Monday, January 30, 2012

Paneer Mushroom Burgers

I decided to make an Indian twist on Burgers and Fries for today's Meatless Monday dinner. I started by making the paneer (Indian home-style cheese). I then made my hamburger buns (which come out perfect every time). Closer to dinner time, I made the batter for coating the paneer burgers. The coated burgers were sauteed in vegetable oil until golden brown on both sides. Meanwhile sliced shiitake mushrooms were seared in a separate skillet.

To serve, I sliced a still warm hamburger bun in half, layed on some avocado slices and tomato slices. The browned paneer burger went on next and finally the seared mushrooms. This combination made a really filling burger.

Our side dish was sweet potato "fries" - sweet potatoes cut into thin slices, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with salt and pepper and baked in a hot oven for 30 minutes.

Paneer Mushroom Burgers (Serves 2)
Adapted from Bal Arneson (Spice Goddess)

1 cup chickpea flour
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 ounces Homemade Paneer, cut into 2 pieces, recipe follows
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 hamburger buns
slices of avocado
slices of tomato

4 cups whole milk
1/4 cup white vinegar

To make the paneer:
Pour the milk into a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot. Place on medium-high heat and, when it comes to a boil, turn the heat off and add the vinegar. Stir as the milk starts to curdle.

Line a large sieve with cheesecloth and, holding it over the sink, pour the milk curds into it, letting the whey drain into the sink. Place the sieve over a bowl and fold the ends of the cheesecloth over the cheese. Set weights on top to press out excess liquid and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, until it's solid. Yield: 1 pound.

To make the burgers:
Put the chickpea flour, ground coriander, ground cumin, cloves, a pinch each of salt and pepper, yogurt and 3-4 tablespoons water into a bowl and mix until well combined. Add enough water to make a batter consistency. Cut the paneer into two pieces to make the burgers.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan over medium heat. Carefully dip the Homemade Paneer pieces into the batter and gently add to the pan. Cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Keep warm.

Place a clean skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. When it is hot, add the mushrooms and fennel seeds and sear them until they are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with some salt.

Serve the paneer burgers on the buns and top with the seared mushrooms and slices of avocado and tomato.

Our rating:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies

Sunday night dinner was all about slow cooked beef short ribs. I went back to my Red Wine and Cola Braised Short Ribs that I just love and I have made before. I also have already posted that recipe. It was the perfect Sunday afternoon to let these simmer away in the oven for 3 1/2 hours.

While the ribs were simmering away, I decided to make cookies and the thought of chocolate and peanut butter had my mouth watering. These are really a soft, chewy chocolate cookie with peanut butter chips. They turned out beautifully.

Reese's Chewy Chocolate Cookies
Makes about 4 1/2 dozen

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 ounce package Reese's Peanut Butter Chip

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Stir together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugars in large bowl with mixer until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time beating well after each addition and add vanilla extract. Gradually add flour mixture, beating well. Stir in peanut butter chips.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 8 to 9 minutes. (Do not overbake; cookies will be soft. They will puff while baking and flatten while cooling.) Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

My rating:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Onion-Fig Relish

Yum is the best opening word I can think of for tonight's post. A simple pork tenderloin seasoned liberally with salt and pepper, pan seared in a cast-iron skillet and finished in a hot oven. Once the tenderloin was seared, I added chopped onions and figs and a sauce of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and water to the skillet before popping it in the hot oven for 15 minutes. The pan was then loosely covered with foil and allowed to rest for 5 minutes and for such a simple preparation, I can't believe how good this turned out.

The caramelized onions, balsamic vinegar and sweet figs all combined to create a subtly sweet topping for the savory roast pork. Our side dish was an acorn squash half that was baked in a 350 oven for 1 hour. The scooped out cavities were filled with a tablespoon of maple syrup and 1/2 tablespoon of heavy cream. It was a wonderful balance to the pork and onion-fig relish.

Pork Tenderloin with Balsamic Onion-Fig Relish (4 servings)
Adapted from Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast

1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
8 dried Mission figs
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 cup chopped onion

Preheat oven to 425 degrees

Sprinkle pork evenly with salt and pepper; coat with cooking spray. Heat a medium-sized cast-iron skillet or other ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pork; cook 4 minutes or until browned on all sides, turning occasionally.

While pork browns, coarsely chop figs. Combine vinegar, 2 tablespoons water, and soy sauce in a small bowl. When pork is browned, remove pan from heat. Add figs, onion, and vinegar mixture to pan, stirring to loosen browned bits.

Bake, uncovered, at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees (slightly pink). Stir onion mixture; cover pan loosely with foil. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Our rating:

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hoki Filets and Vegetable Trio

My local market had a special on Hoki fish filets this week and since I had no idea what a Hoki fish was, I did some research. A hoki is a type of fish in the hake family found off the coast of New Zealand and Australia, aka the Blue Grenadier. This is also the fish of choice for McDonald's Fish Fillet and is frequently used in commercial fish sticks. I found a recipe online from New Zealand using Hoki filets and I decided to try it tonight. I will not be sharing that recipe since I really did not enjoy the fish (I found it to be quite fishy). I'm not sure if it was the quality of the fish or the preparation that threw me off tonight but I don't think I'll be preparing that fish again for a while.

Our side dish tonight was the hit of dinner and it was a vegetable side dish that I have not made in years. It's a recipe I've had in the back of my mind for a while and since I wanted a colorful vegetable side to serve with my fish, this is what I chose. This is a very simple recipe with the most time consuming part being the prepping of the vegetables. Carrots are cut into matchstick-thin strips. Snow peas are trimmed and cut diagonally in half and mushrooms are sliced thin. Once all these vegetables are cut the rest is a breeze. You throw them all in a saucepan with a little salt, fresh thyme and butter. Place over medium heat, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes. The results are spectacular.

Vegetable Trio (2 generous Servings)
Adapted from Good Housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook

1/4 pound carrots (about 2 large carrots), cut in matchstick-thin strips
1/4 pound snow peas, trimmed and cut diagonally in half
2 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons butter

In a saucepan over medium heat, place all ingredients. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender-crisp, stirring occasionally.

Our rating:

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Vegetable Paella with Mushrooms and Chickpeas

I love the fact that this particular paella has nothing in it to ban it from a Vegan Thursday dinner. I warmed some vegetable broth with a bay leaf and some saffron while I sauteed onion, red bell pepper and olives in a large skillet. I then added cremini mushrooms and garlic and cooked for a couple of minutes. Next went in the rice for a quick saute for a minute to coat each grain of rice. The pan was deglazed with white wine and once evaporated, the warmed broth was stirred in with some tomatoes, artichoke hearts and paprika. The skillet was covered and allowed to simmer for almost 1/2 hour. The last few ingredients to go in were peas, chickpeas and green beans to warm through. This method of cooking a paella is certainly not traditional, but it came out great.

Our side dish for this paella was an Arugula-Citrus Salad dressed with a lemony vinaigrette which was the perfect side dish.

My menu for today was:

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes with Maple Syrup for breakfast
Leftover Fettucine with Roasted Butternut Squash from Monday (minus the goat cheese) for lunch
Vegetable Paella and Arugula-Citrus Salad for dinner

Vegetable Paella with Mushrooms and Chickpeas (Serves 2)
Adapted from Cuisine at Home for Two

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
1 bay leaf
1 pinch saffron (10 threads)
1 cup diced onion
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/4 cup pimento-stuffed Spanish olives
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup dry short or medium grain white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup halved, frozen artichoke hearts
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 oz. green beans, cut in half and blanched
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chopped fresh parsley and lemon wedges for serving

Simmer broth, bay leaf, and saffron in a saucepan over low heat, 10 minutes.

Saute onion, bell pepper, and olives in oil in a large saute pan over medium heat until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, cook 2-3 minutes, then stir in rice and saute 1 minute.

Deglaze with wine; reduce until nearly evaporated. Add seasoned broth, tomatoes, artichoke hearts, and paprika. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until rice is tender, about 25 minutes. Stir in peas, chickpeas, and green beans, and cook 2-3 minutes to heat through. Season with salt.

Garnish with parsley, lemon wedges and more paprika if desired.

Our rating:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry

The latest issue of Cooking Light had a section with 25 chicken recipes and this was one of them. Since I have not made a stir-fry in quite a while, this spicy one was calling my name. The stir-fry consisted of chicken, red and yellow pepper strips, snow peas, onions, fresh garlic and ginger. It also had a sauce flavored with dark sesame oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sambal oelek (chile paste) and cornstarch to thicken and glaze everything. The recipe called for chicken breasts, but I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs that I had on hand. I did adapt the recipe slightly by allowing the chicken thigh pieces to cook longer in a 400 degree oven, covered with foil to cook through a little more. This dish had a really nice heat, not too hot and not leaving you wanting more heat. It was perfect.

This was served over long-grain white rice and garnished with sliced scallions and chopped peanuts and the whole serving came in at 420 calories (using chicken breast) which really isn't bad for a full flavored stir-fry.

Szechuan Chicken Stir-Fry
Adapted from Cooking Light, January/February

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil, divided
1/2 cup fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chile paste (such as sambal oelek)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup snow peas
1/2 cup vertically sliced onion
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
2 cups hot cooked long-grain white rice
sliced scallions for garnish
1/4 cup chopped unsalted roasted peanuts for garnish

Combine 2 teaspoons sesame oil, chicken broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar, chile paste, cornstarch and salt in a small bowl. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 tablespoon canola oil; swirl. Add chicken, stir-fry 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil; swirl. Add bell peppers, snow peas, onion, ginger and garlic; stir-fry 1 minute. Add broth mixture; cook 30 seconds or until thick. Return chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes or until chicken is done. Spoon 1/2 cup rice onto each of 4 plates; top each with 1 cup chicken mixture, scallions and peanuts.

Serves 4

Our rating:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Massaged Kale Salad

Kale is one of those super foods that we should all be eating on a regular basis. Cooked greens are sometimes a little bitter in my book, so I love recipes like this that leave the kale raw and it is a delicious way to eat your greens. It's also fun to make since you can actually see and feel the kale relax during the massage process. I know it sounds a little strange, but it really works.

Massaged Kale Salad
Adapted from the Food Network

1 bunch kale, stalks removed and discarded, leaves thinly sliced
1 lemon, juiced, divided
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons honey
Freshly ground black pepper
1 mango, diced small (about 1 cup)
Small handful toasted pepitas (pumpkin seed kernels), about 2 rounded tablespoons

In a large serving bowl, add the kale, half of the lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little kosher salt. Massage until the kale starts to soften and wilt, 2 to 3 minutes. set aside while you make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with the honey and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until a dressing forms, and you like how it tastes.

Pour the dresing over the kale, and add the mango and pepitas. Toss and serve.

Our rating:

Monday, January 23, 2012

Baked Goat Cheese and Roasted Winter Squash over Garlicky Fettucine

Tonight's Meatless Monday entree was a pasta recipe which Val has been making for several years and loves. It is often her go to recipe for pasta or when she is craving butternut squash and now I understand why. I think it is the sheer simplicity of this recipe that makes it perfect. You oven roast some cubed pieces of winter squash with some red pepper pieces. Meanwhile you cook up some pasta and once done, put it back in the pot with some of the pasta water, some crushed red pepper, minced garlic, a little olive oil and salt. This simple pasta gets served with some of the roasted squash mixture and topped with a slice of baked goat cheese. As simple as this dish sounds, it is spectacular and I highly recommend you try it.

Baked Goat Cheese and Roasted Winter Squash over Garlicky Fettucine
Adapted from Cooking Light

3 cups (1-inch) cubed, peeled kabocha or butternut squash (about 1 1/4 pounds)
1 large red bell pepper, cut into i-inch pieces
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Cooking spray
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary or 1/4 teaspoon dried
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black black pepper
1 (4-ounce) package goat cheese
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
8 ounces uncooked fettucine
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place squash and bell pepper in a large bowl. Add 1 tablespoon oil; toss well. Arrange vegetables in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt, rosemary, and black pepper. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes, stirring once.

Place goat cheese in freezer 10 minutes Cut cheese crosswise into 4 equal rounds. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Dredge each round in breadcrumbs; place on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 6 minutes.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pan; add reserved pasta cooking water, remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper, and garlic, tossing to coat. Place 1 1/4 cups pasta in each of 4 shallow bowls; top each serving with about 1/2 cup squash mixture and 1 goat cheese round.

Our rating:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Roast Chicken with Salsa Verde

I love all things associated with food; from the books I read which is a combination of fiction and many cookbooks, to the shows I watch on TV. I love to watch many of the Cooking Channel shows which is a lot of what was on the food network years ago. I still enjoy some shows on the food networks such as Iron Chef and Chopped. A new favorite for me has been a show called The Chew which is on regular network TV after The View. The Chew is all about food and the show is hosted by 5 celebrities Clinton Kelly (media personality known for his role on What Not to Wear), Mario Batali (Italian chef, owner of Babbo restaurant, host of Molto Mario, and Iron Chef), Michael Symon,
(restauranter, Iron Chef and host of Cook Like an Iron Chef), Carla Hall, (contestant and finalist of Top Chef), and Daphne Oz (daughter of Dr. Oz). I enjoy watching this show every day and have been looking forward to the premier of Michael Symon's new show, Symon's Suppers.

This is a new show on the Cooking Channel and I love Michael's approach to it. The premier started with a visit to Barbuto restaurant in New York City where Michael and chef Jonathan Waxman prepare a roast chicken in the restaurant. Michael takes some of the concepts and flavors of this dish to his home kitchen and shows us how to prepare a simple version of it.

I decided this whole menu sounded like the perfect Sunday night supper. It turned out all wonderfully and I look forward to trying more of Michael's recipes at home. Our side dish was Fried Potatoes with Spicy Aioli and 3 Minute Chocolate "Cup" Cakes.

Roast Chicken with Salsa Verde
Adapted from Symon's Suppers

One 4 lb. chicken
Kosher Salt
1 lemon, thinly sliced and seeded
2 fresh bay leaves
3 cloves garlic
1 small onion, peeled
1 small bunch fresh thyme
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups baby arugula
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Salsa Verde
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed and chopped
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 salt-packed anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced
1 clove garlic, minced
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 shallot, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

The day before cooking, rinse the chicken inside and out under cold water and pat dry. Salt liberally, cover and refrigerate.

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 1 hour before cooking.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Gently loosen the skin on each side of the chicken breast and wedge 3 lemon slices and 1 bay leaf between the skin and each breast half. Put the garlic, onion, thyme and remaining lemon slices in the cavity of the chicken. Rub the entire chicken liberally with olive oil. Put the chicken in an ovenproof saute pan or roasting pan breast-side up, slide it into the oven and roast until the thigh reaches 160 degrees, or until the cavity juices fun clear, about 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes.

When ready to serve, in a medium bowl, dress the arugula with the red wine vinegar and extra-virgin olive oil. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces, drizzle with the Salsa verde and serve with the arugula salad over the top.

Our rating:

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Tenderloin of Beef with Blue Cheese and Herb Crust

Every once in a while it's nice to go all out with a meal and this one seems quite decadent. It really isn't that bad for you since it is the tenderloin of beef which is quite lean and so tender you can just about cut it with a fork. Once the tenderloins were seared in a cast-iron skillet, they were topped with a mixture of breadcrumbs, blue cheese, parsley, chives and black peppercorns. They then went in to the oven to finish cooking through. Once done, they were served on a pool of Madeira wine sauce. These turn out heavenly every time.

Our sides were garlic mashed potato and oven roasted asparagus. This is a meal I turn to about once a year and I love to entertain with this particular recipe. It comes out perfect every time and is really quite easy to pull off.

Tenderloin of Beef with Blue Cheese and Herb Crust
Adapted from Gourmet Meals in Minutes Cookbook

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose white flour
3 cup beef broth
6 tablespoons Madeira wine
2 1/4 lbs. beef tenderloin
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
6 tablespoons blue cheese
1/4 cup parsley, chopped
1/4 cup chives, chopped
1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the butter and flour together.

Bring the beef broth and Madeira to a boil. Whisk in the butter and flour mixture until completely dissolved. Simmer for about 15-20 minutes, until the liquid is thickened and reduced by half. While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the tenderloin into 6 portions that are approximately 3 inches in diameter and 1 1/2 inches thick. Tie butcher's twine around the beef medallions so they maintain their shape while cooking if desired.

Combine the breadcrumbs, blue cheese, parsley, chives, and pepper to form a paste.

Heat the olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over high heat. Sear the medallions until just browned, 2-3 minutes on each side. Arrange the top side of each medallion with 3 tablespoons of the blue cheese and herb crust.

Roast until the crust is golden brown and the meat is cooked as desired, about 6 to 8 minutes for medium-rare, depending on the size of the medallions. If butcher's twine was used, be sure to remove it. Serve the medallions on a pool of the warm Madeira sauce.

My rating:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Grilled Tuna Steaks

I have been remembering a salad I used to make a few years ago and for some reason I just haven't made it lately; so I decided to try to recreate it tonight and serve it alongside a simple charcoal grilled tuna steak. The salad I used to make was sauteed mushrooms, drizzled with a vinaigrette in the skillet to just warm the dressing before being poured over baby spinach leaves which which caused the spinach to just slightly wilt. I remember adding a few bits of cheese and some toasted nuts to finish the salad. I recreated this salad tonight and it was quite good.

Mushrooms over Wilted Spinach (serves 2)

1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces sliced mushrooms
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
4 cups Baby Spinach leaves
1 ounce of goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped

For the Vinaigrette
2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a skillet, melt butter with olive oil, add shallots and garlic and stir briefly. Add sliced mushrooms and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms release their liquid and continue to cook until the liquid evaporates. Reduce heat to medium low, add chopped thyme and stir briefly. Stir in vinaigrette and allow vinaigrette to warm and reduce slightly.

Pour over greens in a bowl and toss to evenly distribute mushrooms with spinach. Divide salad between two salad plates, crumble desired amount of goat cheese over top and sprinkle with toasted pecans.

Grilled Tuna Steaks (serves 2)
Adapted from Barefooot Contessa

2 tuna steaks (6-8 ounces each)
Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To grill the tuna, get a charcoal or stove-top cast-iron grill very hot. Brush the fish with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill each side for only 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. The center should be raw, like sushi, or the tuna will be tough and dry. Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes and serve.

My rating:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Enchilada Casserole

When I came across this recipe in the latest issue of Cooking Light, I knew I had to try it this week. It had all the components of a taco with flour tortillas, ground beef, a flavored tomato sauce and pepper Jack cheese but it was all layered in a pie plate and baked in the oven. This totally worked for me since it came in at 377 calories per serving in addition to being really good.

I served this with Spicy Black Beans which were delicious and I was able to pull the dish together in under 10 minutes. This recipe was also from the latest issue of Cooking Light. I started the beans by sauteeing a chopped up red bell pepper with a minced jalapeno in a couple of teaspoons of canola oil until softened. I then added a can of black beans that were drained and rinsed, some fresh lime juice and a little salt and allowed everything to warm up. The beans were garnished with some chopped cilantro just before serving.

Enchilada Casserole
Adapted from Cooking Light, January/February 2012

1 pound ground sirloin
1 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 cup low-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt added tomato sauce
4 (8-inch) whole-wheat flour tortillas
1/3 cup (1 1/2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese with jalapeno peppers

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and onion to pan; cook 6 minutes, stirring to crumble.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic; saute 1 minute. sprinkle with flour; cook 30 seconds stirring constantly. Add broth, taco seasoning, and tomato sauce to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, Add 1 1/2 cups tomato mixture to beef mixture; reserve 1/2 cup tomato mixture.

Place 1 tortilla in a 9-inch pie plate. Top with 1 cup been mixture. Repeat layers, ending with tortilla. Spread reserved tomato mixture over tortilla. Top with cheese. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Cool slightly. Cut into 4 wedges.

Our rating:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Golden Fish and Chips

Tonight was Fish and Chips, but I made a healthier version from Cooking Light. I cut some Pacific cod loins into smaller pieces and then dipped them in beaten egg whites and then in a corn flakes crumb mixture. The coated fish pieces went on an oiled baking sheet and then in a hot oven to cook for 10 minutes.

The chips part of dinner was some baby fingerling potatoes that I quartered and then tossed in a mixture of melted butter and vegetable oil. I spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer and sprinkled with salt before baking in a hot oven for about 30 minutes.

The vegetable part of our dinner was a Tangy Marinated Coleslaw, another Cooking Light recipe.

Golden Fish Pieces with Dilled Tartar Sauce
Adapted from Cooking Light

2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sweet pickle relish
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon dried dillweed
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons crushed corn flakes cereal
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound grouper or other firm white fish fillets, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
vegetable cooking spray

Combine first 6 ingredients; stir well. Cover sauce, and chill.

Combine cereal and next 3 ingredients in a shallow bowl.

Dig fish in egg whites; dredge in cereal mixture. Place on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 500 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until crispy. Serve with sauce.

My rating:

Monday, January 16, 2012

Shaved Asparagus Pizza

Sometimes a pizza sounds perfect. I usually plan something more than a pizza for dinner, but this one has had me curious for a while. I had a pizza dough stashed in my freezer from the last time I made pizza, so I let it thaw in the refrigerator all day. I then brought it out to room temperature for 30 minutes while I was preheating my pizza stone in a very hot oven. I rolled out the dough and brushed it with olive oil to start with and then spread it with a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese. The asparagus spears were shaved using a vegetable peeler to shave the spears into ribbons. The shaved asparagus was piled on the crust and finally some Boursin garlic herb cheese was crumbled over the top. After 12 minutes in a hot oven on a hot pizza stone, this is what I got.

Shaved Asparagus Pizza
Adapted from Annie's Eats

Pizza Dough
olive oil
8 oz. asparagus spears
4 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
3 oz. spreadable garlic herb cheese, such as Boursin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven and a pizza stone at 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes. Dust a piece of parchment paper with cornmeal and roll out the pizza dough into a 12-14 inch round. Lightly brush the surface of the dough with olive oil.

Cut the tough woody stems off the ends of the asparagus spears. Use a vegetable peeler to shave the spears into ribbons. You likely will not need all of the asparagus, but use more ribbons that you think you need because it will cook down in the oven.

Place the sliced mozzarella over the pizza dough in an even layer. Pile the asparagus shavings over the top of the mozzarella. Dot the surface of the pizza with the garlic herb cheese. Season with kosher salt and pepper.

Transfer the pizza with the parchment paper to the preheated pizza stone and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbling and the crust is lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before slicing and serving.

Our rating:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Veal Chops with Bourbon Cream Sauce

Yum is the best way to describe the blog title for this post. It was one of the best dishes we have had lately and makes me wonder why I don't cook veal more often. My market had veal chops on sale this week which is what made me decide to research veal chop recipes. I stumbled on this recipe and knew I had to try it - veal chops seasoned with rosemary and thyme, pan seared and finished in the oven. While the chops were resting on a plate, a pan sauce was made in the skillet using bourbon, chicken stock and heavy cream. How could you possibly go wrong with that combination? The bourbon mixes beautifully with the cream and the subtle flavor of the veal. Since we have been eating pretty healthy (with the exception of last night), I decided we could splurge on this decadent entree. It was totally worth every calorie!

I served these chops with mashed potatoes and glazed carrots (which have become my new favorite vegetable side).

Veal Chops with Bourbon Cream Sauce
Adapted from the website

4 veal chops, each 8 oz., about 1 inch thick
1/4 cup olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, divided
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, divided
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup minced shallots
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1/4 cup bourbon
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Arrange chops in single layer in large baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Rub oil and seasonings into chops. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and chill. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.)

In a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet, heat remaining oil over medium-high heat. Add chops; cook until chops are dark brown and seared about 2 minutes per side. Transfer pan to oven and bake until a meat thermometer registers 130 degrees (about 10-15 minutes depending on thickness of the chops). Transfer chops to plate and let rest, without cutting into them, for 10 minutes.

In same pan, add shallots and cook over medium-high heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add bourbon to skillet and cook until reduced to about 2 teaspoons, scraping up any browned bits, about 1 minute. Add chicken broth and any accumulated veal juices; cook until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, about 1 minute. Stir in cream and rosemary and cook just until sauce is slightly thickened.

Serve immediately with chops.

Our rating:

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Cacciatore Butter-Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I have been seeing variations of stuffed chicken breasts or roulades as some recipes call them and I was totally intrigued with the technique. I decided to start my experimentation with this recipe which has a compound butter stuffed inside a pounded out chicken breast half, which gets the standard breading treatment before being quickly fried and then finished in the oven. This technique is not really difficult, but it is a very time consuming one and best left to weekend cooking. It will take several hours from start to finish with the various chilling times required. However, it is very much worth the time investment.

Our side dish with the chicken was Lemon and Parsley Ditalini which was cooked pasta tossed with some fresh lemon zest and juice, fresh chopped parsley, some unsalted butter and salt and pepper. This lemony pasta was the perfect side dish to the rich chicken and I can't believe how much I enjoyed a pasta without sauce or cheese.

Cacciatore Butter-Stuffed Chicken, Serves 4
Adapted From Cuisine at Home, February 2012 Issue

1 cup diced cremini mushrooms
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons dry red wine
1 stick unsalted butter, cubed and softened (8 tablespoons)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon minced lemon zest
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6-7 oz. each)
1/4 cup flour
1 egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon water
1 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
Canola oil

Mince mushrooms, onion, bell pepper, garlic, and rosemary in a food processor.

Saute vegetable mixture in 1 tablespoon butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, season with salt and pepper, and cook until moisture evaporates, 15 minutes. Add tomato paste; cook until dry, 2 minutes. Deglaze pan with wine and cook until dry, 2 minutes. Transfer mixture to a bowl; cool to room temperature, 15 minutes.

Mash 1 stick butter, vegetable mixture, basil, and zest in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Spread filling onto plastic wrap into a 4-inch square; wrap, chill, until firm 30 minutes, and quarter.

Pound chicken breasts to 1/8- to 1/4-inch thick, one at a time, inside a resealable plastic bag with 1 teaspoon water using the smooth side of a mallet. Place the bag on a kitchen towel to cushion the chicken during pounding. Avoid pounding breasts too thin to prevent holes or torn edges.

Stuff chicken breasts by placing a quarter of the filling in the center of each pounded breast. Fold the end of the breast over the filling, tuck in the sides, then continue rolling until the filling is covered. Tightly wrap the stuffed breast in plastic wrap, then repeat stuffing and wrapping with remaining breasts. Chill breasts at least one hour, as long as overnight, or freeze until just firm.

Bread the chicken by first dredging in 1/4 cup flour, then dipping into the beaten egg, and finally rolling in the panko bread crumbs, pressing to coat. At this point, the crumbs need to adhere to the chicken. Wrap the breaded breasts in plastic wrap and chill to set the coating, at least one hour or up to 3 hours.

Fry all the stuffed breasts until browned on both sides in 1/2-inch of canola oil heated to 375 degrees, 5-7 minutes. After browning, transfer breasts to a rack set over a baking sheet and transfer to the oven preheated to 450 degrees. Roast stuffed breasts until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the chicken registers 165 degrees, 15-20 minutes.

Our rating:

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Three-Bean Chili and Cornbread

As part of Vegan Thursday, I decided chili and cornbread sounded perfect since it's cold here in the Dallas area. In case you're curious about what vegan cooking is all about, it's meat-free, dairy-free, and egg-free. I am embracing the challenge of having one day a week that's all vegetable based.

I will probably make some mistakes along the way, but I'm sure I'll also learn as I go. Here is my meal plan for today.

Breakfast - Ezekiel bread toasted with peanut butter and sliced bananas

Lunch - Tahini Rotini with Broccoli and Lemon (Rotini pasta in a sauce made with chickpeas, tahini, garlic, lemon juice and vegetable broth)

Dinner - Three Bean Chili and Skillet Cornbread with Smoked Chiles

Both the chili and cornbread had quite a bit of heat which was great for this cold day. The chili was really easy to make using organic canned tomatoes and beans.

Three-Bean Chili
Adapted from Vegan Planet Cookbook

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small, fresh hot chile (optional), seeded and minced (I used a serrano)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons chili powder
one 28-ounch can crushed tomatoes
one 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
one 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
one 15-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Vegan Monterery Jack Cheese (optional as garnish)

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and chile (if using) and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, and tomatoes until well blended. Add all the beans, the water, salt, and pepper and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced and the flavors are blended, 30 to 40 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings, then serve hot.

Serves 6

Skillet Cornbread with Smoked Chiles
Adapted from Vegan Planet

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup soy milk or other dairy-free milk
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup fresh, canned, or frozen corn kernels, cooked and drained
1/4 cup corn oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt and set aside.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the soy milk, maple syrup, corn kernels, corn oil, and chiles and set aside.

Heat a well-oiled cast-iron skillet over medium heat until hot. While the skillet is heating, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well with a few quick strokes. Transfer the batter to the hot skillet and bake on the center oven rack until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

Our rating:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Swiss Chard au Gratin

I decided to try this Swiss chard recipe since chard has been a staple in my CSA basket the past few times. This recipe cooks a lot of chard in boiling salted water before being rinsed, drained and thoroughly dried in a clean kitchen towel to remove all the water. Once the chard was cooled, half of it went in a casserole, topped with a roasted garlic bechamel sauce, sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and layers were repeated. The entire casserole was popped in a hot oven about 20 minutes until the top was just golden.

The chard was served over a toasted length of a baguette to make a Swiss Chard au Gratin French Bread Pizza. This dish was very creamy and cheesy and was a very unusual topping for a French bread pizza.

Swiss Chard au Gratin French Bread Pizza
Adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe

Kosher salt
2 1/4 to 2 1/2 pounds Swiss chard or rainbow chard (3 or 4 large bunches)
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
Freshly ground black pepper
Roasted Garlic Paste (recipe follows)
2 cups shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
One 24-inch French Bread

Roasted Garlic Paste:
2 heads garlic, tops trimmed off to expose all of the cloves
1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoons honey
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Make the Roasted Garlic Paste:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Arrange the garlic on a piece of foil and drizzle with the tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap up the garlic in the foil to make a tightly sealed pouch. Roast until very tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool, then squeeze the garlic from the skins into a food processor. Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and the honey and season with salt and pepper. Puree until smooth, then transfer to a small container. (Alternatively, you can mash the garlic paste with a fork instead of using a food processor.)

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Remove them stems from the chard but keep the leaves whole. Add the chard to the boiling water (the pot will be packed at first) and cook for 10 minutes. Drain in a colander and run under cool water. Drain again, then wrap the chard in a kitchen towel and squeeze to remove the excess water. Chop the chard.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking, for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and season with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Simmer until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Stir in half of the Roasted Garlic Paste.

Spread half the chard in the bottom of a medium casserole dish. Top with half the garlic sauce and half the cheese. Repeat the layers, ending with the cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove the casserole from the oven and turn on the broiler.

Halve the bread lengthwise, then cut in half crosswise to make four 12-inch-long pieces. Broil the bread, cut-side up, until charred, about 1 minute. Slather with the remaining Roasted Garlic Paste and top each piece with one-quarter of the chard au gratin. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Our rating:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cheesy Butternut Bake

For this week's Meatless Monday entree, I thought this casserole sounded perfect. In my CSA basket on Saturday I got a butternut squash,a green cabbage and a few pears (along with lots of other yummy produce) which happened to be some of the ingredients in this casserole. I only had to buy a cauliflower to get it done.

This casserole is loaded with vegetables, baked in a 9 x 13 dish and serves 4. The serving size was huge and full of different textures; the squash was very tender, the cauliflower had some bite to it and the cabbage was down right crunchy. The addition of the pear slices and raisins was just a touch of sweetness that was really nice.

Cheesy Butternut Bake
Adapted from Clean Eating

Cooking Spray
1 1/2 lb. butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped into 1/2-inch cubes
1 head cauliflower, stalks removed and discarded
1/2 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 lb. green cabbage, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 egg
1/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp. dried sage
1/4 tsp. sea salt
4 oz. shredded park-skim mozzarella cheese
1 large red pear
1 oz. sliced raw unsalted almonds
2 oz. unsweetened raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Add squash, reduce heat to medium-high and simmer for 5 minutes. Add cauliflower and simmer for 5 more minutes. Drain and transfer mixture to a large bowl. Add carrots and cabbage and toss gently.

In a small bowl, beat egg lightly with a fork. In a medium pot, add milk and broth and place on medium-low heat for 3 minutes until simmering. Remove from heat and whisk in egg, pepper, sage and salt. Place on low heat and gradually whisk in cheese, stirring constantly until mostly melted; do not let mixture come to a simmer, so reduce heat if necessary. Remove from heat and set aside.

Thinly slice pear. Spoon squash-cabbage mixture into baking dish and top evenly with pears, gently pressing pear into vegetables so slices lie flat. Spoon cheese mixture over top and sprinkle with almonds and raisins. Transfer to oven and bake for 25 minutes or until pears are lightly browned Serve immediately.

My rating:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala

I have been craving Chicken Tikka Masala which is an Indian chicken dish also known as Butter Chicken. The original recipe has no butter in it but is named butter chicken because the chicken is so tender you can cut it like butter. My original recipe marinates the chicken overnight and then has you cook it in the oven on a rack over a baking sheet, covered with foil which yields very tender and moist chicken cubes. The cooked chicken is then finished in a tomato and spice based sauce which is finished off with a little heavy cream. It is the ultimate spicy chicken dish.

I had high hopes for tonight's version which came from my November/December issue of Clean Eating. This recipe uses boneless, skinless chicken breast (as does my original recipe), low-fat yogurt for the marinade (as does my original recipe) and a nonstick skillet to prepare the sauce. The 1/2 cup of heavy cream in my original is replaced with 2/3 cup low-fat sour cream in this recipe.

Overall I thought this recipe came out very heavy on the spice scale and lacking in the depth of flavor in the sauce. I plan on making and posting my original recipe in the next couple of weeks for a comparison. This was good, but my original recipe is just better. I tried this recipe knowing that it was better for us and I am definitely an advocate of healthy eating, but I have strong ties to family favorite recipes.

Healthy Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from Clean Eating

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
Canola Oil

1 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
1 large onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
4 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 24-26 oz. jar or box no-salt-added strained tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2/3 cup low-fat sour cream, room temperature

4 to 6 metal skewers, 10 to 12 inches long (If using wood skewers, soak first for 30 minutes to help avoid burning).

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, 1 tablespoon grated ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, cardamom, turmeric and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne. Transfer mixture to a large resealable bag and add chicken, tossing to coat. Close bag, squeezing out as much air as possible, set aside in refrigerator for 4 to 8 hours.

Thread chicken onto skewers (4 to 6 pieces, or whatever will fit), discarding marinade.

Preheat grill to high and lightly oil grate. Arrange chicken on grill and cook, turning once or twice, until just cooked through and browned in spots, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Prepare sauce: In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium. Add onion, garlic and 1 teaspoon minced ginger and cook, stirring occasionally until tender and lightly browned, about 8 minutes. Add garam masala, chile powder and 1/8 teaspoon cayenne and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover partially and cook, stirring occasionally until sauce is slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.

Stir in sour cream. Remove chicken from skewers and add to sauce, stirring to combine. Cover partially and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

My rating:

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Pan Roasted Sea Bass

I was craving fish for dinner tonight and our grocery store had Chilean Sea Bass on sale this week, so pan roasted Sea Bass sounded like the perfect fit for tonight. The sea bass fillets were pan seared on one side and then flipped to cook for a couple of minutes and then the entire skillet went into the oven to finish cooking. Pan roasting is a great technique to get a wonderful color with the sear on whatever you are cooking and then finishing it off in a hot oven to cook all the way through. This method works for so many different cuts of protein and comes out perfect every time. It is a fabulous cooking technique to master.

I served the Sea Bass on a bed of sauteed mushrooms and onions and a side of mashed potatoes and wilted spinach.

Pan Roasted Sea Bass
Adapted from the Reluctant Gourmet

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup Marsala wine or white wine
8 oz. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup chicken stock
Salt and Pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 fillets of sea bass (approximately 1 lb. total)
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
Lemon wedges for serving

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium high heat and saute the chopped onion until it's translucent.

Deglaze the pan with Marsala wine. Be careful to remove the pan from the heat when adding the Marsala to prevent the wine from igniting in your face. When most of the wine is cooked off, add the mushrooms and butter. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the mushrooms are tender.

Add the chicken stock, a little salt and pepper, and let the sauce cook down a little.

In an oven proof saute pan, heat the canola oil until it's so hot it's about to smoke. Season the fillets with salt and pepper and add to the hot pan. For fillets with the skin on, cook skin side down for approximately 5 minutes until the skin is nice and crispy. Flip and cook for 30 seconds and transfer to the hot 450 degree oven and roast for 3-4 minutes.

For skinless fillets, cook them on one side for 5-6 minutes and flip them over for another 2 minutes before transferring to the hot oven for 3-4 minutes.

On warm plate, dish out the onion-mushroom mixture and top with the pan roasted fillets. Sprinkle with a little of the chopped parsley and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Our rating:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Pork and Carrot Curry

Have I mentioned before how much I like curries? Tonight's curry did not disappoint me. I came across this recipe in the January/February issue of Clean Eating and knew I wanted to make it this week. This dinner was full of spicy Indian flavors and came in at 289 calories per serving as a bonus. It was a fabulous Friday night entree.

Pork and Carrot Curry
Adapted from Clean Eating, January/February 2012

1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed of visible fat and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, halved and cut into thin wedges
14.5 oz. chopped tomatoes and their juices
10 oz. small fingerling potatoes, scrubbed well and halved lengthwise
3 carrots, trimmed, peeled and cut into diagonal 1/4-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

In a medium bowl, combine yogurt, ginger, garlic, coriander, cumin, paprika, turmeric, salt and cayenne. Add pork and toss to coat. Cover and marinate at room temperature until needed. (Alternatively, cover and marinate pork in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.) I just let mine marinate while I prepped the rest of the ingredients and continued with the recipe.

In a medium saute pan with a tight-fitting lid, heat oil on low. Add onion and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft but not brown, about 5 minutes.

Add pork and marinade to pan. Stir in tomatoes, 1/2 cup water, potatoes and carrots. Increase heat to medium, cover and simmer until pork is cooked through and potatoes and carrots are fork tender, about 15 minutes.

Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with cilantro, dividing evenly. Serve immediately.

Our rating:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa

As part of my healthy eating goals for 2012, I have decided to add Vegan Thursdays to our weekly menu. I enjoy planning and cooking for Meatless Monday, but Vegan Thursday will allow me to explore a whole new way of thinking and trying new ingredients.

Tonight's dinner was a very simple dish of quinoa tossed in a lime vinaigrette with some black beans, tomatoes, scallions and cilantro. It was a very good recipe to kick off the year with.

Black Bean and Tomato Quinoa
Adapted from

2 teaspoons grated lime zest
2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup quinoa
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper (to taste)

In a large bowl, whisk lime zest and juice, olive oil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Wash quinoa in cold water, drain, and place in a medium pot of boiling water with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Bring the quinoa to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer, covered for 12 minutes. Remove from heat, leave covered and allow to sit for 15 minutes so quinoa will absorb remaining water. Fluff with a fork.

Stir the warm quinoa into the lime vinaigrette in the large bowl and toss until dressing is absorbed, then stir in remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Our rating:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Oven Fried Chicken Breasts

I decided comfort foods sounded perfect for tonight and I found a menu on Cook's Illustrated titled Lighter Comfort Foods which sounded like the perfect fit for my healthier eating plan. The menu included Lighter Mashed Potatoes, and Glazed Carrots along with the Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts. I started with bone-in chicken breast halves and removed the skin. They then got a dip in some seasoned beaten egg whites and finally were coated with the crumb mixture which was a package of Melba toast processed to a crumb. The crumb coated breasts went on a rack on a baking sheet and were sprayed with vegetable cooking spray before going into a preheated hot oven for about 45 minutes.

The crumb mixture came out a nice dark color and stuck to the chicken really well and the meat was very moist but I thought it was a little bland. I'm sure it can be spiced up the next time I make it.

Oven-Fried Chicken Breasts
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated

1 box plain Melba toast (about 5 ounces), broken into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 large egg whites
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minces fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 split bone-in chicken breasts (about 10 ounces each), skin removed
Vegetable cooking spray

Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top.

Process the Melba toast into coarse crumbs in a food processor, about twelve 1-second pulses. Spread the crumbs in a shallow dish and toss with the oil.

In a separate shallow dish, whisk the egg whites, mustard, thyme, garlic powder, and cayenne together.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip it into the egg white mixture, then coat with the Melba crumbs. Press on the Melba crumbs to make sure they adhere to the chicken. Lay the chicken on the wire rack and spray the tops with vegetable oil spray.

Bake until the coating is golden, the chicken is no longer pink in the center, and the thickest part registers 160 degrees on an instant read thermometer, about 45 minutes. Check the chicken about halfway through the cooking time and move to a lower rack in the oven if the crumbs are browning too quickly.

Serve immediately.

My rating:

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Spaghetti with Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs

Tuesday is the day that our daughter Elizabeth comes over with a couple of friends for grading papers and a home-cooked meal. Tonight was spaghetti and meatballs with a twist - the meatball mixture was wrapped around a cube of mozzarella cheese and then cooked in the tomato sauce. I used Barilla Plus spaghetti which I think is a good compromise between regular and whole wheat. I love regular pasta and I know the health benefits of whole wheat are great; I just don't like the taste and texture of whole wheat pastas. Since this one is a multigrain pasta, 2 ounces of this pasta has 10 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber vs. 7 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber for regular Barilla spaghetti and it tastes great.

This was a very good and simple recipe to prepare - definitely a weeknight dinner option and in the process of catching up with the girls, I totally forgot to photograph our dinner, so no picture tonight.

Spaghetti with Mozzarella-Stuffed Meatballs
Adapted From Annie's Eats, originally from Rachel Ray

1/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1/2 cup milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, 2 smashed and 1 chopped
2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
1 pound ground sirloin
2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
4 ounces mozzarella cheese
1 pound pasta

Soak bread crumbs in milk; set aside.

Heat olive oil in skillet. Add onion and smashed garlic, cook 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and simmer.

Add beef, chopped garlic, parsley, Parmesan, egg and 1 tsp. salt to bread crumbs. Stir with a fork until mixed. Use about 2 tablespoons of the mixture to form a meatball around a cube of mozzarella. Place meatballs in sauce so they are submerged. Raise heat to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes. Serve with spaghetti.

My rating: