Thursday, February 25, 2010

Spaghetti Supper

DSCF3694 I love making spaghetti.  It’s so simple and so comforting.  I adore the aroma of the tomatoes and the oregano wafting through the air.

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I start with the sauce.  I don’t go by a recipe, but just go with whatever feels / tastes right (and whatever I can find in the pantry) at the time.

Since I don’t measure, I can’t give you specifics – but I can at least share some of the common ingredients in my sauce:

  1. Sauté yellow onions and garlic in butter & extra virgin olive oil
  2. Italian seasonings, basil, oregano, bay leaves, & parsley
  3. Salt & Pepper
  4. Crushed tomatoes and/or tomato sauce
  5. Fire roasted tomatoes and/or seasoned diced tomatoes
  6. Tomato paste
  7. A dash of water and/or chicken stock
  8. Sugar
  9. Worchestire sauce and/or A1 steak sauce

*******

While the sauce simmers, I work on my meatballs!  Again, my recipe changes every time and I can’t give you specific measurements… but hopefully my ingredient list is still inspiring!

(before cooked pic)

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  1. For the meat – I may use anything from ground chuck or sirloin to veal, Italian sausage, and/or ground chicken.  I always mix at least 2 kinds.
  2. Crackers or seasoned crackers
  3. Ricotta
  4. Parmesan cheese
  5. Egg white(s)
  6. Diced sautéed yellow onions
  7. Garlic (of course!)
  8. Salt & pepper
  9. Oregano & Italian seasoning mix, parsley (I’ve even put in shredded spinach sometimes!)
  10. Worchestire sauce and/or A1 steak sauce

Once the meatballs are cooked (375 about 20-25 min or until cooked through), I drop them into the spaghetti sauce, and shortly thereafter they are on my plate and then in my belly!

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Spread on top of whole wheat pasta and topped with parm cheese – that makes a feast for me!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Leftovers = Shepherd’s Pie – with a twist!

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Whenever I cook I always end up having too much food left over, and I get sick of eating the same thing more than twice – so… I have to invent new ways to work with leftovers!

Last week, I took my Kind of Cassoulet dish and converted it to a new version of Shepherd’s Pie!  It was very simple since all I had to do was pour it in a pot and top it with some homemade mashed potatoes (also leftovers!).  It turned out great! 

FYI – my secrets to fabulous mashed potatoes are:

  1. heating the milk before blending
  2. using real butter!
  3. incorporating Tastefully Simple’s spinach & artichoke cream cheese spread

Granted, my mashed potatoes don’t go down in my healthy recipe book, but mmmmm… can’t you just taste the creamy goodness?

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

A few of my favorite things

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I’m channeling Julie Andrews in Sound of Music today and am sharing a few of my favorite things! 

Roasted garlic vinaigrette dressing, grapefruit sparkling water, and a lovely salad (pecans, broccoli, parm, apple, blueberries, sharp cheddar, & spinach).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Green Eggs & Ham

DSCF3893Okay, so it’s not really green eggs and ham, but it looks like it!!!

I love hearty breakfasts, but never have time to make them during the week.  On the weekend – I always make the time!

 

This weekend, my healthy take scrambled eggs consisted of:

  • drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
  • sautéed onions
  • 2 egg whites & 1 egg yolk
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • turkey sausage
  • sprinkle of parmesan cheese

I never make my scrambled eggs the same way twice, but as long as I find some good veggies (& possibly some cheese!), I’m a happy woman!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Kind of…. Cassoulet

I recently tried out Rachel Ray’s rustic quick-fix version of cassoulet. The only changes I made were to leave out the bacon and beef sausage.  For meat, I just used chicken thighs and a little turkey sausage.  It turned out great!  Very easy to make  - “chop & drop!” – and also very hearty and full of healthy ingredients (minus the sausage & bacon of course!).

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I paired the quick cassoulet with some seasoned jasmine rice, asparagus, and a veggie filled salad.  If you’re someone who likes a bit more carbs on the plate, a crusty garlic baguette would’ve worked beautifully with the meal!

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Rachel’s Rustic Meat & Bean Pot:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage links brushed with extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn around the pan
  • 1 slice bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 boneless 8 ounce pork loin chop, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 1 teaspoon ground thyme or poultry seasoning
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes in puree
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained
  • 1/2 loaf crusty baguette, split lengthwise
  • 1 clove garlic, cracked, for garnish
  • A drizzle extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Preheat broiler to high. Place sausages on a broiler pan and cook 6 inches from heat source 15 minutes turning once.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn around the pan, and chopped bacon. Cook bacon 1 minute, then add chicken and pork and brown cubes on all sides, 3 minutes. Season meats with thyme, salt, and pepper, and add garlic, vegetables, and bay leaf to the pot. Cook 5 minutes stirring occasionally, then deglaze pan with the wine.

Slice sausages on an angle and add pieces to the pot on the stove. Stir in tomatoes and beans and heat them through. Adjust seasonings and remove pan from heat.

Broil the split baguette until golden. Rub bread with cracked garlic and drizzle with oil. Coarsely chop bread and scatter the chunks around the edge of the pan. Serve the cassoulet directly from the hot pot at the table.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentines Day!

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I found the cutest little heart shaped watermelon cut outs last night at the grocery store, which I was planning to have for breakfast this morning (with blueberry muffins along side) – however, we ended up going to our favorite little breakfast cafe this morning, so now I plan to eat muffins and watermelon hearts for dessert tonight now instead (yum!).

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Yesterday I tried a fabulous almond mocha recipe that would also be a delightful treat with a Valentines Day meal.

The recipe is from Food Network’s show 5 Ingredient Fix.  My favorite part of the mocha was the almond milk with honey – seriously, that is a stellar drink just by itself (however, the coffee and cocoa don’t hurt it…!).

Toasted Almond Mocha Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 8 ounces sliced almonds
  • 4 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 4 shots espresso or 1 cup very strong coffee
  • 4 tablespoons good quality cocoa powder

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the almonds on a sheet tray in 1 even later and toast in the oven until fragrant and light golden, about 7 minutes.

Put the toasted almonds and milk in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat until steaming and hot, but not boiling, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the honey and stir until incorporated, then strain through a fine mesh strainer.

In a warm mug or heatproof glass, mix an espresso shot or 1/4 cup coffee with 1 tablespoon cocoa powder and then top with the toasted almond-infused milk. Repeat with remaining espresso, cocoa and hot milk.

(recipe from Foodnetwork)

Friday, February 12, 2010

All the toppings for me please!

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I have always gobbled up salads like they’re going out of style – but I love all of the toppings so much that I typically end up with 70% toppings and 30% salad / lettuce mix.

Here are a few of the toppings I adore:

  • english cucumbers
  • mushrooms
  • goats cheese / sharp cheddar / feta / blue cheese
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • tomatoes
  • chicken
  • almonds / walnuts / sunflower seeds
  • beets
  • cranberries
  • blueberries
  • strawberries
  • cauliflower
  • peas
  • hard-boiled eggs

I’m sure the list goes on, but those items are top of mind right now.  Actually, I’m making myself hungry… a salad is sounding good   :)

What else would you add to the list?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tuna Melt a la Londyn

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A healthier version of an old fashion tuna melt! 

I’m a huge lover of down-home comfort food like lasagna, fried chicken, soups & stews, etc…  Tuna melts are another one of my faves, so I made up this healthy version and it was pretty dang good!

The main change: Instead of heavy bread = Substitute a portobello mushroom

I roasted the mushroom with a little olive oil, rubbed on some garlic (optional), added a hefty slice of tomato, spooned on the tuna, and finished it with a few pieces of spinach and a small slice of swiss cheese. 

Bon appétit!  (yes, I’m channeling Julia right now…)

Monday, February 8, 2010

Time for dessert!

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One of the (many) difficult things about eating healthy is figuring out what to eat for dessert.

 

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t go without something sweet in my daily diet.

I’ve made the Cook Yourself Thin biscotti and it’s okay.  But it definitely didn’t hit the “dessert spot” in my belly.

I plan on trying some of the other CYT desserts, but I haven’t had the necessary ingredients on hand, so I’ve yet to try them.

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Earlier this week, I decided to make an angel food cake – it’s pretty light in calories and doesn’t require frosting, so I’m deeming it “healthy”.

EXPLOSION!  Holy cow – that thing exploded when I cooked it!  You can see from the picture that it tried to take over my cake pan.  Either way, it still tasted mighty good (as you can tell by the piece that’s missing)!

I ate the angel food cake with some simple macerated strawberries.  Because I had macerated the strawberries, they were nice and juicy – so I had no need to add anything extra like whip cream.  Yum!

What are your favorite “healthy” desserts?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Recipes search trend

I love cookbooks.  It’s a secret pastime of mine to cozy up in bed with a hot cup of tea and dig into a new cookbook  :)

However – my collection has grown so large that I realize I have to stop buying them!  (At least, until I get a larger bookshelf…)  Instead of buying more (for now), I’ve been searching online for the ease and convenience of at-your-fingertips recipes.  Grant it, I wouldn’t curl up in bed reading these recipes, but it works while I am curbing my cookbook spending appetite.

Below are a few sites I’ve tried out:

Any other suggestions?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Who Loves Garlic?!? I do!

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Ah, garlic and I are old friends… 

I love it on just about everything!  Bread, pizza, pasta, meats / seafood, dips, sauces, mashed potatoes – the list goes on and on.

 

 

 

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Of course, you can always just rough chop garlic when using it in the kitchen, but one of my best purchases ever has been my “heavy duty” garlic press!

However… – if you need your garlic more “mushy” and mashed (for example – if you are using it raw in a salad dressing…etc.) a great TIP is:

  • to rough chop the garlic on a cutting board
  • sprinkle liberally with salt
  • run the side of a large cutlery knife back and forth over the garlic pieces

This will create a garlic paste which allows the garlic flavor without having the risk of chomping into a raw chunk of garlic – yikes!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Planet Green – What’s on your plate?

If you are interested in eating local fresh food and are interested in knowing where your food comes from, then don't miss What's On Your Plate when it airs on February 6th at 10pm EST on Planet Green.

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Pizza Pizza

DSCF3872One of the things I find most difficult when trying to eat healthy is the influence that others have on what food I eat. 

For instance, when I came home from work yesterday my man wanted to have pizza for dinner.  His pizza version consists of heavy dough, lots of sauce, pepperoni, cheese, and sometimes sausage and bacon.  Houston, we have a problem…

But wait!  I decided to make a healthy version pizza for myself and told him to make his own!

My pizza consisted of:

  • healthy wheat tortilla crust
  • a brush of olive oil
  • chicken
  • roasted garlic
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • part skim ricotta cheese

I also added some chopped tomato for garnish (though not in the picture).  

Of course…, the best option is to only have to make one meal that everyone will eat, but as life just doesn’t always work that way – I’ll keep on improvising.  And next time he wants a juicy hamburger, I’ll just whip out the ground chicken for myself and tell him to make his own!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Snickedy Snacks – time to prep!

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Nutritionists often say that women should eat 5-6 small meals a day for maintaining energy / healthy metabolism, etc…  Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to find / prepare that many healthy meals every day!

TIP OF THE DAY!

I find it useful to do a big grocery shopping trip on the weekend, and do a good amount of prep work for the week.  I make up mini veggie trays, cut up fruit for snacking, desserts, and smoothies, cook up pastas / rice for dinners, etc…

I realize that while I find this activity relaxing and fun (sick, I know…) – many people may find it a pain.  But I challenge you to try it for just a few weeks and make it as fun as possible.  Turn on some upbeat music, brew some coffee, have kids, your spouse, or family help.  Once you see how much easier it will make your life (and how much healthier you will eat and feel) – you’ll make it a habit for certain!

Here’s an example of my multiple meals (today’s eats!)

Meal 1 / Breakfast: whole grain cereal & skim milk

Meal 2 / Snack: banana smoothie (prepped last night) & 5 mini rice cakes

Meal 3 / Lunch: 1 serving of “Cook Yourself Thin” turkey sausage pasta bake

Meal 4 / Snack: “Cook Yourself Thin” home-made biscotti & small veggie mix (above)

Meal 5 / Dinner: chicken “pizza” on wheat tortilla round & side salad

Meal 6 / Snack: tea & popcorn (no butter)