Monday, June 30, 2008

Crabcake Eggs Benedict

Everyonce in a while, we have breakfast for dinner. Sometimes it's quick and easy - scrambled eggs and turkey bacon. Sometimes it's a little more "complicated", like Crabcake Eggs Benedict. We first had this dish in Hilton Head a couple of years ago and it was wonderful.

We used Norm's crabcake stuffing recipe that we used at Christmas to stuff a lovely filet tenderloin. Instead of English Muffins, we grilled up some large portabello mushroom caps. Paired with some fresh fruit, it was the perfect dinner!

Crabcake Eggs Benedict
What you need:
portabello mushroom caps
hollandaise sauce
chopped chives

As the crabcakes are cooking (we just sautee them in a frying pan), grill the mushroom caps, poach the eggs and make the sauce. To plate: place a mushroom cap on the plate, top with crabcake, then poached egg and top with sauce and chives.

Spinach Pepper Jack Pizza

I found this will surfing the Web one day for fun pizza toppings. Since we started grilling ordinary pepperoni pie will do! This was friggin' fantastic, seriously. I don't think I've ever heard Norm rave about pizza before, but we both were lovin' it the night we made this one. I cut the recipe in half to make one pie. We used a whole wheat pizza dough from Trader Joe's and I add about a cup of chopped mushrooms, about a 1/2 C of chopped onions and a clove of minced garlic to the spinach mixture. and sauteed everything until the mushrooms and onions were soft.

Spinach Pepper Jack Pizza
(Source: msn)
8 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips
2 packages (10-ounce) frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, drained, and squeezed dry
3/4 pound pepper-jack cheese, grated (about 3 cups)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
Two 12-inch store-bought pizza shells, such as Boboli
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

Heat the oven to 425°. In a large nonstick frying pan, cook the bacon over moderate heat until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. In a large bowl, combine the bacon, drained spinach, pepper jack, salt and pepper and mix well. Brush the pizza shells with the oil. Divide the spinach mixture evenly between the two pizza shells and sprinkle the Parmesan over the top.

Bake the pizzas directly on the oven rack (for a crisper crust) or on two baking sheets until the cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

Strawberry Tart

A few weeks ago, we went to the most disappointing Farmer's Market. Ever. It was the first of the season, and they advertised the crap out of it. It was to be located in a parking lot on the South Side roughly the size of a football field. Well, we got down there, paid to park in a nearby garage since street parking was at a premium. We turned the corner and and headed toward the lot...and there were a whopping 3 tables in this giant parking lot. Ugh. But we did buy fresh strawberries, and a head of romaine and headed to Whole Foods, lol.

The strawberries were so sweet and juicy...and perfect! Norm's parents were coming down the next day so I decided to make a fresh strawberry tart with our farmers market find. I don't do well making my own dough, so I settled for a pillsbury pie crust (and it was FABULOUS!)

Fresh Strawberry Tart

1 pie crust
1 8 oz package of cream cheese (I used reduced fat)
1/3 C sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1 pint of fresh strawberries, sliced
1/3 cup of semi-sweet mini-chocolate chips
1 tsp canola oil

Preheat oven to 400. Press pie dough into tart pan. Prick several times on the bottom and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool completely. Blend cream cheese, sugar and almond extract until fluffy. Spread into tart shell. Top with sliced strawberrries. Combine chocolate chips with oil, microwave until melted, stir until smooth. Drizzle over tart.
I am a Weight Watchers message board addict....seriously. I have 3 very large word documents of recipes that I have copied and pasted from message board posts. I keep sneaking them into meals, springing them on Normie...but for the most part they've been winners, so I don't think he minds too much!

I have made this a bunch of times now...but I sub chopped, sauteed portabello mushrooms for the asparagus. It's delish! It's a great, healthy side dish that can be varied in so many ways.

Barley-Asparagus "Risotto" with Balsamic Vinegar

(Source: weight watchers message board)

Servings: 6
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion(s), minced
1 cup uncooked barley, use quick-cooking pearl variety
3 cup fat-free chicken broth, or vegetable broth
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1/4 cup chives, fresh, sliced
1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp table salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

Warm oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until onion is tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in barley and cook, stirring, about 1 minute more. Add broth, cover and simmer over low heat for 8 minutes; stir in asparagus and simmer 2 minutes more. Remove from heat, stir in chives and vinegar; season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cheese and serve. Yields about 1 cup per serving.
Something different to try...with summer grilling season in full swing, I like to try out tasty new marinades. This comes together in an instant and has a great flavor that is not overwhelming. I was a little leary about the dressing mix as sometimes it's way too strong and salty, but this was really just yummy! I let the chicken marinate for a good 2 hours, maybe a little longer. We had this with grilled veggies and a awesome barley "risotto" (recipe also posted.)

Ranch Grilled Chicken

(Source: Weight Watchers message board)

1 lb boneless Chicken breasts

1 package dry Ranch Dressing Mix
2 T olive oil
1 T red wine vinegar

Whisk dressing mix, oil, & vinegar. It is like a paste. Put in a gallon zip loc bag, add chicken and squish bag so that chicken is all coated. Set in refrig for at least 1 hour but no longer than 4 hours. Cook on grill.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Veal Stuffed with Proscuitto, Provolone and Sage

Ok, so I combined a couple of recipes to come up with this little gem...Norm loves this Veal Involtini dish that I make that is very simple. Veal, layered with provolone and fresh sage, rolled up and pan-fried. We had made a trip to Whole Foods, and when we came up on some thinly sliced veal, he made the suggestion to have the involtini.

I took it one step further, added some proscuitto...which for whatever reason was within arms distance from the veal, so it was like we "had" to have it! Here's what we used:

~ 1 lb of veal, thinly sliced (we had about 6 decent slices of veal altogether)
6 slices of proscuitto
6 slices of low-fat provolone
2-3 Tbsp of fresh sage, chopped
flour, seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic
Wine (for deglazing the pan)

Instead of rolling it up, I just folded it in half, and secured the packages with a toothpick. Then I dredged them in flour seasoned with salt, pepper and a little garlic-parsley mixture and into the pan it went! I pan-fried it in a touch of olive oil and a little butter (spray butter). Then I deglazed the pan with a little marsala, getting all of those yummy brown bits off the pan. I let the wine reduce a little and voila!

We had this with fresh steamed green beans, whipped cannellini beans and a tossed salad.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Chorizo and Shrimp Kebabs

Norm was the one that found the recipe for, and whipped up this marinade for some chorizo that we had stashed in the freezer. It was skewered with some shrimp and grape tomatoes - before the big samonella scare!

Here's what he did...
18 shrimp
1 link of sausage, cut into 1/2" rounds
12 grape tomatoes

Juice of one lemon
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all of the marinade ingredients together in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to coat. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Skewer shrimp, sausage and tomatoes. Grill over direct heat for a few minutes, turning once.

Chinese Take Out (at Home!)

On a whim one day, I bought this Newman's Own teriyaki marinade. This sauce has been in the cupboard for like a month, so I figured we needed to crack it open and try our hand at some take-out in the comfort of our own kitchen. Probably not as tasty as from a traditional restaurant, but definitely healthier!

So I decided on marinating some chicken tenders in the teriyaki sauce, and to stir fry some veggies (snow peas, peppers, onions, mushrooms). Of course no Chinese meal would be complete without I had to try out a recipe I found online for a healthier version of fried rice.

Everything turned out really well! It was pouring down rain, so I used the grill pan to cook the chicken. It had been marinating for over an hour, so the meat had a chance to soak up some of the yumminess. While it was cooking, I stir fried the veggies (using a touch of mongolian fire oil, a dash of sesame oil and a minced garlic clove for flavor).

Here's how I made the fried rice...

Cooking spray
2 C cooked brown rice
1 egg, slightly beaten
2 tsp sesame oil
1/4 C chopped carrot
1/2 C peas (I used frozen)
1/2 C chopped onion
1-2 T soy sauce

Heat a wok over med-high heat. Coat very well with cooking spray, add egg. Scramble egg, remove and keep warm. Wipe out wok, and put back on burner. Add 1 tsp sesame oil and heat. Add vegetables and stir fry until crisp tender. Remove and keep warm. Spray wok if necessary and add remaining sesame oil. Let it heat up and add the rice. Stir frying until it's heated thru, keep stiring to break up any clumped up rice. Add back in eggs, veggies, and add soy sauce and stir until combined Season to taste with salt, pepper, etc.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Flatbread Pizza

I've said it before, I love when Norm's not here for dinner, I can make things that he won't eat! He would have zero interest in this light version of pizza. Not because he doesn't like pizza (he loves it) but because it has soy cheese as well as a layer of herbed ricotta cheese on the crust. It's something that comes together in a pinch, and it's filling and pretty good for you!

Flatbread Pizza
(Source: me!)

1 whole wheat flatbread
1/3 C low-fat ricotta cheese
italian seasonings
garlic salt
ground pepper
pizza sauce (I used a fat-free organic brand I found)
soy cheese
turkey pepperoni
sliced red onion

Preheat oven to 375. Heat flatbread in oven for about 10 minutes (until it just starts to get toasty). Season ricotta with italian seasong, garlic, pepper. Remove from oven, spread crust with ricotta mixture, top with pizza sauce, soy cheese, and other toppings. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the cheese is melted.

Quinoa with Black Beans

This was a simple side dish that works to help incorporate different whole grains into our diet. I think it took Norm more than a little convincing to eat it though! The first time I made quinoa it was nothing great...good, edible, served its purpose as a dutiful side dish, but wasn't anything spectacular.

I can only eat so much brown rice, so I convinced him to give it another shot. I got this from a Weight Watchers message board...and figured what the heck, it seemed like it would be perfect with the broiled tilapia and steamed asparagus we were having. We both liked it a lot so it may go into regular rotation! This makes a TON...I only used 1 can of beans, and added a little more spice (a chopped jalapeno, and additional cumin).

Quinoa with Black Beans
(Source: Weight Watchers message board)

1 tsp canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
3/4 C uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 C chicken or beef broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 C frozen corn kernels
2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 C fresh chopped cilantro

Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic,sautee until lightly browned. Rinse quinoa with cold water (use a fine seive). Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with broth. Season with cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add corn and cook an additional 5 minutes or until corn is heated through. Stir in black beans and cilantro.

Saffron Tomato Sauce with Capers's the world's most expensive spice.


It adds such a unique flavor to dishes, and a little goes a long way. We actually pretty much always have it in the spice cabinet so that Norm can whip up his famous paella (actually its his dad's recipe, but he's pretty much mastered it!). So when I found this recipe for Saffron Tomato Sauce with Capers in Fine Cooking, I quickly bookmarked it to try.

I was delicious. More than delicious. I loved it! The first time we had it, had it with some sauteed shrimp. The next time we stepped it up a notch and steamed some mussels and clams in the rich broth. Yummy! We had it over whole wheat pasta...and I didn't use as much oil as the recipe called for. It's easy to fit this into South Beach, Weight Watchers, or other healthy eating plan.

Saffron Tomato Sauce with Capers
(Source: Fine Cooking)

3 T extra virgin olive oil
1/2 a small yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1/2 c)
2 large cloves of garlic, very thinly sliced crosswise
30 threads of saffron
Pinch crushed red pepper
28-oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained and small diced (about 2 C)
2 tsp capers, rinsed and chopped
1 small sprig fresh thyme
Pinch sugar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and garlic and cook stirring occasionally, until soft but not browned, about 5 minutes. Crumble saffron into the pan and stir in the crushed pepper. Let cook for about 20 seconds and then add the tomatoes, capers, thyme, sugar, 1/2 t salt and several grinds of black pepper. Simmer briskly, adjusting the heat as necessary until the tomatoes are softened and the flavors melded, about 15 minutes. Discard the thyme sprig and stir in parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

(*EASY*) Lighter Mini Cinnamon Rolls

Man, I love me some tasty breakfast pastries! Unfortunately, they don't exactly fit into a healthy eating lifestyle. I found this recipe posted on a Weight Watchers message was everything I love in a recipe...quick, easy and most of all tasty! Not something for every day, but a great something sweet for company.

I made these as a last minute breakfast when my parents were in town. They came together in minutes and looked pretty on the serving plate. My only regret was that I didn't whip up a quick icing for them, but they were great without it. Oh well, next time!!! We had these with fresh cantalope and honeydew on the side.

Mini-Cinnamon Rolls
(Source: Weight Watchers message board)

2 T packed brown sugar (I used 1/3 C Splenda Brown Sugar Blend)
1 t ground cinnamon
1 t unsalted butter (omitted, but spritzed Smart Balance butter spray on the dough before topping)
1 11oz tube of refrigerated breadsticks

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside. Separate breadsticks into 12 strips, sprinkle mixture on each strip (I rolled out the dough, and patted the entire "square" of dough with the sugar/cinnamon topping, then separated). Roll each strip into a spiral, pressing to seal the ends. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet, 1 inch apart for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden. Cool 10 minutes on a rack before serving.