Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rosemary-Merlot Flank Steak


I had seen flank steak on sale at the meat market, so I decided to give it a try. It was such a nice change from our typical chicken dishes! Good stuff!

As far as an update on my weight loss, I am on Week 15 and down 21.75. I have to say that these Cooking Light recipes really make it easy for me to stick to the program. I have yet to have a bad meal and they don't taste light at all!


1 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup low-salt beef broth
3/4 cup Merlot or other dry red wine
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-pound) flank steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Preheat grill or broiler.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add steak; seal bag. Marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes, turning once. Remove steak from bag, reserving marinade.

Place steak on grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray; cook 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices; keep warm.

While steak cooks, combine reserved marinade, tomato paste, and mustard in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring well with a whisk. Bring to a boil, and cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 7 minutes). Serve the sauce with steak.

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 203 (39% from fat), Fat: 8.8g (sat 3.6g,mono 3.5g,poly 0.5g) Protein: 23.8g, Carbohydrate: 6.1g, Fiber: 1.1g, Cholesterol: 54mg, Iron: 2.7mg, Sodium: 445mg, Calcium: 32mg

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread


So, I decided to make a couple loaves of pumpkin bread to take into work. With doing Weight Watchers I don't make too many sweets. Having them around usually leads to me eating them, so I just don't tempt myself like that. Anyway, I took a loaf and Matt took a loaf. Everyone loved it. When I got home, Matt had only taken 3/4 of his loaf and saved some for us. I was so happy because I was dying to try it. This is seriously my favorite pumpkin bread. It's so moist, sweet and incredibly tasty. It's the perfect fall recipe.


2 cups sugar (I only used 1.5 cups)
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla pudding (I used fat-free vanilla yogurt)
4 large egg whites
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into 2 (8 x 4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pans on a wire rack, and remove from pans. Cool completely on wire rack.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 152 (30% from fat), Fat: 5g (sat 1.2g,mono 2.5g,poly 1.1g), Protein: 2g, Carbohydrate: 26.5g, Fiber: 1.1g, Cholesterol: 0.0mg, Iron: 1mg, Sodium: 137mg Calcium: 10mg

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Mexican Lasagna


I couldn't think of anything to make today, so I turned to Matt. He first asked me to make lasagna. Then he asked if I could make a Mexican lasagna. I remembered seeing this recipe on Pioneer Woman's site and decided today would be the perfect day to whip this up.

We both LOVED this. The flavor was on point and it tasted like something you'd get at a fancy restaurant! Best part is, we'll have plenty of leftovers for a few days! I'm not complaining! I halved the recipe and baked it in my deep ceramic lasagna pan.

(adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)

2 cups unprepared rice
3-4 cups chicken broth
2-4 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, pressed
1 can black beans, undrained
taco seasoning (or chili powder, paprika and cumin)
1 ½ lb. ground sirloin
1 (16 oz.) jar salsa verde
8-12 small flour tortillas
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
8 oz. enchilada sauce
1 can corn, drained
sour cream and cilantro, for garnish

Cook the rice according to package directions with chicken broth in place of the water. In a large skillet, melt a half tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes, onion and garlic to the pan and sauté until onion is tender. Add in chili powder (approx. 1 ½ tablespoons), paprika and cumin (approx. ¾ tablespoon of each), to taste. Stir to combine. Add the can of beans and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and add cooked rice. Stir to mix well.

In the now empty skillet, brown the ground sirloin. Mix with chili powder (approx. 1 ½ tablespoons), paprika and cumin (approx. ¾ tablespoon of each) and salt to taste, as well as 2 oz. of water to create the taco beef.

To assemble the lasagna, pour half of the jar of salsa verde in an even layer over the bottom of a casserole dish. Layer evenly with flour tortillas to cover. Spread approximately half of the rice mixture evenly over the tortillas. Sprinkle with a layer of shredded Mexican cheese. Add another layer of flour tortillas. Pour a thin layer of enchilada sauce over the tortillas. Spread taco beef evenly over the enchilada sauce. Layer one can of corn over the beef. Top with the remaining rice mixture in an even layer. Spread the remaining salsa verde evenly over the rice, and sprinkle with a layer of shredded cheese to finish.

Bake at 375° for 25-35 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and begins to brown a bit. Allow to sit 10 minutes before serving. Top individual servings with sour cream and fresh cilantro, for garnish.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Barbecued Pork Chops


I'm always looking for new ways to cook up pork chops. This recipe is now my ABSOLUTE favorite. The BBQ sauce is so tangy and flavorful and the dry rub on the chops is so yummy! So, yeah, I'll be making this quite often. Maybe, one day, I can get a better picture. This one isn't very good!!

I doubled the sauce and doubled the rub. I used most of the rub, but not all of it.




1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce

Remaining ingredients:

6 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick) (I used 4 boneless center cut chops)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
Cooking spray

Prepare grill or broiler.

To prepare sauce, combine the first 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Place 1/4 cup sauce in a small bowl, and set aside.

Trim fat from pork. Combine the thyme, garlic salt, and pepper; sprinkle over pork. Place pork on a grill rack or broiler pan coated with cooking spray; cook 6 minutes on each side, basting with remaining sauce. Serve pork chops with reserved 1/4 cup sauce.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 244 (42% from fat), Fat: 11.3g (sat 3.9g,mono 5g,poly 1.4g), Protein: 24.6g, Carbohydrate: 9.9g, Fiber: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 77mg, Iron: 1.5mg, Sodium: 649mg, Calcium: 22mg


Monday, September 29, 2008

Spicy Jalapeño Corn Bread


This was my first attempt at corn bread and it turned out excellent. It went perfectly with the chili. Yum ... you must try this!!!

Spicy Jalapeño Corn Bread - (Cooking Light)

Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal
1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup nonfat buttermilk
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeño peppers
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Place a 9-inch cast-iron skillet coated with cooking spray in oven 5 minutes or until heated (I used a 9 inch pie plate).

3. Combine cornmeal, corn, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk; make a well in center of mixture. Combine buttermilk, cheese, jalapeños, butter, honey, oil, and eggs in a small bowl; add to cornmeal mixture. Stir just until combined. Spoon mixture into preheated pan. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut into 12 wedges.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 138 (33% from fat), Fat: 5.1g (sat 1.9g,mono 1.4g,poly 0.6g)
Protein: 4.7g, Carbohydrate: 19.5g, Fiber: 2.9g, Cholesterol: 43mg, Iron: 0.8mg, Sodium: 263mg, Calcium: 68mg,

Springfield Chilli


Per Cooking Light, the Illinois version of chili is typically spelled with an extra "l," so don't think I didn't use spell check!

This was so, so good. All the flavors went perfectly together. This has to be the best chili I have ever made!! I was very impressed!

Springfield Chilli - (Cooking Light)

1 bacon slice, finely chopped
2 1/4 cups finely chopped onion, divided (about 2 medium)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound coarsely ground turkey breast
1/2 pound coarsely ground sirloin
1 (12-ounce) can beer (such as Budweiser)
3 tablespoons chili powder (I used an extra 1/2 T)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I doubled)
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (I doubled)
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained (I added an extra can of kidney beans)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
Oyster crackers (optional)

1. Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat 5 minutes or until browned. Stir in 2 cups onion; cover and cook until onion is tender (about 5 minutes). Uncover and stir in garlic; cook for 1 minute.

2. Increase heat to medium-high; add turkey and sirloin to pan. Cook 5 minutes or until browned, stirring to crumble. Add beer; cook until liquid is reduced to 1/3 cup (about 7 minutes). Stir in chili powder and next 5 ingredients (through tomato sauce). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until mixture thickens. Stir in beans; cook 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Ladle 1 cup chili into each of 6 bowls. Top each serving with 4 teaspoons cheese and 2 teaspoons onion. Serve with crackers, if desired.

Nutritional Information: Calories: 278 (25% from fat), Fat: 7.7g (sat 3.4g,mono 2.2g,poly 0.6g), Protein: 33.1g, Carbohydrate: 20.3g, Fiber: 4.5g, Cholesterol: 52mg, Iron: 3.2mg, Sodium: 623mg, Calcium: 123mg

(Nutritional information is for the recipe made as printed. It does not include my changes.)

Healthy Pumpkin Raisin Muffins


I love, love pumpkin and was so excited to see this recipe on Elly's blog. Not only are these muffins incredibly tasty, they are healthy too! I followed the recipe exactly and will definitely make these again!
Healthy Pumpkin Raisin Muffins - (Elly)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ginger
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or vegetable/canola oil, if you're not calorie counting)
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup low fat buttermilk
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 and grease a 12-cup muffin tin. Sift together flours, baking powder and soda, salt and spices.

In a separate bowl, beat egg with brown sugar until well combined. Stir in vanilla, buttermilk, applesauce and pumpkin puree.

Pour wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in nuts and raisins.
Pour mixture into muffin cups and bake approximately 18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Nutrition Info, per muffin: Calories: 143 / Fat: 3g / Carbs: 27g / Dietary Fiber: 2.4g / Sugar: 2.2g / Protein: 3.8g

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Crispy Yogurt Chicken


I have seen so many people make this recipe lately, so I finally decided to do it. Matt loves breaded chicken and garlic so I knew this would be a hit! The chicken turned out super crispy and tasted fabulous! This dish is making its way into our regular rotation!

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
6 ounces plain, unflavored yogurt
5 garlic cloves, pressed
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried parsley
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups of panko bread crumbs (approximately)
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 365 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (for easy clean up) and place a rack/cooling rack on top of it. Spray the rack with cooking spray.

In a large Ziploc bag, add the yogurt, pressed garlic, lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper. Seal the bag and shake/squeeze it to combine. Add the chicken breasts to the bag, re-seal and shake the bag to coat the chicken. Put the chicken in the fridge and let it marinate for 20-30 mins (you could also skip this step).

In a shallow dish, combine the panko, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to your tastes . Carefully dip the chicken breasts into the panko mixture to coat. Place the chicken on the rack and spray the top with cooking spray. Bake about 20-30 minutes or until done.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Roasted Garlic Zucchini


I'm always looking for tasty ways to get in our veggies. This is a recipe I use on my broccoli, but I decided to give it a try with zucchini. It turned out excellent.


2 large zucchini
lots of sliced garlic (I use 5-8 cloves, depending on their size)
lemon pepper, to taste
salt, to taste
crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)
a couple swirls of olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Clean the zucchini. Chop off the ends and discard them. Chop the zucchini into thin slices. Slice the garlic. Place the sliced garlic and zucchini on a baking sheet and add the remaining ingredients. Toss to coat.

Roast in the oven for approximately 15 mins, or until cooked through.

Slow Cooker Char Siu Pork Roast


I had a great WI at Weight Watchers. I hit 20.5 pounds this weekend. Everything is going so well! Therefore, I will continue to make these fabulous Cooking Light recipes to keep me on track.

This was a perfect meal to make today. I woke up with a headache and didn't feel like doing much. So, I threw this together and popped it in the slow cooker. It was so, so good.

I served the sauce on the side. I didn't add much to my serving, but you can definitely add more, or even toss the pork in the sauce at the end. I served this with rice and roasted zucchini. YUM!


1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce (I didn't have hoisin on hand, so I used chili garlic sauce instead.)
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder
2 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed (I used a pork loin roast. It was leaner.)
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

Combine first 8 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Place in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add pork to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.
Place pork and marinade in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (I only cooked mine for 4 hours and 45 mins on low and it was perfect!).

Remove pork from slow cooker using a slotted spoon; place on a cutting board or work surface. Cover with aluminum foil; keep warm.

Add broth to sauce in slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 30 minutes or until sauce thickens. Shred pork with 2 forks; serve with sauce.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 227 (38% from fat), Fat: 9.5g (sat 3.1g,mono 3.9g,poly 1.1g), Protein: 21.6g, Carbohydrate: 12.7g, Fiber: 0.4g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Iron: 1.7mg, Sodium: 561mg, Calcium:

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Turkey Meatballs


I decided to make some of Cooking Light's turkey meatballs and serve them along with a jar of Kroger brand Extra Tomato Spaghetti Sauce (the best eva). This was a super good dinner. Definitely low calorie and something we will be making again. The best part about the meatball (outside of the deliciousness) was how perfectly round they were. I've never made meatballs like that! It was odd to me that this recipe didn't call for onions, but it packed plenty of flavor. Yum!


1 1/2 pounds ground round (I used ground turkey)
1/4 cup finely shredded fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3/4 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine all ingredients except cooking spray in a bowl; stir well. Shape mixture into 30 (1 1/2-inch) meatballs. Place on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until done.

30 meatballs (serving size: 5 meatballs)

Nutritional Information
Calories: 228 (35% from fat), Fat: 8.8g (sat 3.4g,mono 3.5g,poly 0.5g), Protein:
27.4g, Carbohydrate: 8.2g, Fiber: 0.8g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Iron: 3.4mg, Sodium: 70mg, Calcium: 95mg

(The nutritional information is based on the original recipe without my change of ground turkey)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach


This is my most favorite, favorite stew. I have already made it so many times. I have no idea why I haven't blogged about it yet. I mean, it's one of my favorite weeknight dishes.

Anyway, credit goes to Elly for this recipe. It's one of her many recipes that have gotten rave reviews in my house. This recipe was so good that Matt was mad that I didn't double it. Be sure to check out Elly's blog for more fabulous dishes. She's got tons of them!!!

I follow this recipe exactly most of the time. However, sometimes I can't find chicken thighs in the grocery store, so I use boneless skinless chicken breasts instead. Either work great. I usually cut the chicken up in chunks too.

(Elly - Elly Says Opa)

2-3 slices bacon, chopped
4 chicken thighs, bone-in and skinless
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. oregano
1 can cannellini or other white beans, drained
2 cups fresh spinach
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large saute pan with lid, cook the bacon until it has rendered its fat. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Pour off the bacon fat until about 1 Tbsp. remains in the pan.

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and sear it in the bacon fat, to brown, on both sides. Remove from pan.

Add the onions and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic and once the garlic becomes fragrant, stir in the tomato paste. Cook approximately one minute.

Add the wine to the pan to deglaze. Cook for about 2 minutes, scraping up the browned bits. Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Add the chicken back in the pan. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mash about 1/3 of the can of beans with a fork or the back of a wooden spoon--not into a paste, but just breaking up some of the beans (this will make the texture of the final product better). After the chicken has simmered 15 minutes, add the whole beans and the mashed beans into the pan. Cover, simmering an additional 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Add back in the bacon and the spinach. Cook just until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes.

Nutritional Information per serving (for 2 servings; based on sparkrecipes.com): Calories: 490 / Fat: 10.9g / Saturated Fat: 3.2g / Carbs: 44.7g / Dietary Fiber: 10.1g / Protein: 44.5g

(We can usually get 3-4 servings out of this, so adjust the nutritional information accordingly)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Low-Fat Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies


Okay, so this is my 10th week on Weight Watchers. I weighed in yesterday and I'm down 17.25 pounds so far! I'm so excited. Then, to top that, I ran my first 5K today. I've ran the distance a few times on the treadmill and was running it in 38:00. Then I practiced outside with my friend, Jenny, and we were running a 5K in about 34:00-35:00. Well, today at our first official race, I ran my 5K in 29:52 and Jenny ran hers in 29:51! WOW! I can't believe I came in under 30:00. I never saw that coming!

Now, on to the recipe! I had a major sweet tooth today and picked up some canned pumpkin at the store. I searched online and came across this recipe. It turned out really good and hit the spot. The cookies are really dense, so they are filling. They aren't super sweet, but they have great flavor and for a low-fat sweet treat, these are perfect. Best part is, the cookies are only 1 WW point each! Can't beat that!


1 c. pumpkin
2 egg whites, whipped
1 c. brown sugar, packed (I used half brown and half granulated)
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cloves
3 c. rolled oats
1 c. raisins (I omitted)

Spray baking sheet with cooking spray. In a large bowl combine pumpkin and egg whites. In a separate bowl combine sugar, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, oats, and raisins (batter will be very dry at first). Mix ingredients together just until moistened.

Drop cookies by tablespoonfuls onto a prepared baking sheet, 2" apart. You can leave the cookies in the shape of a ball (the baked cookie will still be a ball) or flatten them out with the bottom of a glass before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Makes 30 cookies

Nutritional Information Per Cookie: Calories 81.8 / Fat 0.6 / Fiber 1.5

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Italian-Style Meatloaf


First off, it's really, really hard to take a nice picture of meatloaf. So, sorry for the picture! Now, lets talk about this recipe. Another fabulous Cooking Light recipe. YUM! I don't like meatloaf. Well, I *thought* I didn't like meatloaf! This recipe totally changed my mind. This was packed with flavor and was so easy to put together. This will make great sandwiches too!


1 1/2 pounds 92% lean ground beef (I used ground turkey)
1 cup fat-free tomato-basil pasta sauce, divided
1/2 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup (2 ounces) preshredded fresh Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 large egg whites
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine beef, 1/2 cup pasta sauce, and remaining ingredients except cooking spray in a large bowl. Shape beef mixture into an 8 x 4-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray (I put mine in a loaf pan). Brush remaining 1/2 cup pasta sauce over top of meat loaf. Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°. Let stand 10 minutes. Cut loaf into 12 slices.

6 servings (serving size: 2 slices)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 263(42% from fat); FAT 12.1g (sat 5.7g,mono 4.7g,poly 0.6g); IRON 3.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 67mg; CALCIUM 175mg; CARBOHYDRATE 11.9g; SODIUM 859mg; PROTEIN 27.8g; FIBER 1.4g

**This nutritional information is for the original recipe. It does not reflect my substitution of ground turkey.**

Monday, September 1, 2008

Chicken Shawarma


This is BY FAR the BEST Cooking Light recipe I have made and it's finally making its way to my blog. I've made this 3 different times. It's so good that we eat it so fast and I forget to take pictures!! The flavor is so, so good. If you love garlic, you'll love this. This is a must make. You won't be sorry ... and it's WW friendly!

CHICKEN SHAWARMA - (Cooking Light)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, minced (I used a couple extra)
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 16 (3-inch) strips

1/2 cup plain 2% reduced-fat Greek yogurt (such as Fage)
2 tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced (I used a couple extra)

Remaining ingredients:
Cooking spray
4 (6-inch) pitas
1 cup chopped romaine lettuce
8 (1/4-inch-thick) tomato slices
Sliced onions (optional)

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. To prepare chicken, combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss well to coat. Let stand at room temperature 20 minutes.

3. To prepare sauce, combine yogurt and next 4 ingredients (through 1 garlic clove), stirring with a whisk.

4. Thread 2 chicken strips onto each of 8 (12-inch) skewers. Place kebabs on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 4 minutes on each side or until done. (I broiled my chicken for about 15 mins)

5. Place pitas on grill rack; grill 1 minute on each side or until lightly toasted (I put the pitas in the toaster oven for a few mins). Place 1 pita on each of 4 plates; top each serving with 1/4 cup lettuce and 2 tomato slices. Top each serving with 4 chicken pieces; drizzle each serving with 2 tablespoons sauce.

4 servings

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 384(23% from fat); FAT 9.8g (sat 2.1g,mono 4.1g,poly 2.7g); IRON 4.3mg; CHOLESTEROL 64mg; CALCIUM 106mg; CARBOHYDRATE 40g; SODIUM 821mg; PROTEIN 34.4g; FIBER 2.5g

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Teriyaki Pork and Vegetables with Noodles


Like I said in an earlier post, I am following Weight Watchers, so you'll be seeing a lot of lighter, healthier dishes. Over the weekend, I was thumbing through my old Cooking Light magazines and found this recipe. It sounded so good and I was really looking forward to trying it.

Boy am I glad I did. The flavor was so nice and light and it was a nice change from the typical chicken dishes I've been making. We'll definitely be having this again!

Teriyaki Pork and Vegetables with Noodles

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti (I used whole wheat pasta)
4 green onions
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper (I used a whole pepper)
3 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick), cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 (3 1/2-ounce) package shiitake mushrooms, sliced (I used 4 mushrooms)
1/3 cup low-sodium teriyaki sauce
4 teaspoons chili garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid; keep warm.

Remove green tops from green onions; thinly slice, and set aside. Mince white portions of green onions; set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add minced green onions, bell pepper, pork, and mushrooms; sauté 3 minutes or until pork is browned. Combine reserved 1/4 cup cooking liquid (I omitted), teriyaki sauce, and chili garlic sauce in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add pasta and teriyaki sauce mixture to pan; toss well to coat. Stir in sliced green onion tops.

4 servings (serving size: about 1 3/4 cups)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 444(27% from fat); FAT 13.5g (sat 4.1g,mono 4.6g,poly 2.7g); IRON 3.4mg; CHOLESTEROL 55mg; CALCIUM 40mg; CARBOHYDRATE 51.9g; SODIUM 633mg; PROTEIN 26.3g; FIBER 3.1g

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Parmesan Chicken and Rice


I'm still following Weight Watchers and coming along great! Since going back to meetings on June 28, I am down 13 pounds! Cooking Light has become my new favorite site for recipes. It's great because they calculate the nutritional information for you, so all I have to do is calculate the points. Easy!

This dish turned out great. It had really good flavor, it only required one pot and I had all of the ingredients on hand. This will definitely make it into our regular rotation.

Parmesan Chicken & Rice - (Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 (8-ounce) package pre-sliced mushrooms (I only sliced up 3 mushrooms)
3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup uncooked instant rice
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese (I only used 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
crushed red pepper, to taste (optional)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, thyme, and mushrooms; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add chicken; sauté 4 minutes or until the chicken is lightly browned. Add wine, salt, and pepper; cook 3 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates.

Stir in rice and broth. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

Stir in cheese and parsley.

4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

Nutritional Information
CALORIES 395(18% from fat); FAT 8g (sat 2.8g,mono 3.7g,poly 0.8g); IRON 4.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 57mg; CALCIUM 171mg; CARBOHYDRATE 44.4g; SODIUM 656mg; PROTEIN 29.9g; FIBER 2g

Monday, July 28, 2008

Spicy Peanut Chicken


I've really been concentrating on eating better and exercising! In an effort to keep up with our new healthy lifestyle, I am trying to change over to more healthy dishes.

I found this recipe in my latest issue of Cooking Light. When I read the recipe, it stood out. It's rare that you find recipes that you have all of the ingredients already in your pantry.

This dish was so, so good! It was packed with flavor and the chicken was so tender. The recipe makes a good amount and we'll have leftovers for a day or two! Gotta love that!

(Cooking Light)

1 tablespoon peanut oil (we used Canola oil)
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
2 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/3 cup chunky peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (we used a heaping tsp)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
3 cups chopped plum tomato (about 6 tomatoes) (we used canned diced tomatoes)
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
8 cups hot cooked brown rice
3/4 cup 2% Greek-style yogurt (such as Fage) (we omitted)

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Stir in peanut butter and next 5 ingredients (through tomato paste); cook 1 minute. Add tomato and broth to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Serve chicken mixture over rice; top each serving with yogurt.

Yield 12 servings (serving size: 3/4 cup chicken mixture, 2/3 cup brown rice, and 1 tablespoon yogurt)

Nutritional Information:
CALORIES 340(20% from fat); FAT 7.6g (sat 1.6g,mono 3.1g,poly 2.2g); IRON 2.1mg; CHOLESTEROL 56mg; CALCIUM 59mg; CARBOHYDRATE 38g; SODIUM 523mg; PROTEIN 30g; FIBER 4.6g

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Barefoot Bloggers: Pasta, Pesto & Peas


This was my first Barefoot Bloggers post. How exciting!! Barefoot Bloggers is an event dedicated to Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. This group is perfect for me because Matt & I both love Ina.

This recipe was chosen by Elizabeth of Ugg Smell Food. The pasta turned out delicious. I halved the recipe, as it makes a TON. I didn't end up making my own pesto, but I will next time for sure. My recipe, with changes, is below. Be sure to check out Barefoot Bloggers to see the results and check out Food Network for Ina's original recipe!


3/4 pound fusilli pasta
3/4 pound bow tie pasta
1/4 cup good olive oil (I omitted)
1 1/2 cups pesto, packaged or see recipe below
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted and squeezed dry
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/4 cups good mayonnaise (I omitted)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 1/2 cups frozen peas, defrosted
1/3 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cook the fusilli and bow ties separately in a large pot of boiling salted water for 10 to 12 minutes until each pasta is al dente. Drain and cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, puree the pesto, spinach, and lemon juice. Add the pesto mixture to the cooled pasta and then add the Parmesan, peas, pignolis, salt, and pepper. Mix well, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.

1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts)
3 tablespoons chopped garlic (9 cloves)
5 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups good olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Place the walnuts, pignolis, and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for 15 seconds. Add the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. With the processor running, slowly pour the olive oil into the bowl through the feed tube and process until the pesto is thoroughly pureed. Add the Parmesan and puree for a minute. Use right away or store the pesto in the refrigerator or freezer with a thin film of olive oil on top.

Air is the enemy of pesto. For freezing, pack it in containers with a film of oil or plastic wrap directly on top with the air pressed out.

To clean basil, remove the leaves, swirl them in a bowl of water, and then spin them very dry in a salad spinner. Store them in a closed plastic bag with a slightly damp paper towel. As long as the leaves are dry they will stay green for several days.

Yield: 4 cups

Monday, June 2, 2008

Shish Taouk


Thanks to Katie for this great recipe. I made dinner for the family yesterday and these kabobs were perfect. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so I has to take a de-skewered picture after I got home. Regardless, YUM! They were a big hit! I tripled the recipe!

I served these with salad, hummus, pita bread, kibbee and rice pilaf. Stay tuned for kibbee recipe. It was soooo good!

Recipe from: Good Things Catered ~ Katie

4 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded evenly and cut into 2 in pieces
1 large red pepper
1 large yellow pepper (I used green instead)
1 large sweet onion (I used a combo of red and sweet onion)
2 large zucchini (I omitted)
1/3 c. olive oil, divided
1 lemon, juiced
1 can (6oz) tomato paste
1 c. yogurt
3 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
2 Tbsp za'atar
1 Tbsp paprika
1 teaspoon salt, divided
2 teaspoons black pepper, divided

In large bowl combine 1/4 c. oil, lemon juice, tomato paste, yogurt, garlic, za'atar, paprika, 1/2 tsp salt and 1 1/2 tsp pepper.

Stir to combine thoroughly and add chicken pieces.

Coat chicken pieces evenly with marinade and place into fridge for at least 2 hours and up to 10.

Preheat grill on high while you make skewers.

Wash, prep and cut peppers, onion and zucchini into 1 1/2 - 2 inch pieces.

Place cut vegetables in a large bowl and coat with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine.

Take chicken out of fridge and out of marinade onto paper towel lined plate.

Pat some excess marinade off chicken (not all) and thread onto skewer.

Thread peppers, onion, and zucchini between pieces of chicken.

Repeat until all ingredients are made into skewers.

Turn grill down to medium and place skewers on grill racks.

Cook until nice grill marks are obtained and flip.

Repeat on other side and turn the heat down to low to finish cooking.

When chicken has reached proper internal temperature (no longer pink) remove from grill and place on plate tented with foil for 10-15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spicy Garlic Roasted Broccoli


This is ladychicago's famous broccoli recipe. It is, honestly, the only way to eat your broccoli. The flavor is amazing. Be prepared to fight for the garlic slices leftover in the pan! Enjoy!

2 large broccoli florets
olive oil
4-5 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or more, or less)
crushed red pepper, to taste (optional, but recommended)
salt, to taste
lemon pepper (or black pepper), to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Clean the broccoli by rinsing with cold water. Next, trim the base of the stem. Cut the broccoli into large chunks and place on a baking sheet.

Coat the broccoli with olive oil. Add the garlic slices, crushed red pepper, salt and lemon pepper. Toss to coat.

Bake for 15-20 mins, or until the garlic begins to lightly brown.

Creamy, Tender Pork Chops!


I made these today and I will say they were the best pork chops I've had in a long, long time. I will definitely be making these again. I could barely pull the chops out of the slow cooker in one piece. They were so tender! Yum!

4 thick center cut pork chops
1/2 cup flour
salt & pepper, to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
10 3/4 ounce can cream of mushroom with roasted garlic soup
1/2 soup can of water
1/2 soup can of dry white wine
1 teaspoon lemon juice

Trim excess fat from chops, rinse with water and pat dry. Spray slow cooker insert with non-stick cooking spray.

Combine flour, salt, pepper, dry mustard powder, garlic powder and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge pork chops in flour mixture.

Heat olive oil in skillet. Brown chops on both sides. Place chops in slow cooker.

Combine soup, white wine, water and lemon juice. Pour over chops.

Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 4-6 hours. If you do not have a slow cooker, you can also bake these at 350 degrees for 1.5-2 hours. Be sure to coat your baking dish with nonstick spray.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Blackened Chicken


I love blackened chicken. I've been making this a lot lately ... like 3 times this week. Not only is it healthy, it's tasty and easy to throw together. I found the original spice recipe on Allrecipes and have changed it to suit our taste.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (pounded thin)
Salt, to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a small baking dish with aluminum foil and coat with non-stick cooking spray.

Rinse the chicken breasts under cool water and pat dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with salt.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Once combined, rub the spice mixture on both sides of the chicken. Place the chicken in the prepared baking dish and bake for 20-30 mins, or until no longer pink and the juices run clear.

Lemon Pasta


I had seen this recipe on Brooke's blog today and just had to try it. The 'original' version of this recipe comes from Lovestoeat.

I made a few changes to the original recipe and it turned out delicious. Such a light, flavorful dish that went great with our blackened chicken. We'll definitely be making this again!

1/2 box whole wheat thin spaghetti
2/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 tbsp dried basil
1 tbsp garlic powder
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano
Crushed red pepper, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Whisk all other ingredients together. Toss pasta with the lemon sauce and serve immediately.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pepper Steak


So, I had bought some sirloin tips on sale over the weekend and thought this would be the perfect recipe to use them in ... and it WAS! This was soooo good! Believe it or not, I've never had pepper steak, so I relied on Matt to tell me if this tasted like it was supposed to and he was very impressed.

I found this recipe on Food Network and altered it a tad. My recipe with adaptations is below. For the original recipes, be sure to follow my link over to Food Network/Rachael Ray.

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pounds tenderloin tips or sirloin, cut into chunks
Coarse salt
1 red bell peppers, seeded, 2 inch dice
1/2 white onion, sliced
1 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup dry sherry
3/4 cups low sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Preheat a large skillet over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to really hot pan. Dry meat with paper towel and season with salt and pepper. Add meat to pan and sear on all sides, 5 minutes. Remove meat to a plate and cover meat loosely with foil to hold heat.

Reduce heat on pan to medium. Add remaining vegetable oil. Add peppers and a little onion. Saute peppers and onions 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and cook 1 minute longer. Whisk in sherry and start to pick up pan drippings. Whisk in beef broth and continue whisking. Add tomato paste, black pepper, garlic powder and crushed red pepper. Slide meat back into the pan and coat with sauce. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1-1 1/2 hours, or until meat is tender.

Serve with rice.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

BBQ Baby Back Ribs


Honestly, I've never thought to make ribs because we don't have a grill . . . damn condo association. However, when I was at the meat market today, the baby back ribs were on sale for $2.99/pound, so I figured what the heck.

After searching online, I found a recipe on Epicurious. These ribs turned out so, so good. They were very tender and falling off of the bone. If you follow the dry rub exactly, these will be very spicy, which we LOVED! Enjoy!

The Best Baby Back Ribs - Epicurious

1 rack of pork baby back ribs (mine was a little over 2 pounds)
BBQ Sauce to taste (I used Sweet Baby Ray's)

Dry rub:

4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon or less of cayenne pepper (unless you like it HOT)
1 tablespoon chili powder

Mix the dry rub ingredients in a bowl.

On the back of the ribs will be a very thin but very tough membrane that you must remove. You can't really see it well, but trust me that it's there. I usually use a knife to pry up a corner of the membrane, then I just pull it down the entire length of the ribs. Sometimes it tears and you have to try a few times, but you definitely don't want to skip this step unless you want to deal with the membrane while you're EATING.

Once the membrane is removed, put the dry rub all over the ribs (both sides) and rub it in. The meat will take on some of the colors in the dry rub and look a little reddish. Wrap the ribs in some heavy duty tin foil and let them hang out in the fridge til you're ready to cook them.

Cook the ribs:
Preheat your oven to 250 degrees.

Place the ribs wrapped securely in tin foil onto a cookie sheet (sometimes juice/fat can escape the tin foil) and place them in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours.

Pull them out and open the tin foil completely. At this point you can brush some BBQ sauce on them, or leave them the way they are. Crank up the heat to 350 and put the ribs back in the oven with the tin foil open. After half an hour, they're done!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Cheesy Stuffed Crust Pizza


Yes, it's true. I'm a sucker for good advertisement. Lately, all I have been seeing are Pizza Hut commercials for their stuffed crust pizza. Well, I had Monday off and searched for a recipe I could handle. I saw this one and decided to give it a whirl.

This turned out really good. Next time, I may search for a different dough recipe. This one was a tad too sweet for my liking. I'd also cut the cornmeal in half. There was a bit too much. Other

(Food Network)



1/4 cup warm water
4 tablespoons sugar
1 package dry yeast
3/4 cup milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
3 tablespoons cornmeal, plus more for the pan
1 egg, beaten 1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces mozzarella
Olive oil, for coating bowl

1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 cup prepared marinara sauce
1/2 cup canned stewed tomatoes, strained and coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (we used red bell pepper)
1/4 pound sliced pepperoni (we used turkey pepperoni)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F

To make the crust: Stir the water, 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and the yeast together in a small bowl. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan. Remove from heat, add the butter, and stir until melted.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, remaining sugar, egg, milk mixture, yeast mixture, and salt until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, adding flour as needed if dough is sticky, about 10 minutes. Clean the bowl and coat it generously with olive oil. Form the dough into a ball, put it in the bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch the dough down and let rest for 10 minutes.

Cut the mozzarella into sticks about 3 by 3/4 by 3/4-inches. Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal. Place the dough on the baking sheet and stretch it into a 15-inch circle.

Arrange the mozzarella sticks around the dough about 1-inch in from the edge, then roll the dough over the cheese to form the stuffed rim.

To make the topping: Stir the sugar into the marinara sauce and spread onto the pizza dough. Scatter with the stewed tomatoes, then the mozzarella. Add the onions, mushrooms, and pepperoni. Sprinkle with basil and oregano.

Bake until crust is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ground Turkey Pasta Bake


This was so quick and easy. I wanted to throw something together with what we had in the house. This worked out great and it was so tasty. I served it with a tossed salad. YUM!

1 pound of ground turkey
2 cups macaroni noodles, uncooked
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 cup white wine
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
1/4 cup Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1 tablespoon Italian breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 8x8 baking dish.

Cook pasta as directed.

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium/medium-high heat. Add onions, ground turkey and cook until browned. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add white wine and cook until reduced by half. Add tomato sauce, bay leaf, oregano, crushed red pepper, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and simmer for 20 mins. Remove bay leaf. Add Pecorino Romano and stir.

Add cooked pasta to sauce and stir to coat. Pour pasta mixture into the greased baking dish. Top with breadcrumbs and mozzarella cheese. Bake until cheese melts, about 10 to 15 mins.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Black & White Cupcakes


This recipe is originally from Buttercup Bakes at Home, but I had seen the recipe on Bake or Break. I altered the recipe, as I didn't have chocolate chips and used reduced fat cream cheese. The changes I made actually reduced the cooking time to 16-20 mins.

I actually was very happy with the way this recipe turned out. It had the perfect amount of sweetness and the perfect amout of richness. These will be perfect to take into the office tomorrow.

8 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used reduced fat)
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips (I omitted)
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Beat cream cheese, egg, and 1/3 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center, and add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix just until blended.

Fill each muffin cup one-third full with the chocolate batter. Top with a spoonful of cream cheese mixture, until cups are about two-thirds full. Bake 16 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 24 cupcakes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Creamy Orzo


YUM! This was so good! I'll definitely make it again. I didn't add the peas, but ended up serving them as a side. Matt picked out the tomatoes, WHATEVER! I loved it, so that's all that matters!

P.S. I halved this recipe and it still made a TON!

Creamy Orzo
(Food Network - Giada)

1 pound orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, juices drained
1 1/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup frozen peas, thawed (I omitted)
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes (I added)
Parsley (I added)

Bring a heavy large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring often, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallot and garlic, and saute until tender, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until they are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the cream and peas. Add the orzo and toss to coat. Remove the skillet from the heat. Add the Parmesan to the pasta mixture and toss to coat. Stir the pasta mixture until the sauce coats the pasta thickly, adding enough reserved cooking liquid to maintain a creamy consistency. Season the orzo with salt and pepper, and serve.

Pork Milanese


I had some pork chops thawing out in the fridge and went on a mad-search for a new pork chop recipe. This recipe was very good ... not overly healthy, but good. The pork chops were very moist and the crust was delicious.

Pork Milanese
(Food Network - Giada)

1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
2 large eggs
4 boneless pork loin chops, pounded thin to 1/3 inch-thick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

Coarsely crush the panko into a large shallow bowl. Stir the cheese into the panko. Lightly beat the eggs in another large shallow bowl. Sprinkle the pork generously with salt and pepper. Dip the pork, 1 piece at a time, in the egg, allowing the excess to drip off, then dredge the pork in the crumb mixture, patting to coat completely. Place the pork on a small baking sheet.

Heat 1/4 cup of oil in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the pork to the hot oil and cook until golden brown and just cooked through, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to paper towels to drain, then transfer them to a clean baking sheet and keep them warm in the oven.



So, yesterday, the package arrived. As soon as I opened the mailbox, I knew exactly what it was. To be 100% honest, it was Ally's blog that led me to Blake Makes ... more specifically, her cute little cheesecakes with PBDDL. So, thanks, Ally!

Blake had an awesome TCHO giveaway last week and I was lucky enough to be one of the 50-something to win!

Now, on to the goodness ... this was the best dark chocolate I've ever had. HONESTLY! I had planned on using it creatively in a baked good, but couldn't resist and ate it as-is!

The packaging was super cute. So cute, that I didn't even want to open it!

Thanks so much TCHO and Blake. I'm so glad I was given the opportunity to sample such a great product. I can't wait to get my hands on some more!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Mujadarah - Lentils & Rice


This is one of my favorite Lebanese family recipes. Basically, it's rice, lentils, onions and spices. This is such an inexpensive dinner to put together, makes great leftovers and tastes so good! This goes great with pita bread (see recipe below), hummus and a nice side salad.

1 1/4 cup lentils, rinsed
2 cups instant rice
3 large onions, finely sliced
4 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon cumin
salt and pepper
1/2 cup oil (I use Canola)

In a deep frying pan, add oil and finely sliced onions. Cook over medium-high heat. Try not to stir too often, as this slows down the browning process. At first it may appear you have a ton of onions but, trust me, they cook down a lot. Fry onions until dark brown, but not burnt.

onions before ...

and after ...

Meanwhile, in a large pot, combine lentils, water and a pinch of salt. Cook over medium-high heat for 10 minutes, or until lentils are half way cooked.

Add rice and cumin. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender, stirring often. Once the water is absorbed, remove from heat.

When the onions are dark brown, add to the rice/lentil mixture and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus


This was a nice change to the typical hummus we have. Next time, I'll add an extra clove of garlic but, other than that, this was very good! I followed the recipe almost exactly. The only things I changed was that I streamed in a little olive oil to get the hummus to a consistency that we liked and I roasted the red pepper under the broiler. My changes are bolded below.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
1 cup sauteed red peppers (I roasted 1 red pepper)
1/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 to 4 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves (I used dried)
Olive Oil

Preheat your broiler and then broil the red pepper for a couple minutes, turning it once the skin has blistered and blackened. After all sides of the pepper look charred, remove it from the broiler and put it in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let the pepper cool.

When the pepper is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off (it should come off easily at this point) and slice it.

Rinse and drain 1 can of the chickpeas. Place drained chickpeas in a blender and add red peppers, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin. Process until smooth. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with parsley.

Pita Bread


Thanks to Ally for sharing this recipe and her helpful tips today. I've finally conquered my first baking experience that involved yeast. These were very easy to make and tasted soooo good. Just like the bread at a local Lebanese establishment! I can't wait to use the rest of the bread for sandwiches and maybe some pita pizzas! YUM!

We will definitely be making these again!!

Lebanese Pita Bread

2 cups warm water (no warmer than 110 degrees)
1 tablespoon yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil

Place 1/4 cup of water in a small bowl and sprinkle yeast and sugar over the water. Stir to blend and let sit until dissolved.

Place flour, salt and oil in a large mixing bowl. Add yeast mixture and remaining water and beat (preferable with a heavy duty electric mixer) until flour is completely integrated. Knead dough on a lightly floured surface until smooth, elastic and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed -- about 5-8 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl and oil top of dough lightly. Cover with a warm kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubles in size, about 1 1/4 hours.

Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface and knead to remove the air bubbles. Roll into a log and divide dough evenly into 12 pieces. Pat each piece of dough into a ball, them use a rolling pin to flatten into discs about 1/4 inch thick and 6 inches in diameter.

Place discs on a lightly greased baking sheet and let rise, uncovered, until barely doubled in thickness, about 30-45 minutes.Preheat oven to 500° F. and place oven rack in lowest position.Bake the bread, one pan at a time, until puffed and starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from oven and cool breads on a wire rack.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Banana Cookies with Chocolate Chips


I was standing in the kitchen starting at some ripe bananas today. I almost decided to make some banana bread, but then I remembered that I had seen a recipe the other day for banana cookies. This recipe is from Simply Recipes, one of my favorite sites to visit. These cookies were so good ... such yummy, cakey banana goodness! I highly recommend them!

Be sure to check out Simply Recipes for more great recipes!

1/2 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 cup of mashed bananas (about 2 ½ large bananas)
1 teaspoon of baking soda
2 cups of flour
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground mace or nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves
1 cup of pecans (walnuts and chocolate chips are fine alternatives)

1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the egg and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

2 In a bowl, mix the mashed bananas and baking soda. Let sit for 2 minutes. The baking soda will react with the acid in the bananas which in turn will give the cookies their lift and rise.

3 Mix the banana mixture into the butter mixture. Mix together the flour, salt, and spices and sift into the butter and banana mixture and mix until just combined.

4 Fold into the batter the pecans or chocolate chips if using. Drop in dollops onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake for 11-13 minutes or until nicely golden brown. Let cool on wire racks.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Chicken Francese


I had to try this recipe after Ally raved about it. Oh my, this was so good! Most definitely a pan-licker! Matt and I both really loved this dish. It really hit the spot! I followed Ally's recipe exactly. The only thing I didn't do was halve my breasts horizontally, so Ally's are much thinner. The breasts I was dealing with were oddly shaped, so halving them would've been nearly impossible. This recipe originates from Cooks Illustrated's website.

Be sure to check out Ally's page for this and other great recipes. She has a bunch!

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small onion, minced (about 1/3 cup)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine or vermouth
1/3 cup lemon juice from 2 lemons
2 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Table salt and ground black pepper

1 cup all-purpose flour
Table salt and ground black pepper
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons milk
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/4 inch thickness
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced
fresh parsley leaves

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 200 degrees. Set wire rack on a foil-lined, trimmed baking sheet and place sheet in oven.

2.FOR THE SAUCE: Heat 1 tablespoon butter in medium nonreactive saucepan over medium heat. When foaming subsides, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add flour and stir until light golden brown, about 1 minute. Whisk in wine, lemon juice, and broth; increase heat to high and bring to boil, whisking constantly. Lower heat to medium-high and cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture is reduced to 1 1/2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Strain sauce through mesh strainer, return to saucepan, and set aside.

3. FOR THE CHICKEN: Whisk together flour, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in pie plate. In second pie plate, whisk eggs and milk until combined. Season both sides of each cutlet with salt and pepper. Using tongs and working with 2 cutlets at a time, coat cutlets in seasoned flour; shake off excess flour. Transfer cutlets to egg mixture; coat evenly and let excess run off. Return cutlets to seasoned flour; coat evenly and shake off excess flour.

4. Heat 1 tablespoon each butter and oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, place 4 cutlets in skillet. Cook until well browned, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Carefully flip cutlets and continue to cook until lightly browned on second sides, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer chicken to wire rack in oven. After transferring chicken to oven, wipe out skillet with paper towels.

5. TO FINISH SAUCE AND SERVE: Transfer sauce to now-empty skillet and set over low heat; cook until sauce is heated through, about 1 minute. Whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons butter; adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove baking sheet with chicken from oven; transfer 4 cutlets to skillet, turn to coat with sauce, then transfer each serving (2 cutlets) to individual plates. Spoon 2 tablespoons additional sauce over each serving and sprinkle with parsley. Serve immediately, passing extra sauce separately.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cornmeal Crusted Chicken Stuffed with Poblano and Cheddar


Another fabulous recipe from Elly. This was perfect. Matt loves crunchy, coated chicken. When Matt first looked at it, he was trying to figure out what was in the center. When I told him it was poblano pepper, he was excited because he loves peppers!!

This chicken had such great flavor and was so easy to make. We will definitely be making it again!

2 chicken breast halves
1 poblano pepper
1/3 cup shredded or sliced sharp cheddar
1 egg, beaten and mixed with a Tbsp of water (buttermilk would also be great here)
1/3 cup cornmeal
salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne to taste

Preheat your broiler and then broil the poblano for a couple minutes, turning it once the skin has blistered and blackened. After all sides of the pepper look charred, remove it from the broiler and put it in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let the pepper cool.

Preheat the oven to 400. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil (for easy clean up) and place a rack/cooling rack on top of it. Spray the rack with cooking spray.

When the pepper is cool enough to handle, peel the skin off (it should come off easily at this point) and dice the poblano. Slit a pocket into the chicken breasts. Stuff the pocket with the diced poblano and cheddar cheese. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper.

Combine the cornmeal with salt, pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper to your tastes. Carefully dip the chicken breasts into the egg wash, and then dredge in the cornmeal mixture.

Place the chicken on the rack and spray the top with cooking oil. Bake about 20 minutes or until done, turning once in the middle of cooking.

The best beans ever!


Thanks to Elly for this recipe. I could have literally sat and ate the entire thing. These were so good and Matt said they were the best beans he's ever had. I didn't have black beans on hand, so I used Great Northern Beans and they turned out excellent!

olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (or Great Northern Beans)
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/2 cup chicken broth
squeeze of fresh lime juice (optional)

Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the oil to a shimmer. Stir in the onions and cook until tender. Add garlic and tomato paste and saute an additional minute. Add half the beans and mash them slightly, with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher.

Add remaining beans, chicken broth, bay leaf, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Simmer 15 minutes. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top.

This really, really made my day!

How sweet of Melissa to pick me for the "You Make My Day" Award. It was totally unexpected and absolutely appreciated.

Melissa has some great recipes on her blog. Oh, she also has the cutest daughter EVER! So, thanks again, Melissa. You made my day!

I'm now sending this over to some people who have made my day!