Monday, October 29, 2012

Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup

I am a huge believer in soups.  They keep you warm, they are a healthy comfort food, and they help me on my quest for the perfect body.  I have soup everyday for lunch, sometimes accompanied by a salad.  Every Sunday I make a large batch of soup for the week, and split it into 5 portions for my work days.  I love soup.

The only way to keep this up though, is to continuously try new soups, because I get bored easily.  Last week was Cauliflower Soup.  It was great, and at only 47 calories a bowl, I was loving it (very simple - boil a head of cauliflower, onions & garlic to your tastes, in a pot of chicken broth.  Use a hand blender and blend up once soft.  Season as you wish - I use salt, pepper, and cayenne because I like the 'kick')

This week is Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup, and it's a keeper.  Thanks Whole Living, you always have fantastic yet practical recipes!

Creamy Broccoli White Bean Soup
1 head broccoli cut in florets
2 T EVOO (I left this out - the purpose of soup for me is to fill me up with as little calories as possible and still taste great, so the extra fat wasn't necessary)
1 onion diced (I used 2 - cut in big chunks)
2 garlic sliced
1 15oz white beans (kidney, cannellini, etc) drained & rinsed
2 1/2 c chicken stock (I used 4 cups)
salt & pepper
1 T pine nuts toasted (I left these out)
1/2 oz shaved Parmesan for serving (I left this out)

Steam the broccoli florets & stems until tender, 3 minutes.  Let cool slightly (I didn't, I just threw everything else in and continued cooking).  Reserve 1/2 c florets for garnish (I didn't).  Heat oil (if using) in a medium pot over medium heat.  Saute onion and garlic 6 minutes (as mentioned, I just threw them in with the broccoli and added the stock).  Add beans and stock and bring to a simmer.  Remove from heat and add broccoli back in.  Puree until smooth.  Season with salt & pepper. Garnish each bowl with florets, pine nuts, and Parmesan. 

The garnish is great if you are serving this to you family and/or company, but seeing as I make this for myself, I'm skipping the added work (and fat).  My recipe works out to be the following for 5 servings (per serving) - 140 calories, 23g carbs, 0g fat (yes - zero!!), and 8g protein.


Spicy Shrimp AND Scallops With Lime & Cilantro

I was craving some really good seared scallops, and we had a container of super fresh large ones in the freezer that we had just bought a couple of days before.  The problem was there was only about 10 in there, and I didn’t feel it was substantial enough to serve the family.  So I decided to try a shrimp recipe that I had been eyeing and I added a package of shrimp in with the scallops.  It was delicious!  The picture is courtesy of Martha Stewart, and the recipe is from her magazine, Everyday Food. 

Spicy Shrimp With Lime & Cilantro
¾ tsp coarse salt
¾ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp curry
1/8 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp cinnamon
(I doubled all seasonings because I knew I was using more seafood then the recipe called for)
1 1/4lbs shrimp peeled (I used about ¾’s of a pack from Loblaws as well as a container of about 10 large sea scallops)
1 T unsalted butter (I ended up using about 2 T)
Chopped cilantro, lime wedges, toasted whole wheat naan and plain yogurt for serving (I left this all out and served with a greek salad, although this would have been lovely with the naan and toppings)

Combine seasonings & sprinkle on shrimp (and scallops.  I patted them dry first, sprinkled both with seasonings, and then rubbed in a bit).  Toss to combine.  In a large skillet melt the butter over medium-high heat.  Add the seafood and cook 3-5 minutes.  Serve with the cilantro, lime wedges, naan and yogurt.  Super easy and so flavorful!  The cinnamon really makes the dish pop.

For those of you interested, this serves 4, and the nutritional info (minus the naan and yogurt) is below:
Calories – 179
Fat – 6 grams
Protein – 29 grams
Carbs – 2 grams
Fiber – 0 grams

Hmmm…now what to make for tomorrow’s dinner…?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Steak (or Veal) With Creamy Shallots (or Onions) and Nectarine & Tomato Salad - Yum!

Let me start off by saying I am reading a new book - "Cooking For Mr. Latte" By Amanda Hesser.  Hesser is the food writer for the New York Times...and my new idol.  She's unbelievable.  The way that she writes about food, or anything for that matter, makes my mouth water.  Literally.  I am so inspired by this book that I am making a solemn promise to myself to cook every recipe in it, one by one, until I have tried everything.  Kind of a Julie and Julia situation.  I am SO excited, so stay tuned for some sophisticated, loving meals that you can try yourself.  Can't wait!!!

On to tonight's meal...

I love veal.  There is something romantic about cooking it - it's a 'grow-up' meal when cooked properly, and just tastes lovely.  The meal below is a great one for two.  You are supposed to do this with steaks, and can even do a hoagie sandwich with it, but I opted for tender veal in it's place.  I have included the original recipe, and as always, added my tweaks.

Oh, and one last thing - I have started (finally) taking my own pictures.  They aren't great yet - I don't have a fancy camera that does my meals justice - I would rather spend money on great food then on technology.  But bare with me and I will eventually invest in something that will provide you with magazine-worthy snapshots of the fabulous food I dine on.

Steak With Creamy Shallots
2 steaks (I used 2 veal chops)
salt & pepper
4 large shallots thinly sliced (I used 2 large Spanish onions)
1/3c heavy cream (I used fat free evaporated milk)
1 T dijon
If you are doing a sandwich -
4 sandwich rolls split and toasted
2 c baby arugula

Pat steaks (or chops) dry with paper towel and season with salt & pepper.  In a large skillet heat oil over high.  Cook steaks (or chops) medium-rare - 4 minutes per side.  Transfer to a cutting board and tent loosely with foil.  Reduce heat to medium and add shallots (or onions).  Cook until softened, about 8 minutes.  Add the cream (or evap milk) and 2 Tbsp of water and cook until slightly thickened, 1 minute.  Stir in the mustard and season with salt & pepper.  Thinly slice if making sandwiches (only if you are using steak) and put on bread with shallots and arugula.  Or you can serve with mashed potatoes.  I served this with the salad below thanks to my new low-carb diet (that is working by the way...along with Jillian Michaels videos...she is kicking my ass)

Nectarine & Tomato Salad
4 nectarines (I used 3 - they were big)
2 each yellow & red tomatoes (I used only red, it was all I had)
1/3c crumbled feta (I used light feta)
8 fresh basil leaves, trimmed
salt & pepper
1/4 c EVOO
2 tsp lemon zest (from one lemon)
2 T lemon juice (from the same lemon)

Cut nectarines in half and remove pits.  Cut each half into 6 wedges.  Core and halve the tomatoes.  Cut each half into 4 wedges.  Arrange nectarines & tomatoes on a platter.  Mix the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad.  Sprinkle with feta & basil, salt & pepper.  Enjoy.  I mixed everything together in a bowl - it was fabulous, and even better the next day.

I never would have paired nectarines with tomatoes, but the combination was divine.  Salty & sweet, savory and tangy, just wonderful.

This is a nice quick meal that incorporates high quality ingredients and convenience - it can be on the table in less than 30 minutes.  Don't compromise your love of food, ever.  There is always a way to prepare meals quickly and to enjoy them thoroughly.

Until next time!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chicken Kofta Curry & Lemony Braised Broccoli

We eat East Indian meals quite often.  I am a big fan of using spices – bland food doesn’t sit well with me, and I am always in awe of Indian cuisine and the way the spices are used so generously.  My mouth waters for curry, cumin, coriander…mmmm.  I am always excited about trying a new East Indian recipe, and this one was no exception.  Thank you Fresh Juice for such a wonderful meal!  I had never had a fully yogurt-based curry before.  Yes, I have added yogurt to curries, but this recipe used a cup of yogurt which was the base of the entire sauce. 

I cannot say enough about this meal.  It was fabulous.  The flavors went so well together – the ginger, cumin, coriander, chili flakes.  The house smelled lovely while I was cooking, and the stomach was VERY happy once we finished eating.  It was a hit all around, so give it a try and let me know what you think.  I used ground turkey instead of chicken – they can be used interchangeably, just make sure to season well since turkey is so bland.

Chicken Kofta Curry
1 lb lean ground chicken (I used turkey)
2 T minced onions (I used 2 small onions – the more the better)
2 T minced cilantro
1 T bread crumbs (I used 3 T)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
½ tsp garam masala
1 large onion finely chopped (I left them as big chunks)
1 tsp each minced ginger & garlic
1 c 2% yogurt (I used 0% - about 1 ½ c)
2 tsp flour
2 tomatoes chopped
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp cumin

In a large bowl mix together the first 6 ingredients, using only half of the salt & chili powder.  Shape into 24 ½” balls (I did this after, when the sauce was already simmering.)  In a deep saucepan heat oil over medium.  Saute the chopped onion, ginger, and garlic until they start to brown (6-8 mins.)  Meanwhile, whisk yogurt with flour until smooth and creamy.  Add the yogurt mixture, tomatoes, coriander, cumin and remaining chili powder & salt to the saucepan, stirring to blend well.  Bring to a boil.  Add meatballs; reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 mins.  Adjust seasonings to taste and serve (I served this over rice, with the broccoli recipe below.)

Lemony Braised Broccoli
1 yellow onion cut in 1” wedges (I used red onion)
2 garlic cloves smashed & peeled (I also chopped)
1 tsp coriander
¼ tsp chili flakes (I used much more, probably 1-2 tsp)
1 bunch broccoli cut in florets, stalks peeled & thinly sliced
4 wide strips lemon zest & more for serving (I used lemon juice, had no fresh lemons)
Salt & pepper

In a large skillet heat oil over medium-high.  Add onion & sauté 6 mins.  Add garlic, coriander, and chili flakes & cook 30 secs.  Add broccoli, zest, and 2c of water.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat & cover.  Cook 8 mins.  Season with salt & pepper and serve with lemon wedges.

Another satisfyingly delicious meal.  Enjoy

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Baking Time! PB Cookies, Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Shortbread!

I used to LOVE baking.  That was before I knew how to cook.  Now I love cooking because of the endless seasonings, proteins, and veggies to play with.  Baking is so precise and tedious, I'd be just fine leaving it to the hubby (who by the way can bake a mean cake...and decorate it like a pro too!)  But there is the odd time that I'm in the mood for making some sweet treats, and Thanksgiving seemed like the right time to do it.

I made these cookies for hubby's family since we went there for Thanksgiving dinner.  We didn't stick around for dessert so I'm hoping they enjoyed them.  I know that we are still enjoying the leftovers at home!

Let's start with the best chocolate chip cookie you will ever have.  This is the Doubletree Hotel's recipe.  If you have ever stayed at this fantastic hotel, then you know about the mouth-watering cookie I'm talking about.  The scent of fresh baked goodness hits your nose as you walk in like a ton of bricks, and all you want to do is hunt down the source of that smell.  Well now you can make them yourself at home...

Doubletree Hotel Cookies
1/2 c oats
2 1/4 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 c brown sugar
3/4 c white sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon juice
2 eggs
3 c chocolate chips
1 1/2 c walnuts (I always leave these out)

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.  Cream together butter, both sugars, vanilla and lemon juice in another bowl with an electric mixer.  Add eggs and mix until smooth.  Stir dry ingredients in to wet ingredients and blend well.  Add chocolate chips & nuts and mix by hand until well blended.  For best results, chill the dough overnight (I popped it in the freezer for a bit because I was in a time crunch.)  Spoon rounded 1/4 c portions onto an ungreased cookie sheet.  Place scoops 2" apart.  Bake in a 350 oven 16-18 minutes (You will have to play with the timing.  The difference of 15-30 seconds could result in crunchy rather than soft cookies - atfer a while you will figure out what timing is best for your oven.)  Enjoy!!

I also LOVE LOVE LOVE peanut butter cookies.  They are divine!  Check out the super-simple recipe below - piece of cake!...or cookie?

Peanut Butter Cookies
**This recipe only makes 12 cookies, so increase as needed**
2 c peanut butter
1 c white sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350.  Combine ingredients and drop by teaspoonful on a cookie sheet.  Flatten with a fork (I spray my fork with cooking spray first so it doesn't stick.)  Bake for 8 minutes.  You can't get any easier than that!!

Lastly, there are the Melt In Your Mouth Shortbread Cookies...they literally melt in your mouth, no chewing required.  This is also a very simple recipe. 

Melt In Your Mouth Shortbread
1 c butter, softened
1/2 c confectioner's sugar
1/4 c cornstarch
1 1/2 c flour

Preheat oven to 375.  Whip butter with electric mixer until fluffy.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Beat on low for 1 minute, then hight for 3-4 minutes.  Drop cookies in spoonfuls 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, being careful that your edges don't brown.

So there you have it folks - having fresh-baked cookies waiting for your kids to grab up isn't only for the Martha Stewart's of the world.  It's fast and easy and at least you know what's going into their little control the ingredients.  Enjoy!!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Baked Eggs In Whole Roasted Tomatoes & Zucchini Sticks

Another meatless meal...

This one was so simple and used pantry ingredients - it was one of the quickest meals I have ever put together and it was enjoyed by the entire family.  Check out the recipes below - it can't get any easier then this!  Thank you to Whole Living and Kraft for making my life that much easier!!

Baked Eggs In Whole Roasted Tomatoes
6 large tomatoes
salt & pepper
1 T thyme leaves (I left this out)
2 garlic thinly sliced (I used garlic powder)
6 large eggs

Heat oven to 400.  Slice top third off tomatoes and use a small spoon to remove the core and seeds.  Arrange in a baking dish (I used a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy clean up) and drizzle with oil (I used canola spray) - sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Sprinkle with thyme & garlic.  Roast until tender and caramelized, 30 minutes.  Crack an egg into each tomato and season with salt & pepper.  Bake until eggs are just set, 7-9 minutes.

Per tomato - 150 calories, 10g fat, 8g carbs, 8g protein, 3g fibre

Kraft Baked Zucchini Sticks
1 pouch shake n' bake extra crispy (I used No Name)
1 T minced fresh parsley (I let this out)
1 egg
1 T water
4 zucchini cut crosswise in half then quartered lengthwise
1/4 c ranch dressing (I used fat free)

Heat oven to 400.  Mix coating and parsley on plate.  Beat egg & water in shallow dish until well blended (I threw them in a large ziploc bag).  Dip zucchini sticks in egg, then coating mixture (so I threw them in the bag with the wet, then threw them in the bag with the dry).  Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray (again, my baking sheet was lined with parchment for easy clean up).  Bake 20 minutes or until crisp tender and golden brown.  Serve with dressing to dip.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Vietnamese Veal Chops with Citrus Bok Choy Salad

I really do love my red meat.  You would never know by the amount of vegetarian meals I post here, but if you've been following me from the beginning you can vouch for my love of cow.  Or lamb.  Or the goat...I love meat!  We all do in my family, so lately it has become a rare treat to indulge in such carnivorous temptations.

This recipe actually called for lamb, but I didn't have any on hand, so I used a few of the succulent veal chops I had purchased from a recent Wagjag deal. 

I'm sorry that I don't have the origins of this recipe, since I always give credit where it's due, but it is a fantastic one with bold flavors.  I hope you enjoy it as much as my family and I did!

Vietnamese Lamb (or Veal!) Chops
15 lamb chops (I used 4 x 6ox veal chops)
2 garlic cloves sliced (I left this out by accident)
1 tsp garlic powder
1 pinch chili powder
2 T sugar
1 T lime juice
1 T soy sauce
1/4 c chopped cilantro (also left this out)
2 lime wedges
2 lemon wedges
(I left both wedges out)

Place lamb (or veal) chops in a roasting pan and season evenly with the first 5 ingredients.  Drizzle with lime juice, soy sauce and EVOO.  Cover and refrigerate overnight (I marinated these for about 4 hours.)  Preheat oven to 400.  Allow chops to stand at room temperature while oven is preheating.  Roast uncovered until desired doneness - 20 minutes for medium (for the lamb.  For the veal you are good with 30 minutes.)  Garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro and squeeze lemon and lime on before serving (if using.  The kids find lemon & lime to be too strong of a flavor in their food so I try to minimize them where possible.)

A little tip if you would like some gravy - after removing the pan from the oven, put drippings into a saucepan and add 2 cloves of garlic.  Let cook for 1 minute then add 1/4 c balsamic, and 3/4 c chicken broth.  Let simmer 2 minutes.  Stir in 2 T cornstarch to thicken.  Add chops to the sauce and turn once to coat.  Serve chops with the gravy on the side.

Alongside the chops, I served an interesting salad courtesy of Martha Stewart that uses the dried noodles in a Mr. Noodles package.  I'm always amazed with the various ways to incorporate convenience foods into our home-made meals to enhance the experience.  Mr. Noodles are so inexpensive, and can be used in many different dishes.  Stay tuned for more recipes.


Citrus Bok Choy Salad With Crisp Ramen
1 package Mr. Noodles broken in to small pieces (save the broth seasoning for another use)
2 T veg oil
2 oranges
1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha
1/4 tsp honey
salt & pepper
1 head bok choy thinly sliced (I used 3 medium sized heads)

Preheat oven to 400.  On a baking sheet toss ramen w/2 tsp veg oil (I used cooking spray for this part.)  Bake 5-7 minutes.  Meanwhile peel oranges and working over a bowl, cut out wedges, squeezing juice into bowl.  I discarded the actual wedges once I had squeezed them out, but you might want to keep them in your salad.  Whisk in next 4 ingredients.  Add ramen and bok choy and toss.

That's it for now!

Friday, October 5, 2012

Chinese Spare Ribs & Crispy Tofu With 2 Sauces

Tonight I went for a part vegetarian part meat lovers sort of vibe.  I really wanted to try this tofu recipe, but the spare ribs in the freezer were calling my name, so I figured, why not do both?  This is by far the best marinade for spare ribs that I have ever come across.  It's my go-to sauce.  When I see spare ribs, my mouth waters for this combination of flavors.  Try it, you'll love it.

The tofu recipe was good, but make sure you don't keep leftovers because soggy tofu the next day isn't a good look.  Trust me,  it doesn't go down very well.  I could have done without the onion topping (sauce), because the soy-based sauce was great.  But try out the recipe for yourself and see what you think.

Chinese Spare Ribs
3 T hoison sauce
1 T honey
1 T soy sauce
1 T sake (I left this out - not many people have sake sitting least, I don't)
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp grated ginger (as a tip - I keep my ginger in the freezer, it stays fresh and is very easy to grate/chop, etc)
1/4 tsp Chinese 5 spice powder (I left this out and used seasoning salt & chili flakes instead)
1 lb spare ribs

Mix everything together and marinate for 2 hours or overnight (I marinate in a large Ziploc bag - just throw all of the ingredients in, than the meat, seal & mix.)  Reserve some sauce (after removing the meat I pour a little water in the bag, seal, shake, and pour out whatever I get in a bowl.)  Put in the oven in at 300 for 2 hours.  Pour the rest of the sauce over top near the end and broil for 10 minutes.  That's what you're supposed to do, but I pour a little sauce on top about every half hour, and I skip the broiling, it isn't needed.  The sauce already sticks on to the meat and the outside gets nice and crisp while the inside is moist and delicious.  A very flavorful sauce, you'll love it.

Crispy Tofu With 2 Sauces
1 lb medium firm tofu (I always use extra firm)
1/2c oil
1/2c cornstarch
Green Onion Ginger Sauce:
3 green onions chopped (I didn't have any so I used 1/4 of a vidalia)
2 T grated ginger
1 tsp salt
1/4c oil
Spicy Soy Sauce:
2 T soy sauce
1 T water
1 tsp rice vinegar
1/4 tsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp sriracha
1/4 tsp honey

Cut tofu into 4 equal slices about 1" thick.  Place cut side down on thick paper towel to drain; let stand 20 minutes (I also put paper towel on top and pressed down a bit.)  Meanwhile in heatproof glass combine green onions, ginger & salt.  In small saucepan heat oil over medium-high heat just until ripples form on the surface; pour over onion mixture until sizzling, stir to combine.  Let cool 5 minutes.  Drain off 2 T of the oil and reserve for another use (saute sweet peppers in it or other veggies to serve on the side.)  Set sauce aside.  For the soy sauce, combine all ingredients and set aside.  In a 10" skillet heat oil over medium heat.  Coat tofu all over with cornstarch; fry, turning once, until golden and crispy, 8-10 minutes.  Serve with sauces (and veggies if you choose to.)

Hope you enjoy these as much as we did!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Mini Spinach & Feta Frittatas - Under 100 Calories!!

Since I’m always on the lookout for quick, easy, and healthy dinner ideas, I was delighted to come across a recipe in a recent Canadian Living magazine that utilizes muffin cups to create a main dish.  My mind began racing with ideas of how I can use muffin cups for other dinners.  Lasagna, meatloaf, mac & cheese…the possibilities are endless!  This recipe was incredibly easy and only 96 calories per frittata, so enjoy.  The kids loved it too.  You can mix up the veggies to suit your tastes – chopped broccoli would be great, or some roasted red peppers, sundried tomatoes, artichokes, anything.  I’m SUPER excited about experimenting with muffin cups going forward, so stay tuned for more easy, healthy and portable meal ideas!

You’ll see below that I totally ‘cheated’ and left out half of the ingredients, as well as switched up fresh for frozen.  I was in a serious time crunch and had to feed some hungry stomachs in minutes – a Mom’s gotta do what a Mom’s gotta do!

Mini Spinach & Feta Frittatas
2 green onions sliced (white & green parts separated) – (I left these out, didn’t have any)
10oz sliced mushrooms (also left these out – the kids don’t like mushrooms)
Salt & pepper
4c chopped fresh spinach (I used a package of thawed & squeezed out frozen spinach)
8 eggs
1/3c milk
1/2c crumbled feta

In a skillet heat oil over medium-high heat and cook the white parts of the green onion for 1 minute.  Add the mushrooms, salt & pepper, and cook until no liquid remains, 6 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in the green parts.  Divide among 12 greased muffin cups and set aside.  In a bowl beat the eggs with the milk.  Divide among the muffin cups and sprinkle with feta.  Bake in a 350 oven until edges are set, 10 minutes.  Broil until golden and puffed, 2 minutes.  Let cool in the pan for 4 minutes before removing.  You can wrap these individually and freeze if you would like.

Ok, so easy enough right?  My version was even easier.  I mixed the spinach, salt & pepper in a bowl, and divided it among the muffin cups.  In the same bowl I mixed the eggs and milk, and divided again.  Then in the oven they went.  12 minutes later I had a healthy, delicious meal.  I served them with left over corn on the cob. 

For those of you interested, the nutritional info per each frittata is below:
96 calories
6g protein
7g fat
2g carbs
1g fibre

I wrapped the leftovers individually and have been taking them for lunch to work.  Fantastic!  Great with some hot sauce as well.

Talk soon!