Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chicken Parm with Toasted Penne

The Mr. got me a subscription to "Cooking Light" magazine, which makes me very happy, especially because I have made the decision to join Weight Watchers, so the added recipe ideas are much appreciated. In the newest edition, the January/February 2014 edition, I was intrigued by the Cooking Class Lesson of the month... a cream-free creamy pasta dish. Say what?

The whole science behind it blows my mind, but essentially you're cooking the pasta like it's a risotto. Using this method, you stir in a little liquid at a time and let it absorb before adding more liquid. This allows the starch from the pasta to be released into the liquid, which ultimately creates a creamy sauce without using any cream or milk {don't worry, it does call for a little Parmesan cheese for good measure} It is also strongly suggested that you toast the pasta first... I know, I'm sorry- mind blowing yet again. It sounds weird, but it actually changes and elevates the flavor of the pasta pretty significantly. And when you're using whole wheat pasta like I did, I think it works even better. 

The original recipe made the pasta as a main dish and included chicken sausage {Yum?!} but I made it as a side dish to serve along with a cheat version of chicken parm and peas. I fully intend to try the sausage version when I'm out of my 2 weeks of Simple Start. Going forward, I intend to do my best to include all PointsPlus+ values per my WW recipe builder, but please check all nutrition for yourself.

ingredients

For the chicken parm...
3 chicken breasts, halved
1 cup tomato basil pasta sauce
1/2 cup fat free shredded mozzarella cheese

For the pasta...
6 cups fat free, reduced sodium chicken stock 
2 Tbl olive oil, divided
8 ounces uncooked penne pasta {I used whole wheat, but regular pasta can be used}
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 package mushrooms, roughly chopped
1 Tbl lemon juice
2-3 Tbl Parmesan cheese
Salt + Pepper to taste

instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees - spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and place chicken breast halves into dish. Cover with sauce and place in oven with 30 minutes on the timer. {when there is appx 10 minutes left, sprinkle cheese over tops}
  2. Meanwhile bring the chicken stock to a simmer in a saucepan - do not boil. Keep warm over low heat.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add 1 Tbl oil to the pan. Add pasta and cook approximately 5 minutes, until toasted and starts to brown. Make sure to stir frequently as to not burn pasta. Remove pasta from pan.
  4. Add remaining oil and cook onion, garlic and mushrooms until softened. Remove mixture from the pan.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add pasta back in. Add chicken stock 1 cup at a time, stirring almost constantly, until each portion of the stock is nearly absorbed before adding the next cup. This will take about 30 minutes in total, and you may not need the full 6 cups of stock. 
  6. Once the liquid is no longer being absorbed and the sauce begins to cling to the pasta, stir back in the vegetables, a squirt of lemon juice, and the cheese. 

notes

  • Weight Watchers PointsPlus+ Values: Chicken Parm makes 6 servings, at 4 PPV per serving; Toasted Penne makes 4 servings, at 5 PPV; I served this dish with peas, which add 1 PPV per 1/2 cup serving
  • This would be a great main dish, the original recipe calls for chicken sausage
  • If you make this, please take pictures and post them for me, since yet again I have failed to do so. :o) #bloggerfail


Thursday, December 26, 2013

Sweet + Salty No-bake bars

Each hear for the holidays at work, we all go out to a nice lunch, make a donation to a charitable cause, and bring in little treats for each other. We used to do a Secret Santa exchange, but then started doing the donations. In the past we have donated to Toys for Tots, We are the Children, sent money to the soldiers, the Petit Foundation, Hurricane Sandy Victims last year. This year, we decided to keep the donation in-house, and donate to the scholarship fund that has been set up in memory of our friend and coworker Kristin's brother who passed away earlier this year. It sounds like he was a really amazing guy, and she looked up to him immensely. The company he worked for matches all donations 100% which is also amazing. We didn't tell Kristin we were doing it, and planned to share what we were doing during our holiday lunch as well.

For a little sweet treat, I was going to bring the girls cake ball truffles. This coming from a girl who does not bake, I thought it would make the little present even more special. I made a test batch for Thanksgiving and brought home to the royals. They were super easy to make {literally make a box cake, let it cool, and crumble it.. mix in most of a tub of frosting and pop in the freezer for a few to set up. Then you form it into balls, freeze them a little more, and decorate.. that's it} - I decorated them with candy melts and this glittery silver sugar sprinkles. So yum. And although a little bit of a pain, very simple to make. Great. All I had to do before the holiday lunch was grab a box of cake and a tub of frosting.

Days went by between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and my spirit was not spiriting. I found myself dreading going to the grocery store and dreading making these cake balls. Why? No idea. They're so easy, right? So I found myself to literally the day before the lunch, last Thursday. I wanted nothing to do with making these cake balls after work.. but what else could I possibly make?! And then... I saw it. A link to the Curly Girl blog on Facebook... the answer to my prayers. And even better, no bake. No bake?! Leigh Standley, you are pretty much my hero. 

Now, before I share this mouth watering recipe, let me tell you a little about it. Because clearly, I am not good at photographing my adventures... New Years resolution anyone? Anyways: salty + sweet is probably the best combination in a dessert. This combines peanut butter, dark chocolate, and pretzels... um hello to all my favorites. The recipe itself is simple and delicious - I actually ended up decorating the top with my candy melts and sugar glitter to make it fancier {which added a little extra sweetness, but more importantly added color and sparkle, which made it look fabulously festive}

Peanut Butter Pretzel No-bakes ~ Original recipe from Curly Girl Design | Blog 

ingredients:

1 1/2 sticks of room temperature butter
2 1/2 cups + 1/2 cup of salted pretzels, crushed into crumbs
1 cup confectioners sugar
1 cup + 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter {such as Jif natural, smooth}
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips 

instructions:

  1. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray. 
  2. In a large bowl, mix together 1 cup of peanut butter and the butter. Mix until smooth. Add in powdered sugar and 2 1/2 cups of crushed pretzels and mix until well combined. Spread mixture into the bottom of the pan and smooth it out evenly.
  3. Combine the rest of the peanut butter and the chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave in 30 second intervals to melt it together. Stir in between and continue until smooth and everything combines. Spread the chocolate layer over the peanut butter in the baking dish, and smooth it out evenly.
  4. Top with remaining 1/2 cup pretzels. 
  5. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before cutting into bars and serving. 

notes:

  • These can be made ahead, cut up, and then frozen for later enjoyment.
  • Original recipe suggested using tin foil in the baking sheet, but I found it was hard to spread the PB mixture in, so I just sprayed the heck out of my Pyrex and put it directly in.
  • Make sure your butter is softened... mine had been frozen, and I thought it was to room temp when I started but it didn't end up combining all the way with the PB and you could taste the butter separately. This also could have been because I was using a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer. 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Greek Braised Chicken with Spinach and Lemony Orzo

I realized recently that most of the recipes I work off of are found online. Entering my kitchen the other day, I looked back in the corner at the plethora of cookbooks I have... and don't use. Oh. Oops? The cookbook that I pulled out {for my turkey lasagna the other week..} is the WW Annual Recipes for Success from 2011. Old school, I know. 

I found myself flipping through the pages, focusing on the chicken and poultry section. There's something about making chicken that makes me feel boring. It actually sends me back to another lifetime when plain, grilled chicken was a staple in my household and I would need to make it by what felt like the ton. Gross. Now, I always want to make chicken, but there's something holding me back. It was probably knowing that this recipe was out there and I just hadn't found it yet. Holy Hannah... this chicken... I can't. 

ingredients:

For the Chicken + Sauce
6 6-oz skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
3 Tbl flour
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning 
2 cups fat-free/sodium-free chicken broth, divided
1 Tbl lemon juice
4 medium plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved 
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup or 2 oz crumbled feta cheese {reduced fat if available}
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
Optional: 2 Tbl thinly sliced fresh basil for serving

For the Pasta
1 cup Orzo pasta
1 Tbl chicken broth
1 Tbl lemon juice
Optional: Sprinkle of feta cheese

instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, cook pasta according to package.
  2. Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a bowl {I used a pie plate} combine flour and Italian seasoning. Dredge chicken in flour mixture, reserving the remaining mixture in the bowl.
  3. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken and cook 3 minutes per side, until lightly browned. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  4. While chicken cooks, gradually add 1 cup chicken broth and lemon juice into reserved flour mixture, constantly stirring with a whisk until blended.
  5. Add broth mixture to the pan, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until sauce is thick and bubbly, appx 3 minutes.
  6. Return chicken to pan and add the tomatoes, olives, and garlic. Cook 8-10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Stir occasionally. Halfway through cooking time add in spinach leaves to wilt.
  7. When pasta is done, drain and return to hot pot. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice and cheese if using. 

notes

  • If you don't have Italian seasoning, which I didn't, you can use garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley in the flour mixture
  • Recipe adapted from: Braised Chicken with Plum Tomatoes and Feta found in WW Annual Recipes for Success 2011 cookbook

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Turkey Skillet Lasagna-Weight Watchers

Since everyone is in turkey mode this weekend, here is a delightful little turkey recipe, as promised. While this uses ground turkey rather than turkey leftovers, bird is definitely still the word. This is probably one of my favorite Weight Watchers recipes. I have prepared it countless times. It's super easy and surprisingly super flavorful. I hadn't made it in a while, and the boss man requested it. So, I pulled out my trusty cookbook {Annual Recipes for Success 2011} and got to it. I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!

ingredients

3/4 lb ground turkey breast
1 cup chopped onion
1 16-oz carton 2% low-fat cottage cheese
1 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
4 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce, divided
10 packaged pre-cooked lasagna noodles
1 1/2 cups reduced fat Italian blend shredded cheese

instructions

  1. Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add turkey and onion to pan; cook 4 minutes or until turkey is browned and onion is tender, stirring frequently to crumble turkey.
  2. While turkey and onion cook, place cottage cheese in a food processor and process until smooth.
  3. Add spinach and three cups pasta sauce to turkey mixture. Cook 1 minute until thoroughly heated. Remove from pan and keep warm.
  4. Add remaining pasta sauce to pan. Top with 5 noodles, half of turkey mixture, half of cottage cheese, and half of shredded cheese. Repeat with remaining noodles, and turkey, and cheeses. Cover and cook on medium heat for 8 minutes or until noodles are tender. Remove from heat, and let stand 5 minutes before serving.

notes

  • I varied the ingredients slightly... I used a full 1 lb of ground turkey, 1 chopped yellow onion, 1% cottage cheese. I used Simply Enjoy Tomato basil and Stop & Shop brand no-boil noodles. 
  • Make sure your skillet is deep enough- I use the one I use for practically everything, which is I think 2 or 3" deep. And make sure it has a cover.
  • POINTS value: 5 {serving size = 1/8 of casserole} 277 calories; 8.1g fat; 21.3g protein; 30.2g carb; 4.3g fiber; 38mg cholesterol; 1.9mg iron; 612mg sodium; 305mg calcium

Sunday, November 24, 2013

{crockpot} Pot Roast

It's strange. This week is a 3-day work week and I feel like we have more food on the menu for the week than we normally would make for a full week. I'm making Lentil Soup for lunches {mostly because it's so irresistibly good and SO easy, we can't get enough of it!} and the mister has asked me to make a delightful lasagna that is very unexpected {don't worry, I'll get that recipe up this week, along with a great Thanksgiving leftover treat- totally worth the wait.} 

He's also been on me to make a beef stew, especially with how frigid cold it is today. We agreed on a pot roast for dinner tonight. Because there were errands to be run, and laundry to be folded, I decided to do it in the crock pot. Usually when I make a roast, I throw a packet of Lipton Onion on it and call it a day, but I was feeling adventurous and made up a little fun for myself in the kitchen. 

ingredients:

1 2 lb roast 
4-5 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1" pieces
4-5 stalks celery, chopped into 1" pieces
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, roughly chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped up
Fresh rosemary and thyme, taken off the stems and chopped roughly to release the oils
Splash of EVOO
Beef broth
1 beer {I used pumpkin because it's what I have in my fridge, I recommend it}
Salt & Pepper
Flour {for the gravy}

instructions:

  1. Salt the meat well, and in a large skillet, brown your roast on all sides. Once it's browned, place it into the crock pot. I didn't have any of my veggies chopped yet, so at this point, I turned on the crock pot and added in beef broth. I had about a quarter of the carton left in the fridge, so I used what I had.
  2. Chop veggies if that hasn't been done. I threw them into a bowl and tossed with a little S+P and EVOO. Add them in all around the meat, and poured in the beer. 
  3. Cook in crock pot on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours. I started a little late, so I cranked it up to HIGH for 3 hours, then finished it on low for an additional 2 hours. 
  4. When meat is cooked, add a few ladles into your skillet, and whisk in flour to make a pan gravy for serving. 

notes:

  • I have a really small crock pot so I always have to use a relatively small piece of meat. If you have a bigger one, and a bigger appetite, by all means, up the #s
  • Any veggies can be used here. I grabbed what I had and made it up as I went along
  • I served this with a good ol' fashioned mashed potato, but you could add chopped potatoes into the crock pot and cook them right in there with the roast and veg
  • I am really bad at making gravy
  • You can use any dark beer that you have on hand. I was hesitant on using the pumpkin because I wasn't sure what it would do- but it was delicious! The meat didn't take up too much of the flavor, but I could definitely taste it in the gravy, and the thyme and rosemary were a good pairing with it in flavor-town.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Beef Stroganoff

So, my girlfriend Stan made the trek from NYC to CT this past weekend, and there were many highlights to our visit. Namely, the $60 bottle of Chardonnay from Napa Valley that we uncorked in celebration of our 29+2. In addition, and a close second runner up, was dinner. Not sure which part was better- the actual food, or the fact that I didn't have to make it ;o)

Now, I've tried to make Beef Stroganoff in the past. My mother's is fantastic- I have her recipe- I failed at recreating it. The sauce didn't work, the beef was crunchy. Mr. TT did NOT like it. It was a very unfortunate happening. I had shared this mishap with Stan and she assured me that her father's was the best ever. Like- promised me. I said no way. But, I let her prove me wrong. (and boy... was I wrong)

Ingredients

1 ¼ lb. filet mignon or filet of beef, sliced
2 tbsp. butter
1 tbsp olive oil
¼ lb. mushrooms, sliced
1 ½ tbsp. shallots or green onions, minced
1 medium onion, sliced, to taste (optional)
2 tbsp. flour
¼ cup beer
1 can beef broth
¾ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper
½ cup sour cream

instructions

  1. Slice meat thin, about 2x2 inches, its easiest to slice real thin by partially freezing the meat first, be sure that ALL fat is trimmed off.  
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. of butter and ½ tbsp. oil in large frying pan.  Sauté the mushrooms over medium heat for about 3 minutes.  Add the onions and/or shallots, sauté 2 minutes more, remove all from skillet.  
  3. Heat the remaining oil and butter until it bubbles, then add the meat and brown, removed the browned meat from the pan.  
  4. Put the flour in the pan and mix in with the oil in the pan until well blended. Gradually add the beer and the beef broth, being sure the mixture is smooth. Cook over high heat and turn to medium-high and cook down to half.
  5. Add meat and season (to taste) and add the mushrooms/onions. Cook over medium-low heat about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  
  6. Just before serving stir in sour cream.  DO NOT ALLOW TO COME TO A BOIL, it will curdle. 
  7. Serve over egg noodles.

notes

  • We used sliced portobella mushrooms, minced yellow onions, no shallot/green onions and Savignon Blanc in place of beer (obviously, drank the rest!)
  • Dredge the beef in flour before browning - ensure you are only browning the meat during step #3 and not cooking thru (I am 99% positive this was my problem the last time I made it and the beef overcooked- you want to ensure the rest of the cooking process happens IN the gravy, so it stays tender)
  • Stan's Kitchen Tip: use a fork and not a whisk to make the gravy!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Stuffed Pepper Soup + DIY Italian Seasoning

Keeping with the trend that I've been following, you guessed it... another soup recipe.  This one, though, has a dedication. My mother hosts Sunday Dinner every week, which ultimately includes primarily my grandparents. My sister heads over most of the time, and because I live in another state, I unfortunately don't make it nearly often enough. Regardless of who is there, though, my amazing mother makes dinner. And in addition to Sunday Dinner, she also makes something for my grandparents to take home with them, usually a casserole of some sort. One of their favorites is Inside Out Stuffed Pepper Casserole, which I posted about earlier this year, and we thoroughly enjoyed in this house. So when I came across this recipe for Stuffed Pepper Soup, I thought to myself "Self, I bet this would be a great one to share with the royal family!" So let's have at it. I haven't made it yet, so leave me love if you have anything to add!! 

The original recipe is from www.lovebakesgoodcakes.com 

ingredients

2 lb. lean ground beef
3 large peppers {at least 1 green}, seeded and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 oz. fresh mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 carton (32 oz.) beef broth
2 cans (10¾ oz. each) condensed tomato soup
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
4 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning {bonus recipe below!}
½ tsp. black pepper
1½ cups cooked white rice

instructions

  1. In a large pot, brown the ground beef with the peppers, onion and mushrooms. Cook until the beef is no longer pink and drain off any grease if necessary. 
  2. Stir in the broth, tomato soup, tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil; cover and reduce heat to maintain a simmer for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Add Italian seasoning, black pepper and rice. Heat through and serve.

notes

  • Make it skinny... sub lean ground turkey for your beef and use brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice and make sure your broth, tomato soup, and tomatoes are all low sodium if possible.

Bonus Recipe: DIY Italian Seasoning


Combine 2 Tablespoons each of: basil, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme. Store in airtight container, or do what I do and put homemade seasoning combos into old spice containers {Just make sure it's cleaned and dried thoroughly or that it's a spice that is contained in your mixture as to not affect the taste}


Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bowtie Pasta with Firefly Vodka Sauce

I haven't made this just yet but I honestly cannot wait to. Lucky for me, I typically have all of the ingredients on hand {besides the pasta- I usually have a variety of whole wheat pasta types, but for this I think I will splurge and get real bowties! I'm sure Mr. won't mind that one bit}

I love vodka sauce anyway, but the thought of adding the sweet tea flavor of Firefly makes my tastebuds sing and dance. I'm thinking this might be a good "date night in" type meal, maybe with meatballs and/or sausage and a nice crisp salad. Ohhh yum. 

ingredients

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup of onion finely chopped
1 cup Firefly Straight Handcrafted Vodka
¾ cup chicken stock
2 small cans of tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
1 pound of bow tie pasta
½ cup heavy cream
Fresh basil leaves cut in thin strips

instructions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  2. Meanwhile heat oil and butter in a large skillet, add garlic, and onion. Sauté about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add Firefly Straight Handcrafted Vodka and simmer to reduce vodka by half (about 3 minutes) Add chicken stock, tomato sauce. Bring sauce to a bubble then reduce heat to simmer. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. When water boils, salt liberally and cook pasta per instructions on the box.
  5. As the pasta cooks, stir heavy cream into sauce. Once the sauce begins to bubble remove from heat.
  6. When pasta is cooked, drain. Add basil strips to sauce and toss with hot pasta.
  7. Garnish with fresh course ground pepper and a few whole basil leaves.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Broccoli + White Bean Soup

You guessed it... another soup recipe!!! If you have a love/hate relationship with Panera like I do, you will appreciate this great swap that I came across. It's a way healthier version of their Broccoli and Cheddar soup, that actually has no cheese in it... crazy. Adding a little bit on top is just enough, and the beans give it a great consistency that mimics the decadent and creamy goodness that is broccoli and cheese soup. My mouth is seriously watering right now. 

I can't for the life of me find it now to give credit because I would love to thank the person that came up with this... {SO sorry mystery recipe creator!!}

ingredients:

4 cloves of garlic
1 medium onion
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large head of broccoli (approx. 4 cups) washed and cut into florets
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 can (15 oz) cannellini beans, rinsed
4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, washed and chopped
optional: parmesan cheese or sprinkle of shredded cheddar cheese

instructions:

  1. Using a food processor, shred garlic and onions
  2. In a soup pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil and saute garlic and onions on medium heat for 4-5 minutes
  3. Shred broccoli in the food processor until desired size is reached
  4. Add broccoli and saute in onion/garlic mixture 2-3 minutes
  5. Puree cannellini beans in the food processor and add to the vegetable mixture
  6. Season with salt, pepper and paprika
  7. Using a whisk, slowly incorporate vegetable broth
  8. Add rosemary
  9. Cover and simmer on med-low heat for 12-15 minutes until reduced to desired thickness {doubling the recipe, it does not reduce to a very thick consistency in 15 minutes}
  10. Serve with cheese and black pepper if you'd like

notes:

  • The flavor of this soup is great, but I would recommend adding in perhaps another level of flavor - I am thinking nutmeg maybe the next time I make it. And also leaving some of the broccoli chunkier, as well as onions. 
  • This soup has approximately 150 calories 3g fat and 600mg sodium (based on the type of beans and vegg stock you use - this calculation is based on a doubled recipe above, making 10 servings)
  • A large Panera's Broccoli and Cheddar soup (13.25 oz) has 330 calories, 21g fat and 1390mg sodium - and that's not even including the bread bowl... Eek!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Garlic + Lentil Soup

Apparently I am obsessed with soup right now. And more specifically, Lentil Soup. This one runs circles around the Sausage and Kale one - it's simplicity is what makes it delightful. It has SO much flavor. I think it also is in part the vegetable broth. This is such a different flavor than chicken which is what I usually would use. So yum.

Garlic + Lentil Soup

ingredients:

1 cup lentils, rinsed and drained
2 yellow onions, finely diced
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed
1 carrot, peeled and very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon dried oregano
7-8 cups vegetable stock {I used Natures Promise Organic Vegetable Broth}
Salt and black pepper

instructions:

  1. Heat oil in the bottom of a big soup pot, and add onion, garlic, carrots, salt, pepper, bay leaves and oregano. Cook veggies until onions are on their way to being translucent. 
  2. Add vegetable broth and lentils. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally. 

notes:

  • If you notice the soup is thickening and the lentils still need to cook more, you can add a little extra vegetable stock. I started with 7 cups, and then added in the rest of the 2nd container. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale

It seems like ages since I made this soup. Probably because it has been. With the chill in the air coming on strong here in New England, I've been craving hearty dishes, like soups and chilis. I made a glorious chili for a tailgate we recently attended, and really wanted to tackle a soup that is equally as hearty as a chili, but that is completely different. This one definitely does the trick. It's super savory and using spicy sausage provides quite the depth of flavor when added to the lentils. Now, I've only ever made lentil soup once before, but it was a lifetime ago and my roommate and I had little weekly cooking adventures during a season where I was squatting with a few friends {but that's a story for another time and place} ~ either way, lentils are essentially a foreign  ingredient to me.

No biggie, they were actually very easy to work with. Another potential road block was that I was making this for both tt and I for the entire week, so I doubled the recipe... not realizing that my gloriously red cast iron pot that I make all my soups in {and I mean ALL of them} would not fit all of it. Fail. Luckily, I made it work using my large stock pot, although my personal preference is my "big red pot" for no real reason other than it makes me happy. Doubling the recipe led me to a few notes, but not many, and this soup was delightful... enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Rachael Ray {original recipe can be found here}

ingredients

1 tablespoon EVOO
1 pound hot sausage, casing removed
1 onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 large  potato, peeled and chopped into small dice
1 jalapeno pepper
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped
2-3 large cloves garlic, chopped or sliced
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch kale, stems removed and very thinly sliced
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup white wine
Freshly grated nutmeg
1 3/4 cups lentils
4 cups chicken stock
2 cups water

instructions

  1. In a soup pot or large Dutch oven, heat EVOO. Add the sausage and cook until lightly brown, breaking it apart as it cooks. 
  2. Add the onions, celery, carrots, potato, jalapeno, rosemary, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper, and cook to soften the veggies, appx 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in the kale to wilt, and season with a little nutmeg. 
  4. Stir in the tomato paste for 30 seconds, then add white wine. Cook to reduce by half. 
  5. Add lentils, stock, and water and stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer the soup until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. 
  6. Serve immediately and use chopped celery greens, to garnish.

notes

  • Soup can be served immediately or cooled, stored, and reheated.
  • Original recipe calls for a Fresno chili, which I couldn't find, so I always swap a jalapeno if I can't find the spicy pepper I need because everything else scares me too much.
  • If doubling recipe, my recommendation would be not to double the sausage to 2 lbs, maybe 1.5. The soup became quite oily with 2 full lbs of sausage meat in it. I also used half hot sausage, and half sweet. 
  • If doubling recipe, I would recommend doing 1.5x lentils as well. 
  • If doubling recipe, will probably need additional liquid {I prefer stock, but water can be used as well} and the lentils will probably take longer than 35 mins to cook.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Apple Pie Eggrolls

As I think we have all established, Fall is my absolute favorite. I love the smell of the air, I love the smells of the food. Fried fair food, apples and cinnamon, chili. Holy Hannah, I can't even take it. tt and I went to the orchard yesterday and picked up a bunch of gorgeous looking Empire apples. And it got me itching to make them into something. 

Problem: I don't bake
Solution: Put on your big girl pants apron and let's get to trying.
I searched high and low online to find something that I thought would be feasible for me to try. And while the original form of this recipe calls for a deep fry... I have turned it into a slightly more healthy version and baked them {note: this definitely still has sugar in it, so it is by no means "healthy" - just saying it's healthiER}

ingredients

3 cups apples, peeled and diced (approx. 3 apples)
4 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons flour
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon lemon juice
12 Egg Roll Wrappers
Powdered sugar (optional)
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Combine everything but the wrappers together and mix well. Cook for a few minutes over medium heat to warm through.
  3. Place 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each egg roll wrapper. Fold in the sides and roll the wrapper tightly. Place fold side down on baking sheet that has been sprayed with non stick spray.
  4. Brush the tops of the eggrolls with a little EVOO and bake for 12-15 minutes
  5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve warm, with vanilla ice cream if desired. 

notes

  • It's very important to make sure the sides of the wrapper are tucked in so that ingredients are held inside the wrapper.  Using a little bit of water along the edge to secure the wrapper. 
  • Eggrolls can also be fried: they'll need to cook for 4-5 minutes in 375 degree oil. 
  • If baking, they do get a little dry. I would recommend a sauce of some kind {maybe caramel?!} or def serving with ice cream. 
  • I would also suggest cutting back on the sugar in the filling. While the sweeter the better, I think 4 Tbl is a lot, and after making/eating them, a smaller amount of sugar would work just fine. 
Thank you, thank you! to Spending with Pennies for the starting point for this recipe adventure!

Cauliflower with Tomatoes and Lemon

From: WeightWatchers PointsPlus Cookbook {page 215}

ingredients


1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 teaspoons olive oil
Salt + Pepper
1 cup red and yellow cherry tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon lemon zest

instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Spray a baking pan with nonstick spray and place cauliflower in pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Spread out into single layer and roast, stirring once, until just tender: 15 minutes. 
  3. Meanwhile, stir together tomatoes, garlic and salt and pepper. Add tomato mixture to the cauliflower and stir well. 
  4. Roast until cauliflower is browned and tomatoes are softened, about 10 minutes longer. Transfer to serving bowl and add parsley and lemon zest before serving. 

notes

  • I served this with sun dried tomato flavored chicken sausage which I browned in a fry pan, and added to the veggie mixture during the second round of baking. 

Grilled Chicken with Cilantro and Indian Spices

From: WeightWatchers PointsPlus Cookbook {page 154}

ingredients


4 scallions, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
Salt + pepper
4 bone-in chicken breasts {appx 1/2 lb each}
Thinly sliced scallions and lime wedges for garnish

instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients besides chicken in blender and process into a coarse paste
  2. Place chicken on a plate. Loosen skin from chicken; rub paste under skin and all over chicken. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours.
  3. Spray grill rack with non stick spray, and preheat to medium heat.
  4. Place chicken on grill rack and grill, turning occasionally until chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. 
  5. Arrange chicken on platter and garnish with sliced scallions and lime wedges. 

notes

  • For healthiest option {and WW recommends} remove skin before eating
  • I served this with a cous cous which I made using chicken broth, and added in similar Indian spices to the liquid: cumin, paprika, turmeric and coriander. It was a great accompaniment to the chicken!
  • I made this recipe using chicken thighs rather than breasts which adds a bit more flavor
  • Personally, I loved the flavors used in this dish but I think I might bake them next time rather than grilling. To me, grilling really added too much char on the outsides of the chicken and I feel that it overwhelmed the flavor of the spices. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Chai Pumpkin Spice Thumbprint Cookies

Recipe courtesy of Pass the Sushi and can be found here


ingredients


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup chai concentrate {like Oregon Chai concentrate}
1 large egg
1 teas vanilla extract
1 and 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teas baking soda
1/8 teas salt
1/2 teas chai spice mix {1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg}
22-24 Pumpkin spice Hershey’s Kisses

instructions

  1. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer and cream at medium speed until fluffy, or with a hand mixer, for about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg, chai concentrate,  and the vanilla, mix until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, scraping down the sides of the mixing bowl as necessary. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. Using your hands, roll the dough into 22 to 24 1 inch round balls. Place the dough balls on parchment paper lined baking sheets and sprinkle chai spice mix lightly over cookies.
  4. Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes. Meanwhile, unwrap kisses.
  5. Remove the cookies from the oven and immediately place pumpkin kisses in the center of each cookie. Don’t touch or the kisses will turn into puddles! Cool completely.

notes

  • You should be able to find the pumpkin kisses at Target or Walmart in early fall 

Beet Sliders | featured on Triple D

Original Recipe is courtesy of: Chuck Caplener and Jared Nuttall, Gatsby's Diner, CA and can be founhere

ingredients


5 quarts water
1/2 cup sea salt, plus a pinch
1 tablespoon dried dill
6 dried arbol chiles
1/4 cup coriander seeds
1 tablespoon caraway seeds
1 large carrot, coarsely chopped
2 stalks celery, coarsely chopped
1/2 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
4 tablespoons seasoning sauce (recommended: Maggi)
6 to 8 whole beets (depending on size)
Olive oil
Green Goddess Dressing  {make your own-recipe below}
Sliced red onions, for serving
16 to 18 slider buns, toasted

instructions

  1. In a large stock pot, combine and the water, 1/2 cup sea salt, dill, chiles, coriander, caraway, carrots, celery, onions, seasoning sauce, and beets and bring to a boil. Boil on medium heat for about 1 hour.
  2. Remove the beets and let cool, discarding the liquid. Once cooled, remove the skin from the beets with a vegetable peeler. (Remember to wear gloves, as the beets will stain your hands as well as other surfaces.) Cut the beets into 1/4 to 3/8-inch slices. Place the beet slices, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt into a skillet over high heat and saute until glossy and tender, about 2 1/2 minutes on each side.
  3. Remove the beets from the skillet and serve with shaved red onion and Green Goddess Dressing on a toasted slider bun.

notes

  • Serves 16 to 18 sliders - which is a lot!
  • Sub for seasoning sauce can be Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, but you might need a little more
  • Make your own-Green Goddess: combine chopped herbs such as fresh tarragon and parsley,
    1 bunch chopped scallions, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 Tbl lemon juice, and 1/2 cup white wine vinegar in a mixing bowl. Let sit and macerate for 10 minutes. Then add 1 cup sour cream + 2 cups mayo and blend with an immersion blender until creamy. Season with S+P
  • For a low fat version: swap 1 ripe avocado, 1 cup lowfat buttermilk and minced garlic for sour cream + mayo. Also recommended to use white balsamic vinegar in place of lemon juice/white wine vinegar.

Caprese Lasagna Roll-ups

Original recipe is courtesy of Cooking Classy and can be found here

ingredients


8 lasagna noodles, uncooked
14 oz freshly shredded, low-moisture part skim Mozzarella cheese, divided
3/4 cup Ricotta cheese
1 large egg white
1/3 cup freshly, finely shredded Parmesan cheese (about 1 1/4 oz)
freshly ground black pepper
3 - 4 medium Roma tomatoes, thinly sliced (about 1/6 inch thick slices)
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, plus more for garnish
1 cup marinara sauce {Make your own-recipe below}

instructions


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to directions listed on package to al dente. Drain pasta (DO NOT rinse with water) and align lasagna noodles in a single layer on a large sheet of parchment or wax paper.
  2. For filling, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together ricotta cheese and egg white until well blended. Stir in Parmesan cheese. Mix in 12 oz. of the Mozzarella cheese and season with black pepper to taste (I wouldn't recommend seasoning with salt just because the cheeses already have plenty of salt).
  3. Place 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture over each lasagna noodle and spread into an even layer, going from one end of the lasagna to the other. Align 4 thin tomato slices over cheese mixture then sprinkle fresh basil over top. Snugly roll lasagna noodles to opposite end. Spread about 1/4 cup pasta sauce in the bottom of an 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Align lasagna roll ups, seam side down in dish. Top each roll up with about 2 Tbsp of the pasta sauce (covering edges of pasta so they don't dry out while baking). Sprinkle top with remaining 2 oz. shredded Mozzarella. Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes. Remove from oven, plate pasta and garnish with plenty of basil ribbons. Serve warm.

notes


  • Yield: 8 servings
  •  Make your own-Easy Marinara: Heat 2 Tbl olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion and saute for 2 minutes, add 3 cloves minced garlic and saute for 1 additional minute until both are soft. Pour in 1 large can crushed tomatoes and season with S+P. Bring just to a boil, then reduce and simmer 25-30 min
  • You can freeze or refrigerate left over sauce in a small airtight container for later use, adding fresh basil if desired

Creamy Cauliflower Sauce

Original recipe courtesy of Pinch of Yum and can be found here

ingredients

8 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
5-6 cups cauliflower florets
6-7 cups vegetable broth or water
1 teaspoon salt (more to taste)
½ teaspoon pepper (more to taste)
½ cup milk (more to taste)


instructions

  1. Garlic: Saute the minced garlic with the butter in a large nonstick skillet over low heat. Cook for several minutes or until the garlic is soft and fragrant but not browned (browned or burnt garlic will taste bitter). Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Cauliflower: Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil in a large pot. Add the cauliflower and cook, covered, for 7-10 minutes or until cauliflower is fork tender. Do not drain.
  3. Puree: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cauliflower pieces to the blender. Add 1 cup vegetable broth or cooking liquid, sauteed garlic/butter, salt, pepper, and milk. Blend or puree for several minutes until the sauce is very smooth, adding more broth or milk depending on how thick you want the sauce. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your blender. Serve hot! If the sauce starts to look dry, add a few drops of water, milk, or olive oil.

notes {from pinch of yum}

  • Makes about 5 cups; Serving size is 1/2 cup
  • I like to add a little bit of olive oil for the flavor and to help keep the sauce really smooth. Several other readers have mentioned that they really liked the addition of Parmesan cheese as well.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

everything bagel bake out

Who doesn't love a good bagel? Especially when they are fresh, and warm. My favorite? Well, that would definitely be a toss up between a French Toast bagel, or Everything. Smothered in cream cheese. Yes, oh yes. Get in my belly. Um, now.

As many of us know, what comes along with these deliciously carb-filled goodies, is just that. A TON of carbs. They say that a big ol' bagel from your favorite deli is most likely between 500-600 calories, so we're talking the equivalent of 6 slices of bread. Yes, I said six slices of bread. Plus a glob of cream cheese that is probably adding another hundred calories. Gross. 

There is all this talk about scooping out the inside of your bagel and just eating the outside part along with your topping. While I'm sure this would do the trick and reduce your calorie count, doesn't it seem somewhat wasteful? Personally, I would go for half instead of hollow, if I had the choice. But who wants to eat just half of a bagel? 

I came across something else, which seemed to me to be a much more satisfying substitution. If you can get the flavor profile from another source, wouldn't that be divine? Why not MAKE your "everything" seasoning, and put it on a more diet-friendly whole wheat English Muffin for 120 calories + lite cream cheese for 70 more. Um hello- this seems like a nobrainer. But how, pray tell, do you make the seasoning? Let me tell you:

{I'm getting really bad at tracking where these are coming from}
Ingredients:
2 tsp Minced onion {dried}
2 tsp Minced garlic {dried}
2 tsp Poppy seeds
2 tsp Sesame seeds
1 tsp Caraway seeds
1 tsp Kosher salt

Instructions:
  1. Combine all spices together and give a shake. I had an empty spice container in my cabinet, so I put it in there. {it was formerly garlic powder, so I didn't have to wash it out. If you use one that needs washing, make sure it is fully dried before putting your new spice mix in}
Notes:
  • Add more/less of any of the above to your liking. I did add a bit more minced onion because I felt that was a good flavor that made me really think of an everything bagel. 
  • Enjoy seasoning on a toasted whole wheat English Muffin + lite cream cheese for an everything bagel fake out. 



Friday, September 6, 2013

Mini Chicken Pot Pies

Fall is in the air! That means it's time for fall type food-ing... aka all things that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. What does that mean to me? Chili, pumpkin-everything, easy party appetizers for Sunday Funday, and oh-so-savory pies. Preferably by way of spaghetti or pot {pie}.

Chicken pot pie is one of those recipes that you ultimately need to find a tried and true option. I have found my Chicken & Dumplings recipe is pretty close - AND it's at least somewhat diet-friendly because it originated from Hungry Girl's recipe. That being said, there really is nothing better than the not-good-for-you style Chicken Pot Pie. I stumbled across this recipe, and am so excited to make it at some point this season. I'm thinking they would be delightful for an easy Sunday meal- the recipe seems to be relatively easy... will keep you posted, but feel free to enjoy and let ME know how it goes!

The Recipe
{Not sure exactly where this came from}
Ingredients:
2 cups of cooked chicken breast, diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup frozen mixed veggies
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 tablespoon of dried thyme
1/2 tablespoon of dried basil
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic salt
2 (10 oz) cans Pillsbury biscuits

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, soup, veggies, cheese, herbs and spices.
  3. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray and place the biscuits into each cup, pressing into the bottom and up the sides.
  4. Evenly spoon the chicken mixture into each muffin cup. 
  5. Bake for appx 15 minutes, but check at the 12 minute mark.
  6. Once cooked through, let rest the pies rest for about 3 minutes.
Notes:
  • When I do make this, I will most likely use rotisserie chicken ~ I always find that the easiest and most flavorful... AND it's already cooked for me. Rather than needing to cook a chicken breast.




Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

It's almost Fall!!!! I am totally pushing the season change because it is my absolute favorite season. Why? You ask. {And I'll tell you even if you didn't} - there are so many wonderfully cozy things about fall.
  1. Sweaters and boots 
  2. Crisp morning air
  3. Pumpkin everything
  4. I would say football, but we all know I hate football... I just like the tailgating, eating + drinking part.
  5. Crock pot meals
Which brings me to today's ROTD... An easy-peasy weeknight dinner, that could also be great for a crowded Sunday-Funday filled with football.

Recipe of the Day
Adapted from: skinnytaste.com
Ingredients:
24 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 celery stalk
1/2 white onion, diced
1 clove garlic, chopped
16 oz fat free, low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup Franks {or your favorite hot sauce}
6 large lettuce leaves - I always use butter lettuce for my wraps, but Bibb or iceberg work well too
Broccoli slaw 
Crumbled blue cheese

Instructions:
  1. In a crock pot, combine chicken, celery, onions, garlic, and enough broth to cover the chicken. If you need more liquid, using either more broth or water is fine. Cook on low for 8 hours, or high for 4 hours.
  2. When cooking is complete, remove chicken from the pot and reserve 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid. Discard the rest of the liquid and veggies. 
  3. Shred chicken with two forks and return the shredded chicken, reserved cooking liquid, and hot sauce to the crock pot. Cook on high for 30 more minutes. 
  4. Serve lettuce wraps by spooning chicken onto lettuce, sprinkling with crumbled blue cheese, and top with broccoli slaw. 
Notes:
  • While chicken breast is entirely better for you, chicken thighs would potentially work better. 
  • If you are cooking over a longer period of time, I would probably recommend using more liquid to cook in.
  • You could probably make the chicken using just chicken or vegetable stock, but I do think the veggies  in the crock pot with it add a nice flavor bite.
You can view the original recipe by clicking here





Saturday, August 31, 2013

Green Smoothie #2

I have a confession to make... I absolutely adore green smoothies. Don't judge me.

Now, this statement comes with a little warning on it, as I have really only ever tried two. And both I am obsessed with. I started my love affair with the Green Monster smoothie that is like an electric green milkshake for breakfast, all jam packed with spinach and good for you things. But I needed more. 

I knew I needed to venture out of the spinach realm (knowing that usually spinach in a green smoothie will be tasteless) and try... wait for it... kale. I have only ever eaten kale as a chip, so I wasn't about to do this immediately, and I wasn't about to do this without doing a little research first. I have been told that raw kale has quite a unique flavor, and when I hear that, I always go on the assumption that I'm not going to like it. 

As always, FitSugar helped. I got my daily email with an article and recipes about de-bloating. DING DING DING. I will do {almost} anything to debloat. This smoothie makes the claim that it has these items in it that help with bloating, add fiber into your diet, and ease digestion. Kale is one of these things from the sounds of it... And when you pair it with the flavors of sweet pineapple and berries, you have yourself a match made in flat-belly heaven. And, it's delicious, at that! 

{Note: nothing about my belly is flat. BUT I will definitely say that after drinking this smoothie daily for a week, I felt like I looked less bloated in both my belly region as well as my face. And I actually got compliments from people telling me I looked like I lost weight.}

Recipe of the day
Adapted from: Fitsugar.com
Ingredients:
Appx 1/3 cup 0% Chobani vanilla
8 roasted almonds
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1 cup kale
1 cup water + a little extra
1 tsp chia seeds

Instructions:
  1. Combine all ingredients in blender
  2. Blend until smooth, add water as needed
Notes:
  • I used a fresh pineapple, cut it and measured it and froze in individual baggies to just grab in the morning
  • I think chia seeds are a great and necessary addition to this smoothie
  • I strongly dislike the taste of almond butter, so I chose to use actual almonds instead. The original recipe calls for almond butter.

Original recipe can be found by clicking here.






Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Pesto Crusted Halibut

Did you watch Next Food Network Star this past season? We did! It was not nearly as good as last year but we made it through and I was delighted when Damaris won the title. That being said, and as much as I was driven crazy by some of the other contestants, one of them did bring me this delightful fish dish when I started following her blog. I've never made halibut before, but I think I'm a fan. Super easy {although not any easier than any other fish that I just pop in the oven...} and the roasted red pepper pesto is pretty delish. Let's get to it.

Recipe of the day
recipe by Nikki Dinki Cooking
Ingredients:
For the fish...
   1 Lbs Halibut, 4 4oz filets
   1 cup Bread Crumbs
   4 Tbs Greek Yogurt
   1 lemon, juiced
   Salt + Pepper

For the pesto...
   ¼ cup Pinenuts
   2 Roasted Red Peppers
   1 tsp Thyme Leaves
   3 Garlic Cloves
   1 Shallot
   ½ cup Parmesan
   2tsp Kosher Salt
   ¼ Olive Oil

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Make the pesto by adding all ingredients to a food processor and pulsing until it is mixed well and pureed. 
  3. Combine 1/2 cup of the pesto with breadcrumbs in a medium bowl. 
  4. Season fish with salt + pepper and spread the yogurt onto the filets. Then top with the breadcrumb/pesto mixture. 
  5. Bake for 15-20 minutes until fish is cooked through. 
  6. Serve by squeezing lemon over tops of cooked fish. 
Notes:
  • This pesto is potent!!! Raw, it has a very garlicky/oniony bite to it. Might be able to cut back on that by decreasing the amount of garlic or shallot put in. Cooked, however, it is delightful. I was tempted to spread the remaining amount of pesto into a baking dish and cook it off, so that the zing was gone. I still might... 
Get the original recipe by clicking here.







Chicken Salad with Yogurt-Dill Dessing

We all know how much I LOVE mason jars. And that I put anything and everything in them, as often as I can. It was recently brought to my attention that apparently I'm doing something right because there was a feature about layered salads in mason jars in some magazine that someone got. Which doesn't surprise me because it's literally the best thing ever.

SO- I am always looking for new ideas instead of the hum drum arugula salad with tuna on top, and when I find a stackable salad, I fall hard. Like this one, for example, has a ton of amazing ingredients, and really makes for a satisfying little meal because it has both chicken AND greek yogurt for protein. You know you're ready for this.

Recipe of the Day
{in a mason jar!}
adapted from foodandwine.com 
Ingredients:
For the dressing...
   1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt
   1 tablespoon chopped dill
   1 1/2 teaspoons coriander seeds, crushed {I used ground}
   1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
   Kosher salt & Freshly ground pepper

For the salad...
   4 roasted red bell peppers from a jar, drained and sliced
   1 container cherry tomatoes, halved
   2 Hass avocados, diced {+ drizzle lemon juice}
   One rotisserie chicken, skin removed, meat shredded
   One decent sized cucumber, seeds removed and chopped
   1 cup mixed fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, tarragon and dill

Instructions:
  1. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, dill, coriander and add 3 tablespoons of water; whisk until smooth, and then whisk in the oil in a steady stream. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
  2. Layer the remaining ingredients in 4 jars. I did it in the order shown above: peppers, tomatoes, avocado, chicken, then herbs. I didn't use cucumbers but have deemed them 100% necessary to this salad, and so you need to add them in.
  3. Serve the salads with the yogurt dressing.
Notes
  • These measurements are from the actual recipe, I did not follow the measurements at all!! I ended up making 6 mason jar salads with appx what it says above.
  • DEFINITELY use cucumbers. I didn't this time, and the salad was missing a little something. 
  • If you are making ahead, make sure to add in the lemon juice on the avocado. Not a lot, but enough to keep it from browning. 
  • I find that everything kept very well. I might make half the dressing in the first half of the week and then make more the second half of the week. It started to get a little oily as it separated. Not sure if maybe re-mixing it each day would help with this.
Get the original recipe by clicking here.






Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Chia Seed Pudding | Spiced Blueberry

So, I've been pretty intrigued by these trendy little black seeds. I've heard all sorts of things about the health benefits... they're full of fiber, are great for weight loss, give you energy. The whole nine. So finally I broke down and bought a bag at Target, not really knowing what I would do with them. As I was holding the bag in my hand, I noticed that there was a recipe on the back: PUDDING! {insert the sound of angels singing here, and please also picture a white light streaming down on me standing in the middle of the aisle in Target}

You probably know by now, that the girls and I have started a weight loss challenge. I'm super excited about this, as we are all such competitive people, and I think the best way to successfully diet/exercise is when you have people to push you. SO finding this healthy little dessert type item was pretty exciting for me. I made it, loved it, and am sharing it. Hopefully, I will have more flavor combinations to share!

Recipe of the day
Makes 2 servings
Ingredients:
1/4 cup Chia seeds
1 cup milk {I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk}
1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
2 Tbl Honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger

Instructions:

  1. Blend everything but the seeds in blender until smooth - pour into serving bowls 
  2. Stir in half the Chia seeds into each bowl. Wait 10 minutes, and stir again.
  3. Put in refrigerator for 30+ minutes. The longer they are in the fridge, the thicker your pudding will become. 
  4. Stir once more, and serve chilled. 
Notes:

  • The base of the pudding is made from the milk + seeds. The rest of this recipe is all for flavor. 
  • Different milks will of course make different puddings. I read a few recipes that used coconut milk which I would think might be a little creamier and a little sweeter, especially than unsweetened almond milk.
  • I might use something sweeter than honey next time, i.e. agave nectar, especially if I use unsweetened milk again, and/or decide to use less spice for a vanilla or chocolate version. It definitely could have been a little sweeter than the honey made it. 







Thursday, August 1, 2013

Roasted Cauliflower

So, being on this diet thing, I'm trying to focus on vegetables. That being said, eating a ton of veggies is not always the easiest task, especially when you're not smothering them in melted butter. So, I have tried to find different ways to make my veggies taste good, while not adding in a ton of calories. This recipe is one of those tricks... It's adapted from a Paula Deen recipe that isn't as sinful as most of her recipes are. 

Recipe of the day
Adapted from Paula Deen's recipe {link below}
Ingredients:
1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
2 leeks, green parts sliced 
3 red bell peppers, sliced into strips

and for the dressing...
   1/4 cup EVOO
   2 Tbl lemon juice
   2 Tbl Dijon mustard
   1 Tbl chopped fresh thyme 
   1 Tbl chopped fresh basil
   1 tsp minced garlic
   Salt + Pepper to taste

Instructions:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for the dressing. 
  3. In a large bowl, toss veggies with dressing and mix well {I use my hands to mix- get in there and give it some love}
  4. Spray a 9x13 glass baking dish with non-stick spray, and pour veggies and dressing into dish.
  5. Bake in the oven for appx 40 minutes. I typically will stir it around at least twice to ensure the dressing re-coats the veggies. 
Get the original recipe by clicking here






Saturday, July 27, 2013

Spiced Shrimp and Tomato Kebabs

In the summer, tt and I are always looking for new things to grill. While we love grilled food any night of the week, we always make sure to at least grill on Sundays. That's when we like to try out new recipes {and by we, I mean, I do.} 

Since starting my health kick last year, and realizing that I really can cook and really enjoy cooking, I subscribe to all sorts of emails and started following all sorts of foodie bloggers. I have gotten great ideas from these people, both for my blog as well as, you guessed it, recipes! 

{And don't worry fellow bloggers, I always give credit where credit is due- I would hate if someone stole my recipe and didn't tell the world where it came from}

This particular recipe I am excited to try tomorrow. I'm thinking tt and I will enjoy it on the deck with quinoa and a quick little green salad, probably with cilantro and a quick lime vinaigrette if I'm feeling extra fancy and remember to get limes at the market! Either way, these kebabs sound delightful. 

Recipe of the day
Recipe spotted on Yahoo Shine - originally from FoodandWine.com
Ingredients:
1/4 cup thinly sliced peeled ginger
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves
2 tablespoons packed basil leaves
1 tablespoon packed mint leaves
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
40 large shrimp (about 2 pounds), shelled and deveined
1 pint grape tomatoes

Instructions:
  1. At least 30 minutes prior to cooking: combine ginger, garlic, cilantro, basil, mint, cayenne, paprika, lime juice, honey, salt and the 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a food processor and and puree. 
  2. Place marinade into a large bowl, add the shrimp and toss to coat. Cover/refrigerate for at least 30 mins.
  3. Thread the shrimp and tomatoes onto skewers. 
  4. Grill the skewers over high heat, turning once, until the shrimp are lightly charred and cooked through and the tomatoes are just beginning to burst, about 6 minutes. 
  5. Serve right away.
Notes:
  • Shrimp can marinate for up to 4 hours in the fridge. 
  • If you are using wooden skewers - don't forget to soak them!! Otherwise they will burn.
  • Be sure to oil the grates of the grill to avoid kebabs sticking.






Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Apple Pie Smoothie

We're all on as much of a health-kick as we can stand to dedicate ourselves to this summer. There are some tricks that help to beat those icky cravings that come when the weather heats up, so that we can avoid the cookout food {mmm hot dogs!} and tasty adult beverages {TABs as I like to call them}. One thing that I have found works wonders, is making sure I have a protein-packed breakfast - as close to waking up as I can. 

Most days, I get up, shower, and then drink a cranberry lemon and ACV detox/energy drink to take my vitamins {women's multiV with added iron and calcium; probiotic for digestive health; vitamin D which no one gets enough of in the northeast; ginko biloba, because I have the worst memory in life; fish oil because why not; biotin for skin/nails/hair; and newly added evening primrose oil for a wealth of things} and then I have a smoothie for breakfast. I typically stick with a green smoothie, so that I can get that one extra dose of veggies, even though I eat a ton of vegetables anyway. I got the recipe for the one I make from Iowa Girl here. It's Dole's Green Monster Smoothie and it's delicious {you would NEVER guess that it is chock-full of spinach and goodies!} BUT I have discovered a new smoothie that I'm mildly obsessed with this week: Apple Pie! 

No greens, unfortunately, but it has a ton of protein filled yummies that keep me full until lunchtime, even though I've been forcing a mid-morning snack since I don't get to eat lunch until 2:00 these days. And let me tell you - this really tastes like a liquid apple pie! {although not nearly as weird as that sounds}

Recipe of the day
Recipe spotted on FitSugar.com
Ingredients:
5 raw almonds
1 red apple
1 banana {I use frozen, sliced bananas that I always have on hand in my freezer}
3/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt {I prefer 0% Vanilla Chobani}
1/2 cup non-fat milk {I use unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze... for everything}
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:
  1. Place ingredients in high-powered blender.*
  2. Blend on medium-high speed until everything is mixed. 
Notes:

  • *Most recipes I have seen recommend jumping on the Vitamix bandwagon. I'm avoiding it as long as I can for budgetary reasons. I find my Kitchen-aid is plenty strong to cut thru most smoothie ingredients.
  • I honestly think part of the reason I am able to use my regular every day blender is because I typically do the pulsing "crush ice" first - to break thru any frozen items and/or the nuts, and get the fruit on its way. Then I go to puree, then I increase to liquefy at the end, and let that go a good 20+ seconds depending on what's in there and how it looks. 

Get the original recipe by clicking here
And seriously... if you haven't signed up for FitSugar's daily emails... do it. Really good stuff. 






Monday, July 15, 2013

Deviled Eggs gone... green?

So, today kicked off day one of thirty to thirty...one. Aka, Crazy Coleen Diet 2.0. Day one of clean has included thus far:

7:30 am - Breakfast
Detoxifying and Energizing Cranberry Cleanse Drink with my vitamins
Green Monster Smoothie

10:30 am - Snack #1
0% plain Chobani Greek Yogurt with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries
{which, BTW, were buy one/get one at S&S this week - woot!}

1:00 pm - Lunch
Bean Salad over arugula

3:30 pm - Snack #2
1/2 of an avocado deviled egg (OMG... wait for the recipe)
Handful of raw pistachios

Dinner... TBD
(But I have a few options..depending on what I'm feeling like by the time I get home)

Recipe of the day
Adapted from a few recipes I have found online
Ingredients:
6 hard boiled eggs, sliced in half the long way
1 avocado
2 tsp dijon mustard (I used grey poupon)
Sprinkle lime juice
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp paprika
Salt + pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. On a small plate or in a bowl, mash together egg yolks, avocado, mustard, and spices. Mix well to combine.
  2. Scoop mixture back into egg whites to create deviled eggs. Sprinkle additional paprika on top if you'd like. 
  3. Serve cold. 
Notes:
  • When I tried it all last night when I made it - the avocado mixture was a true delight. Today, while my little devil eggie was still delicious, some of the flavors had settled a bit. I would recommend probably kicking up the spice notch a bit by either pumping up the volume of chili powder/paprika, or adding in a little red pepper flake. 
  • Another option could be to use diced red onion and/or tomato - to make it more like a guacamole type concoction inside the egg. 
  • If you love deviled eggs the way that I do, and love avocado the way that I do... then really, the possibilities are endless.