Sunday, January 31, 2010

Creamy Apricot Spread

I go through cycles with breakfast food. I'll eat scrambled egg beaters with reduced fat cheddar cheese for a few months, until I can't bear the sight of them any more. Then I'll eat Weight Control banana bread oatmeal made with Almond Breeze (low-carb almond milk), chopped banana, and PB2, until I can't stand the sight of it. Since my complete unfill last summer, I've been able to eat English muffins (toasted well done) and tortillas, although now that I've had a few fills my capacity for them is decreasing. For a few weeks now, my breakfast has been 1/2 of a "light" (100 calorie) English muffins spread with 2 teaspoons each creamy peanut butter and Nutella (chocolate hazelnut spread, found with the peanut butter in Wal-Mart) and a few slices of banana. As fantastically yummy as that combination is, I'm getting tired of it. Also, I'm a little worried about the binge potential with Nutella (no episodes so far, but I'm keeping an eye on it).

So my next breakfast cycle will be this creamy apricot spread on graham crackers, with a few slices of banana. You could also use the spread as a dip for fruits and veggies, or put it on mini rice cakes (I'll bet it would be good on the caramel flavor).

1/2 cup sliced dried apricots (feel free to try other dried fruit, like cranberries, raisins, blueberries, etc.)
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 oz cream cheese, softened (I use the reduced fat version)
1 tablespoon Splenda brown sugar blend
3 packets of True Orange (crystallized orange, found in the baking aisle near sugar) or 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
optional if you plan to use this as a dip instead of a spread: add 1+ tablespoon of skim milk

Whiz all the ingredients in a mini food processor until the apricots are cut up fairly fine but still visible as chunks.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Tabbouleh with edamame & feta cheese

1-1/4 cups uncooked bulgur or cracked wheat
2 cups boiling water or chicken broth
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cups chopped tomato
3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (I use reduced fat feta)
1/3 cup chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 cups cooked, shelled edamame
4 pita breads (7" diameter), cut in half

Combine the bulgur and water or broth, cover and let stand 30 min. Drain.

Process the parsley, lemon juice, oil, and oregano in a mini food processor until smooth.

Combine the bulgur, parsley mixture, tomato, feta, scallions, salt & pepper, and edamame in a large bowl. Serve with pita bread.

4 servings

Fish with Olive Salsa

1 lb fish fillets (whatever kind you like)
salt & pepper to taste

Season the fish with salt and pepper, then bake or broil until the fish is opaque and flakes easily (how long depends on the type and thickness of the fish - use the 10 minutes per inch rule). Serve with olive salsa.

Olive Salsa
Combine ingredients in a medium bowl:
1 cup chopped tomato
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped, pitted olives (mix of black & green)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/4 teaspoon fresh)

Mexican Pizza

If bread, pizza crust, or tortillas don't agree with your band, try the toppings on a broccoli crust (recipe archived somewhere on this blog). If you can't eat corn, substitute another veggy or mix of veggies, like chopped bell pepper (a mix of red & green looks great).

3 readymade thin pizza crusts or tortillas (about 8" diameter)
3/4 cup taco sauce
12 oz. cooked chicken
1 cup Mexican or Southwestern corn blend (frozen or canned, thawed and drained)
1 cup shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend
1 avocado, diced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
salt to taste
hot pepper sauce to taste

Heat oven to 500 degrees.

Place the crusts or tortillas on baking sheets. Spread the taco sauce over the crusts, leaving a 1/2" border aroujnd the edge. Sprinkle the chicken, corn and cheese over the crusts. Put the baking sheets in the oven and bake 6-8 minutes, until the crust is crisp and the cheese has melted.

While the pizzas are cooking, combine the avocado, lemon juice, cilantro, salt and hot pepper sauce.

Serve the hot pizza topped with the avocado mixture.

6 servings (1/2 pizza per person)

Tofu with Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri Sauce
Process in a blender or food processor until well chopped, then set aside:
1 cup roughly chopped parsley (must be fresh - dried will not work)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/8 cup olive oil or canola oil
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves, halved
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped onion or scallion
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Preheat the broiler.
Cut the tofu crosswise into slices about 3/4" thick and pat dry with paper towels.
Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray. Place the tofu slices on the pan and spray them with cooking spray.
Mix in a small bowl: 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin. Sprinkle half the spice mixture over the tofu, turn the tofu over, spray and sprinkle again.
Broil the tofu 3-5 minutes until golden brown, turn over and broil another 3-5 minutes.
Serve drizzled with the chimichurri sauce.

4 servings

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Asian Flavored Meatballs or Meatloaf

Use the flavored meat mixture to make small meatballs or a single meatloaf.

1 pound ground turkey, or mixture of turkey/beef/pork
4 large scallions, chopped
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (don't skip this ingredient)
1/4 cup egg beaters
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil (don't skip this either)
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs or oats
black pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in large bowl. Form into small meatballs and saute in nonstick skillet until browned on all sides, or put the meat mixture into a loaf pan and bake at 350F for 50-60 minutes.

Serve with optional soy-ginger sauce:
1/4 cup brown sugar Splenda blend
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin (sweet rice wine), sake, or sherry
1/4 cup chopped peeled ginger root
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Combine ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat and simmer until sugar is dissolved and the volume is reduced by 1/2. Strain through a sieve before serving.
4 servings

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon

You can use Italian pancetta instead of regular bacon.

I've also made this using Italian green beans instead of brussels sprouts.

1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup chopped bacon
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Preheat oven to 450F. Spray a baking sheet with Pam.

Cook the sprouts with the teaspoon of salt in boiling water 5-6 min. or until tender. Drain and plunge into ice water (to stop them from cooking more); drain well and put in a bowl.

Cook the bacon in a large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove the bacon from the pan, reserving the drippings. Combine the drippings and the 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper with the cooked sprouts. Spread the sprouts in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 min. or until browned, stirring once. Combine the roasted sprouts with the vinegar and the cooked bacon , toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature (if you must refrigerate the sprouts, bring them to room temperature before serving).

5 servings

Place the sprouts in one layer on the prepared baking sheet.

Teriyaki Salmon

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
4 scallions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 salmon fillets (about 4 ounces each)

Preheat your broiler.

Combine honey, teriyaki sauce, vinegar, scallions and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside.

Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with Pam (do not skip these steps, or the caramelized sauce will make a mess of your baking pan).

Place salmon fillets on prepared baking pan & brush with half of the sauce mixture. Broil 6" from the heating element for about 8 minutes, until top is browned and internal temperature registers 120F on an instant-read thermometer.

Serve drizzled with the remaining sauce.

4 servings

Edamame Lo Mein

You can make this with cooked spaghetti squash instead of real spaghetti.

8 ounces spaghetti
2 cups frozen edamame (shelled soybeans)
4 scallions, chopped
1/4 cup oyster sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce (reduced sodium is OK)
2 teaspoons sugar or Splenda
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons canola oil
1-1/2 cups coleslaw mix or broccoli slaw mix

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and edamame and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is just tender, 8-10 minutes. Drain.

Combine scallions, oyster sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil and red pepper in a small bowl until the sugar dissolves.

Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add the veggies and cook, stirring often, until slightly softened, 3-4 min. Add the pasta & edamame. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes. Add the sauce and stir to combine.

4 servings

Cheesy Leek Bread Pudding

My husband loves bread pudding, and although soft bread often poses a challenge for my lap-band, I can usually manage a few bites of this yummy stuff. Bread pudding is a good choice for brunch because you can make the pudding the day before, refrigerate it, and bake it the next day.

1 cups of 1/2"-thick slices of white & light green parts of clean leeks (rinse well to get rid of the
dirt that gets trapped inbetween the leaves)
kosher salt to taste
black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups 1" cubes of bread (I like to use cheese bread from Wal-Mart)
1 tablespoon finely chopped scallions
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/2 cup egg beaters
1-1/2 cups milk (I use skim milk)
1-1/2 cups half & half (I use fat free)
pinch of ground nutmeg (optional if you don't like nutmeg, but the finished dish won't taste of nutmeg - it just heightens the flavor of the other ingredients)
1 cup shredded cheese (I use 2% cheddar, but Swiss cheese is also good)

Put the drained but damp leeks in a medium skillet over medium-high heat,sprinkle with salt, and cook until the leeks begin to soften, about 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in butter. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until leeks are very soft, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350F. While the leeks are cooking, spread the bread cubes on a baking sheet and bake until dry and golden, 15-20 min., stirring the cubes halfway through. Transfer the cubes to a large bowl. Leave the oven on if you're going to bake the pudding today.

Add leeks, scallions and thyme to the bowl of bread, toss well.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, half & half, sprinkles of salt and pepper, and the nutmeg.

Spray a casserole dish with Pam. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese in the bottom of the casserole. Spread half of the bread mixture on top, then sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Spread the rest of the bread in the dish, sprinkle with another 1/4 cup cheese. Pour in just enough of the milk mixture to cover the bread and gently press on the bread so that the milk soaks in. Let rest 15 minutes.

Add the rest of the milk mixture (it's OK if the top of the bread shows through). Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese. Bake until the pudding is set and the top is brown and bubbling, about 1 hour. Serve hot.

6 servings

Chinese Eggs with Soy-Sesame Sauce

A few years ago when I was visiting a Chinese vendor's wicker factory in Fujian Province, our meeting ran late and my host served me an impromptu dinner cooked in his employee canteen kitchen (most Chinese factories provide housing, schools, and at least 2 hot meals a day for their employees). The cook, who shopped for fresh food daily, had only eggs, veggies, rice, and noodles on hand. I was delighted by how tasty the eggs were.

1 tablespoon soy sauce (reduced sodium is OK)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-1/2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon minced scallions
4 teaspoons canola oil
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons sesame seeds (black or white)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine the soy sauce, water, sesame oil, vinegar and scallions in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat canola oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat the pan. Crack 2 eggs into a small bowl. Crack the other 2 eggs into another bowl.

Working quickly, pour 2 eggs on one side of the pan and the other 2 on the other side. The egg whites will flow together, forming one large piece.

Sprinkle sesame seeds, basil and pepper over the eggs. Cook until the egg whites are crispy and brown on the bottom and the yolks are firmly set, about 3 minutes. Doing your best to keep the eggs in one piece, flip them over using a wide spatula and cook until the whites turn crispy and brown on the other side, 1-2 minutes more.

Pour the soy sauce mixture over the eggs. Simmer 30 seconds, turning the eggs once to coat both sides with sauce. Cut and serve in wedges, drizzled with the warm sauce, over rice or noodles.

4 servings

Nutty Cranberry Veggy Salad

This combination of ingredients may sound strange, but it's very good. You can substitute unsalted nuts if you're worried about sodium, but I think the salty nuts go well with the sweet cranberries.

1 16-oz package frozen California style vegetable mix (or other mix containing cauliflower),
cooked according to package directions, drained & cooled
1/2 cup salted nuts (your choice - I like peanuts or pecans)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use olive oil mayo)
1 tsp Splenda or sugar

Mix all ingredients well, cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

4-6 servings

Friday, January 1, 2010

Bacon Apple Slaw

I realize it's been ages since I've posted a recipe...I've been working a retail job that was so busy before Christmas that I actually resorted to eating frozen entrees (and no, I haven't found any that I liked, despite much experimentation).

4 cups shredded cabbage or pre-shredded broccoli slaw (I prefer the broccoli slaw, though I have to roughly chop it in order to get it past my band)
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and shredded
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 cup mayo (I use olive oil mayo)
1/4 cup sour cream (I used the lite version)
2 tablespoons honey mustard (or mix 1-1/2 tbl Dijon mustard with 1-2 tsp honey)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
8 slices bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled or chopped (I use a reduced-fat version when I can find it)

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayo, sour cream, mustard, salt, pepper and lemon juice. Add the veggies & apple and mix well.

Serve with bacon scattered on top. If you have leftovers, store the bacon separately from the coleslaw - mixing the two together will make the bacon soggy.