Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The World's BEST Short Ribs!!!

Aaah ribs. 

There is no experience quite like the one you get when eating ribs.  Back ribs or short ribs, beef or pork, so many possibilities and so much fun to eat.  It's that primal instinct of picking up food with your hands and tearing at the juicy meat like an animal that I love.  Ribs aren't a date night meal, unless you've been together a long time and don't care what mess you make on your face.  But they certainly are a treat.  Especially this recipe - which does not have to involve your hands, since they are so fall-off-the bone soft that there is no "tearing" necessary.  Chewing is optional here as tender...mmm...

I was unable to get a picture of these, since they disappeared from the kitchen before I had time to grab the camera.  I tried finding a picture online to use, but there were none that did this meal justice.  My mouth waters thinking about it.  I will make them again VERY soon, and at that time I will fight off the hungry animals in my house long enough to take a picture and add it to this blog entry.  Until then, have trust in me and make this meal yourself.  Asap.

Update - picture added!

Honey Beer Braised Ribs
1/3c brown sugar
1 tsp pepper
3/4 tsp salt
pinch cayenne
6 lbs beef short ribs (but really you can use any ribs)
1/4 c honey
1 bottle of beer (or beef broth, but beer is better)
1/4 c red wine vinegar (supposed to use cider but red wine works too)
1/4 c bbq sauce
1 T cornstarch

Combine the first 4 ingredients and rub all over your ribs.  Place in a roasting pan and drizzle with honey.  Combine the beer and vinegar and pour all around the ribs (don't pour on top and disturb the seasoning).  Cover tightly and bake at 325 for an hour.  Reduce the heat to 250 and bake for 2 hours more.  Pull the ribs out of the oven and pour the juices off into a saucepan.  Skim all of the fat off (there will be a lot).  Place saucepan over medium heat, add bbq sauce, mix cornstarch and a little water in a small bowl and add to pan.  Simmer, while stirring, for about a minute or until sauce thickens.  Serve your ribs with sauce on top, or on the side - the ribs are amazing on their own without the sauce, so your choice.

Most people broil their ribs before serving.  I found with this recipe that there was no need.  They had already formed a delicious crust in the oven thanks to the sugar & honey, so broiling was completely unnecessary. 

I am reserving this meal for Sunday dinners because of how long the process is - but I will definitely make a lot more than needed next time - I could eat these for days, and I know my family agrees. 


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Baked Polenta With Sausage & Artichoke

When I first saw this recipe in my Everyday Food magazine, it was the picture that really caught my eye.  It looked so pretty, constructed carefully in the glass dish, like a piece of art.  It made me hungry, so I decided to try it out.  The other thing I really loved about this was that it was a complete meal.  Main and sides all in one - no need to make anything else with it.  That's always a blessing - eliminating a separate dish - especially when you get home from a kick-ass bootcamp class at 7:00pm and have half an hour to get a meal on the table!

Here's my disclaimer - my daughter didn't like the polenta (although when I broiled the leftovers the next day she suddenly loved it).  So it must have been the consistency.  You might want to broil this dish to add a little crispness at the end, maybe for 10 minutes or so.  Up to you; but either way, I hope you enjoy it.  Thanks Martha!   

Baked Polenta With Sausage & Artichoke
2 tsp EVOO
1/2 onion thinly sliced
1lb italian sausage, casings removed
2 garlic thinly sliced
3/4c artichoke hearts chopped
coarse salt & pepper
1 tube prepared polenta, cut in 1/4" rounds
1/3c chicken stock (I used a little more, maybe 1/2c)
1/4c chopped parsley (I left this out)

Preheat oven to 400.  In a large skillet heat oil over medium.  Add onion & cook 5 minutes.  Add sausage & cook until browned, 8 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.  Remove from heart and stir in artichokes.  Season with salt & pepper.  In a 2 quart baking dish layer polenta rounds & spoonfuls of sausage mix (like in the picture above - alternate them).  Pour stock over top and bake until bubbling and polenta is pale golden, 20-24 minutes.  Sprinkle with parsley (if using) and serve.

For those of you interested, the nutritional value is below, based on 4 servings

Per Serving -
330 cal
15g fat
21g pro
30g carbs
4g fibre

Monday, January 14, 2013

Ricotta Eggplant Rolls

Another fantastic vegetarian meal.  I had high hopes for this one - my daughter refuses to eat eggplant and I thought that this would be the game-changer.  It wasn't.  She still wouldn't eat it.  But she did feast on the filling to this roll and enjoyed it, so for that I am grateful.  Serve this with a simple salad - enjoy!

Ricotta Eggplant Rolls
2 large long eggplants
1 c ricotta cheese (I used low fat)
1 c feta cheese (again, I used low fat)
1/3 c chopped mint
1/4 tsp each salt & pepper
2 roasted red peppers, sliced
arugula or watercress (I had every intention of using baby spinach, but forgot completely - still fantastic)

Preheat oven to 375.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut eggplant into slices 1/3" thick.  Brush both sides with EVOO & salt and pepper, place on baking sheet.  Roast 20 minutes, turning halfway through.  Let cool.  Stir together cheeses, mint, salt & pepper and set aside.  When the eggplants are cool, put 2 T of the cheese filling at one end up each, a couple slices of red pepper, and some arugula (if using) then roll up, and secure with toothpicks.  You can drizzle balsamic vinegar on top - delicious.

For the end pieces of the eggplant, I ate these later as leftovers with the filling just sitting on top since they were too thick and tough to roll up.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Fish Tacos And Chickpea Salad

It's very hard to find a good fish taco.  I have been to restaurants where the fish is too soggy, or there wasn't enough seasoning used, or the sauces just didn't go right.  It's a fairly simple, fresh dish, but one that is difficult to get right.  It is my personal (and probably biased) opinion, that this recipe gets it right.  And I'm LOVING the sauce! 

I served this with a simple chickpea salad.  Enjoy!

Fish Tacos
3/4 c fat free sour cream (I used fat free yogurt - more tang)
1 can chopped green chilies
1 T fresh cilantro leaves
1 T lime juice
4 tilapia fillets (I used basa)
1/2 c flour
1 egg white beaten (I used a whole egg)
1/2 c panko bread crumbs (I used Italian bread crumbs and seasoned them with salt & paprika)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp each white pepper, cayenne & paprika
8 corn tortillas, warmed
1 large tomato, finely chopped

Place first 4 ingredients in the food processor; blend & set aside.  Cut each fillet lengthwise into 2 portions.  Place flour, egg white, and bread crumbs in separate shallow bowls.  Dip fish in flour, than egg white, than crumbs.  In a large skillet over medium heat cook fish in oil in batches for 4-5 minutes per side.  Combine seasonings and sprinkle over fish.  Place a portion of fish in each tortilla, top with 2 T of sour cream mixture, and sprinkle with tomatoes.

Chickpea Salad
1 can chickpeas drained & rinsed
3 plum tomatoes chopped
1 c chopped cucumber
1 c chopped green pepper
3 green onions sliced
1/2 c chopped walnuts (I always leave these out)
1/4 c chopped mint
1/3 c crumbled feta
3 T lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne

Mix vinaigrette together in large bowl, add veggies and mix.  That's it!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

BBQ Style Meatloaf Minis & Herbed Cherry Tomatoes

I've said it before and I'll say it again - I am consistently surprised and delighted by the amount of meals you can make in a muffin tin.  It's the perfect size for portion control, it makes meals compact that perhaps were not before, and it makes clean-up a breeze!!  Love love love it! 

Thank you to the incredibly brilliant Kraft for getting me started in the right direction here.  I have tweaked the recipe a bit to make it more to my liking (and my waistline's liking) and they came out great. 

I served Chatelaine's herbed cherry tomatoes as the side dish - they were tangy and sweet, and delicious!

BBQ Style Meatloaf Minis
1 lb extra lean ground beef
1 pkg stuffing mix for chicken (I subbed some bread crumbs and an egg)
1 c water (I left this out because I wasn't using stuffing)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 c bbq sauce
1/4 c cheese whiz (I left this out - why add more fat, especially processed plastic fat??)
I also added cayenne, paprika, smokehouse bbq seasoning, black pepper and some liquid smoke - seasonings don't cost you in calories and can add so much in flavor

Heat oven to 375.  Mix meat, stuffing mix, water and garlic powder until blended.  Press into 8 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray.  Make an indentation in the center of each with the back of a spoon.  Fill with bbq sauce.  Bake 30 minutes.  Top with cheez whiz, bake 5 more minutes or until melted.

Kraft offers some variations of this recipe -
Italian - sub italian seasoning for garlic powder, and pasta sauce for bbq sauce
Mexican - sub 2tsp chili powder for garlic powder, and salsa for bbq sauce

I think the next time I make this, I will add more veggies so that my meat is stretched and the fat/calorie quantities are lowered per serving.  Maybe some onions, sweet peppers, possibly even black beans.  I also made mine smaller, so my recipe made 12 meatloaves instead of 8.

Check out Krafts nutritional value versus mine below (per meatloaf):

380 cal
12g fat
31g pro
34g carbs
1g fibre

192 cal
10g fat
22g pro
4g carbs
1g fibre

Herbed Cherry Tomatoes
2 pints cherry tomatoes
1/2c chopped parsley (I left this out, had none on hand)
2 T white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp oregano

Cut tomatoes in half and combine all other ingredients.  Toss will until coated.  Yum!