Sunday, September 30, 2007

Apple Crisp

After apple picking, I was itching to make something yummy involving my new treasures. I didn’t have the time for a pie, or even for dumplings, so a quick, somewhat healthy apple crisp sounded perfect! I didn’t follow an exact recipe, but here is the gist…

I started by coring, peeling, and slicing 6 apples. I placed in a baking dish with a little lemon juice. I sprinkled with cinnamon and went to work on the “crisp” portion of the dessert. I combined oats (maybe ½ or ¾ of a cup?), cinnamon, Splenda brown sugar, nutmeg, a pinch of salt, and a small amount of whole wheat flour (less than ¼ cup) with small dabs of Smart Balance Light margarine. I mixed with my fingers, and once the mixture held together in small clumps, I poured over the apples. I baked at 375 degrees for about a ½ hour, until topping was browned. I served with light vanilla bean ice cream.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Spice Rubbed Chicken Fingers with Cilantro Dipping Sauce

Tonight I made another recipe from the South Beach Diet Cookbook…this is a recipe my husband and I both love, so we do have it occasionally. I didn’t have enough cilantro to make the dipping sauce, and my husband requested ranch dip with it, so I didn’t make the accompanying sauce, but it is DELICIOUS, so I thought I would include the recipe for it. Also, I add a few more spices that the recipe calls for, so those are included below. I also always use more of each spice than listed.

1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon “Emeril’s Essence” seasoning
Pinch of red cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon garlic salt
1 pound chicken breast tenders
½ cup cilantro
½ cup flat leaf parsley
¼ cup blanched slivered almonds
1 clove garlic
1 Serrano chile pepper, seeded
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons water
Spring cilantro, garnish

Coat a grill rack or broiler pan rack with cooking spray. Preheat grill or broiler. (I use both, depending on season, this time I used the grill).

In a cup (or on a plate), combine the first 6 spices listed above. I also like to add a tablespoon of whole wheat flour, but don’t always do so. Cut two slits in each chicken breast, and spray the chicken with cooking spray. Next, coat each tender in the spice mixture, being sure to press the mixture into the slits. Place the chicken on a baking rack and spray again with the cooking spray. Let stand for 10 minutes.

In a food processor, combine the cilantro, parsley, almonds, garlic, chile pepper, and salt. Process until chopped. While the processor is running, add the lime juice and olive oil, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides. Pulse a few times until smooth. Pour the sauce into a bowl, stir in the water, and cover and chill until ready to serve.

Place the chicken on prepared rack and grill or broil, turning several times, for 15 minutes. Serve with the sauce and garnish with cilantro.

Like I mentioned before, I served this with a fat free ranch dipping sauce tonight, per my husband’s request. I served the chicken with a garden salad. To create the dressing, I used what little cilantro I had, chopped and threw into the food processor with white wine vinegar, garlic, a little bit of salt and pepper and streamed in extra virgin olive oil.

Per serving:
248 calories
13 g fat
2 g saturated fat
28 g protein
4 g carbohydrates
1 g fiber
66 mg cholesterol
324 mg sodium

Steak au Poivre

Over dinner and drinks on Friday night, my husband declared that he was “disgusted with himself” and really wanted to make a more conscious effort to lose weight. We eat healthily for the most part, but we do tend to splurge on the weekends, and I mean ALL weekend! So, as I could also stand to lose a few, I figured now was as a good a time as any to RESOLVE to eating better and splurging less often.

Tonight I made a recipe from the South Beach Diet cookbook. I did this diet about 3 years ago after really “letting myself go” and lost close to 30 pounds. And although I am no longer on the diet, some of my eating habits have been forever changed, and I still make recipes from this cookbook from time to time. I followed the recipe almost exactly, but I included any changes I made below…

1 clove garlic, crushed
1 ½ teaspoons crushed black peppercorns
4 beef tenderloin steaks (4 ounces each), trimmed of all visible fat
¼ onion, chopped
2/3 cup green bell pepper
2/3 cup red bell pepper
2/3 cup yellow or orange bell pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon ground paprika
1/3 cup water
½ teaspoon beef-flavored bouillon granules (I used 1/3 cup low sodium beef broth rather than the water and bouillon)
1/3 cup fat free evaporated milk

In a small bowl, combine the crushed garlic and 1 teaspoon of the peppercorns. Press a small amount of the mixture onto each side of the steaks. (I also added salt to the mixture).

Heat a large, nonstick skillet coated with olive oil spray over medium heat. Arrange the steaks in the skillet and cook, turning frequently, for 10 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the center of a steak registers 160 degrees F for medium. (I did more like 13-14 minutes and still had medium temp steaks). Remove the steaks, place on plate and cover to keep warm.

Clean the skillet, coat with cooking spray, and place over medium heat. Add the onion, peppers, and minced garlic (I also added salt and pepper), stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Pour over the steaks. (I actually poured these onto the plate first, then placed the steaks on top, so the pepper/onion mixture served as a bed for the meat).

In a small bowl, combine the bouillon granules and water (or the beef broth), paprika, milk, salt, and the remaining ½ teaspoon of the peppercorns. Pour into the skillet and cook, stirring often, until the mixture is reduced to ½ cup. Spoon the mixture over the steaks and serve immediately.

I served this with asparagus, which I roasted in the oven with a small amount of olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. I also cooked some brown rice in beef broth as well. I was satisfied with just the steak and the pepper/onion combo, but Matt was happy to have a nice full and balanced meal. Matt had 2 portions of the steak, but didn’t finish. I had one portion, and there are one and a half portions left over for dinner on Wednesday when I won’t be home.

For 4 servings:
204 calories
7 g fat
3 g saturated fat
21 g protein
8 g carbohdrates
1 g fiber
59 mg cholesterol
72 mg sodium

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Sweet Apple and Maple Chicken Sausage with Homemade Applesauce and Salad

Tonight I used the inspiration of the season as well as ingredients I had at home. The result was a deliciously seasonable meal my husband and I both enjoyed!

I started by making the applesauce. I cored, sliced, and peeled 5 apples (smaller apples – I used McIntosh). I placed them in a saucepot with a small amount of water (maybe ¼ cup). I cooked them over medium heat, adding cinnamon and nutmeg to the pot . Once boiling, I began to stir and mash the apples with a fork. After a few minutes (when it “looked” right, you could also taste), I removed from heat, transferred to a bowl, and stuck in the freezer to chill. Had I had more time, I would have chilled in the fridge.

I then placed the sausage on the grill. I used Trader Joe’s Sweet Apple and Pure Maple Syrup Chicken Sausages. I grilled them for about 10-12 minutes.

For the salad, I combined the following ingredients:

Spring mix greens
Toasted walnuts
Turkey bacon
Golden raisins
Gorgonzola or cheddar cheese (I used both, I like gorgonzola, my husband does not)

Apple cider vinegar
Olive oil
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Drop or 2 of pure maple syrup

I combined the ingredients for the dressing and poured into bottom of bowl, followed by the greens. I tossed to coat the leaves with the dressing. I then added the toasted walnuts, raisins, and crumbled turkey bacon. I tossed again, and topped with the cheese.

This was a tasty meal, I loved the way each part of the meal worked with the others, the flavors were really married in this dish. I also loved the zip the gorgonzola gave to the salad, a nice contrast to the sweetness.

(Yes, I realize it doesn't look that appealing and that the sausage looks like hot dogs!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Matt's Birthday Celebration - Apple Cinnamon Multigrain Pancakes, French Onion Soup, and Peanut Butter Cake!!

Today was my husband Matt’s birthday, so I spoiled him rotten with all types of goodies. On the menu today was:
1. Apple Cinnamon Multigrain Pancakes
2. French Onion Soup and Field Green Salad (with tomatoes, mushrooms, toasted almonds, golden raisins, and a white wine and balsamic olive oil vinaigrette)
3. Peanut Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache Filling and Cream Cheese Frosting

Matt and I haven’t enjoyed a yummy, home cooked breakfast in I don’t even know how long! We attended a wedding the night before, and were both looking forward to a day of eating, cooking (for me), and relaxing. Apple Cinnamon Multigrain pancakes were a perfect way to start the day.
I started with this recipe from and added a few things to it. Here is a list of what I added:
Extra oats (1/3 cup additional)
Omitted the sweetener
Pinch cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
added slightly more milk
Apple mixture (recipe to follow)

For the apple mixture, I cored, peeled, and sliced 6 apples. I placed apple slices in a small pot, added cinnamon and nutmeg to taste, and cooked over medium heat until they were warm and somewhat softened. I then poured the mixture into the batter, spooned onto a hot griddle, and cooked about 2 minutes on each side. The pancakes were FANTASTIC and were very filling! I served with warm, pure maple syrup, regular and also a cinnamon spiced variety. This recipe doubled made enough for 4, we had leftovers that I froze, and we will see how that goes!

Matt’s parents and my mom came over for an early dinner on Sunday. We skipped lunch as we had eaten a filling breakfast rather late in the morning. I began with Ina Garten’s recipe for French Onion Soup (here is the recipe) and made a few substitutions and additions.

Here is a list of what I added:
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
Omitted the veal stock and used additional beef stock
Fresh thyme
Omitted the brandy (didn’t have any), so I added a little more sherry and slightly more white wine

I one-and-a-halved the recipe to be sure we would have enough, and it was plenty for 5 people, we even had leftovers to enjoy one night during the coming week.

To make the toast floaters, I sliced a French baguette on a diagonal and brushed each side with olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese. I put under the broiler to brown each side, and then placed two toasts on top of each crock of soup. I placed a slice of Swiss cheese on each toast, followed by freshly shredded mozzarella and provolone, covering the top of the crock. I finished it off with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and placed under the broiler to brown.

I served the soup with a field green salad. Here are the ingredients:

Spring mix greens
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Mushrooms, sliced
Toasted slivered almonds
Shallots, diced
Large shavings of asiago cheese

White wine vinegar
Balsamic olive oil
½ clove garlic
Shallots (I threw in a few I had diced for the salad)
Sprinkling of parmesan cheese

I began by creating the dressing. I combined the white wine vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, shallots, thyme, and parm cheese in the food processor. I pulsed a few times, and then drizzled in the olive oil. I poured the dressing into the bottom of the salad bowl. I added the greens next, followed by the tomatoes, mushrooms, and shallots. I tossed the salad to coat with dressing, and topped with the golden raisins and almonds. I finished it off with large shavings of asiago cheese.

Matt’s 2 sisters and their families came over for cake to help us celebrate, and for that I created a peanut butter cake with chocolate ganache filling and cream cheese icing. Matt LOVES peanut butter, so I thought this would be a fun choice! I found this recipe on epicurious that I followed almost exactly. Here are the additions I made:

¼ cup sour cream to batter mixture
Slightly more buttermilk than called for
Omitted the peanut butter from the ganache filling and subbed more chocolate
Used crushed Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups and mini chocolate chips as a garnish instead of the Butterfingers

The cake turned out really, really well! It looked nearly perfect and tasted so yummy! I thought of adding a combination of peanut butter and chocolate chips to the batter, but decided not to. The cake was not overwhelmingly peanut-y, which was good since I am not the biggest fan of PB! The filling was a little too thin, as I made it first thing in the morning instead of the night before. I would STRONGLY suggest making it the night before. Also, I am not sure if I would do the cream cheese frosting again. The frosting itself was delicious, but I found it too sweet and not the right contrast for the cake. But, that was just me, everyone else loved it. I would do a simple whipped frosting next time perhaps, light on the sweetening.

Hope you enjoyed your yummy treats, Matthew!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Bruschetta for One

My husband was not home for dinner tonight, so I was excited to 1) have something that I love, but he feels is an incomplete meal, and 2) use up some garden tomatoes.

I love bruschetta…I can eat it as a meal on its own. I make bruschetta as an appetizer to bring to parties, make bruschetta pasta, bruschetta chicken, and bruschetta pizza. And, occasionally, I like to have it for dinner. I made the same recipe I would if I were creating an appetizer, I just used larger slices of bread. When I make this as an appetizer, I serve it with toasted baguette slices, tonight, I served it with hearty wheat “Italian” bread slices.

I don’t measure, and sort of just created this recipe over time, based on ingredients I like, but here is the idea (if making as an appetizer, increase ingredient amounts. What is listed is plenty for 2 people:

2 tomatoes, diced and seeded (2 tomatoes will easily serve 2 people)
½ red onion, chopped
Handful of black olives, sliced (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh mozzarella slices
Italian bread (I used a wheat variety, but it is better with the real thing!)

I poured a small amount of olive oil in the bottom of a small mixing bowl. I chopped and seeded 2 small tomatoes and added to the bowl. I then added the chopped onion followed by the salt, pepper, garlic, basil, thyme, and black olives. I added red wine vinegar, stirred, and let stand for about 1 hour at room temperature.

Meanwhile, I sliced the bread and preheated the broiler. I brushed each side of the bread with olive oil, thyme, salt, pepper, and parmesan cheese (I mixed all these ingredients in a small prep bowl and brushed on). I put the slices under the broiler to toast both sides.

Once the bruschetta had marinated, I used a slotted spoon to drain, and spooned onto the bread. I topped with slices of fresh part-skim mozzarella and placed under the broiler until the cheese melted.

Dinner for one, yummy!

Monday, September 10, 2007

"Fractured Chicken"

I bet you are wondering why in the world this dish is called “Fractured Chicken”…

My mom has been making this dish for years, since my brother and I were younger. One evening, we received a call from my brother’s middle school soccer coach letting us know they were rushing my brother to the hospital; he had fallen and appeared to have injured his back. Turns out he fractured 2 vertebrae. My mom was in the middle of making this meal, and accidentally, in the chaos that ensued, left the meal in the oven while we dashed to meet my brother at the hospital. So, since that fateful day back in 1995, the dish has been called “Fractured Chicken.”

This meal is not fancy and really easy to prepare. I am not sure it is blog-worthy, but it is so darn tasty, so I had to share. I guess if I had to give this dish a title I would call it “Baked Stuffed Chicken Breast with Swiss Cheese and Cream of Broccoli.” Ugh, too long and sooo boring. I like “Fractured Chicken” much better.

Anyway, the dish combines chicken breast, cream of broccoli soup, Swiss cheese and stuffing and is a wonderfully comforting, creamy, and delicious weeknight meal!

1 can Cream of Broccoli soup
½ can milk (I use fat free)
4 slices Swiss cheese
2 large chicken breast (or, could be made to serve 4 with 4 smaller breasts)
2 cups Pepperidge Farm cubed herb seasoned stuffing

I began by mixing the cream of broccoli soup with ½ can of milk in a bowl. I poured a small amount of the soup mixture into the bottom of a baking dish, enough just to coat the bottom. I then seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, and placed in the baking dish. I poured more of the soup mixture over the chicken, then added the Swiss cheese slices, followed by the remainder of the soup mixture. In a small bowl, I added the 2 cups of cubed stuffing, a small amount of water, and a dab of Smart Balance Trans-Free Light margarine. I microwaved for one minute to soften, then poured the stuffing mixture over the chicken in the baking dish. I placed in the oven at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

I served the chicken over brown rice, which I had cooked in chicken broth, and a side of broccoli. I poured some of the remaining liquid over the chicken and rice, and voila, dinnertime. This meal is SO EASY and perfect when you have a busy night of correcting 7th grade English homework ahead of you!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Football Season = NACHOS!!!!

I know, this is not exactly gourmet, but due to my excitement for the beginning of fall and football season, I had to include this “meal” in my blog. My husband, Matt, and I, had spent the weekend away attending a wedding. Friends of ours, who were traveling with us, were staying for the Patriot’s game before they headed home, and at the boys’ request, I made some nachos. And, even though the boys picked out the wrong chips at the store, they were pretty darn tasty, and they perfect way to begin football season and end an exhausting (but fun) weekend.

I didn’t measure, but here is the basic idea.

I took an oven safe plate and started with a layer of tortilla chips. My husband stopped at a local restaurant, CafĂ© Teresa’s, to pick up some of their awesome chili, and I drizzled some of the chili over the chips. Next, I placed cubes of Velveeta on the chips, followed by shredded four cheese Mexican blend cheese (not the kind with the seasoning, just the Mexican style with 4 types of cheeses). I know what you are thinking…Velveeta, YUCK! I know many foodies will gasp at the thought of using this, but my hubby loves it, and to tell you the truth, I think it is a great cheese to use for nachos because of its texture when melted. And I digress…

I continued layering the chips, chili, and cheese until I had a pretty good looking pile going on (I think I did 3 layers total). I topped with extra cheese, and placed in the oven to warm. Once warmed through, I preheated the broiler and left the nachos under there for a minute or two. I removed from oven once the cheese was bubbling, and I topped with sliced black olives and hot banana peppers. I served the nachos with salsa and sour cream, and of course, beer. Calories don’t count on Sundays, right?

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Vegetable Frittata with Parmesan and Asiago Cheeses

One of our favorite recipe from our South Beach Diet days, the Vegetable Frittata is fresh and light, yet full enough to constitute as a meal on its own. Although my husband does often complain if a meal is “meatless,” he usually goes for this one. But, in an unexpected turn of events, I was the one feeling like I needed some meat…so I added Canadian bacon to this otherwise vegetarian dish.

The original recipe is from the South Beach diet cookbook, but I often play around with the veggies I put in, and, as I did this time, added some meat. Tonight I added summer squash, tomatoes, and spinach as well to the variety of veggies.

2 tablespoons Smart Balance (trans-free) margarine
1 onion, chopped
1 zucchini, thinly sliced
1 summer squash, thinly sliced
4 large mushrooms, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used orange, but often use red)
1 package of frozen spinach, cooked and drained (it is important to “wring out” the spinach, the liquid in the spinach will make the dish too watery)
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
4 rounds of Canadian bacon, cubed
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh thyme
½ teaspoon ground pepper
4 large eggs, at room temperature
I cup liquid egg whites or egg substitute
1/8 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/8 cup freshly grated asiago cheese

Preheat the broiler, and place rack in lowest position (about 6 to 7 inches from heat source).

Melt one tablespoon margarine in a large, oven-safe, nonstick skillet over med. heat. Add the onion, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, pepper, half of the salt, thyme, and half of the pepper. Sautee over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Once the vegetables are tender and no juices remain, add the cooked and drained spinach as well as the tomatoes.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, egg whites, half the salt and pepper, and half of the cheese.

Melt the remaining teaspoon of margarine (this step is not really necessary, I have found) in the skillet with the veggies over low heat. Pour in the egg mixture. Once egg mixture is in the skillet, add the cubed Canadian bacon. Cook, uncovered and without stirring, for about 15-20 minutes (the recipe says 15, but I always need more like 20, sometimes even 25 minutes). Once only the top remains runny, the frittata is ready for the broiler. Place the skillet under the broiler and cook for 5 minutes, or until the eggs are set (again, sometimes I feel it needs longer under the broiler). Slide the frittata onto a large plate to serve. Top with reserved grated cheese and slice.

The spinach made the frittata look rather ugly, so I was upset about that, but it added a nice layer of flavor, so I am glad I included it. Not my best presentation, but a yummy meal nonetheless!

Makes 4 servings.
Per serving (including the Canadian bacon, less without):
315 calories
13.5 g fat
20 g protein
10 carbohydrates
3.5 g fiber