Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Making The Switch

This is only my second time working with whole wheat flour - I don't know why I was so scared before....maybe it's because I've just become decent at baking and working with yeast, I didn't want to jinx it (I've already made Healthy Oatmeal Muffins). I've made the switch to whole wheat when it comes to bread, pasta, tortillas etc., but this was my first whole wheat pizza dough - and it turned out great! The whole wheat flour gave it a slight nutty flavor (like it does to pasta), and it made enough for two large pizzas.

Since it was a meat-free Lenten Friday, I topped my half with julienned sun dried tomatoes, baby bella mushrooms & sliced red onions; while the hubby's half was topped with baby bella mushrooms and fresh pineapple chunks, and used part-skim mozzarella cheese on all.

Fresh Herbed Pizza Sauce

1 cup tomato puree
kosher salt & pepper to taste
dash of sugar
3 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp onion powder
1 tsp fresh oregano
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients in a bowl & spread on pizza. I let mine sit in the fridge covered for a couple of hours while pizza dough was being prepared. Allow to come to room temp before using.

Amazing Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

1 teaspoon white sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
I added 1/2 tbsp of dried Italian herbs & 1 tsp garlic powder


In a large bowl, dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over the top, and let stand for about 10 minutes, until foamy.

Stir the olive oil and salt (and herbs and garlic if using) into the yeast mixture, then mix in the whole wheat flour and 1 cup of the all-purpose flour until dough starts to come together. Tip dough out onto a surface floured with the remaining all-purpose flour, and knead until all of the flour has been absorbed, and the ball of dough becomes smooth, about 10 minutes. Place dough in an oiled bowl, and turn to coat the surface. Cover loosely with a towel, and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

When the dough is doubled, tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and divide into 2 pieces for 2 thin crust, or leave whole to make one thick crust. Form into a tight ball. Let rise for about 45 minutes, until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Roll a ball of dough with a rolling pin until it will not stretch any further. Then, drape it over both of your fists, and gently pull the edges outward, while rotating the crust. When the circle has reached the desired size, place on a well oiled pizza pan. Top pizza with your favorite toppings, such as sauce, cheese, meats, or vegetables.

Bake for 16 to 20 minutes (depending on thickness) in the preheated oven, until the crust is crisp and golden at the edges, and cheese is melted on the top.

* I heated my pizza stone at 500 for about an hour, then reduced the heat to 425 before adding the pizza. I followed some reviews and prebaked the crust for 5 minutes, removed, put on toppings, and baked for another 15 minutes.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Burgers & Fries - Italian-Style

I love Italian food, and I thought, why not combine that with two of my other favorite things - burgers & fries? So that's how this twist on an American classic was created - it was so flavorful and a great change from the norm. I'll definitely be making these again soon...and don't tell the hubby I used baby spinach (my new favorite ingredient) instead of lettuce!

Italiano Burgers with Provolone & Sun Dried Tomatoes

3/4 lb ground round or sirloin
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
2 tbsp chopped sun dried tomatoes (softened)

Toppings - baby spinach leaves, chopped sun dried tomatoes, basil pesto mayo (1/4 cup light mayo mixed with 1/2 tbsp pesto), provolone cheese slices

Heat a grill over med-high heat. Mix all ingredients (except for the toppings) in a large bowl and form two large burgers. Grill about 8 minutes per side, or until desired. With a couple of minutes left, top with provolone, remove and add the remaining toppings.

Italiano Potato Wedges with Parmesan and Parsley

3 medium potatoes
1/2 tsp garlic powder
kosher salt & pepper to taste
1 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 425. Cut potatoes in half, then slice again into wedges (I got 6 larger wedges from each potato). Add to a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix the remaining ingredients and add to potatoes and toss to coat. On a lightly sprayed baking sheet lined with foil, spread out potatoes and add to the oven.

Bake for about 40 minutes turning a couple of times. With about 3 minutes left, remove form oven, add cheese and parsley and bake for another couple of minutes till cheese melts.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Going Greek

I originally had a craving for chicken gyros, but as it got closer to dinner, the weather got worse. I didn't feel like going to the grocery store in the rain just for pitas. (yeah I'm a baby!) So, I decided to take some of the same ingredients and make it into a Greek inspired dish. It was so easy, delicious and healthy too. I served it warm allowing the feta and lemon zest to melt into the ingredients. But it is just as good cold the next day - I've ate the leftovers :)

Warm Greek Chicken & Spinach Orzo Salad


1lb chicken breasts
1/2 cup fat free plain yogurt
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/8 cup fresh lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, smashed
3 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon zest

Place chicken in a ziploc bag. (My chicken was quite thick, I pounded it till 1/2 inch thickness). Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl, pour into bag and make sure chicken is well coated. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (I wish I had more time, or I would have left it in longer)

Heat grill (I used my Cuisinart Griddler) to medium high. Remove from marinade, shaking off excess, and grill for at least 6 minutes per side, or longer until fully cooked through. Remove, slice, and add to orzo mixture.

Vinaigrette: (this is a close estimate, I tasted it and added a dash of extra ingredients if needed)

1/2 cup EVOO
1/2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and refrigerate until ready to use. Let sit for at least an hour.

Orzo Salad:

1 cup orzo
1.5 cups baby spinach
3 tbsp sliced red onions
1 1/2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
crumbled feta cheese
EVOO for sauteing

Cook orzo according to directions, drain well and set aside. Toss with a little of the vinaigrette.

Heat a skillet with a little EVOO over medium heat. Add onion and tomatoes, saute for about 4 minutes or until softened. Add spinach and allow to wilted, for about a minute. Add mixture and feta cheese to orzo, and toss with vinaigrette (amount to taste) and top with chicken.
Garnish with lemon zest and parsley is desired.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Good & Good For You Muffins

I've made muffins a few times now from scratch, and although they have been delicious, they weren't exactly healthy. I came across this recipe, and it was exactly what I was looking for. They were super simple to make, but I would make some changes to improve the flavor next time. I would reduce the oats to 1 cup, increase the applesauce to 1/2 cup, and increase the cinnamon.

The muffins also tasted great (and similar to cinnamon raisin bagels) warmed up and with a little fat free cream cheese on them. Also, this was my first time using whole wheat flour, so look forward to trying new healthier recipes.

Healthy Oatmeal Raisin Muffins
Found on Food Alla Puttanesca, originally from Recipezaar


1 1/4 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup oil I used unsweetened applesauce
1 egg
1/2 cup raisins


Heat oven to 400-degrees. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan. In mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients (except raisins); mix well.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients; mix well.

Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients, just until moistened. Stir in raisins. Spoon batter evenly into 12 cups of a muffin pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Nutrition Info (with oil):
Serving size, 1 muffin
Calories: 170
Total Fat: 5.9 g
Total Carb: 27 g
Total Protein: 4.3 g

A Lemon Lovers Meal

I've been meaning to try this lemon spaghetti recipe for a while now, and it wasn't until I was about to make it, did I realize I was missing something - the basil! So I substituted parsley and added dried basil, and it was a great way to help use up my bag of lemons. I added grilled chicken and served it with some steamed broccoli that was seasoned with garlic salt and a lemon/orange pepper blend seasoning.

This was such a simple, fresh and easy dinner that you can feel good about. I wish I had made the whole recipe so there would have been leftovers!

Grilled Herbed Chicken

1 lb chicken breasts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried Italian seasoning
2 tbsp fresh parsley, roughly chopped
2 tsp lemon juice

Heat grill to medium high heat. Flatten chicken if it is thick to about 1/2" thickness, so it will grill faster and absorb the marinade a little better.

In a bowl, mix all the above ingredients, and add to a ziploc bag along with the chicken. Let chicken marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. Remove, grill for about 6 minutes per side, or until done, slice and serve on top of the pasta.

Lemon Spaghetti

Prep Time:10 min
Cook Time:8 min
Serves: 6 servings

*I cut everything in half, except for the fresh herbs

1 pound spaghetti I used whole wheat thin spaghetti
2/3 cup olive oil
2/3 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves I used parsley
I added 2 tsp dried basil

Directions :

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Griddle Me This

Griddle me that....Jamie always makes the Batman/Riddler references whenever I make things with my Cuisinart Griddler. Jokes aside, I absolutely love that appliance - I use it multiple times a week for all kinds of meals. This time, I was experimenting with different panini's. While the following are not exact recipes, they are more so to get an idea for topping combinations that go deliciously well together.

Panini's are such a great dinner, they are so versatile, quick and easy. Just heat your panini maker or grill pan (place a heavy pan on top to get the sandwich pressed), drizzle your bread with some EVOO or spread a little butter, add your toppings, grill and enjoy.

Apple Smoked Cheddar, Turkey and Bacon Panini

Sourdough bread
shredded apple smoked cheddar cheese
spicy ground (honey mustard was great too)
cooked turkey bacon
lower sodium turkey breast lunch meat (I like Boar's Head brand)
thin apple slices
softened butter (to spread on outsides of bread)

Italian Salami & Cheese Panini with Pesto Mayo

Italian bread
sliced provolone cheese
shredded mozzarella cheese
Italian salami (I love Boar's Head Biano D'Oro Dry Salami)
sliced roma tomato
thinly sliced red onion
pesto mayo (I mixed a little basil pesto paste with some low fat mayo)
drizzle of EVOO (on outsides of bread)

Grilled Cheese Panini

sourdough bread
softened butter (to spread on outsides of bread)
shredded colby cheese (I used a good quality Amish cheese)
shredded apple smoked cheddar cheese
shredded sharp cheese (I like Cabot Seriously Sharp Cheddar)
Sometimes I like to add sliced or tomato or bacon also

Not pictured here, but other panini's that I make regularly are:

Caprese Panini

ciabatta bread
sliced buffalo mozzarella cheese
fresh basil leaves
thinly sliced tomato
drizzle of EVOO and balsamic vinegar
dash of salt and pepper

Turkey Reuben

Swirled Rye bread
lower sodium turkey breast lunch meat (I like Boar's Head brand)
Swiss cheese
thousand island dressing

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Get Out Your Fork & Knife

Because you're going to need them to eat this sandwich! I've made this dish many times, but it was either before I began this blog, or I just plain forgot to take pics. So I'm finally posting my meatball sub recipe, but I apologize for the picture - it looks like a big gooey mess. It was not only delicious, but versatile as well - I served it for another meal over rigatoni with a little Parmesan, and I think it would be great as a stromboli or meatball pizza too.

Marinara Sauce with Meatballs


1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 28 oz can tomato puree
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (plus half can of water)
freshly ground black pepper & Kosher salt to taste
1.5 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
a pinch of sugar
1/2 cup freshly chopped parsley

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute for about 8 minutes or until softened, add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the last two. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1.5-2 hours. Stir occasionally, and add sugar if sauce is too acidic. Add parsley in the final 20 minutes of cooking, and another handful for garnish.


1.3 lb ground beef (That's the size that my package was, just adjust the ingredients a little if you have less meat)
salt and pepper to taste
1 egg lightly beaten
1/4 cup grated onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
1/2 cup Parmesean cheese, shredded
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients till combines. Form into meatballs (Yielded about 24 meatballs. Line a baking sheet with foil, spray with EVOO non-stick spray, and bake meatballs for about 15 minutes, turning a couple of times to cook evenly.

Remove from oven and add to the simmering sauce for at least an hour.


hoagie rolls (I used whole wheat sesame seed topped rolls)
Marinara sauce with meatballs
Parmesan, provolone and mozzarella cheeses

Place rolls on a baking sheet, and bake for about 5 minutes or less, until bread starts to toast. Remove from oven, spread a some of the sauce and meatballs on the rolls. On top of that, I tore a slice of provolone into strips, and used approximately 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella and 1 tbsp of Parmesan cheeses on each sub. I baked them in a preheated oven at 400 for about 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Remove from oven, and sprinkle with a little freshly chopped parsley.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Feelgood Fish Friday

We've decided to go meatless for Fridays during Lent, so this past Friday, Jamie requested fish again. After having salmon & shrimp recently, he wanted a fish & chip style dinner. This recipe was suggested to me by another Melissa, and while the original recipe includes a dipping sauce; I omitted it and served the fish with tartar sauce and lemon. Also, I changed up the seasonings, since I didn't have any Old Bay.

Jamie loved this fish, he said it was one of the best he's had in a while. Since it was baked and not fried, it was also light too. I served this alongside roasted parsley potato wedges (forgot to take a picture, will make again and post the recipe), raw veggies and low fat dip.

Panko-Crusted Fish Sticks
Seen on Delicious Meliscious, originally from Everyday Food


1 large egg
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 cups panko
1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning I omitted, instead I added 1 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp dried mustard, 1/4 tsp dried parsley
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound tilapia fillets I used cod


Preheat oven to 475 degrees F, with racks in the middle of the oven. Line a baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil.Cut tilapia filets in half lengthwise, and then again the other direction. You now have 4 sticks per filet.

Crack egg into shallow bowl, lightly beat with fork. Season with salt and pepper. In another shallow bowl, combine panko, Old Bay, and olive oil. Dip each tilapia stick into egg, shaking off the excess; then into panko mixture, pressing mixture so that it sticks.

Place on prepared baking sheet and bake 12-15 minutes, until panko is lightly browned and fish is cooked through.

Season with salt and pepper and serve tartar alongside fish sticks.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Healthy, But Hearty

Earlier this week, I enjoyed our brief brush with 70-80 degree weather. It was short lived, and it's back to winter weather. I had some gorgeous red and yellow peppers to use up, so a batch of chili seemed perfect. After chopping all the peppers, I realized that with the poblano, my peppers reminded me of a stoplight, hence the name. Since I was using low fat ground turkey plenty of peppers and beans, so I threw in some carrot for extra nutrition. Shhhhh, don't tell the hubby!

Stoplight Pepper & Turkey Chili

1lb ground turkey breast
2 turkey sausages
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 large yellow bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup poblano pepper, finely diced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 -1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 15 oz can beef broth
28 oz crushed tomatoes
15 oz tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
14.5 oz diced tomatoes with chillies
1 15 oz can each of pinto, black and kidney beans, rinsed & drained
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Mexican chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1-2 tbsp vegetable oil

In a large pot, heat a little vegetable oil on medium-low heat, add onions, carrots and peppers, and saute a few minutes till softened. Add garlic and ground turkey and sausage (removed from casing and crumbled), and cook till browned, about 12-15 minutes total.

Add seasonings and stir to combine. Add broth and cook till simmering. Add tomatoes, half of the tomato paste and beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low, cover and simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally and add more tomato paste if necessary.

Serve with desired toppings - I like fat free plain yogurt, 2% Mexican blend shredded cheese & sliced green onions. Sometimes I like to add some crushed baked tortilla chips on top for some great texture and flavor.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Blog is Refreshing & Fabulous!

I received the "Lemonade Stand" & the "Your Blog Is Fabulous" awards from a fellow blogger Stephanie, from Macaroni and Cheesecake....um....a while ago. I started this post last month, but somehow it got lost in the shuffle (I still need to get my Superbowl post up, yes I'm a slacker)

But thanks again to Stephanie, be sure to check out her blog for her great recipes - and check out the blogs I nominated below too. Happy cooking & blog browsing!

I am passing these awards on to:

Melissa of Made By Mel
Jenna of Newly Wed Chef

Here are the rules…

- Add the logo in your blog.
- Add a link to the person who gave you the award.
- Nominate other (refreshing…like lemonade and fabulous) blogs of your choice.
- Don’t forget to add links to those blogs in yours.
- Also leave a message for your nominees in their blogs, informing them about the award.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Potatoes Again?

I realize this is the third post in a row that involves potatoes - and there is another one to come :) I swear, I'm not addicted to spuds or anything, these dishes were not made consecutively.

If you read this blog, you know I don't eat seafood. I found this recipe, and thought the hubby would like it, and while I followed the ingredients and prep; Jamie took over with the cooking. Sorry for the dark picture - the foil is still underneath the fish and it was pretty dark. The cooking time/method is a little different than from the original recipe, as he likes the fish done a little more than what the recipe stated.

Asian Grilled Salmon
Food Network/Ina Garten


1 side fresh salmon, boned but skin on (about 3 pounds) we used a 1.5 lb piece of salmon

For the marinade:

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons good soy sauce
6 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic

Light charcoal briquettes in a grill and brush the grilling rack with oil to keep the salmon from sticking. We used a gas grill, sprayed foil with non-stick spray as well as the grill and cooked the salmon on top of that

While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 4 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be slightly raw in the center, but don't worry; it will keep cooking as it sits. Jamie cooked the salmon for about 7-8 minutes skin/foil side down, and flipped it and cooked for another 5 minutes. The foil did stick to the skin, but that's the way he likes it, it allows the fish to easily flake apart from the skin

Transfer the fish to a flat plate, skin side down, and spoon the reserved marinade on top. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.

Loaded BBQ Baked Potato

2 large russet potatoes, cleaned and dried
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Extra virgin olive oil, to taste
Optional toppings: I used 2% Milk sharp cheddar cheese, fat free sour cream and chopped scallions; chives & bacon pieces would be great toppings too!

Preheat grill to med-high heat. Poke some holes around the potato to allow steam to escape, rub the potatoes with some EVOO, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and wrap in tin foil.

Put another piece of tin foil on the grill, and place potatoes on that foil. Turn potatoes often, and cook for about 40-45 min, depending on your grill. They are done when you can easily pierce them with a fork, just as they would in the oven. In the last couple of minutes of cooking, I carefully removed the potatoes from the foil, and allowed them to sit directly on the grill to get slightly crispy. Remove from grill, cook slightly, and top with toppings if desired.

Baby It's Cold Outside

I've been a bad blogger lately...I have been cooking, but many dishes I have already blogged about. And in the case of a couple of dishes, the pictures got somehow lost/erased , and I don't like making posts without pictures. So, I'm back with a very appropriate dish - it definitely feels and looks like winter here in Tennessee - in the 30's and a little snow on the ground. This weather doesn't really faze a Canuck like me, but I thought I'd make some winter weather comforting soup anyways.

I've had this recipe starred in my google reader for a while now, and I wish I had not waited a long to make it - it was delicious. Potatoes, broccoli & cheese are ingredients that go so well together, and I made a few additions to the recipe which I have noted. The soup is thick and creamy, but yet it doesn't have any unnecessary butter or heavy cream. The only thing that would have made this dinner even better would be some great bread for dipping.

Baked Potato and Broccoli Soup


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 I used turkey bacon
7 teaspoons chopped green onions
I added 1/2 tsp dried parsley, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/4-1/2 each of kosher salt and black pepper


Whisk together flour and 1/3 cup chicken broth until smooth.Combine remaining chicken broth and next 3 ingredients (this is where I added the above ingredients in italics) 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.

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