Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Lean Tofu Pad Thai

Under normal circumstances, I love pad thai. There's a great restaurant pretty close to my home - PepperMint Cafe - that servings amazing pad thai (amongst other dishes). However, two things stop me from going there or any Asian restaurant more often than once or twice a year: (A) The hubs does not like most Asian food-based restaurants (unreasonable fear of too many veggies - not kidding) and (B) most of the dishes are (probably) so frickin high in sodium that I am bloating just thinking about it. In fact, an average serving of restaurant-prepared pad thai may have upwards of 1700mg of sodium per serving. Yikes! (Note: I do not have the  actual nutritional analysis of PepperMint Cafe's pad thai - this number is simply based on research and may or may not be accurate.)

However, that doesn't mean I don't get a hankering (nice word, huh?) for some stir fry every once in a while. And luckily, I have lots of recipes for different types of healthier stir fry-like dishes. Tonight's selection comes from my old love-hate friend, Clean Eating magazine - Lean Tofu Pad Thai.

Although the recipe is for TOFU pad thai, I think the hubs' head would explode if I tried to serve that to him. So instead, per the magazine's suggestion, I substituted boneless (cooked) chicken breast, cut up into little pieces. Shrimp or turkey would also work. Side note: I would be remiss if I didn't give my sous chef (the hubs) a quick shout-out as he did the actual chopping of the chicken since we were a little pressed for time tonight. And I kind of hate chopping chicken.

Lean Tofu Pad Thai
Source: Clean Eating magazine, Nov/Dec 2009

Ingredients:
  • 8oz brown rice noodles (I used lo mein noodles)
  • 4 tbsp unsalted tomato paste
  • 4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice (didn't use fresh)
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 egg white, whisked
  • 2 c. green cabbage, chopped (skip - didn't feel like it)
  • 1 c. bean sprouts (skip - don't like)
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
  • 12 oz firm tofu, cubed (chicken)
  • 1/4 c. cilantro, minced
  • 2 tbsp unsalted peanuts, crushed (totally forgot to add - I like the peanuts on this)
  • Lime wedges for garnish (um - no)
Directions:
  • Cook brown rice noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste, vinegar, honey, fish sauce, lime juice and cayenne. Set aside.
  • Heat a large skilled or wok over medium-high heat for 1 minute. Mist with cooking spray. Add egg white and saute until cooked, about 2 minutes. Remove egg white and dice into small pieces.
  • In the same pan, misted again with cooking spray, saute cabbage, bean sprouts, onions and carrot over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Add tofu and cook for another 2 minutes. Add cooked egg white and cilantro, sauteing for another 2 minutes. Then stir in tomato paste mixture. Add cooked noodles. Stir until completely combined and thoroughly heated, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and garnish with peanuts before serving. Add lime wedges and additional cilantro, if desired.
Yield: 8 1-cup servings
Per serving (tofu version): Calories: 220; Total fat: 4g (sat: 0); carbs: 38g; fiber: 4g; sugars: 11g; protein: 11g; sodium: 510mg; cholesterol: 0mg

Reviews:
We love this meal! So delish and relatively easy to prepare. The kid didn't like the noodles tonight, but thought the chicken was fabulous and asked for seconds. Both me and the hubs ate our entire servings, plus there's a ton of leftovers. Bonus? Got my pad thai fix without the sodium bloat.


Fun purple plates! The orange glob on the plate is not part of the meal, btw

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fancy Pants

We've already established in a previous post that the kid enjoys steak. I'm not entirely sure why, since he doesn't like hamburgers, but steak is always a go in our house. He's high-end, I guess.

Since we are only eating together twice this week (as of now) due to schedules/social events, I decided to forgo our typical Meatless Monday for one of the kid's favorite meals - steak tacos. I guess not only did I skip Meatless Monday, I went all out in the opposite direction.

In addition to our usual refried beans, I added a side dish of Mexican Rice from one of my favorite cookbooks, 500 Low Sodium Recipes. This recipe, with only 41mg sodium/serving, beats eating boxed Mexican-flavored rice, which can have hundreds upon hundreds of milligrams of sodium. And since I try to keep my sodium to approx 1500mg/day, and since all that sodium is kind of nasty anyway, that won't do.

The Mexican Rice recipe is chock full of diced tomatoes. I do not like raw tomatoes except in rare moments of tomato weakness, but I don't shy away from canned tomatoes/sauces when selecting my recipes. I probably don't have to tell you, but tomatoes in all forms pack a healthy and nutritional punch - with lycopene, Vitamin C and Vitamin A leading the way (remember, I am not an expert on nutrition - just someone who can Google). There have been a lot of studies published about the cancer-fighting agents found in cooked tomatoes/sauces, etc.

Steak Tacos
Source: Clean Eating magazine, May/June 2010

Note: This recipe also includes directions for avocado cream sauce, but I just did the steak part. It also calls for corn tortillas and other random ingredients, but I used La Tortilla Factory Low-Carb, High Fiber Whole Wheat Tortillas (50 cals/wrap!), so I am not going to include nutritional information. I added Newman's Own salsa and some fresh avocado to mine, the boys added cheese.

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 lb lean round steak, thinly sliced into 1/4-inch-thick strips
  • 1 tsp Mexican seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I used refrigerated)
  • Salt & pepper to taste (skip)
  • Olive oil cooking spray
Directions:
  • In a large resealable plastic bag, place steak, Mexican seasoning, cumin, cinnamon, garlic, salt & pepper. Seal bag and shake to evenly distribute seasonings and coat steak.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat for one minute. Reduce heat to medium-high, mist skillet with cooking spray and saute steak until preferred doneness.
Mexican Rice
Source: 500 Low Sodium Recipes by Dick Logue

Ingredients:
  • 1 c. uncooked rice (used brown rice, obvs)
  • 1/3 c. onion, chopped
  • 1/3 c. green bell pepper, chopped (skip - don't like green peppers. Have used red before when I have them on hand)
  • 2 c. no-salt added diced tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 1/2 tbsp black pepper (skip)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp low-sodium beef bouillon (make sure low- or no-sodium since regular bouillon packs a serious sodium punch)
  • 1 c. water
Directions:
Saute rice, onion and pepper in oil in heavy saucepan until onion is tender. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

Yield: 4 servings (I assumed 2/3 c. = 1 serving, per the rice)
Per serving: 142 cals; 2g protein; 7g total fat (1g sat; 2g mono; 4g poly); 18g carb; 2g fiber; 4g sugar; 50mg calcium; 41mg sodium; 0mg cholesterol

Reviews:
I have made both recipes a bunch and everyone loves both (except the kid doesn't like the rice). I make the rice first, and while it is cooking, prepare the steak, and it times out perfectly. I will honestly miss not making the Mexican Rice because it is such a great go-to side for tacos.


Looking good!



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Flying Solo

I typically cook on Sunday nights - usually some sort of dish that takes a little bit more effort - since it's not a crazy weeknight. However, tonight the hubs high-tailed it to C-bus for his fantasy football draft, so the kid and I were on our own (the baby is now eating some sort of puff food, btw).

When we're flying solo, I generally go for something easy, like PB&J for the kid, and a veggie burger or something like that for me. Tonight, with the help/motivation of new recipes from Cooking Light and Clean Eating, I took it up a notch.

Side note: Quick blog tonight - watching the VMAs. LOVE the VMAs. Britney is looking fabu.
Side note 2: Working on the look of the blog - thanks to my peep "K-Skull" - more to come over the next few days, but let me know what you think as it unfolds.

For the kid:
French Toast Peanut Butter and Jelly
Source: Cooking Light, September 2011

Ingredients:
  • 2/3 c. 2 percent reduced-fat milk (used 1 percent)
    1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt (skip)
  • 8 slices white whole-wheat sandwich bread (used whole grain)
  • 1/2 c. strawberry preserves
  • 6 tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 1 tbsp powdered sugar
Directions:
  • Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium shallow dish, stirring well with a whisk. Place bread slices on a flat surface. Spread with 2 tbsp preserves over each of 4 slices and spread 1.5 tbsp peanut butter over each of the remaining 4 bread slices. Assemble sandwiches. Dip 2 sandwiches in milk mixture, turning to coat.
  • Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1.5 tsp canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Place coated sandwiches in a pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until toasted. Remove from pan, repeat procedure with remaining ingredients. Sprinkle powdered sugar evenly over sandwiches, cut each in half diagonally.
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: Calories: 394; Fat 19.4g (4.6 sat; 8.7g mono; 5.1g poly); Protein: 14.9g; Carb: 43.2g; Fiber: 5.4g; Chol: 46mg; Sodium: 519mg; Calc: 124mg

Review:
The kid and I were so excited to try the ooey-gooey sandwich. Honestly, after making the milk mix, I didn't measure out the ingredients because he wanted just peanut butter. Sadly, the kid did not enjoy - he thought it was too messy. WTF?! I obvs had to try a tiny bite and thought it was delish - very rich, but very tasty. I bet adding bananas to the peanut butter sandwich (and using almond butter) would make it even better.


What kid doesn't enjoy ooey-gooey? Mine!
For my dinner, I decided to have fish (of the frozen variety), and wanted a more interesting side than steamed broccoli. So, I pulled out my old friend zucchini - just for me, peeps - the boys did not have to suffer through more zucchini.

Stuffed Zucchini
Source: Clean Eating, Aug/Sept. 2011 (WHATEVS, btw)

Ingredients:
  • 3 tsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 clove garlic, diced (used minced)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 8oz mushrooms, diced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp whole-wheat bread crumbs (used matzo meal)
  • 2 tbsp parm cheese
  • 2 zucchini, halved, seeds and pulp removed
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare stuffing: In a large saute pan on med-high heat, heat 1 tsp oil. Add garlic, onion and mushrooms. Saute until mushrooms soften, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add remaining 2 tsp oil, vinegar, bread crumbs and parm. Mix thoroughly.
  • Spoon an equal amount of stuffing into each zucchini half. Bake on foil-lined cookie sheet for 10 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings (1/2 stuffed zucchini)
Per serving: Calories: 110; total fat: 5g (sat: 1g; mono 1g; poly 1g); carbs: 12g; fiber: 2g; protein: 5g; sodium: 135mg choles: 2mg

Review:
OMG so good. Really fast to prep, and the result was great. The stuffing's flavor was just delish. Try it.

Yum!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Four for 40

No blog last night, peeps, but I was absolutely in the kitchen, prepping for my parents' 40th anniversary shin-dig at the boy's house today.

First - kudos to my parents for being married for 40 years! As my father so nicely pointed out, "we are one of the few who have made it this long." Romance is obviously not dead.

Next - although we are not the largest of families, we do love our grub. And, since I love to cook and bake, and am not particularly good at editing myself, I tend to over-do it on certain occasions. Dear readers, you will continue to see this inability to pare down my selections unfold as we have more holidays and family gatherings throughout the year. I guess this also corresponds with my overwhelming bounty of recipe selections.

Anyway, for the 40th anniversary cookout (six adults, four kids - only one of which is in elementary school, btw) - I made four items. Not all of them are necessarily healthy, but so it goes. I am not going to list out all of the recipes for each one, because that will result in a super-long post. And one thing I can edit is writing.

Selection One
Lo Mein Noodle Salad
Source: Betty Crocker Potlucks & Barbecues, June/July 2009

Note: I used to love those little cookbooks that line grocery aisle - the paperback ones. I probably have 30. Most of them are not healthy recipes, so you won't see me pull too many from there nor do I buy them anymore, but they do have great potluck/company/apps/dessert choices when I am not as concerned with the whole clean eating factor.

Reviews:
My family loves this recipe - especially my father. It is very fast and easy. It includes lo mein noodles, a peanut butter sauce, edamame, green onions and red peppers. I've made it many, many times and it is always a winner. Delish.

Lo Mein Noodle Salad
Selection Two
Creamy Potato Salad Made Over
Source: Kraft Food & Family, Summer 2006

Reviews:
Again - very easy to prepare. The whole point of this recipe is to make potato salad less fattening - it is only 150 cals/serving (3/4 c), vs. the traditional (approx) 340 cals. I doubled the recipe because 1 lb of red potatoes (as it calls for) just didn't seem like enough. But, I think doubling the dressing (mayo, zesty Italian dressing, Dijon mustard) made it a little too creamy for my taste. My family really liked it - my mother loved the dressing, and my SIL enjoyed the hard boiled eggs.

Creamy Potato Salad

Selection Three
Lemon Crumb Cake
Source: Duncan Hines Baking with Love, 1999 (another one of those grocery-aisle booklets)

Reviews:
Peeps, I do not like lemon desserts. Blech. However, my father and SIL both love it, so I went with it. Very fast and easy to prepare, although the "crumb" topping didn't really turn out very crumby and kind of sunk to the bottom. My SIL noted that it was not too lemony, in a good way (i.e., doesn't make your mouth curdle?).

Lemon Crumb Cake, sans crumbs

Selection Four
Deep-Chocolate Angel Food Cake
Source: Weight Watchers, Jan/Feb 2010

Reviews:
I made a chocolate angel food cake especially for my mom, who loves angel food cake and chocolate. I didn't necessarily select this recipe because it was healthy or less calories, but because it sounded good. It was kind of a pain in the butt to make, to be honest. It calls for grated chocolate, which I did by hand. Really? However, I was surprised at how cleanly it came out of the bundt pan and how well it turned out. Very light, and my mother really liked it (after mentioning she knew what a pain this was to prepare).

Sideways picture for deep-chocolate cake






Thursday, August 25, 2011

Turkey Rolls

Tonight's recipe comes courtesy of Weight Watchers. I am not on the Weight Watchers program because I don't have a big desire to count points or whatever, but I do count calories (and sodium!) and watch my portions, so I totally get the program and hey - whatever works, works. And seriously - how good does JHud look?

Although I'm not a devotee, I do like WW recipes. I have a few of their cookbooks, and also subscribe to the magazine. The recipes are generally easy, quick, healthy and tasty - all winners in my book.

Turkey Rolls Cordon Bleu
Source: Weight Watchers "Make It In Minutes" cookbook

Ingredients:
  • 4 1/4 pound turkey cutlets, raw
  • 4 (1-ounce) slices of reduced-sodium ham
  • 2 (1-ounce) slices of reduced fat Swiss cheese, halved
  • 3 tablespoons plain dry bread crumbs (I used panko crumbs)
  • 1 tbsp reduced-calorie mayo (I used honey mustard)
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine
  • 1/4 c. reduced sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tsp butter
Directions:
  • Top each cutlet with a slice of ham and then a half slice of cheese. Roll up jelly-roll fashion and secure with toothpicks.
  • Spread the bread crumbs on a plate or a sheet of wax paper. Brush the turkey rolls with mayo (or whatever); dip in the crumbs, pressing down to coat.
  • Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat. Add the turkey rolls and saute until browned all over, about 5 minutes. Add the wine, broth, and butter; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the turkey is cooked through and the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes longer.
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: 234 calories; 6g total fat (3g sat); 95mg cholesterol; 434mg sodium; 5g carbs; 0g fiber; 37g protein; 125mg calcium

Reviews:
Again - a super easy recipe. We have soccer practice on Thursday night, so I don't want anything that will take too much time. And, even though I was running a little bit behind in getting started (yapping with some of my favorite chickas), I was still able to get this done fairly quickly. We also had brown rice and asparagus, and the boys had Alexia rolls. Everyone gave this recipe a big thumbs up. Do note: The actual portion size is kind of small, so I made extras. The hubs had 3 of the rolls.

Side notes:
I do not typically eat any form of lunch meat. In general, I don't really like it that much, and furthermore, it is not particularly healthy - even the low-fat, "low" sodium varieties (at least IMO). However, I will make exceptions when an interesting recipe calls for it, like tonight's dish. And, one slice of low-sodium ham once a year probably won't do too much harm, right?




Totally forgot to take a picture, so this is from the book. Obvs my version looked just like this


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

First Days, Last Days

Today was the first day of school for the kid. As I did with the hubs, I asked him if he wanted anything special for his "back-to-school" meal, to which he replied: "hmrpshghr" (i.e., grunted). So, I took it upon myself to select a steak-based dish, as he really loves steak. Champagne taste, people.

I also decided that because BTS time means fall is on the way (and in Cleveland's case, one month of fall before six months of snowy torture), this would be a good time to end my Summer Salad challenge. It was fun while it lasted, and I may revisit salads periodically during the next several months, but I'm kind of ready for chili, casseroles and [healthy] comfort chow.

Edamame Salad with Crisp Steak Bits
Source: Cooking Light (not sure of the issue date)

Ingredients:
  • 3 c. frozen shelled edamame
  • 2 tbsp lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp minced peeled fresh ginger (used refrigerated)
  • 1 tbsp mayo
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (skip - don't like fresh tomatoes)
  • 1.5 c. chopped seeded cucumber (about 1)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz. flank steak, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt (skip)
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper (skip)
Directions:
  • Cook edamame according to package directions. Drain. Rinse with cold water; drain.
  • Combine soy sauce and next 5 ingredients (through sesame oil) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add edamame, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions, toss to coat.
  • Heat a medium cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add olive oil to pan, swirl to coat. Combine steak, salt and pepper, tossing to coat steak. Add steak mixture to pan, cook 5 minutes or until browned and crisp, stirring frequently.
  • Spoon about 1.5 c. edamame mixture onto each of 4 plates, top evenly with steak.
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: Calories: 277; Fat: 14.8g (sat: 2.7g, mono 6.7g, poly 2.8g); Protein: 231g; Carb: 14.6g; Fiber: 6.1g; Chol: 20mg; Iron: 3.5mg; Sodium: 540mg; Calc: 97mg

Reviews:
This recipe takes absolutely no time to make - tops 20 minutes from start to finish, including chopping. Both me and the hubs give this a "very good" while the kid picked off his steak, and ate just a few mouthfuls of edamame and cucumbers, primarily so he could have an after-dinner cupcake. This is a great meal to whip up on a busy weeknight.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Rock and a Hard Place

Oh how one little DM via Twitter can throw a person.

I'm still in a bit of a tizzy over the message I rec'd re: NOT posting full recipes (ingredients and directions) on my blog, despite the fact that I never claim these to be my own recipes, and that I credit the source every single time. As I told one of my co-workers (and loyal reader - she actually made one of the zucchini recipes!!) - I love the source so much, that this DM feels kind of like finding out there is no Santa Claus and Hanukkah Charlie all at once. I'm hurt.

Soooo, I have decided to not post the recipe in its entirety tonight, until we (meaning me and my faithful social media guru peep/blog redesigner-in-progress) figure this out. Honestly, if I remember my J-school law class correctly (50-50 at best) - I think because I am citing my source, I'm OK. But just in case...

Now let's get on with it.

Tonight was the hubs first day back at school with the kiddos. So, being the nice wife I am, I asked him if he had any requests for his special dinner. Chicken Parmesan.

One thing you should know about me - chicken parm and I have a long history together. As a child, I used to go out with my grandparents for lunches and dinners all the time, and the only thing I would ever order would be chicken parm. To the point that my grandfather and I tried to keep a tally of who had the best parm in NEO (at the time, it was Bass Lake Taverne, btw).

But obviously, that kind of fried, breaded goodness is not particularly healthy. So, luck would have it that Clean Eating magazine published a delightful recipe for chicken parm in its March/April 2010 issue. If you want the recipe, email me, DM me on Twitter or leave a comment and I will share.

What I will share is the nutritional comparison (per Clean Eating, not per me) of traditional vs. CE's version of chicken parm

Per 4oz chicken/4 oz penne pasta

Calories: Before 1,032  After: 439
Total Fat: Before: 25g  After: 12
Sat. Fat: Before: 12g  After: 2.5
Carbs:  Before: 127  After: 43
Sodium: Before: 1,233mg  After: 585
Chol:  Before: 229mg  After: 70

(Oh look - CE cited recipeczar.com in its analysis with the above comparison. Hmph.)

Reviews:
I've made this particular recipe several times, and it is honestly great. We all loved the meal. The kid and I added steamed broccoli, and the hubs and kid had garlic bread. It does take a bit of time to simmer the sauce, but I was able to whip it out in about 35-40 minutes (including cooking time) tonight.

Image note:
Yes - I know my images aren't exactly that appetizing. I take them with the camera on my phone. But, the image I include on the blog are of my portion, which is always the recommended serving portion in the recipe - measured out and all. EXCEPT tonight, because I cut my pasta serving down to 2oz, after getting some very stern looks about carbs from my trainer today.


Look MV! Only 2oz of pasta!

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Brain Teaser for Meatless Monday

I am under no great misconception that my little blog is being read by anyone besides my mom, hubs, and a couple of fabu friends. The whole point of the blog is more to learn about the fine art of blogging instead of becoming the next - oh - Julie & Julia (which I have heard about 10,000 times). The blog was an afterthought born from my challenge, and I'm just testing out different techniques to see what sticks.

SO, imagine my surprise when I rec'd a DM from one of my recipe resources today, asking me NOT to post specific ingredients or directions from their recipes. WTF? First of all, I don't think I'm doing anything unethical or illegal - I source/credit every single recipe, link to it, and have said from the very first post that I do not make up my own recipes, I just follow directions. I am NOT trying to claim a single recipe as my own.

That, dear readers, leads to today's brain teaser - am I doing something wrong? Don't scores of other bloggers with way more traffic than do the same exact thing on a daily basis? What would you do? I do not want to stop posting recipes, and I won't stop using that source, so I'm feeling a little stuck. Thoughts?

Vegetarian Bolognese with Whole-Wheat Penne
Source: Cooking Light, December 2009

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 c. dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 c finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped carrot
  • 1/2 c. finely chopped celery
  • 8-oz package cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1/2 c. dry red wine
  • 1/4 c. warm water
  • 1/2 tsp salt (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (skip)
  • 1, 28oz can crushed tomatoes with basil, undrained
  • 1 (2-inch) piece parmigiano-reggiano cheese rind (skip - wasn't sure what a cheese rind was)
  • 12oz whole-wheat penne pasta
  • 1/3 c. shaved parm-reggiano cheese (I used romano)
Directions:
  • Place dried mushrooms in a spice or coffee grinder, process until finely ground.
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms; saute 10 minutes. Add wine, simmer 2 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates. Add warm water and next 4 ingredients (through cheese rind) to onion mixture. Stir in ground porcini. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 40 minutes. Keep warm. Remove rind, discard.
  • Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Place 1 c. pasta in 6 bowls, top each portion with 3/4 c. sauce and about 1 tbsp cheese.
Yield: 6 servings
Per serving: Calories: 334; Fat: 7.2g (2.1 sat, 2.5 mono, 1.9 poly); Protein: 14.8g; Carb: 57.7g; Fiber: 9.7g; Chol: 9mg; Iron: 3.3g; Sodium: 542mg; Calc: 156mg

Reviews:
Despite the whole dried mushroom/grinder/pain-in-the-butt step, and all of the chopping this required, once it was prepped, this was fairly easy. The sauce turned out really well - and both boys (and I) gave this one a thumbs up.


Yes, this is really one serving!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Thai Meatloaf

Sorry peeps - not feeling super creative with the title tonight. Our very busy but very excellent weekend has left me a little worn down.

Anywho, tonight was a big night of firsts in our house - the baby ate a mushed up banana (i.e., real food) for the first time, and I cooked with ground pork for the first time. Frankly, I didn't even know this existed. And, since this recipe comes from Clean Eating magazine, I assume it is not the world's nastiest ingredient.

Thai Meatloaf with Crispy-Baked Noodles
Source: Clean Eating, March 2011

Ingredients:
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 whole-wheat pita (7-inches in diameter) (skip - see note below)
  • 4 oz whole-wheat spaghetti
  • 2 tsp EVOO
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (used refrigerated minced garlic)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3/4 lb lean ground pork
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 10 stems fresh cilantro, minced, plus more for garnish (um, no. Used some from a bottle)
  • 1 carrot, peeled and sliced into thin circles
  • 1 green onion, trimmed and sliced into thin circles
Directions:
  • Lightly mist a 9x5 glass loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. Cover a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and set aside. Adjust oven racks so there is a bout 4 inches of space between top and bottom racks. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Rip pita into bite-sized pieces and place them into the bowl of a food processor. Process for about one minute or until pita pieces have become medium-fine bread crumbs. Set aside. NOTE: I have a food processor I don't know how to use (don't judge - I am going to figure it out someday). Therefore, I substituted 1 c. matzo meal (no-sodium breadcrumb-like deal) for this ingredient.
  • Prepare spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well and toss with 1 tsp oil. Lay pasta out onto prepared baking sheet , spreading individual noodles out as much as possible so there are no noodle nests or lumps. Set aside.
  • Heat remaining 1 tsp oil in a large nonstick pan on medium heat for 1 minute. Add mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine garlic, yellow onion, pork, egg, ginger, soy sauce, 2 tbsp water and cilantro; mix well. Add 1 c. reserved bread crumbs and mix again. Gently fold in mushrooms. Mold mixture into the shape of the loaf pan, then place in pan.
  • Place loaf on top rack and baking sheet with noodles on lower rack of oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of meatloaf comes out clean and meat feels firm when pressed; do not overbake. If noodles are not crispy when pressed, bake for another 5 minutes.
  • Pull apart noodles, creating 4 portions. Divide meatloaf into 4 equal servings. Serve meatloaf alongside noodles, scattering carrot and green onion over top of noodles before serving. Garnish with additional cilantro.
Yield: 4 servings (6oz meatloaf, 1 oz pasta)
Per serving: Calories: 347; Total fat: 7g (sat fat: 2g, mono 2.5g, poly 1g); carbs: 36g; fiber: 6g; sugars: 4g; protein: 35g; sodium: 253mg; cholesterol: 120mg

Reviews:
First, let me comment on the preparation.
  • Trying to spread out individual noodles is not going to happen in my house. I tried, did about 12 noodles and lost patience. So, my noodles were nesty and lumpy going into the oven.
  • I think that a lot of these steps can be combined - for example, when the spaghetti is cooking, make the pork mixture and mushrooms. No need to wait/set aside.
  • The loaf took a lot longer to cook than 25 minutes - closer to 40 for it to be cooked all the way through.
Now for the taste:
Mixed reviews on this one - the hubs said he was a "big fan," the kid said it was just OK. I have to go with the kid on this one - the taste of the loaf was just OK, and the crispy noodles were kind of hard to eat. The added sliced carrots and green onion didn't really add much to the overall flavor.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Clean and Saucy

I'm usually pretty exhausted come Friday nights - between waking up at 4:30a to hit the gym (seriously) and dealing with the whole commute-work-commute-kids-cook-thing (aka, life), so on most Friday nights we grill out or order in. On the rare and exciting occasion we actually venture out, but not too often these days.

Tonight is a grill night, so I decided to whip up a super-quick homemade BBQ sauce from one of my favorite sources, Clean Eating magazine.

A note about Clean Eating: A few years ago, when I decided to revamp my eating habits (and my entire family's, btw), I happened upon Clean Eating magazine. It was honestly everything I was looking for: healthy, low-sodium recipes that are easy to prepare, with family-friendly options and not totally wacky ingredients. Major score, people. If you haven't, check it out.

Sweet Tomato Barbecue Chicken
Source: Clean Eating, April/May 2011

Note: The recipe in its entirety includes homemade slaw and grilled bread. I just made the BBQ sauce portion tonight. Therefore, I won't include the nutritional breakdown.

Ingredients:
  • 4 4oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • Ground pepper (skip)
  • 1/4 c. no-salt added tomato paste
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup (just used whatever syrup we had on hand)
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (skip)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp EVOO (had to use canola - out of evoo)
Directions:
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together 1/2 c. water, tomato paste, vinegar, maple syrup, Worcestershire, garlic, onion powder, salt and pepper flakes,
  • Bring sauce to a boil on medium-high heat, continue boiling for 3-4 minutes or until mixture reduces to 1/2 c.
  • Remove from heat, stir in oil, divide sauce between 2 small bowls and let cool completely.
  • Two small bowls!
  • Sprinkle black pepper on both sides of chicken breasts. Place chicken on grill or grill pan and cook for 3 minutes on medium-high. Flip chicken over, brush 2 tbsp sauce over top and cook for 3 minutes. Again, flip chicken over, brush with 2 tbsp sauce and cook for one minute. Finally, flip chicken over and spoon remaining sauce over and spoon remaining 1/4 c. sauce over top. Cook for one more minute or until no longer pink in center.
Reviews:
Clean plate club all around! We each paired the meal with leftovers from previous meals (mashed potatoes, pasta salad), and this was a home run with everyone.


Who doesn't love grilled chicken?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ballers

This family loves balls. Basketballs, baseballs, footballs, [insert your own thought here], and especially meatballs.

I am not a big fan of getting my hands dirty with raw meat when I cook - mostly because I have a teeny tiny problem with germ issues - but I do suck it up occasionally to make homemade meatballs.

Tonight's meal is a slight variation on what one might expect in their meatballs. When I selected this recipe, I was pleasantly surprised to learn I actually had every single ingredient already on hand (with the exception of the ground sirloin). That's what I call a meatball touchdown (ha ha ha - long week, peeps).

Sesame-Soy Meatballs
Source: Cooking Light, November 2010

Ingredients:
  • 1/3 c. minced green onions (skipped - didn't feel like dealing with onions tonight)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chile paste
  • 1/4 tsp salt (skip)
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced (used refrigerated minced garlic)
  • 1 lbs ground sirloin
  • Cooking spray
Directions:
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine the first seven ingredients in a large bowl. Add beef; mix gently to combine. With moist hands, shape beef mixture into 20 (1.5-inch) meatballs.
  • Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add half of the meatballs to the pan, cook 4 minutes, turning to brown meatballs on all sides. Arrange browned meatballs in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining meatballs.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for seven minutes or until done.
Yield: 4 servings (5 meatballs per serving)
Per serving: Calories: 241; Fat: 11.3g (2.7g sat, 4.8g mono, 3g poly); Protein: 23.5g; Carb: 10.3g; Fiber: 0.3g; Chol: 42mg; Iron: 19mg; Sodium: 491mg; Calc: 36mg

We also had asparagus and brown rice.

Reviews:
Very easy to prepare - even with the nastiness of hand-rolling the meatballs. Kid: "Better than turkey tacos." In fact - the kid had a recipe idea - combining turkey tacos (8/2/11) and these meatballs. Um, yeah, no. The hubs also really enjoyed - he might have hoarded the meatballs, not allowing the kid to have seconds. And THAT, my dear blog readers, is what you call good parenting.


I think this pic is upside down

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Channeling Peter Brady

You totally know where this is going with the Peter Brady reference, right?

Pork chops and applesauce. Say it with me.


While we didn't have the applesauce part of the meal, every time I make pork chops, I channel my inner Peter Brady. (Side note, b/c I am neither a middle child nor a boy, my inner Peter Brady is fairly limited to this reference. But I do kind of have a mini-obsession with all things Brady.)

Anyway, after forcing the hubs to eat silly things like zucchini and more zucchini and salad greens, tonight I prepared a meal that I knew he'd like - pork chops and mashed potatoes. Of course, I prepared them my way! The boys also had Alexia rolls, the kid and I added broccoli.

Asiago-Crusted Pork Chops
Source: Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast (2010)

Ingredients:
  • 4- 4oz boneless center-cut loin pork chops
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c panko crumbs
  • 1/4c (1oz) grated Asiago cheese (used Romano - bought the entirely wrong thing)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (skip)
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (skip)
  • 1 tbsp evoo (used canola - ran out of olive oil)
  • 4 lemon wedges (skip)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme (skip)
Directions:
  • Place pork between 2 sheets of plastic wrap; pound to an even thickness (about 1/4 inch) using a meat mallet or a small heavy skillet.
  • Place egg white in a shallow dish. Combine panko, cheese, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dip pork in egg white; dredge in panko mixture, pressing gently with fingers to coat.
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pork cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.
  • Squeeze lemon wedge over each chop, sprinkle evenly with thyme.
Yield: 4 servings (1 chop per serving)
Per serving: Calories: 253; Fat: 12g (sat 4.1g, mono 5.4g, poly 1g); Protein 27.4g; Carb: 6.2g; Fiber: 0.6g; Chol: 71mg; Sodium: 297mg; Calc: 83mg

Microwave Smashed Potatoes
Source: Cooking Light June 2011

Ingredients:
  • 4 6-oz baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces (didn't peel - I like the skin)
  • 1/2 c reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 c. 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh chives (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
Directions:
  • Place potato pieces in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, cut a 1-inch slit in the center of plastic wrap.
  • Microwave at HIGH 10 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes.
  • Add sour cream and remaining ingredients to bowl; mash with a potato masher.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
Per serving: Calories: 225; Fat: 4.5g (sat 2.5g, mono 1.1g, poly 0.2g); Protein: 5.6g; Carb: 42.6g; Fiber: 2.8g; Chol: 13mg; Iron: 0.8mg; Sodium: 333mg; Calc: 78mg

Reviews:
The kid - who has finally figured out that I'm doing this whole challenge and "website" - told me the pork chops were OUTSTANDING and AWESOME. The potatoes, however, got two mini-bites and a look of disgust. The hubs and I both thought the overall meal was good. What I liked was that the smashed potatoes cooked while I prepared the pork chops, so it was all done at approx. the same time. That's a big deal for me - I like serving HOT food and having it all done at the same time. I don't know how different the pork chops would have tasted if I hadn't screwed up and bought the wrong cheese, but the hubs didn't complain one bit.


Yum!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Teacher Party, Mac-Daddy Style

The best party of the year? Of course, that's the annual teacher departmental party. The hubs is the chair of a fairly large h.s. department, which means for the past several years, we've had the absolute pleasure of hosting this thrillsville of a shindig.

Tonight, however, the stars miraculously aligned and it was at someone elses home. And with an 8-month-old baby in tow, my time there was limited. So, instead of listening to witty banter about macro-economics and the War of 1812, here I sit, catching up on my RHONJ.

(I kid, I kid. I really like most of the hubs' co-workers. A good group of people.)

Therefore, there's no dinner to report on (I ate leftover chicken salad from 8/14/11 instead of teacher-party fare). However, I did contribute a homemade macaroni salad.

Macaroni Salad
Source: Eating Well July/August 2011 (have you noticed how much mileage I've gotten out of this issue, btw?)

Ingredients:
  • 3 c whole wheat elbow noodles (approx 14-16oz) (I used whole wheat spirals I had on hand)
  • 3/4 c low-fat mayo
  • 3/4 c low-fat sour cream
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt (omit)
  • 3/4 tsp celery seed
  • Pepper to taste (omit)
  • 3 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, shredded
  • 1 small Vidalia or other sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 1 c baby spinach, chopped (omit)
  • 3/4 c frozen (thawed) edamame
  • 1/3 c shredded mild Cheddar cheese
Directions:
  • Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until tender. Drain. Transfer to a large bowl to cool for at least 15 minutes.
  • Combine mayo, sour cream, sugar, salt, celery seed and pepper in a small bowl.
  • When noodles have cooled, add celery, carrots, onion, spinach, edamame and the mayo mixture; stir well to combine.
  • Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 2 hours. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if desired. Sprinkle with cheese just before serving.
Yield: 12 servings, about 1 c. each
Per serving: 190 cals; 7g fat (2g sat, 2g mono); 13mg cholesterol; 28g carbs; 1g added sugars; 7g protein; 3g fiber; 366mg sodium; 215mg potassium

Reviews:
The hubs has promised to provide a report on the teacher reviews, but during my brief appearance, it looked like it was being eaten (always a promising sign). I had literally one forkful to taste-test it before adding the cheese and bringing it to the party - I had just come from working out with my trainer where we (ahem, she) engaged in a lovely conversation about carbs. Therefore, my report is pretty lame tonight: It was super-easy to throw this together, and the teeny taste I had was good. Maybe fewer onions next time. The kid also tried it and declared it "too cold."

1. How cool is this stone bowl? 2. The cheese looks kind of nasty on here but the salad is colorful

Monday, August 15, 2011

Meatless Monday: Third Time is Not a Charm

Considering how well things have gone with zucchini of late, and considering that I bought way too much for the zucchini bread recipe (8/14/11), I decided to use up the rest of the zucchini as our side dish for Meatless Monday.

I think zucchini has officially overstayed its welcome in our house (and probably on this blog?!). The hubs might also argue that Meatless Monday has overstayed its welcome as well, but that's a battle he won't win. I like Meatless Monday - it's kind of like a personal challenge to figure out what recipes the hubs and kid will eat without complaining too much.

Tortilla Lasagna
Source: Prevention Magazine, March 2011

Ingredients:
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped (I used minced)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5c crushed tomatoes
  • 1c water
  • 1 can (4oz) mild diced chiles, drained
  • 1pkg (8oz) corn tortillas (6" diameter)
  • 1 1/4c shredded Monetary Jack
Directions:
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring until softened, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and cook 1 minute.
  • Add tomatoes, water and chiles and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce is thickened, about 15 minutes.
  • Coat 1 side of each tortilla with oil (I used cooking spray) and cut into 1" strips. Put on baking sheet and bake until crisps, about 10 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temp to 350 degrees F.
  • Layer half of the tortilla strips in a 2-quart baking dish and top with half of the sauce and cheese. Add remaining tortilla strips, sauce and cheese. Bake uncovered until cheese is melted and casserole is bubbly, about 20 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: 314 cals; 14g protein; 37g carb; 7g fiber; 14g fat (7g sat); 420mg sodium

Side Dish: Zucchini Chile-Cheddar Mash
Source: Eating Well, July/August 2011

Ingredients:
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1.25 pounds zucchini (2-3 medium), halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 4oz can diced green chiles, drained
  • 1/4 tsp salt (omit)
  • 1/2c grated extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
Directions:
  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and onion; stir to coat.
  • Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until very soft and lightly browned, 12-15 minutes.
  • Stir in chiles and salt, cook until heated through, 1 minute more.
  • Transfer to a medium bowl. Mash with a potato masher until chunky, not completely smooth.
  • Stir in cheese and serve immediately.
Yield: 4 servings, about 2/3 cup each
Per serving: 126 calories; 9g fat (3g sat, 4g mono); 15mg cholesterol; 8g carbs; 0g added sugars; 6g protein; 2g fiber; 307mg sodium; 442 mg potassium. Bonus: Vitamin C: 55% daily value

Reviews:
I think I was the only one who actually enjoyed the entire dinner. The tortilla lasagna was easy to make, and I thought it was filling. I also really, really liked the zucchini mash. Super easy and a great, healthy side.

But that was me. Neither the kid nor the hubs liked the zucchini mash, and the kid only ate about 1/2 his tortilla lasagna portion (although it was kind of a big piece). And though he ate his entire portion, the hubs thought the tortilla lasagna was "OK" - mostly, as he pointed out to me (AGAIN), he is a carnivore and doesn't enjoy Meatless Monday no matter what.


At least I liked dinner tonight!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

From Creamy to Zucchini

OK - I realize the title of this post might sound a little suspect, but so it goes for a Sunday night.

Per usual, when planning out my meals, I had too many options, so I decided to go a little Martha Stewart-ish this week, in terms of the number of recipes I'll be using this week. I bet you're tingling with anticipatory excitement!

And, after the success I had with the boys and zucchini the other night (8/9/11), I decided to up the zucchini factor, starting with zucchini bread today. (Or, I may have just over-bought zucchini)

Since I don't know much about what zucchini offers health-wise, I did a little homework (a BIG departure from my high school days, btw) and discovered that zucchini has a lot of fiber, which can help lower cholesterol; contains vitamins A and C, which are effective anti-inflammatory agents and powerful antioxidants; and has an ample supply of magnesium and potassium, which help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of a heart attack and stroke. (Disclaimer: I am not an expert and this information may or may not be accurate - just based on online sources.)

Bring on the (almost) super food!

EatingWell Zucchini Bread
Source: July/August 2011 EatingWell

Note: Add chocolate chips and this bread leans toward dessert. Or try it with toasted walnuts or raisins. Went with the chocolate chips, obvs.

Ingredients:
  • 3/4 c. lowfat milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 c. shredded zucchini
  • 2 c. white whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt (Note: Did NOT skip - baking is too exact of a science)
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9x5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.
  • Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla in a medium bowl. Stir in zucchini.
  • Combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl; stir in the wet ingredients and chocolate chips until just combined. Transfer batter to loaf pan.
  • Bake until golden brown and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 50 minutes - 1 hour. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Cool for at least 1 hour before serving.
Yield: 12 slices
Per slice: 197 calories; 7g fat (1g sat, 4g mono); 32mg cholesterol; 29g carbs; 13g added sugars; 4g protein; 2g fiber; 209mg sodium; 108mg potassium

And for dinner, we had:
Creamy Chicken Salad
Source: Cooking Light (not sure which issue, sometime in 2011)

Ingredients:
  • 2lbs skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
  • 1/2 c. light mayo
  • 1/2 c. plain, fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice (didn't use fresh)
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper (skip)
  • 1/3 c. chopped celery
  • 1/3 c. sweetened dried cranberries
  • 7 tbsp (about 2oz) coarsely chopped smoked almonds (used honey roasted, had them on hand)
  • 6 c. mixed salad greens
Directions:
  • Fill a Dutch oven 2/3 full of water; bring to a boil.
  • Wrap each chicken breast half completely and tightly in heavy-duty plastic wrap. Add the chicken to the boiling water. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until thermometer registers 165 degrees.
  • Remove from pan and let stand 5 minutes. Unwrap chicken and shred; refrigerate for 30 minutes or until cold.
  • Combine may and the next 7 ingredients (through pepper) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk until combined. Add chicken, celery, cranberries and almonds; toss well to coat.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve over salad greens.
Yield: 6 servings (1 c. chicken salad and 1 c. salad greens)
Per serving: Calories 339; Fat 13.6g (sat 1.9g, mono 5.1g, poly 5.1g); Protein 39.5g; Carb 14.6g; Fiber 2.8g; Chol 95g; Iron 2.0mg; Sodium 525mg; Calc 54mg

Reviews:
Preparation-wise, the zucchini bread was super easy. It turned out much sweeter than I anticipated, and I didn't notice the zucchini at all (except for a stray green strand). The kid kind of liked it, and the hubs gave it a "pretty good." He did eat his entire portion, so that says something, I guess.


Z is for zucchini

We all thought the chicken salad was really good. I have never prepared chicken in the way described above (the whole plastic wrap/boil thing), but it turned out great. The kid really enjoyed his serving - even the greens. The hubs - who one (the one being him) might consider to be a connoisseur of chicken salads - did pick out most of his cranberries, but otherwise really seemed to like it. I would def make both recipes again - in a year.

Creamy Chicken Salad







Thursday, August 11, 2011

Sweet Mother of Pork

I don't cook pork very often, for no other reason than I just usually forget about it. I know that the right cut can in fact be a very healthy option. According to the National Pork Board website, lean cuts of pork rival lean cuts of chicken in fat, calories and cholesterol.

I found tonight's pork recipe in the Eating Well magazine I picked up at Mustard Seed the other day. I used to subscribe to the magazine, but my subscription lapsed and I keep forgetting to renew it, which is kind of dumb considering I more often than not buy it anyway.

Thyme, Pork Chop & Pineapple Skillet Supper
Source: Eating Well, July/August 2011

Ingredients:
  • 3 tbsp pineapple or apricot preserves or jam or orange marmalade (I used pineapple preserves)
  • 3 tbsp OJ, plus more if needed
  • 2 tsp stone-ground or Dijon mustard (I used Dijon)
  • 1/2 tsp minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • 4 fresh or canned pineapple rings (1/2-inch thick), cut in half, any juice reserved
  • 2 tsp butter
  • 4 4-5oz boneless pork loin chops (1/2-inch thick), trimmed
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh thyme (didn't use fresh)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided (skip)
  • 1/4 tsp ground pepper, divided (skip)
Directions:
  • If the preserves are chunky, chop any large pieces. Combine preserves, 3 tbsp OJ, mustard, ginger and curry powder in a small bowl, set aside.
  • Pour pineapple juice into a measuring cup, if necessary, add enough OJ to equal 1/3c total. Set aside.
  • Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork chops, sprinkle with 1/2 tbsp thyme, 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper. Immediately turn them over and sprinkle with another 1/2 tbsp thyme and the remaining salt and pepper.
  • Cook the chops, turning occasionally and adjusting the heat as necessary, until browned, 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the reserved juice to the pan. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until the chops are cooked through, 2-3 minutes more. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
  • Add pineapple, the reserved sauce and the remaining 1 tbsp thyme to the pan. Cook, stirring until hot and bubbly, 1-2 minutes.
  • To serve, spoon sauce onto the chops and pineapple.
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: 257 cals; 8g fat (3g sat, 3g mono); 72mg cholesterol; 25g carbohydrates; 8g added sugars; 22g protein; 2g fiber; 388mg sodium; 434mg potassium.
Nutritional bonus! Vitamin C (78% daily value)

We had brown rice (serving - 2/3 c) and peas (serving - 2/3 c) with the meal. The boys also had Alexia ciabatta rolls.

Reviews:
I mentioned in a past blog that I don't love skillet cooking, and this recipe is one example why. I feel like it took much longer to cook the pork chops all the way through. Plus I feel like I smell like the meal. The meal was by no means burnt because I'm not THAT bad of a cook, but it was not even close to the pretty, light picture shown in the magazine. The sauce was kind of sweet (um - pineapple, more pineapple and OJ - duh), and the kid didn't like it, although he did like the pork chop. The hubs liked the pineapple sauce more than the (plain) peas - he refused to eat them. But, that has less to do with this dish and more to do with the fact he sometimes simply behaves like a little kid! Would I make this recipe again? Probably not.

OK, maybe a teeny bit of burnt action happening

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Heart Truth Campaign

As you might have figured out by now, I tend to pull my recipes from a variety of sources. As long as it looks easy, interesting and meets my eating requirements, I don't really care where it comes from.

Tonight's main course recipe is from an ad. The source is "A Ladies Home Journal Health Dose Advertising Section"  and was sponsored by The Heart Truth Campaign.

Upon further investigation, I learned The Heart Truth is a campaign to make women more aware of the dangers of heart disease. You've probably seen the red dress symbol before:


The ad includes info on how you can keep the "heart" in family favorites, such as:
  • Cooking with low-fat, fat-free, nonfat dry or evaporated fat-free milk
  • Bake or cook with 3 egg whites and 1 egg yolk instead of 2 whole eggs
  • Use herbs and spices instead of salt and choose low or reduced sodium bouillon and broths
  • Choose lean cuts of meat
  • Remove skin from poultry before cooking
  • Use fat-free or low-fat dressing, yogurt, mayo
  • For chocolate desserts, use 3 tbsp of cocoa for every ounce of baking chocolate.
I love this campaign! I don't have the most awesome of family heart histories, which is one big reason why I try to select recipes that are cleaner and healthy. The website is chock full of information special events, etc., btw, in case you are interested.

Baked Salmon Dijon
Source: The Heart Truth

Ingredients:
  • 1c fat-free sour cream
  • 2 tsp dried dill (skipped - thought we had it, we don't)
  • 3 tbsp chopped scallions
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • cooking spray
  • Six 4oz portions of salmon fillets (I used frozen, store-bought salmon)
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (skip - don't like pepper)

Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  • Whisk sour cream, dill, scallions, mustard and lemon juice in a small bowl to blend.
  • Lightly coat baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Place salmon, skin side down, on the baking sheet. Sprinkle salmon with garlic powder and pepper, then spread with sauce.
  • Bake until each is opaque in the center and flakes easily with a fork in the thickest part - about 20 minutes (to an internal temp of 145 degrees F).
Yield: 6 servings, 4oz salmon per serving
Per serving: 196 cals; 7g total fat (2g sat); 76mg cholesterol; 229mg sodium; less than 1g total fiber; 27g protein; 5g carbs; 703mg potassium.

We also had Truffle Roasted Potatoes
Source: Cooking Light, May 2011

Ingredients:
  • 2 (20oz) packages refrigerated red potato wedges (I used fresh potatoes and just chopped them)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper (skip)
  • 1 tbsp white truffle oil
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  • Place potatoes on a jelly-roll pan; drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic, salt sand pepper. Toss well to combine.
  • Bake for 35 minutes or until potatoes are browned and tender.
  • Remove from oven, drizzle potatoes with truffle oil and sprinkle with thyme. Toss gently to combine.
Yield: 8 servings; serving size about 3/4 c.
Per serving: 134 cals; 5.1g fat (sat 0.7g, mono 3.7g, poly 0.5g); 3.6g protein; 18g carb; 3.6g fiber; 0mg cholesterol; 0.8mg iron; 269mg sodium; 3mg calcium

Reviews:
First up - the truffle potatoes. I have never used truffle oil before, so I was kind of excited to taste it - even though it is super-expensive ($15 for a SMALL bottle). As soon as I opened it, I was instantly reminded of the delish truffle chips appetizer at Jekyll's Kitchen. The potatoes were good, and a little truffle oil goes a long way. Maybe not worth $15, but still a nice flavor. The kid even ate all but one of his potatoes - a really major accomplishment, esp when there have been screaming fits re: potatoes in our house in the past (kid, not hubs). We all enjoyed the salmon - super easy to prepare. There was a ton of sauce/topping leftover, even though I put a decent amount on the salmon.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

"Fitness" Magazine?

Tonight's recipe comes courtesy of Fitness Magazine. Although the recipe was easy to prepare and very tasty, I have to question some of Fitness' choices and the way the recipe was written.

Since you asked - here's what I'm referring to:
  • WHY oh WHY doesn't Fitness include the following in its stats: Sodium content, a complete breakdown of fats, cholesterol - things that are pretty basic?
  • Why doesn't the recipe include serving size? Eyeballing portions can often result them being on the big side (at least for me), so I love it when recipes include exact serving sizes - and healthy recipes should.
  • And finally, why in the world does the recipe call for adding salt to the pasta while boiling? Seriously?
I have both emailed and tweeted at Fitness Magazine before re: the above (maybe I need a hobby?), but no response. Meh.

I will now climb down from my soapbox and get to the food.

I've had this recipe in my files for about a year. It is nicely organized in the "chicken" binder, sheet protector and all (YES, I am that anal), but I always flipped right by it. So when doing my planning for the week, I decided to finally give it a whirl.

Lemony Fusilli with Chicken, Zucchini and Pine Nuts
Source: Fitness Magazine, June 2010

Ingredients:
  • 3 tsp salt (OMIT!)
  • 8oz whole wheat fusilli
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 slender zucchini, halved lengthwise, sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces (I used one)
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 c. pine nuts
  • 1 lemon, rind peeled in strips
  • Small pinch red pepper flakes
  • 12oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 5 large basil leaves, sliced
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese (optional - but really, is cheese ever optional? Not in my world)
Directions:
  • Bring a large pot of water with 2 tsp salt to a boil, add the fusilli. Cook until al dente.
  • Warm 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the zucchini, scallions, pine nuts, lemon peel and red pepper flakes and 1/2 tsp of the salt; cook, tossing frequently, until zucchini is well browned and tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Use a slotted spoon spoon to transfer zucchini to a serving bowl. Remove lemon peel from pan. Mince 1/2 tsp of the peel and discard the rest. Squeeze half the lemon over the zucchini.
  • Turn heat to medium-high and swirl in the remaining olive oil. Add the chicken, minced lemon peel and remaining salt and cook, stirring, until golden, about 7 minutes.
  • Drain the fusilli, reserving 1/4 c of the cooking water. Add fusilli, zucchini and reserved cooking water to skillet. Cook 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and top with the basil and Parmesan cheese.
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: 426 calories; 32g protein; 49g carbs; 14g fat (2.2g saturated); 6g fiber
Note: I made the assumption of 4oz of chicken + 4oz of pasta/zucchini mixture for my serving.

Reviews:
Despite my initial complaints, we enjoyed the meal. Overall, the recipe was fairly easy to prepare. I skipped the "mincing of the lemon peel" part, because I just didn't feel like dealing with it. I still tasted plenty of lemon in the dish. This was also the first time that the kid tried zucchini, and both he and the hubs liked it, as well as enjoyed the overall dish. The hubs also really liked the pine nuts, but honestly, pine nuts are pretty expensive ($9 for a small container) so unless I can dig up more pine nut recipes (or if any of my readers have any suggestions), this ingredient seems kind of like a waste.

Ooops - forgot to add the picture!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Meatless Monday and Summer Salad

About a year ago, much to the dismay of my kid and husband, I jumped on the "Meatless Monday" bandwagon. However, due to our summer schedule, I haven't kept up with it.

Earlier this summer, I also decided to try and prepare main course salads once a week (just for the warmer months). I don't have a super-fun or alliterative name for this - despite the efforts of me and one of my more creative peeps - so its been dubbed Summer Salad.

For tonight's meal, I combined the best of both worlds - a Summer Salad for Meatless Monday! This of course made the non-veggie-eating hubs particularly thrilled.

BTW, this recipe comes courtesy of one of my new Mustard Seed purchases.

Seashell Salad with Buttermilk Chive Dressing
Source: Cooking Light Super Fresh & Simple Meals

Ingredients:
  • 8oz uncooked seashell pasta
  • 1 c frozen green peas
  • 1/4 c organic canola mayo (I like Spectrum)
  • 1/4 c fat-free buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp minced fresh chives (I used dried)
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme (I used dried)
  • 1/2 tsp salt (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper (skip - don't like pepper)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 c loosely packed baby arugula
  • 1 tsp olive oil (skip)
  • 2 oz finely chopped prosciutto (skipped to make it meatless)
Directions:
  • Cook pasta according to package directions. Add peas to pasta during last 2 minutes of cooking. Drain and rinse with cold water; drain well.
  • While pasta cooks, combine mayo and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a large bowl. Add pasta mixture and arugula; toss to coat.
  • Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add prosciutto; saute 2 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Sprinkle over salad.
Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1.25 c salad and 1 tbsp prosciutto)
Calories: 373; Fat 14.9g (sat 1.4g, mono 4.4g; poly 7.5g); Protein: 13.6g; Carb: 45.7g; Fiber: 3.6g; Chol: 18mg; Iron: 2.8mg; Sodium: 677mg; Calc: 50mg (nutritional breakdown includes prosciutto)

Reviews:
Hubs thought the salad was good, but didn't seem like a main dish salad. I thought it was really fast and easy to prepare and it made a lot. The kid got out of eating it at the last minute because he ate at a friend's house instead.

Super fun salad dishes!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Of Meal Trains and Obsessions

I am very lucky to live in an amazing neighborhood. Lots of kids, families that look out for each other, blah blah blah. And meal trains.

Our 'hood has recently seen a small surge in the baby-popping out frequency - our fourth new baby in a year is due in a few weeks. This includes me (L was born in December). We have a neighborhood meal train, where a family delivers a complete meal to the new baby's family (I'm sure we would do this for other big life events too, but right now, we just cover the babies). There are even meal train calendar/organizers available online.

Tonight it's my turn to deliver a meal to baby A, so I made lasagna. I'm not going to post the recipe, because it is from the box of Barilla's No-Boil Lasagna, which is obviously just off-the-shelf. I've made this a bunch, and it always turns out great (and feeds a ton of people). I'm also including a packaged salad and store-bought cookies (i.e., no recipes). However, to stay true to the challenge, I will not use this particular recipe again. (Side note: I am not cooking for our family tonight, because the hubs has a soccer coaching meeting.)

That, however, brings me to the second part of my post - obsessions. The whole point of this project is to use all of the recipes I have without repeats, for a year. And I have too many. So WHY, WHY, WHY did I walk into Mustard Seed yesterday with the good intention of purchasing a simple pint of strawberries, and walk out, $45 later, with way too much stuff AND two new recipe sources (a cookbook and magazine)? Because I am obsessed. I can't pass up a pretty food picture and the promise of easy, healthy meals.

I am also obsessive with my planning process. So, when planning my weekly meals, I forced myself to use one recipe from each of the new books/magazines.

Planning process?

Yes. Every Saturday p.m. or Sunday morning, I go through the weekly schedule with the hubs, then select my recipes for the week, and shop for all of the ingredients on Sunday morning. Right now, I can tell you what I am having for breakfast, lunch and dinner tonight through Friday lunch. It usually takes a couple of hours (mostly sorting through the recipes), but it makes life so much easier.

And for those who know me, NO, I do not put the meal plan on an Excel spreadsheet - although I have been tempted.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The War of the Truffles

Today I attended a "Blessingway Bead Ceremony" for a gf who is due with her FOURTH at the end of this month. What a lovely day with a great group of friends.

For the occasion, I made Oreo Truffles. Well neither "clean" or particularly good for you, these super-easy chocolate truffles are always a hit, and today was no exception.

However, what has erupted is a mini-war in my family over said truffles. I have made them multiple times over the past several years, and when I told my mother and hubs that this was it until next year, neither were particularly thrilled with me - mostly because they weren't the recipients of the truffles. Considering I have about five billion dessert recipes (and put a couple aside for them), I think they'll survive.

Oreo Truffles
Source: Fall 2006 Kraft Food & Family

Ingredients:
  • 1 pkg (1lb, 2oz) Oreo cookies, divided
  • 1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 pkg (8oz each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

Directions:
  • Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in a food processor, reserve for later use. (I used a mallet since I have never learned how to use my fancy, wedding-present Cuisinart. Don't judge)
  • Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs, place in a medium bowl.
  • Add cream cheese, mix until well blended.
  • Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls (I NEVER get this many, btw).
  • Dip balls in chocolate, place on wax paper-covered baking sheet.
  • Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs (I never do this).
  • Refrigerate until firm, about one hour. Store leftovers covered in refrigerator. (I usually refrigerate overnight)
For easy dipping, place truffle ball in melted chocolate to coat, roll and lift from chocolate using 2 forks, allowing excess chocolate to run off, before placing on wax paper.

I have no clue what the nutritional value is for these - I can't imagine they are calorie- and fat-free.

Reviews
Per usual, the truffles were a big hit - and in addition to my mother, got a couple of "you aren't making these for another year?!" comments from the crew!

Oreo Truffles. Not one of my cell phone pics, btw, since the quality would result in the truffles looking like a big pile of...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hello Goodbye

The extent of my cooking today is pouring a bowl of cereal and slicing fresh strawberries for the kid's breakfast, because the hubs and I are off to Cincinnati to see McCARTNEY in concert. For those who don't know, The Beatles are kinda a big deal to me. And yes, this isn't my first (or second, or third...) time seeing Paul in concert.

I'll be back tomorrow with a dessert post for a weekend event!
Paul McCartney, 1968.



Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Salmon Croquettes

The first time I decided to make salmon for my family, I coerced my son into trying it by telling him it was a SUPER food and brain food. He immediately took to it and told us that he could feel it making his brain "smarter." Whatever it takes with the elementary school set, I guess.

But, in reality, salmon is actually a super food. This is not breaking news - there are so many health benefits to salmon that it is on our short list of fish we eat often. PLUS, I am not necessarily the most adept seafood chef, so it is pretty easy not to mess up.

Tonight's dinner: salmon croquettes, whole wheat cous cous (1/2 c serving), asparagus spears (sprinkled with Mrs. Dash seasoning) and for the boys, Alexia rolls.

Salmon Croquettes
Source: Jan/Feb 2010 Cooking Light

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 c organic canola mayo (such as Spectrum), divided
  • 4 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided (I didn't use fresh)
  • 2.5 tsp Dijon mustard, divided
  • 1/4 c finely chopped green onions (not included with our recipe since the hubs forgot to buy them & he did the shopping this time while I was out of town)
  • 2 tbsp minced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (I never add salt when I cook)
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  • 2 (6oz) packages skinless, boneless salmon (I used canned)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 c panko crumbs
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp finely chopped capers (did not include - I don't like capers)
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp salt
Directions:
  • Combine 2 tbsp mayo, 1 tsp juice, 1.5 tsp mustard and next 7 ingredients (through egg), stirring together well. Add panko; toss. Shape mixture into 8 (3-inch) patties.
  • Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add patties, cook 5 minutes on each side or until browned.
  • Combine remaining mayo, juice, and mustard with parsley, capers, garlic, and salt, stirring well.  (This is for the tartar sauce - didn't make it tonight)
Serving size: 2 croquettes and 1 tbsp sauce (4 servings)
Per serving: 305 calories; 19.3g fat (2.6g sat; 6g mono; 9.7g poly); 18.8g protein; 12.6g carb; 1g fiber; 88mg cholesterol; 1mg iron; 801mg sodium; 16mg calcium.

Reviews
The husband and kid both enjoyed the croquettes - the kid ate his entire serving, the hubs ate a bit extra. The recipe itself was really easy to make - I typically don't love cooking with a skillet (esp in the heat), but this wasn't too bad. However, the kid did report that he didn't feel any smarter tonight. He's obviously out-smarted us on this one.



Salmon croquettes, whole wheat cous cous and asparagus