I make it)

1) Cook the sausages in a skillet over medium-high heat until no longer pink. Chop up with your spatula so you don't have too many big hunks of sausage. [Stacey says she runs hers through the food processor!] Remove from skillet with a slotted spoon & place in a bowl. Wipe grease from skillet.

2) Melt 3-4 Tbsp of butter in skillet. Saute onions and celery until translucent and tender. Add mushrooms and saute until softened.

3) Place stuffing cubes in a large bowl. Soften the cubes with 1c water and 1c chicken broth. Add the onion/celery/mushroom mix and sausage to the stuffing cubes. Add the sage, parsley, and black pepper. Stir with a big spoon or use your hands to combine. Gradually add the remaining 1c of broth  until the stuffing is wet. (you can use even more water after this if you think you need it. I only needed the 3c liquid)

4) Spoon stuffing into a 13x9" pan sprayed with Pam. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes (until browned and crispy on top). Enjoy!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

(108) Bacon and Brown Sugar-Braised Collard Greens

I might live in Florida, but I was raised in Virginia - Southern Virginia, to be exact. I grew up eating collards and Smithfield ham and biscuits and corn pudding and all those other yummy southern dishes *drool*. I don't normally make collards following a recipe, but I had pulled this one out to try.

I made a few changes - I added 3 cups of water when the collards started cooking. I also added 2 more cups of water at the 1 hour mark. I cooked them 2 hours on a really low simmer. They were fine at 1 hr, but in my opinion, collards are one of those things you can't cook too much!!

PS: They were spicy, so if you dont like the heat, cut the red pepper down to 1/4 tsp or less!

Bacon and Brown Sugar-Braised Collard Greens

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)
Source: Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

Cooking collard greens in a lightly sweetened braising liquid curbs their bitter bite. This Southern-inspired side dish is great with grilled pork chops and corn bread.

2 bacon slices
1 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups water
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (16-ounce) package prewashed torn collard greens

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving drippings in pan. Crumble bacon; set aside. Add onion and garlic to drippings in pan; cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in crumbled bacon, 2 cups water, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper). Gradually add greens. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until tender.

Calories 60 (42% from fat); Fat 2.8g (sat 0.9g,mono 1.2g,poly 0.4g); Iron 0.2mg; Cholesterol 4mg; Calcium 90mg; Carbohydrate 7.2g; Sodium 208mg; Protein 2.3g; Fiber 2.4g

(107) Buttermilk-Brined Pork Chops

This is a new method/concept for me, but I'm totally sold!! The pork was moist and tender, flavorful from the herbs, and a touch salty. Perfect!

Buttermilk-Brined Pork Chops

Source: Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2004
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 chop)

Though these pork chops require overnight brining, they make dinner the next night a breeze. Brine these chops up to two days beforehand. Just remove from brine after an overnight soak, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until ready to cook.

2 cups fat-free buttermilk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; shake well to dissolve salt and sugar. Add pork; seal and refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally. Remove pork from bag; discard brine. Pat pork dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle pork with pepper.

Heat a large nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add pork; cook 3 1/2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

Calories 183 (35% from fat); Fat 7.2g (sat 2.5g,mono 3.2g,poly 0.6g); Iron 0.8mg; Cholesterol 69mg; Calcium 43mg; Carbohydrate 2g; Sodium 345mg; Protein 26g; Fiber 0.3g

(106) Oven-Roasted Squash with Garlic & Parsley

I don't make nearly enough squash, so this was a nice change for a side dish. Let me tell you, though, PLEASE just be safe and go with butternut squash. I thought I would be adventurous and bought 1 butternut and 1 buttercup squash. WOW. What a total pain in the rear! It took me nearly 30 minutes to figure out how to cut it and my hands HURT at the end. The 'skin' was totally thick. Sooooo, learn from my misfortune and go easy!! (butternut squash is pretty easy to cut!)

Watch the squash - I overdid it and mine was a bit too soft. I LOVED the garlic/oil at the end. I thought it would give me dragon breath, but nope, just YUMMY! This makes a ton, too, so you could easily half the recipe and have plenty.

Oven-Roasted Squash with Garlic & Parsley

Source: EatingWell Magazine, November/December 2009
Yield: 10 servings, about 3/4 cup each

Winter squash becomes tender and sweeter when roasted—a delicious side for a holiday dinner. Look for interesting squash like kabocha or hubbard at your farmers’ market and try them in this recipe. (Recipe adapted from Alice Waters.)

5 pounds winter squash (such as butternut, buttercup, kabocha or hubbard), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks (see Tip)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Toss squash with 4 teaspoons oil, salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until tender throughout and lightly browned, 30 to 45 minutes (depending on the variety of squash).
3. Heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant but not brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Toss the roasted squash with the garlic and parsley. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.

104 Calories; 3 g Fat; 0 g Sat; 2 g Mono; 0 mg Cholesterol; 21 g Carbohydrates; 2 g Protein; 6 g Fiber; 357 mg Sodium; 555 mg Potassium; 1 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving; Exchanges: 1 starch, 1/2 fat

Nutrition Note: Vitamin A (430% daily value), Vitamin C (50% dv), Potassium (16% dv).

Make Ahead Tip: Cut squash up to 1 day ahead; store airtight in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

(105) Sesame-Orange Shrimp

I am beyond impressed at how easy and delish this dinner was!! I loved the batter - kind of like the batter on sweet & sour chicken we get from the local Chinese joint! REALLY easy to put together. I served it over rice and with some sugar snap peas. This is a repeater for sure!

*image is from

Sesame-Orange Shrimp

These shrimp are super-easy to make—just coat them in a simple batter, cook them in a little oil and toss with a tangy sesame-orange sauce. The staff at EatingWell simply could not get enough of these delicious shrimp while we were developing this recipe. Serve with: Brown basmati rice and steamed snow peas tossed with a little toasted sesame oil.

Yield: 4 servings
Source: Eating Well Magazine - November/December 2009

3 tablespoons sesame seeds (white, black or a mix)
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (21-25 per pound)
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup dry sherry (see Note)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 scallion, thinly sliced

1. Whisk sesame seeds, egg whites, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half the shrimp and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the rest of the shrimp.

3. Add orange juice, sherry, soy sauce and sugar to the pan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced by half, 4 to 6 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan and stir to coat with the sauce. Serve immediately, with scallion sprinkled on top.

232 Calories; 10 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 5 g Mono; 168 mg Cholesterol; 12 g Carbohydrates; 21 g Protein; 1 g Fiber; 488 mg Sodium; 327 mg Potassium

1 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 starch, 2 1/2 lean meat
Nutrition Note: Vitamin C (43% daily value), Iron (20% dv).

Tips & Notes
* Note: Sherry is a type of fortified wine originally from southern Spain. Don’t use the “cooking sherry” sold in many supermarkets—it can be surprisingly high in sodium. Instead, get dry sherry that’s sold with other fortified wines at your wine or liquor store.

(104) Banana Bread

I put this together in literately 10 minutes or less. It came out BEAUTIFULLY and the taste! OH YEAH! I love this cookbook because it's all basic, good, homey food. This is just like mom's banana bread! YUM!

Banana Bread

Yield: one 9-inch loaf
Source: America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook

The key to great banana bread is ripe bananas. Be sure to use a 9x5" loaf pan that is at least 3" deep.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 very ripe bananas, mashed well (1 1/2 cups)
6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)

1) Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan with vegetable oil spray.

2) Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in a large bowl. Whisk the mashed bananas, melted butter, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla together in a separate bowl. Gently fold the banana mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in the nuts (if using). Do not overmix; the batter will look thick and chunky.

3) Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with just a few crumbs attached, about 55 minutes.

4) Let the loaf cool in the pan for 10 minutes before unmolding onto a wire rack to cool for 1 hour.

(103) Warm Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Red Onions

If you like Brussels sprouts, this is a recipe for you! Quite tasty and easy to make once you've got everything chopped!! I didn't buy applewood bacon because I'm cheap! Regular bacon worked fine.

Warm Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Red Onions

Source: Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2007
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1/2 cup)

Slice the Brussels sprouts to help them cook quickly, then splash them with a warm bacon vinaigrette. Use the best bacon you can find for this recipe.

2 slices applewood-smoked bacon
2 cups diced peeled Granny Smith apple
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 cups thinly sliced Brussels sprouts (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon stone-ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add apple, onion, and garlic to drippings in pan; sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add 2 tablespoons water and vinegar to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add Brussels sprouts; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in mustard, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with bacon. Serve immediately.

Calories 54 (25% from fat); Fat 1.5g (sat 0.5g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.2g); Iron 0.9mg; Cholesterol 3mg; Calcium 28mg; Carbohydrate 8.4g; Sodium 228mg; Protein 3g; Fiber 2.6g

(102) Sirloin Steak with Dijon-Port Sauce

This was an easy, delicious weeknight meal!! I think next time I would double the sauce as mine reduced down really quickly and a bit too much for me! I also think the sauce needed a little salt, but do so at your own taste!!

Sirloin Steak with Dijon-Port Sauce

Source: Cooking Light, October 2004
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 3 ounces steak, 2 tablespoons sauce, and 1 cup noodles)

The port and mustard create a rich, sweet, and spicy sauce. Serve the steak and sauce over noodles to soak up every last drop.

3 cups uncooked medium egg noodles
1 pound trimmed sirloin (about 1 inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray
1/2 cup port or other sweet red wine
1/4 cup minced shallots
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 cup less-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain; keep warm.

While noodles cook, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle both sides of steak with salt and pepper. Lightly coat steak with cooking spray. Add steak to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Transfer meat to a platter; keep warm.

Add port to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Stir in shallots and garlic; cook 45 seconds, stirring frequently. Add beef broth; bring to a boil. Cook 20 seconds; remove from heat. Add mustard and thyme, stirring with a whisk.

Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. Serve steak and sauce with the pasta.

Calories 344 (29% from fat); Fat 11g (sat 4.1g,mono 4.6g,poly 0.8g); Iron 4.3mg; Cholesterol 97mg; Calcium 36mg; Carbohydrate 23.6g; Sodium 501mg; Protein 28.5g; Fiber 1g

Sunday, November 15, 2009

(101) Apple Brown Betty

I had never had this dish before, so I was curious to try it. I must say, it was quite tasty! I like that this recipe only makes 6 servings. So many times, desserts serve a TON of people and I always end up picking at the leftovers (hello, hips!) or throwing them out. I love the topping on this one, too! Will make this again!

Apple Brown Betty

In this variation of the humble dessert, two types of apples are used so it's not too sweet or tart.

Yield: 6 servings
Source: Cooking Light, January 2005

2 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 3/4 pound)
2 cups sliced peeled Rome apple (about 3/4 pound)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ounces day-old Italian or French bread, torn into 1/2-inch pieces
Cooking spray
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl. Sprinkle apple mixture with granulated sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg; toss well. Combine milk, molasses, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Add bread to milk mixture; toss to combine. Add bread mixture to apple mixture; toss to combine. Spoon bread mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour and brown sugar; cut in chilled butter using a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles small pebbles. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over apple mixture. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Serve warm.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 256 (30% from fat), Fat: 8.4g (sat 4.9g,mono 2.3g,poly 0.5g), Protein: 2.4g, Carbohydrate: 44.1g, Fiber: 2g, Cholesterol: 21mg, Iron: 1.2mg, Sodium: 139mg, Calcium: 47mg

Thursday, November 5, 2009

(100) Skillet Stuffed Peppers

This is a super yummy recipe and way too easy! I added a mini-can of corn to the meat mixture and dashed some salt & pepper on top of the potatoes. I put them in the oven for about 10-15 minutes (at 350 degrees) to keep them warm while I was making salads. I recommend that, just to meld flavors a little more! The entire family gave this 2 thumbs up!!

Image from

Skillet Stuffed Peppers

Shepherd's pie meets the classic stuffed pepper. This recipe can also be made with red, yellow, or orange bell peppers.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 stuffed pepper half)
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, May 2004

2 large green bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
Cooking spray
3/4 pound ground round
1/2 cup water
1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning
1 (20-ounce) package refrigerated mashed potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Place the bell pepper halves, cut sides down, on a microwave-safe dish; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 3 minutes and 30 seconds or until pepper halves are crisp-tender. Let stand, covered, 3 minutes (peppers will soften).

While the peppers cook, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add water and seasoning, and stir to combine. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 5 minutes or until done.

While beef cooks and peppers stand, cook the potatoes in microwave according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

Spoon 1/2 cup beef mixture into each pepper half; top each with 2/3 cup potatoes. Sprinkle each pepper half with 1 tablespoon cheese. Garnish with black pepper, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 338 (36% from fat), Fat: 13.4g (sat 5.3g,mono 5.7g,poly 0.4g), Protein: 20.1g, Carbohydrate: 29.3g, Fiber: 5.1g, Cholesterol: 59mg, Iron: 2.4mg, Sodium: 663mg, Calcium: 48mg

(99) Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup

This was an easy soup to put together. I love how hearty it was, even without meat! And the calorie count can't be beat! It for sure needed some salt and a hit of hot pepper flakes. I will make this soup again!

PS: I did not chop the spinach, rather I tore it with my hands as I threw it in the pot. I used about half a bag of spinach and also needed to add a touch of water to make sure the soup didn't get too thick.

Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup

Dried shiitake mushrooms lend this appetizer soup rich intensity. It's delightful with a grilled cheese sandwich for a light supper.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, November 2007

1 (1-ounce) package dried shiitake mushrooms
2 cups boiling water
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14-ounce) can organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic)
Fresh thyme (optional)
Crushed red pepper (optional)

Combine mushrooms and 2 cups boiling water in a bowl; cover and let stand 15 minutes. Drain mushrooms in a colander over a bowl, reserving liquid. Chop mushrooms; set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add the reserved mushroom liquid, spinach, and next 5 ingredients (through broth); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Garnish with thyme and red pepper, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 78 (22% from fat), Fat: 1.9g (sat 0.3g,mono 1.1g,poly 0.4g), Protein: 2.8g, Carbohydrate: 13.5g, Fiber: 2.9g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 1.3mg, Sodium: 261mg, Calcium: 42mg

Monday, November 2, 2009

(98) Chicken Tamale Casserole

In an effort to have dinner on a busy weeknight, I decided to try this recipe. I made the cornbread the night before and put the dish in the fridge. I let it get to room temp while the oven was heating. With pre-shredded chicken (also done the night before) and pre-shredded cheese, this was a snap!

I'm still in stopped up nose territory, but what I could taste was yummy! My husband packed 2 servings for lunch tomorrow, so I'll take that as a good sign! Please try this and let me know what you think!

Chicken Tamale Casserole

"I came up with this dish to satisfy my cravings for the tamales I had at Mexican restaurants when I was growing up in Houston. Homemade tamales are too time-consuming to prepare for weeknight meals, but I discovered a corn bread mix approximates the flavor." —Risë Minton, Smyrna, GA

Yield: 8 servings
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, November 2008

1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/3 cup fat-free milk
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White) *I used Jiffy!!
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 354 (36% from fat), Fat: 14.1g (sat 7.1g,mono 3.3g,poly 1.2g), Protein: 18.9g, Carbohydrate: 36.3g, Fiber: 2.5g, Cholesterol: 58mg, Iron: 1.7mg, Sodium: 620mg, Calcium: 179mg

Sunday, November 1, 2009

(97) Thyme-Garlic Roasted Asparagus

I love oven roasted asparagus and really liked the idea of putting minced garlic underneath. It gave the asparagus a garlicky flavor but you don't feel like you could breathe fire from it! I have 8.6 million spices in my cabinet, but for some reason, I was out of thyme! I used dried basil with no issues. Will repeat this one.

Thyme-Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Yield: 4 servings
Source: Lynda Bennett, Belvedere, California, Cooking Light, JUNE 2007

3 garlic cloves, minced
Cooking spray
1 pound asparagus, trimmed
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 400°.

Spread garlic in an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Arrange asparagus in an even layer over garlic; drizzle with oil. Combine thyme and salt; sprinkle evenly over asparagus. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender, turning once.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 45 (24% from fat), Fat: 1.2g (sat 0.2g,mono 0.9g,poly 0.1g), Protein: 2.6g, Carbohydrate: 5.8g, Fiber: 2.6g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 0.6mg, Sodium: 146mg, Calcium: 31mg

(96) Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

We had this with ham and asparagus for dinner. I'll be really honest with you, my nose is TOTALLY stuffy, so I couldn't taste a lot, but my husband is my taste gauge. If he oohs and ahhhs, it means he really likes something. This dish got those raves, so you'll have to take his word on this one!

I will say that I think the breadcrumbs could be skipped. I like breadcrumbs on my macaroni, but they were a little time consuming and messed a lot of dishes, all for not a lot of bread.

Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes

In Step 4, the macaroni mixture is cooked over medium-low heat so the cheese won't become stringy and the sauce, grainy.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 cup)
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, January 2005

3 cups halved cherry tomatoes
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 ounces sourdough bread, torn into pieces
1 teaspoon butter, melted
12 ounces large elbow macaroni
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded extrasharp cheddar cheese
1/4 cup egg substitute
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (12-ounce) can evaporated low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 375°.

Place tomatoes in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with black pepper. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.

While tomatoes cook, place bread in a food processor; pulse 2 times or until crumbly. Toss crumbs with melted butter. Sprinkle the crumbs on a baking sheet, and bake at 375° for 12 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently.

Cook macaroni in boiling water 7 minutes; drain. Return macaroni to pan; place over medium-low heat. Add cheese and remaining ingredients; cook 4 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Stir in tomatoes. Sprinkle each serving with about 3 tablespoons breadcrumbs.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 357 (29% from fat), Fat: 11.4g (sat 6.6g,mono 3.1g,poly 0.8g), Protein: 18.1g, Carbohydrate: 45.2g, Fiber: 2g, Cholesterol: 33mg, Iron: 2.7mg, Sodium: 669mg, Calcium: 350mg

11/1/09 - This week's menu

It's been a while since I had myself together enough to have a menu and actually cook!! This week is going to be crazy. I have concerts on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. That means there are rehearsals Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights! RIGHT. So that means EVERY NIGHT this week I have to be somewhere. If I don't eat well, I'll really feel junky, so I am going to attempt to do a little bit of cooking ahead today and then make easy stuff the rest of the week!

Stove-Top Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes
Thyme-Garlic Roasted Asparagus

Chicken Tamale Casserole
Green salad

Italian White Bean and Spinach Soup

Grilled Cheese

Skillet Stuffed Peppers
Green Salad

Grilled Steaks
Baked Potatoes
Warm Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Red Onions

Pizza or some other form of takeout!

(95) Amy's Big Batch Chili

I recently made chili for our annual pumpkin carving gathering. I adapted this recipe from one from Cooking Light. I made my own tweaks on it and quadrupled the recipe. It was nicely spicy and very filling!

Yield: 24 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups chili and 1 tablespoon cheese)
Source: Amy's adaptation of a Cooking Light recipe

4 pounds ground round
4 cups chopped onion
2 cups chopped green bell pepper
2 cups dry red wine or water
4 tablespoons chili powder
4 teaspoons sugar
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, undrained
4 (14.5-ounce) cans stewed tomatoes, crushed with your hands
1 can original Rotel (diced tomatoes with chiles)
1/4 cup diced pickled jalapenos
6 oz shredded reduced-fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese

1. Cook the ground round in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until brown, stirring to crumble.

2. Add chopped onion and the next 7 ingredients (onion through garlic), and cook for 7 minutes or until onion is tender.

3. Place meat mixture in an electric slow cooker, and stir in beans and tomatoes. Cover with lid, and cook on low-heat setting for 4 hours. Spoon into bowls; sprinkle with cheese.

4. Note: The chili can be made on the stovetop if you don't have a slow cooker. After adding the beans and the tomatoes, bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, partially covered, 1 1/2 hours.

CALORIES 243(21% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 2.3g,mono 1.8g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 25.5g; CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 154mg; SODIUM 637mg; FIBER 3.1g; IRON 4.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 22.9g

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

(94) Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Oh yeah baby, this is off the hook good!!! It's easy, quick, and healthy, too! Please make this! I'm going to make it again soon, it was that good!!

Image is from Eat Better America website!

Garlic Shrimp Pasta

Yield: 6 servings

8 oz uncooked multigrain angel hair (capellini) pasta or spaghetti
4 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
3 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 1/2 lb fresh medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and tail shells removed
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup dry white wine or Progresso® reduced-sodium chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
1/4 cup Progresso® reduced-sodium chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons butter

1. In 5-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, cook pasta as directed on package. Drain; return to saucepan. Stir in spinach, tomatoes and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Cover to keep warm.

2. While pasta is cooking, in 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir 1 minute. Add shrimp, garlic and pepper flakes; cook and stir 2 minutes.

3. Stir in wine, broth, salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes or until shrimp are pink and firm. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and butter until butter is melted. Add shrimp mixture to pasta mixture in saucepan; toss to mix.

Nutritional Information
Calories 300 (Calories from Fat 80); Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 3 1/2g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 170mg; Sodium 370mg; Total Carbohydrate 30g (Dietary Fiber 4g, Sugars 3g); Protein 25g

Monday, October 26, 2009

(93) Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch

I was looking for a chex mix-ish type recipe to make for our annual pumpkin carving party. I found this recipe and was glad I did!! I couldn't find the cinnamon cereal, but just used Rice Chex instead. My husband requested a repeat appearance at Thanksgiving, so I'd say this is a winner!

Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch

Yield: 16 servings (1/2 cup each)

1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 cup butter
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups Cinnamon Chex® cereal
2 cups Wheat Chex® cereal
2 cups Honey Nut Chex® cereal
8 oz pecans

1. In small bowl, mix brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice; set aside. In small microwave-safe dish, microwave butter on High about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in vanilla. In large microwavable bowl, mix all cereals and pecans. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Add sugar and spice mixture and stir until coated.

2. Microwave uncovered on High 5 minutes or until mixture begins to brown, stirring every minute. Spread on wax paper or a cookie sheet to cool. Store in airtight container.

Nutritional Information
1 serving: Calories 180 (Calories from Fat 80); Total Fat 9g (Saturated Fat 2.5g, Trans Fat 0g); Cholesterol 10mg; Sodium 150mg; Total Carbohydrate 23g (Dietary Fiber 2g, Sugars 7g); Protein 2g

% Daily Value: Vitamin A 8%; Vitamin C 2%; Calcium 6%; Iron 30%

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

(92) Black Bean Soup

This was good. I skipped the eggs. We could not find crema, so I used LF sour cream. I could have done w/o the garlic in the topping (I hate having garlic breath!!), but otherwise the topping was good! Next time I'll use canned black beans. My dry ones were a little too chewy and didn't blend great - maybe operator error? who knows!?! Anyway, the soup had a great flavor and was very filling! Will repeat!

Black Bean Soup

Yield: 4 servings
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, October 2009

1 cup dried black beans
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3/4 cup chopped onion
7 garlic cloves, minced and divided
2 1/2 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1/4 cup no-salt-added tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 jalapeño pepper, seeded
1/4 cup crema Mexicana
3 hard-cooked large eggs, peeled and finely chopped
Fresh cilantro leaves


1. Sort and wash beans, and place in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water; cover and let stand for 8 hours. Drain beans.

2. Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes, stirring often. Add 5 garlic cloves; cook 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beans, broth, and next 7 ingredients (through chiles); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until beans are tender. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Place half of bean mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid; secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid. Process until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining mixture. Return soup to pan; cook 5 minutes, stirring often.

4. Finely chop 1 cup cilantro and jalapeño. Combine 2 tablespoons oil, 2 garlic cloves, cilantro, jalapeño, and crema. Ladle 1 1/4 cups soup into each of 4 bowls; top each with 2 tablespoons crema. Sprinkle soup with eggs. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 369, Fat: 18.4g (sat 5.8g,mono 7.8g,poly 1.8g), Protein: 17.5g, Carbohydrate: 34.7g, Fiber: 11.8g, Cholesterol: 173mg, Iron: 4.8mg, Sodium: 829mg, Calcium: 114mg

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

(91) Easy Shepherd's Pie

This is a modified version of this recipe. SUPER easy and flavorful. The filling had tang (almost like sloppy joe casserole?!). We all liked it, though, and I will make it again for a quick weeknight meal!

Easy Shepherd's Pie

Yield: 6 servings

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
2/3 cup ketchup
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
16 oz bag of frozen mixed veggies (corn, carrots, peas, green beans, etc) - THAWED
24 oz container of prepared mashed potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes)

Heat oven to 400° F.

Place the beef in a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat until no trace of pink remains, about 5 minutes. Spoon off and discard any fat. Stir in the ketchup and Worcestershire. Add the vegetables and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Spoon the beef mixture into an 11x7" baking dish.

Spread the potatoes over the beef and bake until heated through, 15-20 minutes (or until slightly browned on top). Divide among individual plates.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

(90) Green Beans with Bacon

These are a good southern style recipe. The beans were just right in terms of texture and the flavor was mild but nice. I thought the lemon would be weird, but it wasn't! Great side dish that I will certainly repeat!

Green Beans with Bacon

This simple side is a classic crowd-pleaser. You can cook the green beans and bacon up to two days ahead; refrigerate them separately until you're ready to assemble the dish.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup)
Source: Cooking Light, November 2007

2 1/2 pounds green beans, trimmed
3 bacon slices
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook green beans in boiling water for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and plunge beans into ice water; drain.

Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add shallots to drippings in pan; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add beans, juice, salt, and pepper to pan; toss to combine. Cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often. Remove from heat. Sprinkle bacon over bean mixture; toss.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 46 (22% from fat), Fat: 1.1g (sat 0.4g,mono 0.5g,poly 0.2g), Protein: 2.5g, Carbohydrate: 8g, Fiber: 3.3g, Cholesterol: 2mg, Iron: 1.1mg, Sodium: 93mg, Calcium: 38mg

Monday, October 5, 2009

A note about the sugar cookies

I'm beyond excited to tell you that I ran the nutritional information on the sugar cookies and the results were better than I hoped! I wanted to take the 'ignorance is bliss' route but decided to be a good girl. I went to my favorite recipe calorie calculator - 

The way we made the cookies, it made 30 cookies. That gives you 120 calories/6g fat per cookie. If you make as written and get 5.5 dozen (66 cookies), you come out to 55 calories/3g fat per cookie. Now that's nutritional information that I can handle! Everybody needs a little sweetness in their life :) I'd rather have one big cookie than one of those crappy 100 calorie packs!

Happy snacking :)

Sunday, October 4, 2009

(89) Drop Sugar Cookies

My mom cut this recipe out of the newspaper recently. These cookies won 1st place at the Virginia State fair and I have to offer a rousing 2 thumbs up! I have serious issues when it comes to rolling out any sort of dough, even for cookies (sad, I know). But I LOVE sugar cookies!!! This recipe is the answer to my prayers! Very easy to make and oh wow, delish!! We made them bigger than called for and got about 2.5 dozen, not 5.5! (we did have to cook them a little longer than 8 minutes, so keep an eye on them)

Drop Sugar Cookies

First place winner, Danhof VanDyke of Eastville, VA. Adapted from "All Time Baking Soda Favorites"

Yield: about 5 1/2 dozen 2-inch cookies

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 egg
2 Tablespoon milk

1) Sift together flour, salt, and baking soda. Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until and fluffy.
2) Beat in vanilla and egg. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth.
3) Blend in milk.
4) Drop by teaspoon about 3 inches apart onto greased baking sheets. Flatten with bottom of glass that has been dipped in sugar (author does it twice).
5) Bake in 350 degree oven about 8 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Cool on rack.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

(88) Tequila Lime Tart

Tequila Lime Tart

This almost tasted like a key lime cheesecake. Delicious texture, flavor, and appearance! The crust was so good!

Source: Guy's Big Bite (
Yield: 8 servings

For the crust:

10 ounces vanilla wafers
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup butter, melted

For the filling:

2 egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 cup tequila
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
4 egg yolks
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
Fresh whipped cream, for serving

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

Add wafers and pine nuts to food processor, pulse until well ground up. Pour into bowl and add melted butter. Mix by hand, with a wooden spoon, and press into 10-inch tart pan. (reserve 4 tablespoons of crumbs to sprinkle on top when done baking.)

Place tart pan in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.

For the filling:

In a mixing bowl add egg whites and sugar, beat until there are soft peaks.

In another mixing bowl, add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly. Fold in the egg whites. Pour into tart shell and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with reserved crumbs. Let cool before cutting and serve with fresh whipped cream.

(87) Sweet Potato Fries with Malt Vinegar

Sweet Potato Fries with Malt Vinegar

Our cooking club member Kevin was in charge of cutting fries. He looked like he might pass out, he cut so many sweet potatoes. All we could think was WOW that's a lot of fries. Um, no. We ate every last one of them!!! These were great! Thanks for all the chopping, Kevin :)

Source: Guy's Big Bite (
Yield: 4-6 servings

4 cups peeled and julienned sweet potatoes
3 cups vegetable oil
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 teaspoon granulated onion powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons malt vinegar

Add the julienned potatoes to a bowl filled with ice water while you heat the oil.

Preheat the oil in a cast iron skillet or fryer to 325 degrees F. In a small bowl, add all the spices and combine well.

Remove the potatoes from the ice water and pat dry with paper towels. Fry the potatoes, in batches, for 3 to 4 minutes to cook the inside. Remove the potatoes from the oil to a bowl and bring the oil up to 350 degrees F. Add the potatoes and fry again, in batches, this time to cook the outside until golden brown. (They will not achieve the texture of a French fry, but will have a nice color and be slightly crispy).

Remove the potatoes from the oil to a paper towel lined plate. Transfer the potatoes to a serving bowl or platter. Sprinkle generously with the spice mix and sprinkle with malt vinegar. Serve immediately.

(86) Red Rocker Margarita Chicken

Red Rocker Margarita Chicken

These sandwiches were SO FREAKING GOOD (yes, I am yelling!). Wow. There were 2 changes/adjustments that we made. First, I used jarred roasted red peppers instead of roasting my own. When you fry these things up, oh heaven. Get a bib. You will be drooling (they're that good!). Secondly, we used bagged cole slaw mix vs. cutting our own cabbage. I highly recommend these sandwiches! They were so moist and flavorful!

Yield: 4 sandwiches
Source: Guy's Big Bite (

2 jalapenos, thinly sliced rounds
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves
4 tablespoons tequila (recommended: Cabo Wabo Reposado)
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons salt, divided
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 red bell peppers, roasted, skinned, seeded, julienne
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
2 cups canola oil
4 Kaiser rolls
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/4 green cabbage, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces provolone cheese, sliced

In a medium mixing bowl add jalapenos, cilantro, tequila, garlic, red chili flakes, cumin, oregano, lime juice, and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the chicken breasts and red bell peppers to resealable gallon bag and pour in marinade. Let marinate in refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.

Heat grill to high. Remove chicken from marinade, and add chicken to the grill.

In a small mixing bowl add flour, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and the granulated garlic.

Heat the canola oil to 350 degrees F.

Remove bell peppers from marinade and dredge in flour and fry until crispy. When done drain on paper towels.

Cook chicken thoroughly on both sides, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes Remove chicken from the bone and thinly slice or shred.

Lightly toast rolls. Spread mayonnaise evenly among the rolls and then stack evenly with the cabbage, onion, chicken breast, fried peppers, and top with cheese.

(85) Italian Stuffed Jalapenos

Ok, let's talk about this recipe. I have a few suggestions if you try to make this!
1) PLEASE wear rubber gloves when you cut the jalapenos. We had our first ever cooking club catastrophe. Poor Dee, I don't think her fingertips will ever be the same.

2) Cook the peppers long enough. They should look kind of soft when they come out of the oven. If they're not, they'll be hotter than fire. Ours didn't cook long enough and although we LOVE hot, we couldn't eat them. Sad :(

3) The filling for this is AWESOME!!! We doubled the recipe, so it made way too much filling. We had leftovers today on a toasted bun, open face, with cheese melted on top. HEAVEN!

Italian Stuffed Jalapenos

Source: Guy's Big Bite (
Yield: 4-6 servings

15 jalapenos, preferably red, cut in 1/2, seeded and deveined
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 pounds mild Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
3 tablespoons minced garlic
2 cups mascarpone or cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and set a rack in the middle of the oven.

Place jalapenos on a sheet tray and roast for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool. Turn broiler on medium.

Heat the oil in a medium saute pan. Add the sausage and cook for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and cook to soften for about 5 minutes. Remove and place in a large bowl. Cool to room temperature, then add mascarpone, and Parmesan. Mix ingredients thoroughly and season with salt and pepper.

Place approximately 1 tablespoon of mixture into each jalapeno half, and top with 1/2 teaspoon of mozzarella cheese.

Place the sheet tray of stuffed peppers in oven and broil until mozzarella cheese melts.

(84) Garlic Aioli

Garlic Aioli

This goes with the Beer-Battered Asparagus recipe, but honestly this has so many uses. It would be great over some grilled fish or as a dip for vegetables.

Source: Guy's Big Bite (
Yield: 1 cup

1 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 lemon, zested
4 tablespoons finely minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon leaves
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

In a food processor, combine all ingredients well. Refrigerate for 1 hour before serving.

(83) Beer-battered Asparagus with Garlic Aioli

Beer-battered Asparagus with Garlic Aioli

Let me tell you something - these were GREAT!!! The aioli was off the hook good (to quote Guy). We ended up putting it on our chicken sandwiches with dinner. YUM! I had a small dish to soak the asparagus in, so I used more like 4 cups of buttermilk. I think you should just adjust it to what you need. Make sure the asparagus is covered completely while soaking.

Source: Guy's Big Bite (
Yield: 12 servings (but this depends on your asparagus size)

1 bunch medium asparagus, ends trimmed
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, separated
3/4 cup beer, lager or pale ale
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 cups peanut oil
Sea salt
Garlic Aioli, recipe follows

In shallow pan, soak asparagus in buttermilk 12 to 24 hours. Remove from buttermilk, but do not rinse.

In a large bowl, combine well the egg yolks, beer, flour, cornmeal, salt, cayenne pepper and black pepper. In large deep sided pot, heat oil to 350 degrees F. Meanwhile, in a large clean bowl with an electric mixer, beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Gently fold beaten egg whites into batter mixture. Dip spears, 1 at a time into batter, then carefully lay in oil. Do not overcrowd pan. Fry in batches, if necessary. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes, turning the spears with tongs to ensure even cooking. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with sea salt, to taste. Serve immediately with Aioli.

(82) Red Apple Hooch Bowla

Red Apple Hooch Bowla

This is the perfect fall drink! The cinnamon, apple, and cranberry flavors work great together and the whiskey taste is not strong at all - but gives it a nice grownup kick! The simple syrup is easy to make and makes your house smell wonderful at the same time! Please try this recipe!

Source: Guy's Big Bite (
Serves: 4-6 drinks

5 ounces whiskey, premium quality
2 red apples, cored and sliced, plus more for garnish
4 ounces Cinnamon Simple Syrup, recipe follows
2 ounces apple schnapps
1 1/2 cups cranberry juice
Splash sweet and sour mix
Cinnamon sticks, for garnish

Fill a large pitcher or bowl with ice. Add whiskey, apples, cinnamon syrup and apple schnapps. Pour in cranberry juice and splash of sweet and sour mix.

Pout into glasses and garnish with cinnamon sticks and red apple slices.

Cinnamon Simple Syrup:

2 cups water
4 cinnamon sticks
1 1/2 cups sugar

In a small sauce pot add water and cinnamon and bring to boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, and strain out cinnamon sticks. Bring water back to a boil, add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Yield: 3 1/2 cups

(82) Ginger Margaritas

Ginger Margaritas

I made a triple batch of this simple syrup. The peeling of the ginger is a little tedious, but worth it! These are delish! I added a little more tequila and a little more lime juice than recommended. The ginger flavor was a little strong otherwise. Such a great twist on the normal margarita!!

Source: Guy's Big Bite (
Yield: 1 drink (but the syrup you make will make more than 1 drink!)

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 large hand ginger, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch coins/chunks
Bar sugar
Freshly grated nutmeg
2 ounces good quality tequila or reposado (recommended: Cabo Wabo)
1 lime, juiced, plus lime wedges for garnish

Bring sugar and water up to a light simmer and cook until all of the sugar is dissolved. Add ginger and steep for 30 minutes. Pour ginger-simple syrup into blender and puree. Strain out pulp and store in a tightly sealed jar or bottle. Will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator.

Pour some bar sugar onto small plate and grate a pinch of nutmeg on top, mix well.

Add tequila, lime juice, 5 ounces ginger-simple syrup and ice to cocktail shaker and give it a good shake. Run lime wedge around rim of glass and dip in sugar/nutmeg mixture, add ice and pour in contents of shaker, grate a little nutmeg on top and serve with a wedge of lime.