Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken Scampi

Finally, friends - Easter has come, and has now gone. I made it through the temptation of pizza (ok, twice I caved, both were weekends and I claim that I had "no other choice"... which is for the most part accurate) and completely stayed away from pasta! You guys - this the best I have done since I was 5 years old and gave up sucking my thumb!!! I would like to take a moment and reflect on this personal feat... done. Moving on, we had a delicious Easter lunch with the family. Dad's side of the family came over and we spent a great afternoon together. As mom prepared the house and table settings, I prepared the food. I'll be honest, cooking for 13 almost made me dislike cooking in general - that's a lie, but it did try my patience this time around.  Sunday was a lot of different foods to make, a lot of prep, a lot of chopping, a lot of "move please," a lot of "I said MOVE," a lot of "ok, I promise, only 5 minutes left," a lot of "ughhh I need a drink"  :-)

Due to the need to get all of the food served in a timely manner, I just didn't bother to stop and take my pictures. At the end of it all, I didn't even think to get a finished product picture of the spread, my brain was shot. Everything turned out really well, so that was the test run, stay tuned for some great sides coming in the future including a "healthy" creamed corn, honey-glazed carrots, and an Au-gratin potato recipe that worked for me this time.

Tonight, I decided to have some pasta in honor of my successful Lenten season. I came across a post from one of the blogs I follow, Muncher Cruncher and adapted her recipe. This Chicken Scampi paired with simple greens was a healthy, tasty and easy Monday night meal.

Grocery List:
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic (I thought I had fresh garlic and I didn't so I just used a tsp. of garlic powder)
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite size bits (I simply bought two prepared chicken breasts from Whole Foods pre-made food section and just cut them up)
  • 1/4 cup parsley, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • Whole wheat penne pasta
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Start by boiling your pasta in water until soft - about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large skillet, melt your butter then add the olive oil, garlic and green onion. Cook for about 10 minutes and add the tomatoes, chicken, parsley, then season with salt and pepper.

Once sauce is done, pour pasta in a bowl, then top with sauce. Toss with pasta and serve!

Served with mixed greens, avocado, cucumber, feta and light red wine vinaigrette.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Goat Cheese Omelet

Due to a storm this evening with hail and heavy winds, my mani/pedi date with friend Sarah (check out her blog!) was pushed back a little later in the evening to let the tornado threats pass. Welcome to spring in Texas! However, weather has been really erratic all over the south and even Midwest - thoughts and prayers go out to those it has effected whether slightly or devastatingly.

Not getting home until after 8:00 gave me a switch up - the pork hadn't fully defrosted and it was time to eat. With Mr. Max on his way over, I switched gears into breakfast for dinner intended for Wednesday night instead (another benefit to meal planning and shopping for the week ahead of time!)

I love cheese and eggs, so many combinations! I made some quick sauteed "stoplight" veggies on the side but doing it over again, would have thrown them in the omelet, they were a fabulous complement. 

This little meal, including the veggies, contains 233 calories, 17g fat, 16g carbs, 1g fiber, 2.5 mg iron and 84mg calcium per serving.

Grocery List:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Tony's Creole (my addition)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. tarragon 
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup julienned red/yellow bell pepper (I added yellow because I enjoy it more)
  • 1 tsp. fresh chives, minced
Combine the eggs, water, salt, pepper and creole seasoning in a bowl, whisking well.

Combine the cheese, parsley and tarragon in a bowl and set aside.

Heat oil in a skillet and add the zucchini and bell peppers; cook until tender. I also sprinkled a little creole seasoning over them as well as they cooked. Cook over low-medium heat and cover, stirring occasionally.

Heat up another skillet and coat with cooking spray. Pour in the egg mixture and let it set slightly, do not stir. Carefully loosen the edges with a rubber tip spatula, tipping the pan to try to help the uncooked egg cook and settle.

Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the omelet - my crumbles became a solid when I mixed with a spoon to blend the herbs, so I plopped several globs across the omelet surface.

Using the spatula, flip one side of the omelet over on the other. (as you can see, I still have some runny egg)

Now, using your spatula, cut the omelet in half so there are now 2 parts and flip over to let the other side cook.
 My omelets are not perfect, nor are the pretty, but they sure do taste good!

After about 2 minutes, remove to a plate and sprinkle with chives. By this point, the veggies should be soft and lightly browned, ready to eat. Spoon out and serve with whole wheat toast!
version 2 of picture from the top of page

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tomato-Feta Couscous

I usually gravitate toward from-the-box risottos, rices, couscouses (spelling??) but this one looked so easy, I figured I could try it without it becoming too labor intensive. I had some tri-colored pearl couscous but you can use any kind, I personally prefer the pearled. I can't really give a reason why, it's just one those "because I just do" things!

This simple little side contains 150 calories, 31g fat and 197mg sodium per serving (serving size is 1/2 cup).

Grocery List:
  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup shallot, minced
  • 3/4 cup couscous
  • 1 cup fat free, low sodium vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 1 tsp. parsley
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. thyme
Easy peasy, here we go. First - here is the couscous I use for a visual reference. Why tri-color? This organic little treat says it contains paprika and spinach powder to enhance nutrients. I just trust the tub.

Heat the olive oil in a high sided, large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute for about 2 minutes.

Stir in the couscous and saute for about 1 minute.Add the broth and bring to a boil. After boiling for about 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.


Fluff the couscous with a fork then add in the tomatoes, feta, lemon juice and herbs.

Stir well and serve it up! Pictured above with the delicious maple-lemon glazed salmon.

Maple-Lemon Glazed Salmon

This may just be my new favorite salmon! Tonight's dinner was the perfect week night meal: easy, under 30 minutes to prepare, few ingredients, delicious AND nutritious. Recipe and meal pairing credit goes to Cooking Light's Quick and Easy Low Calorie Recipes, an all new recipe-only edition on stands now, people - I am looking forward to several of the little gems I've uncovered in there. So I'm going to pretend I know what you are thinking now (ok, I'm going to insert the thought I know that I was thinking)... maple and lemon? That's not exactly a combination that I would assemble taste-wise. This is the type of thing that has come to intrigue me about trying several different recipes. I'm telling you, it pairs beautifully, err, deliciously!

This salmon dish contains 287 calories, 14g fat, 31g protein, 7.5g carbs, 80mg cholesterol, and 23mg calcium per serving.

Grocery List:
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 skinless salmon fillets
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Let's start by pre-heating your boiler. Next, combine the lemon juice, maple syrup, cider vinegar, and canola oil in a bowl and mix well.

Next, take a ziploc bag and place your fish inside followed by the marinade. Refrigerate for 5 minutes, flip the bag and refrigerate for another 5 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the bag, reserving the marinade in a bowl. Place the marinade in the microwave for 1 minute on high to thicken. Meanwhile, heat a large oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle your salmon with salt and pepper. Coat your skillet with cooking spray and add the fish; cook for 3 minutes, then flip carefully to keep from breaking apart. Before you flip, coat well with marinade.

After cooking the other side of the fillet, coat again and put your oven-safe skillet in the oven to broil for about 3 minutes or until desired degree of "done-ness". Remove carefully and you are ready to serve! Pictured above with a delicious tomato-feta couscous.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Meal Planning

What a weekend! Mr. Max and I went down to Florida to experience an Indian wedding for one of his friend's from home. The food was definitely interesting, but what a kind and hospitable culture - very helpful as we tried to understand the customs and rituals of the weekend.

Here are just a few pictures to share...
 Mr. Max and myself with the groom riding in on the ceremonial horse behind us

 A sampling of the food....

Inside the wedding ceremony

After the last few days, I'm looking forward to getting back into the swing of cooking and consuming more familiar foods! Last week at the store, I picked up the new Cooking Light all recipe magazine edition. This week the lineup will consist of three meals from this new recipe source.

Monday: Salmon with Maple-Lemon Glaze and a Tomato-Feta Couscous

Tuesday: Teriyaki Pork and Pineapple skewers with stir fry rice

Wednesday: Breakfast for Dinner! A goat cheese omelet with sauteed vegetables, think bell peppers and zucchini

Thursday: Undecided, most likely a dinner out because it is an event night

Friday: We will have another cooking school date night at Central Market for an American Steakhouse theme where we will cook a menu of a classic chop salad, beef fillet, lobster mac n' cheese (which I will be morally obligated to pass on because I will be shy just 30ish hours from the end of Lenten season, yet foodie-faithfully tempted to at least try), onion rings, roasted broccoli and mushrooms, and finally Kentucky Almond-Bourbon cheesecake.

Saturday I'm going to help my mom prepare for Easter brunch with the family on Sunday! I know a ginger-cider brisket is in the works but I'll be working on the rest of the menu this week.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Skinny Meatloaf with a Snazzy Ketchup Sauce

One of the meals that I will always associate with my both my Momma and my MaMaw would be a good ol' meatloaf. I tried my first attempt last fall and must admit, we were just not over the moon with that particular version - it used a lot of eggs, chunks of bread, then wrapped the loaf in bacon....the finished product just didn't blend well for us in the end. Flipping through my Cuisine Lite magazine, I stumbled on a recipe for a "Skinny Meatloaf" - after reading the ingredients, I found that it was nothing fussy, most of it I already had. I was very interested in the 1/2 ground beef, 1/2 ground turkey combo, clearly it was time to give meatloaf another try. I also liked the sound of a sweet and sour ketchup sauce to which I decided to just dub "snazzy ketchup".

The magazine says that the combination of the turkey and sirloin is what helps keep this meatloaf slim and trim - still contains all the favor but without the excess fat. It claims to cut down on fat by 60%!

Nutritional facts include: 197 calories, 4g total fat, 53mg cholesterol, 15g carbs, 2g protein, 25 mg calcium per serving.

Grocery List:
  • 3/4 lb. lean ground sirloin
  • 3/4 lb. lean ground turkey
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup grated onion (grated onion gives the meatloaf more flavor than diced)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 tbsp. skim milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tbsp. prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Combine ground sirloin, ground turkey, bread crumbs, parsley, onion, egg whites, milk, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and garlic powder in a bowl, using your hands to mix.

In the bowl, mold into a loaf form then transfer to a roasting pan.

Stir together the ketchup, mustard and brown sugar in a bowl, then spoon over the meatloaf.

Bake meatloaf until a thermometer reaches 160 degrees - about 45 minutes. Let rest at least 5 minutes before slicing, then serve! Paired with mashed cauliflower potatoes and steamed carrots.


Monday, April 11, 2011

Sweet Barbacoa Pork

I've had my eye on this recipe from Gina's Blog for a while and as I laid on the couch recouping from the week and weekend of work on Sunday, I decided this would be a great addition to the menu lineup. Max Man and I both had a meeting on Monday evening so I thought this crock pot dish would be perfect - cook all day, we'd come home from our meeting and dinner would be there ready! Well, this was partially correct. I've decided that one of my foodie faults is that I don't always read through recipes on the front end, I tend to skim through just to see what I need to get from the store to make it, not always the steps/process or how long it takes. Um, oops.

If you've been with me a while, you may have picked up on this in some of my posts :-) So, this was one of those circumstances - I saw marinate, overnight, crock pot ... but didn't necessarily put it all together at time of recipe planning inception. Turns out the time in the crock pot is broken up, not all at once like say, a roast. Luckily, this worked out really well for my Monday schedule and I was able to get home for part dos but I would recommend that you make this if you have the freedom to come home at lunch or you are able to make this on a day off (Saturday or Sunday).

Gina took numerous Pork barbacoa recipes and created her own "skinny" version of it. Tonight I present a delicious change-up that has already been requested again by the man in my life, meaning 100% dude approved yet one you can be guilt free in consuming! So flavorful, so tender, so juicy, so deliciouso! Nutritional facts include 202.5 calories, 6.3g of fat, and 11.5g fat per serving.

Grocery List:
for pork and marinade
  • 1 1/2 lb. pork loin roast
  • Garlic powder
  • 6 oz. Coke Zero
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, not packed
  • 1/4 cup water
to cook the pork
  • 8 oz. Coke Zero
  • 6 oz. can of diced green chilies 
  • 6 oz. tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce (I also added about 4 spoonfuls of the adobo sauce to the mix)
  • 1/8 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, not packed
This is the part you do overnight, create the marinade and let it sleep in the fridge while you sleep in your bed. To start, trim all the fat from the pork as you can, if not pre-trimmed by the butcher. Season the pork with meat tenderizer (if you have it, I decided to use it), then sprinkle each side with the garlic powder. Place the pork in the crock pot bowl (removable part), add 6 oz. of Coke Zero then the brown sugar. Cover with lid and set in the fridge for at least 6 hours.

We just so happened to have a huge storm that sounded as though Armageddon was reigning down on the roof and going to break my windows. Around 3 am, I woke up, looked out the window, decided I needed some water and flipped the chunk of pork in the crock pot while I was getting water from the fridge. You can skip this step. Or set an alarm. Your preference.

In the morning, add 1/4 cup water and set the dish in the crock pot fixture on high heat. Cover and let do it's thing for 4-5 hours. Luckily, as I said, I happened to have a schedule that allowed me to swing home in this time frame. On my way back to the office from an event, I was able to run by the apartment and complete the next part of this process...

Test the pork and make sure it is easily broken apart.

Remove the pork from the crock pot and pour out the liquids and fat. Using two forks, pull the pork apart to shred.

In the crock pot bowl, pour the rest of the Coke Zero, add the green chilies, tomato paste, chipotle chili in adobo with a few spoonfuls of the adobo sauce, the garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, and the brown sugar. Mix it well and add the shredded pork back into the pot.

Let it cook for another 3-4 hours and you will be ready to serve! I made Gina's awesome Cuban black beans and served the barbacoa pork rolled up in a low fat, whole wheat tortilla with a dollop of sour cream and Monterrey jack/cheddar cheese blend shown above.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Throwback Thursday: Chicken Lettuce Wraps...revised

I  had planned to make this one exactly the way we did before - there just wasn't anything I wanted to change, we loved this recipe the way it was and planned to love it again tonight. But, we just aren't in control of everything now are we!

In our grocery excursion on Sunday, I did not pick up the butter lettuce needed for the "lettuce wrap" part of the chicken lettuce wraps. When I realized this, I asked Mr. Max to please pick it up on his way over tonight. As he was grabbing that last piece, I'm making the chicken mix just as the recipe said....

Well, grocery store didn't have the package of perfectly stacked butter lettuce, so the clerk gave him a head of it instead. Max said he was kinda skeptical about it, the leaves looked a little dingy, but the clerk said they were really fresh. He arrives, we are getting ready to dish it out, but as I'm breaking apart the lettuce leaves to wash, I come across something that caused me to change up the way dinner was planned for tonight. Meet our little friend, the Curtis the Caterpillar:

For whatever reason, he looks black in this picture but in real-life, he was very green.
That's right, I named him. Super fresh indeed Mr. Clerk Man, so fresh that the insects are still inhabiting the food we just bought to consume. Now, I'm sure caterpillars are as clean as they are... ahem, cute... but I am not about to serve up leaves that I saw bugs in. No sir, no way. So, we improvised!

Say hello to tonight's Throwback Thursday rendition of Chicken Lettuce Wraps... Stir Fry: The Remix (insert the wah-ah-wah-ah noise that DJ's make with their turntable things). We remove the lettuce wrap aspect and added some fresh steamed broccoli with the rice and chicken to still get the greens in. It was a delicious replacement and fun variation furthering my belief that everything happens for a reason! (Hi, nice to meet you, I plug corny anecdotes in wherever possible)

I also give you a delicious wine pairing for this meal! Little story for you, I recently enrolled in a wine club. While I do love wine, the reason for this was not to expand my palette, though a perk, but because American Airlines Advantage Program told me that I would receive 2,000 miles for enrolling if I spent $48 on my first month in this wine club. Because I am a sucker for bargain deals, I thought to myself "self, you should do this." So I did and by doing so, I'd receive 6 wines - either mixed, all whites or all reds - and a 9 piece wine opener set. Merry Christmas in April. 

My shipment came today, as did the reality. Mental note reminder to cancel tomorrow - I got my miles and the enrollment deal, now I cancel before next month and the price more than doubles beginning in month two! I do love wine, but not that much, nor do I drink it enough to justify an additional 6 bottles per month, Lordy. Anyway, the point is, I received the shipment today and went with the mixed blend because spring/summer is upon us and white wine in warmer climates is favorable. Each wine came with an informative pairing card, the Clark Road Vintners Viognier (2010) said it was best paired with barbeque chicken or stir fry, so I decided we had a winner and this was a perfect excuse to open one. I'd never tried Viognier before but I have to say I recommend this one - both the recipe rendition and the wine!
 We just started and are hooked on the AMC series, Breaking Bad - no pun intended given the content and premise of the series. Tonight's dinner was a coffee-table-classic, as we watched our show!

Grocery list is all the same, minus the lettuce and adding the broccoli florets, same as the recipe process. So help yourself to this for the original but for tonight's version, all you do is add in broccoli to the chicken mix, increase the Tamari and sweet chili sauce to your personal preferences, create a bed with the rice, then serve!
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