Monday, December 17, 2007

Stew For Two

According to the calendar, it's not quite yet Winter; however we just had a snowstorm yesterday, and I was looking for something comforting, yet healthy. I came across this recipe from Elly Says Opa!, and had most of the ingredients on hand. It's my first time making stew, but it was so easy & really hit the spot on a very cold, almost Winter's night. Be sure to serve with biscuits to get all the sauce!

Chicken Stew
Serves 2

1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 pound chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
1/2 onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced (I used 2 carrots)
1 celery stalk, sliced (I omitted)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used 3 cloves)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/4 cups chicken broth (I used 1 32 oz carton of fat free, low sodium chicken broth)
4 oz. white or cremini mushrooms (I omitted)
1/2 lb. baby redskin potatoes, halved (skin-on) (I used 1/2 lb Idaho potatoes cut in eighths)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (I used 1 tsp)
I added 1 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
1/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
I added 1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
corn starch slurry (optional)

In a smallish stockpot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil. Add the chicken pieces, just to brown, and then remove them. Add the onion and cook until translucent. Stir in the carrots, celery and garlic until the garlic is just fragrant, about a minute.

Pour the wine into the pot to deglaze, being sure to get the browned chicken bits off the bottom of the pot. Reduce the wine slightly over medium high heat.

Add the chicken broth, bay leaf, thyme, potatoes, chicken, mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover. Simmer until potatoes are fork tender and chicken is cooked through. I added the peas and corn while simmering for 10 minutes)

If you want, add a corn starch slurry at this point and boil about a minute uncovered. (I used the cornstarch and boiled for a couple of minutes to thicken)

Friday, December 14, 2007


I love trying new pasta sauces, just by switching up the types of tomatoes, herbs & wine, you can invent a different red pasta sauce every time you cook. I have just discovered fire roasted tomatoes, and LOVE them. They just add another dimension to recipes, I have also used them in chili.

The ingredients for this sauce are accurate, however, the measurements are really close estimates. Sometimes I just get caught up in trying different things, and forget to write the exact numbers down. But have fun and experiment.

Fire Roasted Tomato Sauce with Meatballs Sauce:

1 (28 oz) can Muir Glen Crushed Fire Roasted tomatoes
1 (28 oz) can Muir Glen Whole Fire Roasted tomatoes, crushed into small pieces by hand
8-10 small button mushrooms, sliced
4 oz tomato paste (or more depending on how much liquid/how long the sauce simmers)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup onions
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
handful of freshly chopped parsley

Heat olive oil in pot on medium heat, add onions & mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes. Add garlic and 2 oz tomato paste and cook for an additional 4 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, except for fresh parsley, including partially cooked meatballs. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook for 3 hours on low-medium. Stir gently (don't break the meatballs, they will be soft!) every half hour, add more tomato paste if necessary to thicken, or simmer uncovered. Add fresh parsley in the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Serve with pasta, Parmesan cheese & some fresh parsley. I love pairing this with a salad & homemade roasted garlic bread.


1 lb lean ground beef
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced onions
1/4 cup , plus a tablespoon or more of grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 - 2/3 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup, plus a couple of tablespoons of skim milk
1 egg, beaten
a dash of salt & pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 tsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 375. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and form meatballs. I like to make them medium size so they do not take as long to cook. Place formed meatballs on a greased/non stick baking sheet, and bake for 25 minutes, turning once.

Drain off any excess drippings on a paper towel. Carefully add to the sauce to finish cooking.

Homemade Roasted Garlic Bread

6 clices crusty Italian bread
4 cloves garlic, roasted (put unpeeled cloves of garlic either in tin foil on a baking sheet or in a muffin tin, drizzle with olive oil, salt & pepper, and roast on 350 for 25-30 minutes, or until golden)
2-3 tablespoons softened butter
fresh chopped parsley

Sorry no picture. But...allowed the garlic to cool, then squeezed them, and mixed it with the butter & parsley together and spread on bread. I drizzled with a bit of olive oil. Then I put the bread slices on a baking sheet in the oven on 350 for 5-8 minutes. Just watch it - it depends on how toasted you like it. This was sort of an improv kind of garlic bread, so I apologize for not being more specific ;)

Thursday, December 13, 2007

You Gotta Try Goat Cheese

If you have not tried goat cheese, I highly suggest it. It's rich, creamy, and is a perfect partner to chicken. This is a easy, healthy and elegant dish, it's one of my favorites so far. The Chicken with Goat Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomato recipe, as well as the Creamy Parmesan Orzo recipe is from Cooking Light. I added some steamed broccoli tossed with minced garlic and a teaspoon of olive oil & lemon juice.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup chopped shallots, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled goat cheese (I used herbed goat cheese)
2 tablespoons fresh basil (I used 2 teaspoons of dried basil)
/4 teaspoon salt, divided
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (I used scallopine style breasts)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons water

Combine boiling water and tomatoes in a bowl; cover and let stand 30 minutes or until soft. Drain and finely chop.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 1/3 cup shallots, sugar, and garlic; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Spoon into a bowl; stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar.

Combine chopped tomatoes, shallot mixture, cheese, basil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, stirring well.

Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff about 2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt and black pepper. (used thinly sliced breast so I spooned the mixture, rolled, and secured with toothpicks)

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; cover and keep warm. (I put in baking dish covered with foil on 350 for 15 minutes)

Add broth, remaining shallots, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and thyme; bring to a boil. (I added a tbsp of sundried tomatoes) Combine cornstarch and water, stirring with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sauce is slightly thick, stirring constantly. Serve sauce over chicken.

Creamy Parmesan Orzo

1 tablespoon butter
1 cup orzo
1 1/4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth (I used 1.5 cups broth)
1 1/4 cups water (I used 1 cup water)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil (I substituted with fresh parsley)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 teaspoons pine nuts, toasted (omitted)

Heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add orzo, and cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and orzo is done (about 15 minutes).

Remove from heat; stir in cheese, basil, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Comfort = Homemade Chicken Soup

Whether you are sick or it's cold outside, or you just want something yummy & comforting, there is absolutely nothing better than some homemade chicken soup. It takes a little work to make the stock, but it's definately worth it, and you can freeze it for soup, or in ice cube containers to add to recipes.

Homemade Chicken Stock

1 small stewing chicken, cut up
4-5 lbs chicken bones/parts, backs, wings, necks
1 large onion, peel on, quartered
2 parsnips, peel on, cut in half or thirds
2 stalks celery with leaves, cut in half
2 carrots, peel on, halved or thirds
4-5 leek leaves, or the white part sliced in half
water to cover ingredients
10 sprigs of fresh parsley
1 bay leaf
1 or 2 of sprigs of fresh thyme
1 head of garlic halved
1 teaspoon of mixed peppercorns

Put chicken and the remaining ingredients up to the leeks. in a large stockpot. Fill with water till it ingredients are covered by a couple of inches of water and bring to a boil, uncovered.

Once boiling, reduce heat to a medium simmer, and skim the scum from the surface with a small fine strainer till liquid is clear. Add remaining ingredients, cover and simmer on low for 2.5-3 hours. Check a couple of times to see if additional skimming is needed.

Let soup cool for 10 minutes, then strain with a fine strainer into another stockpot. Discard the solids. Strain again, and put pot in a sink full of cold water till cooled. Put in refridgerator, let sit overnight, and re-skim the surface for fat.

Use stock for soup or freeze for later use.

Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup

After making stock, I'll simmer some chicken breasts in store bought broth with 2 cloves of garlic, and in another pot simmer diced carrots, onions, celery, parsnips and parsley. In the last 6-8 minutes of cooking, I add some small soup noodles and cook till al dente.

I drain the chicken, and partially shred, cut in rough pieces, and drain the veggies/noodles. For the soup, simply heat some stock, chicken & veggies, with salt and pepper and simmer for 15 minutes.


When thinking of nachos, I think of bar food. But I love to make a large platter for dinner, or sneak one for just myself - once in a while. This may not be a very sophisticated recipe, but it's just my favorite way to make them, and a little bit healthier than at a restaurant. One way is to make your own taco seasoning - if you make chili, you'll likely already have all the ingredients. I use this one from Allrecipes. I double the recipe and store with my other spices, and add use Mexican & chili powder instead of the regular varieties, and add more garlic powder.

Super Duper Dinner Nachos

1/2 bag Tortilla chips, I like to use a mixture of blue & white corn
1 cup 2% Cheddar cheese, shredded, and a teaspoon or so of taco seasoning tossed with cheese
1/2 lb gound lean beef, browned (or turkey)
2 tablespoons, 1-2 teaspoons taco seasoing, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 can fat free refried black or pinto beans with jalepenos, or add some minced ones
fat free sour cream (to taste)
1 diced tomato, 2 green onions, sliced, 1/4 cup yellow onions, diced (or to your liking)

Brown meat with minced garlic, drain. Add 2-3 tbsp taco seasoning, and 2 tbsp of water, more if needed. Simmer on low for 8 minutes.

Heat refried beans in saucepan on low, or microwave.

Spread out nachos, layer a bit of cheese, meat, beans, then the remainder of the cheese. Heat in the microwave or oven till cheese is melted.

Top with tomatoes, onions & sour cream.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My Big But Not-Fat Greek Dinner

My favorite ingredients to cook with are: lemon, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs. These ingredients are essential to Greek cuisine, thus Greek food is one of my favorites(the other being Italian) I make shish kababs often but never really used a recipe, I sort of threw the above ingredients together. This time, I used recipes from Elly Says Opa I served the kababs with whole wheat Greek pita bread, along with homemade tzatziki sauce (I usually buy it premade). It turned out fantastic, and it was just as good the next day as leftovers. Also, I used some tzatziki as a healthy dip for veggies. Opa!

Shish Kababs

1 lb. lamb or pork tenderloin, cut into chunks peppers, onions, or any other vegetables you would like, cut into chunks (I used tomatoes, green and red peppers & red onion)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, smashed (I used 4 cloves, I looooove garlic)
1 teaspoon oregano (I used a combo of fresh and dried, about 2 tsp altogether)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Mix lemon juice, oil, vinegar, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Put meat and vegetables in a large ziplock bag and pour marinade mixture into bag. Seal and shake bag.

Refrigerate for several hours or over night. (I marinated for about 7 hours, the chicken longer than the veggies)

Place meat and veggies on skewers (if you are using wooden skewers, soak them in water for about half an hour beforehand, so they don't char). Grill!


1 32oz container of plain yogurt (I do not recommend fat free, and a Greek yogurt like Fage will also work great)
1 English cucumber or 2 regular cucumbers, seeded
5 cloves garlic, crushed (I usually crush with the help of a little salt and EVOO
1 tsp white wine vinegar
squeeze of fresh lemon juice (optional)
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth over a bowl (if you don't have that, a strainer lined with a coffee filter will work) for several hours or overnight to get out as much moisture as possible.

Peel and seed the cucumber. Squeeze as much moisture out as possible. Shred/grate/process cucumbers and strain. Pat dry with a cloth or paper towel.

Mix together the strained yogurt, shredded cucumbers, garlic, vinegar and lemon juice (if desired). Salt to taste. It's best to refrigerate for 30 minutes or more before serving, so flavors can meld.

Drizzle EVOO over the top.