Thursday, December 4, 2014

Risotto-Style Pasta with Caramelized Onions

This is a lovely, salty/sweet pasta dish that comes together quickly if you need a speedy weeknight meal.


Recipe Notes
This recipe calls for "unoaked white wine", but I think you can use just about any dry white wine you'd like.  I sprinkled a little extra Parmesan over the top that is not included in the calorie count below.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
394 calories - 11.7 g. fat - 16 g. protein - 52 g. carbohydrates - 3 g. fiber


  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1-1/2 c. minced white onion
  • 1-1/4 c. uncooked acini di pepe pasta (~8.5 oz or 1/2 box)
  • 3 c. unsalted chicken stock, divided
  • 1/2 c. white wine
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 oz. hard, salty blue cheese (such as Gorgonzola piccante), crumbled
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves for garnish, if desired
1.  Heat a medium-sized skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to pan, swirling to coat.  Add onion and reduce heat to low.
2.  Cook 20 minutes or until onion is light brown and creamy, stirring occasionally.  Remove pan from heat and set aside.
3.  Heat a large, heavy skillet or saucepan over medium heat.  Add 1 tbsp. olive oil and swirl to coat.
4.  Add dry pasta.  Cook 5 minutes or until pasta is a toasty color, stirring constantly.
5.  Add onion and 1 c. chicken stock, stirring frequently until stock is absorbed.
6.  Add wine and additional stock, 1/2 c. at a time, stirring frequently until liquid is generally absorbed.
7.  When the pasta is al dente (but not mushy), stir in salt and pepper.  
8.  Remove from heat and stir in cheese.  Allow cheese to generally melt, but serve while pasta still has some small chunks of cheese visible.
9.  Transfer to serving plates and garnish with fresh thyme.
10.  Serve immediately.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Tuscan-Style Garlic-Herb Pork Chops

This Cooking Light recipe was delicious and I was able to make it indoors on my new Le Creuset grill pan.  Easy dinner requiring just one bowl and one pan.


Recipe Notes
The original recipe called for bone-in, center cut loin pork chops.  I prefer boneless pork loin so that is what I used.  The original recipe also suggested grilling the pork chops first and then coating in the herb mixture afterward.  Instead, I marinated the pork chops for a few minutes in the herb mixture and also brushed it on in the end.

Nutritional Information - per serving, serves 4
328 calories - 14.8 g. fat - 29 g. protein - 20 g. carbohydrates - 5 g. fiber

  • 4 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tbsp. thinly-sliced sage leaves
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp. finely-chopped rosemary
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • Four 6-oz. pork chops
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 3 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Two 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 c. (packed) baby spinach leaves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. thinly-sliced green onions
  • 12 green onions, pitted and sliced
1.  Preheat grill or grill pan to high heat.
2.  Combine 2 tsp. olive oil, 2 tbsp. parsley, sage, vinegar, rosemary, and 1/2 chopped garlic on a large plate.  Set aside.
3.  Sprinkle pork chops with salt and pepper.  Place pork on grill rack and grill 5 minutes.  Turn over and grill 3 minutes more or until done.
4.  Transfer pork chops to platter and coat in herb mixture.
5.  Combine lemon rind, lemon juice, 2 tsp. olive oil, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a medium bowl.  Stir with a whisk.
6.  Add cannellini beans, remaining garlic, spinach, green onions, olives, and remaining parsley.  Stir to combine.  
7.  Serve bean salad with pork chops.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Vegetable-Stuffed Rice Paper Rolls with Curry Peanut Sauce

This is from a VERY old copy of Fitness Magazine.  I had always meant to make this recipe but never found time for all of the chopping (and there is a LOT of chopping involved!).  Corey loved these, and I thought they were good as well.  They are chock-full of vegetables and are easy to assemble after extensive prep work.  

PLEASE NOTE: these are tagged as vegetarian, which is true assuming that you do not pair them with the peanut sauce.  The peanut sauce below is made with chicken broth.


Recipe Notes
I skipped the small amount of cilantro in the peanut sauce and instead added a little extra cilantro to the rolls themselves.  There were bean sprouts in the original recipe that I omitted, as I really don't like bean sprouts.  You can add 1/2 c. bean sprouts to the vegetable filling if you prefer.

  • 1/4 c. crunchy or smooth peanut butter
  • 1/4 c. chicken broth
  • 1 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. red curry paste
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 c. + 1 tbsp minced fresh cilantro, divided
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 c. thinly-sliced romaine lettuce
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and julienned
  • 1/4 c. chopped basil leaves
  • 1/4 c. chopped mint leaves
  • Rice paper sheets
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and julienned
  • 1 red bell pepper, julienned
  • 2 green onions, julienned (both white and green parts)
1.  In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine peanut butter, chicken stock, lime juice, fish sauce, curry paste, sugar, ginger root, garlic, and 1 tbsp. cilantro.  Stir to combine, remove from heat, and set aside.
2.  Mix lettuce, chopped basil, and chopped mint in a small bowl.
3.  Fill a wide, flat-bottomed bowl with warm water and soak one sheet of rice paper for 30 seconds until pliable.  I used a 9-inch glass pie plate, which was just the right size.
4.  Lay 1/3 c. lettuce mixture in the middle.  Top with a small amount of each of the remaining ingredients (julienned carrots, cucumbers, red bell peppers, and green onions).
5.  Fold front third over the mound and pull filling toward you to compact it into a tight roll.  Roll over once, then fold sides over the middle and continue rolling away from you until secure.
6.  Place seam-side down on a plate or cookie sheet lined with wax paper sprayed with cooking spray.
7.  Repeat with remaining rolls.
8.  Slice each roll in half on the bias and serve with peanut sauce.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Beef Daube Provencal

This is an old Cooking Light recipe that I finally got around to trying now that it's technically fall outside.  In Houston, you wouldn't know it, because it's still 90 degrees during the day, but we're getting closer.  This dish is served over egg noodles, and I paired it with a simple mixed green salad with champagne vinaigrette and goat cheese.


Recipe Notes
The recipe calls for the beef mixture to be cooked on HIGH for 5 hours or until beef is tender.  If you want to throw this in the Crock Pot first thing in the morning and want it to be ready after work, you can alternatively cook it on LOW for 8-9 hours as well.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 6)
367 calories - 12.8 g. fat - 33.4 g. carbs - 3.9 g. fiber - 29.1 g. protein

  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 12 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 lb. boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into small cubes
  • 1-1/4 tsp. salt, divided
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 c. red wine
  • 2 c. chopped carrot
  • 1-1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. beef broth
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Dash of ground cloves
  • 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 c. cooked medium egg noodles
1.  Heat a Dutch oven or large skillet over low heat.  Add oil to pan and swirl to coat.  Add garlic and cook five minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally.  Remove garlic and set aside.
2.  Increase heat to medium high.  Add beef and sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
3.  Cook 5 minutes or until browned on all sides.
4.  Remove beef from pan.
5.  Add wine to pan and bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen any browned bits.
6.  Add reserved garlic, beef, remaining salt, remaining pepper, carrots, onions, beef broth, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, cloves, diced tomatoes, and bay leaf.  Bring to a boil.
7.  Place beef mixture in a Crock Pot or other electric slow cooker.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 5 hours or until beef is tender.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Grilled Shrimp with Mango & Red Onion Relish

I adapted this recipe from an old Cooking Light recipe.  I like a mango relish without tomato, so I left that part out and it came out fantastically.  The below recipe includes Cooking Light's nutritional information, but my recipe modifications.  Because I only omitted vegetables, the information should generally be the same.


Recipe Notes
If you would like to add tomatoes to the relish, the original recipe includes 2 c. of seeded, chopped tomatoes.  It is very easy to halve or quarter this recipe for a smaller crowd.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 12)
210 calories - 2.8 g. fat - 31.5 g. protein - 13.7 g. carbohydrates - 1.6 g. fiber

  • 1 medium red onion, quartered
  • 3 c. diced, peeled mango
  • 2-1/4 tsp. salt (divided)
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. grated lime rind
  • 2 minced serrano chiles (I used one jalapeno instead)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 4 lb. extra large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
1.  Prepare grill.
2.  Lightly coat onion slices with cooking spray.  Grill 4 minutes on each side.  Cool and chop.
3.  Combine onion, mango, 1 tsp. salt, cilantro, vinegar, sugar, grated lime rind, and chiles in a large bowl.
4.  Combine oregano, remaining salt, pepper, shrimp, and garlic in a large bowl.  Toss well.
5.  Thread shrimp onto skewers.
6.  Place skewers on grill rack coated with cooking spray.
7.  Grill 2 minutes on each side or until done.
8.  Serve shrimp skewers with relish.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Tomato Salad with Caesar Breadcrumbs

This Cooking Light recipe was a nice little twist on fresh tomatoes.  


Recipe Notes
I tossed the arugula in a small amount of Wishbone balsamic vinaigrette instead of making my own as the recipe recommends.  It was faster, and I also generally think that bottled vinaigrettes are superior to those that I can make myself, anyway.  I also skipped the anchovy paste in this recipe.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 4)
95 calories - 7.2 g. fat

  • 6 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. anchovy paste
  • 1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 cups arugula
  • 1-1/2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
  • 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1.  Heat 4 tsp. olive oil, garlic, and anchovy paste in a skillet over medium heat (1 minute).
2.  Add fresh breadcrumbs and cook for 1-1/2 minutes.
3.  Combine remaining olive oil, arugula, and balsamic vinegar (or substitute bottled vinaigrette for the vinegar and oil).
4.  Top arugula with sliced tomatoes.  Sprinkle breadcrumbs and kosher salt over tomatoes.

Creamed Corn

This Southern Living recipe for creamed corn was easy and really good.  I halved the recipe (13 ears of corn is a LOT of corn!) and still had plenty to spare.


Recipe Notes
This recipe uses a corn reamer.  I would recommend buying one because it makes recipe assembly MUCH easier.  They are not expensive, either.  Mine was less than $10.

  • 13 ears of fresh corn, husked
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. pepper
  • Minced chives for garnish
1.  Cut kernels off cobs using a corn reamer.  Discard cobs.
2.  Cook kernels in a small Dutch oven over low heat, stirring often, for approximately 30 minutes or until corn is tender.  (Add water as needed, one tbsp. at a time, to keep corn from drying out during cooking.)
3.  Stir in cream and butter.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until mixture reaches desired consistency.
4.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Garnish with chives.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Baked Zucchini Chips

This Southern Living recipe made for a great, crunchy side.  And my kids could help cook because they were able to dunk the zucchini in panko!


Recipe Notes
I had a good amount of panko/basil/cheese mixture left over after coating the zucchini.  This recipe generally uses one large zucchini.

  • 1/2 c. panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
  • 1/4 c. loosely-packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 c. shredded or grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 lb. zucchini, sliced thinly into rounds
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Cooking spray
1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2.  Process panko, basil, salt, and cheese in a food processor for 10-15 seconds or until finely-ground.
3.  Pour panko mixture into a medium bowl.
4.  Toss zucchini rounds in olive oil.  
5.  Dredge zucchini pieces, one at a time, in panko mixture, pressing gently to adhere.
6.  Place rounds in a single layer on a foil-lined jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray.
7.  Bake 30 minutes or until browned and crispy.  Serve hot.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Zucchini & Onion Gratin

This Cooking Light side was easy and delicious and really good for you.  I had at least seconds and maybe thirds.


Recipe Notes
I really, really love tomato paste in recipes, so I doubled the tomato paste from the original recipe.  I used a mandoline slicer to get my onions really thin.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 6)
92 calories - 6.3 g. fat - 4 g. protein - 7 g. carbohydrates - 2 g. fiber

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
  • Kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-1/2 lb. zuccini, diagonally-sliced thin
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, shredded or grated (about 1/4 cup)
1.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tbsp. oil to pan and swirl to coat.
2.  Add onion and cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.  Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes.
4.  Stir in lemon rind, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Cook two minutes more, stirring occasionally.
5.  Preheat broiler to high.
6.  Combine zucchini slices and 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Toss gently to coat.
7.  Arrange zucchini on a jelly roll pan lined with aluminum foil and sprayed with Pam.
8.  Broil for 7 minutes or until lightly charred.  Sprinkle with approx. 1/4 tsp. salt.
9.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
10.  Spread onion mixture into the bottom of a 2 qt. oven-safe dish coated with cooking spray.
11.  Arrange zucchini over onion mixture.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
12.  Cover and bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.
13.  Remove from oven and preheat broiler to high once more.
14.  Uncover zucchini mixture and broil approx. 1 minute more or until lightly browned.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Creamy Rice Casserole

I adapted this rice from a recipe that Aaron Sanchez published called "Zarela's Famous Creamy Rice".  I made my version healthier and also took out the poblano chiles, which saved some time.  If you want the original recipe, it can be found here.


Recipe Notes
This dish is great with grilled chicken and a big salad.  It's Mexican-inspired with the rice, corn, and cilantro flavors, so it will go well with Mexican dishes and just about anything grilled.

  • 2 c. uncooked basmati rice
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 c. light sour cream
  • 3/4 c. onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels cut from the cob
  • 4 oz. shredded white cheddar cheese
1.  Cook rice according to package directions either on the stovetop or in a rice cooker.  Set aside to cool.
2.  Meanwhile, spray a large skillet with cooking spray.  Saute corn with 1 tbsp. butter until charred, stirring occasionally.  Set aside to cool.
3.  Wipe out skillet and heat with 1 tbsp. vegetable oil.  Add onion and minced garlic and saute until soft and fragrant.
4.  Combine cooked and cooled rice, cooled corn, and onion/garlic mixture.  Fold in sour cream, grated white cheddar cheese, and cilantro.
5.  Turn rice and corn mixture out into a 9x13 glass baking dish sprayed with Pam.
6.  Bake for approx. 30 minutes at 350 degrees until heated through.
7.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gwyneth Paltrow's Japanese Chicken Meatballs

This recipe was relatively easy and fast.  I served the meatballs over rice with a green salad.


Recipe Notes
Gwyneth's original recipe calls for making your own hoisin sauce (recipe here).  I did make my own when I tried the recipe, but considering how expensive red miso paste is and considering that good-quality hoisin sauce is available without having to make it, I will likely just buy hoisin sauce next time.

  • 1 lb. ground chicken (I used 99% lean ground turkey because I couldn't find chicken)
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 tsp. freshly-grated ginger
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. good-quality maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. neutral oil (canola or grapeseed)
  • Hoisin sauce for serving
1.  Mix chicken with salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and maple syrup.
2.  Roll chicken mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs (20-24 total).
3.  Heat oil in a large skillet and add meatballs.  Pan-fry until cooked through.
4.  Serve with hoisin sauce.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Strawberry Basil Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

This is an easy salad adapted from a Cooking Light recipe.  Instead of making your own dressing, use a pre-bottled balsamic vinaigrette.  (My family likes Wishbone).


Recipe Notes
Basil and strawberries might sound a little strange together, but this salad works well.

  • 8 c. torn romaine lettuce
  • 2 c. sliced strawberries
  • 1/2 c. vertically-sliced Vidalia onion (or other sweet onion)
  • 1/4 c. torn fresh basil
  • Bottled balsamic vinaigrette to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
1.  Combine lettuce, sliced strawberries, onion, and basil in a large salad bowl.
2.  Add a small amount of balsamic vinaigrette, along with salt and pepper, and toss gently to taste.
3.  Be sure to assemble the salad right before your meal, because basil can start turning brown when brought in contact with liquids (particularly water).

Red Chile-Cheese Enchiladas

This recipe is a slight variation of an old (2007) Cooking Light recipe for a layered cheese enchilada casserole.  It is very low fat and vegetarian and comes together easily when you use store-bought enchilada sauce (as I do) instead of making your own (as the old recipe called for).


Recipe Notes
You can make your own Red Chile Sauce (recipe here) or use a store bought brand like Old El Paso (as I use).  The Weight Watchers Points Plus value on this dish is approximately 4 per serving.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 8)
162 calories - 5.4 g. fat - 8.8 g. protein - 20.1 g. carbs - 2.1 g. fiber

  • 3/4 c. fat free cottage cheese
  • 2/3 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 2 tbsp. finely-chopped white onion
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 c. red chile sauce or store-bought red enchilada sauce
  • 12 six-inch corn tortillas
  • 1/2 c. low fat extra-sharp cheddar cheese
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Place cottage cheese, Monterey Jack cheese, onion, and salt into a food processor.  Process until smooth (note: this is a slight deviation from original recipe).
3.  Spread 1/4 c. enchilada sauce in the bottom of a greased 8x8 baking dish coated with cooking spray (not butter).
4.  Arrange 4 tortillas over sauce, overlapping slightly.
5.  Spread 1/2 c. cottage cheese mixture evenly over the tortillas and top with 1/2 c. enchilada sauce.
6.  Repeat tortilla/cheese/sauce layers until final four tortillas have been placed in the dish.
7.  Spread remaining enchilada sauce over tortilla layer.  Sprinkle evenly with extra-sharp cheddar cheese.
8.  Cover and bake for 10 minutes.  
9.  Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts.
10.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Cut into 8 squares and serve.

Friday, February 7, 2014

One-Pot Pasta

This was an interesting Southern Living recipe for multiple reasons: dinner was made in just one pot (less dishes!) and it was actually very healthy!  The recipe makes six servings, and according to the Weight Watchers Points Plus calculator, each serving has just 7 points.  It's a virtually vegetarian recipe also (for those who are trying to go meatless more often) and could be completely vegetarian if water was swapped for the chicken broth.


Recipe Notes
This is also one of those recipes that almost made better leftovers than the initial dish - I had it for lunch the next day and it was really yummy!  I used crushed tomatoes as opposed to the diced tomatoes suggested below to give the dish more of a sauce, and I recommend that substitution.

  • 12 oz. fusilli pasta (3/4 of a one-lb. box)
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 c. chicken broth
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/3 c. firmly-packed fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper
  • 6 oz. baby spinach (approx. one clamshell)
  • Freshly-grated or shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving
1.  Place pasta, tomatoes, chicken broth, yellow onion, garlic, oregano, basil, salt, olive oil, and crushed red pepper in a Dutch oven.  Stir.
2.  Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat for approx. 12-15 minutes.
3.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, covered, for 10-12 minutes or until pasta is al dente.  Stir every five minutes.
4.  Remove from heat and stir in spinach.
5.  Cover and let stand an additional 10 minutes.
6.  Stir just before serving.  Serve with Parmesan cheese.  Makes six servings.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Chickpea & Sausage Minestrone

Soup's on (again)!  This hearty and filling soup has less than 200 calories per 1-1/2 c. serving.  I made this after church one Sunday and it was a perfect winter lunch.


Recipe Notes
Buy pre-diced celery and carrots to save time.  The original recipe calls for chicken stock, but I only had chicken broth, and the taste was still just fine.  This is a spicy and robust soup.  Credit to Cooking Light for the recipe.

Nutritional Information (per serving - serves 6)
197 calories - 4.7 g. fat - 26.5 g. carbs - 12 g. protein - 4 g. fiber

  • 3/4 c. uncooked small shell pasta
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 (4 oz.) link hot turkey Italian sausage, casing removed
  • 1 c. diced onion
  • 1 c. diced carrot
  • 1/2 c. diced celery
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 15-oz. can unsalted chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 4 c. chicken stock (or chicken broth, depending on availability)
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
1.  Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain and set aside.
2.  While pasta cooks, heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add oil to pan and swirl to coat.
3.  Add sausage and cook until lightly browned, stirring to crumble.
4.  Add onion, carrot, celery, parsley, thyme, crushed red pepper, and garlic.  Cook 10 minutes or until vegetables are softened.
5.  Add chickpeas, tomatoes, and chicken stock.  Bring to a boil.
6.  Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
7.  Stir in shell pasta, salt, and pepper.  Cook one additional minute.
8.  Serve hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Sun Dried Tomato Roasted Potatoes

Easy side dish alert!  Jazz up your roasted potatoes with a little sun dried tomato paste.  I like to then roast my potatoes at a low temperature (300 degrees) for longer (between 45-60 minutes) to ensure a soft inside and crispy outside.


Recipe Notes
Sun dried tomato paste can be found in the pasta section of the grocery store in a toothpaste-looking tube.

  • Baby potatoes (I prefer yukon gold) - approx. 2 lbs.
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp. sun dried tomato paste
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
2.  Line a jelly roll pan with foil and spray generously with cooking spray.
3.  Wash and halve baby potatoes.  Toss with olive oil, tomato paste, salt, and pepper.
4.  Turn potatoes out onto baking sheet.  Roast at 300 degrees for 45-60 minutes or until very tender.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Arugula Salad with Shaved Manchego

This simple homemade salad goes great with a chicken dish or even a nice bowl of chili.  Credit to Martha Stewart for the recipe.


Recipe Notes
You can also substitute in marinated tomatoes for the sun dried tomatoes.  A spinach and arugula salad blend also works well if you can't find straight arugula salad mix.

  • 1-2 tsp honey
  • 2 tbsp. white balsamic or white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • Baby arugula (12-16 oz.)
  • 1/4-c. oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, drained and thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. shaved Manchego cheese
1.  Prepare dressing: in a large bowl, whisk honey and vinegar until combined.  Whisk in oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
2.  Add arugula and sun dried tomatoes.  Toss to combine.  
3.  Add most of the shaved Manchego, toss further to combine.  Add remaining Manchego to the top prior to serving.  Serve immediately.

Maryland Crab Cakes

This recipe comes from an old Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine.  I really do miss that publication!  These were pretty fast to pull together, albeit expensive because they involve so much crab.  Please note that I halved the original recipe here and it still made 6-7 crab cakes based on the size cake that we typically eat!


Recipe Notes
See original recipe on for details using both large-size and small-size crabmeat.  I used one 16-oz. container of jumbo lump crab from Costco and cut the recipe in half.  The only ingredient that was problematic for halving the recipe was the egg.  Crack the egg into a separate bowl, whisk lightly, and then incorporate 1/2 of the egg/egg white mixture into your crab cake base.  

  • 1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat
  • 1/4 c. light mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c. fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • Juice of one large lemon, plus wedges (for serving)
  • 1/2 large egg
  • 1-2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 1/2 c. fine saltine cracker crumbs (from 12-15 crackers)
  • 1 tbsp. butter, divided
1.  Heat broiler to low.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.
2.  Drain crabmeat and discard any shells or cartilage that you find.
3.  In a large bowl, carefully stir together crab, mayonnaise, parsley, lemon juice, egg, mustard, Old Bay Seasoning, salt, and pepper.
4.  Add cracker crumbs and stir carefully to combine.  
5.  Divide mixture evenly into 4-8 crab cakes (depending on your preferred size).  Place crab cakes onto prepared baking sheet.
6.  Top each cake with a small sliver of butter.
7.  Broil until golden brown (12-15 minutes).
8.  Serve with tartar sauce and lemon wedges.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Light Lasagna Rolls

I found these in Southern Living and they were delicious.  Light, filling, vegetarian, and less than 200 calories per roll!


Recipe Notes
My cooking time was significantly less than what the original recipe called for, so be sure to watch your oven!

Nutritional Information (per roll - makes 10)
190 calories - 5 g. fat - 9 g. protein - 0 g. fiber - 28 g. carbohydrates

  • 10 uncooked lasagna noodles (I used Skinner)
  • 1 c. finely-chopped white onion or sweet yellow onion
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced and divided
  • 24-oz. jar tomato and basil pasta sauce (I used Ragu)
  • 1-1/2 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. dried crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 c. low fat ricotta cheese
  • 2 oz. low fat cream cheese, softened
  • 14 oz. can baby artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 c. torn fresh basil
  • 1/4 c. shredded Parmesan cheese
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Cook lasagna noodles according to package instructions for al dente preparation.
3.  Drain pasta (do not rinse) and arrange in a single layer on a piece of lightly-greased aluminum foil.
4.  Saute onion in hot oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until caramelized (approx. 7-8 minutes).
5.  Add minced garlic and saute, stirring frequently, for one minute.
6.  Stir in tomato sauce, sugar, and red pepper flakes.  
7.  Bring sauce to a boil, stirring often.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside.
8.  Stir together ricotta cheese and cream cheese until smooth.
9.  Stir in artichoke hearts, egg white, basil, and Parmesan cheese.
10.  Spread 1/4 c. cheese mixture on one lasagna noodle.  Roll up firmly and place, seam side down, into a large 11x7 inch baking dish or onto a jelly roll pan.
11.  Repeat with remaining noodles and cheese filling.
12.  Spoon tomato sauce over the lasagna rolls.
13.  Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.  (My oven took only 35 minutes or so).
14.  Let stand for five minutes.  Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese or basil, if desired.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Maque Choux Soup

Here is one more soup recipe for you.  Considering the frigid temperatures across the country, I thought it might be warranted!  This Southern Living recipe appears to be quite light.  The recipe is entirely vegetables, spices, and chicken broth with the exception of a small amount of sour cream (and I used low-fat) and a small amount of white cornmeal.


Recipe Notes
I topped this soup with cooked, chopped center-cut bacon.  Southern Living also recommended chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley and fresh lime juice.

  • 3 c. fresh corn kernels (approx. 6 ears)
  • 1 medium-sized orange bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 32-oz. container chicken broth
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 3 tbsp. plain white cornmeal
  • Assorted toppings (see above)
1.  Stir together corn and bell pepper in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Stir constantly for approximately 5 minutes or until vegetables begin to char.
2.  Transfer corn and bell pepper mixture to a 3-quart saucepan.  Add cumin and coriander and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes more.
3.  Add chicken broth and process with a handheld blender or a regular blender until slightly smooth.  Note: if you use a regular blender, you will have to repeat the process at least 2-3 times given the space constraint in the blender bowl.
4.  Return corn mixture to the saucepan and bring to a light boil over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring often, for approx. 5 minutes.
5.  Stir in salt and pepper.
6.  Whisk together sour cream and cornmeal in a small bowl.
7.  Whisk in 1/2 c. soup to the sour cream mixture.
8.  Add sour cream mixture to soup pot.
9.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until thickened.
10.  Serve hot with desired toppings.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Golden Winter Soup

More soup recipes!  This was a really excellent and filling Cooking Light soup from a 2008 back issue.  The base of butternut squash, potatoes, and leeks is really delicious.  This is similar to a French potage.
Recipe Notes
Serve this soup with a green salad and crusty bread.  The original recipe calls to make Gruyere topped toasts to serve alongside it.  I saved the calories from all of that cheese and had a salad and cheeseless bread instead.  I recommend using the pre-peeled and pre-cut butternut squash.  Even if it costs more, it saves you a TON of time.
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 5 c. cubed and peeled butternut squash (approx. 1.5 lbs.)
  • 2 c. cubed and peeled russet potatoes
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 2 c. sliced leeks (about 2 medium)
  • 4 c. fat free chicken broth (approx. 1 box)
  • 1 c. half-and-half
1.  Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Add squash, potato, salt, and pepper.  Saute 3 minutes.
2.  Add leek and sauté until leek begins to soften.
3.  Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil.
4.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until the potato and squash are very tender.  Stir occasionally.
5.  Place half of the potato mixture in a blender or Cuisinart.  Process until smooth and pour into a large bowl.  Repeat with other half of soup.
6.  Stir in half-and-half. 
7.  Cover and keep warm until serving.  Garnish with additional fresh black pepper.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

'Tis the season for....soup!  Soup is perfect for a cold and lazy Saturday or Sunday when you have some time to make homemade soup.  This soup ultimately takes several hours to prepare, so save it for a rainy or snowy day.  I slightly modified an old Barefoot Contessa recipe from her very first cookbook for this soup.
Recipe Notes
I eliminated about 1/3 of the oil from the original recipe and I think that it still came out great and very flavorful.  For the canned tomatoes, I used San Marzano "chef's cut" tomatoes.
  • 2 lbs. ripe plum or Campari tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 c. chopped yellow (sweet) onions - approx. 2 medium onions
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 28 oz. canned plum tomatoes with juice
  • 4 c. fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1 tsp. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 quart chicken stock, chicken broth, or water (best with chicken stock or broth)
1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2.  Toss tomatoes, 2 tbsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. 
3.  Spread tomatoes in one layer on a baking sheet covered with foil.  Roast for 45 minutes.
4.  In a large stockpot, sauté onions and garlic over medium heat with butter and 2 tbsp. olive oil.  Add red pepper flakes and sauté for approx. 10 minutes or until the onions start to brown.
5.  Add canned tomatoes, basil, thyme, and chicken broth or water.
6.  Add roasted tomatoes and pan juices.
7.  Bring to a boil and simmer, uncovered, for 40 minutes.
8.  Allow soup to cool slightly.  Pass through a food mill or a Cuisinart until well-combined.
9.  Taste for seasonings.  Serve hot or cold with a big salad and crusty bread.