Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Chiffonade of Mixed Lettuces

Printable Recipe
Cutting lettuce into delicate strips for this chiffonade salad creates an elegant design worthy of the footed trifle dish, if you happen to have one. Any straight sided bowl will do, of course - it's the colorful mix of lettuce and veg that makes it pretty. Two different dressings make it unexpectedly good.

So, let's start by putting together the interior dressing, drizzled on about half way through the layering. Use 1/3 c good flavored olive oil and 1-1/2  TBS fresh lemon juice with 1/2 tsp Honey Mustard. No substitutes.

This is a dressing of few ingredients which must each taste delicious individually. Bottled lemon juice or hot dog mustard or cheap oil will RUIN it.

I know, I'm strict about ingredients. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and shake it, baby.

 A Lettuce Note:
Any mix of colorful lettuces will do, some red, some light green, some dark. I happened upon this 4 pack at my grocery that was ideal. For a crunchier and brighter addition, I also bought romaine.

A Chiffonade Note:
Remove any damaged outer leaves and simply cut the entire head crossways into thin ribbons. Keep the various colors separate. I washed and dried everything one bunch at a time after cutting.

Even though these had already been spun in the salad spinner, I wrapped them in an absorbent towel to dry further. Residual water will only thin out the dressing.

Layer all the heads of the softer lettuce first, red and then green. Clip a handful of fresh dill evenly over the top with kitchen shears.

For extra flavor and color, thin slice a red onion, red pepper, green bell pepper, and several radishes.
Line the edges of the bowl with first one layer of vegetables slices and then another until all are used, scattering a mixture in the center of the bowl.  Drizzle the dressing over all evenly.

Top this layer with all the strips of romaine and add several generous spoonfuls of Miracle Whip Light.

Smooth it out with the back of the spoon.

The trick is in not lifting the spoon, just pressing it down and turning the bowl with the other hand.

Now clean up the edges of that bowl and serve proudly. Delicious and beautiful too.

4 colorful lettuces
1 romaine lettuce
Honey Mustard
Olive Oil
1 Lemon
Miracle Whip Lite
1 Small Red Onion
1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Green Bell Pepper
3-4 Radishes
1 bunch of Dill

TSFL note - one cup of this salad counts as one vegetable serving and one to two healthy fat servings.
Summer has given way to Fall Fest at the Food Network website where you'll find my foodie blogs along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas all the way through the holidays! Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's Mixed Lettuce, next week come on back for perfect ways with Pumpkins. Check out these other delicious ideas:
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Quinoa and Black Lentil Salad With Mixed Salad Greens
Cooking With Books: "Chopped" Salads
Haute Apple Pie: Roasted Butternut Squash Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing
Dishin & Dishes: Beet Salad With Garlic Vinaigrette
Thursday Night Dinner: Mixed Lettuce, Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Pita Pizza
And Love It Too: Rainbow Salad
Made By Michelle: Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato Sandwiches
Feed Me Phoebe: Hearts of Romaine With Beets, Pistachios and Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
HGTV Gardens: Garden-to-Table: Mixed Lettuce
Virtually Homemade: Mixed Fall Greens With Dijon Chive Vinaigrette
Devour: Lettuce (Hold the Salad)
Daily*Dishin: Almond Chutney Chicken Lettuce Wraps
FN Dish: Top 12 Lettuce Wraps

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Spinach Leaf Roll Ups

Printed Recipe

Here's a quick little colorful bite perfect for a last-minute appetizer platter or just to have as a snack that will leave you satisfied and feeling virtuous for making healthy choices. And these couldn't be simpler to make, especially if you start with a bag of prewashed spinach.
Find the darkest sweet red pepper in the produce bin and cut into 1/4" strips about the width of your spinach leaves. I looked for baby spinach leaves because they're flatter than the full size crinkly spinach and easier for this recipe. Simply choose the largest flattest leaves from the bag and pinch off the stems. Line them up, assembly line style, and spread with a thin layer of Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Lite. This is easiest if the cheese is at room temp. You'll need about one triangle of Laughing Cow for every half dozen or so leaves.
Position a matchstick of the red pepper at the base of each leaf and roll up tightly. The cheese is just sticky enough to hold them together for serving (and definitely long enough to pop them straight into your mouth). Voila! I just made you eat spinach and love it.
1 cup spinach leaves
3 Wedges Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss Lite
1/2 Red Bell Pepper

**Count this as one vegetable serving and 3 condiment servings if you are following the Take Shape for Life program and eat all on the above list.**

Summer has given way to Fall Fest at the Food Network website where you'll find my foodie blogs along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas all the way through the holidays! Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's Spinach, next week come on back for tasty ways with Turnips. Check out these other delicious ideas: 

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Skinny Hot Spinach Dip
Feed Me Phoebe: October Evening Lentil Soup With Spinach
And Love It Too: Grain-Free Spinach Pie
Cooking With Elise: Baby Spinach Salad With Cranberries, Spiced Pecans and a Maple Vinaigrette
Virtually Homemade: Three Onion Dip With Spinach
HGTV Gardens: Garden-to-Table: Spinach
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Whole-Wheat Pasta With Spicy Spinach and Peanut Butter Pesto
Thursday Night Dinner: Spinach Ice Cream
Cooking Channel: Fresh Spinach in Indian Recipes
Daily*Dishin: Spinach-Sausage Saute With Pan-Fried Gnocchi
Bacon and Souffle: Baby Spinach Pizza With Sopressata and Sriracha
FN Dish: Stuff It With Spinach

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Smokey Peach Chipotle Grilled Chicken

(Printable Recipe)
Grilled peaches make the marinade for this chicken mixing their sweet smokey richness with the savory heat of chipotle. Using this blend to flavor the chicken before it cooks will add only minimal carbs to the final dish as opposed to the dose we'd get using it as a sauce over the chicken later. With fresh peaches in season, I just can't resist finding new ways to make the most of their juicy late summer glory!
Oh, peach, you beautiful peach.
Peel three of these beauties and open 'em up like a plum to pop the pit out. If you missed my Plum Delicious Porkchop post then click here for an easy way to do that. Just halve them, don't cut into slices. actually it wouldn't hurt to skip peeling them, if you're feeling lethargic. You will however, have to fire up the grill unless you think ahead and toss these on while dinner is cooking tonight, then use them to marinate the chicken overnight for tomorrow's dinner. Give them about 5 minutes or so on each side on the grill - just long enough to get smokey and a little sweeter by roasting a bit.

Now, to the food processor with these freshly grilled babies. We'll add a tablespoon each of Dijon and apple cider vinegar, and 2 cloves of peeled garlic.

Process until smooth and give it a taste. Unless the peaches are really ripe and sweet, a spoonful of Splenda will improve this and balance the heat of the Chipotle Chili Pepper too. Be careful! A teaspoon or two is probably more than enough unless you really like it hot. It's pretty easy to find this type of pepper in most groceries now, but if yours doesn't have it just get canned chipotles in adobo sauce and throw in one of those.

Now pour over the chicken breasts in a gallon ziplock bag. There will be enough to marinate up to six pieces of chicken. Leave them overnight or up to 24 hrs. in the fridge and then Go Grilling! Shake the chicken to get most of the marinade off, it's thick so some will be left and its natural sugars will help the chicken brown nicely.

My usual note for fellow Take Shape for Lifers:
If you're in maintenance cooking some of this marinade with the chicken as a sauce is OK. Otherwise, you can rinse the chicken before grilling it, or if you shake most of the thick marinade off you should be looking at only an extra 4 or 5 grams of carb once cooked.

 SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's Peaches, next week Melon. Check out these delicious ideas:

Daily*Dishin: Caramelized Grilled Peaches
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Peach Blackberry Arugula Salad
Cooking With Elise: Streusel Topped Peach Muffins With Peach Butter
Heather Christo Cooks: Peach Coconut Pancakes
Ingredients, Inc: Easy Peach Pie
From My Corner of Saratoga: Grilled Peaches With Caramel-Ginger Sauce and Pound Cake
Dishin & Dishes: Peach Lacquered Chicken Salad
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Easy Peach Limeade
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Fresh Peach and Coconut Cake
Thursday Night Dinner: Peach Shortbread
Sweet Life Bake: Jicama Tortilla Salad With Peach Dressing
I Am Baker: Cilantro Peach Salsa
Zaika Zabardast: Donut Peach Quesadilla
And Love It Too: Peachy Coconut Streusel Muffins
Daydreamer Desserts: White Peach Margaritas
Cooking Channel: 4 Savory Uses for Peaches
Healthy Eats: What to do With Overripe Peaches
FN Dish: Peaches Move to the Big Kids' Table

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Double Pepper Kung Pao

(Printable Recipe)
This is Kung Pao with double peppers: sweet red bells and hot red chilies. And one more twist: smokey smoked almonds instead of the traditional peanuts. As with most any stir-fry, the dish comes together rapidly once you start. It's the prep before you ever turn on the heat that makes it all happen.

For starters, pull together the vegetables we'll use in both the sauce and the stir fry. Chop the onion and red pepper in a medium dice. Slice the scallions including the greens, removing any limp or aging green ends. Crush the garlic. Grate about 1/2" of the ginger. USING RUBBER GLOVES, chop the stems from the peppers and shake out any loose seeds unless you really like it hot. You may only want to use 1/2 this many peppers. Now your prep tray should look like this:

3 Tbs Green Onions
1 Tbs Crushed Garlic
1/2 tsp grated Ginger
1/2 cup Onion
1 cup Red Bell Pepper
1/3 cup Almonds
3-6 Red Chili Peppers

Now, the rest: Put the Sesame Oil and Olive Oil beside the stove for cooking the chicken. Be sure to use the toasted sesame oil that is dark in color and very pungent. We'll just use a tablespoon of the olive oil and half as much sesame oil which brings in one of the powerful flavor elements of Kung Pao.

1/4 cup soy, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1 Tbs Splenda
The Soy, Rice Vinegar, and Splenda will make the final sauce, but we need to put it together now so it's ready later.

For the one pound of chicken breast, cut into cubes as uniformly as possible so everything will cook at the same rate.

Toss the chicken in a bowl with a tablespoon or two of corn starch to coat.

With the flame at about Medium or slightly above and the skillet hot, add oils and toss in the chicken, turning fairly continuously to cook quickly for about 5 minutes or until it has just cooked through. I usually cut through the largest piece in the pan to be sure - if it's done you know all the other pieces will be too. If this pan doesn't look very full that's because it's not! Don't crowd the pan or the chicken will steam instead of stir fry when the pieces begin to give off juice. Better to divide and conquer two quick stirfries than pile it all in and get a lousy result.

Now, remove the chicken to a clean bowl or plate and add the onion, bell pepper, and scallions. For more heat, you can add the chili peppers now too. I prefer to wait. The pan will have a perfect layer of browned bits that will start to come up when the vegetables exude their juice. If the pan starts to look too brown before than happens, add about 1/4 cup water and scrape with the spatula as you turn the vegetables.

Yes, it really does happen even though it looks like that stuff is stuck like glue! It's the Yum Factor; never waste it. Give the vegetables just a few minutes to barely soften and sweeten. A little crunch is good. Move the vegetables from the pan to join the chicken and lastly we'll make the sauce.

Combine sauce, chili peppers, ginger, and garlic in the pan and bring up to a fast bubble for 4-5 minutes. If there is anything at all left sticking to the bottom of the pan it should come up now. Finally, add chicken and vegetables back to the pan along with the almonds and toss for several minutes to coat and reheat all.  Done! I know, it seems like this has been a long post laden with how-to pictures but here's the real time line: Even if you cook the chicken in two batches, you'll only spend about 15 minutes at the stove to make this dish! Including prep time, about 30 minutes.

Notes for Take Shape for Life program - this equals about two six-oz servings of lean and all three condiment servings for the day, as well as the snack allotment of almonds.

 SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's Peppers, next week Peaches. Check out these delicious other great ideas:

Jeanette's Healthy Living: Stuffed Peppers With Quinoa Grilled Vegetables and Pesto Sauce
Cooking With Elise: Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
What's Gaby Cooking: Oven-Roasted Peppers With Herbed Breadcrumbs
And Love It Too: Roasted Red Pepper Paleo Hummus
Feed Me Phoebe: Grilled Flank Steak With Gazpacho Sauce
Big Girls Small Kitchen: Seared Pepper Tacos With Pintos and Avocado Crema
Daily*Dishin: Shrimp and Chorizo With Red Pepper Chermoula Sauce
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Dip With Baked Corn Tortillas
Thursday Night Dinner: Black Bean and Sweet Pepper Salad
Cooking Channel: 5 Stuffed Pepper Favorites
HGTV Gardens: Garden to Table: Peppers
Sweet Life Bake: Rajas de Poblano con Elote y Crema
Dishin & Dishes: Bacon, Onion and Green Chile "Jam"
Healthy Eats: Peppers for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
FN Dish: Meat and Peppers

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creamy Light Tuna Salad Stuffed Tomatoes

(Printable Recipe)
This Tuna Salad is light on the dressing yet seems rich and creamy from one single spoonful of goat cheese, which adds a great lowfat flavor blast. Serve it up in these pretty yellow tomato cups and give yourself some extra credit for getting in a serving a vegetable, too. And no, these are not yellow bell peppers, even though they're shaped just like one, are almost hollow just like pepper, and even have a firm exterior like one. A quick scoop with a grapefruit spoon emThey're stuffing peppers I found at the Farmer's Market and are easy to grow. I tell you this since I know how much you're going to want some of these and they probably aren't very easy to find in the produce section of just any store. So go to Tomato Growers Supply and grow your own.
Here's what you'll need:
Two 5 oz cans Tuna, drained
1 Tbs Miracle Whip Light
1 Tbs Honey Mustard
1 Tbs Goat Cheese
1 tsp chopped Dill
1 Tbs Celery
1 Tbs Scallions
1 Tbs Red Bell Pepper

The vegetables should be finely diced and goat cheese will mix in smoothly if it's at room temp. Mix everything together well with a fork or spatula and check the taste. Some goat cheeses are milder and less tangy than others and you may improve the final flavor with the juice of half a lemon. Taste testing is the best way to find out!

TSFL foodies: 1/2 of this recipe in a tomato cup will equal one serving of vegetable and about 1/2 your leanest lean, and ALL your fat and condiment allowances for the day in the dressing, cheese, and mustard. (5 oz of canned tuna equals about 3.5 when drained.)

SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week it's tomatoes, next week Peppers. Check out these other delicious ideas:

Cooking With Elise: Fresh Tomato Sauce
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Tomato Gazpacho Salsa
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Tomato Cobbler Anyone?
Virtually Homemade: Spaghetti With Tomatoes, Prosciutto and Fresh Corn
What's Gaby Cooking: Chicken Kebabs With Romesco Sauce
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: Salmon Spaghetti With Plum Tomatoes and Avocado
Feed Me Phoebe: Roasted Fresh Tomato Puttanesca Sauce
Chez Us: Easy Tomato Tart
Made By Michelle: Tomato and Pesto Pizza
Ingredients, Inc.: Lighter Fried Green Tomatoes
Daily*Dishin: Spicy Tomato-Tomatillo Chicken Tenders
From My Corner of Saratoga: Tomato Jam
Dishin & Dishes: Tomato Zucchini Frittata
And Love It Too: Roasted Garlic, Basil and Tomato Paleo Tart
Healthy Eats: The Fresh-for-Once Tomato
Sweet Life Bake: Pico de Gallo
Zaika Zabardast: Grilled Tofu and Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto Sandwich
Thursday Night Dinner: Tomato and Watermelon Salad
Cooking Channel: How to Prepare Summer Tomatoes
FN Dish: Tomatoes Go Beyond Salads

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Summer Squash Ribbons with Feta and Pine Nuts

(Printable Recipe)

Yellow squash in ribbons this thin is so tender you'll swear it's been cooked, but no - it's fresh and ready in minutes for a cool salad or easy side.  All you need is a sprinkling of seasonings and it's dressed to serve, without a drop of dressing to fatten it up.

Here's what you'll need: Several Yellow Squash, the smaller the better; small green onions (scallions), a few sprigs of basil, feta, pine nuts.
Trim the ends from each squash. Using a vegetable peeler (or mandolin set to the very thinnest setting) shave strips of squash, disposing of the first and last piece which will just be skin. If the squash is very seedy, toss it. Little seeds won't matter, but any slices that are mostly seed aren't worth keeping. And this is why we pick through the squash for the tiniest ones in the first place!
Stack up several basil leaves and thinly slice them into little green ribbons. Here I've used sweet basil most easily found in the grocery in pots or in small plastic boxes in the area where fresh herbs are sold. If it's spring, keep an eye out for different types of potted basil from herb growers or flower stands. The flavors can vary from spicy to sweet to exotic and strong. You'll find which you like best.
These are a few of the basils I'm growing this year. The tiny leafed one in the middle is Greek Globe Basil, the sweetest basil I've ever tasted. The pretty, variegated basil on the left is not only beautiful to grow it has a fine mild flavor with a note of something spicy as well. And, of course, sweet basil on the right. Incidentally, if you grow your own, cut it and use it up before it blossoms, for it is worthless from the moment the first flowerbud appears. The entire plant turns to bitter licorice and is good for nothing but the compost heap.

Finally, toss your ribbons with salt and pepper and about a tablespoon each of the chopped basil, finely sliced scallions (I've used purple ones here that I found at the Farmer's Mkt), Crumbled Feta, and Pine Nuts.     As an alternate to the Feta, I have also used fresh Parmesan, grated on a rasp here from a left-over rind. A little of this goes a long way since it's so strong. In a good way!
Note for those on the Take Shape for Life Program - if you make this with 2 cups of squash, you'll have four 1/2 cup servings and the pine nuts, feta, and onion will equal about a serving of the allowable condiments for the day. Never heard of TSFL? My husband and I  lost 110 pounds (together!) in under 4 months and are health coaches who can help you do the same! You can click the link above to send me an email through TSFL. We feel the benefit every day of getting back to good health through this plan.

SUMMERFEST at the Food Network IS BACK!! Check out these other great blogs for squash ideas:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Plum Delicious Pork Chops

(Printable Recipe)
It doesn't take sweet sticky BBQ sauce to make the pork chop tempting enough to eat. Here's a plum yummy method that melts the fruity flavor of the sweet plum into the chop without adding the calories and carbs of sugar. And you'll have tender and tasty chops in about 30 minutes, tops.

These are Pork Loin Boneless Center Cut Chops, thin cut. By which I mean they are less than an inch thick. Showcased here with the only other two ingredients you will need: a couple of ripe plums and a little fake sugar. I like Splenda or Truvia because they behave more like sugar for cooking.

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides.

I sprayed this pan well with non-stick spray and set the heat fairly high. It should be good and hot so you hear a sizzle the instant the chops go in.  They will immediately stick to the pan and start to brown. Don't attempt to turn them over if they don't want to budge. They will let go of the pan when they're finished browning. We're just going to sear both sides quickly to get a good browned and then finish them covered.   Go work on the plums while they're doing their thing.

 The quickest way to slice a plum: Cut from top to bottom until you hit the pit then turn the fruit all the way around with the knife in place so it is only held together in the very center. Twist the two halves in opposite directions and the pit will come free from one side, sticking to the other. Now it's fairly easy to gouge out the pit with a sturdy little measuring spoon.  Slice each half into 5 or 6 thick slices.

Your chops should be nicely browned by now and ready for some fruity topping. Sprinkle each with a little Splenda and layer on the plum slices. Throw any extras into the pan around the chops. Word of Warning: Don't get all slap happy with that fake sugar and decide it's easier to mix it in with the salt and pepper before you put the chops in the pan. Even fake sugar burns like the real stuff and that lovely browned chop will turn icky black instead.

Now pour in about 1/2 cup of water, cover with a tight lid, and take the heat down to the lowest setting. The water will bring up those excellent browned bits of fond on the bottom of the pan and will create steam to gently cook the chops the rest of the way, which will only take another 10-12 minutes. When ready, they will be fork tender and the plums will practically disintegrate when you touch them. I checked the meat with an instant read thermometer probe to be sure it had reached 160 and moved them immediately to a serving platter.

Serve with Cucumber Jicama Salad for a cool crispy side!

4 Pork Loin Boneless Center Cut Chops
2 Purple Plums
Splenda or Truvia

**If you're in the weight loss phase of the Take Shape for Life Plan it's OK to cook with the plums, but remove the remaining fruit before eating the chops. You'll still get all the yummy plum flavor!**

SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's plums, next week summer squash. Check out these delicious ideas: