Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I consider myself a novice still when it comes to using the slow cooker, but I decided I was ready for a challenge. With a ham bone in the freezer from the lovely glazed spiral ham we served at a recent Christmas party, I thought I'd try to make split pea soup in the crockpot. I've seen recipes using a variety of dried beans to make soup and none of them called for presoaking the beans. I decided I would rinse and pick over my split green peas, but skip the soaking. I dislike potatoes in my split pea soup, but wanted something besides carrots and decided to use some parsnips, one of our favorite root vegetables.

The soup went together very quickly and we headed out to return a few Christmas gifts. When we arrived home some 3 hours later, the house was already fragrant with the soup. It was hard to wait the other two and a half hours until it was done, but it was well worth the wait.

Head on over to Crockpot Wednesdays on Dining with Debbie for some more slow cooker inspiration.

Serves 6 - 8 WW pts per serving
1 lb dried green split peas, rinsed and picked over
1 medium onion, chopped
6 carrots, peeled and chopped (medium chop)
4 large parsnips, peeled and chopped (medium chop)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 ham bone with a generous amount of meat still on it
6 cups of water
salt and pepper to taste

Add the chopped carrots, parsnips, and garlic to the slow cooker. Cover with the split peas, then with the water. Nestle the ham bone in the middle of this, submerging it. Cook on high for 5-6 hours. About a half hour before it's ready, remove the ham bone, let it cool, then remove the meat and add it back to the slow cooker. Season to taste.
This was, without a doubt, the very best pea soup I've ever made--and dare I say--eaten. It was naturally sweet due to the glazed spiral ham. The parsnips melted on the tongue and were so much more satisfying than potatoes. We each ate a very generous bowlful and I have 4 more generous servings in the fridge. I will definitely make this again, as is, but will also use the slow cooker in the future to make my dried legume-based soups. There was no need to stir (okay, I confess, I took the lid off and stirred; but, I didn't have to) and the peas were creamy smooth.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Taking a page from a number of my favorite bloggers, I've decided to review the recipes I've shared from The Food of Love kitchen this year and to cull from them my personal 10 favorites. I must confess that this was a more difficult deliberation than choosing my dissertation topic. I thought about choosing one appetizer, one entree, one side dish, and so forth. That left me dissatisfied. After finally narrowing down my favorites, I felt the need to put them in order of preference (no one ever accused me of taking the easy way out). Try as I might, I just couldn't decide which of my favorites I liked the very best. So, after great deliberation,  here they are, in no particular order, my top ten favorite recipes from The Food of Love kitchen for 2009:

Distract the Neighbors Grilled Chicken

Ina Garten's Macaroni and Cheese

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Swedish Pancakes

Ina Garten's Flag Cake

Rigatoni with Vegetable Bolognese

Slow Cooker Country Style Pork Ribs with Sauerkraut and Apple

If my list seems heavy on pasta, you'll be surpised when I tell you I had to be forced to eat "macaroni" when I was growing up. As good as mom's gravy was, I just wasn't a tomato sauce fan. You'll notice that is still true today, though I permit tomatoes to have a supporting role in my favorite sauces. While my photography isn't as good as it can be, just looking at the photos accompanying my favorites makes me hungry for a bite of each of them.

What were your top ten of 2009?

Friday, December 25, 2009


I wish you a Merry Christmas filled with family, love, and good food.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


When I saw the photo of this dish in Nigella Express (and saw the word "bacon" in the title), it seemed like a perfect protein to go with my Paprikash noodles. With just 4 ingredients, it qualifies for healthy fast food.

4 servings - 5 WW pts per serving
1 tsp garlic infused oil (I smashed a garlic clove, placed it in hot oil until fragrant, 30 seconds)
4 strips bacon (I used center cut bacon)
4 (4 oz) chicken escalopes or boned and skinned breast halves
1/3 cup white wine

Put the garlic oil in a skillet and add the bacon. Fry until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon to a piece of foil, wrap it, and set aside.

Fry the chicken about 2 minutes per side, making sure the pan is hot so the chicken will take on a bronze color.

Remove the chicken to a serving plate.  Quickly crumble the bacon into the skillet, then pour in the wine and let it bubble up. Pour over the chicken pieces and serve.
I have to admit that it went against all my cooking instincts not to season the chicken, but I wanted to experience this dish as Nigella envisioned it. The result:  a bland, nothing-special piece of chicken. I didn't think anything that had garlic and bacon and wine in it could be so insipid, but this dish proved me wrong. I'd rather eat a plain, grilled chicken breast and forego the dirty skillet and stovetop. I'm afraid this is 2 out of 2 Nigella recipes that were just plain forgetable. I'll try one more time, but 3 strikes and you're out--of the rotation, that is.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I caved! Our house hasn't seen the usual flurry of holiday baking. Thanksgiving came and went and still there were no trays of stollen, carefully wrapped in foil, the better to soak up the brandy before being unwrapped and enjoyed on Christmas morning. The first two weeks of December rolled around with nary a tin of cookies in sight. With no temptations to lead me astry, my weekly weigh ins have shown a slow, but steady loss. Of course, the peanut gallery has not been pleased with this ban on holiday treats, and so, today I caved. Two packages of cream cheese and a can of reduced fat crescent rolls were taking up space in the refrigerator and seemed likely candidates for a sweet treat. Since allrecipes.com is the kind of site where such foods would likely yield a few recipes, I went online, typed in cream cheese, and voila! After perusing a number of possibilities, I decided on these cream cheese bars. I scaled the recipe down (cut it in half), cut back on the sugar and butter, and added some strawberry preserves. My version of the recipe follows:


1 (8 ounce) can refrigerated crescent roll dough
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3-4 tbs strawberry preserves
1 tbs butter, melted
additional white sugar, for sprinkling on top
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 6 X 4 inch pan.

Press half the can of the crescent rolls into the bottom of the prepared pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, 1/3 cup of sugar, and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Spread over the crescent layer.

Cover the cream cheese mixture with several tablespoons of a good strawberry preserve.

Unroll the second half of the can of crescent rolls and lay them on top of the cream cheese layer. Do not press down.

Brush the melted margarine over the top layer. Combine about 1 tbs sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the top is crisp and golden.

Since I need to report to you about the success of this recipe, I took one, very small bite of this confection. I am pleased to report that even with the reduced fat crescent rolls and the reduction in the butter and sugar, this was a rich, Danish-like pastry. I tasted it when it had cooled and would recommend eating it at that temperature, rather than fresh from the oven. This is a simple recipe made with staples that you likely have on hand. It would be as welcome at a weekend breakfast as it would be with a cup of coffee midaftertoon. The peanut gallery agreed.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Surfing through the blogosphere a few weeks ago, I came upon Thought4Food, a blog by Faith who also lives in upstate New York. The particular recipe that caught my eye was this one for Twix bar cookies. Faith had gotten the recipe from Stephanie at The Joy of Baking. Borrowing a technique from Paula Deen for make dulce de leche in the oven, Faith made these bars since Twix is her husband's favorite cookie.

Taking pity on the non-Weight Watcher in The Food of Love kitchen, I decided to whip up a batch and put half away for our weekend company. This is the kind of recipe for which you'll most likely have all the ingredients on hand.

Twix Bar Cookies (Adapted from Stephanie Jaworski’s Millionaire Shortbread Bars)

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ sticks salted butter
¼ c white sugar
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
1 ½ c all-purpose flour
6 oz good quality dark or semisweet chocolate chips

For the caramel filling:
Preheat the oven to 300F. Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a 9 by 9-inch glass baking dish. Cover with foil and place the dish inside a larger poaching pan. Add water to poaching pan until half way up sides of baking dish. Bake for 60-90 minutes (no need to stir) until thickened and caramel in color. Transfer to a bowl and beat until smooth.

For the shortbread:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Slowly beat in the flour and mix until just combined. Press the dough into a buttered 9 by 9-inch pan and bake for about 20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow it to cool on a wire rack.

Pour the warm caramel over the cooled shortbread and let it set and cool completely. Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or in the microwave, then spread it over the cooled caramel. Allow the chocolate to set completely before cutting into 18 pieces. 6 WW pts per cookie.

While these taste absolutely amazing--at least the teeny crumb I cut off to sample for "truth in reporting" purposes only--I could see immediately that my caramel was not as "dry" or "set" as the caramel in Faith's picture. I don't know the reason why. I cooked it for 90 minutes and it was a nice golden brown when I beat it. I'm guessing I should have cooked it longer. The man of the house was very, very--did I mention very?--happy with these. Storing them in the refrigerator keeps the caramel from getting too soft, but I'll have to try making the caramel again. In fact, I think it would be amazing as a filling for my amazing chocolate birthday cake.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


I can thank George Gaston of A Nod Is As Good As a Wink to a Blind Horse... for, first, teaching me what a sugarplum is and second, providing a recipe for these holiday treats. I adore dried fruits and wanted to try his sugarplums immediately. When I assembled my ingredients this morning, I learned that in my haste I had neglected to buy prunes. Not to worry. I  had some lovely dried figs and they worked beautifully. I decided to make just half a batch since I'm the only fruit eater in this household.

Ingredients (Makes approximately 5 dozen)
12-oz pkg pitted prunes
8-oz pkg chopped dates
6-oz pkg dried apricots
1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped (optional)
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 tsp grated orange zest
1.2 tsp grated lemon zest
2/3 cup sugar

In the bowl of a food processer, process the prunes, dates, and apricots about 2 minutes, scraping down the sides.

Transfer to a bowl and add the pecans, graham cracker crumbs, orange and lemon zests. Mix completely, then chill for 2 hours.

Using your palms, shape into 3/4 inch balls (I used a small melon baller to keep balls uniform in size). Roll in the granulated sugar, then chill. Store in an airtight container. Serve at room temperature.
Of course I had to sample one of these delectable sweets. It was perfectly delicious, making me sorry I had made just half a batch, but determined to save them for an upcoming Christmas party.  I know that visions of sugarplums will be dancing in my head until that date. Thank you, George Gaston.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


At brunch on Sunday, I picked up a copy of a magazine aimed at increasing tourism in the county where we live.  It always includes a recipe or two, many provided by local restaurants. I knew as soon as I read the recipe for the Harvest Cafe's cider-braised chicken that I had to make it. The recipe did not offer measurements, but that was easy enough to work through.

1 whole chicken, cut up (I cut mine into 10 pieces)
root vegetables (1 medium onion, 3 parsnips, 3 carrots, 3 stalks celery, 1 ruttabagas-medium dice)
salt and pepper
fresh thyme and sage (I used a big bunch of thyme and 2 large sprigs of rosemary, tied up in cheesecloth)
cider (2 1/2 cups)
flour for dredging (1/2 cup whole wheat flour)
olive oil (2 tbs)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Season the chicken parts and dredge in the flour.
Saute the chicken in olive oil in a Dutch oven until browned on both sides.
Remove the chicken from the pan, put in the root vegetables, and saute until browned and carmelized.
Return the chicken to the pan, add the fresh herbs and salt and pepper, then add the cider.
Bring to a simmer on the stovetop, then cover and place in the oven for 45 minutes.
Serve over polenta or other starch.

Mere words cannot do justice to this dish. From the incredible aroma that made our mouths water and long for the timer to go off, to the succulence of the chicken, this is a dish that I will make again and again. I already have a request for it to be made with all dark meat, something that I am only to happy to do. The slightly bitter tang of the ruttabaga came to life after braising in the sweet cider. The carrots and onions added even more sweetness, but a natural sweetness. Served over grilled polenta rounds, this was my very favorite newcomer this fall. Don't take my word for it; make it! Soon!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


There's frozen white meat turkey in the freezer ready to be used for soup or a fricasee, but I was searching for something different and found it in the November issue of Bon Appetit. Who doesn't love empanadas? And, I happened to have 2 packages of the Goya discos in my freezer, so I was good to go. The recipe below is my version; the original called for using 3 sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed and cut into six, 6-inch rounds. I opted to use the empanada discs and made 10.

Makes 10 - approximately 8 WW pts per empanada
2 cups diced cooked turkey, white and dark meat
1/2 cup chilled gravy
1 pkg Goya discos for empanadas
1 cup mashed potatoes, divided
1 cup stuffing, divided
1 egg white beaten with 1 tsp cold water for glaze
cranberry sauce

Mix the turkey with the chilled gravy in a small bowl. Place the discs on a work surface. Spoon about 2 tbs mashed potatoes onto half of each round, press lightly to flatten, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Top with 2  tbs stuffing, then a small mound of the turkey-gravy mixture. Brush glaze around filling on 1 pastry half. Fold plain pastry half over filling, stretching dough to cover. Seal edges with fork tines. Repeat with all discs. Brush with the egg white glaze and cut small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Transfer the empanadas to 1 or 2 baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 20 minutes. Or, you may freeze them at this point to bake at a later time. Serve with cranberry sauce on the side.
I had to taste just one of these little treats and it was absolutely delicious. I'm quite certain it would be just as delicious with the puff pastry. I split mine in half and stuffed some cranberry sauce into each half while they were still hot. I loved the crunch of the shell contrasted with the soft, moist stuffing and mashed potato base. The bit of gravy was more than enough to keep the turkey moist as well. I plan to serve the rest of these at my Christmas party as one of my appetizers.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The blogosphere is a never-ending source of knowledge, but it is also filled with wonderful people and just plain old fun. When I read about "Blogging by Mail" on  Dispensing Happiness, I knew that this was no ordinary "grab bag" activity. I want to thank Stephanie for hosting this event.

The concept was simple: you send a box of "stuff" to someone and someone else sends a box of "stuff" to you. But this was no ordinary "stuff." Stephanie's strategy was one we could all appreciate during this most hectic time of year. Choose 5 indulgences--your 5 Calgon moments, if you will--a little care package that will help a blogger friend destress.

It  was a challenge to narrow down the list of indulgences, but I put my package together and headed off to the post office to mail it yesterday. Imagine my surprise when my own BBM package was there waiting for me. Misty of Mischief-making probably has all her holiday gifts bought and wrapped if this is any indication. I couldn't drive home fast enough to open my package of indulgences.

Misty took the concept one step further by selecting one indulgence for each of the 5 senses (great idea, Misty!). Her indulgences were a feast for the eyes (a wonderful pair of sparkly earrings for those holiday parties);the ears (a CD of classical music to enjoy as  you undwind from holiday preparations); the nose (a terrific bath set featuring pomegranate fig creams and soaps); touch (a light as a cloud blue scarf); and, of course, taste (yummy Ghiradelli squares which Misty recommends frozen).

Be sure to visit Misty and Stephanie at their respective blogs. A big hug to you both for making yesterday so special.

Monday, November 23, 2009


If there's one thing you don't need, it's to leave too many dishes to the last minute on Thanksgiving. For nearly a dozen years now, I've taken a very organized approach to the holiday, starting my cooking a few days in advance. Making gravy at the last minute not only takes up your entire stove, but it interferes with the flow of side dishes going in and out of the ovens according to schedule. What really makes it difficult, though, is my ceramic topped stove with the vent in the middle that does not accommodate my large roasting pan as well as it could.  After making this classic gravy a few days in advance way back when, I've never gone back to that last minute, frantic whisking. I can't tell you where I got the recipe (I don't remember), but the end result is delicious. You can make it 2 or 3 days ahead and you can even freeze it for up to 6 months.

Makes 6 cups; NI per 1/3 cup is 73 cal, 6 g fat, 4 g carb, 33 mg sodium, 3 g protein

2 T olive oil
6 lb turkey wings or legs or thighs or any combination
5 ribs celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 head garlic, halved
12 cups chicken broth
1 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 T apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Saute turkey wings, celery, onion, and garlic in a roasting pan on top of the stove over medium high heat until they begin to brown; turn and brown on other side.

Transfer to oven and roast 45 minutes. Turn the wings over and roast an additional 45 minutes.

Add broth to the pan and cook in the oven for 1 hour more, until reduced to about 8 cups. Strain the stock and set aside. (I remove the meat from the wings and freeze to use at a later time in soup.)

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

Gradually add the strained stock, whisking until smooth. Bring to a boil and boil, stirring, for 2 minutes to thicken. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes more. Finish with the vinegar, salt, and pepper.

I love this turkey gravy. It is just thick enough, not that awful viscous stuff in a can. The vinegar, though not strong, seems to brighten the taste of the finished gravy. I am not a gravy person, but this on my mashed potatoes equals heaven.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


When the weather turns cool, my first answer to, "What's for dinner?" is soup. I love corn chowder and when I found this simple recipe for the slow cooker in one of Prevention magazine's cookbooks, I had to try it. I've been wanting to participate in Crockpot Wednesday over at Dining with Debbie and this is the week. It couldn't be easier and if I hadn't already decided on the butternut squash soup for Thanksgiving, this would have been a contender.

6 Servings - 4 WW pts per serving (servings are 1 cup)
2 cans (15 oz each) whole kernel corn, drained
3 potatoes (1 lb), peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice (I used baby red skins, skin on)
1 onion, chopped
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups 1% milk
1/4 cup trans free margarine (I used Olivio)

PLACE corn, potatoes, onion, and broth in a 4 quart or larger slow cooker. Stir to combine.

COVER and cook on low 7-9 hours. Let cool about 10 minutes.

PUREE half the batch in a blender or food processor. Return pureed mixture to the slow cooker, add the milk and margarine. Cover and cook on high for 1 more hour. Garnish with chives, if desired.



We enjoyed this hearty corn chowder with meatloaf sandwiches (you MUST try the recipe for mini meatloaves posted on 11/2/09). I will definitely make it again and may try adding some crabmeat next time. It fit well into my Weight Watcher plan and was very filling.

Be sure to stop over at Dining with Debbie to see all the wonderful soup and chili and other slow cooker yummies linked there.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


This was the weekend I finally caught up with all the clipped recipes I've been putting aside to try. I weeded through them and placed them in a separate binder so that I can add them to the cherished "favorites" binder if they make the cut.
Having made friends with the slow cooker, I decided to try this very simple recipe taken from The Gourmet Slow Cooker, Vol. II as reprinted in First magazine.
Servings 7-8*; 5 WW pts (based on 7 servings)
1 cup brown Arborio rice, rinsed (I only had white Arborio)
5 cups 2% milk
1/2 cup honey
1 tbs pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I easily quadrupled that; you can never have too much cinnamon)
dash salt

In a slow cooker, combine all the ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until creamy. Serve warm or chilled.

*I only got 7 servings because I used the old slow cooker and used the "3" setting instead of between "1" and "2" and I burned the serving on the bottom.
I prefer my rice pudding with raisins, but I knew Larry wouldn't touch it if I put in those sweet, plump lovelies. This is a very dense rice pudding, almost pink in color because of my love of cinnamon. As a sidenote, studies have revealed that a phytonutrient in cinnamon called methylhyudroxy chalcone polymer can spur a huge acceleration in sugar metabolism, a side bonus. The honey sweetened it perfectly. If you like a custardy rice pudding, this one isn't for you. It reminds me more of the one you're likely to be served in a diner. I liked it and will try to reduce the calories a bit more next time.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Okay, I'll admit that's a cheesy title, but I just couldn't resist. When you're hungry and your stomach is already filled with air, it has no place to go except your head. Having succeeded in completing my first week back OP (on program--specifically, Weight Watchers) with a payoff of minus 4.4 pounds at the scale, I was not about to backslide with a BBQ to mark summer's end. Instead of the requisite salads laden with mayonnaise nestled next to the shiny, sweet bacon-strewn baked beans and the tangy, smoked sweetness of pulled pork fighting for space next to grill-marked hot dogs and hamburgers, I opted for a Middle Eastern-inspired meal with an emphasis on freshness, an abundance of produce, and figure-friendly protein.

Thanks to Cook the Books, an online foodie book club that combines two of my passions, cooking and reading, I was introduced to a wonderful book, The Language of Baklava M by Diana Abu-Jabar. My copy is dog-earred and well used. The author's dad, the inimitable Bud, has opened my eyes (and mouth) to new flavors. Bud's incredible grilled chicken makes its way onto my menu planner once or twice each month. It was a given that this grilled chicken would be the star of our Labor Day celebration.

Instead of fat-laden chips and dip, I made hummus (again using Bud's recipe) and served it with carrot sticks, pita, and a selection of whole wheat crackers. I usually make Bud's rice with pine nuts and cinnamon to accompany the grilled chicken, but, hey, it IS a holiday, so I relented and made some roasted red potatoes with garlic, rosemary, and olive oil.

Since we eat a salad nearly every night, I wanted a special salad with a Middle Eastern flair and turned to Bud's recipe for Fattoush. First off, I just love the name. It rolls deliciously off your tongue and saying it I become 5 years old, trying out a naughty word.

If you've ever eaten panzanella, an Italian bread and tomato salad, you know how delicious those simple ingredients can be, particularly after the dressing soaks into them. Fattoush, which includes tomatoes, scallions, red pepper, romaine, cucumbers, herbs, and pita chips, has a more complex flavor, but is still a simple salad at heart. But it is visually stunning. I generally don't save leftover salad, but this is one that improves after sitting in the fridge overnight. With some sliced leftover chicken, it was a delightful lunch the next day.

You don't have to wait until you're making a whole Middle Eastern meal to enjoy fattoush. I'm sure it would be just as tasty with a hamburger or grilled salmon. You can get in your daily dose of veggies and it's low in calories. The dressing is made from heart-healthy olive oil with a squeeze of lemon and some salt and pepper. A large salad--enough for 4-6--uses just 1 1/2 loaves of pita.

And then there's the sound of it! Fa-tooosh! Fa-tooosh! Sorry, I just can't help myself.

Friday, September 4, 2009


I'll be the first to admit that a plateful of brown food is not the most photogenic food shot, even with the token side of broccoli. But don't let that stop you from trying these two delicious low-calorie dishes.

If you're a regular reader, you know that dark meat rules in our cabin in the woods. Next to the stockpile of pork loins in my freezer are packages of boneless, skinless chicken thighs. As an aside, if you are a fan of this part of the chicken, learn from my experience and buy them in Shoprite as opposed to Price Chopper. Shoprite does a far better job of removing the fat than Price Chopper does.

Tonight's entree is low in fat and high in fiber. It's a way to have what's good about the taste of fried chicken without the fried part. The corn cake side dish is incredibly low calorie for a generous serving and is the perfect accompaniment to chicken. Rounded out with a tossed salad and some broccoli, it was a satisfyingly delicious Weight Watcher's dinner for a mere 7 points.

The recipe for the chicken is from WW's New Complete Cookbook.

Makes 4 servings - 3 WW points per serving
2 tbs orange juice (I had some navel oranges and juiced these)
2 tbs Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup whole wheat cracker crumbs (I used Kellogg's multi-grain crackers)
1 tbs grated orange zest
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
4 (3 oz) skinless, boneless chicken thighs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees; spray a nonstick baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice, mustard, and salt. On a sheet of wax paper, combine the cracker crumbs, orange zest, shallot, and pepper.

Brush both sides of the chicken with the mustard mixture, then dredge in the crumbs, pressing the crumbs to both sides so they adhere. (I like to refrigerate for a half hour before baking)

Place the chicken on the baking sheet and bake 15 minutes. Turn over and bake another 15-20 minutes. You may want to do what I did and make a double batch.

The recipe for the corn cakes was suggested by one I found on the Weight Watchers' website, but I didn't have fresh corn so I substituted canned white corn. I didn't have any red pepper, so I just omitted it.

Makes 4 servings, 3 corn cakes per serving.

2 egg whites
1 egg yolk
1 can white corn
3 scallions, chopped
salt and pepper
2 tbs all purpose flour

Whip the egg whites until glossy, but not stiff.

Beat the egg yolk with a fork, then add to the corn. Mix in the scallions, salt, and pepper, then the flour.

Fold in the egg whites.

Spray a nonstick skillet with nonstick spray over medium high heat. Using a 1/8 cup measure, measure out 6 corn cakes. Do NOT press down. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until bottom has browned. Turn over carefully and cook for 3-5 minutes on the other side, until browned.

The corn cakes may be held in a 200 degree oven until you are ready to serve them.

I can guarantee that we'll be eating this meal at least bi-weekly. The sweetness of the orange juice combined with the slightly sweet Kellogg's wheat cracker crumbs worked beautifully with the Dijon mustard. This crust made the chicken thighs even moister than usual. The corn cakes, while not the same as my corn fritter recipe, were almost souffle-like. The scallions worked well with the corn to produce a tasty side dish.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


The Food of Love was born in May 2008, a product of both my love for cooking and writing. Over the ensuing 15 months, I've added some wonderful friends from the food blogging stratosphere to my life. On the negative side of the spreadsheet, I've also added a bit of girth to my no-longer-girlish figure. And so, as I've done in the past, I've returned to Weight Watchers. But this time, it's official. I've joined online to use the e-Tools and I've returned to the once a week meeting. Seems I need to pay and make public my largesse--or is that largeness--in order to have the program work for me. I considered putting The Food of Love on hiatus, but I'd miss my readers and the opportunity to capture my thoughts in writing. So...we interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you the new Food of Love "lite." In the next few months I will be focusing on good food that has been made more healthy. I have an army of Weight Watcher cookbooks, Cooking Light magazine, and my own knowledge of how to substitute and replace to assist me.

If you're a regular reader, you know that I always have a few of those pork loins in my freezer. Last month they were on sale for $0.99 a pound, so I stocked up. This simple Weight Watcher recipe relies on two of my favorite flavor enhancers: fresh rosemary and garlic. Accompanying this flavorful herbed pork loin are roasted sweet potato wedges, which are also brought to life with fresh rosemary. Rounding out the meal was steamed broccoli and a tossed salad with red onion, tomatoes, and cukes.

Rosemary and Garlic Grilled Pork Loin
4 servings
5 WW points per serving

1 pound(s) lean pork tenderloin, use one whole loin
1 Tbsp olive oil
3 medium garlic clove(s), crushed
2 Tbsp rosemary, fresh
1/2 tsp table salt
1 tsp black pepper

Place pork on a large sheet of plastic wrap. In a small bowl, mix together oil, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper, crushing rosemary slightly with a spoon as you mix; spread mixture over pork, covering entire surface. Wrap loin tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour (and up to overnight).
Prepare grill for medium-hot indirect cooking or preheat oven to 425°F.
Remove plastic wrap and place pork on grill. Grill, turning occasionally, until a meat thermometer inserted in center reads 160°F, about 25 minutes. Or indoors, place tenderloin in a shallow roasting pan and roast until internal temperature reaches 160°F, about 20 minutes. (Note: Pork loin can be pink and juicy inside and be fully cooked, but it is important that the internal temperature be at least 160°F.)
Remove pork from grill or oven and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Yields about 3 ounces of pork per serving.

Roasted Sweet Potato Wedges
4 servings
2 WW points per serving

2 large sweet potato(es), washed and patted dry
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp table salt

1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1 item(s) rosemary sprig, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 425ºF.
Cut each potato into 8 lengthwise wedges and place on a nonstick baking sheet. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with salt and dried rosemary. Roast for 15 minutes; toss and roast until potatoes are tender, about 15 to 20 minutes more.
Spoon potato wedges onto a serving plate and garnish with fresh rosemary. Yields 4 wedges per serving.

Taste Notes
This delicious meal "cost" me a mere 8 points (5 for the entree, 2 for the starch, and 1 for the vinegarette I used on my tossed salad), a true bargain and one I hope will result in less of me at Saturday's weigh in.

Monday, August 31, 2009


To a foodie book addict, what can be better than a new book about baking? Gesine Bullock-Prado's Confections of a Closet Master Baker (think about that title) will have you lusting for one of her painstakingly-created, carefully researched, ubertasty, and, sadly, secret, treats--her famous macarons.

Thanks to my participation in the foodie book club, Cook the Books, I was invited to participate in this event co-sponsored by A Blithe Palate, the aforementioned Cook the Books, and Dispensing Happiness. The round-up for this Edible Word event will be on September 7th and 8th.

Written with a tongue-in-cheek voice, Confections will once again raise the recognition among closet chefs and bakers that this is not a vocation for the faint-of-heart. Bullock-Prado gives up a successful, albeit not always fulfilling, career in Hollywood to open a bakery in the hinterland of Vermont (with apologies to the denizens of Montpelier and its environs). While she gets to play out with gusto her dream of filling cases with masterful sweets, she does so at the expense of anything reminiscent of a balanced life.

I must confess that it wasn't until I'd read about her sister Sandy a few times that I realized she was talking about Sandra Bullock. Well, duh. That recognition only made my read that much more enjoyable, though I'll also confess that I was waiting for the chapter about that enigma, Jesse James.

A diehard lover of marzipan and French macarons, my only disappointment was not finding the recipe to Gesine's boilermaker sweet in the novel. I was also dismayed to find that her shop in Vermont is on hiatus while she helps sister Sandy open a new showcase for her talents in Texas. I look forward to being able to order some of these delicacies very soon.

One motif in the novel that I could readily identify with was Bullock-Prado's anger over the mispronunciation of her name. I've grown up with people inserting an extra syllable (a vowel, of course) into my very Italian last name. No amount of correction ever seems to work. Add to that the fact that I can't just introduce myself by saying, "I'm Arlene" without having people reply, "Nice to meet you, Marlene." Go ahead, I dare you to say it in a way that won't produce that elision of consonant followed by vowel.

While I was drooling over the Opera cake and the Zwetschgendatschi, my upcoming rendezvous with Weight Watchers forced me to choose the friendlier cream scones, though I did substitute dried and fresh Bing cherries for the currants. They were easy, had a lovely crumb, and were as good a day later, toasted, as they were out of the oven. This girl knows her way around the kitchen.
This is one of those books that you will return to more than once if only for the incredible recipes that Gisene has provided. Be sure to stop by the Edible Word on September to see what everyone else has cooked up.