Monday, January 31, 2011

Eggplant and Squash Curry

For our meatless Monday dinner, we had the Eggplant and Squash Curry that Val and I had made on Sunday afternoon. This recipe started by roasting a cubed butternut squash in the oven until nicely caramelized.

Meanwhile in a skillet we sauteed a couple of sliced red bell peppers, sliced onions, garlic and minced ginger all seasoned with salt and pepper for a few minutes. A chopped eggplant, some curry powder, chile powder, and ground cardamom were added and allowed to toast a little, before the cover went on the skillet and continued to cook for about 15 minutes. Once the eggplant was tender, the roasted squash went in along with a can of stewed tomatoes, some mango chutney and some stock. This was cooled and stored.

All we had to do tonight was reheat the curry and cook some rice. The rice had grated lime zest added to the water before cooking and then had sliced scallions and fresh lime juice added at the very end.

The warm curry went over the lime scented rice and the entire meal was fabulous. It had the perfect combination of sweet and hot and Gerry and I both loved it. I'm looking forward to some of the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

A Sunday Afternoon of Cooking

I recently caught an episode of Rachel Ray's Week in a Day show and was intrigued by how it would be to spend a day cooking for the entire work week. Val and I got together Sunday morning with the grocery list in hand shopped for all that we would need. We went back to her house, rolled up our sleeves and got organized.

We started by poaching some chicken breasts to be used in two different recipes.

We made a chicken noodle soup using the broth from poaching the chicken and loaded it with leeks, onions, celery, fennel, carrots and lots of diced chicken breast meat. The egg noodles were cooked and stored separately. We will simply need to briefly reheat some noodles and ladle the hot soup over the noodles.

We then moved on to make a Lazy Lasagne with Lamb Ragu, Spinach and Ricotta. We will simply need to pop this in the oven on the day we want to have it.

Next on the agenda was Buffalo BBQ Pulled Chicken which used the rest of the chicken breast meat we poached along with some cooked veggies and a sauce very much like a Buffalo chicken wing sauce. This will simply need to be re-heated, poured in a casserole and topped with a blue cheese cornbread topper before going in the oven when we are ready to eat it.

The fourth meal was an Eggplant and Squash Curry, which was a bunch of different vegetables all cooked with spices and ready to simply be reheated for service.

The last item of the day was a Spicy Zucchini, Pepper and Potato Soup which is completely cooked and will just need to be reheated before serving.

We were in the kitchen for a good 5+ hours and that was with the two of us. This was fun to do with someone, knowing that the rest of the week would be a breeze. It would be totally overwhelming to do alone.

We will consider doing this again after we have eaten the fruits of our labor and seeing how much of it we liked.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Barefoot Contessa Evening

I love to watch all kinds of cooking shows and I watch both the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. There are several shows that I record and I watched quite a few recorded episodes this morning. I decided that one of Ina's recent shows I watched from Barefoot Contessa sounded perfect for tonight.

We started with a Roasted Eggplant Caponata, which had roasted eggplant, roasted peppers, green olives, sauteed onions and garlic, parsley, pine nuts, lemon juice, capers, tomato paste, vinegar, and salt and pepper. This was served with toasted pita triangles; pitas that I cut into wedges, brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and baked. This caponata was fabulous!

The entree was Caesar-Roasted Fish which was good, but not as spectacular as most of Ina's recipes are. On her show, she used striped bass steaks which had been caught that morning by a local fisherman. I substituted cod fillets which looked really good at the market today. Basically the fish was coated with a Caesar sauce which had all the ingredients of a Caesar dressing, and was roasted in the oven. Once done, it was garnished with frizzled capers (drained capers, that are sauteed in a little olive oil over high heat, until they start to pop and are a little crisp) and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

The side dish was sauteed Broccolini and Garlic which was made by blanching the broccolini and then adding them to a skillet in which garlic was gently warmed through. The broccolini were tossed with the garlic and olive oil to warm through.

We also had dessert tonight which was a Fresh Peach Cake which was very good. Basically a cake batter was made and half of the batter was poured in a pan. The batter was topped with sliced, fresh peaches and sprinkled with a cinnamon-sugar mixture. The layers were repeated and the cake was topped with some chopped pecans before being baked.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Gerry's Choice Friday

Gerry decided on Flat Iron Steak with a Red Wine Sauce for dinner which is one of our favorite recipes. The steak was grilled just to medium rare and the sauce was made by sauteing onions in butter until tender and seasoned with salt. Garlic and oregano were added and cooked until fragrant. Tomato paste got stirred in and cooked for a bit before the red wine was whisked in and cooked down until thickened. We go back to this recipe often.

He roasted baby potatoes simply drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. He also sauteed mushrooms.

The new dish for the evening was roasted Parsnips which were superb. Some parsnips were peeled and cut into batons (looking a lot like french fries), drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Some chicken broth was added to the roast pan and they were roasted for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile some softened butter was combined with horseradish, chopped flat leaf parsley, minced chives and minced garlic. The seasoned butter was stirred in to the roasted parsnips to combine and these were absolutely delicious! I know we'll be doing this recipe often.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken Paprikash

Since we pick up Emma from daycare every Thursday, I usually try to plan something easy for dinner. Tonight's dinner was simmered in the crockpot all afternoon. Gerry started the process by seasoning some chicken thighs with salt and pepper and dredged in flour. The coated chicken thighs were seared in a skillet. While the chicken was searing, some carrots, red bell pepper, onion and garlic went into the crockpot. The seared chicken pieces went over the chopped vegetables in the crock pot and the whole mixture was topped with a can of cut up tomatoes, lemon zest, and sweet Hungarian paprika. This mixture cooked over low heat for about 5 hours until the chicken was so tender, it was falling off the bone.

This was served with Lemon Couscous. Some chicken broth was combined some peas, olive oil, lemon zest and salt and brought to a boil. Couscous was stirred in, covered and removed from the heat. This was allowed to stand for 5 minutes, before being fluffed with a fork and served.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Almond-Crusted Tilapia

Tonight's dinner reminded me of a fish amandine because the almonds added such a rich, nutty flavor to the tilapia. The recipe started by putting almonds, breadcrumbs, some herb seasoning blend and freshly ground black pepper in the food processor and were processed until finely ground. Some Dijon mustard was spread on the tilpia fillets before being dredged in the breadcrumb mixture. The breaded fillets went in a nonstick skillet in a little canola oil for a few minutes per side.

The side dish was Mashed Red Potatoes with Chives. We started by boiling some red potatoes until tender. We then added some finely minced garlic, light sour cream, skim milk, a little Brummel and Brown (yogurt-based spread), salt, and pepper and mashed everything together. Some chopped chives were finally stirred in before serving.

Each plate had a fish fillet, garnished with chopped parsley, and served with a lemon wedge, a mound of mashed red potatoes, and some steamed sugar snap peas.

It was a wonderful dinner; low calorie and healthy to boot.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meatless Monday Pizza

Tonight's dinner was a Roasted Vegetable Pizza. Some chopped red onion, coarsely chopped zucchini and grape tomatoes were tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and popped into a 500 degree oven for about 20 minutes until the veggies were tender and lightly browned. Some chopped fresh basil was stirred in to the roasted veggies.

In a 500 degree oven, a Boboli pizza crust went in to heat briefly. The warmed crust was then spread with pesto, topped with the roasted veggies, and topped with shredded mozzarella and a little grated fresh Parmesan. The topped pizza went back in for 7 minutes or until the cheese melted.

We loved the toppings on this pizza but the Boboli crust was a little disappointing. This would have been perfect with a homemade pizza crust. We are looking forward to trying this one again with a better crust.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Football and Roast Chicken

I receive weekly emails from Williams Sonoma and in their last email was an offer to sign up for their Sous Chef series of recipes. This week's recipe was from Chef James Tracey who is the sous chef of Tom Colicchio's Craft Restaurant in New York. The recipe is Roast Chicken with Seasonal Vegetables.

The recipe called for a 4 pound chicken which was stuffed with rosemary, thyme, sage, and whole garlic cloves. The entire bird was seasoned generously with salt and pepper and trussed to hold its shape. In a roast pan on the stovetop, the chicken was seared on both sides (legs and thighs) until golden brown. The chicken came out of the roasting pan and was set aside.

In the same roast pan the following chopped vegetables were added, turnips, carrots, rutabaga, cipollini onions, and halved brussels sprouts and allowed to cook for about 8 minutes. The seared chicken went back into the roasting pan along with the vegetables and the pan got 4 tablespoons of butter added. The pan went in a 350 degree oven to roast, basting the chicken every 15 minutes for an hour. The recipe said to test for doneness by piercing the thigh with a knife to be sure the juices ran clear. I decided to let it roast for another 15 minutes after an hour and then tested the thigh. The juices ran clear, so I decided it was done. I removed the chicken to a carving board to rest for 10 minutes tented with foil.

Meanwhile, the roasted vegetables went on the stovetop burner along with two of the cloves of garlic that were originally stuffed in the bird and cooked over high heat until the liquid reduced and formed a glaze over the vegetables.

When the vegetables were done and Gerry went to carve the chicken, we realized the chicken was not cooked enough. We decided to put the entire roast pan with the vegetables and chicken back in an 400 degree oven for another 25 minutes. When the chicken was done this time, we let it rest again and I again cooked down the vegatables in the roast pan to glaze them.

Our chicken turned out just fine and the vegetables were wonderful (I loved the combination of vegetables). The oven temp and timing on this recipe makes me wonder if a professional oven cooks a lot hotter than the typical home oven. I can only assume this is what would account for the difference in having the chicken completely cooked. It will be interesting to see what next week's recipe will bring.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Pork Chops and Potatoes

Tonight was all about home-style food, of course with a twist. We had Pork Chops with Sauteed Apples and Pecans and Cheddar Mashed Potatoes with Bacon.

The protein part of dinner started by browning two 1" thick pork chops that were simply seasoned with salt and pepper in a nonstick skillet on each side for 5 minutes. The chops were removed and covered. In the same skillet, some diced onions and a sliced Jonagold apple went in to cook for about 5 minutes. The spices went in next - dry mustard, cinnamon and salt and allowed to cook until fragrant. I then stirred in apple juice and a little lemon juice and cooked until the apple slices were soft. I placed the pork chops back in the pan on top of the apple and onion mixture and allowed then to cook to an internal temp of 155 degrees.

Our side dish started by sauteing 2 strips of diced bacon until crisp. Meanwhile some cubed red potatoes were cooked until tender. The potatoes were drained, and the pot put back on the burner over medium heat to remove the excess moisture for a minute or so. I added some skim milk and plain Greek yogurt and mashed. I then added some shredded Cheddar cheese and the crisp bacon bits. The mashed potatoes were garnished with more shredded Cheddar and chopped scallions.

The potatoes went on the plate, topped with a pork chop with the sauteed apples over it and garnished with toasted, chopped pecans.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pan-Seared Tarragon Trout

Yum is the perfect word to start this blog. The trout were steelhead, also known as ocean trout, and were a lovely pink color looking a lot like salmon which we love.

The trout part of dinner started by zesting and juicing a lemon. The trout fillets were seasoned with salt and pepper and dredged with flour. The seasoned fillets were cooked in a bit of butter in a nonstick skillet until done and removed and set aside. Some minced garlic went in to the same skillet to cook briefly and the pan was deglazed with white wine. When the wine was almost gone, some dried tarragon and the reserved lemon juice and zest went in. The sauce was spooned over the fish on the plate.

This was served with fig, carrot, and ginger Rice Pilaf. In a nonstick skillet in a little olive oil, some matchstick cut carrots, minced fresh ginger and minced garlic were sauteed until brown. Some small quartered, dried figs went in for a couple of minutes. Off heat, some cooked brown rice was stirred in and served immediately.

The flavors of both recipes went together beautifully.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Chicken and Pasta with a Twist

Tonight we had Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Tomatoes. The process started by tossing some grape tomatoes with a little honey and olive oil and roasting them in a 450 degree oven for 12 minutes until the skins began to burst. The roasted tomatoes went into a bowl along with the juices to sit for a bit. Meanwhile some chicken breasts were pounded thin, seasoned with salt and pepper and sauteed in a nonstick skillet until done. The sauteed chicken breasts got a drizzle of balsamic vinegar on the serving plate and topped with the roasted tomatoes.

The side dish was Mushroom and Zucchini Orzo. Cooked orzo was combined with sauteed sliced mushrooms and zucchini and tossed with a little butter, oregano, salt and pepper.

Both of these recipes came from my Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast cookbook.

I'm looking forward to trying many more recipes from this cookbook.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Asian-Spiced Pork Chops

I took the day off to care for my two sick grandchildren today and the way it was described to me by my four year old granddaughter was she is only a little sick (opening her hands about an inch) with a sore froat, but her brother was very sick (opening her little hands about a foot). How precious is that? Six month old Ethan has RSV, requiring medicine and 3 times a day breathing treatments, in addition to alternating infant Ibuprofen and Tylenol to bring down his fever every few hours. He has eye drops for an eye infection and nose drops to control a bloody nose. In spite of all of his ailments, he still smiles at you every time you talk to him (what a trooper!). Emma has strep throat requiring an antibiotic and had no fever today and her appetite was definitely back. I'm sure she is ready to go back to day care tomorrow.

Since I was gone all day, Gerry was in charge of dinner. We had Asian-spiced pork chops which were boneless pork loin chops with a rub of Spanish paprika, dry mustard, salt, pepper, ground ginger, ground allspice and cayenne pepper. The rubbed chops went on the grill to cook and were done to perfection. The sides were oven roasted red potatoes, steamed carrots and a tomato and feta cheese salad.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Tuesday Fish Dinner

Since I didn't plan a menu over the weekend, tonight was Gerry's choice and I'm glad it was. He chose to make cod fish which he marinated in a North African marinade. The marinade consisted of Italian parsley, fresh mint leaves, olive oil, sherry vinegar, garlic, paprika, salt, pepper and Tabasco sauce all processed in the food processor until smooth. After marinating, the cod fillets went on the grill to cook.

We also had a grilled vegetable salad with feta cheese. The salad was the following vegetables which were grilled: red pepper, eggplant, onion, and zucchini. Once cool enough to handle, the grilled vegetables were cut up and put in a bowl. The dressing was olive oil, red wine vinegar, oregano and salt and pepper all whisked together. The grilled veggies were tossed with the dressing along with some halved cherry tomatoes. Each salad serving received a garnish of feta cheese.

The cod was served over rice with the grilled vegetable salad on the side.

Leftover Monday

On Monday morning, Steph and David headed back to Austin and shortly after, it was time to bring Kathy and Robin to the airport. Even though it was a short trip, we had lots of time to chat and have fun! It's small moments during times like this that create life-long memories.

Gerry and I simply had some of the leftover vodka cream pasta for dinner so there was no cooking involved and called it a fantastic weekend!

Sunday Bridal Shower

Sunday was all about celebrating Steph and David with the Bridal Shower. My very good friend here in Texas wanted to host the shower and we did so at her house which is on Lake Lewisville with a wonderful view of the water. This is the event that Kathy and Robin had flown in for which is still mind-boggling to me.

We started the activities at 2:00 in the afternoon with some Cuban empanadas, and other little puff pastry wrapped tidbits. I made a hot spinach artichoke dip with crackers and we had a champagne punch, white wine, red wine, iced tea and soda available. We played a few games during the afternoon, watched Stephanie open her gifts, and then moved on to the real food.

There was an assortment of sandwiches from Corner Bakery and a potato salad and macaroni salad made by Olga. Dessert was flan made by Olga at Steph's request and an assortment of baked treats from Whole Foods contributed by Kathy. The baked treats included lots of cannolis, mini pecan tarts, fruit tarts topped with blackberries or blueberries and chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and white cupcakes with vanilla frosting. The food was wonderful and the company was even better.

Again, what could be better than celebrating a special day surrounded by friends and family? I can't think of a thing!

A Family and Friend Filled Weekend

What could be better than a long weekend filled with family and friends? This weekend was Stephanie's bridal shower so Steph and David came in from Austin on Friday night. We celebrated David's birthday on Saturday even though his birthday isn't until February 5th since we wanted to save them another trip from Austin.

To join in the festivities of the weekend, my best friend of 40 years flew in from Connecticut with her daughter-in-law. Our two families have been connected by the bonds of being related and best of all, by choosing to be the best of friends. It's the best of both worlds; family and friendship.

David's food choices for the day were quite delicious. He is not an early riser and therefore is not a breakfast person. We had fresh bagels with an assortment of cream cheeses, and lox for those who wanted it which was my choice for breakfast.

Lunch was the Antipasto Salad which I have made a few times recently. It had all the usual suspects, romaine lettuce, cherry tomatoes, sliced roasted red peppers, sliced pepperoni, diced salami, cubed provolone cheese, olives, and pepperoncini peppers all dresed with the Best Salad Dressing in the World (really the name of the dressing). We also had a nice crusty baguette and some softer sliced French bread. Lunch was rounded out with Chocolate Crinkle cookies.

Dinner was Vodka Cream Pasta with a side of sauteed bay scallops for anyone wishing to add some to their pasta. I also oven roasted lots of fresh asparagus. You can't have pasta without bread, so I baked a couple of the Pillsbury French breads (no time to make my own). David's pick for dessert was chocolate mousse which I have not made in years. I used Alton Brown's recipe and it was superb. I will certainly be using that recipe again.

We ended the day relatively early with some Wii golf which David won, of course!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spinach and Cheese Quiche

We accidentally invented a new way to bake a quiche tonight simply out of necessity. Gerry had made the crust and blind-baked it. This Weight Watchers recipe started with canned, evaporated milk, cottage cheese, Parmesan, a couple of eggs, some egg whites and salt and pepper.

The filled pie plate went on a jelly roll pan; spread with spinach, and the filling was poured over it. The entire thing went in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. While the quiche was getting it's initial bake time, our daughter showed up to take us to Emma's performance at day care. As soon as the 15 minutes were up, we turned off the oven and left the quiche in it.

Emma's performance of her three songs was simply precious and we just loved being there. We were gone for about an hour altogether and when we got home and checked on the quiche it was perfectly done.

A simply perfect evening!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oven "Fried" Chicken

Tonight's chicken is an old Weight Watcher's recipe. It started by combining buttermilk with hot red pepper sauce. On another plate, were cornflake crumbs, flour, salt and pepper. Some skinned chicken pieces were dipped in the buttermilk and then dredged in the crumb mixture to coat completely. The coated chicken pieces went on a baking sheet and into a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes. The chicken pieces were flipped and cooked for another 20 minutes. You get a nice crunch and toasted flavor without the tons of fat of fried chicken.

We served this with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed carrots.

Tuesday's Fish Tacos

We happen to like Ellie Krieger's recipe for Fish Tacos. We used some fresh Mahi Mahi, which was sauteed and popped in the oven briefly to finish cooking. The fish went on soft flour tortillas with some shredded Napa cabbage, and thawed, frozen corn. The sauce we used is a combination of lite mayo, lite sour cream and diced chipotle chile peppers. The tacos got a final garnish of chopped cilantro.

In addition to being really tasty, these are really not bad for you. It's a recipe we go to again and again.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tofu Provencal with Whole Wheat Pasta

Our dinner tonight was a lot of veggies, tofu and whole wheat pasta and left us feeling that we were doing something good for our bodies in addition to being very tasty.

The process started with a couple of sliced onions sauteed in some olive until they began to brown. A sliced red bell pepper was added to saute for a few minutes before crushed garlic went in briefly. A sliced zucchini went in next along with some fresh thyme and sauteed until golden brown. A can of diced tomatoes was next and the mixture was allowed to simmer for about 10 minutes. Some firm, diced tofu was added along with salt and pepper and simmered for about another 5 minutes. The entire dish was garnished with fresh basil before serving.

This mixture was served over whole wheat spaghetti.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Cold, Snowy Sunday in Texas

Snowy days in Plano are very rare, especially on Sunday afternoons. The day started with a torrential downpour of rain early this morning. The temperature on my way to work out at 7:30 was 39 degrees. An hour later, the temp had dropped to 36 degrees. A trip to the grocery store was on the agenda after breakfast and a quick shower to stock up for the week. The rain continued, changing to snow as I drove home from the grocery store, fully stocked for the week.

I made an Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup for dinner which was perfect. I put a whole chicken, simply seasoned with salt and pepper in the oven to roast at 450 degrees for an hour. I allowed it to cool enough to remove the skin and remove the meat from the bones.

Meanwhile, I brought some chicken broth with sliced celery, carrot, and leeks to a boil, and simmered for about 5 minutes. I added the roasted chicken pieces and the juices from the roasting pan and simmered for another 5 minutes. Next some egg noodles were added to the simmering broth, I covered the pot and removed it from the heat and allowed it to sit for 15 minutes. I tested the noodles for doneness by tasting one and they were perfect. The soup was garnished with chopped parsley before serving.

The soup was served with a side of Avocado-Tomato Melts. I broiled split English muffin halves until golden brown. These were topped with slices of fresh avocado and fresh tomatoes and seasoned with salt and pepper. They then got a sprinkling of grated Farmer's cheese and shredded Parmesan cheese before going back under the broiler to melt the cheese.

This was the perfect meal for a cold, snowy day!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wedding Feasts

I went to a wedding this afternoon which is always a very special event to attend. The bride is a friend from work and I have been hearing all about the plans and have booked some of the same services for Stephanie's wedding which is fast approaching. Erin made a beautiful bride and Chris is everything Erin was looking for.

The wedding reception was held at Delaney Vineyard in Grapevine and was a beautiful venue. The wine was quite good and the food was spectacular. There was a classic spinach salad with chopped hard-boiled eggs and crumbled bacon with a creamy dressing, marinated fresh vegetables, roasted red potatoes, a creamy pasta dish with veggies and chicken, and a carving station with roast beef and horseradish sauce and a roast pork with a choice of 3 different sauces. I chose the mango sauce for mine.

Dessert was cake: the bride's cake was white with white buttercream frosting and the groom's cake was chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. Both were delicious.

It was a special day for a special couple.

Puerto Rican Chicken Stew and Caribbean Fruit Salad

This stew was made in the crock pot by combining chicken broth, tomato sauce, chopped onions, diced red bell pepper, diced pepperoncinis, chopped olives, garlic, cilantro, vinegar, capers, bay leaf, oregano, pepper, and paprika. Some skinless chicken thighs, seasoned with salt went on top of this mixture and allowed to stew for 4 hours.

Some rice was stirred in and allowed to cook for 30 minutes and dinner was ready.

We also had a Caribbean Fruit Salad which was fresh orange slices, cubed fresh pineapple, sliced red onion and feta cheese all combined in a bowl. The dressing was made with olive oil, fresh lemon juice, white wine vinegar, honey, Dijon Mustard and salt.

Both the stew and the salad were garnished with fresh cilantro.

A very yummy dinner!

Thursday Pizza

We had a house showing scheduled for Thursday afternoon between 3:30 and 5:00 p.m. I had planned a crock pot stew for Thursday night and decided against having it stewing during a showing. With Gerry suffering from an acute gout attack, our dinner options were slim, so we decided a veggie pizza from our local favorite pizza parlor sounded great. We love Angelo and Vito's New York style pizza loaded with veggies and a little cheese. It was delicious as always!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A couple of Simple Meals

Tuesday night we ended making the grilled turkey tenderloin again, since I had a fair amount of sauce left. We again grilled the tenderloin basting it with some of the sauce and used more drizzled over for serving. We did the grilled green beans again which were just as delicious the second time. Instead of the bread and tomato dressing, we opted for garlic mashed potatoes. Very easy since we had recently made it, but equally delicious the second time.

Tonight was supposed to be Sweet Soy Scallops, but with Gerry's gout flaring up we decided to stay away from shellfish. I bought a jar of Newman's Marinara sauce, cooked up some linguine and sauteed a couple of leftover Italian sausages, threw it all together and topped it all with grated Pecorino Romano cheese. I also had a loaf of seasoned Ciabatta bread in the freezer which I popped in the oven. A very satisfying meal even if I did feel like I cheated. The amazing thing about using convenience foods is it still took a while for the water to come to the boil to cook the pasta and I still had the same amount of clean up time. That is one of the reasons I rarely rely on convenience.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Stuffed Peppers with Herbs and Vegetables

This week's Meatless Monday meal was wonderful stuffed peppers. Red and yellow pepper halves were stuffed with a mixture of sauteed diced eggplant, onion, tomatoes, and garlic. Once this mixture was sauteed, sliced kalamata olives, pine nuts, mint, basil, black pepper and salt were added off heat. The hot vegetable mixture was spooned into the pepper halves and baked for 20 minutes.

Once baked, the peppers got a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs and feta cheese.

Gerry and I agree:

Swedish Meatballs with Egg Noodles

Most of this week's meals are from Cuisine at Home's Cuisine Lite since we are trying to cut back on the calories a bit for this month. Sunday night was Swedish Meatballs over Egg Noodles coming in at 388 calories.

The meatballs were made with equal amounts of ground sirloin and ground turkey breast, an egg yolk, grated onion, bread cubes soaked in milk and salt and pepper. The meatballs were browned on all sides in a skillet and removed. In the same skillet in butter, flour was cooked for a minute before chicken stock was whisked in along with a little milk, a little brown sugar and dried thyme. The meatballs were added back in and allowed to simmer in the sauce for 5 minutes. The last touch was a squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkling of parsley. The meatballs and sauce were served over cooked yolkless egg noodles.

The side dish was Gingered Carrots - sliced carrots that were simmered, covered in ginger ale for 5 minutes. The skillet was uncovered, brought back to a boil and ground coriander, salt and pepper were added and cooked until the liquid evaporated.

We rounded out our meal with Wine Poached Pears with Vanilla Cinnamon Sauce. Two pears were poached in equal amounts of dry red wine and apple juice until tender. The pears were allowed to cool in the poaching liquid and then refrigerated overnight. To serve, the pears were halved lengthwise and the cores removed. A cup of the poaching liquid was reduced to a mere 1/4 cup. Two pear halves went on the plate topped with a little Greek yogurt, some fresh blackberries and the poaching syrup was drizzled over all. The pears came in at 164 calories per serving.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Saturday Saltimbocca Chicken Breasts

We dined on Saltimbocca Chicken Breasts with a Sage Pan Sauce with a side of Creamy Arugula Pasta.

A boneless, skinless chicken breast had a slit cut in to it so that we could insert a stick of Provolone cheese. This cheese stuffed breast was then wrapped in a couple of pieces of prosciutto and browned in a skillet in a combination of olive oil and butter. Once browned on all sides, the breasts went into a 400 degree oven to finish cooking.

The sauce was made in the same skillet by sauteeing some shallots in butter and deglazing the pan with some white wine. When the wine had just about disappeared, in went some chicken stock and fresh lemon juice and simmered until reduced. A couple of tablespoons of butter were stirred in along with some fresh sage to finish the sauce.

The side dish was a little heavy cream, grated Parmesan cheese, an egg yolk, lemon zest, crushed red pepper flakes and salt and pepper all whisked together. A cup of torn arugula was added and then the hot cooked pasta was tossed to slightly wilt the arugula.

Simply spectacular!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve Feast

We finished out 2010 at home with two of our three children and their significant others. We spent the afternoon playing games and then split up dinner duties so that we were all in the kitchen involved in preparing our feast.

We kicked off the festivities with Italian Margaritas, a combination of Amaretto, sweet and sour mix, tequila, and triple sec and had Antipasto Sausage Skewers, a small skewer of cooked Italian sausage, a piece of artichoke heart, a sliver of sun-dried tomato, a piece of roasted red pepper and a basil leaf. A great way to start!

We then moved in to the dining room for our appetizer which was Hot Mussels. Mussels were steamed and left on the half shell. They then were topped with an herbed butter which had chives and fresh tarragon, a sprinkling of break crumbs and a final grind of fresh black pepper. They went under the broiler for a couple of minutes to melt the butter and crisp the breadcrumbs before being served hot from the oven.

Next came our entree which was Surf and Turf. Each plate had a filet mignon topped with a Bearnaise Sauce and steamed lobster with drawn butter. Our sides were French green beans with shallots, frizzled brussels sprouts and a warm French bread. Frizzled brussels sprouts are sprouts that have been peeled apart into individual leaves and sauteed in olive oil with a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Everything was cooked perfectly due to the team effort.

Dessert was S'mores Tartlets. These individual sized desserts had a crust made from ground hazelnuts, graham crackers and melted butter which was baked and cooled before being filled with a chocolate pastry cream. The final touch was a topping of marshmallow meringue and the tartlets went under the broiler to brown the tops. Definitely an upscale S'mores.

We finished off the evening with more games waiting for the magic hour to wish everyone a Happy New Year!

January 2nd is the day we buckle down and get back to eating healthier.

Happy New Year everyone!