Thursday, October 22, 2009

Chocolate


At work today we had a visit from our district manager, so our office manager made a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. She was serving up generous squares of it when I walked into the break room at 9:30 a.m. and said, "Hey there, Miss Jean! Do you eat chocolate?"

I said, "Mae, Mae, Mae. Do I eat chocolate? Is the Pope Catholic?"

Apparently she'd never heard that saying before. I love it when I can get a laugh with old material. (Where I used to live in New England, that saying was so old it didn't get a rise out of anyone. Instead of invoking the Pope, people would say, "Does a bear go ca-ca in the woods?")Speaking of old sayings. When asked her preference, my mom's dear friend Dorothy used to say, "Any color as long as it's blue. Any flavor as long as it's chocolate."

There are lots of sayings about chocolate, but I can't think of a better, more succinct one than that. Unfortunately, you can't read the saying in this photo very well because of the flash (I believe I've mentioned before what a terrible photographer I am), but you get the general idea, anyway.

This post is hereby dedicated to Dorothy Bailey Smith. Rest in peace, Dorothy, and thanks again for teaching me to slather butter on Danish pastry.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Avocado & Cheese Scrambled Eggs

This is a lighter version of the first breakfast I ever made for Mr. P., when we were still courting.

1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and roughly chopped
1 tbl lemon juice
4 scallions, chopped
4 eggs (or 1 cup egg beaters)
1 tbl light sour cream
1/2 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp pepper
4 oz shredded 2% cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend, divided
2 tbl chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
your favorite salsa (optional)

Preheat the broiler. Spray a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

Gently toss the avocado with the lemon juice, drain and set aside.

Beat the eggs with the sour cream, onion salt and pepper.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Saute the scallions until slightly wilted. Add the egg mixture and scramble until not quite set. Gently fold in the avocado, 2 oz of the cheese, and the cilantro, then pile the mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Put the dish under the broiler until the cheese topping is lightly browned. Serve with salsa, if desired.

4-6 servings

Friday, August 28, 2009

Feta Tomato Vinaigrette

This salad dressing was inspired by a recipe I found in a magazine (don't remember which one). To reduce the fat content without sacrificing flavor and body, I used less oil and added fresh tomato. I didn't bother peeling the tomato and my mini food processor did a fine job of whizzing it to smithereens. If you want to peel your tomato first, dunk it in boiling water for about 30 seconds. Lightly pierce the skin with a sharp knife and the skin will slip right off.

3 tbl canola oil
1 tbl olive oil
1 small red tomato, seeded and chopped
1/4 c. finely crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
2 tbl red wine vinegar
1 tbl lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp pepper, or to taste
1 tbl chopped fresh basil, or 1/2 tbl dried basil

Whiz all ingredients in a mini food processor until well combined. The dressing will look "curdled" because of the feta cheese lumps, but it will taste divine served with green salad, sliced tomatoes, grilled eggplant, grilled summer squash, or grilled zucchini.

Or, make a Caprese salad: alternate slices of red tomato and part-skim mozzarella cheese and drizzle with the vinaigrette. The saltiness of the feta and acidity of the vinegar and lemon juice balance the sweetness of the tomatoes and creaminess of the mozarella.

Coconut Chocolate Chip Macaroons

I've been craving coconut for some reason. Specifically, Mounds candy bars. A "snack" size (19 grams) Mounds has 92 calories, 5 grams fat, 11 grams carbs, 9 grams sugar. These cookies are a pretty good substitute. Each cookie (approximately 19 grams) has 74 calories, 3.2 grams fat, 10.5 grams carbs, 9.7 grams sugar. I will have to take most of them to church on Sunday for the coffee hour after the service because stuff like this is just too tempting to have around, but they sure hit the spot.

14 oz can fat free sweetened condensed milk
14 oz sweetened shredded coconut (you could use unsweetened)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 extra large egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3 oz mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, coconut and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whip the egg whites and salt with an electric mixer on high until they form medium-firm peaks. Gently fold them into the coconut mixture.

Drop the batter onto GREASED cookie sheets (2 teaspoons batter per cookie). Bake in the middle of the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden brown (watch them - they burn easily). Remove from oven, cool 2 minutes, then move to cooling racks.

Makes 46 cookies.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Cheesecake Treats (no bake)

This was inspired by the wonderful World According to Eggface blog. I'm a little lazier than Shelly is, and I like my cheesecake sweeter, so this is how I make these treats.

one 15-oz container part-skim ricotta cheese
4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
1 package (4 servings) SF/FF cheesecake pudding mix (see note below**)
2-3 tbl Splenda (or to taste)
1/4 tsp almond extract (use vanilla, lemon, coconut, or other flavoring if you don't like almond)

*Note: if desired, you can split the ricotta mixture into 2 batches and flavor one with a tablespoon (or more) of SF hot cocoa mix.

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl until well combined. Use as filling for "tarts" or stuffed strawberries (see below). You can use a small spoon to do the filling, or put the ricotta mixture in a zip-lock plastic bag, snip off a corner, and squeeze it out. (And then, if you're like me, you'll turn the bag inside out and lick off the stuff that got stuck to the plastic.)

TARTS (If you assemble these too far ahead of time, the "crusts" will get soggy)
Just before serving, plop 1-2 teaspoons of ricotta mixture onto your "crusts" - Oreo thin crisp cookies, mini vanilla wafers, graham crackers, mini Lorna Doones, or small gingerbread cookies. Decorate with fruit (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherry halves, or small pieces of other fruit of your choice), shavings of SF chocolate, drizzled SF chocolate or caramel sauce, nuts, fresh mint leaves, a dab of no-sugar-added jam, or toasted coconut.

STUFFED STRAWBERRIES (You can prepare these up to 12 hours in advance)
Hull some medium-sized strawberries and cut a cone out of the center to remove the white part. Put 1-2 teaspoons of ricotta mixture into each berry and arrange on a serving plate.

I don't know how many tarts or berries you'll get out of this amount of ricotta mixture - it depends on how generous you are with it. Having leftover ricotta mixture is certainly no hardship. Eat it like pudding, or roll it up inside a crepe, or spread it on toast.

Lisa and I served these treats on a 3-tiered glass serving plate, with a mixture of tarts, stuffed strawberries, and whole fresh cherries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. It was beautiful to behold and I wish we'd taken a photograph of it because it was empty in about 3 minutes!

Eggplant & Feta Dip

1 medium eggplant (about 1 lb)
2 tbl lemon juice
2 tbl olive oil
1/2 c. crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 c. finely chopped red onion
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
2 tbl chopped fresh basil or cilantro
1 tbl chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat broiler (or grill). Pierce eggplant about 8 times to allow steam to vent. Line a baking pan with foil and spray it with cooking spray. Broil (or grill) the eggplant, turning every 5 minutes, until the skin is charred and the eggplant is soft, about 15 min. total. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool.

When cool enough to handle, cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and scrape the flesh out. If desired, remove some or all of the seeds and discard them. Chop the flesh and combine with the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl, or whiz them in a food processor for a smoother consistency. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Serve with pita crisps or sturdy crackers.

Crab Dip

8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
one 6-oz can crabmeat, drained (see note below**)
1 tbl mayonnaise
2 scallions, chopped
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbl chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Combine thoroughly (using a food processor makes it easier).

If desired, substitute canned salmon, imitation crab, or baby shrimp.

Serve with raw veggies and/or pita crisps or crackers

Cucado Gaucamole

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded & diced
2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
3 scallions, chopped
1 tsp hot pepper sauce or to taste
1/4 c. lime or lemon juice
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until combined. If a smoother texture is preferred, whiz until smooth.

Cuvado = CU(cumber) (avo)CADO

Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms (low carb)

16 large white or brown mushrooms, stemmed and cleaned
2 tbl lemon juice
1/4 c. egg beaters (or 1 egg, beaten)
8 oz blue cheese, crumbled
optional garnish: walnut halves, parsley sprigs, fresh or canned red pepper strips

Preheat broiler. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Toss the mushroom caps with the lemon juice, drain, and discard lemon juice. Place the mushrooms stem side up on the baking sheet. Spray the mushrooms with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine egg beaters with blue cheese. Evenly spoon the cheese into the mushroom caps.

Broil the mushrooms 8-10" from the heat source for 5-6 min. or until golden brown. Remove from broiler and transfer the mushrooms to a serving platter. If desired, decorate with garnishes. Serve hot.

Marinated Feta Cheese

1 block (6 oz.) reduced-fat feta cheese
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tbl red wine vinegar
1 tbl chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tbl dried)
1 tsp chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
peel from 1/2 fresh lemon

Cut the cheese into bite-size chunks. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, herbs, pepper and garlic. Pare thin curls of peel from the lemon (try not to include any white pith - just the yellow peel). Combine the feta and lemon peel with the marinade, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hours.

One hour before serving, remove the cheese from the fridge to let it come up to room temperature. Stir it a few times before serving.

Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce

CHICKEN:
8-10 eight-inch bamboo skewers
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1/2 tbl Splenda brown sugar blend
3 tbl soy sauce
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp grated lime peel
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced

Soak the skewers in cold water while you work on the chicken.

Cut the chicken into strips about 2" wide and put them in a zip-top plastic bag. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl, pour over the chicken, seal the bag and squish it to evenly distribute the marinade. Refrigerate 10-15 minutes.

Heat a grill or broiler to medium-high heat.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and thread onto the skewers. Use more skewers if necessary - the chicken will not cook evenly if it's crowded on the skewers. Grill or broil the chicken 5 minutes per side or until juices run clear.

4 Servings

Serve with Peanut Dipping Sauce.

PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE
6 tbl PB2 powder (or 3 tbl regular peanut butter)
2 tbl soy sauce
1 tbl lime juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tbl Splenda brown sugar blend
Stir (or whiz in a mini food-processor) until thoroughly blended.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mustard Dill Catfish

1-1/2 lbs catfish fillets
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. Dijon mustard
3 tbl chopped fresh dill (or 1-1/2 tbl dried)
3 tsp olive oil, divided
4 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped

Rinse fish and pat dry. Put it on a plate and season it with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, dill, and 1 tsp olive oil. Spread the mixture over both sides of the fish.

In another bowl, combine 2 tsp olive oil, the tomatoes, and the garlic.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Add the fish to the skillet and cook 5 min. Turn the fish over and cook another 5 min. or until fish flakes easily. Transfer to a serving plate. Add the tomato mixture to the skillet, cook and stir 1 minute. Serve the tomato mixture with the fish.

4 servings

Monday, July 20, 2009

PB2 Dip

This dip gives me my peanut butter fix without all the fat. I like it with apple or banana slices, but you could use pears, pretzels, crackers, vanilla wafers, raw veggies; or spread it on toast.

1/4 c. reduced-fat (or fat-free) cream cheese
3/4 c. 1% (or fat-free) cottage cheese
2 tbl PB2 (or peanut butter)
1 tbl fat-free milk
1 tbl Splenda
dash of cinnamon (optional)

Put everything in a small food processor and whiz until very smooth.

Yield: 22 servings of 1 tablespoon each

Per serving:
16 cal, .7 g total fat, .4 g sat fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 47.6 mg sodium, .7 g carbs, neglible fiber & sugar, 1.7 g protein

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Yogurt Fluff

2 6-oz containers of yogurt (fruit or other flavor)
1 4-serving package sugar-free gelatin (flavor of your choice)
1/4 c. boiling water
1 8-oz container sugar-free Cool Whip

Add the gelatin to the boiling water in a large bowl and stir until dissolved. Add the yogurt and combine with a whisk. Add the Cool Whip and whisk again. Refrigerate until set.

You can pour this into a graham cracker crust to make a pie, if desired.

Chicken Liver Pate

8 oz. chopped onions
1 clove garlic, chopped
16 oz chicken livers
1 tbl butter
2 tbl chicken broth or water
1 tbl light sour cream
1 tsp salt

Rinse the chicken livers and cut off any membranes or excess fat. Dry on paper towels.

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute about 5 min. or until softened. Add the chicken livers and continue to cook about 10 min. or until the livers are slightly browned on all sides and cooked to the desired degree of doneness. Don't overcook them or they will turn bitter.

Put the contents of the skillet (juices and all) into a large food processor. Add the broth, sour cream, and salt and process until smooth. The mixture will be runny, but it will set when it's chilled.

Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Serve with toast, crackers, or raw veggies.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Honey Sesame Pasta & Tofu Salad

Combine in a large bowl:
1 recipe Honey Sesame Tofu, cut into cubes
4 cups cooked pasta (thin spaghetti, linguine, soba noodles, or other pasta)
1 recipe Honey Sesame Dressing
Veggies (see below)

Veggies:
1/2 c. diced red bell pepper
1/4 c. diced raw carrot
1/4 c. chopped scallions
2 tbl chopped fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, mint, or a combination of those)

Honey Sesame Tofu:
12 oz. firm tofu, cut in 1/4" thick slices
2 tbl honey
1 tbl sesame oil
1 tbl soy sauce
Preheat broiler. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. Place the tofu slices on the baking sheet.
Combine the honey, oil, soy sauce and water or broth. Drizzle half of it over the tofu and spread around with the back of a spoon.
Broil the tofu 5 min. or until browned, being careful not to burn it. Flip the slices over, drizzle with the rest of the honey mixture, and broil another 5 min. or until browned. Set aside. When cool, cut into cubes.

Honey Sesame Dressing:
2 tbl honey
2 tbl rice wine vinegar
2 tbl sesame oil
1 tbl canola oil
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp onion salt
Whisk all ingredients together.

4 servings

Middle Eastern Eggplant Salad

2 red bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
1 lb. eggplant, peeled and cut in 1" cubes
1 medium tomato, peeled & seeded
3 tbl tomato paste
2 tbl water
1/2 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tbl olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbl pine nuts, toasted

Preheat broiler.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, spray with cooking spray, and place red peppers on it skin side up, flattening them down with your hand. Broil 12 min. or until blackened. Place in a zip-top plastic bag, seal it, and let stand 10 min.

While the red pepper is sitting, remove the foil from the baking sheet and spray it with cooking spray. Place the eggplant cubes on the baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Broil 5 min. or until browned, remove from oven, flip the cubes over, spray with more cooking spray, and broil another 5 min. or until browned and tender. Remove from oven and set aside.

Remove the red peppers from the bag. Peel off the blackened skin and chop the flesh.

Place the tomato in a mini food processor and whiz until smooth. Add the tomato paste, water, salt, garlic, olive oil and pepper, and whiz again until smooth.

Combine the eggplant with the tomato mixture and pine nuts. Refrigerate or serve at room temperature.

4 servings

Crab Cakes

2 cans crab meat, drained
1 beaten egg or 1/4 c. egg beaters
1/2 c. cracker crumbs or dry bread crumbs
1 tbl Dijon mustard
1 tbl Worcestershire sauce
2 tbl light mayonnaise (see note below)
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp dry mustard

Combine ingredients well and form into 6 cakes. Refrigerate 30 min.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the crab cakes and cook 4-5 min. per side, until golden brown.

6 servings

Note: instead of regular mayonnaise, try Baconnaise! (http://www.baconnaise.com/) - available in regular and light versions

Persian Spinach with Yogurt

2 tbl pine nuts
2 tsp butter
1 10-oz package fresh spinach, chopped
1-2 tbl water or broth as needed
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the pine nuts and stir until lightly toasted. Watch carefully because they burn easily. Remove the pine nuts and set aside.

Melt the butter in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook 5 min., until the onion is tender. Add the spinach and salt, cook and stir, adding water or broth if needed to keep it from sticking to the skillet. When spinach is wilted and soft but still bright green, remove the skillet from the heat. Let cool to room temperature.

Combine the spinach mixture with the pine nuts, yogurt, pepper and cinnamon. Refrigerate 30 min. before serving

3-4 servings as a side dish
or serve as a dip with pita chips

Apple Pineapple Nut Salad

Salad:
2 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into bite-size chunks
2 tbl lemon juice
1/2 cup water
1 celery stalk, strings removed, diced
4 oz. pineapple tidbits, drained
2-1/2 tbl chopped walnuts

Combine the apples, lemon juice and water, cover and set aside until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, drain the apples and combine with the celery, pineapple & walnuts. Toss with the dressing.

Dressing:
1/2 c. plain fat-free yogurt
1/4 c. soft tofu
1/2 tbl honey
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a mini food-processor and whiz until smooth. Chill until ready to serve.

4 servings

Couscous & Peach Salad

1 cup couscous (dry)
3 tbl lemon juice
2 tbl lime juice
2 tbl olive oil
1 tbl honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 cups diced, peeled peach (about 2 medium)
2 cups diced, peeled jicama
1 cup finely chopped mint

Cook the couscous according to the package directions. Set aside to cool.

Whisk together the juices, oil, honey, salt and pepper. Add to the couscous together with the peach, jicama, and mint. Toss to combine. Chill 1 hr.

8 servings

Eggplant & Tomato Salad

2 medium eggplants, trimmed
1-1/2 cups chopped seeded tomato
1/4 c. chopped fresh herbs (mint, basil, parsley or cilantro)
1 tbl lemon juice
1 tbl olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp black pepper

Preheat grill (or broiler). Spray grill rack (or a cookie sheet) with cooking spray.

Cut each eggplant in half lengthwise. Lightly score the cut sides. Lay eggplant on grill rack cut side down (or place on cookie sheet cut side up) and grill (or broil) 20 min. or until tender. Scoop out the eggplant flesh and discard the skins. Place the eggplant flesh in a sieve over a bowl and let sit 1 hr or until cool and well-drained. Discard the liquid. Coarsely mash the pulp. In a small bowl, mix the pulp with the rest of the ingredients.

4 servings

Friday, July 10, 2009

Apricot Mustard Sauce

Use as a cooking sauce for chicken, pork, or ham.

2/3 c. apricot preserves
3 tbl Dijon mustard
2 tbl cider vingegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Makes enough sauce for 2 lbs of meat

Beef Ribs in the Crock Pot

3.5 - 4 lbs beef ribs
2 cups water
1/4 c. ketchup
1 envelope dry onion soup mix
2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/4 tsp pepper

Spray the inside of the crock pot with cooking spray.

Combine the water, ketchup, onion soup mix, Worcestershire, garlic and pepper.

Place the ribs in the crockpot. Pour some of the water mixture over each layer of ribs.

Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

4-6 servings

Barley with Mushrooms & Dill

1 tbl butter or margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
16 ounces fresh mushrooms, chopped
1/2 c. hulled or pearl barley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1-1/2 c. chicken broth
3 tbl chopped fresh dill (or 1-1/2 tbl dried)

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 3-5 min. or until softened. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper, cover and cook 2 minutes. Uncover, raise heat to high and cook another 3-5 min. or until the mushroom juices have evaporated.

Add the barley and cook, stirring, 2 min. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 50-60 min. or until all the liquid is absorbed and the barley is tender. Remove from the heat and let stand, covered, for 10 min. Just before serving, stir in the dill.

4-6 servings

Summer Squash & Sausage Casserole

1 lb bulk pork sausage or turkey sausage
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 c. sliced yellow squash (or 2 c. zucchini, 2 c. yellow squash), cooked until tender-crisp & well-drained
1/2 c. cracker crumbs, breadcrumbs, or Fiber One bran cereal
1/2 c. grated parmesan cheese
1/2 c. skim milk
1 tsp Italian herb blend
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs or 1/2 c. egg beaters

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray.

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the sausage, garlic and onion until the meat is done. Drain off any grease or liquid. Add the cooked squash, crumbs and cheese and put it all in the prepared casserole. Whisk together the milk, herbs, salt, and eggs and pour over the top of the casserole.

Bake 30 min. or until bubbly.

Serves 6

Peach & Tomato Salad

4 large ripe peaches, pitted & peeled
4 medium tomatoes (peel if desired)
2 tbl lemon juice
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
4 fresh basil leaves, shredded

Cut the peaches and tomatoes into 1/4" thick slices and arrange on a serving plate. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together and drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle with the basil.

Serves 6

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Clean up as you go - Part 3

About 15 years ago, I was friendly with a woman who was in most respects my total opposite. Our coworkers called us things like "Frick and Frack", "Mutt and Jeff", and "Slim and Jim" (she was Slim, I was Jim). We shared some interests, like decorative painting, did some stenciling and wall treatment projects for local clients, and had a lot of fun.
One night when we had a job in a beauty parlor in the small town where this woman lived, she invited me to dinner at her apartment before we went off to do the stenciling. She served pork chops and two other dishes (potatoes and a veg, as I recall). It was all delicious, but I was horrified when I walked into her apartment because there were dirty cooking dishes everywhere and she wasn't anywhere near to being done with cooking the meal. And her entire apartment could have fit in the kitchen of my (small) home. I'd say her kitchen could have fit in my master bathroom."I hope you haven't gone to a lot of trouble over this," I said, sounding like one of my mom's church friends who really meant, "I hope you've gone to a lot more trouble for me than anyone else.""No, it's just pork chops," she said blythely.
I looked at her boyfriend for verifcation, and he just shrugged.
And he got stuck with the cleanup, too.

Clean up as you go - Part 2

Why am I returning to this topic after already addressing it at great length in another post? Because I spent this afternoon engaged in one of those use-every-pot-pan-utensil projects that overtakes me from time to time and have dishpan hands as a result.
We do have a dishwasher. But although our household consists of 10 creatures (7 dogs, 2 humans, 1 cat), we don't use enough dishes to run that thing on a daily basis (I suppose we could run it daily, but I was scarred as a teenager by the grim movie Soylent Green and I worry about running out of water one day). We have duplicate sets of measuring cups, measuring spoons, and other kitchen items, but not enough extras to commit them to the dishwasher for more than one day at a time. So we stick plates, bowls, glasses, flatware, and plastic storage containers (those seem to reproduce at will in the dark, mysterious interiors of the kitchen cupboards, and that reproduction NEVER results in lids to match every container) into the dishwasher and run it every other day, and wash the rest (skillets, saucepans, cooking utensils) by hand.
So I have dishpan hands today, and that reminds me of the days I spent as a slave when living in Scotland in 1970-1971. Not literally a slave, you understand. No one bought me. My parents spent something like $300 on a one-way ticket to fly me to Scotland (apparently hoping that I would never return) and friends of theirs put me to work in their home, estate, garden center and florist business in return for my room and board (at 17, I was too young to get a work visa).
These friends of my parents had employed people (mostly the young friends of their 4 kids) in this way as "slaves" for many years. When I was living there, they employed an older woman, Jolande (my mother's age) and her 19-yr-old daughter as slaves (Jolande's 15-yr-old daughter also lived there but her job was going to school). Jolande had been a professional chef and hotel manager, and she taught me how to cook.We were all encouraged to cook. We had to take turns cooking breakfast every day (Full English Breakfast). Jolande handled the rest of it (hot lunch, afternoon tea, hot dinner) but if you wanted to contribute a dish or a meal at another time, that was OK. Some of us (like me) quickly figured out that cooking lunch guaranteed you a place in a kitchen warmed by a huge coal stove while the others were outside trying to burn piles of wet leaves in the cold Scottish rain.Anyway, one of Jolande's rules was (surprise!): clean up as you go. If you cooked a meal or even one dish (like a batch of scones, or a cake), you were exempt from cleanup. Everyone else had to pitch in and wash dishes. Some of that (china, flatware) happened in a very smart "butler's pantry" with automatic dishwasher next to the dining room, and the rest (saucepans, etc) happened in the scullery. The scullery was a cold, drafty, damp room next to the kitchen. There was a huge sink with cold running water and ribbed, wooden counters that drained into the sink. There were also big bins for storing root vegetables (where rodents liked to explore at night) and hooks and shelves for storing big cooking pans. Having to do dish duty in that scullery in January was no fun. The only thing that didn't have to be washed was the "chip" pan. We fried chips (what Americans call French fries) in the same rendered meat grease over and over again...washing the pan inbetween uses was sacrilege.With this system, it quickly became clear that being a good cook was not necessarily the same as being a beloved cook. We had a slave there for a while (not me!) who would tackle the most complicated recipe you can imagine and produce delightful dishes, but who left every article in the kitchen dirty and waiting for someone else to clean it. (Later I named a dog after that girl - I won't say which dog - I'll just say it wasn't a smart one). At the same time, we had a slave who could barely figure out how to make toast (I'll admit that's tricky when you have to use an oven instead of an electric toaster) but left virtually nothing to be washed afterwards.
About 4 months after I returned from that stay in Scotland (having earned enough money to buy a flight home), I was working as a Mother's Helper for a coworker of my mom's. Her kids were troubled and difficult (for many reasons), especially the oldest (who had been designated as family caretaker when his mom went back to work after her divorce). One day the mom told me to give the boys hamburgers for supper. I made the hamburger patties under the boys' close scrutiny: why was I adding salt and pepper? Worcestershire sauce?! Worcestershire sauce is for grownups! Despite their fears, the boys enjoyed the hamburgers (on store-bought buns, with lots of catsup), but the oldest one supervised me closely when the meal was done. I put the skillet I had used to fry the hamburgers into the sink and filled it with warm water and a few squirts of dishwashing liquid. The boy said suspiciously, "What are you doing?"
"I'm leaving the skillet to soak."
"Why?"
"It will be easier to clean later."
"It will?"
"Yup," I said. "But don't worry about it, because I'll wash the skillet before I go home."
The boy nodded, and I realized he was storing the Clean Up As You Go information away for the next time he had to deal with preparing and cleaning up after a meal.

Clean Up As You Go!

One of my mom's kitchen rules was: clean up as you go.

It's possible to take this to ridiculous extremes. My Aunt Jeanne (for whom I was named) was not a great cook but she was a dedicated dishwasher. If you were cooking anything in Jeanne's kitchen and let go of it for a minute (let's say you were stirring the sauce and put the spoon down while you spent 30 seconds searching for the dried basil), she would wash it. You'd reach out your hand for that spoon and it'd be gone...over to the dish drainer.

And then there's my second (and final) husband (the first one never did anything in the kitchen that I ever noticed, which is possibly one of the reasons he was so skinny), who is (in many ways) cut from the same piece of cloth as Jeanne. In the (small) kitchen of our first home, the food prep area was to the left of the sink. We stacked anything that needed to be washed to the right of the sink.

I spent something like 49 hours one day (yes, I know there are only 24 hours in one day) making my own beef stock. I roasted a cow's worth of beef bones, then I boiled them in huge vats (lobster pots, actually) of water with onions, carrots, celery, and herbs. Then I drained the stock, put it back in the vats, and added crushed eggshells to help "clarify" the broth. (By now you're thinking, "You are a very sick lady, Jean", and I agree, and you haven't even heard yet about the time I boned and stuffed a game hen into a chicken into a turkey before adding gourmet stuffing and roasting the whole thing one Thanksgiving) Then I poured the broth into large bowls and left them to cool for about 10 minutes while I washed my hands, took a leak, and had a hit of wine.

Refreshed, I returned to the kitchen ready to pour this fabulous stock into freezer containers and IT WAS GONE! Mr. P. had discarded every last drop, carefully washed all the bowls, and was sitting virtuously at the kitchen table reading the Sunday newspaper."Where is the stock?" I screamed.

He looked up from the financial pages and said, "What stock?" (OK, I just added the financial pages for fun. He would only read the financial pages if there were ads in there for guns and knives - hey, not a bad idea!).

"The stock I left on the counter!""You mean that brown stuff in the bowls?""Yes, the brown stuff in the bowls! Where is it?""I threw it out and washed the bowls. Why?"For a moment I was speechless (hard to imagine, I know). I looked at the gleaming, empty kitchen counters and thought of all the work I had put into that stock. What was more important, a loving husband or 20 quarts of beef stock?

And I said, "What the f**king f**k?! That was the f**king beef stock I've been working on all day, and you threw it out? Why would you do that?!"

He carefully set the newspaper on the table and said (slowly, with equal care), "It was on the right side of the sink. That's where we put everything that needs to be cleaned, right? On the right side of the sink?"

Silence again. How could he think that those bowls brimming with fragrant, glorious, homemade beef stock were something that needed to be discarded? Was he totally witless? Or was I? Because he was right: I had put them in the goodbye zone. I shook my head at him ("You got me!"), wearily refilled my wine glass and retired to the living-room with two dogs who were probably thinking, "That beef stock sure would've tasted good poured over my kibble."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Cucamole - even better than Brocamole!

I got this idea for lightened guacamole from Ellie Krieger (Food TV). I did change the recipe quite a bit and hope Ellie agrees that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I like this recipe even more than the Brocamole I've posted here before, and maybe even better than regular guacamole, because the taste is so light. This would be a nice treat when you're on a puree diet post-op, and you could dip raw veggies or pita chips into it.

1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped
2 avocados, peeled, pitted & chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 tsp hot sauce (or to taste)
1/4 tsp salt
dash of black pepper
3+ tbl lime (or lemon) juice
3 tbl chopped fresh cilantro

Whiz in the food processor, adding more lime (or lemon) juice as needed to achieve a smooth consistency.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Death by Garlic


No new recipes posted this week - I've been busy experimenting in the kitchen - nothing worthwhile to post. But I do have a story to tell.


My husband grows garlic (among other things) and has been wondering how to use the enormous crop he just dug up. He likes to make a recipe for Garlic Cream that we found many years ago in The Microwave Gourmet by Barbara Kafka. You cook garlic (a lot) in heavy cream and chicken broth, season it with salt and pepper, and puree it into this fantastically rich, thick, garlicky cream. It's great for making pasta Alfredo (just add Parmesan cheese), or added to mashed potatoes. It is literally death by garlic.

So this morning Mr. P. decided to make a big batch of garlic cream. I heard him rustling around out in the kitchen and smelled the garlic wafting down the hallway. I heard the blender buzzing and then, "Oh, f**k!"

I thought, "I bet he blew the top off the blender," and went to investigate. Sure enough, he hadn't properly secured the blender top (it's tricky, I'll admit) and there was hot garlic cream EVERYWHERE. Waring sure put a good motor in that blender, because I found bits of garlic and spatters of cream eight feet away. It was on Mr. Parker (head to toe), the kitchen window, the cabinets, the floor, the counter, the wall, the sink (probably the ceiling too, I'd better go check). Georgie (our French bulldog) trotted out to help by licking the floor. Not confident of Mr. P.'s cleaning ability (or patience, at that point), I volunteered to take over the cleanup. He changed his clothes, put the garlicky ones in the washing machine, and announced that he was going to the store for a 6-pack.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Roasted Sweet Potatoes

1-1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4" thick slices
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 tbl olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray a 9x13" baking pan with cooking spray.

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss to coat.

Spread the potatoes in the baking pan in a single layer. Bake for 15 min., turn and bake another 15 min. or until tender.

4 servings

Pork Chops with Sherry Mushroom Sauce

1 lb. pork chops, about 1" thick
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/2 c. dry sherry
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
1/4 c. chicken broth
1 tsp cornstarch
1/2 c. light sour cream
olive oil cooking spray

Sprinkle the chops with half the pepper, rosemary, and salt, and rub the seasonings into the meat. Turn over and repeat. Set aside.

Combine 1 tbl of the chicken broth and all the cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk in the rest of the broth and the sour cream. Set aside.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with olive oil cooking spray. Over medium-high heat, brown the chops about 3 min. on each side. Spray the chops with cooking spray, turn and cook for another 4-5 min. or until cooked through. Remove chops to a plate and cover to keep warm.

Add half the sherry to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the sherry is reduced by half. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring often, for 3 min. or until softened. Add the rest of the sherry and continue to cook until the sherry is again reduced by half.

Reduce the heat to medium. Pour any juices that have accumulated on the plate with the pork into the skillet. Add the sour cream mixture and stir to mix well. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened.

Serve the chops drizzled with the sauce.

4 servings

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mushrooms with Herbs & Lemon

1 tbl olive oil
1 lb. sliced mushrooms (a mix of wild mushrooms is especially good)
2 tsp chopped fresh herbs (thyme, tarragon, parsley, chives, or a mixture)
1/4 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp grated lemon rind

Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender, adding a sprinkle of water if they start to stick to the skillet. Add the herbs, onion salt, pepper and lemon rind and stir well.

4 servings

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Italian Sausage with Olive Marinara Sauce

1 lb turkey Italian sausages, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 tbl olive oil
1 26-oz jar marinara sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 oz kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
1/2 c. fresh basil leaves, slivered
grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook until browned and cooked through, about 30 min., stirring occasionally. Add the marinara sauce, black & red pepper and simmer uncovered 10 min. Add the olives and basil, heat 1-2 min.

If desired, serve with hot cooked pasta, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

6 servings

Pink & Green Shrimp Salad

1 lb. cooked shrimp, peeled
3 plum tomatoes, seeded & diced
2 tbl lime juice
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, & diced
1 cup diced cantaloupe
1 cup diced honeydew melon
1/2 cup cilantro mayonnaise (see below)

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Chill until ready to serve.

4 servings

Cilantro Mayonnaise
1/4 c. light mayonnaise
1/4 c. light sour cream
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 tbl chopped fresh cilantro
dash salt
dash pepper

Honey Ginger Chicken

1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tbl minced garlic
1 tbl minced ginger
1 tbl chopped fresh cilantro
3 lbs chicken, cut up
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 2 teaspoons water

Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl, then pour into a zip-loc plastic bag. Place the chicken pieces in the bag, seal it, and squish the bag to coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Turn the bag over every 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Place the chicken in the dish skin-side down and pour 1 cup of the marinade over it. Bake 20 minutes, turn the chicken over, bake 20-25 minutes more, or until juices run clear. Remove chicken pieces to a serving plate and pour the cooking juices into a saucepan. Heat the juices over medium high heat, add cornstarch mixture, cook and stir until sauce is thickened.

Serve the chicken with the sauce on the side.

4-6 servings

Friday, June 5, 2009

Chinese Red-Cooked Meat

You can do this with cut up chicken, pork ribs, or beef ribs.

2 lbs meat
1 tablespoon Chinese Five Spice powder (found in the herbs/seasonings section at the supermarket)
3/4 c. chopped scallions, divided
1 tbl chopped fresh ginger
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup Chinese wine or dry sherry
1 tbl rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 4 teaspoons water

Spray a Dutch oven with cooking spray and heat it over high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, remove from the pan, and discard the fat that cooked out of the meat.

Lower the heat to medium-high. Add 1/2 c. of the scallions, the ginger, broth, water, soy sauce, wine, and vinegar and bring to a boil. Lower the temperature and simmer for 20 min. Return the meat to the pan, cover, and cook over medium-low heat until the meat is tender (about 45 min. for chicken - the cooking time for ribs will depend on how meaty they are).

Transfer the meat to a serving platter. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the cornstarch mixture and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thick and shiny, about 5 min.

Sprinkle the meat with the rest of the scallions and serve with the sauce alongside.

4 servings

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Italian Sausage & Bean Stew

2 zucchini, trimmed and diced
1 small onion, chopped
6 oz. Italian sausages (sweet or hot), cooked, drained & diced
1 15-1/2 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed & drained
1 14-1/2 oz can diced tomatoes
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 tbl chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and onion and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften, about 5 min. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 3-5 min.

4 servings

Avocado & Fruit Salad

1 ripe tomato, diced
1 ripe avocado (not too soft), peeled, pitted, and diced
1/4 c. lime juice
1 cup diced cantaloupe or papaya
1 cup diced pineapple (canned is fine - drain it first)
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lime-garlic vinaigrette (see below)
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup light sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tbl grated orange zest.

Toss the tomato, avocado, cantaloupe, pineapple, lime juice and orange juice in a bowl.

Mix the sour cream with the orange zest.

Make the vinaigrette.

Just before serving, toss the salad with the vinaigrette and mint.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream.

4 servings

Lime Garlic Vinaigrette
2 tbl red wine vinegar
2 tbl lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbl olive oil
1 tbl chopped fresh basil

Combine vinegar, lime juice, garlic and salt in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Stir in the basil just before serving. Makes about 1/2 cup

Caulfilower, Broccoli & Bacon Salad

4 cups fresh cauliflower florets, cooked until tender-crisp
4 cups fresh broccoli florets, cooked until tender-crisp
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tbl olive oil
1-1/2 tbl sherry vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1 tsp grated orange zest

Toss ingredients in a large bowl.

4 servings

Grilled Eggplant Salad

2 large eggplants (about 3 lbs total), peeled and sliced 3/8" thick
olive oil cooking spray
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tbl olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbl chopped fresh mint
3 tbl lemon juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Spray eggplant slices with olive oil cooking spray and grill or broil until brown on one side, 5-7 min. Turn over and grill or broil another 5-7 min. or until tender. Transfer the eggplant to a cutting board and chop.

In a medium bowl, combine the eggplant with the rest of the ingredients. Cover and refrigerate 2 hrs. Bring to room temperature before serving.

4-6 servings

Black Bean Cakes

1 cup cooked black beans (canned is fine - rinsed & drained)
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 scallions, chopped
hot pepper sauce to taste
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c. skim milk
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tbl canola oil
prepared tomato salsa
plain fat-free yogurt or light sour cream

Combine the beans, pepper, scallions, pepper sauce & cilantro in a medium bowl. Combine the flour, baking powder, cumin and salt. Add the eggs and oil to the flour mixture and stir until moistened. Add the bean mixture and stir until well combined.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Spoon the batter into the skillet by 1/4 cupfuls. Cook until the tops of the cakes are covered with bubbles and the edges look dry, 2-3 min. Turn and cook until lightly browned, about 1-1/2 min. more. Transfer to a warm plate, keep warm while you cook the rest of the cakes.

Serve with salsa and yogurt or sour cream.

6 servings

Roasted Zucchini with Herbs

2 lbs zucchini (4 medium squash), trimmed, cut in 1" chunks
2 tbl olive oil
1 tsp dried herbs of your choice (basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary or an Italian blend)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 500F. Spray 2 baking sheets with cooking spray.

Toss the zucchini, oil, herbs, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Spread out on the baking sheets ina single layer.

Roast for 5-7 minutes, stir and flip the zucchini, and roast for another 5-7 min. until the zucchini is browned.

4 servings

Sweet Potato Pancakes

2 sweet potatoes (8 oz each), baked
1/4 cup skim milk
1/4 cup 1 egg, separated
4 tsp maple syrup (sugar-free is OK)
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Peel the skin off the potatoes. Mash the flesh in a medium bowl. Add the milk, egg yolk, syrup, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir the flour and baking powder together, then stir into the potato mixture until well blended.

In another bowl, beat the egg white with an electric beater until soft peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg white into the potato mixture until just blended (don't overmix it).

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and set over medium heat. Drop the batter into the skillet by rounded tablespoonfuls, flattening slightly to form six 2" patties. Cook until golden and set, about 1-1/2 min. per side. Transfer to a warm plate and keep warm. Repeat with the rest of the potato mixture to make 24 pancakes.

Serve with additional maple syrup if desired.

4 servings

Chicken with Prunes

10 prunes (dried plums)
1 cup red wine (can substitute chicken broth)
1 cup orange juice
1 tsp grated orange zest
1 3-1/2 to 4 lb chicken, cut up
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
1 14-oz can chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried thyme

Put the prunes in a small bowl with 1/2 cup of the wine and the orange zest. Set aside.

Spray a Dutch oven with cooking spray. Add the chicken pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute until browned on all sides (4-5 min/side). Remove the chicken and drain off most of the fat. Put the Dutch oven back on the stove and saute the onion until softened, 4-5 min. Add 1/2 cup wine and the juice and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Boil 2 min. Add the prunes with the wine and zest they were soaking in, the chicken broth, and the chicken pieces. Sprinkle with the thyme.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer with the lid slightly ajar for 45-60 min. or until the chicken juices run clear.

To serve, remove the chicken pieces and prunes to a serving dish. You can discard the cooking liquid, or make sauce with it.

4-6 servings

Sauce:
1 tbl cornstarch
1 tbl cold water

Whisk cornstarch and water together in a small bowl. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and add the cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until sauce is thickened.

Catfish Cakes

1 tablespoon canola oil
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 lb catfish fillets, cooked, flaked
2 tbl light mayonnaise
1/4 cup eggbeaters or 1 egg, beaten
1 tbl chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp lemon juice
dash hot pepper sauce
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 c. cracker crumbs (Ritz or Saltines)
3 tbl butter, margarine, or canola oil

Saute onions and celery in the oil until tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Mix the veggies with all the other ingredients EXCEPT the cracker crumbs. Form into patties and dredge the patties in the cracker crumbs.

Brown the catfish cakes in the butter in a skillet.

4 servings

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Onion Marmalade

1 tbl butter
2 cups diced onion
1 tsp Splenda brown sugar blend
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp dry mustard
dash of kosher salt
dash of cayenne pepper
1 bay leaf

Melt butter in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook 20 min. or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in Splenda, cook 2 min. Add rest of ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook 6 min. or until most of the liquid has evaporated, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaf.

Sweet potato salad with orange rosemary mayo

4 baked sweet potatoes, cooled and peeled after baking, then cubed
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup orange rosemary mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Toss ingredients together. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

4 servings

Orange Rosemary Mayonnaise:
1 cup orange juice
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1/3 cup light sour cream
1 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 tsp salt

Garlicky White Beans

1 medium white potato (8 oz), peeled and cubed
1/4 c. olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1/4 cup chopped garlic
1 19-oz can white beans, drained
2 tbl chopped fresh oregano (or 1 tsp dried)
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
salt and pepper, to taste
4 tbl light sour cream

Cook the potato in salted water until tender, about 10 min. Drain.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over low heat. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring, until translucent, 12-15 min.

Add the drained potatoes, beans, herbs, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat 5 minutes. Add sour cream, stir and heat through without boiling, about 2 minutes.

4-6 servings

Note: this is good pureed and can be served at room temperature

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Strawberries & Sour Cream


This is my favorite way to eat strawberries.


For one serving:

1/2 cup fresh strawberries, cut in bite-size pieces

1 tablespoon light sour cream

1 teaspoon Splenda brown sugar blend


Put the berries in a small bowl. Top with the sour cream. Sprinkle with Splenda.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lamb Shank Stew with Beans

6 lamb shanks
1/3 cup flour mixed with 1 tsp pepper & 1/2 tsp salt
olive oil cooking spray
2 tsp butter
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. chopped carrots
1/2 c. chopped celery
1 cup cranberry beans, soaked overnight and drained
2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup red wine
1/2 cup water
1 bay leaf
1 tsp each dried rosemary & thyme
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F.

Dredge the lamb shanks in the flour mixture and shake off the excess flour.

Spray a large Dutch oven with olive oil cooking spray. Over high heat, brown the shanks in the Dutch oven on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium. Add butter, onion, garlic, carrots and celery to the pan and saute until softened. Return the shanks to the pan together with the beans, tomato suace, wine, water, and herbs. Bring to a boil, then cover and put in the oven to cook for 2 hrs.

Remove from the oven, uncover, discard bay leaf, and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

6 servings

Grilled Zucchini with Feta & Mint

4 medium zucchini (about 2-1/2 lb)
olive oil cooking spray.
2 scallions, chopped
3/4 c. crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese
2 tbl chopped fresh mint
2 tbl lemon juice
2 tbl olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat grill or broiler.

Trim the zucchini. Cut in half crosswise, then lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices. Spray both sides with olive oil cooking spray. Grill or broil 2-3 min. per side or until tender.

Toss the grilled zucchini with the rest of the ingredients.

6 servings

Turkish Eggplant Salad

2 large eggplants, about 1 lb each
1 tbl olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 c. plain yogurt
2 tbl chopped fresh dill (or 1 tbl dried)
1/2 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 cup seeded, diced plum tomato

Preheat the oven to 350F. Pierce each eggplant a few times with the tip of a small paring knife, then wrap each one in aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about 1 hr. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Unwrap eggplants, halve lengthwise and scoop out the softened flesh into a food processor, discarding as many of the seeds as possible.

Add the oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to the eggplant and pulse on and off 6 times, until the ingredients are combined but still coarse. Put the mixture in a bowl and fold in the yogurt, dill, and lemon zest. Garnish with the diced tomato.

Yield: 1-1/2 cups

Avocado & Melon Salad

8 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped
2 cups diced ripe cantaloupe
4 ripe avocadoes, halved, pitted, peeled & diced
2 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise, roasted, seeded, & diced
1 cup lemon-mint yogurt dressing (see below)
2 tbl chopped fresh chives or cilantro

Gently toss ingredients together.

4 servings

LEMON-MINT DRESSING
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbl lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbl chopped fresh mint

Whisk yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest together in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to whisk until slightly thickened. Fold in the pepper and mint just before serving

Lentil Salad

2 cups dried lentils (brown or green)
1/2 small onion, peeled and studded with 4 whole cloves
2 stalks celery, cut in half
2 cloves garlic, peeled
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
2 tbl lemon juice
1 tbl olive oil
black pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint or parsley
1/2 cup lemon-mint yogurt dressing (see below)

Rinse lentils, discarding any stones, and drain. Place in a heavy saucepan. Add the onion, celery, garlic, parsley and broth to the pan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer uncovered until the lentils are just tender, about 20 min, skimming off any foam that rises to the surface. Drain the lentils and discard the onion, celery, garlic, and parsley.

Gently toss the lentils with the lemon juice, olive oil and mint. Serve with lemon-mint dressing on the side.

6-8 servings

LEMON-MINT DRESSING
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tbl lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 tsp black pepper
2 tbl chopped fresh mint

Whisk yogurt, lemon juice, and lemon zest together in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil and continue to whisk until slightly thickened. Fold in the pepper and mint just before serving

Lamb Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce

LAMB:
1 lb lean boneless lamb, cut in 3/4" cubes
1 small onion, minced
1 tbl minced fresh ginger
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 c. soy sauce
1 tbl lime juice
1 tsp Thai chili paste
2 tbl chopped fresh cilantro

Put all ingredients in a zip-loc plastic bag, seal the bag, and squish the bag to evenly distribute the marinade. Let stand at room temperature 1 hr.

While the lamb is marinating, soak 24 thin bamboo skewers, 3-4" long, in water.

Make the sauce (see below).

Preheat the broiler.

Remove the lamb from the bag, reserving the marinade. Thread 3 pieces of lamb onto each skewer, leaving a bit of space between each piece. Set the skewers on a broiling pan. Broil 4" from the heat source 3 minutes. Turn the skewers over, baste with the reserved marinade, and broil another 2-3 minutes or until browned and just cooked through. Serve with peanut dipping sauce.

PEANUT DIPPING SAUCE
2 tbl canola oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp Thai chili paste (or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes)
2 tbl coconut milk
2 tbl water
2 tbl creamy peanut butter
1-1/2 tbl lemon juice
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 tbl Splenda brown sugar blend
pinch of ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 tbl boiling water

Heat the oil in a nonstick skillet over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 4 minutes.

Add the curry powder and chili paste to the skillet, cook 2 min. Stir in the coconut milk and 2 tbl water, then the peanut butter, lemon juice, vinegar, Splenda, cinnamon and bay leaf. Mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the sauce thickens, about 4 minutes. Remove the bay leaf. Place the mixture in a food processor, cover, and process until smooth. With the processor running, add the boiling water through the feed tube.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shrimp with Spinach & Feta

1 9-oz bag fresh spinach
1-1/2 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 tbl minced garlic
2 tbl olive oil
4 tbl lemon juice
2 tbl chopped fresh dill (or 1 tbl dried)
1 tbl chopped fresh oregano (or 1/2 tbl dried)
1/4 tsp pepper
4 oz reduced-fat feta cheese, cut in 1/2" cubes

Preheat the oven to 400F. Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the spinach in the casserole. Add the shrimp, tomatoes, and garlic.

Whisk the olive oil and lemon juice together in a small bowl and pour evenly over the shrimp. Sprinkle the herbs on top and sprinkle with pepper. Bake 6-8 min. or until shrimp turns pink. Sprinkle the feta on top and bake another 1-2 min. or until the cheese is slightly melted.

4 servings

Chicken with Almond Garlic Sauce

CHICKEN:
1 lb chicken pieces
2 tbl lemon juice
2 tbl olive oil
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 c. white wine
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Put the chicken in a zip-loc plastic bag. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a mini food processor and whiz until smooth. Pour the contents of the processor over the chicken, seal the bag and squish it to distribute the marinade evenly over the chicken. Refrigerate at least 3 hours.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and broil or grill approximately 40 min., turning it every 10 minutes, until the juices run clear. Serve with Almond Garlic Sauce.

4 servings

ALMOND GARLIC SAUCE
2 oz blanched, slivered almonds
1/4 c. fresh breadcrumbs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
water

To make the breadcrumbs, tear up a slice of bread and whiz it in a mini food processor. Remove and measure out 1/4 cup (toss the rest outside for the birds). Put the almonds in the processor and whiz until ground fine. Add the garlic, oil, and vinegar and process until smooth, adding water if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency.

Eggplant Parmesan Salad

2 medium eggplant
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 oz grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbl chopped fresh parsely
1 tbl olive oil
water
salt and pepper to taste

Grill the eggplants until the skins are blackened and blistered. Cool. Remove the skins and squeeze out the juice and seeds. Place the eggplant flesh in a food processor with the rest of the ingredients and whiz until smooth, add water if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.

6 servings

Braised Lamb Shanks

1 tbl olive oil
4 lamb shanks
1 onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup red wine
1 tbl tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Brown the shanks on all sides, remove from pan and reserve. Leave the oil in the saucepan. Saute the onion over medium heat until translucent. Return the shanks to the pan and add the cumin and wine. Cook until the volume of the wine is reduced by half.

Add the tomato paste, broth, salt and pepper. Cover and braise over low heat for 1 to 1-1/2 hrs, until the lamb comes off the bone easily.

6 servings

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Salmon with Lemon-Thyme Vinaigrette

Salmon:
6 6-oz salmon fillets
olive oil cooking spray
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Place the fillets in the dish skin side down, spray generously with cooking spray, and sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme. Bake 10-12 min. or until fish flakes easily. Serve drizzled with the vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette:
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/4 c. lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbl chopped fresh parsley
2 tbl chopped scallions
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried
1/2 c. olive oil
Whiz all ingredients except olive oil in a mini food processor. With the processor running, slowly add olive oil and process until smooth.

6 servings

Cucumbers in Dill Sauce

6 medium cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced thin
1/2 c. tarragon or white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tbl sugar or Splenda
2 tbl minced onion
1/2 tsp black pepper
4 tbl chopped fresh dill, or 2 tbl dried

Combine the sliced cucumber with 2 tbl of the vinegar, the salt, and 1-1/2 tsp of the sugar. Let stand 10 min. Drain and set aside in a bowl.

Whisk together the remaining vinegar and sugar. Add the onion, pepper and dill. Toss together with the cucumber slices. Refrigerate 30 min.

6 servings

Chicken Sausage Patties

1 lb ground chicken or turkey
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp ground thyme
1/8 tsp ground sage
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
2 large egg whites
2 tbl canola oil
more canola oil for frying if desired
bread crumbs to dredge patties in

Combine chicken, garlic, seasonings, egg whites and 2 tbl oil in a bowl. Form into 12 balls, then flatten the balls into patties. Dredge the patties in bread crumbs and refrigerate 30 min.

Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. If desired, heat more canola oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Brown the patties in the skillet on both sides, 3-4 min. per side.

6 servings

Sweet Potato Salad

4 baked medium sweet potatoes, cooled and peeled after baking, then cubed
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 tsp kosher salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
4 tbl lemon juice
1 c. light mayonnaise
1 tbl curry powder
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Toss the onion with the salt and drain in a colander for 20 min.

Combine the garlic, hot pepper sauce, lemon juice, mayo, curry powder and cilantro in a large bowl. Add the potato cubes and toss to coat. Refrigerate 30 min.

6 servings

Jicama & Orange Salad

1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into 1/4" x 3" strips
1/2 c. orange juice
2 oranges, peeled and sectioned
2 tbl lime juice
kosher salt to taste
1/2 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Toss ingredients together in a bowl.

6 servings

Horseradish Sauce

This is very good with beef or fish.

1/2 c. light sour cream
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp lemon pepper
2 tbl prepared horseradish

Combine in small bowl.

Zucchini & Mushroom Casserole

1 tbl olive oil
1 lb. sliced mushrooms
2 medium zucchini, trimmed and diced
3 scallions, chopped
2 tbl flour
1 c. chicken broth
1 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 tsp dried
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. light sour cream
2 c. fresh breadcrumbs
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add mushrooms, zucchini and scallions and saute until veggies are beginning to soften, about 10 min. Sprinkle flour over the veggies, cook and stir 2 min. Add broth, Worcestershire, thyme, salt & pepper and simmer, stirring constantly, for 4-5 min. or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream. Pour into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan. Bake 30 min. or until bubbly and golden brown.

6-8 servings

Mexican Style Veggy Salad

4 tomatoes, roughly chopped
kosher salt
1 10-oz pkg frozen corn, thawed & drained
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 8-oz jicama, peeled and cubed
2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled and cubed
4 tbl lime juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp hot pepper sauce (or to taste)
2 tbl chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c. olive oil

Toss the tomatoes with a liberal sprinkle of kosher salt and drain in a colander for 30 min.

Combine the lime juice, garlic, hot pepper sauce, cilantro and olive oil in a large bowl. Add the drained tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients and toss.

8 servings

BBQ Beans with Beef

2 tbl water
1 onion, chopped
3/4 lb lean ground beef (can substitute turkey)
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 c. ketchup
1/3 c. yellow mustard
1/4 c. Splenda brown sugar blend
2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1 tbl paprika
1 tbl chili powder
1 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper to taste
2 cans pinto beans, drained & rinsed

In a large nonstick skillet, cook the water and onion over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onion begins to soften, about 10 min. Add ground beef and garlic. Cook and stir until meat is browned, 5-7 min. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 min. or until bubbly. Remove bay leaf and serve.

6-8 servings

Oven Fries

1/4 c. olive oil
6 medium russet potatoes (about 1-1/2 lbs), cut into thin French-fries
salt & pepper to taste
paprika to taste (optional)

Preheat the oven to 500F.

Combine the oil, potatoes, salt, pepper and paprika until potatoes are well coated. Place potatoes in a single layer on a large non-stick baking sheet. Place tray on top rack of oven and cook 7 min. Remove from oven and turn potatoes. Return to oven and cook until golden brown, about 7 more minutes.

6 servings

Mustard Chicken

6 chicken legs, cut into drumstick and thigh pieces
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 c. prepared yellow mustard
2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
2 tbl white wine

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper to taste. Put the chicken in a zip-loc plastic bag.

In a small bowl, combine mustard, Worcestershire, and wine. Pour over the chicken, seal the bag, and squish the bag to evenly coat the chicken with the marinade. Refrigerate 30 min.

Preheat the broiler. Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray. Remove the chicken from the marinade and place on the broiler pan skin-side down, reserving the marinade. Broil the chicken 8-10" from the heat, turning the chicken every 4-5 min. until the chicken is cooked (juices will run clear), about 15 min. total.

While the chicken is broiling, heat the reserved marinade to boiling in a small saucepan. Boil 1 min.

Serve the chicken drizzled with the heated marinade.

6-8 servings

Pork Chops with Fennel

4 pork chops, each 1" thick
salt & pepper to taste
flour for dredging
1 tbl olive oil
1 tsp fennel seeds, ground
1 cup white wine
3 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 300F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large non-stick skillet, heat the oil over high heat, until almost smoking. Add the pork chops and cook 1 min. per side, until evenly browned. Set the skillet aside (you will use it later). Place the chops in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp. fennel, 1/2 the garlic, plus salt and pepper to taste on each side. Pour the wine into the dish. Bake 15 min. or until just cooked through.

Remove the chops to a serving plate and keep warm. Pour the cooking liquid into the skillet and cook over medium heat about 1 min. Pour the sauce over the pork chops and serve.

4 servings

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mexican "Lasagna"

You can use salsa instead of tomatoes if you like.

16 oz cooked pinto, pink, or black beans (if using canned, drain and rinse first)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 4-oz can chopped mild green chilies
2 c. frozen corn kernels, thawed and drained
2 scallions, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground oregano
2 tbl chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
1-1/2 c. shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
light sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
6 corn or wheat tortillas (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Combine the beans, tomatoes, chilies, corn, scallions, and seasonings in a bowl.

Spray a 2-qt casserole dish with cooking spray. Spread half of the bean mixture in the casserole. Sprinkle half the cheese on top of it. Cover that evenly with the rest of the bean mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

Bake 15 min or until bubbly. Serve with tortillas and a spoonful of sour cream or yogurt, if desired.

6 servings

Cold Cream of Asparagus Soup

2 lbs asparagus, trimmed
1/4 c. chopped fresh chervil or tarragon
2-1/2 c. chicken broth
2 c. light sour cream
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg to taste

Steam the asparagus until tender, drain. Cut the asparagus tips off and set aside to use as garnish. Chop the asparagus stalks and puree with the rest of the ingredients. Chill until ready to serve.

Serve with the asparagus tips sprinkled on top of each serving.

6 servings

Flemish Sauce for Asparagus

Kind of high in cholesterol, but very tasty.

For each pound of asparagus:

2 hard-boiled eggs
1/2 c. melted butter
2 tsp lemon juice
salt & pepper to taste

Remove the yolks from the eggs and mash the yolks. Combine the mashed yolks with the butter and lemon juice, add salt and pepper to taste.

Finely chop the egg whites.

Drizzle cooked asparagus with the yolk mixture and sprinkle with the chopped egg whites.

4 servings

Cheesy Broccoli & Bacon Casserole

1 14-16 oz package frozen broccoli florets
4 oz light cream cheese, softened
4 oz shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese
4 scallions, chopped
2 slices bacon, chopped, fried until crisp, & drained

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Cook the broccoli according to the package directions. Drain well. While the broccoli is cooking, combine the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, scallions, and bacon.

Spray a 2-qt casserole dish with cooking spray. Put the broccoli in the dish. Put spoonfuls of the cheese mixture evenly over the broccoli. Bake 20-25 min. or until bubbly.

6 servings

Lemon & Herb Crusted Fish

2 tsp grated fresh lemon zest
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
2 tsp chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp chopped fresh chervil or fennel
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp Dijon mustard
12 oz fresh fish fillets or steaks
1 tbl vegetable oil

Combine the lemon zest, herbs, pepper, and salt on a plate. Brush both sides of the fish with the mustard and press it into the herb mixture, coating both sides.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the fish 4 minutes or until browned, flip over and cook another 3-4 min, until the fish flakes easily.

3-4 servings

Lamb Kebabs with Cilantro Mint Vinaigrette

2 lbs lamb, cut in chunks
Marinade (see below)
Cilantro Mint sauce (see below)

Marinade:
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. mirin, sake, or white wine
1/2 tbl chopped fresh ginger
1 tbl sesame oil
1 c. chopped scallions
1/2 tbl hot red pepper flakes
2 gloves garlic, minced
Combine ingredients in a bowl. Put the lamb in a zip-loc plastic bag, pour the marinade into the bag, seal the bag and squish it to coat the lamb. Let stand 30 min. While the lamb is marinating, prepare the sauce and, if using bamboo skewers, soak the skewers in cold water.

Cilantro Mint Sauce:
1 tbl honey
1/2 tbl chopped fresh ginger
1/4 c. each chopped fresh mint, cilantro, and parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. rice wine vinegar
1 egg yolk (optional)
Combine honey, ginger, herbs, salt, vinegar, and egg yolk in the bowl of a mini food processor. Place the cover on the bowl and start the processor. Slowly drizzle the oil into the bowl, process until smooth.

Preheat the grill or broiler. Remove the lamb from the marinade and thread it onto the skewers.
Grill or broil the lamb 15-20 min. or until desired degree of doneness (I prefer medium-rare). Serve with the sauce on the side to drizzle over the cooked lamb.

6-8 servings

Eggplant Lasagna

This is quite a lot of work but it can be prepared in advance and frozen before baking.

1 eggplant, trimmed, peeled & cut lengthwise into 1/2" slices
2 red bell peppers, halved lengthwise & seeded
4 tbl olive oil, divided
1 tbl balsamic vinegar
1 onion, chopped
2 c. sliced mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbl chopped fresh herbs (oregano, thyme, basil) or 2 tsp dried herbs
1 19-oz can crushed tomatoes
1 14-19 oz can beans of your choice, drained and rinsed
3 c. shredded greans (spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard, kale)
8 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Spray 2 cookie sheets with cooking spray. Arrange the eggplant in one layer on one sheet and the pepper halves (cut side down) on the other sheet. Spray the eggplant and peppers with cooking spray (I use olive oil flavor). Bake for 15 min. or until the tip of a knife easily pierces the eggplant and the skin of the peppers is dark and blistered. Do not overcook the eggplant. Let cool completely. Slip the burned skin off the peppers and slice into wide strips. Toss the pepper strips in a small bowl with the vinegar and 1 tbl of the oil.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the remaining 3 tbl oil. Add onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently for 2 min. or until slightly softened. Add the garlic and cook another 2 min. Add herbs and tomatoes. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 min. Add the beans and greens and cook 1-5 min. or until greens are wilted or tender.

Spray a large, deep baking dish with cooking spray. Line the bottom of it with 1/3 of the eggplant. Lay half the red pepper mixture over that. Spread with 1/3 of the bean mixture and 1/2 of the cheese. Add another layer of eggplant, the rest of the red pepper mixture, another 1/3 of bean mixture, and the rest of the cheese over that. Top with the remaining eggplant and spread the remaining bean mixture on top. Sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.

At this point, you can cover the lasagna and refrigerate it or freeze it until ready to bake. Bring it back to room temperature and uncover it before baking.

Bake at 375F for 40 min. or until bubbly.

6-8 servings

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Green Bean & Bacon Salad

1 lb. green beans, trimmed
1/4 lb bacon, cut in 1/4" pieces
1 tbl minced onion
1/2 c. walnut pieces
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
1 tbl grainy mustard (horseradish mustard is especially good)
1 tbl water
pinch of sugar
2 tbl lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 c. olive oil

Cook the green beans in salted boiling water 4 min. or until tender-crisp. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet until crisp. Drain on paper towels.

Combine the beans in a serving bowl with the bacon, onion, walnuts, and parsley.

Whisk the rest of the ingredients together until emulsified. When ready to serve, drizzle the dressing over the bean mixture.

6 servings

Peruvian Beef Kebabs

1-1/2 lb boneless sirloin steak, cut into 1/2" chunks
3 tbl red wine vinegar
2 tsp hot paprika
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground turmeric

Combine the vinegar and seasonings in a small bowl. Put the meat in a zip-loc plastic bag, pour the marinade over it, seal the bag and squish it to coat the meat. Refrigerate 3 hrs, turning the bag occasionally.

Remove the meat from the marinade and discard the marinade. Thread the beef onto 6 10" skewers. Grill or broil 6 min. or until desired degree of doneness.

6 servings

Italian Baked Zucchini

6 slices bacon, finely chopped
2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl minced onion
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup thinly sliced prosciutto
salt and pepper to taste
6 small zucchini, trimmed
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 350F. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray.

Cook the bacon in a small skillet over medium heat. When almost crisp, add the olive oil and turn the heat up to medium-high. Add the onion and cook 2 min. or until tender. Add the oregano and prosciutto and cook 1 min. Remove from the skillet and season with salt and pepper.

Cut the zucchini in half crosswise, then in quarters lengthwise. Put the zucchini in the baking dish skin side down. Sprinkle with the bacon mixture and scatter the parsley on top. Cover and bake 20 min.

4 servings

Orange Salmon

4 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tbl soy sauce
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbl white wine
1 lb salmon fillets

Preheat the oven to 375F. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. Place the salmon in the dish.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together in a small bowl and spread over the salmon.

Bake 25 min. or until the fish flakes easily.

4 servings

Marinated Mozzarella

1 lb. part-skim mozzarella cheese, cut in 1" cubes
1 7-oz jar roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 c. olive oil
4 tsp Italian seasoning
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients, cover and refrigerate at least 8 hrs.

Before serving, let the mozzarella stand at room temperature for 1 hr.

You can reserve the flavored oil to use in cooking.

Asparagus with Mustard Vinaigrette

1 lb. fresh asparagus, trimmed and cooked
2 tbl pineapple juice
1 tbl balsamic or red wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp olive oil
1 garlic clove, chopped

Combine juice, vinegar, mustard, oil and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle over the asparagus and turn the asparagus to coat. Cover and chill 1 hr before serving.

4 servings

Pasta Salad with Poultry, Feta & Tomatoes

1 lb. spinach rigatoni or other pasta, cooked according to package directions, drained, and rinsed
3-1/2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl red wine vinegar
1 c. reduced-fat feta cheese, crumbled
12 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1-1/2 c. cooked chicken or turkey, chopped
1/2 c. pitted black olives, cut in half
1/3 c. chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp dried)
1/4 c. chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients. Serve cold or at room temperature.

4-6 servings

Green Goddess Shrimp Salad

2/3 c. Green Goddess dressing (see recipe below)
1 ripe avocado, split, pitted, and peeled
1-1/2 lbs peeled, deveined cooked shrimp cut into 1/2" chunks
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into 3/4" chunks
1/2 celery stalk, stringed and diced
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
1 head Bibb lettuce, trimmed and washed
1 lb cooked trimmed asparagus
2 plum tomatoes, roughly chopped

Whiz the dressing and the avocado in a food processor or blender until smooth.

In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, cucumber, celery, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and 5 tbl of the dressing mixture.

Arrange the lettuce on 6 plates. Arrange the asparagus, tomatoes and shrimp mixtureon top of the lettuce. Serve with the remaining dressing on the side.

6 servings

Green Goddess Dressing:
3 anchovy fillets, coarsely chopped
3/4 c. light mayonnaise
1/4 c. light sour cream
2 tbl chopped fresh chives
2 tbl chopped fresh parsley
3/4 tsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbl minced onion
1 tbl lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
black pepper to taste

Whiz the ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. Makes 1-1/4 cups.

White Bean Skordilia

2 c. cooked white beans
2 tbl chopped garlic
1/3 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. tahini
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
3 tbl chopped fresh mint

Whiz in a food processor, adding water as needed to thin to desired consistency. Serve with pita bread/chips, crackers, or raw veggies.

Peanut Sauce

1/3 c. peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
1/3 c. teriyaki sauce
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. canola oil
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp onion powder
2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 - 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Combine the ingredients well and use as marinade or sauce for chicken or turkey.

Makes enough to marinate 2 lbs of meat.

Gingered Asparagus

3/4 c. rice or cider vinegar
1-1/2 tbl minced fresh ginger
2 tbl Splenda or sugar
1 lb fresh asparagus, trimmed
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbl sesame oil
3 tbl canola oil
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp soy sauce

Boil the vinegar and ginger in a small saucepan 10-15 min. or until reduced by about 50%. Remove from heat and stir in Splenda. Set aside.

Put the asparagus in a microwave safe container with 1 tbl water, cover and microwave on high 3 min. or until tender-crisp. Rinse with cold water, drain, and pat dry with paper towels. Put the asparagus in a serving dish.

Combine the garlic, oils, salt and soy sauce. Drizzle over the asparagus. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, drizzle the vinegar mixture over the asparagus.

4 servings

Note: don't make this dish more than an hour or so ahead of time, or the vinegar will turn the asparagus brown. It'll taste OK, but look sad.

Mushroom Bread Pudding

1 tbl butter or margarine
1 lb. mushrooms, sliced
3 eggs, beaten (or 3/4 c. egg beaters)
1 c. light sour cream
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp dried savory
salt and pepper to taste
French or Italian bread cut into 1/2" slices

Preheat the oven to 325F. Spray a deep casserole dish with cooking spray.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and saute until softened. Remove from the heat and drain.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs until frothy, then stir in the sour cream. Add the mushrooms, cheese, herbs, salt and pepper and mix well.

Line the casserole dish with a layer of bread slices. Pour half of the mushroom mixture evenly over the bread. Repeat with another layer of bread and the rest of the mushroom mixture.

Bake 25 min.

4-6 servings

Orange Avocado Salad

2 navel oranges, peeled and cut into segments
1 ripe avocado, peeled, halved, pitted and sliced
1/4 c. chopped red onion
3 tbl canola oil
3 tbl white wine vinegar
2 tbl chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/2 tsp Splenda or sugar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes to blend the flavors.

3-4 servings

Country Pork Ribs with Savory Mustard Marinade

2 tbl Dijon mustard
1 tbl red wine vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tbl dried summer savory, crumbled (or 3 tbl fresh, chopped fine)
1 tbl water
salt & pepper to taste
2 lbs country-style pork ribs

Combine mustard, vinegar, oil, savory, water, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

Put the ribs in a zip-loc plastic bag, pour the marinade over the ribs, seal the bag and squish it to distribute the marinade over the ribs. Refrigerate 1 hour.

Remove the ribs from the marinade and grill or bake 10-15 min. per side or until done.

4 servings

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Lamb or Beef Kapama

3 lb. boneless lamb or beef, cut in chunks
1 onion studded with whole cloves
2 sticks cinnamon
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves garlic, whole
2 tbl lemon juice
16 oz+ tomato sauce

Toss meat chunks with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Set aside for 30 min.

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Brown the meat in the skillet on all sides.

Spray the inside of a crockpot with cooking spray. Put the browned meat, the onion and the cinnamon in the pot. Pour the tomato sauce on top. Cook on low 7-8 hours, adding more tomato sauce if necessary to keep the meat moist.

6 servings

Carrot Apple Salad

2 tbl light mayonnaise
1 tsp Splenda brown sugar blend
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 cups grated carrots
1 medium apple, finely chopped (peel first if desired)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup raisins

Combine the mayo, Splenda, and vinegar in a bowl. Stir in the rest of the ingredients.

6 servings

Creamy Cucumber Salad

2 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded and thinly sliced
salt
1 tbl light mayonnaise
1 tbl light sour cream
2 tbl white vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbl chopped fresh mint or dill (or 1 tsp dried)
black pepper to taste

Put sliced cucumbers in a bowl, sprinkle generously with salt and stir, cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Put cucumbers in a colander and squeeze out the excess moisture. Return them to the bowl.

Combine the mayo, sour cream, vinegar, garlic, herbs and black pepper. Pour over the cucumbers and toss to coat.

4 servings

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bulgur Salad with Scallion Vinaigrette

3/4 c. bulgur
1/2 small red onion, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 c. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 c. chopped fresh mint leaves
3/4 c. chopped scallions, divided
1/4 c. lime juice
1 tbl honey
dash of cayenne pepper, or to taste
1/2 c. canola or olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Place bulgur in a large bowl, pour 3 cups boiling water over it, cover with plastic wrap and let set until tender, 15-20 min. Drain well, squeezing out as much water as possible, and return to the bowl. Mix in 1/4 c. scallions, the tomatoes, parsley and mint.

Put the lime juice, honey, cayenne, oil, salt and pepper in a mini food processor and whiz until smooth. Toss with the bulgur mixture.

6 servings

Mushroom Barley Asparagus Salad

2 lbs asparagus, trimmed and cut into ibte-size pieces
3/4 c. pearl barley, rinsed
2-1/4 tsp salt, divided
2 lemons, zest peeled into large strips and juice reserved
1 bay leaf
10 oz sliced mushrooms
1/3 c. lemon juice (in addition to the reserved juice)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
black pepper to taste
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/3 c. olive oil
1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
2 scallions, chopped

Put the asparagus in a microwave safe dish with 1 tbl water, cover and microwave for 3-4 min. or until desired degree of doneness. Drain and set aside.

Spray a saucepan with cooking spray. Put 1/4 tsp salt, lemon zest, bay leaf and the drained barley in the pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 30 min. or until tender. Drain the barley, removing the bay leaf and lemon zest. Set aside.

Combine the reserved lemon juice, 1/3 c. lemon juice, mustard, 2 tsp salt, pepper and thyme in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil. Add the cooked barley, mushrooms, parsley and scallions and mix well. Set aside at room temperature for 1 hr to blend flavors.

6-8 servings

Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese Olive Dressing

1 lb asparagus, trimmed & spears cut in half
salt & pepper to taste
2 oz goat cheese
2 tbl chopped fresh parsley
2 tbl red wine vinegar
1 tbl Dijon mustard
2 tbl olive oil
1/4 c. Nicoise olives, pitted
1 plum tomato, chopped

Preheat the broiler. Spray a baking pan with olive oil cooking spray and spread the asparagus spears on it in a single layer. Spray with more olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil 2 min, turn spears over and broil another 2 min.

Combine goat cheese, parsley, vinegar, mustard, oil, and olives in a mini food processor. Whiz until smooth. Serve the asparagus with the goat cheese dressing spooned over it and the tomatoes scattered on top.

4 servings

Chicken with Lemon White BBQ Sauce

1/3 c. light mayonnaise
3 tbl Splenda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
8 packets True Lemon
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1 lb chicken parts

Combine mayo, Splenda, salt, pepper, True Lemon and vinegar in a small bowl.

Put the chicken parts a zip-loc plastic bag. Pour 1/2 c. of the marinade into the bag, seal the bag and squish it to coat the chicken with marinade. Set aside the rest of the marinade. Refrigerate the chicken for at least 30 minutes, turning the bag over once.

Drain and discard the marinade from the plastic bag. Grill, broil, or bake the chicken until juices run clear, using the reserved marinade to baste it.

4 servings

Friday, March 27, 2009

Ranch Pork Chops

1 tbl canola oil
4 boneless pork loin chops
4 red potatoes, cubed
1 can cream of mushroom soup (98% fat free)
1/2 c. skim milk
1 packet ranch salad dressing mix
1 tbl paprika

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Brown the pork chops on both sides, then remove from skillet. Add the soup, milk, dressing mix and paprika to the skillet and stir well. Add the potatoes and pork chops and stir to coat with sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer 15 min. or until chops are cooked and potatoes are tender

4 servings

Seafood Imperial

2 green onions, chopped
8 oz imitation crabmeat, flaked
8 oz cooked shrimp, shelled & roughly chopped
1 tsp dried dillweed
1 10-3/4 oz can condensed cream of mushroom or celery soup (98% fat free)
4 oz shredded 2% cheddar cheese
2 tbl light mayonnaise

Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Saute the green onions over medium heat 2 minutes. Add the crab, shrimp, dill, and soup. Stir to combine. Heat until it's bubbly. Add the cheese and mayo and cook until the cheese melts and is well combined.

Serve over toast or noodles, if desired.

4 servings

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Orange & Lemon Salad

4 navel oranges
2 lemons
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or to taste
1/2 small red onion, chopped
2 tbl lemon oil or olive oil
8 fresh mint leaves, finely shredded

Peel the oranges and lemons with a sharp knife, removing the white pith. Cut the oranges into thin crosswise slices, discarding any seeds. Finely chop the lemon pulp, discarding any seeds.

Arrange the orange slices in a shallow serving dish and top with the chopped lemon. Sprinkle with the salt, cumin, coriander and cayenne. Scatter the onion on top. Drizzle with the oil.
Serve immediately or chill until ready to serve.

4 servings

Celery & Caper Salad

1 tbl lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbl olive oil
2 tbl chopped fresh dill (or 1 tbl dried)
2 tbl capers, drained, rinsed & drained again
2 pounds celery, washed & trimmed

Whisk the lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper, oil, and dill together in a bowl.

Cut celery into 1/2"-thick slices on an angle. Steam for 5-7 min. or until tender crisp. Add to the dressing in the bowl. Add the capers and toss. Cover and refrigerate, tossing occasionally, for 1-2 hrs.

6 servings

Shrimp & Blue Cheese Spread

2-1/2 lb cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined & chopped
4 oz reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
4 green onions, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 cup crumbled reduced-fat blue cheese
1 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 cup light sour cream
2 tbl chopped freshly parsley
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients until well blended. Cover and chill 4 hours. Serve with cut-up raw veggies or pita chips.

Makes about 5-1/2 cups

Asparagus with Gremolata Dressing

2 tbl minced fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp grated lemon zest
2 tbl lemon juice
1 tbl orange juice
6 tbl olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2 lbs fresh asparagus, trimmed and rinsed

Whisk the parsley, garlic, lemon zest, juices, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl until well combined. Set aside.

Steam the asparagus 3-5 min. or until tender-crisp. Transfer to a serving platter.

Whisk the dressing again and pour over the asparagus. Roll the asparagus spears around in the dressing to coat completely. Let the asparagus cool to room temperature for 30 min, rolling the spears in the dressing from time to time. Serve at room temperature or chill.

6 servings

Onion Berry Melt

2 tbl butter or margarine
2 lbs sweet onions (such as Vidalia or Maui), sliced 1/4" thick
1/2 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
2 tbl raspberry vinegar
1/2 c. black currant or raspberry jam (reduced sugar is OK)

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onions, salt, and black pepper, toss to coat the onions. Cover and cook 10 min, stirring occasionally. If the onions seem to dry out, sprinkle a few drops of water in the skillet.

Uncover and cook another 30 min, or until the onions are brown and soft. Add the vinegar and jam and cook for 5 min, to melt the jam.

6 servings

Lemon Olive Relish

Serve with meat, poultry, or fish.

1/2 c. water
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1/4 tsp crushed hot red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chopped red onion
16 green Mediterranean olives, pitted & chopped
8 thin lemon slices, each cut into 8 pieces
2 tbl lemon oil or olive oil
1 tsp salt
2 tbl finely shredded mint leaves (optional)

Combine water, garlic, cumin, fennel & pepper flakes in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced to 1/4 c, about 5 min. Transfer to a bowl and let cool to room temperature.

Add onion, olives, lemons, oil and salt. Let stand at least 10 min. or up to 2 hrs before serving.

Just before serving, stir in the mint.

makes about 1-1/4 cups

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Marinated Pork Chops

2 tbl Dijon mustard
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
black pepper to taste
1/2 c. maple syrup (sugar-free works fine)
1 lb pork loin chops

Combine mustard, oil, lemon juice, garlic, pepper and maple syrup in a bowl.

Put the pork chops in a zip-lock plastic bag. Pour the marinade over them, seal bag, and squish the bag to distribute the marinade over the chops.

Refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350F. Cover a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray it with cooking spray. Remove the chops from the marinade and place in the baking pan. Bake 20-25 min.

If desired, pour the marinade into a small saucepan and boil for 2 minutes. Serve the chops drizzled with the heated marinade (do not use the marinade as a sauce without boiling it first).

4 servings