Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I love appetizers for dinner!

Spinach Artichoke dip is one of my most favorite foods! I usually turn it into a meal, served with toasted garlic bread, broccoli, carrots and celery. This time, I made Artichoke and Spinach Dip, Restaurant Style! I like it all mixed together instead of layered, as the recipe suggests
First- pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. I peeled 5 cloves of garlic, drizzled with about 1 tsp of olive and a sprinkle of salt. Wrap in aluminum foil and throw in the oven to roast, while you prep the rest of the dip.

Next, I freshly grated 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese. I love my micro-plane for grating Parmesan!

The remaining ingredients were 1 cup Shredded Mozzarella (I use part-skim), 1 box of frozen spinach (thawed and drained...I use the Rachel Ray method and do this in a kitchen towel), 1 can of artichokes (drained), 4 oz of cream cheese (I used fat-free), and 10 oz of alfredo sauce (I used Ragu Light Parmesan Alfredo).

Mix together cream cheese and alfredo until smooth. Add in 3/4 cup of the mozzarella, the parm and the spinach. I also did a few grinds of fresh cracked pepper.

Chop the artichokes and add to the bowl. Remove garlic from the oven, mash with a fork, and add to the mix.

Stir well and spread into a casserole dish. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of mozzarella.

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. I baked mine uncovered.

I also threw it under the broiler for one minute, to brown the cheese :)

Serve with dippers of your choice. I love a little garlic crostini with mine!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Loving fast and fresh!

I love nothing more than a simple, delicious, and healthy meal...ready in about 20 minutes!! On the menu- Tuna Steaks in a lemon marinade with garlic and olive oil couscous and oven roasted asparagus!
The tuna and couscous can both be completed while the asparagus cooks, so prep the asparagus first. Rinse stalks and snap off ends. Spray with olive oil cooking spray, then sprinkle with garlic salt and black pepper. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

While oven preheats, place 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic in a saucepan with about 1 TBS of olive oil. Heat oven medium-low heat for about 5-7 minutes. This is just to infuse the flavor into the oil.

Put the asparagus in the oven (20 minutes) and prepare the marinade for the tuna steaks. Use 2 cloves of garlic, the zest of one lemon, 1/2 TBS of fresh or dried Rosemary and 1 tsp of salt with 1/4 tsp of fresh cracked pepper. Grind all this together on a cutting board with a knife until well combined.

Place in a shallow dish with about 3 TBS of olive oil.

Back to the couscous! Remove the garlic and add in 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Add in 1 cup of couscous and a sprinkle of Italian Seasoning. Cover and remove from heat.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Coat both sides of your tuna steaks in the lemon marinade and place in the hot skillet. Cook on each side 4-6 minutes, until cooked to your liking.

Remove asparagus from oven, fluff couscous with fork and place one tuna steak on each plate with a couple lemon wedges. Fresh, fast and fabulous!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Loving a way to eat chocolate for breakfast!

I realize in much of the country, there seems to be a pumpkin shortage. Not here! I bought 6 cans just the day before Thanksgiving and had my choice between 3 brands. Needless to say, I decided it was time to use some of it! I love pumpkin, and my husband does not. I tried a new recipe looking for a "healthy" breakfast muffin that Robyn would love and I would eat too :)
I worked with this recipe (Pumpkin Wheat Honey Muffins)- and will admit, I made tweaks because I couldn't find a recipe that was exactly what I was looking for. I chose right, because this is a fantastic recipe!!

Begin by pulling out the large ingredient list! I subbed applesauce for the oil, and because I HATE nuts and raisins in my muffins/cakes/cookies, I used 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips. Chocolate is good for you, right??

This recipe calls for you to mix all the dry ingredients and then make a well, and add the wet ingredients. After reading the reviews on this recipe, I did up the pumpkin to 1 cup instead of 3/4. I also tasted the batter after mixing, and added an additional 1 tsp of cinnamon.

After the batter was combined, I added in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips and spooned into my muffin tins. I lined the large pan and after hitting 12 muffins, as the recipe said it made, I still had tons of batter. I got out my mini muffin pan, sprayed well and got 12 mini muffins from this recipe too!! That was a bonus :)

I baked them at 350 degrees. The mini muffins took 14 minutes and 18 minutes was spot on for the regular size muffins.

I didn't mix the chocolate chips in very well, so when I got to the mini muffin pans, there were about 5 chips in the bowl. I decided to top each mini muffin with one chocolate chip- just because it was cute!

These muffins were light, fluffy and moist. Not at all dense like I was expecting. Don't you love Robyn's muffin liners??

And I don't know about you- but the gooey chocolate chips inside made me VERY happy. No doubt, this will be a go to recipe for me. Even my pumpkin hating husband loved them! And they stayed moist for almost a week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Cedar Planks are a grill tool to love!

My parents gave us a great "foodie" basket for Christmas. One of the things it contained was a pack of Grilling Planks. I love to grill...and we love Salmon, so naturally, my first attempt was at Cedar Plank Salmon.

First, you have to soak the planks so the wood doesn't burn when heated. Soak each plank for a minimum of four hours, or overnight. I had to weigh mine down so it was fully submerged.

Then, you need to prepare the fish. Begin by scoring the skin, so the the fish doesn't curl as it cooks.

Then, add desired seasonings. I use lemon pepper, dill, garlic salt and fresh cracked pepper...as well as a generous drizzle of olive oil.

I also love the hint of citrus in my fish, so I covered my salmon with thin slices of lemon.

Prepare your charcoal or gas grill. As soon as the coals turn gray, or your gas grill hits a nice medium/high heat, place the cedar plank on to warm. When the cedar plank begins to smoke, it's time to add the fish!

Place the salmon on the cedar plank and replace the lid. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through, and flakes easily with a fork.

Remove fish, and serve with fresh lemon wedges. The smokey flavor from the cedar planks was amazing. Simple- but unexpectedly delicious!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Healthy foods you'll love!

I read a lot of food magazines and online recipes. Somewhere, in the last two months, I read a recipe that was about revamping Chicken Parmesan. I know it used Wheat flour and Flax Meal, but I have not been successful in finding it again. Last night, I decided to get creative and the results were fantastic!!! I didn't use a drop of oil or butter in our whole meal.

First, the Chicken Parmesan. For this recipe you will need:
1 cup Whole Wheat flour
3 egg whites, beaten
1 cup Flax Meal
1/4 fresh grated Parmesan Cheese
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Italian Seasoning
3-4 BLSL Chicken breasts
A small can of tomato sauce
1/2 cup of shredded Low-Fat, Part-Skim Mozzarella Cheese

Begin by pounding the chicken between sheets of waxed paper. I use a rolling pin or small skillet for this. I pound them thin so they cook evenly.

Next, place Whole Wheat flour in one bowl with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder.

In a second bowl, beat 3 egg whites. I used 2 eggs for 3 chicken breasts and just barley had enough.

In a third bowl, mix Flax Meal with the fresh grated Parmesan, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp Italian Seasoning.

Dip each Chicken Breast in flour mixture, then eggs, then Flax and place on a Sil-pat lined baking Sheet.

Put in a 425 degree oven for 25 minutes. Pull out and top with 2 TBS of tomato sauce (I use Hunt's with Garlic and Basil).

And sprinkle on 2 TBS of shredded Mozzarella. Place in the oven for another 5 minutes.

I put mine under the broiler for the last minute because I like the cheese to get brown and bubbly!

For the sides, I knew I was going to roast broccoli, but I wanted a second dish and I had potatoes and spinach to use up. I spent a little time looking online for a recipe, but everything contained heavy cream and butter. So I made my own concoction, Figure Friendly Spinach Mashed Potatoes, and it was delicious!
Start by peeling and chopping four Russet potatoes. I cut mine into inch sized cubes. Throw them in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Boil for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender.

While potatoes cook, prepare the other ingredients. Grate 1/4 cup of fresh Parmesan cheese, and roughly chop 2 cups of fresh spinach.

When potatoes are cooked, drain water and return to pot. Add in Spinach, Parmesan cheese, 1 cup of chicken broth (I used homemade), 1 tsp black pepper, and 1 tsp of garlic salt. Stir over low heat until spinach starts to wilt, adding more broth if needed.

The end result- a beautiful meal that was delicious, and relatively guilt free!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Loving Spring Greens!

I love it when everything turns green. The flowers are starting to bloom, the trees are budding out, and the grass is ready for regular mowing. This time of year is also exciting in the grocery store. The vegetables all look better as they come into season. Today I'll be featuring four beautiful greens!

First, Roasted Brussels Sprouts! Begin by pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees. Wash your brussel sprouts and trim the ends off, also removing any yellow outer leaves.

Most of mine were a little too large to be "bite size", so I cut them in half.

Toss all halves onto a foil lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes, until the sprouts are caramelized. I think they were nutty and best with a little sprinkle of salt, right before eating! I served these with with my Stuffed Green Peppers.

Next, I made Sesame Green Beans to go with my pot stickers . I don't have a recipe I follow for these, but here's how I make mine!

First, wash your beans and trim the ends off.

Throw in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, just until beans begin to soften.

Drain water and return beans to hot pan. Turn heat to Medium-High and sauté with 2 TBS soy sauce and 1/4 tsp of sesame oil. Serve topped with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds.

Third- Broccoli!! This is the most popular green veggie at our house, and this is my husbands favorite way to eat it.

First trim the thick stalks from the broccoli and wash all florets. I like to keep the stems a little longer. I also trim the outside off the thick stalks, cube and throw into a ziploc in my freezer. My toddler loves this part of the broccoli and I like that I don't waste anything!

Place the broccoli on a foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt and red pepper flakes. I also use my micro-plane to grate 5-6 cloves of garlic over the whole pan. Toss well to coat and bake at 400 degrees, for about 15 minutes.

I love it even more when the tops get a little crispy!

And finally, after seeing so many people raving about it, I tried the Baked Zucchini Chips.

First, I sliced my zucchini into thin slices, about 1/4 inch thick.

Mix together 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, 2 TBS Parmesan cheese (I used fresh) and cracked black pepper. After reading lots of reviews, I also added some salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
In a second bowl, beat two egg whites.

After dipping each slice in the egg whites and the bread crumb mixture, I placed them on a Sil-pat lined baking sheet.

They baked for about 15 minutes in a 475 degree oven, turning once.

And I must say, the rave reviews were accurate! My husband doesn't usually like it when I make zucchini, but we both gobbled this up and Robyn stole several slices from my plate. We will be making again very soon!

So- I hope you find inspiration in the grocery store, like I did. Not only does the fresh, seasonal produce taste great, but the prices are good too!