Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tomato Stack with Corn & Avocado

Well, it took me six months, but I finally made this tomato stack salad that was featured in Cooking Light over the summer.  Corey, who loves tomatoes, loves this salad.  I liked the tanginess of the dressing paired with the sweetness of the tomatoes and corn.


Recipe Notes
This is not a quick recipe.  Between grilling the corn, cooking the bacon, making the dressing, and all of the slicing, this one takes awhile.  For me, this is a good weekend dinner project when I have more time.  I couldn't find globe tomatoes at the store, so I used heirloom tomatoes and they worked beautifully.  I also skipped the olive oil at the end here and just used the buttermilk dressing, which worked well and saved some calories.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
191 calories - 13 g. fat - 5.1 g. protein - 16.1 g. carbs - 4.5 g. fiber

  • 2 cooked bacon slices, crumbled
  • 1/4 c. lowfat buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. finely-chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp. finely-chopped basil
  • 2 tbsp. canola mayonnaise (I used Hellman's light mayo instead)
  • 2 tsp. cider vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced fine
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper, divided
  • 2 ears of shucked corn, grilled, corn kernels removed from cobs
  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes cut into 8 slices
  • 2 globe tomatoes cut into 8 slices (I used heirloom tomatoes)
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 ripe, peeled avocado, thinly sliced
  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1.  Combine buttermilk, chives, basil, mayo, cider vinegar, and garlic in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Stir in 1/4 tsp. black pepper.
2.  Sprinkle tomato slices with salt and pepper.  Alternate layers of tomato and avocado on four plates. 
3.  Scatter corn evenly over tomato stacks.
4.  Drizzle each tomato stack wiht 1.5 tbsp. of buttermilk dressing and 1 tsp. olive oil (if desired).  Top each salad with crumbled bacon.

Arugula, Pear, and Blue Cheese Salad

Corey LOVED this recent Southern Living featured salad.  I really enjoyed it too.  There is something fun about homemade dressing from the Cuisinart, and it had great flavor.  I served this with Lipton Onion Roasted Potatoes and grilled chicken.  Everyone was happy.


Recipe Notes
I cannot tell you how difficult it was to find pear preserves.  I had to go to THREE different grocery stores, but I eventually found them at Central Market.  The recipe calls for walnuts, but I used toasted pecans because that is what I had available.  You should have dressing left over after your meal for another night's salad.  Save it - this makes a tasty vinaigrette.

  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. pear preserves
  • 1/2 cup champagne vinegar
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 8 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 2 Bartlett pears, cut into wedges (I diced mine instead of making wedges)
  • 4 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts (I used chopped toasted pecans)
1.  In a Cuisinart or blender, process 1/4 c. of the pear preserves, the champagne vinegar, the shallot, the Dijon mustard, salt, and pepper.
2.  With the processor running, pour oil through the food chute in a slow and steady stream, processing until smooth. 
3.  Transfer to a 2 cup measuring cup or small bowl and stir in the remaining 2 tbsp. pear preserves.
4.  Place arugula on plates or a large serving platter.  Top with pears, blue cheese, and nuts.  Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cheesy Meatloaf Minis

Somehow, I hated meatloaf as a kid but have grown to like it more as an adult.  This little Cooking Light recipe appeared in a recent "Best Of" edition of the magazine, and I decided to give it a try.  The little bits of white cheddar added to the mixture are just yummy.  Please note that I actually made mine a bit smaller than the recipe calls for - I used 1 lb. of sirloin for six meatloafs instead of 1.5 lbs. as called for in the recipe.  I thought it was just great.  The nutritional stats below are based on using the full 1.5 lbs. of meat.


Recipe Notes
Serve this meal with mashed potatoes and a simple salad.  A good simple salad to serve with this meal is just an herb salad mix with carrot ribbons, sliced red onion, and your favorite vinaigrette.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 6)
254 calories - 11.4 g. fat - 28.3 g. protein - 11.1 g. carbs - 0.9 g. fiber

  • 1 oz. fresh breadcrumbs (I used 2 slices of white bread and my Cuisinart)
  • 1 c. finely chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 ketchup, divided
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp. prepared horseradish
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 3 oz. white cheddar cheese, diced
  • 1-1/2 lbs. ground sirloin (90% lean)
  • 1 large egg
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  My oven is a bit hot, so I cooked these at 400 degrees.
2.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray and saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes.
3.  Combine onion, garlic, 1/4 ketchup, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix thoroughly (I use my hands to make sure it is well-combined).
4.  Shape into 6 individual loaves on a broiler pan lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray.
5.  Spread 2 tsp. ketchup over each loaf. 
6.  Bake for 25-28 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lemony Chicken Saltimbocca

This little Cooking Light recipe has appeared in several editions of the magazines, including at least one "greatest hits".  I figured it was time that we tried the recipe, especially considering that it was pretty quick and only required one pan.  I served this with rice and green beans.


Recipe Notes
Corey thought the whole sage leaves were a bit off-putting, but I loved them.  If you don't like to eat the actual sage leaves, just discard when you are cutting your chicken.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
202 calories - 7.5 g. fat - 30.5 g. protein - 0.2 g. fiber - 2.3 g. carbohydrate

  • Four (4 oz.) chicken cutlets
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 12 fresh sage leaves
  • 2 oz. thinly-sliced prosciutto, cut into 8 thin strips
  • 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1/3 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 1/4 c. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
  • Lemon wedges (optional)
1.  Sprinkle chicken with salt.  (I also added a little pepper.)
2.  Place 3 sage leaves on each cutlet and wrap two prosciutto slices around each cutlet to secure sage leaves in place.
3.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tbsp. oil to pan and swirl to coat. 
4.  Add chicken to pan, cook for 2+ minutes on each side or until done.  Remove chicken from pan and keep warm.
5.  Combine chicken broth, lemon juice, and cornstarch to the pan, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Add remaining 1 tsp. olive oil and bring to a boil, continuing to stir.
6.  Cook for one minute or until slightly thickened, stirring constantly with a whisk.
7.  Spoon sauce over chicken.  Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.

Candy Bar Dessert

This is a very simple, "old-fashioned", icebox-type dessert.  It also can serve a crowd.  Allow yourself time for it to chill.  This is not a dessert that can be whipped up right before dinner.


Recipe Notes
You can do many things to make this dessert either more fattening or less fattening.  I have made this as "skinny" as possible without sacrificing too much taste.  The one note that my mom made was to not substitute skim milk in the pudding layer - 2% is as low-fat as she suggested you go.  Therefore, I incorporated 2% milk into the dessert I made last weekend.

  • 2 c. Oreo cookie crumbs (either store bought or made from Oreo cookies)
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted
  • 1/2 c. sugar, divided
  • 8 oz. low-fat cream cheese
  • 1 tub Cool Whip Light or Cool Whip Free (I used Cool Whip Free)
  • 2 packages Jell-O instant chocolate pudding
  • 3 c. milk (may be 2% but not skim)
  • 1 c. Heath bits
1.  Spray 9x13 glass dish with cooking spray.
2.  Combine Oreo crumbs, 1/4 c. sugar, and melted butter in a bowl.
3.  Press Oreo crumb mixture into the bottom of the casserole dish and chill 10 minutes/
4.  Meanwhile, beat cream cheese with remaining 1/4 c. sugar.  Fold in 1/2 tub Cool Whip.
5.  Spread sweetened cream cheese layer over Oreo crust. 
6.  Sprinkle 1/2 c. Heath bits over cream cheese layer.
7.  Beat pudding and 3 c. milk until pudding has thickened and is soft-set.  Spread over cream cheese layer.
8.  Spread remaining Cool Whip over pudding layer.  Sprinkle top with remaining 1/2 c. Heath bits.
9.  Chill at least two hours before serving.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lemon Cream Pie

We were having friends over for dinner last weekend and I wanted to do something different for dessert than just the standard "chocolate dessert".  Voila....lemon cream pie!  The gingersnap crust was a big hit.  Credit to Real Simple Magazine for this tasty pie.


Recipe Notes
I made a slight modification using fat free sweetened condensed milk instead of regular, which should alter the calorie and fat count considerably.

This pie takes awhile and needs some tender loving care to make it to completion....make the crust, bake the crust, make the filling, chill the filling, make the whipped cream....you get the idea.  So make this on a weekend when you've got some extra time.  No one said that tastiness was always fast!

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 10)
421 calories - 22 g. fat - 49 g. carbs - 1 g. fiber - 6 g. protein

  • 9 oz. gingersnap cookies (approx. 35)
  • 6 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt (divided)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk (I used fat free)
  • 1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 c. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp. powdered sugar
  • 1 c. whipping cream
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Combine gingersnaps, butter, 1/2 tsp. salt, and sugar in a Cuisinart, pulse until moistened.  Press crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.  Use a straight-sided dry measuring cup to help.
3.  Bake for 16-18 minutes or until crust is dry and set.  Allow crust to cool completely.
4.  In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sweetened condensed millk, lemon zest, and lemon juice, along with 1/2 tsp. salt.
5.  Pour the mixture into the crust and bake until set in the center (18-20 minutes). 
6.  Let cool and then refrigerate until firm (2+ hours).
7.  Using an electric mixer, beat whipping cream and powdered sugar until soft peaks form (2-3 minutes).  Spread whipped cream on pie and serve immediately.  Garnish with additional lemon zest if desired.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Easy Whipped Cream-Style Frosting

This is kind of an odd little recipe that my friend Chelsea sent me out of curiosity to try.  It's odd because it has a very unexpected ingredient - flour.  At the end of the day, this makes a very nice whipped cream-style frosting.  The blogger who originally posted it (tastykitchen.com) called it the best frosting she'd ever had.  I wouldn't go that far, but I really enjoyed this chocolate and vanilla combo, and I don't usually enjoy a chocolate cake with white frosting.  Try it out for yourself - I welcome any comments or feedback that you might have!  It is certainly a nice departure from my usual icing "go-to's".


Recipe Notes
Credit to tastykitchen.com for this interesting (and tasty) recipe.

  • 5 tbsp. flour
  • 1 c. milk (I used 2%)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 c. butter (use the real thing, for sure)
  • 1 c. granulated sugar (definitely don't use powdered sugar here by mistake!)
1.  Bake your favorite chocolate cake per instructions and allow to cool.
2.  In a small saucepan, whisk flour and milk, stirring constantly until thickened.  Author's note: you will want the consistency to be roughly as thick as a brownie mix.
3.  Let flour/milk mixture cool to room temperature, then stir in vanilla.
4.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. 
5.  Add milk mixture and beat it 'til the sun don't shine.  Beat the icing until it resembles whipped cream.
6.  Spread on a cooled chocolate cake or cupcakes and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Italian Sausage Hoagies

I was skeptical of these, but Corey really liked them.  He described them as "like a Subway Italian Meatball Sub....only better and lighter".


Recipe Notes
Corey suggested using provolone cheese in place of mozzarella cheese as well.  Serve with Kettle chips and a salad.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
309 calories - 7 g. fat - 20.7 g. protein - 28.5 g. carbohydrates - 2.5 g. fiber

  • Four 2-oz. hoagie rolls, halved
  • 9 oz. sweet Italian turkey sausage, cut into 1 in. thick pieces
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. minced fresh garlic (I used bottled)
  • 1 c. marinara sauce
  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1.  Preheat broiler to high.  Arrange hoagie rolls on a baking sheet and broil until toasted.  Set aside.
2.  Heat a large skillet over medium high, spray with Pam.  Add sausage to pan and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
3.  Add onion and garlic, cook until softened.
4.  Add marinara, bell pepper, and black pepper.  Bring to a boil.
5.  Reduce heat and simmer for six minutes or until bell pepper is crisp-tender.
6.  Arrange 3/4 c. sausage mixture over bottom half of each roll.  Sprinkel with ~2 tbsp. cheese per sandwich.
7.  Broil two minutes or until cheese melts.  Top with other halves of hoagie rolls.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Gnocchi Alla Amatriciana


I found this recipe while browsing through a Family Circle magazine in the Seattle airport.  I made this for Corey this weekend and we both really liked it.  It's tomato-y, a little bit spicy, and a little bit salty from the pancetta.  What's more, it is supposed to make a 9x13 casserole, but I made two 8x8 dishes and froze one of them to have next month.  I just made it through Step 8 and then put half in the freezer instead of the oven.  This is easy to make, doesn't require a large number of ingredients, and is fairly healthy - not a lot of added fat or oil.
Recipe Notes
You can pick up the pancetta already diced and in the perfect-sized portion (4 oz.).  I found a 4 oz. container of pre-diced Boars Head pancetta at Kroger in the deli section and it worked great.
Nutritional Information
460 calories - 13 g. fat - 15 g. protein - 72 g. carbohydrates - 8 g. fiber
  • 4 oz. pancetta (diced)
  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes (such as Cento)
  • 1/4 c. + 2 tbsp. shredded Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 (17.5 oz) packages gnocchi
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil for gnocchi.
3.  While waiting on water to boil, saute pancetta in a skillet over medium heat until crispy (8-10 minutes).
4.  Add diced onion and saute 4-5 minutes more over medium heat until softened.  The rendered fat from the pancetta will help to soften the onion.
5.  Add garlic and red pepper flakes, saute 2 minutes more.
6.  Stir in tomatoes, 2 tbsp. shredded cheese, and thyme.  Bring to a simmer and cook 10 minutes.
7.  Meanwhile, add gnocchi to boiling water and remove with a slotted spoon to a separate bowl when cooked through.  Gnocchi is ready when it floats up to the top of the pot of boiling water.  At that point, you can skim the pasta off the top.
8.  Add gnocchi to tomato sauce mixture.  Transfer to either a 9x13 baking dish or two 8x8 baking dishes.
9.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.  If freezing half, put half in the freezer at this point.
10.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese has melted and tomato sauce is bubbling.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Un-Fried Tomatoes

Corey loved this Martha Stewart Food recipe, and they are so much better for you than fried green tomatoes because they are baked in the oven. 
Recipe Notes
My oven needed a bit more time than the recipe called for - about 20-22 minutes instead of 15.  I used my Cuisinart to crush up the cornflakes to a fine meal.
Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
267 calories - 4 g. fat - 9 g. protein - 53 g. carbohydrates - 4 g. fiber
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 5 c. cornflakes, crushed
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs. firm tomatoes, cut into 1/4 in. rounds (these can be any color)
  • Lemon wedges or ranch dressing, for serving
1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2.  Place flour, eggs, and cornflakes in three separate shallow dishes.  Season each with salt and pepper.  Stir cayenne pepper into seasoned flour.
3.  Coat each tomato slice first with flour, then with egg, and finally with cornflakes.
4.  Arrange tomatoes in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet.
5.  Bake until deep golden brown, or about 15 minutes. 
6.  Serve with lemon wedges or ranch dressing.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes


These chicken enchiladas were recently featured in Southern Living.  I am lazy and didn't want to make my own tomatillo salsa, so I modified this a bit and also used bottled tomatillo salsa (I used Herdez).  I also cut the cheese to make them a bit more healthy as well.  Corey LOVED these and so did I!
Recipe Notes
These can be assembled the day before and refrigerated until ready to cook.  Be sure to stop after Step 7 below if making ahead.
  •   1 c. diced sweet onion
  •   3 garlic cloves, minced
  •   1 tbsp. canola oil
  •   2 c. chopped fresh baby spinach
  •   2 (4.5 oz.) cans chopped green chiles, drained
  •   3 c. shredded cooked chicken breast
  •   8 oz. (1 package) reduced-fat cream cheese
  •   6 oz. (1-1/2 c.) shredded hot pepper jack cheese
  •   8 (8 inch) soft taco-sized flour tortillas
  •   1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
  •   Bottled tomatillo salsa
  •   1 medium avocado, diced
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Saute onion and garlic in canola oil for five minutes or until tender.
3.  Add spinach and green chiles.  Saute until spinach has wilted (1-2 minutes).
4.  Add chicken and reduced-fat cream cheese.  Stir constantly until cheese melts.
5.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
6.  Spoon approx. 1/2-3/4 c. chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. 
7.  Sprinkle pepper jack cheese over chicken mixture, then roll up tortillas and place in a 9x13 glass baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Tortillas should be placed seam-side down.
8.  Lightly spray tortillas with Pam cooking spray.
9.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.
10.  Top with tomatillo salsa, followed by avocado and chopped cilantro.


Friday, August 10, 2012

"Healthified" Beef Enchilada Pie

This recipe was also a Pinterest find from eatbetteramerica.com.  This website has several recipes that have been "lightened" to enhance your healthy dining experience.

Recipe Notes
This recipe reminds me greatly of the Layered Enchilada Bake that I have posted multiple times.  This dish is made in a pie pan, vs. a baking dish as the Layered Enchilada Bake is.  Also, this dish requires a much shorter cooking time.  Both are worth the labor.

Nutritional Information
290 calories - 11 g. fat - 25 g. carbohydrates - 22 g. protein - 0 g. fiber

  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef (93% lean or greater)
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 10 oz. can of Old El Paso red enchilada sauce
  • 1/2 c. canned corn, drained
  • 4.5 oz. can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 5 Old El Paso burrito-sized flour tortillas
  • 1 c. shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese (approx. 4 oz.)
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Brown beef and onion in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (5-7 minutes).  Drain.
3.  Add 3/4 can of enchilada sauce, corn, and green chiles to beef mixture.  Stir in cumin and chili powder.
4.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for five minutes.
5.  Spray one 9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray.
6.  Place one tortilla in the bottom of the casserole.  Top with 3/4 c. beef mixture and 3 tbsp. shredded cheese.  Repeat these layers three times.
7.  Top with remaining tortilla, reserved enchilada sauce (approx. 1/4 c.) and remaining cheese.
8.  Bake, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes until hot and cheese is melted.
9.  Cool five minutes before serving.  Serve with sour cream.

Crock Pot Chicken Chili

Found this recipe on Pinterest....it was a really easy Crock Pot dinner worth mentioning.  It's very healthy too - no added fat, butter, or oil.  I served this over rice with a big salad.


Recipe Notes
According to the original poster, this recipe makes approximately eight servings with about 200 calories per serving.  I have not verified the nutritional information, but considering the ingredients, it sounds about right. 

  • One can of black beans
  • One can of kidney beans
  • One can of corn
  • 16 oz. tomato sauce
  • 28 oz. diced tomatoes
  • One packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. of chili powder
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1.  Add all ingredients to Crock Pot.
2.  Cook for 6 hours high or 10 hours on low.
3.  Shred chicken breasts, mix well, and serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, etc.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mary's (Lightened) Spinach Casserole


Recipe Notes
My aunt Mary has been making this creamed spinach casserole for decades.  I tried to lighten it up with half the original prescribed butter (originally it was 1 full stick) and light sour cream.  Serve this casserole with grilled steak and potatoes.

  • Two 10-oz. packages frozen chopped spinach, cooked and drained
  • 1/2 stick (4 tbsp.) butter
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1 large can artichoke hearts
  • 1 pint light sour cream
  • 1/2 c. Parmesan cheese
  • Salt & pepper

1.  Saute onion in butter.
2.  Combine onion with remaining ingredients.
3.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese on top.
4.  Bake 20-30 minutes at 350 degrees.  Serve hot.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado, and Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette

This salad is a good example of my problem with Pinterest.  Part of the reason I have not posted anything in awhile is that I've been experimenting - a lot - with Pinterest recipes.  They look great and always are "amazing" or "to die for" according to the blogger-turned-chef.  However, most have been a letdown either in terms of flavor or actual visual presentation when a simple home cook like myself tries the recipe at home.  As someone trying to give you some practical, quick recipes for busy worknights at home, I haven't wanted to waste your time with mediocre recipes.

This particular recipe (adapted from "Once Upon a Chef") is better than ok and worth mentioning, but it is not great.  According to the blogger who posted it, it's just about the best black bean salad this side of the Rio Grande.  I think that it's worth posting as a good summer side, but I'd rather have the Corn, Avocado, and Cilantro Salad that I posted last summer than this salad any day.  Corey and his dad both enjoyed it, so it's worth trying as long as you don't have super-lofty expectations of the result.


Recipe Notes
Make sure to get this salad started several hours in advance (if not the night before).

  • Two 15-oz cans of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 ears fresh cooked corn, kernels cut off the cob
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp. miced shallots (approximately one medium shallot)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 6 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 tbsp. lime juice (fresh)
  • 1/2-3/4 c. fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 Hass avocados, diced
1.  Combine all ingredients through cilantro (omitting avocados).
2.  Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight.
3.  Dice avocados immediately before serving so that they won't turn brown in your salad.  Add avocados and mix gently.
4.  Garnish with additional cilantro and additional salt and pepper to taste.  Serve immediately with grilled chicken, grilled fish, steak, or burgers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Squash Ribbons with Red Onion & Parmesan


This is an easy, healthy summer side that can be whipped up in the skillet with very little effort.

Recipe Notes
You can either use just the four yellow squash indicated below, or you can do half and half yellow squash and zucchini squash as I did above.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
84 calories - 3.4 g. fat - 10.4 g. carbohydrates - 3.8 g. fiber - 4.5 g. protein

  • 4 medium yellow squash, shaved with a vegetable peeler (seeds and core discarded)
  • 1 tsp. olive oil
  • 1 c. thinly-sliced red onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 c. shaved fresh Parmesan cheese
1.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
2.  Add squash, onion, and garlic.  Cook 4 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally.
3.  Remove squash from heat and add salt, red pepper, and black pepper.  Toss gently to combine.
4.  Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

Sunday, April 29, 2012


My mom made us these pancakes growing up, and now I make them for my two boys (and Corey too!).  They are easy, can be generally made any time with items always kept in your fridge and pantry, and make a ton of pancakes....batter can be stored in the refrigerator for several days (covered).  Enjoy with butter light syrup!


  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 c. sifted flour
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. milk (whole or skim)
  • 1/2 c. margarine (one stick), melted
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
1.  Combine egg yolks, flour, sugar, salt, and milk.
2.  Stir in margarine.
3.  Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold egg whites into batter, then add baking powder.
4.  Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium heat, coating with cooking spray.
5.  Cook pancakes on both sides until done.  Serve with syrup.

Mango & Avocado Salsa

My husband liked this salsa over chicken so much, he told me the dinner was one of his "Top 2 Favorite Dinners Ever".  Serve this over chicken or fish or as a taco topping.  Because it is mostly fruits and vegetables, one serving has less than 100 calories and lots of "good" fats.  Thanks Martha Stewart Food for this great recipe.


Recipe Notes
Make this immediately before serving so that the avocado doesn't start to turn brown.  Also, I think that one of the keys to the red onion is the fine dice - mince as small as possible.

Nutritional Information (per 1/2 c. serving - serves 6)
91 calories - 6.9 g. fat - 8.2 g. carbs - 0.9 g. protein - 2.7 g. fiber


  • 1 avocado (halved, peeled, pitted, and diced medium to small)
  • 1 ripe mango (peeled, pitted, and diced medium to small)
  • 1 small red onion, diced fine
  • 1/4 c. finely-chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice (approx. 2 small limes or 1 medium lime)
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt 


1.  In a bowl, combine all ingredients.
2.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tex-Mex Rice Bowl

This is an easy weeknight skillet from Cooking Light. Great with a little Cholula over the top and a salad.


Recipe Notes

This is a great use for precooked rice.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)

306 calories - 7.6 g. fat - 44.4 g. carbohydrates - 18.1 g. protein - 4.3 g. fiber


  • One 8.8 oz. bag precooked brown rice (such as Uncle Ben's)

  • 8 oz. ground sirloin

  • 1/4 c. water

  • 1-1/2 tbsp. taco seasoning (such as Ortega)

  • 1/2 c. frozen or canned whole-kernel corn

  • 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 c. fresh pico de gallo

  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced

  • 4 tsp. chopped fresh cilantro


1. Heat rice according to package instructions.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef and cook ~3 minutes or until done. Stir to crumble.

3. Stir in water and taco seasoning and bring to a simmer.

4. Stir in corn and beans. Cook one minute or until heated. Stir in rice.

5. Top with pico de gallo and jalapeno, then sprinkle with cilantro.

Deviled Chicken

This is a quick and easy Cooking Light dinner. I served it with steamed broccoli and herbed cous cous pilaf and it all went very well together.


Recipe Notes

I didn't have any prepared mustard or dijon mustard on hand, so I used honey mustard this last time I made this recipe and it turned out great. Just a little sweetness to go with the tang and the spice!

You can also use chicken cutlets (as I did here). Your chicken goes farther, the portions are more reasonable, and the recipe cooks more evenly.


  • Four 8-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

  • 1/4 tsp. salt

  • 2 tbsp. prepared, dijon, or honey mustard

  • 1/2 tsp. ground red pepper

  • Two 1-oz. slices of French bread baguette (I used white sandwich bread)


1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees.

2. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly coat with cooking spray.

3. Place chicken breasts on a rack of a broiler pan or roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 475 degrees for 15 minutes, remove pan from oven.

4. Combine mustard and red pepper and brush the mixture over the chicken.

5. Pulse bread in a Cuisinart until crumbs form (approx. 1 cup).

6. Sprinkle breadcrumbs evenly over chicken and mustard mixture. Press lightly to adhere and lightly spray with cooking spray to prevent breadcrumbs from burning.

7. Return pan to oven and bake for 10 minutes more (or until breadcrumbs are browned).

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Mint Oreo Brownies (aka St. Patrick's Day Brownies)

Found these on Pinterest as a St. Patrick's Day treat (original website located here), and BOY are they good. They would also be excellent at Christmas time. Even the non-dessert-eaters in our family liked these! Enjoy!


Recipe Notes

The original instructions are a bit difficult to follow, so I have modified the recipe to make it easier and I think it likely tastes the same.


- 1 box of brownies (I used Ghiradelli), prepared in a 9x13 dish according to package instructions and cooled completely
- 12 mint Oreos + 18 mint Oreos (one standard package)
- 7 oz. jar marshmallow Fluff
- 3/4 c. white chocolate chips
- 1 can prepared vanilla frosting (I used whipped frosting)
- 1/8 tsp. mint extract
- 8 drops green food coloring (or more to your taste for a specific shade of green)


1. Hand crumble 12 mint Oreos and then 18 mint Oreos, keeping the two batches separate.

2. Melt white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in Fluff, vanilla frosting, mint extract, green food coloring, and 12 hand-crumbled Oreos.

3. Spread green icing mixture over the top of the cooled brownies. Top with remaining 18 hand-crumbled Oreos. Slightly press down on Oreo garnish to make sure it adheres to the icing.

4. Chill until ready to cut and serve.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Meals for the Taking

I have found myself providing meals for multiple friends lately - some due to new babies in the house and some due to illness. It is good to have a stable of travel-friendly recipes for times like these. I have three true "go to" recipes that I have posted to this blog before, along with a couple of favorites that I have also taken to friends in a pinch. I think that they are worth mentioning again in case you find yourself in a similar situation.

Layered enchilada bake (this one can be made straight from frozen!)

Happy cooking to all!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chicken Rollatini with Spinach & Parmesan

Found this on Pinterest and Corey loved it. It's also very diet-friendly. The recipe is originally from skinnytaste.com.


Recipe Notes

Requires some prep work, so make this on a night when you're not in a hurry for a meal. I saved some time by having my butcher make four large-ish chicken breasts into cutlets for me at the store.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 8)
195 calories - 7 g. fat - 24.2 g. protein - 7.2 g. carbohydrates - 1.5 g. fiber


  • 8 thin chicken cutlets

  • 1/2 c. Italian seasoned breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 c. grated or shredded parmesan cheese, divided

  • 6 tbsp. egg whites (from approximately 3 large eggs)

  • 5 oz. frozen spinach (1/2 box), squeezed dry of any liquid

  • 6 tbsp. part-skim ricotta

  • 6 oz. part-skim mozzarella (shredded)

  • 1 c. marinara sauce (bottled)

  • Salt & pepper to taste


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Season chicken cutlets with salt and pepper.

3. Combine breadcrumbs and 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese in a bowl. In a second bowl, add the whites of two eggs.

4. Combine 4.5 oz. shredded mozzarella with remaining Parmesan, ricotta, spinach (squeezed dry), and remaining egg whites.

5. Lay chicken cutlets on a working surface and spoon 2 tbsp. spinach/ricotta mixture into the center of each cutlet. Loosely roll each one and keep the seam side down.

6. Dip rolled-up chicken in egg whites, then roll breadcrumbs. Place breaded chicken cutlets seam side down in a glass baking dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

7. When finished, lightly spray the tops of the chicken cutlets with non-stick cooking spray. Bake 25 minutes.

8. Remove from oven and top with sauce and remaining mozarella cheese.

9. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, approximately 5 minutes. Serve with additional sauce and grated cheese on the side, if desired.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Honey Ginger Pork Tenderloin

Cooking Light suggests stovetop-grilling this recipe, but I still think that meat is always best on the BBQ. Thank goodness Corey is such a willing grill cook!


Recipe Notes

I would recommend marinating the pork tenderloin in the soy/ginger/honey mixture for about an hour before you plan to cook the pork. Cooking Light says to dive right on in.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
178 calories - 2.7 g. fat - 24.1 g. protein - 14 g. carbohydrates - 0.1 g. fiber


  • 1 tbsp. grated peeled fresh ginger

  • 3 tbsp. honey

  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce

  • 1 lb. pork tenderloin


1. Combine ginger, honey, juice, and soy sauce in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

2. Kristi's suggestion: marinate the pork in a zip-top bag in this mixture for 30 minutes or an hour before cooking.

3. Heat grill pan or charcoal grill to medium high and coat with cooking spray.

4. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add pork to grill pan or grill.

5. Cook for 15 minutes or until a thermometer registers 145 degrees. Baste frequently with marinade.

6. Let stand for five minutes before serving.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sesame Broccoli

This Martha Stewart recipe is a nice side of a simple Asian-inspired protein and rice.


Recipe Notes

This can turn out a bit salty because of the soy if you are not careful. I am generally not a huge fan of low sodium soy sauce, but this is a good recipe for it.


  • 1 lb. broccoli florets (about two crowns, cut into florets)

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce

  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Toss broccoli florets with olive oil. Roast until browned, approximately 20 minutes.

3. Toss with soy sauce, lemon juice, and sesame seeds.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Crock Pot "Refried" Beans

More Pinterest bounty! These don't replace real refried beans, but they're a pretty good approximation. If you want refried beans without the "refried" effects on your hips, try these. You don't have to soak the beans overnight, either!


Recipe Notes

I found this recipe on Pinterest through Six Sisters' Stuff. There is also a recipe to turn these completed beans into bean dip on their website. See the original recipe (here). These beans definitely need additional seasoning (salt/pepper), hot sauce (such as Cholula), and cheese!


  • 1 onion, peeled and halved

  • 3 c. dry pinto beans (approx. 1 bag), rinsed and drained

  • 1/4-1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced

  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic

  • 3 tsp. salt

  • 1-3/4 tsp. black pepper

  • 1/8 tsp. cumin (optional)

  • 5 c. water

  • 4 c. chicken broth


1. Place onion, beans, jalapeno, garlic, salt, pepper, and cumin in a Crock Pot or other slow cooker.

2. Add water and chicken broth. Stir to combine.

3. Cook on high for 8 hours, adding additional water if needed. Do not allow beans to cook dry.

4. Strain beans and return to a bowl, reserving cooking liquid. Mash with a potato masher and add cooking liquid until desired consistency is achieved.

Skinny Chicken Florentine

Found this on Pinterest - pretty easy to put together and healthy! I used leftover grilled chicken that I cubed, and it worked great.


Recipe Notes

I found this on a blog (Skinny Ms.) and she uses whole wheat pasta spirals. I used regular old white pasta spirals - honestly, the nutritional information isn't all that different between the two.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 6)

315 calories - 8.1 g. fat - 33.4 g. carbohydrates - 2.2 g. fiber


  • 12 oz. precooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1/2 box frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed of excess moisture)

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil

  • 2 tbsp. flour

  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice

  • 1-1/2 c. chicken broth (fat free)

  • Pinch nutmeg

  • 1 tsp. oregano

  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper

  • 1 c. low-fat cottage cheese (blended in Cuisinart to smooth out consistency)

  • 2/3 c. fresh Parmesan cheese

  • 1/2 lb. pasta (regular or whole grain), cooked according to package directions


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. Spray a glass 9x13 baking dish with Pam. Set aside.

3. In a sauce pan, heat olive oil. Add flour and whisk for approximately 30 seconds. I added a bit of the chicken broth here too for consistency purposes.

4. Add chicken broth and stir until thickened with whisk. (Keep whisking until all lumps are gone.)

5. Add lemon juice, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat.

6. Add cooked pasta, cottage cheese, spinach, chicken, and Parmesan. Stir to combine.

7. Turn pasta mixture into the greased 9x13 casserole dish. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until golden.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crispy Pork Medallions with Roasted Root Vegetables

Once again, I cannot stress enough what a time-saver it is to buy a pork tenderloin and ask your butcher to trim it and make it into cutlets. A typical small-ish pork tenderloin (about a pound) easily makes eight cutlets.


Recipe Notes

These have a kick from the Dijon mustard. They came out just a tad bit dry and I think that they could use a sauce, but I can't decide what might work well. If you think of something, let me know!

Nutritional Information - Pork (per serving - serves 4)

210 calories - 9.4 g. fat - 24.5 g. protein - 5.1 g. carbohydrates - 0.3 g. fiber

Nutritional Information - Vegetables (per serving - serves 4)

144 calories - 3.7 g. fat


  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard

  • 1-lb. pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 8 medallions

  • 1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme

  • 1 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (divided)

  • 8 oz. small quartered red potatoes

  • 2 parnsips, peeled and cut into small disks

  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into small disks

  • 1 minced garlic clove


1. Preheat two ovens (if available) to 450 degrees. Otherwise, you can put both dishes into one.

2. Combine potatoes, parsnips, carrots, minced garlic, salt and pepper, and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a bowl. Toss to coat.

3. Spread vegetable mixture on a cookie sheet lined with foil. Bake for 28 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

4. While vegetables are roasting, rub mustard evenly over pork medallions.

5. Combine panko, thyme, parsley, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Dredge pork in panko mixture.

6. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 tbsp. oil to pan and swirl to coat.

7. Add pork medallions and saute 2 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

8. Place skillet in the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes or until pork is cooked through. Serve with roasted root vegetables, salad, and bread.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Stir-Fried Turkey in Lettuce Wraps

I like to serve these great, healthy lettuce wraps with white rice and Asian cabbage slaw (recipe here). Great use for super-lean ground turkey!


Recipe Notes

The actual recipe calls for using only half of the prepared sauce in the turkey mixture with the other half on the side. I personally like to add all of the sauce to the skillet and then dress my lettuce wraps with soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.


- 1/4 c. soy sauce

- 4 tsp. fish sauce

- 4 tsp. sugar

- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

- 1 large shallot, finely chopped

- 2 tbsp. minced peeled ginger

- 2 garlic cloves, minced

- 1 small jalapeno, chopped

- 1 lb. ground turkey (recipe recommends 93% lean, I used 99% lean)

- 2 large heads Bibb lettuce, cleaned and leaves separated


1. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir with a whisk until sugar dissolves and set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat.

3. Add minced jalapeno, ginger, garlic, and shallot. Stir until fragrant and slightly softening (approx. 30 seconds to 1 minute).

4. Add turkey and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon or spatula, for approximately 5 minutes or until almost cooked through.

5. Add sauce to skillet and stir until meat is cooked through. (I use all of the sauce at this point.)

6. Serve in lettuce leaves with remaining sauce (if you only used half before) and/or soy sauce or teriyaki sauce.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sesame Shrimp Salad

This is a recipe that I pulled out of Cooking Light literally almost three and a half years ago...finally got around to trying it and it was good! Nice light meal. We had it for dinner, but it would make a great lunch too. The ingredient list looks long, but if you ever prepare Asian-style food, I guarantee you will have at least 80% of the staples already in your pantry.


Recipe Notes

You will notice in the recipe that the shrimp are supposed to be on skewers. Mine were not, as I was out of bamboo skewers. It tastes the same either way. Make sure that you cook the shrimp long enough in a hot enough skillet to get a good glaze and a bit of char on the shrimp.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)

239 calories - 7.3 g. fat - 26.3 g. protein - 17.9 g. carbohydrates - 3.4 g. fiber


  • 1 tbsp. sugar

  • 3 tbsp. fresh lime juice, divided

  • 1 tbsp. water

  • 1 garlic clove, minced

  • 2 tsp. chili garlic sauce, divided

  • 1-1/2 tsp. fish sauce

  • 1/2 tsp. salt, divided

  • 1 tbsp. orange marmalade

  • 2 tsp. dark sesame oil, divided

  • 24 large peeled and deveined shrimp

  • 5 c. shredded Napa cabbage

  • 1-1/2 c. trimmed watercress leaves

  • 1-1/2 c. shredded carrots

  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro

  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh mint

  • 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds


1. Mix sugar, water, garlic, and 2 tbsp. lime juice in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 40 seconds or until sugar has dissolved. Stir in 1 tsp. chili garlic sauce, fish sauce, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Set aside.

2. Combine 1 tbsp. lime juice, 1 tsp. chili garlic sauce, remaining salt, orange marmalade, and 1 tsp. dark sesame oil in a separate large bowl, stirring with a whisk.

3. Add shrimp and toss to coat. Marinate in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.

4. Remove shrimp from bowl, reserving marinade. Thread shrimp onto skewers (3 shrimp per skewer).

5. Heat 1 tsp. dark sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and reserved marinade to pan. Cook at least 3-4 minutes or until shrimp is done.

6. Combine cabbage, watercress, carrots, cilantro, mint, and sesame seeds in a large bowl. Dress with reserved dressing set aside from step 1. Top with 2 shrimp skewers and serve.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Oven-Roasting Method for Beef

This recipe was first published in The Star of Texas Cookbook (Junior League of Houston, 1983). It is a simple and delicious way to cook a beef tenderloin that should please everyone, as the meat ends up well done on the short end and medium rare at the thick end. All you need is a trimmed, tied beef tenderloin; salt; pepper; olive oil; and a VERY hot oven.


Recipe Notes
I highly recommend using a trimmed and tied beef tenderloin from Rice Epicurean if you live in Houston. Pick one up at the Saturday meat sale - great pricing!


  • Beef tenderloin roast (trimmed & tied)

  • Good-quality salt and pepper

  • Good-quality olive oil


1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. (Yes, 500 degrees. It will be very hot!)

2. Set roast out for three hours or more to reach room temperature. Rub roast with salt, pepper, and oil.

3. Place roast on a rack in an open pan or Dutch oven. Place pan in the center of the oven at least 8 inches from the oven's heating element.

4. Cook roast for 3 minutes per pound. Turn the oven off and let stand in the oven for one hour and 45 minutes. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DURING THIS TIME.

5. Pull the roast out of the oven, slice, and enjoy! Great by itself or for sandwiches.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

I found this recipe on Pinterest from Pillsbury.com. It is super easy and works for either dessert or breakfast. The original recipe may be found (here).


Recipe Notes

I would shorten the baking time next time by about five minutes. I think that my oven runs really hot.


  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar

  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon

  • 2 cans Pillsbury Grands biscuits

  • 1 c. packed brown sugar

  • 3/4 c. (1.5 sticks) butter or margarine


1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Grease a tube cake pan or bundt pan.

3. In a gallon-sized Ziplock bag, mix sugar and cinnamon.

4. Separate dough into individual biscuits. Quarter each biscuit and roll individual pieces into small balls.

5. Working in batches, add biscuit dough balls to Ziplock bag. Shake in sugar and cinnamon until coated. Arrange dough in pan.

6. Mix brown sugar and butter and pour over biscuit pieces.

7. Bake 47-52 minutes or until golden brown and no longer doughy in the center. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn upside-down onto a serving plate and pull apart to serve.