Sunday, January 31, 2010

Grilled Caesar Salad

Five ingredients. How simple. Soooo sooo so good.

Grilled Caesar Salad
1 head of romaine
8 anchovies
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove - minced
juice from 1 lemon

Cut the head of romaine in half. Brush with the tsp of olive oil.

In a bowl, place the anchovies, the tbsp of olive oil, garlic and the lemon juice. With the back of a fork, mash the anchovies and garlic to puree.

Heat your grill on high. Place the romaine cut side down and grill for 3 minutes. Plate and drizzle the dressing over the grilled lettuce. Top with the remaining anchovies.

Put a fork in one hand and a sharp knife in the other. Cut of a bite size piece. Place in mouth. Try hard not to roll your eyes in pure pleasure!

Healthy Soup - Week 4: Palak Chicken

Well, we made it through the first month of 2010.

I'm having a pretty amazing, lazy day - besides my hike this morning. Now, I'm filtering through pics from the week and realized I've been holding out on you by not posting more. I better start sharing!

Remember back during the first week of our weight challenge I promised to post a healthy soup each week? Well, I meant for this recipe to be my soup entry - and it is - but honestly it was more like a stew. A very delicious stew. You probably do not want to wait to cook this. It's that good. (Lyndie - I used less olive oil in the soup so I'm sure you and Terri will smile at memories of more!)

Palak Chicken
6 servings - 4 WW pts/serving + 4WW pts for 1 cup steamed rice
1 10-ounce package of frozen spinach
1 onion - diced
3 cloves of garlic - minced
32 ounces of chicken stock
2 chicken breasts
1 cup of unsweetened soy milk (or cream if you don't care about the calories)
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp tumeric
1 tbsp paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp crushed red peppers
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1 tbsp + 1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp soy sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Marinate the chicken breasts in 1 tbsp olive oil and soy sauce for 30 minutes. Cook the chicken for 18 minutes turning halfway through the cooking. Set aside to cool.

In a heavy stock pan drizzle the 1 tsp of olive oil along with the garlic and crushed red. Toss in the onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Add in the remaining spices. Cook, stirring to incorporate the spices for about 2 minutes. Squeeze the water from the spinach. Chop the spinach to reduce the stringiness. Add in the chicken stock and soy milk. Bring back up to temperature. Cut the chicken breasts into cubes. Toss in the chicken. Simmer for about 10 minutes.

Enjoy with some flat bread wedges or rice.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Heavenly Macaroni and Cheese

I've been working hard at making new habits for a healthier lifestyle but I've got to say, sometimes a girl just needs to splurge a little. Okay, maybe this was a big slurge. But it certainly did cure those cheesy cravings! The blend of cheeses used along with the seasoning gave this a much more complex flavor than your ordinary mac and cheese. Feel free to make a double recipe. I made a small batch to limit temptation!

Heavenly Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 pound elbow macaroni (or your favorite pasta)
3 tbsp butter
1 small onion - diced
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 pound fontina cheese - cut in small cubes
1/2 pound white cheddar - grated
3 ounces parmesean - grated
1 1/2 cup of milk
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp salt
1 1/2 tsp whorsteshire sauce
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2 slices of whole wheat bread
1 tsp olive oil

Toast the bread and leave the slices set in the toaster to dry out.

Heat a saucepan on medium and melt the butter. Once the butter is melted saute the onions until they are translucent. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Slowly add the milk. Add in the stock, cream, salt, whorsteshire sauce, dry mustard, white pepper and black pepper. Once the milk mixture is heated through slowly add the cheese, stirring occassionly, reserving about 2/3 cup for the top.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the macaroni according to package directions cutting the cooking time by 2 minutes to ensure a firm pasta once the dish has been baked. Be sure to salt the water. Drain the pasta.

Add the pasta to the cheese sauce and fold the cheese sauce through the pasta. Pour into a small baking dish.

In a food processor, pulse the toast slices to a coarse crumb. Add the crumbs to a bowl, drizzle with a tsp of olive oil, and mix in the reserved cheese.

Sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the pasta.

Cook until bubbly, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes to allow to cool for a little bit.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Sweet Snow Pea and Cabbage Stir Fry with Catfish and Chinese Noodles

I can't remember ever using fish as the protein in stir fry. It sounded good but the fish couldn't be a flaky type of fish or it would just shred during the cooking process. My first choice would be monk fish. Monk fish is a firm, white fish that holds together well in soups and stews while being wonderfully flavorful. Unfortunately, I haven't seen monk fish in the market lately.

The other day my eye caught the catfish display at the seafood counter. I thought catfish would be the perfect type of fish for the stir fry dish I had been thinking about creating.

The peas and cabbage ended up being incredibly complimentary to the catfish.

Lesson learned: Be willing to substitute and go with the freshest ingredients you can find.

Sweet Snow Pea and Cabbage Stir Fry with Catfish and Chinese Noodles
8 ounces of snow peas
1 small head of Napa cabbage
1 pound catfish nuggets
4 ounces of dry Chinese noodles
1/2 cup bean sprouts
1/4 cup fish sauce
3 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
2 inch cube of ginger - peeled and minced
5 green onions - thinly sliced
2 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 tbsp canola or peanut oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil

Slice the cabbage into thin strips. Cut the catfish nuggets into bite size pieces.

In a bowl, toss the catfish in the sesame oil and soy sauce. Sprinkle on the cornstarch to make a thin coating.

Cook the noodles according to package directions.

In a wok on high heat add the oil. Cook the fish quickly in 2-3 batches until the fish is golden, about 2 minutes per batch, removing to a plate when done. Once the fish has been cooked and removed from the wok, add the peas and chili garlic sauce to the wok. Stir fry the peas for about 2 minutes.

Add in the cabbage, garlic, ginger, and fish sauce. Stir fry for about 3 minutes.

Toss in the fish, sprouts, and green onions, stir fry with the veggies.

Serve stir fry over the noodles and top with a little more chili garlic sauce for extra heat.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Southwestern Bean and Corn Dip

Ok, there is absolutely nothing special in this dish. So how can it be so amazing and fresh tasting. Let's just say - it hit my spot. I initially made it for a healthy snack before yesterday's football games but it served me well today when I scooped some leftovers in a tortilla wrapper with some lettuce for a quick lunch. So easy, so common, but ohhh, so good!

Southwestern Bean and Corn Dip
6 servings, 3 WW pts/serving
1 can black beans - rinsed and drained
1 can corn - rinsed and drained
1 poblano pepper - diced
3 green onions - thinly sliced
2 cups salsa
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a bowl, mix the beans, corn, pepper, green onion, and salsa. Pour into a small casserole. Top with cheese. Bake until the cheese is bubbly, about 6 minutes.

Serve with tortilla chips or toasted pita bread. Toasted pita bread was great for a healthy alternative.

Grilled Lime Shrimp

We eat a lot of shrimp. It's delicious,low fat, and I can have it ready for dinner in no time. Grilling shrimp adds so much flavor but the lime zest in this recipe really added punch!

Grilled Lime Shrimp
1 pound of jumbo shrimp
zest from 1 lime
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Toss the shrimp with the zest, salt and pepper.

Preheat your grill on high. Flash grill the shrimp for a minute on each side. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Chile Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash with Jalapenos

This time of year you'll see a lot of butternut squash recipes. Unfortunately there isn't enough talk about how good they are for you. In my book the butternut squash is a power food and I'm always looking for ways to use them more. If you like sweet potatoes you'll love this squash. The squash has a lot less starch than the potato. Actually when you compare the squash to the potato, the squash is literally half the calories and carbs. The squash is packed in vitamins and minerals.

Ok, so that's all well and good, but the Butternut Squash also tastes amazing and is very versatile to cook with. This recipe is great the day you make but it also carries well as a leftover!

Chile Spiced Roasted Butternut Squash with Jalapenos
6 servings, 2 WW pts/serving
1 butternut squash
2 jalapenos
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

With a vegetable peeler, peel the squash. Cut the ends off. Cut the squash in half and with a spoon, scrap out the seeds.

Cut the squash in long 1/2 inch strips.

Then cut the strips in 1/2 inch cubes.

Thinly slice the whole jalapenos.

Drizzle the oil on a sheet pan that has been covered with alluminum foil for easier clean up. Place the squash cubes and jalapenos on the pan. Sprinkle with the seasonings. Toss to coat.

Place in the 400 degree oven and cook for about 18 minutes. Turn halfway through the cooking. Place the squash in a serving bowl and serve.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Healthy Soup - Week 3: Venison, Sauerkraut Soup with Wilted Kale

After my smelt post, ya'll probably think I'm odd but what can I say? I'm an adventurous eater! Who ever heard of sauerkraut soup? I was reading Craig Claiborne's cookbook and saw a recipe for sauerkraut soup. I've adapted Craig's recipe with different cooking techniques and with the embellishment of the kale and rare venison.

Venison, Sauerkraut Soup with Wilted Kale
6 servings, 2 WW pts/serving!!!

6 cups beef stock
1 can of san marzano tomatoes - chopped
1 pound venison
1 bunch of kale
1 bag of sauerkraut
1 1/2 tsp thyme
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper

Venison Marinade
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp soy sauce

Place the sauerkraut and tomatoes in a covered heavy pot and place in the oven at 375 degrees. Cook for 45 minutes.

Marinade the venison for at least 30 minutes. Grill the venison for 1 minute on each side. Let rest for 5 minutes and then thinly slice.

Put the pot with the sauerkraut on the stove top and add the stock and seasonings. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add the kale and cook for another 5 minutes.

Serve up your soup and top with the rare venison.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie

A few weekends ago I made this pot pie and forgot to share with you. Don't leave men alone in the room with this. It WILL come up missing. Too bad I couldn't have seconds!

Roast Chicken
1 2.5-3 pound chicken
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp coarse ground pepper
1 beer

Pie Dough
2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter - cut in small cubes
5-6 tbsp very very cold water

Pot Pie Filling
chicken from 1 roasted chicken
1 medium onion - diced
3 celery stalks - diced
3 carrots - peeled and diced
1 cup frozen peas
2 garlic cloves minced
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper

Place the raw chicken in a roasting pan. Rub the chicken all over with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour the beer in the bottom of the pan so the chicken will have plenty of liquid to cook in. Roast the chicken in a 400 degree oven for an hour and 15 minutes or until the juices run clear. Let cool.

In a food processor, place the flour and add the butter. Make sure the butter is very cold. Pulse until you get small pea sized crumbles. Slowly add the very cold water. Too ensure the water is super cold I'll make a glass of ice water and set it aside so it's ready when I want to add the water. Be careful not to add too much water as this will make a less flaky crust. Form the dough in a ball. Press to flatten. Wrap in saran wrap and let rest for at least 30 minutes before rolling out.

Once the chicken has cooled, remove the chicken from the bones and pull the pieces into small bite size pieces.

In a pot, add the olive oil and butter. Once melted, add the onions, salt, pepper, white pepper, garlic, celery and carrots. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the flour as a thickener, cooking for another 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken stock 1 cup at a time stirring in between. Let simmer for about 30 minutes to thicken.

Add the chicken and peas. Simmer until hot.

Divide the dough into 2/3 - 1/3 sections. Roll out each pie dough piece to 1/4 inch thick. Place the larger piece into the bottom of a casserole dish draping the crust up and over the dish. Pour in the chicken filling. Top with the smaller crust. Press the dough pieces together. Crimp the edges with the fingers or a fork.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes until the top crust is golden brown. In a small bowl, whisk an egg. Five minutes before the pot pie is down brush with the egg mixture. Return to the oven and finish baking.

Gloriously Crispy Smelt

Ok, I am so intrigued to hear what all of you think of this dish! When I told a few of my friends that I was planning on making this I would get a blank look because they had never heard of smelt. Once I told them what smelt is, they would wrinkle up their nose in disgust.

Call me crazy but I have wonderful memories of my mom making this for us when I was a kid. When I was in the local market this week the seafood department was carrying them. I scooped up a pound and even though I had no idea how my mom cooked them I was determined to give it a try. Let's just say my husband WAS NOT thrilled. He was praying that I would burn them. :) I didn't, and the biggest reward was that HE LIKED THEM!

The best way I can describe smelt is that it is a delicious crispy fish version of a fresh fry. Bonus - They are rich in calcium and Omega 3 Fatty Acids. High in calcium because you are literally eating the fish bones and all. Just a few inches long, the smelt are so small you eat the whole thing.

I'd love to hear what you think of smelt. Shoot me a comment. Have you eaten them before? How did you have them cooked (most common is smoked, broiled, or fried)? Did you like them?
Gloriously Crispy Smelt
4 servings, 3 WW pts/serving
1 pound raw smelt
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1/8 cup cornmeal
1 tbsp kosher salt
4 dashes of Tabasco
1 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper

Simple Cocktail Sauce
1/4 cup of ketchup
1 1/2 tsp horseradish
juice from a wedge of lemon

Preheat broiler.

In a bowl, toss the smelt with the kosher salt, Tabasco, and black pepper. Once the fish have been tossed with the seasoning, sprinkle over the flour and cornmeal. Toss to coat.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle the olive oil over the foil. Evenly spread the smelt over the foil. Broil for about 8 minutes. Turn the smelt a few times during cooking to crisp up both sides. Serve with a simple cocktail sauce or ketchup, and lemons.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I love to order lettuce wraps when I go to Chinese restaurants but I always question how healthy they really are. When you make them at home you control the fat and the flavor. I think these are better than any restaurant version that I've eaten and they are a lot more economical. Taste these and you'll want to make them every week!

The spicy, salty, citrus flavors are a perfect compliment to the cool, crisp lettuce leaves. Traditionally a bibb or butter lettuce is used but I prefer the crispier romaine lettuce for this dish. No fork necessary!

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps
4 servings, 4 WW pts/serving
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs
10 shitake mushrooms (about 3 ounces) - cut into slices
1 inch cube of ginger - minced
3 garlic cloves - minced
1 carrot - peeled and diced
1 cup bean sprouts
1 jalapeno - cut in half, seeds removed, then sliced
1/2 cup cilantro - finely chopped
5 green onions - sliced
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp garlic-chili paste
2 tsp canola oil
1 lime - cut into 8 wedges
head of romaine lettuce - rinsed and dried

Prep all your vegetables and have ready before you start wokking. Cut your chicken into small pieces (1/4 - 1/3 inch).

In a cool wok, place 1 tsp canola oil and bring up to temp over high heat. Stir fry the chicken with the garlic-chili paste for about 5 minutes on high until the chicken is no longer pink.

Remove the chicken from the wok and place on a plate.

Add the remaining 1 tsp of canola oil in the wok. Add the carrots and 1 tbsp fish sauce. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes. Bring the heat back up to high. Add the garlic, ginger, jalapenos, shitake mushrooms, green onions and oyster sauce. Stir fry for 3 more minutes.

Add the remaining 1 tbsp of bean sprouts, fish sauce, cilantro, and juice from 2 lime wedges.

With a spoon, scoop the mixture into whole romaine leaves. Serve with cilantro and lime wedges.

(**Note - when I provide the WW points, I have entered the recipe into Weight Watcher's Recipe Builder to determine points per serving.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Skinny Parsley Hummus

Hummus is such a healthy and satisfying snack. It's healthy made the traditional way but I was trying to reduce the calories so I could nibble away without any worries. I substituted chicken stock in place of the olive oil. I have to admit I thought this substitution would change the flavor and make it so it wasn't satisfying but it was really good. No sacrifice in taste necessary!

Skinny Parsley Hummus
6 servings, 1 WW/serving
1 can of garbanzo beans(chickpeas)-rinsed and drained
1 cup Italian flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp tahini
1/3 cup chicken stock
juice from 1 1/2 lemons
1 clove of garlic
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tortillas for dipping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Add all ingredients in a food processor and give it a whirl. Process until smooth. Texture is a personal preference. If you prefer it chunkier, process the hummus less.

Very lightly brush one side of a tortilla. Salt and pepper the tortilla and bake for 5 minutes or until golden in a 400 degree oven. Remove the tortillas from the oven and cut into wedges.
Also can be served with carrots, celery, pita bread or crackers.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Calamata Olive Bread

The first time I had olive bread I was visiting my sister. I'm not sure why I found it so surprising because I've seen ingredients other than yeast, flour, and water incorporated in bread. Olives seem to be the perfect compliment to bread and I'll tell you I couldn't get enough.

My local grocery started carrying olive bread but I'm really not a fan of it. When I've tried it from the grocer the olives don't taste fresh and the bread was dry. I love to make bread so I worked at creating my own recipe. This way I know there are no preservatives, the olives are fresh, and the bread is extremely moist.

I prefer to make the starter the day before I'm actually cooking the bread but you can make the starter as little as six hours in advance. Bread flour is really critical to making good bread. Bread flour has as a higher gluten content which helps to create a chewier, better structured bread.

Calamata Olive Bread
2 cups bread flour
1 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup of chopped calamata olives
1 tsp active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
cornmeal for dusting

In a bowl, mix the lukewarm water, the yeast, and the sugar. Stir. After the yeast has started to activate, about 5 minutes, mix in 1 cup of flour. Stir together until the ingredients are well incorporated.

If you are making the above starter a day in advance cover with saran wrap and set aside. If you are making the starter within 6 hours of cooking, set in the microwave on the lowest power (P10) for one minute to give the starter a little nudge.

Once your starter has sat over night or for 4 hours, incorporate the olives, salt, and remaining cup of flour.

Coat your hands with a little oil and knead the dough in the bowl. Sprinkle some cornmeal on your counter and lay out the dough.

Cover with a damp towel and let rise for about 2 hours.
After an hour and 15 minutes of your dough rising, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. I like to make this bread in a heavy pot. Place the pot in the oven during the oven's preheat so the pan is hot. Once the dough is done rising, about 2 hours, place the dough in the pot and place in the oven. Cook for about 20-25 minutes.

Be careful because this is dangerously good!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Apricot and Blue Cheese Cups

I've had this appetizer in my head for a long while and finally got the opportunity to try it! It was splendid!

Apricot and Blue Cheese Cups

8 dried apricots - sliced thinly
1/2 cup of blue cheese - crumbled
9 wonton skins

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a mini muffin pan with a high quality cooking spray or use a paper towel with olive oil to rub the oil on the pan. Press the wonton skins into the the muffin pan. Divide the cheese between the cups. Sprinkle the sliced apricots on top. Drizzle each cup with just a little honey. Bake on 400 degrees for about 8 minutes. These will go from 'not done' to 'burnt' quickly so watch them carefully.