Dinner


I know my way around a kitchen. That’s not meant to come off in a conceited manner, but I do cook and bake a fair amount. I can successfully follow a recipe (did you know not everyone can?), adapt recipes, or just cook on a whim. I don’t stress at the thought of throwing dinner parties and I feel comfortable eyeballing 1/4 cup of a substance, BUT I’VE NEVER MADE A SOUP. Pretty unreal, huh? Similar to the yeast component of bread, something about soup has always intimidated me. Good thing I just joined a new group called Craving Ellie in My Belly. The group is made up of bloggers’ who rotate to select a Ellie Krieger recipe every week and then we all blog about and share our experience (Ellie hosts Healthy Appetite on Food Network). Well, wouldn’t you know it, my first week of participating, and we are making a soup!

soup close up

Before I get into the recipe, I just want to say this was super easy. None of the ingredients were hard to obtain, nothing was expensive, and there was literally no way to screw this up. So…if you are an odd-ball like me and have never made a soup, this is a great way to start.

I followed the recipe featured on Food Network pretty closely. The only differences: I did not add celery (probably the only vegetable I hate), in addition to zucchini, I added a summer squash, and I used an organic vegetable broth.

The soup is a nutritional powerhouse and yet only about 110 calories for a 1 1/2 cup serving. That’s what you call a superfood meal! The cannelloni beans, especially the mashed ones, bring a surprisingly rich and creamy flavor to the entire soup. I would recommend pairing the soup with a side of something, or else you will be hungry shortly.

full meal

What rounded out my meal: WW bread with laughing cow cheese, salsa, and spinach.

PERFECTO.

Am I the only one that’s never made soup before?

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You may have seen the Healthy BBQ Pizza last week, and this is a continuation to that healthy game day party you just might throw.  There’s no reason to leave a Game Day party feeling gross and if you’re hosting not only does everyone leave feeling good but you have a chance to show others how to “make-over” traditional bar food into a healthier version.

To make a healthy buffalo wing, we went through 4 different recipes and enlisted 8 tasters. We tried everything: grilling, light frying, baking, broiling, panko, cornflakes, wings, breasts, sauces. (This effort is part of a bigger project: A healthy lifestyle blog for sports fans).

4 types of wings

As shocking as it was – the simplest of the four recipes was best. 2 ingredients and a few steps is all you need.

Ingredients

  • 24 Wings (used non frozen)
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Buffalo Wing Sauce – (buffalo wing sauce is different that just hot sauce. It already includes the butter flavoring so you don’t actually have to use butter.)
  • Total Cost:  $10.18 – and that is for 24 wings.  Most bars charge almost that for just 12…

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet, broiler pan, basically anything that can go in the oven with out blowing up by placing some aluminum foil over it.  Place this pan in the center of the oven.
  3. Take the NAKED wings (don’t add sauce), place them on the aluminum foil and BAKE them for about 30 minutes or until the internal temperature is 165 degrees measured with a meat thermometer, but really, as men you should be able to eyeball when chicken is done by now
  4. Move the baking sheet to the top rack of the oven.
  5. BROIL the wings for ~10 minutes, Flip the wings, and BROIL for about ~5 minutes. You are looking for the wings to start to crisp up — but don’t burn them.  This step is the key to getting the wings crispy and tasting like they do at the bar.
  6. Remove wings from oven, and throw into a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of buffalo wing sauce (just pour generously). Toss the wings around until they are thoroughly coated.

wings in bowl

Nutritional Information – about 100 calories per wing compared with the typical bar wing that is 180 calories.

If you’re smart, than by now you should be thinking what about the blue cheese? A blue cheese dunk adds an additional 90 calories to each bar wing, bringing a dozen wings (ordered at a bar) to a total of 3,240 calories.

To find a healthy dip we tried several low-fat and non-fat dressings, but the clear winner was a 2 ingredient homemade dip. (It was so good several tasters started eating it by the spoon full).

Ingredients

  • 1 container of non-fat Greek Yogurt (6 oz)
  • 1 small block of reduced fat Blue Cheese

Directions

  1. Using a grater, grate about 1/3 cup of blue cheese.
  2. Stir blue cheese into yogurt to give it a nice chunkiness.
  3. Store dip in fridge until ready to eat so it provides the coolness against the hot wings.

Nutritional Information – about 15 calories for a tablespoon. The traditional blue cheese dip at the bar is about 90 calories a tablespoon. Not bad, huh?

Do you have any healthy game day recipes you’d like to share?

Buffalo Chicken Wings on Foodista

Game Day isn’t something I identify with. I don’t have a favorite team. My moods aren’t affected by scores. However, there are hundreds of millions of people that love being sports fans. Sometimes these people are your friends and they want to come over and watch sports. When that happens, here is a great thing to serve: BBQ Chicken Pizza!

bbq pizza

This recipe is from a series of recipes that were developed for a new site: (Don’t Look Like A Lineman). This site is for the typical guy that loves beer and bar food but not the stomach tire and love-handles that come along with it. There’s thousands of healthy living sites for woman, but not very many practical ones for men. Check it out and please share with your male friends and significant others.

Shopping List

  • Whole Wheat Pita (comes in packs of 8, slice in half, make 16 individual pizzas.
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups Non-fat Mozzarella Cheese
  • 1 Chicken Breast
  • 1 Red Onion

Directions

  1. Chop chicken breast into small chunks.  Spray some non-stick canola oil into the pan and place chicken into frying pan with a little salt.  As you are cooking, pour some of the BBQ sauce into the pan and stir.  Should take about 5-7 min minutes until its cooked through
  2. Chop Onion
  3. Preheat oven to 400
  4. To assemble pizza- spread about 1 tbsp of bbq sauce on pita, spread handful of chicken and half a handful of onions on bbq sauce and cover with cheese
  5. Place pizzas on baking rack in center of the oven.  Bake for about 10 minutes and then change setting to broil
  6. Move the baking rack to the top of the oven.  Broil for about 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden brown
Nutritional Information125 Calories for 1 pita pizza (Compare that with the typical 350 calories per slice)

tree

In my list of 10 Favorite Things About Fall, I listed brussels sprouts. So here they are! First recipe of the fall season with this nutritious veggie. A little about them:

  • Name is brussels sprout NOT brussel sprout as they are traced back in origin to Brussels, Belgium
  • Grow on a stalk and get quite tall – see above
  • Great source of vitamins A, C, and K. They contain iron, fiber, potassium, and B vitamins – Its safe to say this is a Superfood.

I love brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil and sea salt but decided to get a little more adventurous since there was plenty of time.

Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Walnuts

Ingredients

To Buy

  • 4 cups Brussels Sprouts (slice off bottom stem, and cut each in half )
  • 2 apples – I used 1 granny smith and 1 gala (peeled, seeded and sliced thinly)

In the Pantry

  • 1/4 cup toasted, crushed walnuts
  • 1/2 tsp of butter
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Sage
  • 1/2 tsp Rosemary
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375

2. In a large bowl, toss sprouts, olive oil, rosemary, thyme, and sea saltsprouts in pan

3. Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes, shaking every 10 minutes or so for even roasting

4. Meanwhile, on low heat heat up pan with small amount of butter and add apples, cinnamon stick, and nutmeg. Close lid and let natural juices from apple provide moisture during cooking time. Don’t let the apples get too mushy. About 10-15 minutes.

5. When Brussels Sprouts are done roasting, add apple mixture, and toasted walnuts. Serve immediately.

done roasting

This is a fairly time consuming dish – even though its not labor intensive. My family served this with grass-fed lamb and a very smooth Red Zinfandel. The flavors all worked perfectly together.

dinner table

Dessert was equally amazing. We chose to pick up the Fresh Fruit and Berry Florentina with Cognac Diplomat Cream from F.A.B. in Atlanta. The Florentina is a caramelized almond shell and our goal is to figure out how to re-create. If anyone has any idea, please let me know!

dessert

It makes sense that if I love food, my friends would also love food, right? I do have one friend that stands out in her love for a good meal. She’s my favorite foodie and the person I most like to be with for a culinary adventure. These adventures are few and far between as we deny ourselves nothing. My friend has entered a recipe competition and I’d love for her to win with this fabulous, hearty vegetarian dish. As a prize she’ll get some fun kitchen gadgets which will hopefully result in her making more fancy meals for me…Please help her win by voting.

PolentaPlateFinal

The competition: The Kitchn’s Quick Weeknight Meals

How to vote: click here, register and give it a thumbs up (I promise they do not send any junk mail)

Deadline: September, 24th at 5pm EST

Here’s the recipe, directions, and a few words from Kasia:

“It takes just 20 minutes and this is my default lazy dish. Roasting the mushrooms bring out big woodsy flavors that play off the creaminess of the cheesy polenta and soft cooked egg, making this dish versatile enough for impromptu dinner guests or a ‘fancy’ meal for just one.”

Parmesan Polenta with Eggs and Roasted Mushrooms
Serves 3 (main course portions)

1 lb mushrooms
1/8 c olive oil
1/4 tsp pepper flakes
1/4 tsp coarse salt
1/2 c polenta
1 c milk
1 c water
pinch salt
1/2 c shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese
3 eggs
chives for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 475.
2. Chop mushrooms into 1/2 inch pieces.
3. Toss mushrooms with oil, pepper flakes, and salt on a baking sheet.
4. Spread in single layer and roast until browned, about 10 mins.
5. Meanwhile, whisk polenta, milk, water, and salt together in saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, covered.
6. After reaching a boil, turn heat to low and let sit with lid cracked for 15 minutes.
7. While polenta is cooking, heat nonstick skillet over medium heat and crack the eggs so that they are sunny side up.
8. Cook about a minute and then add a few tablespoons of water to the skillet. Water will sizzle – cover so the yolks steam and set to your liking. I like mine somewhat viscous so I wait for the steamed yolks to ‘skin’ over with egg white. This will happen naturally with the method above.
9. Mix Parmesean into polenta, plate on a dish, spoon mushrooms over and top with egg. Garnish with snipped chives. Eat and enjoy!


buckwheat with border

I’m a big fan of left-overs. Actually, I think left-overs is an inappropriate term. If I mean to cook multiple portions, is it really a left-over? So what I really mean to say is, I am a big fan of cooking once and letting the fruits of my labor feed me for days.  Just like the frittata in  Tupperware, I look for recipes that are high in nutrition, filling, and easy to make. And, of course, the recipe needs to be yummy if I’m going to eat it 6 times in 1 week.

This Asian flavored stir-fry fits all of my requirements. Its packed with good stuff like broccoli, peppers, ginger, mushrooms, tofu, and buckwheat. Its filling because its got the protein and carbohydrate components.

Inspired by NY Times

Ingredients

To buy:

  • 1 pound broccoli, crowns broken or cut into small florets, stems peeled and diced
  • 3 cups of chopped mushrooms (I used white, shitake, portabella)
  • 1 block of tofu (drain by pressing with heavy object for an hour)
  • 1 red pepper (thinly sliced)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger (buy medium sized ginger root)
  • 2 cups soba noodles (buckwheat)

In the Pantry

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil and add soba noodles. They will cook very quickly, about 5 minutes.
  2. Heat a huge skillet or wok over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil, cook until hot.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium, add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute)
  4. Add broccoli, mushrooms, and red peppers. If there’s not enough moisture left, add water not oil.
  5. After veggies start to cook add red pepper flakes, salt, and any other spices you have on hand that fit into flavor. I added some sesame seeds for fun.
  6. Meanwhile, in another pan heat 1 tbsp sesame oil, and 2 tbsp soy sauce and add the tofu. Cook on both sides; You’ll know tofu is finished cooking when its soaked up all the liquid and is hard. Taste as a test; it cooks very quickly (2-3 minutes). Remove from heat.
  7. When veggies are almost done add soy sauce and the tofu. Mix everything up and let it finish cooking on low heat for a few minutes.
  8. Add soba noodles to the big mix and once everything cools a little, separate into containers. This made 6 portions for me.
  9. Mix mirin and rice vinegar with a whisk and pour equal parts of the mixture into each container. It will make a delicious addition to the flavors.

nutrition labelI like this stir-fry hot or cold. I ate it throughout the course of 1 week and it didn’t get any less tasty as the days went. It was easy to bring to work for lunch, and just as appropriate for dinner. I usually paired with a small side salad.

It’s a Winner - $4 per serving, less than 30 minutes to make, nutritious, filling, and ~300 calorie

It’s a Winner - $4 per serving, less than 30 minutes to make, nutritious, filling, and ~300 calorie

My Wed and Thurs were like my Fri and Sat, so I really just wanted to keep a low (and healthy) profile at home on Fri. I had a friend over for dinner and a movie. This is the best friend you could possibly cook for – there’s not one single food that she doesn’t or can’t eat. I made another one-pan-wonder, a carb-free stir fry. This recipe makes 4 servings, which means after we had dinner, I put the remaining 2 servings in Tupperware and have 2 easy meals for the weekend. Perfect!

Ingredients

to buy

– 1 lb uncooked shrimp, peeled

– 1 medium sized eggplant, chopped into small cubes

– 1 lb sugar snap peas, trim ends

– 1 large red pepper, chopped into 1in strips

chopped veggies

– 1 14 oz. can light coconut milk

– 1 lime

– green onion or basil (finely chopped)

in the pantry

– 1 tbsp oil (olive, canola, or grapeseed)

– 2 cloves garlic, minced

– 2 tsp curry (divided into 2)

– 1 tbsp brown sugar

Directions

1. Heat oil in extra large pan over medium heat, once hot add garlic (about 2 min)

2. When garlic is golden and fragrant add all vegetables. Splash water instead of oil for moisture and add 1 tsp of curry (about 3 min)

3. After curry and vegetables are coated with curry add coconut milk, keep stirring and add another 1 tsp curry and turn down heat to a simmer (about 10 minutes)

4. When vegetables are almost cooked through, add shrimp. Don’t over do the shrimp or you will be tasting rubber.  (about 3 minutes)

5. Serve and provide lime juice and green onions (or basil) to add on top for extra flavor. Lime juice really offsets the curry coconut flavor.

nutrition label

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