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Holy Cow...I Can Cook?

I started this food blog New Years 2010 to force myself to get in the kitchen and teach myself how to cook. Well it has been a year, and it turns out, cooking isn't so hard after all. I kept the promise I made to myself and cooked healthy yummy meals for my family all year. Once I just got in there, read the recipes, and experimented I found cooking is yet another form of artistic expression. Just like with my art, I let go of the fear of failure and found a new passion.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lasagna Rolls

I love lasagna, but sometimes it is labor intensive. These lasagna rolls are a nice change from the layered pasta.


8 uncooked lasagna noodles
4 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup onion (finely chopped)
8oz sliced mushrooms
6oz fresh baby spinach
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 cup mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tbsp minced fresh basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper


1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (7 oz) bottle roasted red bell peppers, undrained
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375. Cook noodles according to package, omitting salt and oil. Drain and rinse with cold water.
2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, mushrooms, spinach, and 3 garlic cloves; saute 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in ricotta cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese and next 3 ingredients.
3. To prepare sauce, blend together vinegar, salt, pepper, tomatoes bell peppers, and red pepper with blender or food processor. Process until smooth.
4. Place cooked noodles on a flat surface, spread 1/4 cup cheese mixture over each noodle. Roll up noodles, jelly-roll style, starting with short side. Place rolls, seam side down in baking dish. Pour sauce over rolls, and cover with foil. Bake 15 minutes. Remove foil and sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese, bake another 10 minutes or until cheese is slightly browned.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chicken Piccata

This has become a favorite dish in our house. My husband would be happy if I made this for dinner every week!

4 chicken cutlets
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tsp garlic (minced)
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp capers (drained)
2 tbsp unsalted butter

1.Season cutlets with salt and pepper then dip in flour. Heat non-stick skillet over med-high heat add oil. Saute chicken in pan 2-3 minutes, flip, saute other side 1-2 minutes with pan covered.
2. Transfer chicken cutlets to warm plate, pour off excess fat from pan. Deglaze pan with wine and add garlic. Cook until garlic is slightly brown and liquid is nearly gone about 2 minutes.
3.Add broth, lemon juice, and capers. Return chicken to pan and cook each side for one minute.
4. Transfer chicken to warm plate. Add butter to pan, once butter melts, pour sauce over chicken.

*I served this on wild rice, but it would also be great over pasta!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mississippi Mud Pie

This is my lighter version of my mother-in-law's recipe for Mississippi Mud Pie. It is one of my husband's favorite desserts so I made it this year for is birthday instead of a cake.

Graham Cracker Crust

*This crust is a bit lower in fat than many you may find ready made at the store. The egg white acts as a binder and you end up using less butter.

40 graham crackers (10 full cracker sheets)
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp butter (melted)
1 egg white
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Place crackers in a food processor; process until crumbly. Add sugar, butter and egg white; pulse about 6 times or just until moist. Press crumb mixture into a 9 inch pie dish coated in cooking spray. Bake for 8 minutes; cool completely on a wire rack.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding

* Reduced fat milk helps to cut the fat just a bit!

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
4 cups 2% milk
3 egg yolks (lightly beaten)
2 oz bittersweet chocolate (chopped)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a large saucepan. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Bring to a boil over med. heat, stirring constantly. Cook 1 minute, keep stirring!
2. Place egg yolks in a bowl. VERY gradually add hot milk mixture to egg yolks, stirring constantly (if you add too fast you will scramble your eggs). Return milk mixture to pan. Cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and add chopped chocolate and vanilla extract, stirring until chocolate melts. Spoon pudding into a small bowl. Place bowl in a large ice-filled bowl for 15 minutes or until pudding is cool, stirring occasionally. Remove bowl from ice, cover the surface of pudding with plastic wrap and chill.

Whipped Cream

* I prefer real whipped I don't skimp here I go for the heavy cream!

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Whip cream until almost stiff. Add sugar and vanilla; beat until cream holds peaks. Set aside.

Cream Cheese Filling

*Low fat cream cheese another way to cut the fat a bit

8 ounces low fat cream cheese (softened)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla

1. Whip cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla together until just combined. Gently fold in half of your whipped cream into Cream cheese mixture.

Layer the Mississippi Mud Pie

1. Spread cream cheese filling over cooled graham cracker crust.
2. Spoon cooled chocolate pudding over cream cheese filling. Spread into a smooth layer.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.
4. Top pie with remaining whipped cream, and sprinkle with shaved chocolate.

Friday, December 3, 2010


This recipe was sent to me by an artist friend of mine. He claims it helps with the creative process! ;)

Serve this traditional Spanish drink chilled in a glass pitcher with sliced fruit floating on top.

1 bottle dry red wine
2 tbsp brandy
2 tbsp Triple Sec
1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
5 whole cloves
3 whole allspice
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups sparkling water, chilled
8 orange wedges
5 lemon slices
5 lime slices

1. Combine 1 cup wine, brandy, Triple Sec, and sugar, stirring well until sugar is dissolved. Stir in remaining wine, juices, cloves, allspice, and cinnamon. Chill at least 2 hours.
2. Strain mixture into a pitcher, toss the solids. Just before you serve, stir in sparkling water and the rest of the ingredients.

*Serving size depends on how creative you want to be!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Blackened Chicken Salad

You could just buy a spicy seasoning mix to use on this chicken, but I found that so many of them contain too much salt or MSG, so I included my spice-rub recipe at the end of this post. This salad and spice rub would also be great with fish!

3 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3 tbsp water
1 tbsp honey
3 cups chopped tomato
3/4 cup diced yellow or green bell pepper
4 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
3 tbsp Spicy Seasoning *see recipe below
Cooking spray
1 lb green beans
8 cups torn romaine lettuce

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, stir with a whisk to combine.
2. Rub chicken evenly with Spicy Seasoning. Coat a large heavy skillet with cooking spray, and place over med-high heat until hot. Add chicken, and cook 7 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan, and cool. Cut chicken across grain into thin slices.
3. Steam green beans, covered 2 minutes. Rinse with cold water, and drain. Combine green beans and lettuce in large bowl; drizzle with dressing and toss to coat. Top with tomatoes and chicken.

*Spicy Seasoning

2 1/2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tbsp ground red pepper
1 tbsp black pepper

1. Combine all ingredients; store in airtight container.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rosemary Balsamic Pork Chops

My main problem with pork chops is that they dry out really fast. This balsamic glaze really helps to flavor the pork chops and keep them moist. This dish is simple enough for a quick weeknight dinner, without being boring!

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves (minced)
4 boneless, center-cut, pork chops

1. Place vinegar in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half (about 5 min)
2. Place a grill pan over medium-high heat. Combine rosemary, salt, pepper, and garlic; rub mixture over pork. Place pork in pan; cook for 5 min on each side or until desired degree of doneness, basting with vinegar. Let stand 5 min before slicing.

*Serves 4

I served the pork chops with wild rice, but it would be great with mashed potatoes or even creamy polenta

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chicken Cacciatore

This dish falls under the *Super Fast category. This recipe is really simple, but it tastes like you slaved over the stove. My kind of fast food!

1 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast (cut into bite-sized pieces)
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
Cooking spray
2 cups sliced cremini mushrooms
3/4 cup green bell pepper (chopped)
1 1/2 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
2 tbsp thinly sliced fresh basil

*Serve this over your choice of pasta. I served this over a bed of whole wheat spaghetti

1. Cook pasta according to package directions.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with oregano, dried basil, and red pepper. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; saute 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Add mushrooms and bell pepper to pan; saute 5 min. Stir in pasta sauce and wine; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 10 min. Stir in salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and fresh basil.

Serves 4

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Banana Bread

What to do with the bananas my son does not eat? Make banana bread! I kept this recipe very simple so you could add nuts or dates if you wish to change it up. Just be sure to use really ripe bananas.

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter (softened)
3 ripe bananas (mashed)
1/4 cup fat-free milk
2 egg whites
2 cups flour
1/4 cup grape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Beat sugar and butter until well-blended. Add banana, milk, oil, and egg whites; beat well.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture, beating until blended.
4. Pour batter into a 9 inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beer-Braised Beef

The ultimate comfort food dish! I used my husband Win's home brew beer for this recipe since it is always on tap at our house. When looking for a beer to use in this dish keep in mind, you want the beer to be dark but not too strong. A stout for example would be too overpowering, you just want a touch of toasted malt flavor and just a little hop bitterness.
*This is not a quick recipe. Give yourself a few hours to prepare this one!

3 tbsp flour
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
1 lb boneless chuck roast (trimmed)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup beef broth
4 garlic cloves
1 12 oz dark beer
1 bay leaf
3 carrots (peeled & cut diagonally into 1/2inch slices)
9 oz small turnips (peeled and cut into wedges)
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat oven to 300
2. Place flour in a shallow dish. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle beef evenly on all sides with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper; dredge in flour. Add beef to pan; cook 10 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add broth, garlic, beer, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, scraping pan to remove browned bits. Cover and bake at 300 for 1 1/2 hours. Add carrots; cover and cook 25 minutes. Add remaining 1/2 tsp salt, turnips, and onion; cover and cook an additional 1 hour and 5 minutes until vegetables are tender and beef is fork tender.
3. Remove beef and vegetables from pan; discard bay leaf. cover beef mixture; keep warm. Let cooking liquid stand 10 minutes. Separate cooking liquid and fat; discard fat. Serve cooking liquid with beef and vegetables. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tbsp parsley.

Serves 4

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Pine Nut and Shrimp Pasta

If you use your time right, this meal should only take about 30 mins. Most of the work can be done while the pasta water boils and the pasta cooks. You could also make this dish with chicken!

8 oz uncooked spaghetti
12 oz peeled & deveined medium shrimp (COOKED)
*I like the frozen shrimp at Trader Joes*

2 tbsp pine nuts
1 cup 1% milk
1 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil

1. Thaw shrimp if frozen. Bring water to boil. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. While pasta cooks, heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add nuts to pan; cook 2 min. or until lightly browned.
3. Combine 1/2 cup milk and flour in a large saucepan, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Place pan over medium heat; gradually stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk. Stir in mustard and nutmeg. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low and cook 3 minutes or until mixture begins to thicken, stirring constantly. Stir in salt, pepper, and shrimp cook another 2 min. Add drained pasta, cheese, and chopped basil. Toss gently to combine. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Serves 4

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ham & Veggi Chowder (Slow Cooker)

'Tis the season! Nights are getting chilly and comfort food is needed. It is also a busy time for me as Mommy and as Artist, so effortless comfort food is key. That is why I LOVE LOVE LOVE my slow cooker. Everything in one pot = less dishes for me to wash later. Set it while my son eats his breakfast or lunch and forget it = more time to play later. The outcome; a warm, comforting, & tasty dinner = Win Win!

*Cook time for this dish 6-7 hours on low setting or 3 hours on high

2 cups red potatoes (chopped)
8 oz cooked ham (chopped)
1 cup onion (chopped)
1 cup carrot (chopped)
1 14.5oz can cream-style corn
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 14oz cans chicken broth
1/2 cup whole milk
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup frozen peas

1. In a slow cooker, combine potatoes, ham, onion, carrot, corn, and pepper. Pour broth over all.
2. Cover and cook on low heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high heat for 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
3. In a small bowl combine milk and flour; stir well with a whisk. Stir into chowder in cooker along with cheese and peas. If cooking on low-heat setting, turn to high-heat. Cook for 20 minutes more. Stir again before serving.

*Serves 6

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Blue Cheese Burgers

The blue cheese and caramelized onions are perfect toppings for this burger. This recipe is quick and easy but looks and tastes very impressive!

2 tsp olive oil
4 cups onion (sliced)
1/2 tsp salt
1 lb ground sirloin
2 tbsp onion (grated)
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp black pepper
2 garlic cloves (minced)
Cooking spray
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
4 hamburger buns
4 green leaf lettuce leaves
4 slices of tomato (about 1/4 inch thick)

1. Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan. Add sliced onion and 1/4 tsp salt; cook 18 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally.
2. Combine 1/4 tsp salt, beef, grated onion, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, & garlic in bowl. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 1/2 inch thick patty. *Make a dimple in the middle of each patty with your fingers that will insure a flat patty once it is cooked instead of a dome!
3. Spray grill rack or non-stick pan with cooking spray. Grill 4 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Top each patty with 1 tbsp of cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking.
4. Grill or toast buns. Place the bottom halves of buns on plates, top each with one lettuce leaf, one tomato slice, 1 patty, 1/4 cup of onion, and one roll top.

Serves 4

*I served these burgers with sweet potato fries.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Potato Soup

This hearty soup is great for chilly nights. It is almost like taking a baked potato and turning it into a soup. The perfect comfort food!

4 red potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup onion (chopped)
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
3 tbsp flour
2 cups low fat milk
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 bacon slices (cut in half)
1/3 cup cheddar cheese (shredded)
4 tsp green onion (thinly sliced)

1. Peel potatoes then cut in half and place in large pot. Fill with water to just cover potatoes. Boil potatoes until fork tender. Cook bacon until crisp set aside to drain on a paper towel.
2. While potatoes are cooking, heat oil in a dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; saute 3 minutes. Add broth.
Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk stir with a whisk add to pan with 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to boil; stir often. Cook for about 1 minute then remove from heat. Stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper.
3. Crumble bacon and set aside. Drain potatoes and coarsely mash them into soup. Top with cheese, green onions, and bacon.

Serves 4

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cranberry Pork Tenderloin on Pear Salad

This dish almost felt Christmasy to me. The flavors are very rich and the colors are so pretty!

1 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp garlic (minced)
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 lb pork tenderloin (trimmed and cut crosswise into 1/4 inch thick slices)
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup shallots (sliced)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
6 cups baby spinach
1 ripe pear (thinly sliced)

1. Combine vinegar, mustard, sugar, 1/2 tsp garlic, and 1/4 tsp thyme; set aside.
2. Combine pork and remaining 1 tsp garlic, remaining 1 tsp thyme, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp pepper; toss well to coat.
3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add shallots to saucepan; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cranberries and juice; cook about 2 minutes until liquid is reduced. Reduce heat to medium low. Add vinegar mixture; cook 1 minute. Gradually add 1 tbsp oil, remaining 1/4 tsp salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp pepper, stirring well with a whisk. Cover and keep warm.
4. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of pork to skillet; cook 3 minutes or until browned, turning once. Remove pork from skillet. Repeat with remaining pork.
5. Combine spinach and pear in a large bowl. Drizzle half of cranberry mixture over salad and toss well to coat. Arrange about 2 cups of salad on each plate; top evenly with pork. Drizzle remaining cranberry mixture over the pork.

Serves 4

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rosemary Walnut Chicken

Crunchy and full of flavor, this oven-fried chicken was a big hit!

1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
4 chicken cutlets
1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
2 tbsp grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 tsp minced fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 425
2. Combine buttermilk and mustard in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to buttermilk mixture, turning to coat.
3. Combine panko, nuts, and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture. Dredge chicken in panko mixture.
4.Arrange a wire rack on a baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack; coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake at 425 for 13 minutes or until chicken is done.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Turkey Chili

Who says chili has to take forever? This chili is super easy, and fast. As we head into fall, it is so nice to have a comforting warm bowl of chili on a cold night.

1 cup red onion (chopped)
1 poblano pepper (seeded and chopped)
1 tsp garlic (minced
1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 19oz can cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 14oz can chicken broth
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)

1. Heat dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Add first 4 ingredients; cook for 6 min or until turkey is done. Stir turkey frequently to crumble. Add chili powder and next 8 ingredients (through broth); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 min. Stir in cilantro.

*Serves about 6 one cup servings

Friday, August 27, 2010

Shrimp Egg Rolls

These egg rolls are pan fried, so you still get a crispy outside without deep frying them!

1/4 cup sweet chili sauce (don't freak out~ you can find it in the Asian section of the market)
12 oz bean sprouts, roughly chopped
12 egg roll wrappers
12 cooked jumbo shrimp (peeled, deveined, and split in half lenghwise)
*Trader Joes has cooked frozen jumbo shrimp in a great!
6 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup grape seed oil (peanut oil would also be great)
1 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine 3 tbsp chili sauce and bean sprouts, tossing well to coat.
2. Working with 1 egg roll wrapper at a time, place wrapper onto work surface with one corner pointing toward you (like a diamond). Spoon about 2 big tbsps of bean sprout mixture into center of wrapper; top with 2 shrimp halves and a couple tsps of cilantro. Fold lower corner of wrapper over filling; fold in side corners. Moisten top corner of wrapper with water; roll up jelly-roll style. Place egg roll, seam side down, on a baking sheet. Repeat procedure with remaining wrappers and filling.
3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Add 6 egg rolls, seam side down; cook 7 minutes or until golden, turning occasionally. Place on wire rack. Repeat with remaining oil and 6 more egg rolls.
4. Combine remaining 1 tbsp chili sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and pepper. Serve dipping sauce on the side.

Serves 12

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Bacon Lettuce & Tomato....Salad?

I do love me some bacon, but lets face it, you can have too much of a good thing. This light and simple salad is a bit like taking apart a BLT sandwich. It is a great dinner salad for a hot summer night. Oh and did I mention...bacon vinaigrette?

6oz French bread baguette, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
Cooking Spray
4 slices of bacon (get the good stuff, thick & hickory-smoked)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/8 tsp salt
6 cups torn romaine lettuce
2 cups of tomatoes (plum, roma, cherry whatever you like) sliced or chopped, but keep them kind of chunky)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. layer bread on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes or until toasted.
3. Cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, reserving 1 tbsp drippings in pan. Stir oil into bacon drippings in pan; remove from heat. Stir in vinegar, pepper and salt. Cut bacon into 1/2 inch pieces.
4. Combine lettuce,and tomatoes in a large bowl. drizzle with vinaigrette. Add bread; toss well to coat. Sprinkle with bacon and cheese.

Serves 4

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Fresh Tomatoes and Balsamic Dressing

I doubled this recipe to take to a BBQ. It is a fantastic summertime food, fresh and light, but full of flavor. I also get to use lots of fresh tomatoes and basil from the garden!

6 oz Bow Tie Pasta (Farfalle)

3 cups cherry tomatoes (halved)
*I used 2 cups cherry and 1 cup chopped roma tomatoes since that is what I have in the garden right now*

1/3 cup fresh basil (thinly sliced)

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp shallots (finely chopped)

2 tsp capers

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp garlic (minced)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper

4 tsp olive oil

4oz feta cheese (crumbled)

1. Cook pasta. Drain. Combine pasta, tomatoes, and basil in large bowl.

2. While pasta cooks, combine vinegar, shallots, capers, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in small bowl stirring with a whisk. Gradually add olive oil to vinegar mixture, stirring constantly with a whisk. Drizzle vinaigrette over pasta mixture; toss well to coat. Add cheese; toss to combine.

Serves 4

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Black Bean Portobello Quesadillas

It is WAY too hot here in Ojai to cook so I am trying to find quick and easy dinners that don't require turning the oven on.

4 whole wheat flour tortillas
2 large portobello mushroom caps (chopped)
2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
1 cup of black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 jar diced pimiento (2oz jar, drained)
1 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sliced green onions
2 tbsp fresh cilantro

1. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add mushrooms; saute 2 minutes. Add vinegar, beans, and pimiento; cook 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly until liquid evaporates. Mash bean mixture slightly with potato masher.

2. Spoon about 1/3 cup bean mixture onto each tortilla. Sprinkle evenly with cheese, cilantro and onions. Fold tortillas in half.

3. Heat skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Place 2 quesadillas in pan ; cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden and cheese melts. Repeat with remaining 2 quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges. Serve with low fat sour cream and salsa.

*Cold beer is optional, but highly recommended!

Serves 4 (serving size 3 wedges)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Candied Pecans

I made these cupcakes for my parents 40th Anniversary party. I think they are pretty and romantic, and I have not seen anyone say no to them yet! My version of this favorite cupcake flavor has less fat and less sugar than the original, but still delivers a moist and tender cake, with wonderfully creamy frosting!


2 1/2 cups of CAKE flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups nonfat buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp red food coloring


5 tbsp butter, softened
4 tsp nonfat buttermilk
1 (8 oz) block cream cheese, softened
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract

*Pecans: (optional garnish)

1 egg white
1 tbsp water
1 pound pecan halves
1 cup white sugar
3/4 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. In mixing bowl, whip together egg white and water until frothy. In separate bowl mix together sugar and salt.
3. Add pecans to egg white, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts and toss them in sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on prepared baking sheet.
4. Bake at 250 degrees for one hour, stir every 15 minutes.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. To prepare the cupcakes, place 30 paper muffin cup liners in muffin cups; coat with cooking spray.
3. Lightly spoon cake flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine cake flour, unsweetened cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk. Place granulated sugar and unsalted butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture and 1 1/4 cups nonfat buttermilk, alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Add white vinegar, 1 1/2 tsp vanilla, and food coloring; beat well.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on wire rack; remove from pan. Cool completely on wire racks.
5. To prepare frosting, beat 5 tbsps butter, 4 tsp nonfat buttermilk, and cream cheese with a mixer at high speed until fluffy. Gradually add powdered sugar; beat until smooth. Add 1 1/4 tsp vanilla; beat well. Spread frosting evenly over cupcakes. Top with one candied pecan.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chicken with Cilantro Lime Pesto

2 Cups packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno chili, stemmed and seeded
1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts, divided
1 Tsp sesame oil
3 TBS Olive Oil
3 Green Onions
2 Cloves Garlix
Juice and Zest of one lime
1 TBS soy sauce
1/2 Tsp salt
Chicken Breasts (2 or 4; how ever many you intend to eat)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a blender, puree cilantro, garlic, chili, half the peanuts, lime zest and juice, soy sauce, sesame oil, and salt. Add olive oil and process until smooth. About one minute.
Put Chicken in baking dish and season with salt and pepper, as desired. Cook in oven for apprx. 1 hour.
Serve chicken over brown rice; drizzle pesto over top and garnish with chopped green onions and remaining peanuts.

Lauren's Greek Chicken

Chicken Breasts (2 or 4, how ever many you plan to eat)
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
Juice of two lemons
3 Garlic Cloves (minced)
2 Tsp. Oregano
1/2 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Pepper

-Preheat Oven to 350
-Combine all ingredients except the chicken
-Put chicken in a baking dish
-Pour sauce over
-Bake for 30 mins; baste once and flip, then cook for another 30 mins

(So very simple, but so very delicious!)

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Yam & Ham Soup

This hearty soup is a great chilly weather dish and surprisingly low calorie. There is nothing better than warm soup on a rainy day!

1 cup diced cooked ham
1 large leek or 1 1/2 cups (sliced)
2 tbsp water
2 small yams or 3 cups (peeled, & cubed)
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups water
2/3 cup (5oz) fat-free evaporated milk
1/4 tsp black pepper
Cooking spray
Thinly sliced green onions (garnish)

1. Heat a large Dutch oven or heavy soup pan over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add ham; cook 3 to 4 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Remove ham and set aside.
2. Add leek to pan; coat with cooking spray. Cook leek, covered, 5 minutes or until very tender, stirring occasionally. Add 2 tbsp water to pan, if needed, to prevent burning.
3. Add yam, chicken broth, water, evaporated milk, and pepper, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until sweet potato is very tender. Use stick blender to puree in pan or transfer soup to blender or food processor in batches. Return pureed mixture to pan. Stir in 3/4 cup reserved ham. Ladle soup into bowls; top servings with 1/4 cup reserved ham. Garnish with onions.

Serves 4
Serving size: 1 1/4 cups

I served this with a rustic whole wheat bread on the side with Smart Balance spread.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pear Salad

This is a nice fresh salad. Raw red onion can be strong, but the sweetness of the dressing and the pears help to balance the flavor.

1 tbsp sugar
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp grape seed oil
4 cups baby spinach
1 pear (thinly sliced)
1/2 cup sliced red onion

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add spinach and remaining ingredients; toss well.

I served this with Apricot Chicken (see separate recipe)

Apricot Chicken

This recipe transforms simply prepared chicken breasts into an elegant dish! Less than 10 ingredients and a cooking time of about 15 minutes makes a busy Mom very happy!

1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 boneless chicken breasts
1/3 cup apricot spread
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp water
2 tsp lemon zest

1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl : rub spice mixture over chicken.
2. Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Cook chicken about 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan, and keep warm.
3. Add apricot spread, lemon juice, and water to pan, stirring until smooth. Cook over medium heat 1 minute. Spoon sauce over chicken: sprinkle with lemon zest.

*I served this chicken with a Pear Salad (see separate recipe)

Win's husband rating: 8 out of 10!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Rosemary Pork Tenderloin

It is hard to go wrong with pork tenderloin! It is a beautiful, moist, roast that only takes minutes instead of hours to cook. Your best bet is to use a thermometer to test when it is time to take it out of the oven, an over/under cooked pork loin is not a good thing! Remember to let it rest before you slice it, to keep all those juices inside where they belong!

1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin -trim off any fat you see
3 tbsp fresh rosemary (finely chopped)
2 garlic cloves (sliced into small slivers)
2 garlic cloves (minced)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 475
2. Combine rosemary and minced garlic.
3. Cut several 1/2 in deep slits in the pork, stick slivers of garlic in slits along with half of the rosemary mixture. Rub pork with remaining rosemary mixture, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork in roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Insert meat thermometer into thickest portion of pork.
4. Bake for 25 minutes or until thermometer registers desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes and cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices.

Serves 4

*I served this with the Caramelized Carrots (see separate recipe). Both the pork and carrots have a ton of flavor so I kept the starch very simple: Boiled Red Potatoes, seasoned with salt, pepper and a little Smart Balance butter spread.

Caramelized Carrots

This is a really beautiful and simple side dish. I served this with the Rosemary Pork Loin. Just pop it in the oven with whatever you are already roasting, it is so easy!

1 lb baby carrots
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

1. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.
2. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, toss to coat the carrots.
3. Arrange in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake at 475 or about 15 minutes, be sure to turn them once.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Orange Shrimp

It is Orange season! Our backyard orange tree is covered with big, beautiful, oranges. This dish was a perfect choice for us right now! The weather has not been ideal lately, so we have not been grilling. For this dish, I grilled inside using my panini press. It worked like a charm!

Juice 2 oranges (1/2 cup orange juice)
2 tbsp fresh ginger (minced)
2 tbsp green onions (minced)
1 tbsp cilantro (minced)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp grape seed oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 1/2 lbs shrimp (peeled and deveined)
2 oranges (peeled, cut in half, and quartered)

1. Combine orange juice, ginger, onions, cilantro, vingar, oil, soy sauce, and orange zest in a large bowl. Stir with a whisk to combine. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Cover bowl and marinate in fridge for about 15 minutes.
2. Remove shrimp from bowl (reserving marinade). Thread shrimp and orange quarters alternately onto 8 skewers.
3. Heat grill pan coated with cooking spray. Cook skewers about 4 minutes each side, basting with reserved marinade.

Serving size : 2 skewers

*We served these shrimp skewers with wild rice and green beans. It was a very fast dish with lots of flavor!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lauren's Chipotle Grilled Pork with Strawberry Avocado Salsa

For the Pork:
2 Tbs minced chipotle chilies, canned in Adobo sauce
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
3/4 cup sliced onion
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed if necessary
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Salsa:
1 quart fresh strawberries, rinsed and cut up
2/3 cup peeled avocado, chopped
2 Tbs thinly sliced scallions
2 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt

To prepare the pork:
In a large ziplock plastic bag, combine the chilies, lime juice, onion and garlic. Add the pork, then seal and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or more if you want). Turn the bag occasionally.
When ready to cook, preheat a gas grill to high. Remove the pork from the bag and discard the marinade. Sprinkle with salt.
Place pork on the rack and grill over indirect heat, turning occasionally for 20 minutes or until the thermometer registers 155.
Remove meat from the heat and let stand 10 minutes, then slice crosswise.

To prepare salsa:
In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, avocado, scallions, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Toss gently and serve immediately over the sliced pork.

**Lil note: the first few times we followed the recipe exactly; but we really like a lot of salsa with our pork, so we started just "eyeballing" it with the salsa and making a bigger batch. And my hubby(master BBQ'er that he is) grills the meat his own way, but still pulls it off the heat when it reaches 155. So, the recipe is pretty flexible, if you want to tweak it to your liking. We've also baked the pork before too (when the weather was bad, and it came out just as yummy!)

Monday, March 1, 2010


So it has been 8 weeks since I started this new lifestyle and blog. Today I am happy to say I reached my first weight loss goal! Even with unexpected events, eye surgery for example, I managed to drop the pounds. I really don't feel like I have been on a "diet", it feels more like I have picked up a new is just a healthy habit. I would like to outline a few things that I feel have helped me on this road so far.

*At the start, I set out a long term goal. To lose X amount of weight by New Years 2011. I then broke that Big X into smaller goals with no real time line for each. That way I set myself up for achievement instead of failure. In the past I would tell myself "I am going to lose 3 pounds this week" only to be disappointed with a loss of 1 pound! A slow and steady weight loss is what I am shooting for.

*In the past I would weigh myself once a week. That also led to disappointments and then set-backs. I now weigh myself once every 2 weeks.

*One day a week I set aside time to meal plan. Usually on Monday I will sit down with cookbooks and write out the plan for the week. I try to cook with leftovers in mind, that way I am only in the kitchen every other night. I don't just plan dinners, I also plan breakfast and lunches with snacks in between. We are set all day, everyday, with healthy options. I feel like I am eating all the time, so I never feel like I am starving myself!

*Healthier food choices have included: low fat, whole grains, less sugar, less alcohol, less eating-out, and smaller portions. It sounds simple...but it is hard to give up those bad habits.

*I now make time for exercise. Mon. Wed. Fri. are my nights to go to Curves. I get out of the house and spend about 45 minutes with adults! It has really been good for my body as well as my sanity! I also try to get out with Evan everyday for our walk around the neighborhood ending with some fun at the park. Sometimes our good friends Lauren and little Memphis go with us, then it does not even feel like exercise! This week I would also like to add another activity on Tues. and Thurs. (my off days from Curves). Yoga/treadmill perhaps!

One of my biggest changes is in my mind. I try not to beat myself up if I have a bad day, or a few bad days. I just remind myself I can get right back on track and do better the next day or the next week! So far so good... on to the next goal!

Chicken and Artichoke Salad

This salad can go on top of English muffins (as pictured) or on top of mixed greens, in a wrap or spread on whole wheat bread. The pecans add a nice crunchy, nutty flavor.

1 can artichokes (chopped)
1/4 cup pecans (toasted & chopped)
1/2 cup fat-free cream cheese (softened)
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp light mayo
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
2 cups chicken breast (cooked & shredded)

1. Combine chopped artichokes and chopped pecans in a small bowl.
2. Combine cream cheese, lemon, mayo, salt, and red pepper in large bowl, stir until smooth. Stir in artichoke mixture and shredded chicken.

*Make a batch of this and keep in the fridge for a quick lunch or light dinner! Super easy and really yummy!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Oatmeal Bars

I took the recipe from "Deceptively Delicious" by Jessica Seinfeld and made a few changes. You would never guess these crunchy sweet bars have hidden greens! I made a large batch of spinach puree and have been adding it to Evan's pasta sauce...shhhh.

2 cups oats
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup butter or margarine chilled
1 cup blueberry jam
1/4 cup frozen blueberries (thawed)
1/2 cup pureed spinach *thaw frozen spinach and puree in food processor or cook down fresh leaves and puree

1. Preheat oven to 375. Coat 8x8 baking pan with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and vanilla. Stir to combine.
3. Add butter and cut with pastry blender, to form a coarse meal. You should still see pea-size chunks of butter.
4. Divide oat mixture in half. Set half aside, and press the rest firmly into pan. Bake about 15 minutes.
5. While the crust is baking mix the jam, blueberries, and spinach puree in a small bowl with a whisk.
6. Pour blueberry mixture over crust and top with remaining oat mixture. Bake 25 minutes. Cool completely before cutting.

Makes 12 bars

*I imagine this would be great with any sort of berry. Or a mix of berries!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Butter Pecan Bars

I served these yummy brownie/cookie bars for Superbowl and they were gone in a flash! They are so soft and chewy a little bit goes a long way. After I baked them, they seem small and thin, but they have a ton of flavor!

1 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tbsp butter (melted)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3/4 cup flour
2 tbsp chopped pecans
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
2/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp semisweet Chocolate chips (melted)
1 tbsp hot water
2 tbsp butterscotch mini chips or toffee chips

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Coat bottom of an 8 inch square baking pan with cooking spray (don't coat the sides)
3. Combine brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and egg in medium size bowl. Stir well with a whisk.
Combine flour, pecans, baking powder, and salt; stir into brown sugar mixture. Spread into baking pan. Bake for 22 min. Cool completely.
4. Combine powdered sugar, chocolate and hot water, stir until smooth. Spread over bars, sprinkle with butterscotch or toffee chips (lightly press chips into frosting). Chill until topping is set. Cut into bars.

Spinach-Artichoke Dip

I made this for our Superbowl party and it was a big hit. The full fat version is almost 200 calories per serving. With a few changes you can cut the calories in half! The only thing you have to watch is what you dip with! Baked chips or low fat and/or whole wheat crackers would be great choices.

2 cups part-skim mozzarella cheese (shredded)
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 can artichoke hearts (drained and chopped) *avoid the kind marinated in oil!!
2 8oz blocks of less-fat or fat-free cream cheese (softened)
1 package frozen chopped spinach (thaw, drain, and squeeze dry)

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, sour cream, 2 tbsp Parmesan, pepper, and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir until well blended. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan.
3. Bake for 30 min until bubbly and golden brown.

*You can make this the day before your party cover and refrigerate. Bake it just before serving!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Turtle Cake

Inspired by the turtle candy, it is hard to believe this cake is light! At about 300 calories a slice, it is not bad. The cake is very moist, with a big chocolate flavor. The frosting is used sparingly, but a little bit goes a long way!


1 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 tbsp butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
3 tbsp fat-free milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups sifted powdered sugar

2/3 cup fat-free caramel sauce
1/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Prepare cake pans: Coat the bottoms of two 8 inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Do not coat the sides. Line bottoms with wax paper (cut in 8in round circles). Coat with more cooking spray. Dust the pans with 1 tbsp flour each.
3. Combine boiling water and cocoa, stiring with a whisk. Cool completely.
4. Place granulated sugar, 6 tbsp butter and vanilla in a large bowl, beat at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time beating after each addition.
5. Combine 1 2/3 cup flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, stir with whisk. Add flour mixture and cocoa mixture alternately to sugar mixture. Start and end with flour mixture.
6. Pour batter into prepared pans, tap pans on counter to remove air bubbles. Bake 350 for 25 to 30 min, or until toothpick check comes out clean. Cool 10 min pans on wire rack, remove from pans. Peel off wax paper and cool completely on wire rack.
7. Frosting: Melt 2 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar and 3 tbsp milk, cook 1 minute or until sugar melts. Remove from heat, let cool slightly. Combine butter mixture and 2 tsp vanilla in a large bowl. Gradually add powdered sugar, beat at medium speed until smooth. Add additional milk 1 tsp at a time if frosting seems too thick.
8. Place one cake layer on a plate, spread top with half of the frosting in a thin layer. Place caramel sauce in a small zip-lock bag. Snip a small hole in one corner of bag; drizzle half of caramel sauce over frosting. Top with the other cake layer. Spread remaining frosting over top of cake (don't cover the sides). Drizzle remaining caramel dip over the top. Sprinkle with pecans.

Serves 16

Win's husband rating: 10!!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Individual Yogurt Brownies

This was my early Valentine's Day treat for my husband Win. He was working from home today, so I thought I would make him something sweet and yummy! This brownie is moist on the inside and chewy on the outside. It is not exactly "healthy" but it is a skinny version of a fudge brownie.

1 cup flower
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1 stick butter
7 tbsp unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup packed brown sugar (I used dark brown sugar for this, but regular is fine too)
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 350
2. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Stir with a whisk.
3. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Once it melts, turn heat off, stir in cocoa and sugars. Once sugars are incorporated, stir in yogurt and vanilla.
4. Add flour mixture to saucepan, stir until moist.
5. Coat muffin tin with cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup about 3/4 of the way with batter. Bake at 350 for 10 min. Toothpick test if you are not sure.

*For a festive touch I cut a heart out of a piece of paper, laid it on top of each brownie. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the top through a fine sieve. Carefully remove your paper cut-out and you have a sweet love token.

Shrimp in Peanut Sauce

This dish is all about the peanut sauce! I think it would be just as great with chicken or tofu.
It seems complicated, but it was super easy!

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
1/3 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp chili paste with garlic *I like "Lee Kum Kee Chili Garlic Paste") it comes in a jar in the Asian section of the grocery store
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt

1 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined) *Trader Joes has 1lb frozen shrimp uncooked in a bag, very convenient!
1/4 tsp salt

8 oz uncooked udon noodles (you can use linguine if you can't find udon)
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin julienne strips
3/4 cup chopped cucumber (peeled and seeded)
1/4 up chopped green onions
3 tbsp chopped peanuts
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

1. Combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. Set aside
(add more water if sauce seems too should be the consistency of cream)
2. Start noodles according to package directions omitting salt and fat.
3. Coat nonstick skillet in cooking spray. Toss Shrimp with 1/4 tsp salt and Saute over medium high heat about 3 min on each side or until done. Add red bell pepper and green onions saute for another minute then remove from heat.
4. As soon as noodles are done, combine noodles, peanut sauce, shrimp mixture, and cucumber into a large bowl and toss well. Sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro.

Serves 4

Win's husband rating: 9

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Zucchini Bread with Citrus Icing

This zucchini bread was nice and moist. Yet another way for me to hide a green veggi from my son. The icing is just enough to satisfy your sweet-tooth!

2 1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup shredded zucchini (make sure to finely shred)
1/2 cup low fat milk
1/4 cup grape seed oil
2 tbsp lemon zest
1 egg

1 cup powdered sugar (pour it through a fine mesh sieve or sifter to eliminate lumps)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg in a large bowl stir with a whisk. Combine zucchini, milk, oil, zest and egg in another bowl. Add zucchini mixture to dry ingredients. Stir to combine, do not over mix!
3. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and spoon batter in. Bake for 45 minutes. Check with toothpick... if it comes out clean it is done, if not it may need a few more minutes. Cool loaf on wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely.
4. In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, lemon, and lime juice. Stir with a whisk. Drizzle icing over the top of loaf.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Thai Steak Salad

This salad is full of flavor and the steak makes it hearty enough for dinner. Big Hit!

3/4 cup lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped)
2 tbsp dark brown sugar
2 tbsp chili paste with garlic ( found in the Asian section of the super market)
2 tbsp Thai fish sauce (also in the Asian section)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1 1/2 lb) London Broil Steak or Flank Steak
1 cup cherry tomatoes cut in half
1 1/2 cups sliced red onion
6 cups mixed greens
1 cup sliced cucumber
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1. Preheat broiler, grill pan, or start outdoor grill.
2. Combine lime juice, cilantro, sugar, chili paste, fish sauce, and garlic. Stir until sugar dissolves, pour half mixture into a large zip lock bag. Reserve the other half for later. Add steak to bag and seal. Marinate in refrigerator for 10 minutes. Make sure to turn the steak over after 5 minutes. to marinate both sides. Remove steak from bag and place on grill coated in cooking spray. Grill about 6 minutes on each side and let stand a few minutes before you cut it. Slice steak thinly across the grain.
3. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Saute red onion for about 4 minutes then add tomatoes, saute another 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Add salad greens, cucumber, and mint into a large salad bowl. Add onion mixture and toss. Place salad on plates. Top with slices of steak and drizzle a couple tablespoons of the reserved lime mixture over the top.

Serves 6
Win's Husband Rating: 9

Tortilla Stacks

This meal was super easy, and very light!

1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp Grape Seed oil (or regular canola oil)
2 cups cooked chicken breast (shredded)
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups of Green Chili Sauce (bottled green salsa)
9 6-inch corn tortillas
1/2 cup Queso Cotija crumbled
(Queso Cotija is a Mexican cheese, if you can't find it, you can use feta)

1. Preheat oven to 350
2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute another minute. Add chicken then season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, stir to combine.
3. Coat an 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spread a thin layer of green sauce in the dish. Arrange 3 tortillas in a row in baking dish over the layer of sauce. Top evenly with a quarter of the chicken mixture. Spoon some more sauce over the chicken, top with 3 more tortillas. Repeat layers, ending with tortillas. Spread remaining sauce over the 3 tortilla stacks. Sprinkle cheese over the top of each stack.
4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Win's Husband Rating: 7.5

Monday, January 11, 2010

Banana Butter

Robb's Banana Butter

*This used like butter, so just a dab. If someone can make this with less sugar, or tweak this to make it more healthy please give it a go!

Makes 8 8oz glasses
10 bananas
2 tbs lemon juice
6.5 cups of sugar
1 bttle pectin
Peel and mash bananas. Add lemon juice and sugar. Bring to boil. Boil well for about a minute. Then add pectin. Stir well. Then bottle.
There are two variables: the size of the bananas and their ripeness. Sugar requirements may vary by the relative ripeness of the bananas. Best advice: experiment. By my experience this formula tends to sweetness. Maybe too sweet.
Source: Preserving the Fruits of the Earth by Schuler and Schuler

Friday, January 8, 2010

Spinach-Meat Loaf

This meat loaf was fast, easy, and yummy! The combo of ground turkey and ground beef adds flavor and cuts the calories. It is also packed with greens! I hardly noticed the spinach and I am hoping my 16 month old son doesn't either!

1 cup Matzo Meal (dry breadcrumbs)
3 garlic cloves minced
1 cup chopped onion (fine chop)
1/2 cup 1% milk
1tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
4 egg whites
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 lbs lean ground turkey
1/2 lb lean ground beef
20 oz frozen spinach (thaw, then drain in a sieve, squeeze as much of the liquid out as you can)
1/2 cup ketchup

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Coat a large skillet with cooking spray, place over medium-high heat. Saute onion for about 3 minutes then add garlic, saute for about 1 minute. Then remove skillet from heat and set aside.
3. In a large bowl combine breadcrumbs, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, egg whites, spinach, ground turkey and ground beef. Add onion mixture, and mix well with your hands.
4. Coat a baking sheet or broiler pan with cooking spray. Shape meat mixture into a 12in x 5in loaf on baking sheet. Spread the ketchup over the top and sides of loaf. Bake at 350 for about 45 min. Let stand a few minutes before slicing.

*8 servings (serving size 1 slice)

I served this with blanched, seasoned green beans and Mashed Cauliflower (another veggi in disguise)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Blue Cheese Dip

This dip is great with veggi sticks or even as a salad dressing. The low-fat mayo and the fat-free sour cream cut the calories in half!

1 cup low-fat mayo
2 tbsp cider vinegar
1 tbsp grape seed oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
8oz fat-free sour cream
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

Whisk together the first 8 ingredients. Stir in blue cheese. Refrigerate a couple hours before you serve.

I had 2 tablespoons of this dip with carrot sticks...made a great snack!

Amy's Snobby Joe's

From the cookbook "Veganomicon":

Snobby Joe's
Serves 4 to 6

I adjusted this a bit - we don't like bell pepper so that was taken out. I also added shredded carrot as a garnish. The best part is that we had lunch or dinner for a couple of days. It satisfied all of our needs for meals at work and home. Plus it just got better every day. My hubby is a PICKY eater and he loved it!

1 cup cooked lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium-size yellow onion, cut into small dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
2-3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon prepared yellow mustard
4-6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns, sliced in half

Pour the lentils and water into a small saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil. Once the mixture is boiling, lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.

About 10 minutes before the lentils are done, pre-heat a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute for a minute more.

Stir in the cooked lentils, chile powder, oregano, and salt. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup to taste (I recommend 1-2 tablespoons) and the mustard and heat through.

Turn off the heat and let the pot sit for about 10 minutes so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can't wait!

HUSBAND RATING: 8.5 out of 10

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Lauren's Healthy Chili Recipe

Best Chili Recipe there is...and pretty darn healthy too! :-)

Seems to be a major hit with the guys...all the ones in my family go nuts when I make it.

1 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Yellow Onion
2 to3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs ground turkey or chicken
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tbs chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups low-sodium fat free chicken broth
1 cup dark beer
2 tbs tomato paste
1 can kidney beans, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 can diced tomatoes with mild green chilies
1 cup colored bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup kale, stemmed, and chopped/torn into bite sized pieces
1 carrot, grated
1/4 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1-2 tbs fresh lime juice

In a 4-6 quart saute pan heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until translucent (apprx. 5 min) Add the turkey and cook until browned (apprx. 5-6 min) Add the oregano, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, and salt, saute for 2 mins. Pour in the broth and beer. Stir in tomato paste. Add the kidney beans, black beans, tomatoes, bell peppers, kale, and carrot. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 20 mins. stirring occasionally. Add the cashews and cook (5-7 mins). Add the cilantro and lime juice.

Recipe from The Healthiest Meals On Earth by Jonny Bowden

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Parmesan Chicken

Chicken breast getting boring? Try this!

3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp Tabasco
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (fresh) grated
3/4 cup egg substitute

8 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
1/4 cup flour
1 tbsp olive oil

Cooking spray
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup white wine
3 tbsp lemon juice

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a dish.
2. Pound the Chicken breasts between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, to 1/4 inch thickness using a meat mallet, rolling pin, or the bottom of a heavy skillet. Dredge chicken in flour and dip in egg substitute mixture.
3. Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in large non-stick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add 4 chicken breasts, cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. (try not to mess with them too much, or the coating will come off). Remove from pan and keep warm. Wipe pan with paper towel. Add 1 1/2 tsp fresh oil and spray pan again with cooking spray. Cook remaining chicken breasts, remove from pan and keep warm.
4. Melt butter in pan; add 1/4 cup wine and 3 tbsp lemon juice. Bring to boil; cook 30 sec. Serve butter sauce over chicken.

Serves 8
*I served this chicken on top of seasoned brown rice, with simple blanched green beans on the side. This meal was a BIG hit!

Win's Husband Rating: 10 out of 10