Thursday, August 28, 2008

Summer Lemon Lovin'

I had some chicken, lemons and potatoes to use up, and I love lemon chicken, but sometimes it can get dry. I found this one on I blog that I love, and knew it would be good - and it was!!! I tried something new for me - putting the chicken in a brine first, then baking it - it was so juicy and lemony, and I served it with some steamed broccoli - just perfect.

Roasted Chicken Breast with Lemon, Garlic, Rosemary, and Potatoes
Good Things Catered


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of excess fat
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened but not melted I used Smart Balance 50/50 Blend
Zest of 1/2 large lemon, lemon reserved
2 large cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
2 tsp fresh rosemary leaves I used dried
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
3 russet potatoes, washed thoroughly and cut into 3/4 inch cubes
Kosher salt ground pepper


-Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line large baking pan with foil for easy cleanup.

-Pat chicken breasts dry, season liberally with salt and ground pepper, and place breast-side up at least one to two inches apart in pan.

-In small bowl combine butter, lemon zest, garlic, and rosemary and stir with spoon to thoroughly combine.

-With back of spoon, spread butter mixture on top of chicken breasts evenly. I also squeezed some lemon juice on the chicken

-Slice reserved lemon and place slices in pan around the chicken. I put the slices on the chicken as it baked

-In medium bowl place cubed potato and toss with 1 tsp olive oil, parsley and salt and pepper.

-Scatter potatoes around chicken breasts.

-Place baking dish in oven and cook about 30-40 minutes or until thickest portion of chicken breast has reached 175 degrees.

-Remove from oven, take chicken breasts out of pan onto a warm serving platter and tent with foil.

-Take one pinch more of Kosher salt to sprinkle over potatoes, toss and place back in oven for 5-10 minutes.-

Remove potatoes and serve with chicken

Basic Poultry Brine
Good Things Catered


I cut the following amounts in half
6 boneless skinless chicken breasts, one small bird, chicken pieces, etc.
1/2 c. table salt


-Dissolve salt in 2 qt. water in a large bowl or dutch oven.

-Immerse chicken into brine and refrigerate for 30 min.

-Remove chicken from brine, rinse, pat dry with paper towels, and season with ground pepper.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Veggies? Yep - They're In There!

I had some vegetables to use up, normally I don't put that many into my pasta sauces, but I will more often. Jamie's not a vegetables fan, but by finely dicing the celery and shredding the carrots, I may have slipped them by him. With the different veggies, roasted garlic and fresh herbs, you certainly don't miss any meat.

Roasted Garlic Marinara Sauce

1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, shredded
14.5 oz can Italian stewed tomatoes, crushed by hand, use about 1/4-1/2 cup of water to rinse out can
1 28 oz crushed tomatoes
14 oz tomato sauce
3 tbsp tomato paste (more if needed)
4 large cloves of roasted garlic, squeezed into a paste
1/2 tsp sugar
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine (I used Merlot)
3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup each fresh basil and parsley coarsely chopped

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and add the first 4 ingredients and saute over medium heat for 8 minutes, or till vegetables are tender.

Add the wine, all the tomatoes/paste, sugar, roasted garlic, salt and pepper. Once bubbling, stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Stir occasionally and simmer for 3 hours.

About halfway through simmering, I added the fresh herbs, and added some more once plated. I served it with whole wheat penne rigate, some shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano & a romaine spinach & veggie salad and a simple red wine vinaigrette.

I love Goat.....

...Cheese of course! I was looking to use up ingredients on hand (which happen to be some of my faves - herbed goat cheese, chicken, fresh parsley, mushrooms & sun dried tomatoes) I adapted this recipe from Elly Says Opa, to include my ingredients. The creaminess come from the goat cheese, which adds great flavor as opposed to simply adding cream to achieve a similar result. I served it with a spinach salad, enjoy!

Penne with Goat Cheese-Tomato Sauce

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 (4-5 oz) hot Italian sausages, casings removed I used sweet chicken sausage
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1/4 tsp. (or to taste) crushed red pepper flakes
a few tbsp of wine or broth (not necessary but it's good for deglazing)
1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup frozen peas I omitted
3 Tbsp. fresh basil (more for garnish if desired) I didn't have basil, so I used parsley
1 small (4oz) log goat cheese
salt and pepper
10-12 oz. penne, cooked

Heat a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat, and add the olive oil. When shimmering, crumble in the sausage and saute until browned. Add the onion and saute for about 2 minutes before adding the mushrooms and garlic. Once the mushrooms and onions are tender, add the tomato paste and red pepper flakes. Cook for about a minute before adding a few splashes of broth/wine to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the browned bits.

Add the crushed tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer to combine the flavors, 10 or 15 minutes. Add the peas and heat through for a minute or two. Stir in the basil and the goat cheese. Remove from the heat and continue stirring until the goat cheese has melted into the sauce. Season to taste if necessary and combine with the cooked pasta.

Yogurt For Dinner???

You bet ya! I love chicken kebabs, so I was excited to try a recipe from my new summer cookbook that I received in the summer exchange swap . The marinade of yogurt, garlic and lemon was so good, I reserved some and drizzled it over the cooked chicken and veggies. I made a couple of slight changes to give it more of a Greek feel and served it gyro style in some grilled whole wheat Greek style pitas. I love good food that's actually for that's good for you!

Chicken and Lemon Skewers
adapted from Easy Summer Food - Simple Recipes for Sunny Days

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup plain fat free yogurt
2 garlic cloves, crushed I used 4, I LOVE garlic
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
1-2 tsp ground chiles I omitted
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro I omitted and added 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes
I added some pieces of green pepper and onion, and red cherry and quartered yellow tomatoes

Cut the chicken lengthwise into 1/8 strips and put in a shallow ceramic dish.

Put all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, stir well, and pour over chicken. Turn to coat, cover and let marinate in the fridge over night. (I only marinated for about 5 hours, nest time I will over night, and I reserved some to drizzled over the cooked food)

The next day, thread the chicken onto the soaked skewers, zig-zagging the meat back and forth as you go.

Cook on a preheated outdoor grill or under a hot broiler for 3 to 4 minutes on each side until lightly charred and tender. I also grilled the vegetables at the same time. Let cool slightly before serving.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

How I Love Pizza!!!

I can't say it enough - Nuff said! I love trying new dough, sauce, toppings combinations, so here's another. The only down side to my pizza making is that I am so messy - anytime flour, dough and cornmeal is involved, so is is a big cleanup. I was going to grill it, but the skies weren't so friendly, so I baked it on my pizza stone. This time I experimented and created a new pizza sauce - so good!

Pizza Dough
Dave Lieberman, Food Network

This dough recipe works great for thick crust pizzas and calzones.

1 package active dry yeast
3/4 cup warm water, about 110 degrees F
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
1 teaspoon salt

**For my toppings, I grilled and sliced two lean tukey Italian style sausages, some pepperoni, sliced mushrooms, diced red onion, part skim mozzarella cheese & topped with frehsly torn basil.

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together yeast, warm water, sugar and olive oil. Let sit for about 3 minutes to fully dissolve and activate the yeast.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt.
With a rubber spatula, gradually mix the yeast mixture into the flour until just combined and dough barely holds together. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter surface dusted with flour.

Knead the dough with flour-dusted hands until the dough has become smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. The surface should be tight and silky and bounce back slightly when pressed.

Lightly grease a large mixing bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

Once doubled, punch the dough down and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Knead each 1 slightly to form a uniform ball. Set aside and cover them with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap to rest for 30 minutes.

Cook's Note: Dough can be made the day before and refrigerated overnight once it is divided. Keep covered tightly in plastic wrap or in a sealed food storage bag.

Roasted Garlic Pizza Sauce

6 oz tomato paste
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1.5 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1/4 tsp parsley
1/2-3/4 cup water (depending how thick/thin you want it)
1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of roasted garlic

In a bowl, add the tomato paste and olive oil, and slowly stir the water. Mash the garlic cloves till
it forms a paste, and add to the bowl. Add remaining ingredients, spread on dough, or refrigerate.

Check Out My Loot!

I frequent the What's Cooking board (my inspiration for starting a food blog in the first place!) and we do these fun season-themed secret gift exchanges. My gift giver, pepperchik18/Kristi sent me these wonderful gifts - an Emeril potholder with silicone (I just recently ruined my oven mitts, it's perfect), silicone Kitchen Aid tongs, garlic and basil dried pasta, and two summer/grilling cookbooks (one from Williams Sonoma - LOVE that store!)

I look forward to trying some new recipes this week - stay tuned!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Is It That Time Of Year Already????

Yes....unfortunately, football season is just around the corner. Yeah, I'm probably one of the few people (especially in Tennessee) who does not enjoy football. But being married to a football fanatic makes it impossible to avoid - so I've learned to enjoy tailgating (read: eating plenty of good food & enjoying some beer)

So although it's still hot outside, I wanted to experiment with some new ingredients for chili (plus I was craving it!) I added some new spices and more veggies (Jamie didn't even mind them), so this is a healthier version of the chili that I usually make. Go Blue!

Three Chilies Tasty Turkey Chili

I like it hot, so if you don't reduce the amount of ancho chili pepper & powder, or use tomatoes with mild chilies

1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
1 medium yellow onion chopped
1-2 ribs celery, finely diced
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes with hot chilies
1 can kidney beans, drained & rinsed
1 can black bean, drained, rinsed
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ancho chili pepper
1/2 tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 tsp oregano
about 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2-1 bottle of beer (I used Corona)
a couple of tbsp of tomato paste to thicken it up if necessary
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
Plus desired sides or toppings.

Over medium-high heat, add the oil and turkey to a large pot and break apart, cook till meat starts to brown. Add the next 5 ingredients (through the garlic) and cook till meat is browned and veggies are softened.

Add the beer to deglaze the pan and simmer for 5-8 minutes until liquid is reduced. Add all the seasonings, diced and crushed tomatoes. Cover with lid and simmer on low for 45 minutes. Add a little tomato sauce or paste to adjust the amount of liquid, Jamie and I prefer it to have a little more liquid. If you don't, you could also drain the diced tomatoes and reserve the juice to add later if necessary.

Darin and rinse the beans, and add to the pot. Check seasonings, adjust if required. Continue to simmer for another 45 minutes.

Serve with toppings - I like a little fat free sour cream, shredded Mexican 2% or Monterrey Jack cheese, diced/sliced yellow/green onions and garlic bread on the side. Tortilla chips and cornbread are also great things to dip in your chili!

The Beer Can Goes Where????

Jamie had this idea a few years back (I'm sure people have been doing it for years, we had just never heard of it) - he likes chicken, beer and grilling - so why not combine them? So I used to simply take a tall can of beer and stick it up the chicken's rear! The chicken was well - pretty tipsy - it's not fun trying to get the chicken upright after falling and then having to use yet another beer for the chicken instead of my personal use! Since then, beer can chicken stands, grilling trays with liquid reservoirs or other devices are pretty popular, so of course I bought one, and use it all the time.

With my grilling stand/tray, it has a tall cup-like center, so I didn't actually have to use the beer can. I tried a few new things, and it was so juicy and flavorful. With my stand, there's also room around it, so I tossed some potatoes and vegetables around the chicken, creating a complete meal.

Sorry for the dark picture, we ate around 8:30 at night....cheers!

In The Rear Chicken With Beer

4.5 lb whole chicken
extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
few sprigs of fresh parsley for potatoes if desired
1 bottle or large can of beer (I used Sam Adams Honey Brown, but I like Heineken too)
1/2 onion, peeled
About 1/2-3/4 cup of BBQ Sauce - I used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey BBQ
3 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp onion powder
1.5 tsp Montreal seasoning
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper

Preheat the grill on medium-high heat.

Rinse and pat the chicken dry. Rub the extra virgin olive oil and rub mix all over the chicken, don't forget to add some in the cavity and under the breast skin.

If using a beer can, drink about half the beer, add a garlic clove and some rub mix to the beer. Then carefully stand the chicken on top, using the legs to balance. If using a stand, put about half the beer in the middle liquid holder, and add 1/4 cup BBQ sauce, 1 clove of garlic & stir. Place chicken on top. Put the onion and remaining cloves of garlic in the top cavity of the chicken, just so it peeks out, don't shove it all the way.

My BBQ has three burners, I shut off the middle burner and put the chicken over that one, and cooked on indirect heat.

Toss the potatoes in some EVOO, garlic salt and pepper. Add to the grill (I had the tray area around the chicken that I used, but you could also slice them thinner and wrap in a foil packet and grill for 20-25 minutes)

Baste the chicken every 25 minutes or so with reserved BBQ sauce/beer - I mixed the remaining beer with about another 1/4 BBQ sauce. Turn the potatoes when basting the chicken.

Add some veggies (I used some red and green pepper, cherry tomatoes and red onions), I tossed in the same ingredients as the potatoes. You could also skewer them and put them over the direct heat, which should only take a few minutes.

With a few minutes remaining, I added some freshly chopped parsley to the potatoes.

Cook chicken till it reaches 180 degrees, about 1.5- 2 hours or so. Carefully remove the chicken, let sit for a few minutes, carve & enjoy!

Going Bananas

It was the very first thing I ever baked properly, and turns out wonderful every time I make it - banana bread! This recipe was so moist and banana-y (that should be a word) It made my house smell amazing. Jamie and I enjoyed a couple (or two or three...) slices, then I wrapped individual slices and stored them in the freezer for future quick breakfasts.

Banana Banana Bread
from Allrecipes

Prep Time: 15 Minutes Cook Time: 1 Hour 5 Minutes
Ready In: 1 Hour 20 Minutes Yields: 12 servings


2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe
I added 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts & 1 tsp vanilla


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9x5 inch loaf pan.

2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.

3. Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Easy & Quick Baked Pasta Dish

I was sort of in a hurry, had some chicken in the fridge,and feeling uninspired, I quickly checked out Food Network's site. One of the dishes that came up was Giada's Chicken and Pastina. It's not really, the small tiny pastina you use in soup, but more of a baked dish with small noodles. I made a few changes, but I thought the dish was just OK - wasn't impressive, but was easy to throw together.

Italian Baked Chicken and Pastina
from Giada De Laurentiis

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta) I used elbow pasta
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes) I used 1 cup of chicken breast
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced I added 2 cloves
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice I used a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, and pulsed a couple of times in a food processor
1 cup shredded mozzarella I used 1.5 cups
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley And I added 1.5 tbsp of dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan I used 1/2 cup
1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering the baking dish I sprayed the baking dish with extra virgin olive oil spray

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.

Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish.

In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Don't Cha Want An Enchilada?

I love Mexican food, but not the really greasy kind that you feel really bad about eating afterwards. (well, I guess once in a while it's ok...) But while browsing for enchilada recipes, I came across this one on Annie's blog. It looked delicious and a bit different than the other ones I have seen. It was great, served with some tortilla chips and some salsa on the side - can't wait for the leftovers today!

Cheesy Chicken Enchiladas
from Annie's Eats

I cut the recipe in half to make about 5 enchiladas

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts I slowly simmered 3 chicken breasts in chicken stock, flavored with some onion powder, smashed garlic cloves and whole peppercorns for about 30 minutes
8 oz. reduced fat sour cream
8 oz. Ranch salad dressing
flour tortillas (10-15) - we like Azteca, packs of 10
jar of salsa I made my own, I used a 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, a few sprigs of fresh, roughly chopped cilantro, 2 tbsp fresh lime juice, 2 cloves minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste, 1/4 cup diced onion, 2 tbsp diced canned jalapeno peppers
shredded Mexican cheese (I usually use close to 4 cups, I love cheese!)

Cook chicken breasts by preferred cooking method until cooked through. Set aside to cool a bit.

While chicken is cooling, mix up the sauce. In a large mixing bowl, combine half of the sour cream and half of the Ranch dressing. In a small bowl, combine the rest of the sour cream and Ranch dressing. Stir both until well combined. Shred or chop the cooked chicken and add to the large mixing bowl. Mix well with sauce.

Preheat the oven to 375°. Grease a 9 x 13″ pan (and possibly another, smaller pan if needed). Take one tortilla and top with a little less than 1 tbsp. of the sauce from the small bowl. Spread over the tortilla in an even layer. Add some of the chicken mixture to the center of the tortilla.

Top with salsa to taste. Sprinkle with shredded cheese, to taste. Roll up tortilla and place, seam side down, in the prepared baking dish. Repeat with remaining ingredients (usually makes 10-15 enchiladas).

Bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes (30 for a crispier tortilla). Allow to cool a few minutes before serving. I covered the pan with foil, removed the foil with 5 minutes left, and topped with a little more cheese.

Oreos...But No Dunking Allowed!

Cheesecake, or should I say baking altogether is a nemesis of mine. I can make no-bake cheesecakes, but why not the real thing? I have tried making a baked cheesecake from scratch 4 times now....either resulting in it being burnt to the bottom of the pan, the crust falling off, not cooked through....and everything in between. It wasn't pretty...and this one isn't exactly either.

I saw this cheesecake on BakingBlonde's blog, and it looked amazing, different and very challenging (for me). I paid meticulous attention to every instruction...except for "Watch carefully and do not over bake." In my defense, I was also making two other dishes for dinner, and I looked at the cheesecake at the 44 minute mark (6 minutes before the minimum time). It was dark, especially around the edges, but the the inside was perfect, as well as the crust stayed together and didn't burn.

Lesson learned - check on your baked goods often, don't rely on timers. Everyone's oven bakes differently!

Oreo Cheesecake
from Baking Blonde's Weblog

2 cups Oreo Cookie crumbs
3 TBS butter, melted
3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 can (14 oz.) Sweetened Condensed Milk
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 TBS flour
3 large eggs
1 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
15 Oreo Cookies, quartered
Oreo cookies for garnish if desired.

Preheat oven to 300° F. Grease 9-inch springform pan. Fill an oven safe cake pan (I use a 9×9) 3/4 full with warm water. Set on bottom oven rack while oven is preheating.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine Oreo crumbs and butter, stir to combine. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove and increase oven temperature to 350.

In a large mixing bowl beat cream cheese until creamy. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until smooth. Add sugar and flour, beat to combine.

Add eggs one at a time beating only to combine after each addition. When adding the third egg, also add the lime juice and vanilla extract; beat until combined.

Using a spatula, gently fold in the quartered Oreo cookies. Gently pour batter evenly into prebaked crust. *You can arrange Oreo cookie pieces over top of batter for a pretty presentation if desired.

Bake in preheated oven for 50-65 minutes or until edge is set and center moves slightly. Watch carefully and do not overbake. Shut oven off and allow cheesecake to cool in oven for 1-4 hours.

Run a warm knife around edge of cheesecake after 1 hour. Place in fridge to cool completely. (Remove the pan of water) Allow to chill at least 24 hours before serving for best flavor and texture.

~~~Advice from Mrs.Sac - serve with plenty of cold milk!~~~

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Where's The Beef?

When I told Jamie we were having burgers for dinner, he assumed it would be our usual - beef. When I mentioned it would be turkey burgers, he was quite skeptical - I have never made them, and only recently did I use ground turkey for the first time. We had some pre-packaged turkey burgers once, and hated the taste and texture. But I thought I'd give it a whirl, along with trying a new side with burgers instead of potatoes.

We LOVED the burgers - I just threw some ingredients that I had on hand and that I thought would work well together, as well as with a fellow Nestie's recipe for Corn & Black Bean Salad. It was a wonderful, refreshing dinner for an almost 100 degree day.

Southwest Gobble-Gobble Burgers

ground turkey (I used just over half of a 1 lb package, reserved the rest for taco salad, browned and used the same seasonings)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup shredded Monterrey Jack cheese, plus two slices for topping (if using)
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup finely sliced green onions
1/2 tsp cumin
3 tbsp freshly chopped cilantro
1 tsp Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
sliced tomato
sliced red onion

The burgers were so moist and had so much flavor, I didn't want to overpower them with too many condiments. But I did mix a 1/4 cup of light mayo, 1/4 tsp of Mrs. Dash Southwest Chipotle seasoning and 1 tbsp of thinly sliced green onion, and spread it on the bun. Or a lower fat option is some fat-free ranch dressing, salsa or sour cream and salsa.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Form into two equal sized patties, pressing down slightly in the center. Grill on medium high heat for about 5-6 minutes per side. Just before removing, melt some Monterrey cheddar on top & toast the buns, and add toppings.

Corn and Black Bean Salad with Lime Cilantro Vinaigrette
Good Things Catered

(I halved the recipe)
1 c. steamed or grilled sweet corn (I grilled it, I think it ads great flavor)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 large green pepper, diced
1 large red pepper, diced
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 small jalapeno, minced seeds discarded if you don't want to kill your mouth) (I used a couple of teaspoons from a can)
1 medium heirloom tomato, diced
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
juice of 2 limes
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
lime zest from 1/2 lime
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp chili powder

-In large bowl combine corn, black beans, peppers, onion, jalapeno, and tomato

-In heavy bottomed bowl, combine cilantro, vinegar, limes, garlic, zest, and spices.

-With large whisk, whisk quickly as you slowly drizzle in olive oil to emulsify.

-Add dressing to salad, toss, and serve. (I served with some tortilla chips)

From The Garden To The Kitchen Table

As my one of my previous blog entries have mentioned, I had a few ripe, fresh tomatoes. Plus I have plenty of fresh basil & parsley in my garden, and it is HOT in Tennessee. I love tossing tomatoes and fresh herbs with some garlic and olive oil for a light dinner, Jamie is not too fond of those dinners...he likes his pasta full of thick sauce! But he loved this dish (maybe because he was hungry later for dessert...) but he ate it, and I loved it. I have made a million variations of this dish, and I was surprised to realize I haven't blogged it yet!

Garden Fresh Tomato & Herb Pasta

1/2-3/4 lb whole wheat rotini pasta
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little to toss on pasta
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
a few sprigs of fresh basil and parsley, coarsely chopped
roughly 4 cups of tomatoes, chopped
1/4-1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup of Baby Bella mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Cook pasta according to directions, drain, and toss with just a touch of olive oil.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet and add the olive oil. Add the onion, and put the garlic on top. Saute for 2 minutes add the mushrooms, cook for another 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes and saute for another couple of minutes. Add in pasta, fresh herbs, red wine vinegar and cheese, toss and remove from heat.

Sprinkle on some more cheese if desired (of course I did!)

Friday, August 1, 2008

Soup, Salad....Hold the Breadsticks

This is my second attempt at making broccoli soup - and it went much better! I love the cheesy-broccoli soup you find at Panera-type places. In my previous attempt, I cut out way too much of the fat, it ended up being a thin, green soupy mess!

This time around, I was still able to keep out the butter and processed cheese, but by adding potatoes, a little flour and some 2% cheese & milk, I was able to yield a creamy and delicious soup.

I served it with a very quick and simple iceberg wedge salad with homemade creamy ranch dressing. Jamie looked a little puzzled, since it didn't look like a traditional salad, but it was a nice change, and he used less dressing than he normally would, since it was drizzled so nicely!

Baked-Potato & Broccoli Soup
My Recipes

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 (14 1/4-ounce) cans low-sodium fat-free chicken broth, divided
3 cups peeled, cubed potato (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 cups broccoli florets, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 (8-ounce) block 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
7 teaspoons shredded 2% reduced-fat sharp Cheddar cheese
7 teaspoons fully cooked bacon pieces
7 teaspoons chopped green onions I omitted, didn't have any

Whisk together flour and 1/3 cup chicken broth until smooth.
Combine remaining chicken broth and next 3 ingredients in a Dutch oven.

Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Gradually stir in flour mixture. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes.

Stir in milk and 8 ounces shredded cheese. Cook mixture over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese melts. Top each serving of soup with 1 teaspoon cheese, 1 teaspoon bacon pieces, and 1 teaspoon chopped green onions.

Makes 7 servings (serving size: 1 cup) (serving size: 1 cup)

Iceberg Wedge Salad with Creamy Bacon Ranch Dressing

1 head of iceberg lettuce, divided in half, core removed, washed, dried
chopped tomatoes
diced red onion
a few teaspoons of bacon bits leftover from the soup
1/3 cup light mayo
3 tbsp fat free sour cream
1/4 tsp parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/2-1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients. Sprinkle salad toppings on lettuce, and drizzle dressing.