Friday, August 31, 2012

Fancy Pants App: Grilled Fig, Prosciutto, and Plum Flatbreads

What I love most about this cooking contest habit of mine is the cool things I get to do.  Like this week, when I got an email inviting me to partake in the Legends from Europe Recipe Contest; of course, I was all over it.  After a tussle between John and I choosing the cheese or ham categories, I was assigned Prosciutto di Parma which as any good Italian daughter, is a meat I am more than familiar with, but you might not be.

Therefore, I'm going to devote a paragraph or two to explaining all about it...and then we'll get to my super delicious, really awesome pizza.  I am hungry just thinking about it!  Did you know that only 4 ingredients are used to make this Prosciutto di Parma?  Italian pigs, salt, air, and time.  Prosciutto di Parma is an all-natural ham; additives such as colorings, nitrites, and nitrates are prohibited by the strict rules of the Consorzio.

The secret of Parma ham is in the careful and accurate selection of the pigs. Parma pigs must be specially bred Large White, Landrance and Duroc breeds, born and raised by authorized breeding farms located in 10 regions of central-northern Italy. Their diet is a specially regulated blend of grains, cereals and whey from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese production ensuring a heavy pig with a moderate daily growth in an excellent state of health. 

By law the pigs are at least nine months old and must weigh a minimum of 140 kilograms (308 pounds!) at the time of slaughter; this is one of the huge differences with other “generic” prosciuttos, which normally use pigs born and raised abroad (northern Europe) and slaughtered 6 months old at much cheaper costs!
Grilled Fig, Prosciutto, and Plum Flatbreads
Serves: 12 (4 pizzas)
Flatbread Dough*:
2 packages of yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water
3 cups flour
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 tablespoon oregano
Flatbread Toppings:
1 cup fig preserves
12 ounces Prosciutto di Parma
2 plums, sliced thinly
2 cups arugula
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the grill to medium-heat and spray with cooking spray.  To make the flatbread, combine yeast, sugar, and water in a small bowl.  Set aside for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a food processor, combine flour, garlic powder, and oregano in short pulses.  Turn the food processor on and slowly pour in the yeast mixture.  Process for 45 seconds - 1 minutes, until dough comes together.  Remove from the food processor.  Divide into 4 even doughs.  Roll out each dough into a rough circle (until dough is about 1/2 inch thick).  Place doughs onto the grill, grilling about 2-3 minutes on each side.  

After grilling, evenly spread the fig preserves over each flatbread.  Layer Prosciutto di Parma and plum slices.  In a large bowl, combine arugula, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt.  Top each flatbread with arugula.  Cut into pieces and serve immediately.

*You can choose to buy premade pizza doughs, foccaccia, or another pre-made crust, for convenience!
Nutrition Information Per Serving, based on 12 servings, from MyFitnessPal.com:
Calories:  279
Fat:  9g
Carbohydrates:  39g
Sodium:  880mg
Protein:  15g
Sugar:  5g
Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Dorm Room Dinner: Eggplant Pesto Paninis

With the wedding craziness and the last week of trying to get everything back in order, I have fallen off the weight wagon.  Not drastically, mind you.  I just haven't lost any weight and I would like to before the fall gets here.  Fall is always MY downfall (hehe) because of how much I love to get into the kitchen and bake.  Football games, the crisp weather, and apple picking, are all things I HIGHLY look forward to each year.

Football is probably the biggest killer - no one needs to sit around drinking beer and eating delicious yet potentially unhealthy foods each week, right?  But you want to...yes, you may not need to, but you definitely want to!  This year my family will be playing their fantasy football league again and I am looking forward to the ensuing craziness.  On top of that, John and I are hosting a fantasy football league for HIS family!  I'm hoping I kick his tush in both!  Hehe.

Anyway, to get back to the point of this post it is that last week we were all discombobulated from the wedding and I was trying to get us back on track.  Voila, Skinnytaste!  I know we've discussed her before on here, but it never hurts to reiterate.  These paninis were INCREDIBLE; John loved them so much he asked for them again this week when we were questioning how to use up our CSA eggplants.  You would never be able to tell they were low-calorie and they are so full of flavor, my carnivore didn't even miss his meat!
Eggplant Pesto Paninis (adapted from SkinnyTaste)
Serves:  2
1 eggplant (8 ounces)
2 rolls
1/4 cup of basil pesto
1 plum tomato, sliced thinly
4 slices of fresh mozzarella cheese (each slice = 1 ounce)


Cut the eggplant into 1/2 inch rounds.  Place on the grill for 2-4 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.  Cut the rolls in half and layer basil pesto on both cut sides of each roll.  Place one slice of mozzarella on each side of the roll.  On the bottom half of the roll, evenly divide the eggplant rounds and tomato slices.  Top with top bun.  On your panini press or George Foreman, spray the rolls tops with cooking spray and press down firmly.  If you use your George Foreman, keep pressing firmly (use a towel so you don't burn yourself), for about 3-5 minutes until the sandwich is completely cooked through.  Serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...


Monday, August 27, 2012

Sassy Sweets: Wild Maine Blueberry Galette

I cannot believe that this is the final week of August.  Seriously, where did this month go?  Does everyone feel like this year has just been going way too fast?  I wonder if the time goes by faster every year...I can't imagine it going faster than this year.  If it does, it will be like whole decades of my life will pass me right on by.  What a sad thought.  I'm so happy with how my life is right now, that I don't want to be throwing any day, hour, minute, second even, away.

Sometimes, in the midst of the craziness, John and I take a minute to relish the moment.  At K&E's wedding, we had a moment like that - right before the ceremony started where we held hands, looked around, and took it in.  My little sister was getting married and I never EVER wanted to forget how I felt. Last month on our trip to Maine, we had another, similar, moment.  John had promised me a trip to pick Maine blueberries for my mom.  Imagine his surprise and my disappointment when we were about 4 weeks too early for the Maine blueberries.

The next day, while we sat outside in the sunshine at his mom's, John mentioned to her how disappointed I was to return to my mom without blueberries.  Lo and behold, she had a wild blueberry bush she has cultivated for years in the backyard.  Happily, I picked until my heart was content!  In fact, I might have picked every ripe berry off that bush!  When we got home, I whipped up this galette for our family and served it with my Sweet Cream Ice Cream.  From John's mom to mine, this blueberry galette symbolized the best of both of us.  And just like us, it was TASTY!
Wild Maine Blueberry Galette (adapted from The Humble Cook)
Serves: 8
Galette
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 stick butter or margarine, cold and cut into tablespoons
8 tablespoons ice water
1 egg, beaten
Blueberry Filling
3 cups blueberries (we prefer wild Maine blueberries!)
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar (our blueberries were sweet)

In a food processor, or by hand, combine flour and sugar.  Pulse to mix thoroughly.  Remove the cover and add the butter/margarine around different areas of the food processor.  Cover and pulse 6-10 times, until the butter is pea-sized.  Then, slowly add ice water pulsing thoroughly after each tablespoon addition.  The dough should come together slightly, but will look crumbly.  Gather the dough and form it into a round ball.  Form it into a flat round disk and cover it with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes (or freeze for 15 minutes).

Now make the filling, by combining the blueberries, flour, lemon juice, cinnamon, and sugar in a large bowl.  Be careful not to smash the blueberries but mix until well combined.  Set aside.

Take out the cooled disk and let it come to room temperature (5-10 minutes).  Roll it out on a greased cookie sheet into a large round (about 9 inches).  Mound the blueberry mixture in the middle, leaving a 2-inch border of dough to fold over.  Fold the border over the filling and crimp to make some pleated edges.  Take the whisked egg and brush it thoroughly over the crust.  If desired, sprinkle crust with additional 2 tablespoons of sugar (we skipped this step).  Place it back into the fridge for about 20 minutes, or in the freezer for 10.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the cookie sheet from the fridge or freezer immediately into the oven and let it bake 20-25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.  Transfer carefully to a serving plate and serve warm with ice cream.  Alternatively, you can let it cool and serve it room temperature.  To store, place in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
 Until the next time my oven is on...



Friday, August 24, 2012

Weeknight Dinner: Buffalo Sausage Pizza with a Ranch Drizzle

Lately, work has been a monster.  And by monster, I mean a monster that is sitting next to me on the sofa, under my bed, or hiding in the subway.  It's ever-present, keeps me up, and makes me anxious!!  We have just been so busy that I feel I am barely treading water.  Add that to the stress of K&E's wedding last week, and for the past few weeks, weeknight dinners have become chores.

It's ironic - I love to cook and bake because it relaxes me.  But, when I'm hungry and John is waiting on me for dinner, there is nothing relaxing about a weeknight dinner.  I can't imagine if we were a larger family - I really don't know how my parents always did it.  So, when I saw Mr. Food's Search for the Ultimate Weeknight Meal, I knew I had the perfect thing!  My Buffalo Sausage Pizza with a Ranch Drizzle satisfies the cravings of John's favorite pizza - Buffalo Chicken Pizza!

As I have said a number of times, John and I are trying to get healthy and whenever possible I try to substitute, rather than omit.  In this way, John feels like he is still eating his favorite foods, but they aren't AS bad for him.  I combined two of his favorites here - sausage, peppers, and onions; and buffalo chicken pizza.  I've revamped it, substituting sausage for chicken sausage which is "buffalo style".  All the flavor, with less of the fat and calories! 

I try to make a homemade pizza at least once a week.  They are so easy because you can use a premade crust or my Mom's infamous recipe with no rise time!  Regardless of your family size, likes, or dislikes, I don't know anyone that would say no to this pizza...

Buffalo Sausage Pizza with a Ranch Drizzle
Serves:  4
2 chicken sausage links - "buffalo style"
1/2 cup green peppers, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 premade pizza crust
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
2/3 cups mozzarella cheese
4 tablespoons low-fat ranch dressing

Slice the chicken sausage into coins.  Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray and add chicken sausage.  Cook about 10 minutes over medium heat, until cooked through and slightly browned on both sides.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Add peppers and onions to the skillet and cook over medium heat (about 5 minutes), until wilted.  Meanwhile, combine tomato sauce, oregano, and garlic powder.  Spread evenly over the crust.  Evenly spread the sauteed vegetables over the crust.  Top with cheeses, and then reserved chicken sausage coins.  Bake the pizza for 12 minutes, until cheese is melted and tomato sauce is warmed through.  Remove from the oven and immediately drizzle dressing over the pizza.  Cut into 8 slices and serve immediately.

Easy, delicious, and way healthier than the buffalo pizza that John loves from the pizza parlor around the block AND the sausage, peppers, and onions that you can find on literally every NYC street corner!  And, I'm going to be honest - I loved it, too.  And if John slipped and told you we fought over the last slice, well, I couldn't tell a lie!

Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Stand Out Sides: Ranch Cole Slaw

I have been loving cole slaws lately, which is weird because I NEVER used to eat cole slaw.  But the slaws we’ve been enjoying have come a long way from what I remember as a kid (or even teenager, or even young-er adult)!   Lately, these recipes do not even remotely resemble the congealed mayo messes of old.  In fact, when I picked up some buffalo chicken sausage, I knew that this cole slaw would be a perfect fit. 

Plus, it was easy to get John to agree – spicy, buffalo, sausage, these are key words he looks for before getting excited about a meal.  And I can’t imagine ever wanting to disappoint that man!  He is just way too much fun when he is happy.  Speaking of happy, BOTH of our taste buds were doing a happy dance while we ate this.

It’s extremely flavorful and I used just enough ranch that it was only a thin coat on the slaw, rather than a smother.  I don’t know anyone that enjoys a smother.  It’s the perfect unexpected side dish for your next barbeque – or why wait?  Serve it tonight.  It is one of those dishes that could go with just about anything.
Ranch Cole Slaw 
Serves: 4
1 cup green cabbage, shredded
1/2 cup purple cabbage, shredded
2 carrots, shredded
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced

In one bowl, toss cabbages, carrots, and sliced peppers.  Pour the ranch over the slaw and toss until well-combined.  Serve immediately, or leave slaw prepared in the fridge (covered) for up to 6 hours.
Until the next time my oven is on...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Time-Out: Homemade Skinny Ranch Dressing

One of our favorite dressings is ranch.  It's so creamy and delicious so it practically screams "not good for you".  The week before the wedding was a busy one in our house; I can't even imagine how K&E felt about it.  They are off on their honeymoon through Canada right now and enjoying it immensely.

For all of us still here, it has been a week of serious catch-up on everything:  laundry, cleaning, and more importantly, sleep.  That's why quick and easy dinners have been this week's mantra.  It all started with some skinny ranch dressing.

A quick salad with grilled chicken is dressed up tremendously by this dressing and it seemed "gourmet" when I literally threw it together in just a few minutes.  We don't keep buttermilk in the house so I substituted with some sour cream - it gave it that sour taste but also helped to thicken the dressing for fewer calories!  We only needed two tablespoons because it was so flavorful!  It's perfect for an end-of-summer BBQ or to keep in the fridge for the first few weeks of school - summer's end is always one of the busiest times!
Homemade Skinny Ranch Dressing (adapted from here)
Serves: 2 tablespoons per serving (1 cup)
1/4 cup canola mayonnaise
1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard 
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon parsley, diced
1 teaspoon chives, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 scallions, diced finely

In a small bowl, whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, and dijon mustard until well combined.  Add white vinegar, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce.  Whisk to combine.  Add parsley, chives, garlic, and scallions and whisk again until fully mixed.  Serve immediately or chill until ready for use.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Until the next time my oven is on...


Friday, August 17, 2012

Date Night Dinner: Steak Sandwiches with Pickled Onions and Herbed Mayo


These steak sandwiches are perfect for a quick, flavorful dinner.  As many of you read, my sister K, married fiance E last night in a gorgeous ceremony at the Foundry in Long Island City.  I almost feel like crying when I tell you how absolutely perfect it was; how it represented the two of them as a couple, and their love for one another and all things unique.

This weekend they set out on a 3-week honeymoon road-tripping to Vancouver and back.  While I will miss them, I am so excited for them!  When they eventually return home, I know we will get to relive the journey with them and I cannot wait to hear all about it!

Like every couple (John and I included), sometimes you just need some alone time away from the house, the stress, and work.  A time to reconnect just the two of you.  If you feel the same way (or heck, even if you just need time by yourself to indulge a little), make these sandwiches and take them to the nearest park - eat them in the grass under a tree.  Swing on the swings, laugh (a lot), and rejoice in the warm weather that is summer.

I can feel the days flying away and I know soon autumn will approach.  I want to hold onto these sun-drenched days just a little bit longer.  So, excuse me, while I grab these sandwiches and go soak up the sun. 

Steak Sandwiches with Pickled Red Onion and Herbed Mayo (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves:  2

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar 
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion 
2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound flank steak
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
1 (6-ounce / 8 inches) French bread baguette 
1/2 cup arugula leaves 
Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium microwave-safe bowl; microwave at HIGH 2 minutes or until boiling. Stir in onion. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.  Combine mayonnaise, thyme, tarragon, lemon juice, and garlic.  Rub steaks with salt and pepper.  Place steak on grill rack; grill 5 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak across the grain into thin slices.  Cut baguette in two and then in half lengthwise. Hollow out top and bottom halves of bread, leaving a 1/2-inch-thick shell. Place bread, cut sides down, on grill rack; grill 1 minute or until toasted. Drain onion mixture; discard liquid. Arrange steak evenly over bottom half of baguette; top evenly with onion and arugula. Spread mayonnaise mixture over cut side of top baguette half; place on sandwich. Cut into 2 pieces.
Until the next time my oven is on...
Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Dorm Room Dinner: Chef Salad


Today would be Julia Child's 100th Birthday!  I wish that I could have done a post to commemorate this, but right now things are heating up a bit close to home.  One thing Julia Child wrote in her memoir was how sometimes the most basic ingredients could come together to create a delicious dish.  In life, it also takes the right combination of ingredients to create a delicious and long-lasting love, like hers and Pauls.  Close to home, there is another love; tomorrow my younger sister, K is getting married. 

K loves completely and without any trace of selfishness.  That's what has always made her a wonderful sister, and now what also makes her a wonderful friend.  She truly wants the best for every single person.  Too often, she would throw herself out there and get hurt by people (who her older sister felt) weren't worthy of her love.  When I would get hurt, I'd retreat, lick my wounds, and build my walls a little bit higher.  She would just try and try and try again.

I never understood it; I don't think I ever will - we are just two different people in that way.  But I admire her for it - and I'm glad that she continued to put herself out there because otherwise she might have passed E right by.  They are a true love story - one that I know is meant to last a lifetime.

Last weekend, my aunt and uncle celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a surprise party.  We realized they had hit 50 years, another aunt and uncle, 40 years.  My own parents have almost made 32 (just a few more weeks to go!), my cousins, 10+.  We are lucky to have so many wonderful relationships to look up to, emulate, and work towards in our family.  Everyone always says it isn't easy, but our family shows us how to make it work through good times and bad ones.   It's inspiring - and humbling - to know we are part of a long tradition of long loves and close-knit families. 

So tomorrow, while you go about your business, hug someone just a little bit tighter, say that extra "I love you" even when someone annoys the heck out of you (hey it happens), and be thankful for all the love in your life.  While you do that, I will be standing next to my sisters, my best friends, and watching two people I love commit to one another, forever.  I will gain a brother, my sister will gain a family, and her fiance will gain us, the crazy, loving, fun-filled clan.  Welcome to the family, E...you make a wonderful addition; really, you fit right in!
Chef Salad
Serves:  2
1/4 pound low-sodium ham
1/4 pound turkey
1/2 pound swiss cheese
1 carrot, shredded
1 cucumber, diced
1 plum tomato, diced
1 bag of lettuce (about 8-12 ounces)
Favorite Dressing (2 tablespoons per serving)

To make this dish fancy like John did, roll up all of the meats and cheeses and slice into 1/2 inch slices.  Keep the pinwheels together and set aside.  Meanwhile, toss carrot, cucumber, tomato, and lettuce with dressing of your choice.  Top with pinwheels and serve immediately.

Until the next time my oven is on...
Monday, August 13, 2012

Weeknight Dinner: Sesame Chicken


I'm always on the lookout for ways that we can have delicious "splurge" meals without the extra calories and this one is the perfect case in point.  If we go out for Chinese food, Sesame Chicken, is NOT first on my list.  But, when I saw it in the Food Network Magazine, I cut it out immediately. 
Ellie Krieger took a reader's favorite dish and turned it into something healthier - if not exactly healthy, then something you could at least eat on a monthly basis and not feel bad about yourself afterwards.  It stared me down for a few months until I finally pulled it out for a quick weeknight dinner.  John called it "better than the best Chinese food"; which for anyone, but especially my boyfriend, is a big compliment.  I practically glowed but in reality, I didn't do much.

The secret here is cooking the chicken first.  When I took my amateur class at the French Culinary Institute, our chef said that people are always so quick to keep things from burning, but in reality, everything you cook needs time to chill out.  So, I let the chicken hang out and it got really nice and brown, a perfect resemblance of the restaurant fried version.  You can serve it over brown rice, but I just served it with a large side of snow peas (steamed).  It really doesn't surprise me that this on the menu this week as well!
Sesame Chicken (adapted from here)
Serves: 4
5 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
4 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 pound chicken breasts, diced into chunks
3 teaspoons canola oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
1 tablespoon sugar
3 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili paste
4 cups snow peas, steamed
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted

In a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 teaspoons sesame oil, and all the honey.  Add chicken and toss.  Marinade for about 20 minutes.    Heat 3 teaspoons of canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Remove the chicken from the marinade, and discard.  Cook the chicken in the skillet for 3-5 minutes, until fully browned.  Add half of the scallions, ginger, and garlic, and cook for about 1 minutes.  Add in broth, sugar, flour, vinegar, chili paste, and remaining soy sauce.  Stir so the mixture is well combined and cook until thickened (about 5 minutes).  Stir in the remaining sesame oil.  Serve the chicken with steamed snow peas (and brown rice, if you prefer).  Top with sesame seeds and reserved scallion slices.  

Nutrition Information per serving, based on 4 servings, from FoodNetwork.com:
Calories:  390
Fat:  17g
Saturated Fat:  3g
Cholesterol:  90mg
Sodium:  700mg
Carbohydrates:  23g
Fiber:  3g
Protein: 35g


Until the next time my oven is on...
Friday, August 10, 2012

Weeknight Dinner: Pesto Ricotta Pizza

The perfect complement to homemade basil pesto is pizza.  In fact, one of our favorite pizzas from our local pizza place is a chicken pesto pizza.  It is DELICIOUS.  Is it just me, or is food more delicious when you don’t stand in a hot kitchen making it?!

In fact, John suggested, and I agree, that you could make this pizza similarly to the way Cooking Light made the prosciutto pizza I featured a few weeks ago – on the grill!  Grill the dough first, add the pesto (don’t overload it), ricotta, and grated mozzarella and keep it warm until the cheese melts. 

And then it doesn’t even make your kitchen hot.  What I would do for a cool kitchen, I can't even write it here!  Unfortunately, the way our apartment is set up, the kitchen is in the back corner and gets no natural sunlight and very little air.  It's the one downside to the place and is killer now that its summer; so much in so that its destroying my desire to bake!  I know that’s disappointing for John but I think it’s wonderful for our waistlines!
Pesto Ricotta Pizza
Serves:  4 (2 slices)
4 tablespoons pesto
4 tablespoons part-skim ricotta
2 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Roll out the pizza dough onto a 9-inch cast iron pizza pan.  In a small bowl, combine pesto and ricotta.  Lightly spread pesto mixture over the top of dough.  Top with tomato slices and then mozzarella cheese.  Bake 15 minutes, until cheese is fully melted and dough is lightly browned.  Cut into 8 slices and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts, per Serving, based on 4 servings, from MyFitnessPal.com:
Calories: 335
Fat:  12g
Carbohydrates:  39g
Sugar:  4g
Sodium:  364mg
Protein:  17g

Until the next time my oven is on...


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Time-Out: Traditional Basil Pesto

This is the perfect sauce for summer!  Honestly.  I know we’ve been on a pesto kick lately – once we invested in the pine nuts, all I have wanted to do is play around with pesto!  It’s so easy, and it comes together so quickly.  It also stores really well, which makes it great for a quick weeknight meal.

I added a little bit of lemon in here to brighten up the flavors, which (we thought) was a welcome surprise to the dish.  And, this can pretty much go on anything.  Personally, I love it on chicken; John loves it on pasta.  On Friday, we’re going to serve it to you on a pizza! 

The only downside to this pesto is the amount of oil.  I usually measure it out prior to pouring and whatever the consistency is, is the consistency.  Full flavor extra virgin olive oil is a splurge but as Chef Lance says, if you’re not going to cook it, you’re going to taste it.  So I add a little less but enjoy it a little more!  Substitute canola oil if you want it to be the perfect consistency, without as many calories.
Traditional Basil Pesto
Serves:  4 (1/2 cup total)
1/4 cup basil
1 tablespoon pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a blender, combine basil, pine nuts, and garlic.  Add cheese.  Blend while slowly adding olive oil through the top of the blender.  Store in an airtight container for a week, freezer for a month, or serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts, based on 4 servings, from MyFitnessPal.com:
Calories:  60
Fat:  4g
Carbohydrates:  1g
Sodium:  39mg
Protein:  2g

Until the next time my oven is on...

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dorm Room Dinner: Spicy Chicken Salsa Pitas

I love dinners that come together quickly.  They are always the ones I come back to again and again when there is a thawing chicken breast out on the counter and my mind is blank with possibilities.  What, that doesn't happen to you?  Even though we plan our weekday meals, my weekend meals are always a bit more thrown together.

Which means that since we ate this the first time, I've made it two more times when chicken dishes I was planning on making fell out of favor because of lack of ingredients or, quite simply, lack of energy and time.  I love this dish because I literally ALWAYS have these ingredients on hand.


Like I mentioned a few weeks ago, our faux CSA with farmer F is really a success.  Last week he gave us both parsley and cherry tomatoes so if there was anytime we were going to make this dish, it was then.  It was helped along by Awa bringing some delicious thinly sliced chicken breasts which cooked up in a flash.  My favorite type of dinner:  one where other people supply the ingredients, and I just cook it (oh and eat it too, of course!). 
Spicy Chicken Salsa Pitas (adapted from Taste of Home)
Serves: 4
Tomato Salsa
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup minced parsley
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Chicken Pitas
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound thinly sliced chicken breasts
4 whole wheat pitas

Combine all the salsa ingredients in a small bowl.  Set aside.  Combine the cumin, paprika, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt.  Rub over both sides of the chicken.  Grill chicken about 4-6 minutes on each side until fully cooked through.  Slice chicken and toss with salsa ingredients.  Fill each pita half with chicken salsa and serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts per serving, according to Taste of Home, based on 4 Servings:
Calories:  383
Fat:  9g
Saturated Fat:  2g
Cholesterol: 63mg
Sodium:  558mg
Carbohydrates:  47g
Fiber: 9g
Protein:  32g

Until the next time my oven is on...
Friday, August 3, 2012

Weeknight Dinner: Chunky Tomato Pasta

I love summer; I really do.  I count down to the summer and by December I'm convinced summer will never come again.  And then summer comes, and it is hot, like it is here.  This is a heat I've never known before.  I walk out of my office and the air just feels like its heavy on top of me.  I even look forward to buses passing by for a hot breeze.

That's right...hot breeze.  So by this time in the summer, I start to think about all the great baking I will do towards the fall, gathering dishes for my Pinterest boards.  Yes, I dislike the cold weather, but after the last few hot weeks, I'm looking forward to the time where I can cook in my kitchen with abandon, without dripping.

That makes dinners like this one the perfect type of summer dish.  It was easy, quick, and yes, very yummy.  I adapted a Cooking Light recipe to make it even more low-calorie (it had cream cheese).  I couldn't find it on the Cooking Light website but I found it somewhere else, and have linked to that below.  I think we did a good job keeping it delicious while also keeping the calories down (we saved enough to have a small piece of garlic bread on the side for both of us!).  With dinners like these, we can enjoy summer until the very last day.
Chunky Tomato Pasta (adapted from Cooking Light)
Serves:  3
8 ounces of angel hair pasta

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup oil-cured olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup small fresh basil leaves
1 ounce Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shaved

Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente. Drain pasta through a sieve over a bowl.  Add oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add garlic; cook 2 minutes or until very fragrant and tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and tomatoes; cook 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pasta, olives, and red pepper; cook 3 minutes, until olives are heated through, tossing to coat. Divide pasta mixture among 4 shallow bowls; top each serving with 1 tablespoon basil. Divide Parmigiano-Reggiano evenly among bowls.  Serve immediately.

Nutrition Information, Based on 3 servings, from MyFitnessPal.com:
Calories:  425
Fat:  8g
Carbohydrates:  68g
Sugar:  8g
Sodium:  1025 mg
Protein:  15g

Until the next time my oven is on...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fancy Pants App: Bacon Wrapped Scallops

It's easy*One vote per IP address!

The other night John picked me up at the train station and we waltzed over (well, not literally, skipped, maybe) to the fish market down the street.  They close at 7 so it is always a rush to get off the train and get in there before it shuts itself in for the night.

On the menu were some delicious looking baked fish filets that were highly disappointing, and therefore, there is no reason to share it with you.  However, because of their $10 minimum credit card policy and the fact the fish was only $9.99 a pound, I ordered 6 scallops to put us over the $10 minimum.  This was so neither of us had to run out to an ATM while the other held the employees hostage until we were ready to pay.

By the time I got home and started on the fish, I remembered we had bacon in the fridge from another delicious recipe coming your way shortly.  When I suggested we make these bacon wrapped scallops, I thought John was going to tackle me he was so happy.  I made them with a half slice of bacon, rather than a whole slice which saved us some calories.  And in the end, the fish might not have turned out well, but the scallops saved our dinner!

Bacon Wrapped Scallops 
Serves:  3 (2 scallops each)
3 slices of low-sodium bacon (we used Hormel Black Label - Low Sodium)
4 ounces scallops (approximately 6 scallops)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Slice the bacon in half and wrap the bacon halves around each scallop, securing with a toothpick.  Place the scallops on a baking pan and bake for 8 minutes.  Turn over, and bake the other side 5-8 minutes until the scallops are opaque in color and the bacon is crispy.  Serve immediately.

The trick here is portion size!  For every 2 scallops, the nutrition information is (per MyFitnessPal.com):
Calories:  73
Total Fat:  4g
Sodium:  168mg
Carbohydrates: 0g
Sugar:  0g
Protein:  4g
Until the next time my oven is on...


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Welcome! I'm Dani (aka the Growing Foodie), just a girl balancing her career and passion for all things edible in NYC. I hope you'll join me in my adventures in life, through food. (Click for More)
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