Friday, April 22, 2016

Sirloin and Parmesan Meat Loaf


I've had a subscription to Cooking Light for a very long time and I'm seldom disappointed when I try one of their recipes. Some may argue that meatloaf is meatloaf, but there are subtle differences and this version is a winner in my book.

Serves 8 (8 SP per slice)

1 tbs olive oil
2 cups chopped red onion
6 garlic cloves, minced
 1/2 cup ketchup, divided
1 3/4 lb 93% lean ground sirloin


1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tbs spicy brown mustard
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
3 oz freshly grated Parmesan cheese
2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat a large, nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add oil, swirl to coat, then add onion and garlic and saute for 5 minutes. Cool slightly.

Combine onion mixture, 1/4 cup ketchup, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Mix just until combined.

Press mixture into a 9 X 5 loaf pan. Invert onto foil lined baking sheet and remove pan.

Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Brush top with remaining 1/4 cup ketchup and cook for 10 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes, then slice into 8 pieces.
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TASTE NOTES
This is a robust meatloaf that is equally delicious served hot with mashed potatoes and carrots or lukewarm on a Brooklyn Bred bistro roll. The red onion and garlic is assertive, but not overly so, The combination of mustard and ketchup adds a nice balance and the grated cheese is just a subtle afterthought. I will definitely make this again.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Arroz con Pollo (Weight Watcher friendly version)


One dish dinners seldom disappoint. Spanish-style chicken and rice is no exception, but the calorie count can be daunting. When I found a recipe for arroz con pollo on Skinnytaste, I decided to give it a try. Here is my version--just a few changes made it more to our taste.

Serves 8 (1 thigh with 1 cup of rice) 11 SP
Ingredients:
  • 8 skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 pkg Sazon
  • 1/2 tsp Adobo (without pepper is my preference)
    1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 5 scallions
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 2 1/2 cups long grain rice
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • salt to taste (about 2 tsp)
Directions:
Season the chicken thighs with vinegar, Sazon, Adobo, and garlic powder and let it sit 10 minutes. Heat a large deep heavy skillet or a Dutch oven on medium and add 2 tsp oil when hot. Add chicken and brown 5 minutes on each side. Remove and set aside.

Place onion, cilantro, garlic, scallions and pepper in the bowl of a food processo and pulse 4-5 times. Add remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet and sauté onion mixture on medium-low until soft, about 3 minutes. Add rice, mix well and cook another minute. Add broth and bouillon (be sure it dissolves well), scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add salt to taste.
Add chicken and nestle into rice, bring to a boil. Simmer on medium-low until most of the water evaporates and you see the liquid bubbling at the top of the rice line, then reduce heat to low heat and cover. Make sure the lid has a good seal, no steam should escape.
Cook 20 minutes without opening the lid. Shut heat off and let it sit with the lid on an additional 10 minutes. Fluff rice and serve.
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TASTE NOTES
I couldn't wait for the rice to cook, this smelled so wonderful. The rice is very flavorful, but not overpowering. The combination of Sazon, Adobo, cilantro, onion, and garlic along with the flavor of the very moist chicken did its magic. That little bit of vinegar that you use to flavor the chicken adds just the right amount of acidity. I would serve this dish to company with no apologies for how it's been lightened.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Spring Chicken Soup


There's no season to chicken soup, but if you're looking for a lighter, fresher version, this spring chicken soup will fit the bill.

Serves 4 (7 WW SP per serving)
NI: cal 295; fat 12.2g (sat 2.8g); fiber 4g; sugars 6g; prot 32g; carb 14g)

1 1/2 tbs canola oil, divided
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
1 cup thinly sliced leeks
1 cup carrots, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 cup celery, thinly sliced
3 large sprigs fresh thyme
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups torn, red leaf lettuce (or romaine or kale)
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed
1 oz shaved parmigiana cheese

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add 1 1/2 tsp oil, swirling to coat. Add chicken and cook about 6 minutes or until browned. Remove from pan.

Add remaining 1 tbs oil to Dutch oven, swirling to coat. Add leek, carrot, and celery and saute about 5 minutes. Add stock and thyme and bring to a boil. Cover, lower heat, and cook about 8 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Remove thyme. Stir in chicken and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 3 minutes.

Remove pan from heat and stir in the lettuce. Place 1 1/2 cups soup in each of 4 bowls and top with the cheese. 
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TASTE NOTES
This soup came together very quickly and was fresh and delicious. I must admit I left out the peas because I just don't like them. Every bit as satisfying as my usual recipe for chicken soup, but lighter without sacrificing taste.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Spaghetti Squash Enchilada Bowls



I love when someone else lightens up a recipe or takes a food that I like and remakes it into a healthier option. I've been following Gina's blog for a long time (before she renamed it Skinnytaste and partnered with Weight Watchers) and what I love about it is that her food tastes good and offers normal-sized portions that don't leave you starving. 

I tried spaghetti squash for the first time a few years ago and, as was the craze, used it to replace real pasta. Big mistake. I like spaghetti squash, but it will never taste like pasta. I should have just used it as a delicious side dish or experimented with it on my own.

When I saw how Gina used it highlight the flavor profile of enchiladas, I knew this was something we'd enjoy. One of the reasons I don't like one of the other well-known Weight Watcher blogs is because the recipes are for what I call "ersatz" food. They attempt to recreate fast food (why?) using ingredients like Fiber One cereal (AKA tree bark). They don't taste anything like the original and they don't satisfy. This recipe isn't enchiladas and doesn't promise to be, but it has a similar flavor profile and the spaghetti squash is just the vehicle for delivering that flavor.

Spaghetti Squash Enchilada Bowls from the Food of Love Kitchen
(courtesy of Skinnytaste)

Servings: 4 • Serving Size: 1 bowl • WW  Smart Points: 4 (with ground turkey: 7)


Ingredients:

  • 2 small spaghetti squash
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/8th tsp kosher salt
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/3 cups homemade enchilada sauce (see below)
  • olive oil nonstick spray
  • 8 oz ground turkey (93% lean)
  • 1 cup part-skim shredded Mexican cheese blend
  • chopped cilantro and scallions for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or two if they don't fit). Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and soft yellow strands. Brush the inside of the squash with 2 teaspoons of olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the squash facedown on the baking sheet and bake for 45-50 minutes or until the flesh easily pierces with a fork.Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the inside so the strands appear. 


Spray a nonstick skillet with nonstick olive oil spray and brown the ground turkey. 

Make the homemade enchilada sauce.

Add 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce to the browned meat. Spoon  the remaining enchilada sauce mixture inside each squash bowl ansd top evenly with the cheese. Transfer them to the oven and bake another 15 minutes, until the cheese is melted and the sauce is hot. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with cilantro and scallions and serve immediately.

Ingredients:

For the enchilada sauce:
  • nonstick spray
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tbsp chipotle chilis in adobo sauce 
  • 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 3/4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
  • kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
Directions:

In a medium saucepan, spray nonstick spray and sauté garlic. Add chipotle chiles, chili powder, cumin, chicken broth, tomato sauce, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.
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TASTE NOTES
I've made these 3 times now, once for company, and each time they've been a huge hit. They are spicy, filling, and real food that's good for you. I still love a good enchilada, but I do miss the squash component when I eat them.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Ham and Cabbage Potato Gratin


If I'm home during the day, I'm apt to watch The View. While I think there's a lot of nonsense that goes on during the show, I watch because I'm a huge fan of Chefs Michael Symon and Mario Batali. During one of last week's show, Michael Symon put together a simple gratin that he deemed a side dish, but that I thought would make an excellent one dish dinner. Of course it would have to be lightened up, but I didn't think that would be a problem. Since I had put up some vacuum-packed bags of spiral ham, I decided to make the dish for Sunday dinner. Here is my version of the dish:

Serves 4 (at 13 WW SP's per serving)
12 oz spiral ham, small dice
1 1/2 lbs russet potatoes, sliced very thinly on a mandolin
1 small green cabbage, cored and sliced in 1/4 inch slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbs light butter
1 cup lowfat half and half
4 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
1 tsp paprika
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a deep skillet or pot. Add the garlic and cook 30 seconds, stirring. Add ham and cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Drain excess liquid.

Place sliced potatoes (do NOT soak in water) into the half and half. Stir in the paprika and about 1 1/2 cups of the shredded cheese.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray an 8 X 10 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Layer half the potato mixture followed by all of the cabbage and ham mixture. Top with the remaining half of the potato mixture. Sprinkle on the remaining 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

Cover tightly with foil and bake covered for 45 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, until the top is nicely browned, Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
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TASTE NOTES
I ran this recipe through the Weight Watchers' recipe builder. One-fourth of the casserole, a very generous serving, was 13 points. It was well worth it. While I've no doubt that additional butter and heavy cream would be delicious, they weren't missed at all. Replacing Chef Symon's deli ham with my spiral ham definitely elevated this dish. As we were eating, I mused aloud that this would be an excellent St. Patrick's Day dish if I just substituted corned beef for the ham and perhaps added some carrots. I'll let you know. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Chicken Fried Cauliflower "Rice"



When I saw this recipe being demonstrated on the Today show, I was a bit skeptical, but it kept turning up online in that persistent way that makes one curious. So...I decided it was worth a try. I found a recipe that would serve as a base, but made substantial changes to it--I didn't like using bacon and bacon grease and I wanted to add my favorite protein, chicken. Here follows my recipe for chicken fried (cauliflower) rice.

Serves 3-4 (as a main course)

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 " cubes
1 egg white
1 1/2 tbs cornstarch

1 medium head cauliflower*

1 tsp sesame oil

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon minced ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup peas, fresh or frozen
5 scallions
1/4 cup cashews, almonds, or other nut
 3-4 tablespoons soy sauce
*Cut the cauliflower into florets, discarding the tough inner core. Working in batches, pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it breaks down into rice-sized pieces. You should have 5 to 6 cups of cauliflower "rice."
Directions
Add the cornstarch to the egg white and whip with a fork until incorporated. Place the diced chicken in the mixture and set aside for at least 15 minutes.
Place a wok or deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp sesame oil.  Whisk the eggs and pour them into the skillet. Quickly make an omelet. Transfer the eggs to a cutting board and roughly chop into pieces.
Wipe the skillet (or wok)  clean and add an inch and a half of water. Bring to a simmer. Add the chicken and use a slotted spoon to separate the pieces. Cook until no pink remains, 3 - 5 minutes. Remove your "velveted" chicken with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Clean the skillet (or wok) and warm 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and garlic, and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the carrots and sauté until crisp-tender, 2 minutes. Stir  peas and cauliflower "rice" into the pan, mixing the ingredients thoroughly.
Lower the heat to medium, cover the pan, and cook until the cauliflower is tender, about 8 minutes. Uncover and stir in the eggs,scallions, cashews, chicken and 3 tablespoons soy sauce. Taste and add more soy sauce to taste. Serve immediately.
TASTE NOTES
I cannot wait to make this again. First, because it was delicious. Second, because I was only permitted a taste. Unfortnately, I was placed on a low fiber diet for 10 days and could not eat any more of it. While you know that it isn't really rice, it has all the same flavors of a good fried rice and even most of the texture. Of course, it is easily adapted for a vegetarian dish. Likewise, you might decide to add shrimp or pork or beef. My suggestion is to velvet your protein. It makes a huge difference. I know this will be a much-requested dinner.


    Monday, January 25, 2016

    Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas



    Baked oatmeal is a bit like eating dessert for breakfast, but I say "go for it!" I saw this recipe on Skinnytaste and made it that day. It far surpasses any other versions I've tried in the past. Past recipes yielded a very hard, dried, cake-like oatmeal. This version reminds me of a bread pudding, though firmer. 



    Baked Oatmeal with Blueberries and Bananas

    Servings: 6 • Serving Size1/6th • Smart Points : 6 
    Calories: 211.7 • Fat: 5.4 g • Protein: 5.6 g • Carb: 38.1 g • Fiber: 3.8 g • Sugar: 22.8 g
    Sodium: 
    76.9 mg (without salt)   
      


    Ingredients:

    • 2 medium ripe bananas, (the riper the better) sliced into 1/2" pieces
    • 1 1/2 cup blueberries
    • 1/4 cup honey (or agave)
    • 1 cup uncooked quick oats
    • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
    • 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 cup fat free milk (or any milk you desire)
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract

    • DIRECTIONS
      Preheat the oven to 375° F.  
    • Lightly spray a 8 x 8" or 9 x 9" ceramic baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.
    • Arrange the banana slices in a single layer on the bottom of the ceramic dish. Sprinklehalf of the blueberries over the bananas, 1/4 tsp of the cinnamon, 1 tbsp of the honey and cover with foil. 
    • Bake 15 minutes, until the bananas get soft. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the oats, half of nuts, baking powder, remaining cinnamon, and salt; stir together.  In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining honey, milk, egg, and vanilla extract.
    • Remove the bananas from the oven, then pour the oat mixture over the bananas and blueberries. 
    • Pour the milk mixture over the oats, making sure to distribute the mixture as evenly as possible over the oats.  
    • Sprinkle the remaining blueberries and walnuts over the the top.
    • Bake the oatmeal for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the oatmeal has set.
    •  Serve warm from the oven.
    ********************************************
    TASTE NOTES
    An easy recipe, a satisfying portion, and a good-for-you breakfast. There's no downside.

    Thursday, January 14, 2016

    Spiralized Turnip, Potato, and Carrot Au Gratin with Turkey

    If you're trying to cut back on carbs as well as beef up your consumption of vegetables, a spiralizer is a great investment. I saw this recipe on Skinnytaste and knew I had to make it. I love turnips, but she had me at "au gratin."  The recipe is simple and serves 4-6.


    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup half & half cream
    • 1/2 cup skim milk
    • 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt, divided
    • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
    • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
    • 2 teaspoons butter
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 1/4 lb 93% lean ground turkey
    • 4 garlic cloves, diced
    • 1 pound (2) turnips, peeled
    • 3 oz carrots (1/2 of large)
    • 1 (8 oz) medium potato, peeled
    • 3 oz gruyere cheese, shredded
    • 1/4 cup scallions, chopped
    (8 WW Smart Points per serving, based on 6 servings)
    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 14-inch oval casserole dish with cooking spray.

    Spiralize the carrot, turnips and potato with the thickest noodle setting of your spiralizer, cutting the spirals into 8-inch lengths.In a small saucepan, simmer the milk, half and half, rosemary, and thyme.  In a large nonstick pan, melt the butter and saute the chopped onion and garlic in butter for 5 minutes, add 3/4 tsp salt and pepper. Add the ground turkey and cook on medium-high heat until browned, approximately 10 minutes.

    Remove thyme and rosemary leaves from milk and pour milk mixture onto turkey, simmer 3 minutes.
    In a large working bowl combine the spitalized turnips, potatoes and carrots along with meat and the milk mixture, combine well. Pour into a casserole dish, top with scallions, and gruyere cheese
    Cover with foil and bake 1 hour, uncover and broil on low for 5 minutes, or until golden on top.

    TASTE NOTES
    I was very happy with the taste of this dish and the ease of preparation. It should be noted that it is not creamy (the moisture from the veggies keeps it moist) and that the cheese is not ooey-gooey. It just kind of melts into the casserole. I will definitely make this again. The turnips and the herbs gave it wonderful flavor. I was out of scallions, but will make sure to add them next time.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2015

    Cheeseburger Soup


    I love cheeseburgers. I've had them stuffed, topped with frizzled onions, made with Waygu beef, but until today, I'd never had a cheeseburger soup. Count me a fan

    Ingredients
    •       2 spray(s) cooking spray   
    •  1 clove(s) (medium) garlic clove(s), minced   
    •       1 medium uncooked onion(s), chopped   
    •       1 rib(s) (medium) uncooked celery, chopped   
    •       1 pound(s) uncooked 93% lean ground beef   
    •  2 Tbsp all-purpose flour   
    •  3 cup(s) canned chicken broth, divided   
    •  1 cup(s) low-fat evaporated milk   

    • Directions
    • Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat for about 30 seconds. Add garlic, onion and celery to skillet; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Coat a 3-quart or larger slow cooker with cooking spray; spoon in vegetables.
    • Place same skillet over medium-high heat and brown beef, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 5 to 6 minutes; pour off any liquid and add meat to slow cooker.
    • In a small cup, combine flour and 1/2 cup of broth; stir until lump-free. Pour flour mixture into same skillet; add remaining 2 1/2 cups of broth. Bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits in bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon, and then pour into slow cooker; stir in evaporated milk, cheese, paprika, salt and pepper. Cover slow cooker and cook on low setting for 2 hours. Serve soup topped with crumbled chips. Yields about 3/4 cup of soup and 3 tablespoons of chips per serving.
    •  8 oz low fat cheddar or colby cheese, cubed   
    •  1/2 tsp paprika   
    •  1/4 tsp table salt   
    •  1/8 tsp black pepper   
    •  24 item(s) baked low fat tortilla chips, crumbled 
    • 8 servings (3/4 cup soup, 3 chips)  5 PP  
    *********************************************************
    TASTE NOTES
    This may not be the prettiest dish I've ever prepared, but it was the perfect antidote to a raw, rainy day. The soup is thick and filling and is truly reminiscent of that iconic American classic, the cheeseburger. I will probably just make it on top of the stove next time and I will definitely add some corn. Other than that, it was perfect as is.

    Wednesday, November 11, 2015

    Fettuccine Marsala with Chicken and Mushrooms

    I love chicken Marsala and chicken Marsala pizza, so it was an almost sure bet that I was going to like chicken Marsala fettuccine. This recipe serves 4.



    8 oz fettuccine
    2 tsp olive oil
    1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
    1 tsp salt
    12 oz cremini mushrooms, halved
    1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 large shallot, chopped finely
    1 tbs all purpose flour
    1/2 cup Marsala wine
    1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
    1/4 tsp black pepper

    Cook fettuccine according to package directions. Drain and keep warm.

    Sprinkle chicken with salt. Heat 1 tsp oil in large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook, turning occasionally, until browned and cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Transfer to plate.

    Add remaining tsp oil to skillet and add mushrooms, rosemary, garlic, and shallot. Cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over mixture and cook 1-2 minutes longer, stirring constantly.

    Add the wine, broth, and pepper; bring to a boil, then simmer until sauce thickens, about 3-5 minutes. Return chicken and accumulated juices to skillet as well as fettuccine. Toss to coat pasta with the sauce and heat through.

    (Weight Watchers info: 12 PP per serving)
    *******************************
    TASTE NOTES
    The combination of garlic, shallot, rosemary, and Marsala is the key to the success of this dish. Using chicken thighs instead of breasts ensures a juicy protein. The only thing I would change is to add some spinach to the dish next time. Quick and delicious.


    Friday, July 10, 2015

    Coconut Madeleines


    With Bastille Day coming up next week, I thought I'd make a favorite cookie of mine--the Madeleine. 

    Madekeines are little cake-like cookies that are baked in special molds that give them a delicate, shell shape. According to the story, the name "Madeleine" was given to the cookies by Louis XV to honor his father-in-law's cook, Madeleine Paulmier. Louis first tasted the cookie at the Chateau Commercy in Lorraine in 1755. Louis' wife, Marie, introduced them to the court and they soon became all the rage at Versailles. Whatever the origin, they are inextricably linked with author Marcel Proust, who described them as "...little shell of cake, so generously sensual beneath the piety of its stern pleating."

    It's been a while since I've baked Madeleines, but when I saw a recipe from one of my goddesses, Ina Garten, with that coconut twist, I decided it was time for a celebration.

    Yield:  24 cookies

    Ingredients
    1 1/2 tbs melted butter, to grease the pans
    3 extra-large eggs, room temperature
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1/4 cup cornstarch
    1/2 tsp baking powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/3 cup sweetened, shredded coconut, coarsely chopped

    Glaze:
    1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
    water
    1/2 tsp coconut flavoring


    Instructions
    Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Thoroughly butter and flour the Madeleine pans.

    In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for 3 minutes, or until light yellow and fluffy. Add the 1/4 lb of melted butter and mix thoroughly. Sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and salt and stir into the batter with a rubber spatula. Stir in the coconut.





    With a soup spoon, drop the batter into the prepared pans, filling each shell almost full. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until they spring back to the touch and are lightly golden. Remove from the oven and immediately tap out onto parchment paper and allow to cool.

    Make the glaze by adding water to the confectioners sugar and coconut flavoring until it has a pourable consistency. Place the Madeleines on a wire rack and spoon the glaze over them, allowing excess to drip off. Let air dry for 2 hours or until glaze has set.
    ********************************************
    TASTE NOTES
    I've never had Madeleines with a glaze, but must admit that this was a wonderful addition. These cookies (or little cakes, if you will) had just enough coconut flavor to make them special. I liked them very much, but am looking forward to my next batch of regularly-flavored Madeleines, which I intend to glaze with dark chocolate. Vive La France!

    Sunday, June 21, 2015

    Copycat Southwestern Eggrolls with Avocado-ranch Dipping Sauce


    If you've had these at Chili's or other chain restaurants, you know how delicious they are. I will caution you, though, that they are labor intensive. That said, I would suggest you quadruple the recipe (at least) and freeze these, either cooked or not, to make it worth your while. I made a quadruple batch for a BBQ and regretted not making even more to put in the freezer.

    Ingredients (for a single batch - 5 eggrolls)
    4 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders
    1 tbs vegetable oil
    2 tbs minced red bell pepper
    2 tbs minced green onion
    1/3 cup frozen corn
    1/4 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
    2 tbs frozen spinach, thawed and drained
    2 tbs diced, canned jalapeno peppers
    1/2 tbs minced fresh parsley
    1/2 tsp cumin
    1/2 tsp chili powder
    1/4 tsp salt
    dash cayenne pepper
    3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
    five 7-inch flour tortillas
    1 egg, beaten
    OPTIONAL:  6 - 10 cups vegetable oil or shortening, if frying; otherwise, olive oil cooking spray, if baking

    Avocado-Ranch Dipping Sauce
    1/4 cup smashed, fresh avocado (about half an avocado)
    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    1/4 cup sour cream
    1 tbs buttermilk
    1 1/2 tsp white vinegar
    1/8 tsp salt
    1/8 tsp dried parsley
    1/8 tsp onion powder
    dash dried dill weed
    dash garlic powder
    dash pepper

    1 egg, beaten

    Directions
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Bake for 8 minutes, turn, and bake until done (about another 5 minutes). Cool, then dice into small cubes.

    Preheat 1 tbs vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add the red pepper and green onion and saute until tender, a few minutes. Add the chicken, corn, black beans, spinach, jalapeno peppers, parsley, and spices to the pan. Cook, being sure to mix all ingredients thoroughly, for another 4 minutes.





    Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese is completely melted.

    Wrap the tortillas in a moist cloth and microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes or until hot.

    Spoon 1/5 of the mixture into the bottom third of each tortilla. Fold in the ends, then roll as tightly as possible without tearing the tortilla. Before you finish rolling, brush beaten egg on the inside edge of the tortilla. Finish rolling the eggroll, then set the eggroll on the "glued" flap until the egg sets.

    Arrange the filled eggrolls on a plate with the sealed edges down, cover the plate with plastic wrap, and freeze for at least 4 hours, or overnight. Overnight is best.

    Prepare the avocado dipping sauce by combining all of the ingredients in a small bowl.

    IF FRYING:  Deep fry the eggrolls in the hot oil for 8 - 10 minutes. Remove to paper towels or a rack to drain for about 2 minutes.

    IF BAKING:  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick olive oil spray. Spray the eggrolls lightly. Bake for approximately 15 minutes, or until piping hot and golden.

    Slice each eggroll diagonally lengthwise and arrange on a plate around the bowl of dipping sauce.
    *************************************
    TASTE NOTES
    Because I was making these in advance for a BBQ, I decided to freeze them, deep fry them at home, then reheat them in the oven when we got to my cousin's house. However, when I was rolling the tortillas, I inadvertently rolled 2 of the eggrolls too tightly, causing the tortilla to tear. I decided to bake these and use them for a "taste test." While both cooking methods produced a very tasty appetizer, I have to admit that I preferred the baked tortillas, which turned out more crispy. I also admit to not being a huge fried food fan, so that may have colored my perception as well. While these are a bit labor-intensive, they are not difficult and they turn out quite well. If you've ever eaten them at Chili's, you'd swear they were the real thing.


    Tuesday, June 9, 2015

    Tandoori Grilled Shrimp Skewers



    I'm not a fan of Indian cuisine, though I have eaten and enjoyed Tandoori chicken. When I saw this recipe in a recent Weight Watchers magazine, I decided to give it a try.

    Serves 4
    1/3 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
    1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
    1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    1 1/2 tsp olive oil
    1 tsp curry powder
    1 tsp ground cumin
    1 tsp ground coriander
    1 tsp granulated garlic
    1/2 tsp ground ginger
    1lb uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
    OPTIONAL - 2 tbs chopped fresh cilantro

    Combine yogurt, salt, lemon juice, olive oil, curry, cumin, coriander, garlic, and ginger in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Marinate 15 minutes at room temperature, or up to 2 hours in the refrigerator (covered).

    Divide shrimp among 4 metal or wooden skewers. Coat a grill pan or grill with cooking spray. Preheat to medium high heat. Grill skewers until shrimp are cooked through (opaque) and slightly firm, flipping once (2-4 minutes per side). Garnish with cilantro, if desired. (5 WW points or 157 cal per serving)
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    TASTE NOTES
    This marinade would be equally good on scallops or chicken. The spices combine for a wonderful flavor. My only change for next time would be to eliminate the cilantro and to serve with lemon wedges. The preparation time is under 10 minutes making this a great weeknight dinner.

    Sunday, May 31, 2015

    Corn Fritters (Revisited)

    The corn fritters I grew up eating looked more like potato pancakes. They are delicious, but so are these deep-fried corn fritters whose simple ingredients come together in 5 minutes. If you have a deep fryer, it's child's play to make them. If you don't, use a deep saucepan and at least 3 inches of oil.


    Like all fritters, these are best eaten immediately, though they'll keep fairly well in a low oven (275 degrees) for about a half hour.

    I intend to try a dessert version with apples (dusted with confectioners sugar) next time.


    3 cups canola oil for frying
    1 cup all purpose flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 - 1 tsp salt
    1 tbs sugar
    1 egg
    1/2 cup milk
    1 tbs melted shortening (or butter)
    1 can corn, drained well (use fresh, if available)

    Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Beat together the milk, egg, and melted shortening then stir into the dry ingredients. Add the corn, mixing well. Drop by spoonfuls to the hot oil, frying in small batches until golden (a few minutes). Drain on paper towels and serve immediately.
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    TASTE NOTES
    While I seldom make fried food, these are worthy exceptions to that rule. Make sure the oil is sufficiently hot so not much gets absorbed into the fritters. These golden puffs are just sweet enough and make a wonderful accompaniment to BBQ spare ribs or chicken, pork chops, steak...well, you can see the pattern.