Friday, May 29, 2009
Tomato, Zucchini, and Olive Orzo
1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 zucchini, diced (I've also tried adding yellow squash as well)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 package small tomatoes, such as grape or Sweet 100s
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped black Mediterranean olives
1 teaspoon fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dry rosemary
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup orzo pasta
Note: I didn't feel the rosemary flavor was necessary, so you can omit it unless you love rosemary.
1. Start a pot of water to boil for the pasta.
2. Add oil to a skillet and heat over medium-high. Add zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 6 minutes. Add the shallot and cook until softened, about 1 minute. Cook pasta.
3. Add the tomatoes, olives, and rosemary and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are heated through but not collapsed, about 2 minutes. (I cooked longer because I prefer the tomatoes that way). Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add the white wine and cook for a few minutes until some evaporates and a nice sauce is left. Add the cooked orzo, stir to combine and remove from heat. Serve with Parmesan cheese if desired.
Source: Adapted from Williams-Sonoma
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Homemade Orange Julius
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
6 Tablespoons water
1 1/2 Tablespoons egg white substitute
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (or a little less)
3-4 Tablespoons sugar (to taste)
2 cups ice
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend on high speed 45-60 seconds, until mixture is very smooth and frothy. Use slightly less ice for a thinner consistency; use slightly more for a thicker shake-like consistency.
Source: Adapted from Baking Bites
Monday, May 25, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Makes 12 cupcakes
For the cupcakes:
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk (I used skim)
1/2 cup blackberry puree**
*If you don't have vanilla sugar (which I don't), substitute an equal amount of regular sugar and add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the batter after the eggs.
**Fresh or frozen blackberries, pureed in a food processor or blender and strained through a fine mesh sieve. For me, this took two 5.6-ounce packages of fresh blackberries.
8 ounces light or regular cream cheese, at room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
5 Tablespoons blackberry puree***
***I used 3 1/2 Tablespoon (from fresh berries) and the frosting was a little soft. I suppose this will depend on the water content of the berries - or because I used light cream cheese. Either way, 3 1/2 T was plenty to achieve a purple color!
Fresh blackberries (optional)
To make the cupcakes:
1.Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.
2. In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
3. In another bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk together the milk and blackberry puree. Set aside.
4. In (yet another) large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugars with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.
5. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between additions. At this point, add the 1 teaspoon vanilla extract if not using vanilla sugar.
6. Add half of the dry ingredients to the large bowl and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the blackberry mixture, and mix on low until just combined. Mix in the remaining dry ingredients on low speed until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
7. Divide the batter evenly between the cupcakes.
1. Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and blackberry puree in a large mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, mix on medium speed until smooth and well blended.
2. Frost cooled cupcakes and garnish with fresh blackberries, if desired.
Source: Adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from Coconut & Lime
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Black Bean Soup
4 strips of turkey bacon
1/2 Tablespoon olive oil
1 large carrot, chopped
1/2 Tablespoon ground cumin
1. Cook bacon in a large stockpot over medium heat. Remove bacon and crumble.
2. In the same pot, heat olive oil and add carrots and onion. Cook until vegetables are soft. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute, then add chicken broth, black beans, bacon, cumin, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Use an immersion blender to puree soup to desired consistency (or transfer soup to a food processor to do the same, then add soup back to the pot.)
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Giada's recipe calls for kalamata olives and roasted red bell peppers, both of which I love, but I had to omit due to other family members' pickiness :) I also added some red onion because I thought it sounded good. See the original recipe linked below if the olives and peppers appeal to you!
1/4 cup drained capers
2 Tablespoons plus 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
12 ounces dense crusty bread
2 1/4 pounds ripe tomatoes, scored on the bottom
2 Tablespoons plus 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (or basil puree to taste)
1/4 of a red onion, thinly sliced
Fresh basil sprigs, for garnish
1. Soak the capers in 2 tablespoons of vinegar in a small bowl for 10 minutes. Drain.
2. Cut the bottom crust off of the bread if it's tough. Cut bread into 2-inch slices, evenly brush the slices with 2 tablespoons olive oil, distributing the oil among the slices and on both sides. Grill both sides of the bread in a grill pan until golden. Transfer bread to plate to cool briefly. Cut bread into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
3. Submerge the tomatoes into a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the tomatoes to a bowl of ice water to cool slightly. Using a small sharp paring knife, peel off the tomato skins. If you have difficulty, place the tomato back in the boiling water briefly, then into ice water, and try again. Cut the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds. Cut the tomatoes into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, whisk 2/3 cup of oil, 1/4 cup of vinegar, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add the bread cubes, tomatoes, basil, capers, and red onion; toss to combine.
5. Cover the salad and let stand at room temperature for flavors to blend, at least 1 hour if possible.
Source: Adapted from a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis
In case you're looking for an easy dinner idea, we thought the combination of the Panzanella, orzo, chicken, and asparagus was great. For super easy grilled chicken, marinate chicken breasts in fat-free or light Italian dressing for 8 hours in the fridge, then grill. (An article in Cook's Illustrated that I read recently does not recommend marinating in Italian dressing, but we like it!) You can brush on the extra marinade after boiling it for several minutes so it's safe to eat. One of my favorite ways to make asparagus is to lightly coat a grill pan in olive oil, place the cleaned spears in the pan, season with salt and pepper, then grill over medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes, or until asparagus has reached desired doneness.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
2 large ripened mangoes, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl.
Source: Adapted from Good Things Catered
Monday, May 18, 2009
Chilli Coconut Chicken Soup
Original recipe ingredients:
3/4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
6 spring onions, sliced into 1 1/4-inch lengths
6 chicken breast fillets, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sweet chilli sauce
2 cups coconut milk
2 Tablespoons lime juice
a little fish sauce at the end for extra flavor, optional
My version ingredients:
3/4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 bunch (5-6) spring onions, sliced into 1 1/4-inch lengths
1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
1/3 cup sweet chilli sauce
1 15-ounce can lite coconut milk, brought up to 2 cups with skim milk and a few drops of imitation coconut extract (just 'cause I have it around)
2 Tablespoons lime juice
1. If desired, start cooking the Jasmine rice according to package directions.
2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over high heat, add the ginger and spring onions and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until golden. Add the sweet chilli sauce and cook for a further 1 minute.
2. Add 1 1/3 cups water and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes. Add the lime juice, season with salt and add a little more sweet chilli sauce, if desired. If using Jasmine rice, spoon into soup bowls, then top with the soup. Serve with lime wedges.
Source: Adapted from the Quick Short Chicken Recipes cookbook
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
This salad is so delicious! We both loved it. I'm not sure how necessary the pasta is, so the second time I made it, I omitted the pasta, upped the amount of bacon, and used red onion instead of green since it was all we had. I think I like the green onion best though. I've included my changes below.
Chicken Caesar Salad
1 chicken breast, diced (I used a rotisserie chicken)
2-4 slices of turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 container grape tomatoes, halved
half a bunch of green onions, sliced
2 ounces feta cheese
1 bunch of Romaine lettuce
3 Tablespoons fat-free Caesar dressing (more or less to taste)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat penne (3 ounces uncooked)
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (or a small amount of basil puree)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Top with freshly ground pepper and freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Source: Adapted from Cooking Light
Monday, May 11, 2009
Creamy Tomato Basil and Italian Turkey Sausage Soup
3 sweet Italian turkey links, casing removed
10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (or 1-2 teaspoons purchased basil puree)
1 26-ounce jar of pasta sauce
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half
1 cup small whole wheat pasta (such as macaroni)
6 ounces fresh spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, if desired
1. Boil a small pot of water. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.
2. Meanwhile, heat a medium-sized dutch oven over medium heat. Brown sausage, breaking it into bite-sized pieces, or smaller. Drain grease (or use paper towels to squeeze out grease), if desired.
3. Stir in pasta sauce, basil leaves or puree, water, and half-and-half. Cook until warm then reduce heat to low.
4. Add cooked pasta and season soup with salt and pepper to taste. Toss in the fresh spinach and simmer until wilted. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Source: Adapted from Picky Palate
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Bob and I both really like this recipe. I've made it using different kinds of chicken sausage, but the combo of the apple sausage and the pumpkin is quite nice. I've made a few slight modifications to the recipe, but Cara's original version, which serves 2, is available through the link below. My version serves 3-4 because we like to have leftovers for lunch.
Chicken Sausage and Penne in a Pumpkin Cream Sauce
6 ounces penne pasta
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, grated or more to taste
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
3 sliced chicken sausage links, such as apple from TJ's
3/4 cup 1% low fat cottage cheese
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup skim milk
5 oz. baby spinach, roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, optional
1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until softened and beginning to caramelize. Add garlic, sage, and chicken sausage; continue to saute.
2. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. In a small food processor or blender, combine pumpkin, cottage cheese, and milk. Blend until smooth. Add to sausage mixture in the skillet and continue to cook over low heat. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.
3. Drain pasta and add to sausage mixture with the baby spinach. Toss together until the spinach is wilted. Raise heat if necessary to melt any remaining bits of cottage cheese, while continuing to stir until creamy. Top with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Source: Adapted from Cara's Cravings
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Honey Lime Chicken Fajitas
For the marinade:
Juice of 1 lime
2 Tablespoons honey
1 rounded teaspoon cumin
1 Tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1/2 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2-3 chicken breasts, cut into strips
salt and pepper, to taste
1 green pepper, 1 orange pepper, 1 red onion, 1 yellow onion - each cut into strips (any veggie of choice works here - zucchini, squash, mushrooms, spinach, etc.)
For the toppings:
Light sour cream
Monterey Jack cheese
1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Sprinkle strips of chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the marinade and stir to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions. Cook until softened, about 7-10 minutes.
3. Transfer the peppers and onions to a serving dish. Add the contents of the small bowl to the warm skillet containing 1/2 tablespoon olive oil, if necessary. Cook until chicken is done and browned and liquid has evaporated. Transfer to serving dish.
4. Warm tortillas between wet paper towels in the microwave, and transfer toppings to serving dishes. Serve all components separately and fill tortillas as desired. Enjoy!
Monday, May 4, 2009
I've already posted my favorite homemade salsa here, but for Superbowl back in January I decided to try out a new recipe I had seen on Annie's Eats. It just looked so good in her picture. I was skeptical that I would like it, especially since I was making it with winter tomatoes, but the Black Bean Salsa better watch out because this one is now vying for the title of my favorite salsa! It's so fresh tasting, and the flavors work so well together. It tastes like salsa from a really good restaurant. I also love the consistency, and the fact that it's SO easy to make - almost no chopping involved, and it's done in just minutes. If you like salsa, this recipe is a winner!
When I first made the recipe, I followed it exactly except I replaced half the amount of canned diced tomatoes with fire-roasted because I think they are SO good. I was really happy with the resulting flavor. I've made this salsa a total of 3 times, and each time I've tweaked it ever so slightly, and I think I've finally got the perfect balance for our taste. If you're sensitive to spice, scale back on the cayenne. We happen to think the spiciness is just right.
One note about the garlic: The original recipe calls for 4 cloves of garlic. The first time, I used 3 very large cloves and one medium-sized thinking you can never have too much garlic! It turns out, you can. It was way too garlicky. The overpowering garlic flavor is not necessarily apparent while you're eating it, but rather later that night . . . and at 3 am . . . and during breakfast the next morning. Each time I've made it, I've scaled back on the garlic and finally ended up thinking 1 clove was about right for us. You can always add more later. Just keep in mind that the garlic flavor seems to intensify over time when the salsa is stored in the fridge.
This salsa is the perfect accompaniment to so many dinners, many of which I will be posting in the next week or so. If you're looking for an excuse to celebrate Cinco de Mayo tomorrow, whip up a batch of this salsa - I promise you won't be disappointed!
14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained with some juice reserved