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

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.

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.