Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Prosciutto and Smoked Gouda Panini

I love The Biggest Loser.  Well, I love it and hate it...but that's another story.  Just go with me for a minute.

Bob and Jillian talk to the contestants about healthy food choices.  The food these people eat is appalling--in quantity, ingredients...everything!  However, one contestant said she often feeds her 2 kids "pizza because it's $5 and ready quickly."  Bob responded, "I can't compete with that."

He has a good point.  While $5 pizza is obviously not the healthiest option in the world, it's quick, easy, tasty, and inexpensive.

I had a crazy week, so I looked to Cooking Light for some quick and easy meals--and this one fit the bill. This meal might not be inexpensive, but it sure is easy and tasty.  3 ingredients?  Sign me up.

Ready to cook

 Yummy goodness.

This meal probably doesn't reheat well--but since it only takes 3 minutes to assemble, we just made the sandwiches again a few nights later "from scratch." 

And now...the husband is hooked on smoked gouda.  We definitely just bought 1.5 pounds at Sam's Club.  I guess there are worse addictions...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Chicken with Mango Barbecue Sauce

Do you ever have days where you just can't do anything right?  I have those days.  The day I made this meal was no exception.  I pulled out my ingredients, chopped my veggies, and started cooking.  All was well...until I realized I used way too much tomato sauce.  Instead of 1/4 cup, I had put in a whole cup.  Oops.  This might not be a big deal for some, but I do not like tomatoes.  I tolerate the sauce on my pizza or in lasagna, but that's about it.  On top of that, I'd had only a little bit of sauce left in the fridge, so I opened a new can of diced tomatoes and pureed it as a substitute.

Imagine my frustration when I realized:
  1. I'd had the right amount of sauce to begin with--and didn't need to open a can of tomatoes (that was going to go to waste in my fridge because I DON'T LIKE TOMATOES!)
  2. I had to start all over because all I could smell was tomato.
I was so upset that I decided to wait until the next day to try this recipe again.

(We actually made this recipe a while ago...but I had a mini meltdown about food, blogging, and life in general after I'm finally getting around to posting.)  I realize this seems uber-dramatic, but it seems I'm having some difficulty adjusting to life in a new state--far away from a job, friends, and family. Bear with me.

So, round 2.  Chop the veggies, cook the sauce, puree it in the food processor, and grill!

This dish was just okay.

I realize that I may have had super high expectations because of all of the *agony* (over dramatic?  Yes.  I am the baby of the family, after all) that went into this dish.

I also realize that I'm super picky about titles.  If it's going to be called barbecue sauce, it should taste like barbecue sauce.  The sauce tasted fine, but it didn't resemble barbecue sauce to me--but perhaps I'm already becoming a barbecue snob after my 4 months in Texas.  Who knows.

However, if you're more emotionally stable than I am and want to give this recipe a try, feel free!  It's quick, easy, and has ingredients you can find easily.

Have you ever had a meltdown in the kitchen? Do tell--misery loves company. :)  

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Cream

 I love tacos.

As previously mentioned, the husband and I are trying to incorporate more fish into our diets.  Of course when I say that we are trying, I really mean that the husband is going along with my wishes.  He's wonderful.

I love tacos, and I like fish, but I don't always like fish tacos.  Sure, they taste wonderful when the fish is deep fried--but I refuse to fry food.  However, the grilled tacos I've had at most restaurants are just kind of...blah.  I've never had the desire to make fish tacos before, until I saw Ellie Krieger's recipe included chipotle chiles.  Mmm.  Sign me up!

 The recipe was certainly simple enough!
  1. Marinate fish for 20 minutes in olive oil and lime
  2. Mix together chipotle cream
  3. Grill fish
  4. Assemble tacos

Consensus?  Yummy!

Time: 45 minutes total (includes 20 minutes of marinating)
     *quick and easy
     *Tasty--the husband isn't a huge fish fan, and he really enjoyed these
     *can prep the cream ahead of time
     *Easy to tweak to your preference
     *possibly kid friendly, depending on the quantity/heat of chipotles (we like it hot and added extra)

     *Fish was slightly bland
     *Best served during the summer, as fresh corn would really make this dish. Canned corn was just okay
     *Cream definitely tasted yogurty--I'm picky about both yogurt and mayo (the 2 main ingredients!), so I didn't love the cream--but the husband did, and he hates mayo

Splurge on good corn tortillas!  We used the cheapies that come in 30 packs for only a few bucks, and really wished we had the "real" corn tortillas---it would add a lot.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 420
Total Fat 17 g
Saturated Fat 2g
Protein 28 g
Fiber 5 g

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pork Medallions with Cherry Sauce

I've learned a lot from marriage.

Our wedding day, May 2007

  • Men don't change (see this post)
  • Some people (my husband) will never gain weight (see this post)
  • Other people's needs matter more than my own
    • I can't pretend I'm always altruistic--I'm the baby of the family, and sometimes I'm just too self-centered to take good care of my husband. I do try, though!
  • Pork isn't so bad.

Obviously these are not listed in order of importance.

Before we were married, I had only eaten pork once, and it was too salty for my taste.  All of this "the other white meat" stuff fell on deaf ears--I was not interested in eating pork.

The husband, it turned out, loves pork.  So, in trying to be a good wife (see point number 3, above) I decided to try making pork for him.  The first time--not so good (I used this recipe, and it just wasn't for me.)  The next time I was a fan.  Since then--we've eaten it on many occasions, including a Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner that we hosted at our humble home.  Turns out pork has some good things going for it--and I can buy pork tenderloin super cheap at Costco. :)

When flipping through Ellie Krieger's The Food You Crave, I was instantly drawn to the Pork Medallions with Cherry Sauce.  This sounded similar to the Cooking Light pork dish that won me over, so I figured we may as well try it out.

I've never bought dried cherries before--I always cheat and use Cherry-flavored Craisins (don't judge, I know they're so artificial, but we love them!).  I figured I should try these with the real deal though, so I splurged.

The recipe is certainly easy enough--and is on the table in less than 30 minutes!

*Quick and easy! (less than 30 minutes)
*Easy to find/keep on hand ingredients
     (and relatively inexpensive)
*"Hands-off" enough so you can prep the side dishes/veggies while the pork cooks

*Sauce texture is kind of funky--it's mainly dried cherries with some vinegar
     --I tried pureeing it when we reheated the leftovers, and that helped
*Taste = just okay

I wanted to love this recipe--but it turns out I just don't love dried cherries.  I'd like to say I'll revisit this in the future---but I don't think so.  I did like the fact that you cook the pork in a stainless (or not nonstick) pan--I forgot how wonderful those browned bits are that go in the sauce.  I'll definitely be using my stainless saute pan more in the future!

Nutritional Info:
Calories: 245
Total fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 92mg
Sodium: 380 mg
Carbohydrates: 31 g
Protein: 8.5 g
Fiber: 0 g

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fettuccine with Creamy Red Pepper Sauce

I'm not a huge pasta fan.

I'm not really sure why.  I think part of the reason is that I don't like tomato sauce.  I'll put up with it on my pizza or in a lasagna, but really--I don't like it.  This is a huge dilemma for the health-conscious side of me, because now I'm left with cream sauces.  Of course these sauces taste good, but because I know how many calories are in them, I'm basically counting each piece of pasta that goes into my mouth to make sure I don't over-indulge. 

Not fun.

So while I don't typically make pasta, I was intrigued by Ellie Krieger's recipe in The Food You Crave for a "creamy red pepper sauce."  Creamy?  Yum.  Guilt-free? (I knew Ellie would deliver a healthy, low-cal version of a cream sauce).  Sign me up.  And I love here we go!

Only a few ingredients needed--we're off to a great start!

Have I mentioned how much I love my food processor?


The verdict?  Pretty good!  This definitely isn't something I'll crave, but when the husband is dying for some pasta--and I'm not willing to make his favorite dish, macaroni and cheese--this will be a possibility!

**Note: this recipe makes a TON!  We ate it for several days.

Time: 30 minutes

*Quick and easy
*Inexpensive ingredients--mostly pantry items (except feta, which we always have on hand anyway!)
*Mild flavor--might work for a variety of palates
*Reheats well

*Not as flavorful as other sauces--needs some tweaking

Future suggestions:
*add 4 oz light cream cheese for a little more creaminess--the sauce needed a little 'something' to bulk it up
*skip adding pasta water--I didn't add the whole 1/2 cup Ellie mentions, but shouldn't have added any at all.
*roast (hotter) peppers myself and use those for more intense flavor

Nutritional Analysis per serving (6 servings):
Total fat: 11 grams
Saturated fat:4.5 grams
Protein:18 grams
Fiber:10 grams

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Craving Ellie in My Belly: Chicken Pot Pies

Forgive the poor lighting--our dining room is dark!
The husband is pretty easy to please.  He's almost always willing to try my latest concoctions (although he refuses to try the green monster), but there are a few dishes he always gets excited about:
  1. burgers
  2. pizza
  3. pot pies
When I saw that this week's Craving Ellie In My Belly recipe was chicken pot pies, I knew I had to try it out.  I've made many pot pies in my lifetime, searching for the perfect one.  Would this be it?

Here's the rundown:
Prep time: 20 minutes (those veggies don't chop themselves, unfortunately)
Cook time: 25 minutes
Bake time: 30 minutes

Substitutions: We swapped out potatoes and green beans for broccoli and carrots. Shocking--the husband loves potatoes, but says he would prefer other veggies in his pot pie. I'm obviously not going to fight him on this one, since potatoes don't even really count as a vegetable. We love green beans, but haven't had them in a pot pie before--so thought we'd go with a safe standby--broccoli--which was also much cheaper at the store. :)

*Rich and creamy
*1 dish meal--meat, carbs, veggies in one!
*Inexpensive/everyday ingredients
*Versatile--easy to change to your preferences
*Kid friendly
     --I wouldn't serve this to company because it isn't exciting and is kind of messy (unless you serve it in individual dishes)

*Time consuming
*Lacked "crust"
(the husband said it didn't fully seem like a potpie without it--but he is a carb snob)

My thoughts overall?  Not the best pot pie I've ever had (Cooking Light has some good ones) but a good starting point.  I liked that it wasn't a canned soup base, but was still creamy.  I know phyllo dough is a calorie-conscious option, but the husband really prefers more of a crust (whether pie or biscuit) on the top.  I'd also add a little more seasoning to the dish.

When we need some comfort food, this recipe will be in the running.  Great choice--and thanks for hosting, Shandy of Pastry Heaven!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

We all have a perfectionist inside of us.

Before all of you laid-back people start to disagree with me, I want you to think for a minute: there is some aspect of your life in which you demand perfection.

Maybe you insist on making the bed because your spouse doesn't tuck in the sheets right.  Perhaps you dry clean everything because even after years of practicing, your ironing is sub-par.  Maybe some of you set your alarm earlier than necessary because you need to make your make-up and/or hair just right.

Some of us are more in-tune with our inner type A personality--and I happen to be one of them.  The husband--not so much.

Today, we both realized his "baby" that he won't trust to anyone:


As I begin to get out the ingredients for today's burgers, I notice he's hovering more than usual.   "Do you need something?"


"Okay, well I need to get started on the burgers."

I chop the peppers, grate the cheese...and see he's still standing there.  Hmm.  This is unusual.  Then, it hits me.

"Would you like to make the burgers?"

He smiles and nods, sheepishly.  The inner control freak is screaming inside of me, "I need to make these burgers! It's my blog!"  But...the key to marriage is compromise, and let's face it--the husband doesn't make requests too often.

I concede.

I will now chronicle his steps in the kitchen to create Ellie Krieger's stuffed turkey burgers.

**Note: I'm not a completely insensitive wife.  Every time a recipe requires grilling, I happily allow him to do it.  In our house, he's King of the Grill, and I like it that way.  So of course he was going to cook the burgers--I mean, I'm not trying to strip his manhood away or anything.

Step 1: Chop peppers, grate cheese, and form 8 patties.

Step 2: Top 4 patties with cheese and peppers; top with a "clean" piece.  Seal two patties together and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

**Note: we added our favorite seasoning for burgers: Susie Q's Santa Maria seasoning.  It's basically a slightly fancier garlic salt.

Step 3: Grill to perfection.

I don't know your take on turkey burgers, but here's mine in a nutshell:
Turkey burgers are nowhere as amazing as beef burgers.

There, I said it.  I know, I know--red meat is so much higher in fat and cholesterol, and I generally try to limit my intake...but so far, turkey burgers have been a sad substitute for the 'real thing.'

Until today.

I officially have faith in Ellie Krieger after today's meal.  I'm sure there will be ups and downs, as with any relationship--but today's burgers were so good that I now eagerly anticipate the next month of cooking with her recipes.  Because yes, as previously mentioned--I am type A and already have my next 4 weeks of meals planned out.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

*quick and easy
*kid friendly--I think
*satisfying and low-calorie
*the anal burger-person in your life will probably volunteer to make dinner

*Husband says using previously frozen ground turkey would be tough to work with--so make sure you use fresh.  (Not a huge "con" in my book...but worth noting)

Go buy fresh ground turkey today--you won't be disappointed!

Here's the recipe, which is from The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life

Nutritional Info: (per burger patty)
Calories: 256
Total Fat: 7g
Cholesterol 56g
Sodium 630mg
Protein 43mg
Carbohydrates 5g
Fiber 0g

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Greek Style Stuffed Peppers

My mother raised me right.   I have a vivid memory from high school where I was at a friend's house and had to shove dinner down my throat.  The main course?  Stuffed bell peppers.  I didn't like bell peppers, and I certainly didn't like the meatloaf-resembling filling.  It was awful, but I did it--because I was polite.

When the husband chose this recipe for dinner, I have to admit I was a little nervous.  Stuffed bell peppers?  I haven't eaten them in 10 years, but I'm still apprehensive.  However, I do like bell peppers now (love them!) and liked the idea of another well balanced (veggie, whole grain, meat) main course.

We really enjoyed these!  We'll definitely make them again in the future. 

Here's the rundown:
*Time: 1 hr 15 minutes total (15 mins prep)

*can be prepared ahead of time or in the crock pot
*includes whole grains and veggies (bulgur, spinach, bell peppers)
*inexpensive ingredients
*pantry ingredients
*reheats pretty well

*long bake time
*(probably not) kid friendly

  • filling is slightly bland.  I tried another batch with added garlic and garlic powder and it was much better
  • I made half in the oven and half in the crock pot (low for 4 hours)--both methods worked!
    • The crock pot version was a little watery
    • The oven version tasted better to me, but the husband liked how soft the bell pepper was in the crock pot version.
  • This recipe makes a ton!  (We used an extra bell pepper and still had leftover filling!)
    • I froze some of the filling to see how that works.
Nutritional Info:
Calories: 210
Carbohydrates: 19g
Total 6g
Saturated Fat: 2.5g
Protein: 21g
Fiber: 6g

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blueberry-Oatmeal Muffins

Forgive the squatty muffin--I made them smaller than called for
in the recipe.
Two Random Facts About Me:
1) I'm a freak about dairy product's expiration dates.

2) I can't let food go to waste.

I opened my fridge and noticed I still had quite a bit of buttermilk left to use--by tomorrow.  Since buttermilk is already pretty nasty, the last thing I want to do is forget about it until it's almost cottage cheese--and then try to get rid of the guilt I feel after throwing away a dollar's worth of buttermilk.

So, I ask the husband if he'd like to take some baked goods into work in the morning.  He says yes: blueberry muffins.

Blueberry muffins? Gross.

Yes, I said gross.  I don't know why, but I do not like blueberries.  I especially dislike them in my muffins. 

In some ways, I welcomed the husband's suggestion.  I don't like blueberry muffins--which means I won't eat them. Brilliant!  (Whenever I make baked goods for the husband, I always end up eating more than he does.  Unless it's bread.)  The problem was, I planned to send them into work--and I always want to taste food before I give it to others.

It was a risk...but I decided to take it.

  Cooking Light's Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

I can't tell you they tasted good, because I didn't try them.  I can tell you that the batter (pre-blueberries) was delicious.

Would I make these again?  Only if the husband requests them, of course.  They're a more "healthy" tasting muffin, which is fine--but some palates prefer the cupcakes that are disguised as muffins. :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Oatmeal-Buttermilk Pancakes

My husband thinks he has the best wife in the world.

Of course this isn't true.  I have my fair share of flaws that surface daily--so how did I fool him?

Pancakes.  From scratch.

The husband is a carb-lover.  He admits that, if he needed to, he could survive on bread and water alone.  Although not a big eater, he can single-handedly polish off the complimentary bread basket at any dining establishment.  It's not uncommon that, at the end of the meal, the portion that receives the highest praise is the ______________________ (insert bread product here).

When he was training for his marathon a few years ago, I knew he needed to eat substantially more than he had been.  After his long runs with the Fleet Feet training group, he was spent: nutritionally and physically.

Before you go and commend me for being such a thoughtful wife, I must admit that there was an ulterior motive here.  A bit of background: the husband is thin.  Like, we weigh the same amount and he's 6 inches taller than me.  And the thing is--he can eat an exorbitant quantity of food without gaining weight.

Exhibit A: in high school, his efforts to gain weight included drinking cream instead of milk.  Gross.

Exhibit B: before he met me, he ate a #2 at Wendy's for lunch every day.  Later on, he would meet his friends at their favorite bar for bar food and drinks.  Did he gain weight during this time?  Nope.

Exhibit C: while we were engaged, he lived with my parents.  In my family, we have a problem with food: we always make way too much.  My mom also interprets someone with a clean plate as someone who is still hungry--so, when my fiance finished his plate, she would pile on some more.  After 5 months: no weight gained.

Why is this relevant?  Well, as I previously mentioned, the husband was training for a marathon.  Before this, he worked out once a week: Monday night basketball.  He was going from a sedentary lifestyle to one where he ran 15 - 40 miles per week.

So what was the problem?  I'm all for exercise.  My fear? He would lose weight.

I had to take matters into my own hands--so, I did what any wife would have done: I decided to make carbohydrate-rich food that I knew he wouldn't be able to resist.  While the husband typically has excellent portion control, he cannot resist bread products.  I mean, I limit him to 4  biscuits per meal.

Pancakes seemed like a for sure bet.  I wasn't disappointed--while Cooking Light recommends 2 pancakes as a serving, he polished off 5.  Five pancakes, or 2.5 servings.  Success!

Here's the best part: not only did he maintain his weight throughout marathon training--but he thinks that I'm the most stellar wife because I don't take magic pancake powder from a box and add water.  Because he sees measuring spoons and buttermilk out on the counter, he thinks it takes an extreme amount of effort to put these pancakes on the table.

It doesn't.  Let me share the secret with you, so that you too may be dubbed "the best wife ever.

Steps to making the carb-lover in your house happy:
1) Combine oatmeal, vanilla, and buttermilk--let it stand for 10 minutes to soften the oats.

2) Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.

3) Add egg and oil to buttermilk mixture; mix into dry ingredients.

4) Scoop onto hot griddle/skillet, and cook until golden brown.

And if you want to be like the Williams family over here--top your pancakes with some peanut butter.  They say you're supposed to have a mixture of protein, carbs, and fat after a run, right?  We're just following the rules.

*Quick and easy!
*Hearty and filling
*Pantry ingredients (except buttermilk--but I always keep that on hand for buttermilk biscuits, of course)

*oats soak for 10 minutes--hard to wait when you're hungry after a run!
*slightly different flavor than "regular" pancakes--not a bad thing, but just a heads up.

Oatmeal-Buttermilk Pancakes
The Complete Cooking Light Cookbook

Prep: 13 minutes
Cook: 3 minutes per batch

1 1/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Combine buttermilk, oats, and vanilla; let stand 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in oil and egg.

2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife.  Combine flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.  Add oat mixture to flour mixture, stirring until smooth.

3. Spoon about 1/3 cup batter onto a hot nonstick griddle or nonstick skillet.  Turn pancakes when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 pancakes)

Nutritional Information:
Calories: 287 (22% from fat); Fat: &g (sag 2.1g, mono 1.7g, poly 2.2g); Protein: 10.1g; Carb: 45g; Fiber: 2.1g; Chol: 55mg; Iron 2.5 mg; Sodium: 509 mg; Calc: 116mg