Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Skip The Drive-Thru, Stay In The Kitchen!

Burgers & fries = my favorite fast food. I know how bad it is, which is why I rarely have them, but the cravings are still there! So these versions of my faves are yummy alternatives, since I'm using my Cuisinart Griddler (which doesn't dry up lean meat) for the burgers, and the oven for the fries. I switched up regular potatoes with sweet potatoes -I've made them a few times, each time trying something different, but I have yet to get them as crispy as I have accomplished with white potatoes. (But they were yummy!) And the burger, well I love experimenting with different ingredients & toppings!

BBQ Burgers with Grilled Onions

1/2 lb extra lean (90/10) ground sirloin
1.5 tbsp shredded 2% milk cheddar cheese, divided
garlic salt & pepper to taste
1/2-1 tsp BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby's Ray's)
1 tsp grated yellow onion
a few pieces of yellow onions cut in wide slices, drizzled with a dash of extra virgin olive oil

Plus buns & favorite toppings

Mix all ingredients together, but only add 1 tbsp of the shredded cheese. For into two equal patties, and make a slight indentation in the center of each, to help prevent a bulge in the middle while cooking.

Grill on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes on each side, I leave it on longer since I like mine well-done. Put the onions on the grill till soft & caramelized. If desired, about 2 minutes before burgers are done, place the remaining shredded cheese on top of each burger, place another type of sliced cheese (American, etc) on top of the burger and melt. I also like to toast the buns (I use whole wheat or lite) I topped my burgers with grilled onions, sliced roma tomatoes, Boston lettuce & a pickle.

Sweet Potato Fries
Adapted from Vegan Yum Yum

2-3 Medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled I used 1 large potato
Oil and Spice Rub
Tbsp of Earth Balance, melted (vegan margarine) I used 1tbsp Smart Balance spread, and 1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp Paprika I omitted
1/4 tsp Chili Powder I omitted
1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes I omitted
1/4 tsp Salt, Black Pepper I used garlic salt
I used 1 tsp dried parsley & 1.5 tsp of grill seasoning

Preheat oven to 450º F.

Slice potatoes into thin fry shapes with a large chef’s knife. Mix melted earth balance and spices together and toss the potatoes in it. Place oiled/spiced fries on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper (they might stick to foil). Do NOT crowd the pan - you want space between every fry. Bake for 20 minutes, turning every 10 minutes.

Place potatoes under the broiler, turning every minute or so and keeping a close eye on them. Broil them for as long as you can without incinerating them. Serve immediately or you’ll lose any crispiness you achieved. Goes great with ketchup or a creamy vegan mayo.

Tag - I'm It!

I've been tagged by Renea from Sweet Savory Southern, to give 5 random facts about myself.

1. I LOVE pizza, I could (and have) eaten it for breakfast, lunch & dinner!!!

2. I was born & lived in Canada my entire lfe, up until 2 years ago, and now live in Michigan - but apparently I still have an accent - and no - not all Canadians say "eh?" all the time.

3. I have watched the soap General Hospital ever since I can remember, I even went to morning kindergarten so I would be home to watch it in the afternoon.

4. I was an extra in a Canadian tv show when I was about 10 years old - blink a couple of times, and you may have missed me!

5. I've met retired Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman, who brought us on a tour of Joe Louis Arena. I'm a HUGE Wings fan - I was in heaven ;)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Thai Chicken in the Purple Kitchen

Jamie LOVES California Pizza Kitchen's Thai Chicken Pizza, and since the one closest is not open yet, I decided to try a copycat recipe from Recipezaar. According to Jamie, it not only tasted like it but maybe even better it was exactly like the restaturant. So whether you love CPK, or just trying different pizzas, this is the recipe for you!

California Pizza Kitchen Thai Chicken Pizza
makes two pizzas, I halved the ingredients to make one

Spicy peanut sauce
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons minced ginger (or more if you wish)
2 cloves minced garlic
2 tablespoons roasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon vietnamese chili sauce (or dried chili flakes)
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
2 tablespoons water

Thai chicken pieces:
1 tablespoon olive oil
10 ounces boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch cubes

For the pizza:
1 pizza dough, use your own recipe I used Trader Joe's fresh dough
corn meal or flour, for handling
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
4 scallions, slivered diagonally
1/2 cup white bean sprouts
1/4 cup shredded carrots, chopped roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Combine sauce ingredients in a small pan over med. heat.
Bring the sauce to a boil; boil gently for one minute. I had to add some more water, it was a little thick
Divide into 2 portions for use on chicken and pizza; set aside.

To make Thai chicken:
Cook the chicken in olive oil over med-high heat, stirring, until just cooked; 5 to 6 minutes do not overcook.
Set aside in refrigerator until chilled through.
Once chilled, coat the chicken with 1/4cup sauce.
Set aside in refrigerator.

To make the pizza:
Use a large spoon to spread 1/4cup sauce evenly over pizza dough within the rim.
Cover sauce with 3/4 cup cheese.
Distribute half the chicken pieces over the cheese followed by half the green onions, bean sprouts, and carrots, respectively.
Sprinkle an additional 1/4cup cheese over the toppings and top the pizza with 1 tbsp chopped peanuts.

Transfer the pizza to oven; bake until crisp and golden and the cheese is bubbly, 9 to 10 min.
When cooked through, remove pizza from oven.
Sprinkle 1tbsp chopped cilantro over the hot cheesy surface.
Repeat with remaining ingredients for a second pizza.

Monday, March 10, 2008


In an effort to limit fried foods, but still enjoy some goodies, I came across this recipe on one of my favorite sites, Allrecipes. It was easy & turned out perfectly, and would be a great snack while watching the game.

Becki's Oven Barbecue Chicken

Submitted by: ABBIECROMER Rated: 4 out of 5 by 170 members
Yields: 5 servings

"This popular appetizer features oven-baked chicken wings smothered with a traditional, home-made sauce of ketchup, Worcestershire, brown sugar and mustard."

10 chicken wings
3 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon onion powder
5 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons prepared mustard
I added 1 tbsp garlic powder to the sauce mixture

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).

In a small saucepan, melt butter or margarine. Add onion powder, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and mustard; mix well. Dilute ketchup with water and add to saucepan mixture. Let simmer for 15 minutes.

Place chicken wings in a 9x13 inch baking dish. Pour saucepan mixture over chicken. Bake, uncovered, (I put covered with foil and removed halfway during cooking, and I basted the wings a few times) in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes. (I let it cook for another 5 minutes)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Mac & Cheese, Please?

I'll confess - I've never made macaroni & cheese that doesn't come from that blue box. So for meatless Friday, I decided to try it. It turned out tasting great, and although it requires constant attention, it was fairly simple. It's definitely an indulgent comfort food (read:not friendly on the waistline), so next time I will try a more healthy version of mac & cheese.

Classic Macaroni and Cheese
from America's Test Kitchen

Bread Crumb Topping:
6 slices (about 6 oz.) good-quality white sandwich bread torn into rough pieces
3 Tbsp cold unsalted butter

Pasta and Cheese:
1 lb. elbow macaroni
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp salt
5 Tbsp unsalted butter
6 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp cayenne (optional)
5 c. milk
2 c. monterrey jack cheese, shredded
2 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
I added 1 tsp of freshly ground pepper

-Bring 4 qt. water to a rolling boil in a non reactive dutch oven over high heat.Add the macaroni and 1 Tbsp salt and stir to separate noodles. Cook according to package directions a minute or two past the 'al dente' stage and drain.

-In the now empty dutch oven, heat the butter over medium high heat until foaming. Add the flour, mustard, cayenne (if using) and whisk well to combine.Continue whisking until the mixture becomes fragrant and deepens in color (about 1 minute).

-Whisking constantly, gradually add the milk.-Bring the mixture to boil, whisking constantly (the mixture must reach a full boil to fully thicken), then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened to the consistency of heavy cream (about 5 minutes).

-Off the heat, whisk in the cheeses and 1 tsp salt (I used a little more) until the cheeses are fully melted. Add the pasta and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is steaming and heated through (about 6 minutes).

-Transfer the mixture to a broiler-safe 13x9-in baking dish.

-Pulse the bread and the butter in a food processor until the crumbs are no larger than 1/8-in. (about 15 1-sec pulses).-Sprinkle noodles evenly with the bread crumbs.

-Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position in the oven and broil until the crumbs are deep golden brown (3-5 minutes) rotating the pan if necessary for even browning.

-Cool about 5 minutes and serve.


I've said many times, that I LOVE chicken and potatoes, as well as Greek food. I've tried a few times to replicate the exact way the potatoes get some lemon-y and moist inside, with a bit of crispiness on the outside, but I think I may have finally done it. While still not exactly like the restaurant, it's a great meal similar to some Greek restaurants - lemon potatoes, Greek seasoned chicken and green beans. Of course I had to serve it with a Greek salad...Opa ;)

Oven Roasted Greek-Style Chicken

4lb whole chicken
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons Greek seasoning, divided
juice of half of a lemon
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (approx., divided)
1/2 head of garlic
2/3 cup fat free chicken broth
(If you have some fresh oregano, it would also be good under the skin or in the cavity)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Wash & dry chicken, season cavity with salt & pepper, and place garlic inside. In a small bowl, mix together some olive oil, salt & pepper, Greek seasoning and rub under the breast skin.

Place chicken in a roasting pan, drizzle with remaining olive oil, lemon juice and seasonings. Pour chicken broth in pan, cover and roast for approx. 1.5-2 hours. Be sure to baste!

Greek Lemon Potatoes

3lbs potatoes, peeled & quartered
sea salt & pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup chicken broth or water
juice of 2 lemons (or more depending on size how lemony you want it)

*I cooked at the same time as chicken at 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, toss all ingredients. Place potatoes in a baking dish & bake uncovered for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Turn over potatoes a couple of times to ensure even cooking, and add more water if all the liquid evaporates too early in the cooking. You can place under broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking to get crispier.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


It was a nice surprise that Brooke from ...and a cookie for dessert has given my site the E for Excellent Award - thank you Brooke! Be sure to check out her site, she has tons of yummy baking recipes on her blog(and cooking too!)

So, it is now my turn to continue the tradition.....and the awards go to...... in no particular order...

Dori - The Foodie Fashionista -Although her blog is Weight Watcher friendly, you wouldn't be sacrificing any flavor, so even if you are not dieting, earting sensibly is smart for everyone...and her pictures are great too!

Melissa - Melissa's Magic in the Kitchen - I didn't pick it just because of her name....her sweets are to die for, so if you want to treat yourself, bake one of her goodies.

Katie - Good Things Catered - Not only is she a pro in the kitchen, she experiments with a wide variety of dishes, as well as baking. Also, she cooks a lot of chicken and pasta -which are also my faves to cook.

Bridget - The Way The Cookie Crumbles - I've made a couple of her recipes that were both healthy and delicious, and her pictures are amazing - I'm so jealous!

Hot Stuff!

I love Mexican food, but many dishes are usually heavy aka loaded with fat/calories. I've come across Chicken Tortilla Soup in many blogs and it was on my to-make-list for a while, and since I just made some chicken broth, I decided to go for it. There are a lot of variations on this dish, but I chose this one from Confections of a Foodie Bride, I made some changes, as indicated in italics.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

8 plum tomatoes (I used 4 tomatoes)
4 tablespoons tbsp olive oil (I used 3tbsp)
1 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced (I used 4 cloves)
1 red bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup) (I used 1/2 of the pepper)
2 tsp chili powder (I used Mexican hot chili powder)
2 tsp ground cumin
5 cups chicken stock (I used 3 cups homemade stock)
1 large jalapeno pepper, diced
1 large poblano pepper, diced
1 dried ancho chile pepper (I omitted, my store didn't have any!)
1 (15-ounce) can peeled tomatoes (I used half the can with some juices)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne, to taste(optional)
3-4 cooked, shredded chicken breasts (I used 2 breasts)
8-10 oz corn, fresh or frozen (thawed) (I used 1/2 cup and threw in while frozen, cooks in the soup!)

For garnish:
avocado, peeled and sliced
tortilla chips or strips
plum tomatoes, diced
chopped fresh cilantro
shredded Monterey Jack cheese
fat free sour cream

To make the soup:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Slice the plum tomatoes in half. Spread 1 Tbsp of the olive oil on a baking sheet or pizza pan and arrange the tomatoes on top, skin side up. Drizzle the tomatoes with another 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Roast the tomatoes for 35 minutes, until the skins wrinkle and the tomatoes are slightly brown around the edges.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, 4-qt soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and sauté about 5 minutes, until the vegetables become soft. Stir in the chili powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, 1 cup water, 1/2 the jalepenos and all of the poblanos. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover, decrease the heat and simmer about 15 minutes.

Place the leftover jalepenos, the canned tomatoes with their juices and the roasted tomatoes (included as much as possible of the juices and browned tomato bits) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree the chile-tomato mixture about 1 minute. Transfer the chile-tomato mixture to the soup and continue simmering, covered, about 1 hour.

Add salt and pepper to taste and ground red pepper (if using),cooked chicken, corn and gently heat until corn is hot.

Ladle the soup into medium bowls. Lean 3 to 4 slices of avocado against the edge of each bowl, partially sticking out of the soup. Arrange the tortilla chips or strips in a similar way. Sprinkle each bowl with a handful of diced tomatoes, some cilantro, and shredded cheese. Top with a spoonful of sour cream. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Comfort Food - Without Guilt

Ahhhh....comfort food - you know, potatoes, mac & cheese, soup/stews, etc. They are wonderful when it's frigid & snowing outside - but spring will be here before you know it, and it'll be time to put those sweaters away - no more hiding! So, to make the most of the last of winter, I'm trying to make some low fat comfort food recipes, that will (hopefully) taste just as good. So far...so good. I made some BBQ mini meatloaves, baked potato & roasted broccoli - I didn't follow any particular recipe - I just used ingredients that I enjoy, while trying to keep it light. All of the dishes were cooked at 375 degrees.

BBQ Baby Meatloaves

1 lb extra lean ground beef (I'm sure turkey would be good too, I've just never tried it)
1 egg
1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper
2/3 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp onion powder
1 tsp fresh parsley
4 oz plus 2 tablespoons of BBQ sauce (I like Sweet Baby Ray's), divided
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Preheat the oven for 375 and coat a muffin tin with olive oil cooking spray(or whatever you have).

Mix all ingredients except for the 4 oz of BBQ sauce in a large bowl and form into 8 equal portioned balls. Press into the muffin tin, and bake for 25-30 minutes. Spread the remaining 4 oz BBQ sauce on meatloaves and bake for another 5-8 minutes.

*If you wanted to freeze unused portions, omit the last step, and put BBQ sauce when reheating.

Garlic Roasted Broccoli

1 crown of broccoli, washed, stems trimmed
1/2 - 1 tablespoon olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced

In a bowl, toss all ingredients togther and spread on a foil lined, olive oil sprayed baking sheet (I used the same one as the potatoes) Spread out in a single layer and bake for approx. 20 minutes, and turn once.

Baked Potato

Russet potato
garlic salt & pepper to taste
olive oil

Scrub potato & dry. Pierce potato all over with fork, rub with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake on baking sheet for 45-55 minutes. Remove and serve with salsa, fat free sour cream, chopped chives or heart smart butter spread if desired.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Menu - Week of March 2nd

Monday - Mini meatloaves, roasted broccoli & baked potato

Tuesday - Chicken tortilla soup (from homemade broth)

Wednesday -Spinach & feta stuffed chicken, risotto & roasted asparagus

Thursday - Chicken noodle soup & spinach salad

Friday - Homemade mac & cheese

Saturday - Homemade pizza & salad