Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Baked Pesto Salmon with Tomatoes Over Arugula

Another borrowed recipe...normally I wouldn't make something that called for sliced tomatoes as a prominent ingredient this time of year. The tomatoes taste awful in the winter. However, my grocery store had an enticing mix of cherry/grape tomatoes that I couldn't pass up. Don't they look yummy????

This is another super easy and delicious recipe, courtesy of Kayln of Kayln's Kitchen. Basically three ingredients: Salmon, pesto, tomatoes. Quick to put together and not a lot of clean up. Thanks, Kayln for the wonderful recipe!

I think it would be great in the summer to do on the grill. I had my very first experience with making pest tonight as well. My store had no pesto. WTF??? What grocery store has no pesto in stock??? I think it turned out well for my first try.
So this is what I did...I took a giant piece of foil, and folded it in half and sprayed the entire thing liberally with cooking spray. I place 2 wild salmon filets in the middle, topped each with a healthy tablespoon of my homemade pesto, and topped that with the colorful cherry tomatoes that I quartered. I folded the foil up into a nice, neat tightly sealed package and baked at 450 for 15 minutes. Let rest for a few minutes, then open up the package and serve.

We had this over salads with goat cheese. I made a meyer lemon vinaigrette for myself (juice of 1 lemon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, 1 clove of garlic, chives, salt and pepper) and Norm had a bottled balsamic dressing. He isn't a fan of citrus, which I just cannot fathom = )

Grilled Chicken with Truffled Wild Mushrooms Over Whipped Cannellini Beans

Whew! That title is a mouthful....but damn if this dinner wasn't totally delicious. For real.

Perhaps I should preface this post with the fact that the next couple of recipes were lifted off of other people's blogs. Not necessarily out of laziness or lack of creativity lately, but I have so many scrumptious recipes bookmarked, I figured I had better start making some of them before my Google Reader explodes. This recipe, taken from the aptly titled blog Other People's Food. I had it starred in the reader forever, wondering when the right time would be to spring whipped white beans on the hubby. But since he's such a fan of the mashed cauliflower, I figured now would be good.

One of the best things about this meal is the whipped beans. I am already dreaming up variations with different spices and herbs to keep this in our regular rotation of side dishes. Also, it could easily turn into a vegetarian dinner - without the chicken of course. Speaking of chicken, it was prepared very simply. I seasoned chicken tenders with salt, pepper, and garlic powder and grilled on my grill pan while the beans were simmering.

Truffled Wild Mushrooms Over Whipped White Beans

2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts chopped (about 1/2 cup)
2 15-oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tsp.)
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 lb. wild mushrooms, halved
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp. truffle oil

Heat 1 tsp. oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add leek and sauté 2 minutes. Stir in beans, broth, garlic and thyme. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer bean mixture to food processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Return to skillet, cover and keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 tsp. oil in medium skillet over high heat. Add mushrooms and sauté 8 minutes, or until soft and brown. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in parsley.

Spoon whipped bean mixture into shallow bowls. Top with equal portions of mushrooms. Drizzle each serving with 1/2 tsp. truffle oil, and serve.


Spicy Broiled Eggplant

This recipe is courtesy of my father-in-law who makes some fantastic meals! These can be really spicy - depending on the amount of cayenne you put into the spice rub. But they are quick and easy...not to mention delicious and fat-free.

The spice rub is simple: cumin, coriander, garlic salt, cayenne

Pre-heat the broiller. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Slice the eggplant into rounds (typically i make mine around 1/4" thick). Rub spice rub onto both side of the eggplant slices. Broil until dark golden brown, flip and broil the other side. Easy as pie!

We had these with brown basmati rice with spicy shrimp. Yum!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Whole Wheat Pasta with Prosciutto, Arugula. Mozzarella & Cabernet Marinara

One of our favorite restaurants in Pgh has this absolutely mouth-watering pizza - thin crust, with marinara, fresh mozzarella, and prosciutto...topped with arugula and shaved parmesan when it comes out of the oven.

To die for. Since we've been on "the diet" we haven't been there or had the pizza in forever. Sooooo for a Valentine's weekend surprise, I bought all of the makings for the pizza with the intent to make a whole wheat crust and make my own. Plans went astray, and the dough never got made so I decided to use the ingredients and incorporate them into a pasta dish that was South Beach friendly.

Whole Wheat Pasta with Prosciutto, Arugula, Mozzerella & Cabernet Marinara
(Source: me!)

8 oz whole wheat pasta

1/2 C chopped onion

4 oz prosciutto, chopped

4 oz sliced mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T fresh basil

1 jar cabernet marinara (I used Muir Glen Organic)

3 cups arugula, chopped

Salt, pepper, italian seasoning

6 oz fresh mozzerella, sliced

Cook pasta according to directions on box. Saute onions, garlic, mushrooms until tender over med-high heat. Add prosciutto. Sautee a few minutes longer until fragrent. Stir in sauce and let simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, italian seasoning, etc to taste. Stir in arugula and let wilt. Spoon over pasta and top with cheese.

Cake Balls!

Ok so the name of these little tasty treasures makes me giggle like a school-girl. But they are fantastic! I knew I couldn't make them unless I had a reason to take them somewhere, or else I would sit on the couch popping these in my mouth one by one until they were all gone. **Sigh** No willpower.

This is also one of those recipes that is so easy, it's almost embarrassing to post. Seriously. Well...except for the dipping in chocolate part. I need to work on my dipping skills. There's endless possible varieties to try by using different cake mix/frosting/coating combos...this one is a strawberry cake with strawberry frosting dipped in dark chocolate.

Cake Balls
1 box of cake mix
1 container of frosting
Chocolate (I used Baker's dark chocolate)

Make cake according to the directions on the box. While it's still hot, crumble into tiny bits. Stir in frosting until incorporated. Form in 1" balls - I used a small pampered chef cookie scoop thingie - and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper. Refridgerate until completely cooled. Dip into chocolate and let harden.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Brown Basmati Rice with Mushrooms and Toasted Walnuts

Dammit my pictures suck. Must. Work. On. Photography. Skills.

Anyway...this was the side dish served with the apple and gorgonzola pork tenderloin. We also had some steamed green beans and a tasty tossed salad.

The original recipe was from I found it a couple of years ago, when we first started playing house together. It calls for orzo, but do you know how hard it is to find whole wheat orzo to make this a South Beach friendly dish??? Ugh. So I figured that I'd just make some brown basmati rice, cooked in chicken broth (canned, with herbs). And that I'd saute the 'shrooms, etc seperately and mix it all together at the end. Turned out pretty freakin' tasty. If I do say so myself.

So here's the original written it makes a ton. I cut it in half for us, and we still had leftovers. I used a mushroom mix that had porcini, bella, oyster and maybe something else...and just used a little olive oil (like 1/2 T).

Orzo With Mushrooms and Walnuts

1/3 cup chopped walnuts
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups uncooked orzo pasta
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place walnuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until they release their aroma. Stir once or twice for even toasting.

Heat oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute onion and mushrooms until tender and golden brown.

Pour in broth, and bring to a boil. Stir in orzo, reduce heat to low, and cover. Simmer until orzo is tender and liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. If after 15 minutes there is still liquid, remove cover, and cook until liquid is gone. Remove from heat, and stir in walnuts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Apple & Gorgonzola Pork Tenderloin

Ahhh another pork tenderloin recipe...

I fear that Norm's parents are beginning to think that all we can make is some sort of pork tenderloin. It seems like every time we have them over, there is always pork on the menu, only the sauce changes. Sometimes it's a gorgonzola sauce...or a dijon cream sauce...or even glazed with hoisin and say and grilled. **Sigh** oh well. There are rarely leftovers though, so I don't think serving pork in the future will be an issue = )

This recipe comes courtesy of Carrie's Kitchen Creations. Her pics made my mouth water, I had it starred in my Google reader for months, just waiting for a good time to make it. I love pork with hubby, not so much. Or so he thought!!! We were trying to decide what to make and I mentioned that I had seen this amazing looking recipe on a food blog that had apples and gorgonzola. He turned up his nose, but failed to give me any other options, so he finally condeded. He was the first to say how delicious it yeah!!! This opens up so many more culinary possibilities. I'll have to save this one for special occasions as it's way too much sugar (from the cider and the apple butter) for South Beach.

The pic at the beginning of the post is what it looked like before it went into the oven - pretty as a picture (but alas, my picture is not so pretty). The one below was after I pulled it out of the oven. After we sliced it, it lost some of it's prettiness.

Carrie's Kitchen Creations Fall Harvest Pork Tenderloin
Serves 4
1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin
2 apples, cut into 1/4 inch slices
3 tbs gorgonzola, crumbled (I used closed to 1/2 C of cheese, just because I love cheese!)
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 C apple butter
1/2 C apple cider
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Cut tenderloin lengthwise down the center (I made two slight cuts from the center cut to create little canals to place the apples in). Be careful to cut the tenderloin deep enough to open it up but not so deep you cut it in half.

Mix apple butter, apple cider, and ginger.

Coat bottom of 9x13 inch baking dish (mine is glass) with apple butter mixture. Lay tenderloin in dish so cut side is facing up. Place apple slices in canals previously created when cutting tenderloin. Sprinkle the crumbled gorgonzola down the center. Top with chopped garlic. Drizzle the rest of the apple butter mixture over the apples and gorgonzola. Sprinkle salt and fresh ground pepper over the top.

Bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. Cover with foil and bake another 30-35 minutes. Remove foil and slice to eat.

Pork Medallions with Dijon Cream Sauce

This is a recipe we've made so many times that I can pretty much make it with my eyes's such a great 'comfort food' type of dish and was fantastic this week with all the snow and ice that hit Pittsburgh. We had this with some mashed cauliflower (the sauce was yummy on the cauliflower!) and a salad. Sadly, my photography skills are severely lacking, the picture doesn't do the food justice.

This was originally found in Light & Tasty magazine a couple of years ago. We normally only make about 1/2 lb of pork since it's just us, but keep the original amount of sauce. I love me some good sauce, and in my opinion, the recipe doesn't make enough sauce!!! We have changed it up a bit to be more in line with the South Beach Diet by omitting the flour altogether. We used a Smithfield marinated pork loin cut into about 1/3 inch thick medallions.

Pork Medallions with Dijon Cream Sauce
(Source: Light & Tasty)

1 pork tenderloin (1 pound)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon butter
3 green onions
1/3 cup white wine or chicken broth
1/2 cup fat-free evaporated milk (used fat-free half & half instead)
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Cut pork widthwise into 6 pieces; flatten to 1/4-in. thickness. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Add pork, a few pieces at a time, and shake to coat. In a large nonstick skillet, brown pork in butter over medium-high heat. Remove and keep warm.

Slice green onions, separating the white and green portions; reserve green portion for garnish. In the same skillet, saute the white portion of green onions for 1 minute. Add wine or broth. Bring to a boil; cook until liquid is reduced to about 2 tablespoons. Add milk. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Whisk in mustard.

Serve pork with Dijon sauce. Garnish with reserved green onions. Yield: 3 servings.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Margarita Cupcakes With Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

I was hosting our monthly alumnae meeting this past weekend. We had a rep come from Beauti Control to do some spa treatments and other fun stuff for us. The "theme" of the evening was supposed to be a fiesta, so I had made some fresh guacamole, and a monteray jack queso dip with some fresh peppers and baby carrots and multi-grain tortilla chips for dipping.

At the last minute, I decided to make something sweet, too. I think I take after my mom in the fact that I am always afraid of running out of food, so I tend to make way more than necessary. In this case, there was supposed to be 8 people attending (including me!), but only 2 ladies showed up. Kind of a bummer, but this just meant that I had lots of guac and cupcakes all to myself!

So onto the cupcakes, I needed something that I could throw together quickly, and this fit the bill. I made the cupcakes the night before in between cleaning the house, and watching 'Lost'. As much as I like making things from scratch - when I have the time - I am all for shortcuts! I made the cupcakes as directed, but I knew I was going to pressed for time between when I could leave work and when the first guests arrived, so I opted to just use canned cream cheese frosting with some fresh lime juice and a little bit of lime zest. I garnished with itsy bitsy lime wedges. They were so cute!
Margarita Cupcakes with Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (18 1/4 ounce) box white cake mix (no pudding in the mix)
1 (10 ounce) can frozen margarita mix, thawed (undiluted)
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon grated lime zest

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package
cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons
key lime juice
1 teaspoon
key lime zest or lemon zest
4-5 cups
confectioners' sugar

*1 lime, cut into mini wedges for garnish

In large bowl, combine cake mix, Margarita mix, egg whites and vegetable oil using electric mixer.
Stir in lime zest; mix completely. Fill prepared pans 2/3 full. Bake according to box dirctions 22-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.

Cool in pan on cooling rack 5-8 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely.

In large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese, juice and zest with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
Add 4 cups confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time; continue beating until light and fluffy.
If icing is too thin add additional confectioners' sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Spicy Black Bean Cakes with Lime Sour Cream Sauce

It's Monday...dart night!!! Which means another quiet evening to myself, to make whatever I want for dinner. I was at Trader Joe's this weekend and picked up a bag of fresh sweet potato that was peeled and cut-up into spears. Much to my dismay, I found out my husband is not a sweet potato fan. Since white potatoes are pretty much persona non grata on the South Beach diet. So we settled for some Alexia Frozen sweet potato fries to go along with our burgers for the Super Bowl..All the while thinking that now the sweet potatoes were ALL MINE, and I had "kitchen time" coming up that I could experiment with the spears..

I found this today on and boy was it tasty! The lime cream sauce really makes the dish. The potatoes were easy to chop up with my handy-dandy pampered chef chopper. I halved the recipe since it was just for me, and ended up with 4 pretty big cakes. I only had one jalapeno on hand, and thank God, because it was a hottie! I used 1/3 in the lime sauce, and the rest in the cakes. I took the advice of some of the reviewers and added more spice (coriander, more cumin, chili powder and cilantro) and just pan-fried them instead of broiling.

I will definitely make these again. Not to mention that I can't wait for lunch tomorrow for the leftover cakes! I had this with a small arugula salad with a chopped tomato and goat cheese dressed with lime juice, balsamic vinegar and a little olive oil and extra lime juice for the cakes.

Spicy Black Bean Cakes

Lime Sour Cream:
1/2 cup reduced fat sour cream
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 small fresh jalapeno pepper, minced
salt to taste

Bean Cakes:
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 green onions, thinly sliced
6 cloves garlic, pressed
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, finely diced
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 (14.5 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
salt and black pepper to taste
2 cups grated raw sweet potato
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plain dried bread crumbs

To prepare lime sour cream, mix the sour cream, lime juice, 1 small minced jalapeno, and salt together in a small bowl. Cover, and refrigerate.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook green onions until softened, about 1 minute. Stir in garlic, 2 diced jalapenos, and cumin; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Transfer contents of skillet to a large bowl. Stir in black beans, and mash with a fork. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix in sweet potatoes, egg, and bread crumbs. Divide into 8 balls, and flatten into patties.

In the oven, set cooking rack about 4 inches from heat source. Set oven to broil. Lightly grease baking sheet with 1 tablespoon oil.

Place bean patties on baking sheet, and broil 8 to 10 minutes. Turn cakes over, and broil until crispy, about 3 minutes more. Serve with lime sour cream.

Veggie-Stuffed Portabellos

I needed a veggie-licious side to go with the tilapia. We've been having every sort of sauteed, steamed, stir-fried and roasted veggie. (Not to mention mashed cauliflower.) So I was in the mood for something different. I found these HUGE mushroom caps at the store. They were so thick (like 2 inches) and perfectly round, there was no way I could pass them up.
I marinated them in a little balsamic vinegar, and low-fat italian dressing for 10-15 minutes before I cooked them, just to give them a little more flavor. No real recipe, just tossed a bunch of things together that I had on hand. This was a good South Beach recipe, to boot and very filling.
Portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and stems removed
Italian dressing
Balsamic vinegar
Onion, chopped
Red bell pepper, chopped
garlic, minced
spinach (I had frozen)
artichoke hearts, chopped
white wine
parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After marinating the mushrooms, heat a pan over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray, add mushroom caps (marinade and all; gill side up) cook for a minute or two, until it starts to get tender. Flip and cook another minute or so. Remove to a baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray, gill side up. Add all of the veggies to the pan and sautee until spinach is thawed and liquid has cooked off. Divide filling between the mushroom caps. Top with cheese. Bake for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted and mushrooms are cooked thru.

Baked Tilapia with Tomatoes and Olives

We have been eating alot of fish lately, mostly salmon and tuna steaks, so I bought some tilapia to mix it up a bit. This was a fast and South Beach Diet friendly, easy dinner to throw together, and we had almost everything on hand, so it made it even better!!! Adapted from a Cooking Light was ok, not a home-run, but was a decent alternative to our same-ol' same-ol'. We had it with these friggin' huge portobello mushrooms (recipe to follow).

Tilapia with Tomatoes and Olives

Tilapia filets

1 tomato, chopped

10 green olives, chopped coarsely (we had huge green olives, some stuffed with minced garlic, some marinated with crushed red pepper)

1 clove garlic

2 T fresh parsley, chopped

1 T low-fat italian dressing

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degree. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Season fish fillets with salt and pepper and lay on the sheet. Mix tomatoes, olives, garlic, parsley, dressing and arrange around fish filets on the baking sheet. Roast in oven for 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Beefy Enchiladas

We've been looking for a really good enchilada recipe...we've had a couple of disasters in the past, but I figured I'd give it one more shot. After searching around a bit, I found this on Elizabeth's Cooking Experiments, and though what the heck! This was pretty tasty! Even Norm gave it the thumbs up and said it was a keeper. We topped them with shredded lettuce, avocado, diced tomato, green onion, black beans and limes (yum!). I might tweak it a little bit the next time, but all in all a great alternative to our usual taco night!

I changed it up and subbed in extra lean ground beef, and added some jalapenos. My changes are noted below.

Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (skipped this and just used cooking spray)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - boiled and shredded (about 3/4 lb of ground beef)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (not in the original recipe)
1 chopped jalapeno (not in the original recipe)
1 (7 ounce) can chopped green chile peppers
1 (1 ounce) package taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 pinch ground black pepper
12 (6 inch) corn tortillas (I used 5 whole wheat larger tortillas)
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (reduced fat shredded mexican blend)
1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce

To Make Meat Mixture: Heat oil in medium skillet over medium high heat. Add chicken, onion and green chile peppers and saute until browned, then add taco seasoning and prepare meat mixture according to package directions.

To Make Cheese Mixture: In a medium bowl mix sour cream with cottage cheese and season with salt and pepper; stir until well blended.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To Assemble Enchiladas: Heat tortillas until soft. In each tortilla place a spoonful of meat mixture, a spoonful of cheese mixture and a bit of shredded cheese. Roll tortillas and place in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish. Top with any remaining meat and cheese mixture, enchilada sauce and remaining shredded cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted & bubbly.

Spicy Chickpea Curry

I love the nights that Norm is at his dart league, which means I get the kitchen to myself, and get to make whatever my little heart desires....which revolves around everything that Norm won't eat willingly. Like tofu...or sweet potatoes...or things like my vegetarian curries that I'm so fond of. I tease him that being half-Indian, he thinks an Italian girl from J-town can't do it justice. He won't even sample it just to humor me. Little does he know what he's missing!!!

We had a little leftover brown basmati rice that I tossed with a little lemon jucie and cilantro. Yummy!

Chickpea Curry
1 tsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add onion and pepper, cook under just tender. Add garlic, coriander, cumin, garam masala, tumeric, salt and pepper. Cook until fragrent (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Add chickpeas and tomatoes, stir to combine. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes. Sprikle with cilatro before serving.