Friday, May 29, 2009

Light, Healthy & Delicious

When I received the latest issue of Cooking Light, one recipe caught my eye - I just love chicken, fresh herbs and goat cheese together. Instead of a starch, I decided to make it a little healthier and lighter by just serving a veggie side dish - asparagus.

I love asparagus...but the hubby doesn't. So, I am constantly trying to cook it differently, hoping he'll finally like it - and success! This is actually one of my favorite ways to cook it too; so even if you're not an asparagus fan already, this recipe may turn you into one!

Garlicky Pan Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest

handful of asparagus spears, washed, dried and ends trimmed (about 1/2 lb/bunch)
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, smashed
kosher salt and pepper to taste
lemon zest to taste

Preheat the oil in a skillet over medium heat, and add in garlic cloves. When oil is heated, add asparagus and turn occasionally. Season with salt and pepper, and roast till cooked through, softened and slightly limp, but still still tender crisp, about 8-10 minutes. Tasting is the only way for me to get it exactly perfect. If garlic starts to get too brown, remove - you don't want burnt garlic flavor on your asparagus!
Sprinkle with lemon zest, remove from heat and serve.

Chicken Stuffed With Goat Cheese, Caramelized Spring Onions & Thyme

Cooking Light

*I cut the recipe in half

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/3 cups thinly sliced spring onions (about 1 pound) I used Vidalia onions
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) crumbled goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon fat-free milk
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray
1/2 cup dry white wine I used College Inn's White Wine & Herb Culinary Broth
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

*I flattened the chicken, placed sprinkled the chicken with salt and pepper, placed the filling on the chicken, and rolled it up, using toothpicks to hold into place, instead of creating pockets (I'm not so good at that)

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to pan; cook 12 minutes, stirring frequently. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook 5 minutes or until golden, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly. Combine onion mixture, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheese, parsley, milk, and thyme in a small bowl, stirring with a fork.

2. Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket; stuff 1 1/2 tablespoons cheese mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken evenly with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes; turn chicken over. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 10 minutes or until chicken is done.
*I cooked the chicken for about 20 minutes, turning to cook all sides. Then I removed the chicken, placed in a covered baking dish in a preheated oven with a little chicken broth, and baked for about 10-15 minutes till cooked through. I removed from oven, cooled slightly, removed toothpicks and served with sauce.

Remove chicken from pan; let stand 10 minutes. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Cook until reduced by half (about 2 minutes). Add broth, and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup (about 9 minutes). Serve with chicken.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Perfect Summertime Food - Made Indoors

One of my favorite summer foods is corn on the cob. I usually grill it, Southwest Chipotle and Lime Grilled Corn, and change up the seasonings that I put into the butter to compliment whatever dish I am making. But on the other hand, no matter how warm the weather gets, I love roasting vegetables. I have roasted corn before, and it was wonderful - but that was during my pre-blog days. It was too delicious not to share, and it is a healthier way to eat your corn. The roasting brings the corn so much flavor and moisture, you don't need to slather the corn with butter....but I couldn't help adding just a little bit :)

Oven Roasted Corn

2 ears of corn
1 tbsp room temperature butter
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Remove the silk, from the corn, but leave the husks on. Tie ends of husks together with a piece of husk or kitchen string. Add corn on oven rack and roast for about 35 minutes, turning occasionally.

Remove from oven, cool slightly and remove husks. Mix salt, pepper and butter together, and spread over hot corn.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Smokin' Chili & Cornbread

I pretty much always gave some chili in the freezer, so when I was thinking of taking some out for dinner. Much to my surprise, there wasn't any, so I decided to whip up another creation. I love spicy chili, but I wanted something a little different from my norm. This smoky chili is the perfect alternative for those who don't like it spicy.

It looks like a long ingredient list, but it's very simple, and once everything is in the pot, the stove does all the work for you. I served this with corn muffins, and it was also great on top of baked potatoes.

Smoky Lime Turkey Chili

1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1.3 lb ground turkey
1 Vidalia onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 cup of red bell pepper, chopped
1 bottle of Corona
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
1 15 oz can stewed Mexican tomatoes, coarsely diced
28 ox can crushed tomatoes
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 tsp each of freshly ground pepper and salt
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 chipotle chile peppers with a little of adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped
1.5 tbsp lime juice
1.5 tbsp Mexican chili powder
1.5 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro

Heat oil in a large pot. Add turkey, break up, and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the nest 4 ingredients and saute until meat is browned and veggies are softened. Drain if necessary.

Return mixture to pot, add beer, liquid smoke and chipotle peppers, stir. Add all tomatoes and seasonings, stir to combine. Once bubbly, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer.

I let my chili simmer on low for about 3 hours. I added the beans with about 1.5 hours left of cooking time. If cooking for less time, just add them when you add the seasonings.

I served my chili with crushed tortilla chips (Tostitos Hint of Lime), fat free sour cream, 2% shredded mexican cheese and more freshly chopped cilantro.

Cheesy Jalapeno Lime Corn Muffins

Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes
Ready In: 30 Minutes
Servings: 12


1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
I added 1 cup finely shredded 2% Mexican cheese, juice from 1/4 lime, 1 tbsp lime zest and 1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease muffin pan or line with paper muffin liners.

2. In a large bowl, mix together corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add egg, oil and milk; stir gently to combine. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

3. Bake at 400 degrees F (200 degrees C) for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Great Food, Great Hockey

It's halfway through the month of May, the weather is warm, flowers are blooming, and the Detroit Red Wings are deep in their quest for another Stanley Cup. During home games at the Joe in Detroit, it is a common sight to see an octopus being thrown onto the ice. The tradition of the octopus dates way back into the 1950's, and the eight legs of the octopus were representative of the eight games it took to win the Stanley Cup. Times have changed, a mascot Al now hangs from the roof of the Joe (see picture below), and it takes 16 wins to win the cup, but octopus continue to find their way onto the ice.

So....onto the food. It's a tradition in Mrs Sac's Purple Kitchen to make delicious appetizers to enjoy while watching the hockey games. I created this eight-layered Mexican dip to enjoy while watching the last two games (which they won!). It makes a lot, but would be great for any gathering and keeps well for letovers if covered in the fridge for a couple of days.

And I couldn't help myself...I had to include this adorable picture of Socks and Thumper with the Al's.

Al's Eight-Layered Mexican Dip

1 can fat freerefried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 avocados, mashed
2 green onions, sliced
1 1/4 cup tomatoes, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
8 oz softened fat free cream cheese
8 oz fat free sour cream
1 small can black olives, coarsely chopped
1.5 cups finely shredded 2% Mexican cheese
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
juice of half a lime
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tbsp Mexican chili powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste

In a small saucepan, heat beans, remove and pule in a food processor or mash with fork till desired consistency. Put back in saucepan and add the refried beans and heat on low for a couple of minutes. (This will make it easier to spread)

Meanwhile mix sour cream, oregano, cayenne, chili powder and cumin, set aside.

In another bowl, mash the avocado and add salt, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro, set aside.

In a glass dish, spread the beans. On top, layer the cream cheese, avocado, sour cream mixture, cheese, tomatoes, olives and onions.

Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours and enjoy with tortilla chips! I like Tostitos Scoops or Hint of Lime chips.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A 30 Minute Plus 8 Hour Meal

I had a busy day ahead of me, some veggies to use up and a craving for pasta. So I decided to let the slow cooker to do most of the work for me, and after only about 30 minutes of prep work, my sauce was simmering away in the crock pot. I just love how the crock pot infused the whole house with the delicious aromas of tomatoes and herbs - what a nice welcome home! It makes a larger batch, so there will be plenty of goodness for leftovers or freezer meals. Enjoy with a crisp green salad, plenty of Parmesan cheese and a nice glass of Merlot.

All Day Tomato Sauce & Meatballs

Meatballs: (Makes about 16-18 small-medium meatballs, next time I would use 1.5 lbs ground beef for more meatballs)

1 lb ground beef
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp basil
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1 cloves garlic, minced
1 clove garlic, smashed
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Add all ingredients except for the last two to a large bowl, combine and form into meatballs. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large skillet and add the smashed garlic clove to infuse the oil. Add meatballs turning frequently to brown all sides, but not cooked through, about 10 minutes. Remove from skillet and add to sauce in the crock pot.

2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, grated
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 cups Baby Bella mushrooms, thinly sliced
28 oz crushed tomatoes
28 oz tomato puree
about 1/2 cup water (I swished it around in the tomato puree can)
14.5 oz diced tomatoes with juices
1.5 tsp kosher salt or to taste
1 tsp freshly ground pepper or to taste
2 tsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
1.5 tsp dried oregano
splash of red wine
1 tbsp EVOO (more if necessary)
1-3 cup fresh basil, torn, plus more for garnish
Parmesan cheese

Add all the tomatoes and water to the crock pot and set on high, cover.

In the same skillet as the meatballs were in, over medium heat add in a little more EVOO if necessary and add the celery, carrot and onions. Cook for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and mushrooms and cook for another 2 minutes. De glaze the pan with a splash of wine and continue to cook veggies till softened.

Remove, add to crock pot, and add all remaining herbs and seasonings. Turn down to low, and cook for 7-8 hours, tasting a couple of times and adjusting seasonings if necessary and stir on basil with about 20 minutes left. Garnish with more fresh basil before serving.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Feliz Cinco De Mayo!

I love Mexican food - it's fun, indulgent and delicious. So when Cinco De Mayo rolled around, it was just another excuse to enjoy some great food and of course a cerveza or two :) I had my eye on this chicken enchilada recipe from Tyler Florence, and since the hubby had a friend over, I knew there wouldn't be too much leftovers. (and there wasn't) This dish, along with the guacamole & salsa dips definitely hit the spot...Ole!

Chicken Enchiladas
Food Network/Tyler Florence

Prep Time: 1 hr
Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 16 enchiladas, 8 servings


3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds skinless boneless chicken breast
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon Mexican Spice Blend I used 1/2 tbsp Mexican-chili powder, 1/4 tsp oregano, 1/8 tsp cayenne
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
5 canned whole green chiles, seeded and coarsely chopped I used 1 jalepeno, seeded and minced
4 canned chipotle chiles, seeded and minced
1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon all-purpose flour
16 corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce, canned
1 cup shredded Cheddar and Jack cheeses
Garnish: chopped cilantro leaves, chopped scallions, sour cream, chopped tomatoes


Coat large saute pan with oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken over medium heat, allow 7 minutes each side or until no longer pink. Sprinkle chicken with cumin, garlic powder and Mexican spices before turning. Remove chicken to a platter, allow to cool.

Saute onion and garlic in chicken drippings until tender. Add corn and chiles. Stir well to combine. Add canned tomatoes, saute 1 minute.
Pull chicken breasts apart by hand into shredded strips. Add shredded chicken to saute pan, combine with vegetables. Dust the mixture with flour to help set.

Microwave tortillas on high for 30 seconds. This softens them and makes them more pliable. Coat the bottom of 2 (13 by 9-inch) pans with a ladle of enchilada sauce. Using a large shallow bowl, dip each tortilla in enchilada sauce to lightly coat. Spoon 1/4 cup chicken mixture in each tortilla. Fold over filling, place 8 enchiladas in each pan with seam side down. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.

Bake for 15 minutes in a preheated 350 degree F oven until cheese melts. Garnish with cilantro, scallion, sour cream and chopped tomatoes before serving. Serve with Spanish rice and beans.

Holy Guacamole

2 avocados, pitted and mashed
3 tbsp red onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
small handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/3 cup)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
juice of a half of a small lime
1/4 tsp extra virgin olive oil

Mix all ingredients, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

Fresh and Easy Salsa

4 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, diced
3 tsp lime juice
salt to taste (about 1/4-1/2) tsp
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/2 jalepeno, seeded and diced
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 small can diced green chilies, drained

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse till desired . Add salsa to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour.