Sunday, March 28, 2010

And now, some fruit adventures!!

We're headed out for a little vacation here shortly. I'm planning the places we'll go and of course there's a lot of food involved in this planning (and beer for my husband!). One of the places we're going sells exotic fruits. I've eaten papaya, mango, key lime, etc. but the majority of things on this list, I've never heard of! Any suggestions on what I should bring back with me? They're not all available this time of year, but I can't wait to go exploring!

  • Apple Banana
  • Asian Guavas
  • Avocados
  • Caimito (Star Apple)
  • Canistel (Egg Fruit)
  • Carambola
  • Ciruela
  • Dragon Fruit
  • Guanabana (Sour Sop)
  • Jackfruit
  • Key Lime
  • Kumquat
  • Longans
  • Lychee
  • Mangos
  • Mamey Sapote
  • Monstera Deliciosa
  • Papaya
  • Passion Fruit
  • Sapodilla
  • Sapote (Black)(also known as chocolate fruit)
  • Sugar Apples (Anon, Atemoya, Cherimoya)
  • Sugar Cane
  • Tamarind
  • Water Coconut/Coconut

Saturday, March 27, 2010

CSA Adventures

I am SO SO excited about this development in my cooking adventure - I finally found a CSA! We had an employee health fair at work this week and a local farm was there advertising their CSA. If you've never heard of a CSA before, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. You buy 'shares' of the farm and receive a box of fresh produce every week! So you're supporting the local farmers and getting lots of yummy (often organic) fresh produce!

So the local CSA that I'm about to join only runs from January-May. It's often unpredictable in Florida in the summer between the heat and the hurricanes, so I guess they've just decided to play it safe and do half a year. Since the season is almost over, they're allowing me to buy in for the last 2 months, which I'm excited about. I figure I can see if a whole box of produce is too much for us to eat every week (you can buy "half shares" and get a box every other week!). This farm we're joining also has grass fed, hormone/antibiotic free beef that you can buy in addition to your veggies. I can't wait to try it!

Anyway, I'm so excited to start getting fresh organic produce and to be supporting the local agriculture!! Stay tuned for some new veggies to join my rotation and for an update on how the CSA adventure is panning out!

PS: If you'd like to find a CSA in your area, you can look on this website. I hope you can find something near you! (look at this map - they're everywhere!)

PPS: My friend Stephanie writes a blog for her local CSA, The Greenling (they are in TX). You can check them out for some ideas of what CSAs send out every week. She has some great recipes there too!

Friday, March 26, 2010

(52) Kimchi-Style Slaw

This recipe was suggested by Cooking Light to go with the Barbecued Pork Chops. This made the meal extra spicy but may I just say... YUM! I only used 1 tsp garlic (I didn't want dragon breath!) which worked fine. The flavors here were spicy and tangy and even my non-slaw loving husband liked it. (actually, the baby did too, go figure!). Using bagged shredded cabbage made this a super quick side!

Kimchi-Style Slaw

Yield: 4 servings
Source: Cooking Light, June 2009

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons Sriracha
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups shredded Napa cabbage
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

Combine first 7 ingredients (vinegar through sugar) in a large bowl; stir with a whisk. Add cabbage and green onions; toss to coat.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

(51) Barbecued Pork Chops

I am officially in love with pork chops on the bone! They end up much more tender than boneless ones, and for me, the tradeoff of a few more calories is worth it!! This recipe was so simple to put together. I wasn't quite sure how the flavors would work - especially that much sesame oil. But it was amazing how much flavor the chops had after just 30 minutes of marinating. They were spicy and sweet and a little smokey all at the same time. Very intriguing!

I will say that I failed to properly do the glaze. OOPS. I was washing dishes while the chops cooked and the sauce simmered. It was so little in the pan and 2 seconds too long = sauce glued to the pan. I was able to save a little bit, though! These are pork chops that I will definitely make again!!

Barbecued Pork Chops

A simple 8-ingredient marinade, made with mostly pantry staples, brings out the vibrant flavor of these chops. Pair with kimchi-style slaw for a flavorful duo and a quick cooking dinner solution, ready in about 40 minutes (including a 25-minute marinade).

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 pork chop)
Source: Cooking Light, JUNE 2009

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon pineapple juice
2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons sake (rice wine)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (4-ounce) bone-in pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
Cooking spray
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag; add pork to bag. Seal; marinate at room temperature 25 minutes.

2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Remove pork from bag; reserve marinade. Sprinkle pork with salt. Cook pork 3 minutes on each side or until done. Pour reserved marinade into a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes or until thickened. Brush pork with reduced marinade; sprinkle with sesame seeds.

CALORIES 195 ; FAT 9.4g (sat 2.5g,mono 3.9g,poly 2.4g); CHOLESTEROL 49mg; CALCIUM 31mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8.9g; SODIUM 433mg; PROTEIN 17.7g; FIBER 0.3g; IRON 1mg

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another favorite - Chicken Tetrazzini

This recipe is another one that I make all the time. I love it with all my heart and I recommend it to anyone who will listen!! Just like the stuffed shells, it makes 2 dishes. I love that because I can make one for a friend who's been sick or just had a baby and I can keep the other for us to eat! This also freezes beautifully, so you can freeze one and eat the other right away!

PS: I have made just half a recipe before and that worked out fine (but really, you might as well make 2!)
PPS: Amy's opera note - it's named after opera singer Luisa Tetrazzini!

Chicken Tetrazzini

Yield: 2 casseroles, 6 servings each (serving size: about 1 1/3 cups)
Source: Cooking Light Magazine, March 2003

1 tablespoon butter
cooking spray
1 cup finely chopped onion
2/3 cup finely chopped celery
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 (8-ounce) packages pre-sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup dry sherry
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 (14.5 oz) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 1/4 cups (9 oz) grated fresh parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup (4 oz) 1/3-less fat cream cheese
7 cups hot cooked vermicelli (about 1 lb uncooked pasta)
4 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 1.5 lbs)
1 (1-ounce) slice white bread (Amy's note: I used canned breadcrumbs, just estimated the amt.)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Melt butter in large stockpot coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, pepper, salt, and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry; cook 1 minute.

3. Lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup; level with a knife. Gradually add flour to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly (mixture will be thick) with a whisk. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

4. Add 1 3/4 cups Parmesan cheese and cream cheese, stirring with a whisk until cream cheese melts. Add the pasta and chicken, and stir until blended. Divide the pasta mixture between 2 (8-inch square) baking dishes coated with cooking spray.

5. Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form. Combine breadcrumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese; sprinkle evenly over pasta mixture.

6. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove casserole from oven; let stand 15 minutes.

* To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare through step 5. Cool completely in refrigerator. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

* To Prepare Frozen Unbaked Casserole: Thaw casserole completely in refrigerator (about 24 hrs). Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover casserole with reserved foil; bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 1 hour or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes.

Calories - 380 (29% from fat); fat 12.2 g (sat 6.6, mono 3.4, poly .7); protein 33 g; carb 32.7g; fiber 2g; cholesterol 66 mg; iron 2.8 mg; sodium 964 mg; calcium 319 mg.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Learning: Cream of Tartar

I was watching one of my favorite food shows today - Barefoot Contessa. I know she might seem a little uppity to some, but I love her simple approach to food and yum does it look good! Of course, she doesn't exactly use low fat ingredients, but sometimes that's ok!

Today she was making this Lime Meringue Tart. I love lime flavored desserts and I love meringue, so this caught my eye. As she was adding the cream of tartar I thought to myself "what the heck is cream of tartar, anyway". So off to Google I went!

What is Cream of Tartar??

I found a few articles about cream of tartar - this one being the best. Cream of Tartar is the byproduct of the wine making process! Who knew!? Apparently, grapes contain tartaric acid and as the wine is fermenting, the grapes leave a residue inside of the wine casks. Here's a great article about the use of tartaric acid in the wine making process, in case you're curious about that part!

Where do you use it?
Cream of tartar is an acid and is used most commonly in baking/dessert applications. It's used with egg whites (and sugar) to create stable and puffy meringue like in the tart recipe mentioned above. It's also used a lot in frostings. The acidity prevents crystals from forming and makes the frosting creamier! There's your Jeopardy trivia for the day :)

The other place you may not know about is baking powder. Baking powder is (in a simplified explanation) baking soda + cream of tartar + corn starch.

Where do I find it?
Cream of tartar is fairly common to find. It should be at your supermarket in the spice aisle. It will last forever! It's not like regular spices that can lose potency, so you can feel comfortable keeping it around for a while.

  • If you don't have baking powder on hand but need some in a pinch, you can use 2 parts cream of tartar and 1 part baking soda (so for example - 2 tsp cream of tartar + 1 tsp of baking soda). 
  • If you're beating egg whites, use white vinegar in a pinch. Make a 1 for 1 substitution. (ex: if your recipe calls for 1 tsp of cream of tartar, use 1 tsp of vinegar)
  • Substitutions in other baking recipes is a bit dicier. You can use the vinegar or lemon juice option. You can also play around with baking powder, especially if your recipe calls for baking soda (reduce the amt of baking soda and use powder instead).
I hope this is helpful for you! Now go make that lime tart and report back to me :) Happy cooking!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Four Cheese Stuffed Shells

Well, I have been MIA this week for 2 reasons. First, I didn't cook AT ALL this week. I made food on Sunday and we've been eating off of it all week! Secondly (and more importantly), we didn't have internet all week! SOB! I was lost! Our wireless router/modem took a dive on Monday and we finally got a new one from our friends at Bell South, so we're back in business! YES!

I want to share this recipe with you. It doesn't get a number because it's not new. It's one of the few recipes I've made quite a few times. I'm going to post my abridged version of it (mainly that I don't make my own sauce), but if you'd like to see the original, click here. These shells are easy to put together and only mildly time consuming to stuff. The recipe makes 2 pans, so you can do like I did and give one away (hi Molly!) or put one in the freezer! I love recipes like this!

Four Cheese Stuffed Shells

Source: Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe
Yield: 2 casseroles, 5 servings per dish (about 4 shells, and 1/2 C marinara)

This dish goes straight from the freezer to oven - no thawing required. You can also easily vary the filling by adding basil or oregano and a different cheese. (We tried fontina instead of mozzarella and threw in some arugula for a peppery bite.) Make some garlic bread and a green salad and dinner's on.

1 pound jumbo shell pasta (40 shells)
Cooking spray
1 (12-ounce) carton 1% low-fat cottage cheese
1 (15-ounce) carton ricotta cheese
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
6 cups prepared marinara sauce
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375°.

Coat 2 (13 x 9-inch) baking dishes with cooking spray; set aside.

Place cottage cheese and ricotta cheese in a food processor; process until smooth. Combine cottage cheese mixture, Asiago, and next 6 ingredients (Asiago through spinach).

Spoon or pipe 1 tablespoon cheese mixture into each shell. Arrange half of stuffed shells, seam sides up, in one prepared dish. Pour 3 cups Smoky Marinara over stuffed shells. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup mozzarella. Repeat procedure with remaining stuffed shells, marinara, and mozzarella in remaining prepared dish.

Cover with foil. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

To freeze unbaked casserole: Prepare through Step 5. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing to remove as much air as possible. Wrap with heavy-duty foil. Store in freezer for up to 2 months.

To prepare frozen unbaked casserole: Preheat oven to 375º. Remove foil; reserve foil. Remove plastic wrap; discard wrap. Cover frozen casserole with reserved foil; bake at 375º for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the shells are thoroughly heated.

CALORIES 470 (30% from fat); FAT 15.7g (sat 8.8g,mono 4.7g,poly 0.9g); IRON 3.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 47mg; CALCIUM 508mg; CARBOHYDRATE 52.7g; SODIUM 916mg; PROTEIN 28.3g; FIBER 5.3g

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

(50) Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner

I have never in my life cooked corned beef, but my husband requested it specifically, so how could I say no?! (Just so you know, my husband NEVER requests food. When I ask what he wants for dinner this week, he says 'whatever!'... SO not helpful! LOL I always tell him they don't sell packages of "whatever" at Publix!)

But I digress... This recipe was kind of a pain in the fact that there were too many pots and pans for my liking, but I really enjoyed the meal. The topping on the corned beef = awesome! The cabbage was really mild and the potatoes were nice and tangy - the perfect offset to the salty flavors! Once a year, I'll suffer the dishes! Happy St. Patty's Day a little early!

PS: I know I said I was making soda bread, but that just didn't happen. Boo!

Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner

Source: Cooking Light, MARCH 2003
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 3 ounces beef, about 1 1/2 cups cabbage, and about 1 1/3 cups potatoes)

1 (4-pound) cured corned beef brisket, trimmed
16 cups water
2 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrot
1 1/2 teaspoons pickling spice
3 garlic cloves, peeled
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 (2 1/2-pound) head green cabbage, cored and cut into 1-inch strips
4 pounds small red potatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons butter
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1 (5-ounce) jar prepared horseradish, drained and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Place brisket in a large stockpot; add water and next 5 ingredients (water through garlic). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 3 hours. Remove brisket from pot.

Place brisket on the rack of a broiler pan or roasting pan coated with cooking spray; place rack in pan. Strain cooking liquid through a colander into 2 large bowls; discard solids. Return liquid to pot. Add caraway seeds and cabbage; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes. Drain.

While cabbage is cooking, place potatoes in a large Dutch oven. Cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 20 minutes or until tender. Drain. Return potatoes to pan. Stir in parsley, butter, rind, juice, and pepper; toss to coat.

Preheat broiler.

Combine breadcrumbs and horseradish. Spread mustard over one side of brisket. Press breadcrumb mixture onto mustard. Broil 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve brisket with cabbage and potatoes.

CALORIES 321 (41% from fat); FAT 14.5g (sat 4.6g,mono 6.5g,poly 0.8g); IRON 4.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 86mg; CALCIUM 11mg; CARBOHYDRATE 27.6g; SODIUM 927mg; PROTEIN 22.8g; FIBER 10g

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3/14/10 - This week's menu

Another week - Monday is just around the corner again! What's up with that?! Anyway, my sister's best friend (Molly) just had her 2nd baby this past week. I am planning on doing some cooking so I can take food over to her tomorrow. So several of our meals will do double duty, which I love!

Sunday, getting in the mood for St. Patty!!
- Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner
- Mrs. O'Callaghan's Soda Bread

- Chicken Tetrazzini (I love this recipe! It's a staple!)
- Breadsticks

- Four Cheese Stuffed Shells (another staple!)
- Salad
- Garlic Bread

- Quick Taco Salad
- Fruit

- Barbecued Pork Chops
- Kimchi Style Slaw
- something else I haven't quite decided on (maybe rice?)

What's cooking in your kitchen this week?!

Mini-Banana Muffins

This one is a repeater for me - that's why it doesn't get a number! I adapted this recipe from a recipe I found online. I have cute mini-muffin tins that I never use and this is a great excuse to break them out! Plus, mini muffins are GREAT for little fingers. My daughter goes nuts for these "more peese!" You can make them in a bigger tin (making just 12 muffins), you will just have to cook them longer.

Mini Banana Muffins

Yield: 36 mini muffins (or 12 large)
Source: Amy's original - adapted from a recipe I found online

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine bananas, sugar, egg, melted butter, cinnamon, and vanilla. Add flour mixture, and beat until smooth (I just use a whisk and that leaves banana chunks. If you want them smoothe, use a mixer). Scoop into muffin pans.

3. Bake in preheated oven. Bake mini muffins for 13 to 15 minutes (or if you want - large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes.) Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped and be slightly browned on top.

For large muffin: 184 cals, 5.8g fat, 1.2g fiber
For each mini: 61 cals, 1.9g fat, .4g fiber

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

This little light of mine...

My food photography has been a work in progress. I started with a point & shoot and some really grim food pictures. I saved my lunch money for almost a year and bought myself a 'fancy camera'. It's a Canon Rebel Ti1 and I LOVE IT.

Anyway, I am slowly but surely 'getting it'. I know I love my new camera, but there's SO MUCH to learn about how to use it. One of the biggest thing I've discovered so far is that more than anything, LIGHT is the key to success. The pictures that I take in good, pure, daylight are SO much better than ones I take when it's dark outside. I've been reading and researching about light. I thought I might like a light box (here's an example in case you're not sure what I'm talking about), but the more I read, the more I drooled over the Lowel Ego Light.

Today, I bit the bullet! YES! I can't wait for my light to arrive. So stay tuned to see if my pictures improve themselves LOL I sure as heck hope it helps, but in any case, thank you for being patient with me while I learn the ins and outs of food photography!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

(49) Pasta Carbonara with Asparagus

As I mentioned before, I have zero sense of taste/smell right now. I wish I could give an accurate review of this recipe, but I can't! So I'm recording this for posterity sake and going to have to revisit this one at a later date! If anybody makes this, please let me know what you think! (sorry for such a worthless opener!)

Pasta Carbonara with Asparagus

Source: Cooking Light, MAY 1997
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)

2 1/2 cups (1-inch) diagonally sliced trimmed asparagus
6 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons chopped chives
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces uncooked farfalle (bow tie pasta)
2 bacon slices
3/4 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
Freshly ground pepper
Chopped chives (optional)

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan; add asparagus. Cook 3 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain; set aside.

Combine 2 tablespoons cheese, milk, egg substitute, 2 tablespoons chives, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain well; set aside.

Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until crisp. Crumble bacon; set aside. Add onion and garlic to bacon drippings in pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat; stir in asparagus and bacon.

Combine pasta, milk mixture, and asparagus in a large bowl; toss well. Divide evenly among 4 shallow bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese. Sprinkle with pepper; top with chives, if desired.

CALORIES 321 (17% from fat); FAT 6.2g (sat 2.8g,mono 2g,poly 0.8g); IRON 3.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 188mg; CARBOHYDRATE 50.8g; SODIUM 437mg; PROTEIN 15.8g; FIBER 3.8g

(48) Beef in Red Wine Gravy

I have a confession to make.

My nose is SO STOPPED UP that I can't taste a darn thing. Which is very disappointing to a foodie like me :( Blah. So I ate this meal (and the next one I'm going to post), but I can't give you an accurate grade on how good it was! I will say that what I could taste was a little 'boozy'. My friend Sam made the same recipe and she submitted a similar comment, so I'm going to roll with that. If you are not into wine flavors, go for 1c beef broth and 1/2 cup red wine (I used merlot).

But you can't beat the ease of this dish! It ended up only serving 4 servings (and a little one for the baby), which was fine. I will definitely make it again when my sense of smell/taste has recovered!

Beef in Red Wine Gravy

Yield: 6 servings (but in my opinion it's more like 4!)
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Slow Cooker Meals

1-1/2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 medium onions, cut up
2 beef bouillon cubes or 1 envelope (1/2 of 2-ounce package) onion soup mix
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Ground black pepper
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
Hot cooked noodles (optional)

1. In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine beef stew meat and onions. Add bouillon cubes or dry onion soup mix. Sprinkle cornstarch, salt, and pepper over beef and onions. Pour red wine over beef mixture in cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours.

3. If desired, serve over hot cooked noodles. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 211, Total Fat (g) 4, Saturated Fat (g) 1, Cholesterol (mg) 67, Sodium (mg) 430, Carbohydrate (g) 8, Fiber (g) 0, Protein (g) 24

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Monday, March 8, 2010

(47) Black Bean Salad

I was looking for something light to compliment the Stuffed Pork Sandwiches and came across this recipe online. I highly recommend the Simply Recipes website - she always has great recipes and beautiful photography!

Anyway, this recipe was delicious!! It was labor intensive on the chopping front, but it was worth the knife time. I used pickled jalapenos and probably not enough (it was spicy, but not overly). I thought for sure that the basil or cilantro would be overwhelming, but they weren't! The flavors were perfectly balanced. I can't wait for the leftovers!

Black Bean Salad

Yield: 6 to 8 servings (I measured 8 servings that were a hefty 1/2 cup each)

1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, thoroughly rinsed, and drained (or 1 1/2 cup of freshly cooked black beans)
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, defrosted (or fresh corn, parboiled, drained and cooled)
1/2 cup chopped green onions or shallots
2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and minced, or 1 whole pickled jalapeño pepper, minced (not seeded)
3 fresh plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil
2 Tbsp lime juice (about the amount of juice from one lime)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon of sugar (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Make sure to rinse and drain the beans, if you are using canned beans.

In a large bowl, combine the beans, corn, onions, jalapeno chile peppers, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, basil, lime juice and olive oil. Add sugar and salt and pepper to taste. (The sugar will help balance the acidity from the tomatoes and lime juice.) Chill before serving.

Serves 6 to 8.

I ran the nutritional information on Spark Recipes and came up with 8 servings for 130 calories, 5.6g fat, 19.4g carbs, 4.5g protein, 5.5g fiber.

Original Recipe (You can print from here)

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(46) Stuffed Pork Sandwich

It's Monday and I just have that Monday 'blah' feeling. I almost said "forget it!" and skipped cooking dinner all together, but I hated to waste the thawed out pork chops. I'm SO GLAD that I didn't skip this recipe!!! My husband actually cooked these while I made the side dish, so I can attest to it being easy. He hardly asked any questions & didn't say any bad words :)

The flavors of this sandwich are great! The pickle and the cheese give the right amount of saltiness. I was also very taken by the complex textures of such a seemingly simple sandwich. You've got soft bun and tomato, then a snap of crisp Romaine. When you get to the pork it's tender, but you still have to get your teeth into it... The cheese and pickle are a squishy treat in the middle!! I couldn't get enough!! If you like Cuban sandwiches, please try this recipe!!

Stuffed Pork Sandwich

Source: Eating Well Magazine - January/February 2009
Yield: 4 sandwiches

The classic Cuban sandwich inspired this recipe. The original is made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese and pickles pressed and griddled between two pieces of soft white bread. Our version cuts down on the meat and is served on a soft whole-wheat bun. Feel free to press it in a panini maker to make it crispy. Serve with vinegary coleslaw.

4 4-ounce boneless pork chops, 1/2 inch thick, trimmed
2 thin slices Swiss cheese, (1 ounce each), cut in half
4 dill pickle sandwich slices
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
4 slices tomato
2 romaine lettuce leaves, cut in half

1. Cut each pork chop nearly in half horizontally, stopping short of the opposite side. Open each chop and place between sheets of plastic wrap. Pound with a meat mallet or heavy skillet until flattened to an even thickness, slightly thicker than 1/8 inch.

2. Place a piece of cheese and a pickle slice on one side of each flattened chop. Fold the chop over the filling, closing it like a book. Press the edges firmly together to seal. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

3. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the stuffed chops, reduce heat to medium and cook until golden brown and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes per side.

4. To assemble sandwiches, spread the toasted buns with mustard and top each with a pork chop, tomato slice and lettuce.

Nutritional Information
353 Calories; 15 g Fat; 5 g Sat; 6 g Mono; 79 mg Cholesterol; 25 g Carbohydrates; 29 g Protein; 4 g Fiber; 612 mg Sodium; 522 mg Potassium

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

(45) Chicken and Vegetables with Herbs

I just got a new shelf for my cookbooks (pictures coming shortly...) and this allowed me to actually organize my collection vs having it look like Barnes & Noble threw up in my family room. One of the things I found was this slow cooker magazine/cookbook! Yes! I'm feeling like slow cooking this week as things are gonna be a little crazy! So tonight was chicken. Chicken legs (thigh + drumstick) are on sale at Publix this week for CHEAP, so that was a double bonus on this meal!!

This recipe was a cinch to prepare. The picture in the magazine shows these beautifully intact chicken legs, but that was NOT the case here! The chicken completely fell apart so I ended up spooning it out in a pile and shredding/chunking the chicken and removing all of the bones. The baby was going to eat this, too (she loved it!), so I figured the boneless method was safest all around.

The flavor on this dish is very 'comfort-y'. It's not a strong, WOW flavor, but it was quite good! My only comment is that I think it needed a pinch of salt at the end, so use your tastebuds and add some if you think it needs it. I served over mashed potatoes (egg noodles would be good too!) for a totally comforting Sunday dinner.

Chicken and Vegetables with Herbs

Yield: 4 servings
Source: Better Homes & Gardens Slow Cooker Meals

While fresh pearl onions need to be blanched and peeled, you can skip those steps with the frozen ones.

8 ounces mushrooms, halved
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 bay leaf (you gotta know I skipped this....)
4 small chicken legs (drumstick-thigh portion; skinned) (2 to 2-1/2 pounds total)
Chicken broth (optional)
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Hot cooked mashed potatoes (optional)
Fresh parsley sprigs (optional)

1. In a 5-1/2- or 6-quart slow cooker, combine mushrooms and pearl onions. Stir in the 1/2 cup broth, the wine, tomato paste, garlic salt, rosemary, thyme, pepper, and bay leaf. Add chicken legs to cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 7 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3-1/2 to 4 hours.

3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving platter. Discard bay leaf. Cover chicken and vegetables and keep warm.

4. For sauce: Skim fat from cooking liquid. Measure 2 cups of the cooking liquid, adding additional chicken broth, if necessary, to equal 2 cups total liquid. Transfer liquid to a medium saucepan. In a small bowl, stir the 1/4 cup broth into the flour; stir into liquid in saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 1 minute more. Spoon some of the sauce over chicken. Pass remaining sauce. If desired, serve with mashed potatoes and garnish with parsley.

Nutrition Facts
Calories 304, Total Fat (g) 9, Saturated Fat (g) 2, Cholesterol (mg) 159, Sodium (mg) 548, Carbohydrate (g) 9, Fiber (g) 1, Protein (g) 43

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3/7/10 - This week's menu

I missed the pork sandwiches last week, so those are going to be tomorrow night's dinner. I've also found my slow cooker cookbook, so I have 2 crock pot meals on the menu for the week! I hardly ever cook in the crock pot, so this will be a treat!

What's cooking in your house this week? Cathy? Mary Helen!? Anybody else!? :) Hope it's going to be a yummy week for you!

Chicken & Vegetables with Herbs (slow cooker)
Mashed Potatoes

Monday: (never made this last week)
Stuffed Pork Sandwiches
Black Bean Salad

Beef in Red Wine Gravy (another crockpot meal!)
Egg Noodles
Brussels Sprouts

Pasta Carbonara with Asparagus
French Bread

Stir-Fried Chicken and Broccoli with Black Bean Sauce
Egg Rolls

Dinner out!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My poor pot cabinet...

It needs help. I need to see your pot cabinets. How do you store yours? There has to be a better way than what I've got going on. This is embarrassing....

It's a pile of lids and pots and anytime I need something, it's a loud clanging activity to find what I need. And a matching lid?! HA! Not gonna happen. We also have this problem - the cabinet won't ever shut right. Partially from the hinge being wonky, but mostly because of pesky pot handles.

So I'm open to any suggestions on better ways to store, modifications I can make to my cabinet, etc etc. Show me your pot cabinet/storage?! I appreciate the help!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

(44) Broccoli-Cheese Pie

According to my husband, real men don't eat quiche... but they WILL eat 'egg pie'!! He deemed this 'one darn good egg pie' and I agree! It was delicious and I can't believe only 200 calories a piece! We had hash browns and strawberries to round out a great meal.

Two notes - First, I wish I had seen the make-ahead note and made this the night before. It wasn't hard to make, but I was HUNGRY so it would have been nice to just pop it in the oven! Second, I don't have a deep dish pie dish, just a regular 9" one and a regular 10" one. I used the 10" dish and had too cook it a little longer to get it firm in the center. (I think you could have also used an 8x8" glass square dish, a tart pan, or even a springform pan.)

Broccoli-Cheese Pie

Source: Eating Well Magazine, Winter 2004
Yield: 6 servings

If you want to give this a fancy name, call it a crustless quiche. For a vegetarian version, simply omit the Canadian bacon.

2 tablespoons plain dry breadcrumbs
4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups 1% milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, such as
1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups cubed whole-wheat country bread, (about 2 slices, crusts removed)
3 cups broccoli florets
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 slices Canadian bacon, diced (about 2 1/2 ounces)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup grated Monterey Jack, or part-skim mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (6-cup capacity) with cooking spray. Add breadcrumbs, tilting to coat bottom and sides.

2. Whisk eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add bread and stir to coat. Set aside in the refrigerator.

3. Steam broccoli until just tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Refresh under cold water and drain well. Chop coarsely.

4. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon and onion; cook, stirring often, until softened and light golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add onion mixture and broccoli to the egg mixture; stir in cheese. Pour into the prepared pan, spreading evenly.

5. Bake the pie until light golden and set, 45 to 50 minutes. Let cool slightly, cut into wedges and serve.

209 Calories; 12 g Fat; 5 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 164 mg Cholesterol; 14 g Carbohydrates; 13 g Protein; 3 g Fiber; 341 mg Sodium; 205 mg Potassium

* Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through step 4. Cover and refrigerate for up to 12 hours.

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Easy Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas

I very rarely cook without a recipe. What can I say!? I'm a Virgo, I need order and direction. Anyway, this is one of the few things that I make without thinking about it. I've never really measured out the ingredients and when people ask how I make these enchiladas, I just end up with a long sordid tale that probably is confusing! So tonight I busted out the enchiladas and decided to write down the measurements as I go. Hopefully it makes sense. We LOVE these enchiladas and it's one of the things my husband requests on a regular basis. Serve with some Spanish rice and refried beans and you have a great weeknight meals!!

PS: These are not soaking in sauce, so if you love your enchiladas with a ton of sauce, add an extra can of enchilada sauce! Put a little more on the bottom and the rest on the top. This recipe is versatile - you really can't go wrong mixing it up to suit your liking!

Amy's Easy Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
Source: An Amy original
Yield: 8 enchiladas

Cooking Spray
1 cup diced onion
1 4.5-ounce can diced green chiles, undrained
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce, divided
3 cups cooked, shredded chicken (I use 1 rotisserie chicken, picked clean and shredded)
1 Tbsp light sour cream
hot sauce (optional)
4 cups shredded cheese (use cheddar, Monterey jack, a mix of the 2, or Mexican blend - your choice!)
Sour cream for serving

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray and add oninos. Saute until soft and slightly brown (4-5 minutes). Add the undrained chiles and saute 1-2 minutes until well combined with the onions.

3) Place the shredded chicken in a medium bowl. Add the onion/chile mix and stir to combine. Add 2 Tbsp of the enchilada sauce and 1 Tbsp light sour cream and a few shakes of hot sauce, if you like it spicy! Stir to combine.

4) Spray a 13x9 pan with cooking spray. Spoon about 3 Tbsp of enchilada sauce into the bottom of the pan - just enough to coat it. Spread with the back of the spoon, if necessary.

5) Fill tortillas each with approx 2 Tbsp cheese (2 hearty pinches) and 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture. Roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish. Cover enchiladas with remaining enchilada sauce. Use the back of the spoon or a spatula to smoothe the sauce over the top of the enchiladas. Make sure you get the edges so they don't get too dried out! Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the enchiladas.

6) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes - just until the cheese is nice and melty and the sauce is bubbling around the sides!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

(43) Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

I think I'm officially on a cauliflower kick! I've never made mashed cauliflower before, but I've heard that it's good. I'm here to report that yes, indeed, it is GOOD! I went with the microwave version and I had too cook it nearly twice as long as suggested. It was really easy, though. The garlic was nice and mellow and the consistency was extremely creamy! We both give this two thumbs up!

Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Source: Eating Well Magazine, February/March 2005
Yield: 4 servings, 3/4 cup each

Our savory cauliflower puree makes a perfect low-carb stand-in for mashed potatoes. It gets its fabulous flavor from garlic, buttermilk and a touch of butter and, best of all, it has about one-quarter of the calories of typical mashed potatoes. If you like, vary it by adding shredded low-fat cheese or chopped fresh herbs.

8 cups bite-size cauliflower florets (about 1 head)
4 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk (see Tip)
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Snipped fresh chives for garnish

1. Place cauliflower florets and garlic in a steamer basket over boiling water, cover and steam until very tender, 12 to 15 minutes. (Alternatively, place florets and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl with 1/4 cup water, cover and microwave on High for 3 to 5 minutes.)

2. Place the cooked cauliflower and garlic in a food processor. Add buttermilk, 2 teaspoons oil, butter, salt and pepper; pulse several times, then process until smooth and creamy. Transfer to a serving bowl. Drizzle with the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and garnish with chives, if desired. Serve hot.

Per serving : 107 Calories; 7 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 4 g Mono; 3 mg Cholesterol; 10 g Carbohydrates; 5 g Protein; 4 g Fiber; 339 mg Sodium; 288 mg Potassium

Tip: No buttermilk? You can use buttermilk powder prepared according to package directions. Or make “sour milk”: mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup milk. (for this recipe that's 1/3 c milk, 1 tsp vinegar or lemon juice!)

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Monday, March 1, 2010

3/1/10 - This week's menu

Forgot to post this yesterday!! Busy week in the kitchen - what's cookin at your house?!

Coffee-Braised Pot Roast with Caramelized Onions

Roasted Root Vegetables
Dinner Rolls


Teriyaki Marinated Chicken Legs
Creamy Mashed Cauliflower

Chicken Enchiladas
Spanish Rice
Refried Beans

Broccoli-Cheese Pie
Spicy Hashbrowns

Stuffed Pork Sandwiches
Black Bean Salad