Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Taco Tuesday

Another Tuesday, another crock pot meal.

In my quest to please the hubs (um, not really), I let him select from two different recipes, and tonight he decided on Beef Carnitas. I pulled this one from a cookbook I rarely use, mostly because I forget I have it, but also because the recipes don't include specific portion sizes, which is annoying to me. In fact, a lot of recipes don't include specific portions, which I don't get - especially with the so-called healthier options.

Whatevs. I'm not really feeling my usual soap-boxey self tonight because I'm a little (lot) tired so let's get on to the good stuff.

Beef Carnitas
Source: Prevention Best Weight Loss Recipes

  • 2 lb lean beef stew meat, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 3/4 c. mild salsa (I use Newman's Own - low sodium!)
  • 2 tbsp chopped chipotle chile peppers adobo sauce (I just used 2 tbsp of the sauce)
  • salt/pepper (skip)
  • 1 c. beef broth or water (used no-salt added beef broth)
  • Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on low, 6-8 hours. Serve with desired toppings on tortillas. (I cooked mine on high for 4 hours.)
Yield: 6 servings (I had 4oz of the meat with a low calorie, low carb tortilla)
Per serving: 232 cals; 30g protein; 3g carb; 10.5g fat (4g sat); 452mg sodium

First and foremost, talk about easy! I made this when I got home from work - I usually have about 10-15 minutes tops before the kid gets home to throw something together - and this took a grand total of 2 minutes. Love it! I was a little worried this was going to be too spicy, as the adobo sauce tends to be on the hot side for our wimpy taste buds, but it could have used a bit more kick. Like a lot of crock pot recipes, this also resulted in a lot of useless liquid.

The house was a bit divided on this - the hubs gave it a solid three forks, and both the kid and I gave it two forks because it could have used a bit more flavor. However, the more time I spend dwelling over this fork situation, the more convinced I am that it IS three forks. NOT because I want to ever give the hubs the satisfaction of thinking he's right, but because it was super easy to put together, it was a nice, warm and hearty meal on a cold, nasty night, and who doesn't like tacos? Three Forks.

Crock pot-tastic

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turn Around

As you now know (assuming you are a faithful reader of said blog), the hubs has an aversion to vegetables. I usually try to force Meatless Monday on him, however, because our weeks are kind of screwed up for the next few months due to schedules, Meatless Monday isn't always going to happen. However, vegetables will continue to happen.

It is because of this weird issue with veggies that the hubs decided long ago that he did not like Chinese food of any kind, except for a random egg roll or fried rice. Which probs doesn't really count. He thinks that all Chinese food has way too many veggies for his liking. However, since I embarked on my clean eating adventure a few years back, I have discovered many stir-fry-type recipes that he has now embraced. One might even say that he no longer despises Chinese food. And while we won't be frequenting a Chinese restaurant anytime soon (the sodium!), I do take full credit for this turn around.

Oh - and that's not the only turn around happening here. How 'bout my Buckeyes and our new coach? Our sub par season will surely be a distant memory come next year. (You knew I'd weave in Ohio State somehow, right?)

Hoisin Pork Stir-Fry
Source: Weight Watchers Make It In Minutes, 2001

  • Rice
  • 3/4 lbs boneless pork loin, cut into strips
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry
  • 1 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 c. broccoli florets
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1/4 c. hoisin sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • Cook rice.
  • Combine the pork, sherry, soy sauce and cornstarch in a bowl.
  • Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat until nearly smoking. Add the broccoli and red pepper and stir-fry for 2 mins. Add the pork and stir-fry for 4 mins. Add the oj, hoisin sauce and honey, and cook until pork is cooked through. Serve over rice.
Yield: 4 servings (1 c. pork mixture, 1/2 c. rice)
Per serving: 313 cals; 6g total fat (2g sat); 54mg chols; 453mg sodium; 43g carbs; 22g protein

I thought this was a little sweet for my taste - and although the recipe says that it is under 500mg sodium/serving, I kind of feel all sodium-bloaty right now. In case you are wondering, I also feel pretty tired right now too. Anywho, I did like how the broccoli and red pepper turned out. The boys both enjoyed it - the kid finished pretty much his entire serving, and there are plenty of leftovers.

Two Forks (sodium bloat!)

Will sweat out the sodium at spinning tomorrow 5:30a!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

T-Day Clean Up

Hey peeps!

Hope you had a fabu turkey day. I used to say "gobble gobble," but after half-watching the Thanksgiving episode of Suburgatory, where they all ran around and said "gobble gobble" I feel kind of stupid saying it, so T-day or some variation of it will now have to suffice.

Anyway, after the food fest and resulting leftover fest, I decided to clean up all of our acts this week with some healthy fare that even my trainer will approve (hopefully). Protein? Check. Healthy portions? Check. Clean? Check. Delish? We'll have to play that one by ear.

Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken
Source: Cooking Light, June 2010

  • 1/4 c. low-fat buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp dijon
  • 4 (6-oz) chicken cutlets
  • 1/3 c. panko
  • 1/3 c. finely chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbsp parm
  • 3/4 tsp minced rosemary
  • salt, pepper, cooking spray
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees
  • Combine buttermilk and mustard in a shallow dish, stirring with a whisk. Add chicken to buttermilk mixture, turning to coat.
  • Heat a small skillet over med-high heat. Add panko to pan and cook 3 mins or until golden, stirring frequently (skipped this step). Combine panko, nuts and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a shallow dish. Remove chicken from buttermilk mixture and dredge in panko mixture.
  • Arrange a wire rack on a large baking sheet; coat rack with cooking spray. Arrange chicken on rack; coat chicken with cooking spray. Bake until done.
Yield: 4 servings (1 cutlet)
Per serving: 287 cals; 9.4g fat (1.6g sat, 1.6g mono, 5.1g poly); 42.7g protein; 101mg chol; 379mg sodium; 66mg calc.

Although I don't think the wire-rack method really added anything (except kind of a mess), the chicken turned out really well. This is not a particularly unique recipe - I've made variations of this before, and I'm sure I'll make variations of it again. No matter - we all liked it, and that's what counts.

Three Forks

Look! No rice-y side tonight!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

T-Day, Part 2

I'm tired. We had too much food and now I'm in a partial turkey coma. It's my fault - I can't edit myself.

Here's the rest of the meal I prepared (continuation from yesterday):

  • Maple-Glazed Meatballs, Slow Cooker Recipe Collection, 2007
  • Crunchy Chickpeas with Chili seasoning, 500 Low Sodium Recipes (Dick Logue) (the seasoning)
  • Pepperoni Pizza Puffs, not sure of source - maybe Rachael Ray?
  • Cheese 'n Ham Spirals: Kraft Food & Family, Winter 2007
  • Roast Turkey Breast with Rosemary-Mustard Butter, Williams-Sonoma Thanksgiving 1997
  • Cornbread Stuffing, Betty Crocker Thanksgiving 2006
  • Mini Sweet Potato Souffles, People Holiday Entertaining 2011
  • Creamy Mac 'n' Cheese, Taste of Home Comfort Diet Food 2008
Please note: My family also contributed a lot of dishes (apps, sides and dessert) - so the lists from yesterday and today only show what I actually prepared, in the spirit of the blog.

Hope you and yours had a great day/night!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

T-Day, Part One

About 15 years ago, when my now-hubs and I moved in together, being young and oh-so-in love, I didn't want to be apart for Thanksgiving (his family lives about four hours from mine). So, I offered to host both families in our little apartment. Completely out of selfish reasons! And while we have moved on to something just a tad bigger than two bedrooms, the hosting gig has stuck. Oh - and so has the hubs. Ha ha ha.

I kind of have this holiday down to a science. I start planning the menu about two weeks in advance, assign various guests their contributions, and do all of my shopping the Sunday before. I also have all sorts of lists - lists of menus, prep schedules, serving dishes to use, etc.

Soooo, today I was scheduled to make several things for tomorrow's main event. I am not going to write out all of the recipes because, ummm, I don't want to. If you want one, contact me. I am also not going to add my typical stellar images because I kind of forgot to take pictures. AND, these are not all clean and healthy and low fat/cal/whatever recipes, even though I still try to select better ingredients when possible. It is Thanksgiving, after all. A celebration of gluttony! Plus, I think my family would freak if I tried to force some sort of low-sodium veggie concoction down their throats instead of 'taters and stuffing.

Of course, I need to add a little bit of fun to tonight's post. Therefore, since today's big focus was dessert, here's a little ditty for you:

Yes - there is a Beatles song for every thing.

Today's list:
I also made corn bread for corn bread stuffing tomorrow, but will provide specifics upon completion.

Happy night before T-Day... more tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011


You know when you've heard of dishes, seen recipes for them along the way, but never fully explored what they actually might be? Well, that's the relationship I've had with moussaka for all these years.

For those who were in the dark like me, moussaka is a traditional Greek casserole with layers of beef and eggplant.

Speaking of eggplant... I love it. I especially love eggplant parm, and have countless variations just waiting to be unleashed. However, because the boys have an aversion to many vegetable-based dishes, I have held off until tonight. That's because my new Biggest Loser cookbook promised a faster, easier and lighter version of this typically heavy dish. It's also because I was in the mood to try this dish, so the boys were just going to have to deal.
And yes - I did write new cookbook. Not really a full-on cookbook, btw - just one of those little grocery store mini-books that scream "buy me!" with loads of pretty pictures as I was patiently in line to check out.

Source: The Biggest Loser Weight Loss Planner/Prevention Guide, Fall 2011

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 3/4 c. white wine (special shout out to K for coming through in the clutch!)
  • 15oz. low-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp canola
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1-1/2 c. 1 percent milk
  • 3/4 c. vegetable broth (used no-salt added)
  • 1/2 c. chopped scallions (skipped - forgot to buy)
  • 3/4 c. sundried tomatoes (skipped - bought smoked by accident)
  • 1 eggplant, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 1/3 c. grated parm
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in large saucepan over med-high heat. Add turkey and onion. Cook 5 mins. Add wine, tomato sauce, oregano, nutmeg, cinnamon and honey. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 mins or until thickened and almost dry.
  • Heat canola oil in saucepan over med heat. Whisk in flour. Cook 1-2 mins, whisking constantly. Add garlic and cook 1 min. Add milk and broth. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and stir in scallions and tomatoes.
  • Coat 13x9 dish with spray. Spread half of eggplant in bottom of dish. Pour turkey mixture on top of eggplant. Top with remaining eggplant. Press down lightly.
  • Pour milk mixture over eggplant. Top with parm cheese. Bake 1 hour, or until golden and bubbling. Let stand 10 mins before serving.
Yield: 8 servings
Per serving: 270 cals; 23g protein; 23g carb; 5g fiber; 9g fat (2g sat); 290mg sodium

Earlier in the day, I also attempted another lentil soup - this one courtesy of Runner's World. I'm not going to include the recipe because it basically turned out like the other lentil soup I made - a big pile of semi-cooked lentils and mushed black beans. Of course, I ate it because I love lentils and beans, but it wasn't exactly soup-like. Nor was it particularly appealing to my favorite, non-lentil loving East Coast house guest. (Shout out time!) Maybe Runner's World should stick to running?

For someone who has claimed for years and years that he doesn't like eggplant, the hubs managed to be the president of the clean plate club tonight. The flavor was excellent with this and the eggplant was fork-tender. The kid, of course, was not a fan of the eggplant - despite my effort to hide it by cutting it into small pieces and blend it in with the meat. My only issues with this meal? It still took about an hour to prepare, and then another hour to bake, and the Biggest Loser doesn't include specific portion sizes! WTF?

The happy moral of this story? I see lots of eggplant dishes in our future!

Three Forks

We've opened up the eggplant floodgates

Thursday, November 17, 2011

All Done!

All Done!

Not only is the baby learning the sign for all done at school (a super-fun touchdown sign!), but we are now at the end of the first-ever GBRC Quick Fire Challenge! I bet The Beatles have something to say about that...

(Please note, I do not endorse the fact that many of these images have absolutely no association with the time frame in which this song was recorded. Just so you know. You should also note the excellent guitar work in this song. The three solos are amazing. Really.)

On to tonight's contender - a selection from Cooking Light's "Super Fast 20 Minute Cooking" feature (a regular feature in the magazine, btw).

Sloppy Joe Sliders
Source: Cooking Light, November 2011

  • 1 large carrot
  • 10 oz. lean ground beef
  • 3/4 c. pre-chopped onion (just chopped my own)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (skip)
  • 1/4 c. ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Dijon
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste (used no-salt added)
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 8oz no-salt added tomato sauce
  • Slider buns
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Grate carrot/ Add carrot, beef and onion to pan, cook until beef is browned. Add garlic powder and chili powder, cook 1 minute.
  • Combine remaining ingredients (except for buns, obvs) in a bowl and add to pan, stirring to coat beef mixture. Simmer for 5 mins or until thickened.
Yield: 4 (2 sliders - 2 slider buns with 1/4 c. beef mixture on each bun)
Per serving: 373 cals; 10g fat (3.6g sat; 3.5g mono; 2.3g poly); 23.1g protein; 52.2g carbs; 38mg carb; 736mg sodium (yikes!)

The only grousing at tonight's table was the hubs when the kid tried to slip him a piece of broccoli (we also had wild rice). The slider buns were perfectly sized for the kid, and he devoured almost his entire portion. I thought the flavor was delish. However, this did take me a bit longer than 20 mins only because in my typical fashion, I did not read the directions ahead of time. However, this meal is a great option for a busy weeknight - especially since all of the ingredients are pantry staples.

Four Forks - yum!

Touchdown broccoli!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thumbs Up, Noses Up

Day Two of the fast meal claim challenge is here! Contain your excitement.

Tonight's challenger comes courtesy of EatingWell's "Healthy in a Hurry" One-Pot Meals.

I like EatingWell. I don't subscribe to it because I get about 30 emails from them a day with an overwhelming number of recipes (complete with shiny pictures!) to choose from. And I typically don't, because I get too overwhelmed with the choices! However, despite all that, it didn't stop me from purchasing the latest issue of the publication off the newsstand. For no particular reason other than I wanted it, and my magazine (and shoe) self-control is pretty much nonexistent.

Anywho, after last week's hubs-trainer-fish mini-fiasco, I decided crockpot meals would be a smart (and safe) choice for our somewhat later Tuesday evening dinners. When I happened upon this one as I was strategizing my weekly menu and challenge recipes, it seemed like an almost perfect selection.

Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Lasagna
Source: EatingWell, November/December 2011

  • 1 large egg
  • 15-16oz part-skim ricotta
  • 5-oz package baby spinach, chopped (skip - I HATE cooked spinach - but love it raw!)
  • 3 large or 4 small portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced (used pre-sliced, fresh)
  • 1 small zucchini, quartered length-wise and thinly sliced (chopped it)
  • 1-28oz can crushed tomatoes (low sodium)
  • 1-28oz can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (used refrigerated)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • 15 whole wheat lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 3 c. shredded mozzarella
  • Combine egg, ricotta, spinach, mushrooms and zucchini in large bowl.
  • Combine crushed and diced tomatoes and their juice, garlic and crushed red pepper in a medium bowl.
  • Coat large crock pot with cooking spray. Spread 1.5c tomato mix in crock pot. Arrange 5 noodles over sauce, overlapping them and breaking into pieces to cover sauce if needed. Spread half of ricotta mixture over the noodles and pat down, then spoon on 1.5c sauce and sprinkle with 1c mozz. Repeat the layering one more time, starting with the noodles. Top with a third layer of noodles. Evenly spread the remaining tomato sauce over the noodles. Set aside remaining cheese.
  • Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours. Turn off crock pot, sprinkle rest of cheese on the lasagna, cover and let melt for 10 mins.
Yield: 8 servings (not sure what an exact serving is. Annoying)
Per serving: 414 cals; 14g fat (8g sat; 4g mono); 63mg chols; 48g carbs; 28g protein; 641mg sodium

First - the time challenge. I had exactly 15 minutes to get this done before the kid rolled off the bus, and I finished in just that amount of time. The most time-consuming part of the preparation? Layering the lasagna. Score!

Second - the taste. I thought this was delish. It was so nice to have a hot dinner waiting for me when I got home, and I liked the veggies. I would even consider adding MORE zucchini next time around (not that there will be a next time anytime soon, but still...). The boys, on the other hand, did not appreciate the zucchini (kid) or the vast amount of tomatoes (hubs).

Three Forks
Cheesy, carby goodness - sure to make my trainer super pleased!

Monday, November 14, 2011

A New Type of Challenge

Aaaaannnd I'm back.

So, there's something you should know about me. I'm super competitive. As in, I hate to lose at pretty much anything, be it trivia, Scrabble, sports, the lottery (haha), bets of any kind. Type A, anyone?

That means I also love a good challenge. Like this little recipe thing I have happening. So, that's why for this week I have decided to roll out my personal "time" challenge.

I see so many recipes that are supposed to be FAST and EASY and TIME SAVERS. And they very rarely live up to the hype. Therefore, when planning my menu for the week, I decided to select recipes from three of my newest pubs promising stress-free meal prep and put it to the test. Kind of like my own Top Chef Quick Fire Challenge, except without the cooking talent or chef-y competitors at my side. But, with the fun addition of some kind of competition! I bet you are tingling in anticipation!

Side note: I have kind of gone a little recipe magazine mad, scooping up a good half-dozen or so new ones in the past week (including what I already subscribe to). Yes, I'm addicted.

On to tonight's challenge: Everyday with Rachael Ray's "Deviled Pork Chops with Apples and Squash."
(November 2011)

The promise? "15-Minute Dinner Deals"

  • 4 thin cut bone-in pork chops (about 4oz each) - used boneless
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 c. panko
  • 3 tbsp veggie oil (used 2 tbsp canola)
  • 1 tbsp butter (used no-salt added)
  • 2 fuji apples, sliced (chopped them up)
  • 1 10-oz bag frozen, cubed squash
  • Season chops with salt/pepper, brush with mustard then coat with panko.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil to med-high. Add the chops and cook, turning once until browned, about 8 mins.
  • Meanwhile, in a med nonstick skillet, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally until crisp-tender, approx 3 mins. Add squash and 1/4 c. water. Cover and cook until just heat through about 3 mins. Serve with chops.
Nutritionals: RR does not provide them. Which is annoying. And I don't feel like looking them all up.

Well, this meal is certainly very fast. I actually had to stall until the boys got home from basketball practice. I did cheat a little - my chops were thicker than what the recipe call for, so I pan seared them first, then finished them off in the oven. I also let the apple/squash combo get a little mushier than the recipe called for (on purpose - baby food, peeps). I liked the apple/squash combo a lot - the kid did not like it at all, and the hubs dealt with it. The chops themselves were OK - not super flavorful, but easy. But, the recipe 100 percent did live up to its promise of 15 minutes.

Two Forks

More colorful in real life

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fool Me Once

I have been cooking for a long time. I remember making my parents breakfast in bed (and laying it on the floor for my father to step in); preparing a rich chocolate-cherry cake (recipe courtesy of my 6th grade Home Ec class); and planning "menus" for various occasions.

Yet I am not a chef, nor will I ever be. I do not create recipes from the depths of my (slightly twisted) mind. I just know how to read and follow directions.

However, there is one skill I have cultivated over the years - I can figure out what ingredients will work and make minor adjustments accordingly. Tonight, while the adjustments were almost too teensy to tell (fun with "t"!), it made the overall meal a winner for everyone.

So why "fool"? One: These silly recipes can try and trick me with their ridic amounts of salt, ginger and red pepper, but I know better. And two? Rest assured peeps, I am nobody's fool.

Now let's all join Paul for a little singalong:

Kung Pao Chicken
Source: Cooking Light, December 2010

  • 2 tbsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 c. chopped onion
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 lbs chicken cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 c. water
  • 3 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp bottled minced ginger (used 1/4)
  • 1 to 1-1/2 tsp crushed red pepper (used 1/2)
  • 1 c. sliced red pepper
  • 1 c. snow peas
  • 2 tbsp chopped, unsalted peanuts (I smash them a bit)
  • Heat sesame oil in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add onion to pan; saute 3 mins or until soft. Add garlic, saute 30 secs, stirring constantly. Add chicken, saute 3 mins or until it begins to brown.
  • Combine water and the next 5 ingredients (through crushed red pepper), stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Add water mixture ot pan, bring to a boil.
  • Add bell pepper and snow peas to pan, cook for 2 mins or until veggies are crisp-tender and sauce thickens. Sprinkle with nuts.
Note: I let this all cook a bit longer because I am crazy-paranoid about undercooked chicken. I'd rather have it slightly chewy than salmonella any day of the week... no fooling!

Yield: 4 servings (1 c. each) (We also had plain brown rice - not included in the calorie count, below obvs)
Per serving: 275 cals; 13.8g fat (2.6g sat; 5.3g mono; 4.8g poly); 25.3g protein; 11.9g carb; 94mg chol; 502mg sodium; 41mg calc

Huge thumbs up from the kid. He was swiping chicken from both of our plates, and he ate all of his snow peas and red peppers. He was also able to apply the dinner to school - he "studied" one of the snow peas to prepare for his food painting. I have no doubt it will be a masterpiece!

Four forks: Easy to prepare, didn't require too many dishes or advance work, and the flavor was delightful

Over-zealous on the peanuts

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


Get your mind out of the gutter peeps. Quickie blog post for a quickie meal.

You might remember that the kid has a thing for turkey tacos, and went into a small tailspin when I announced the challenge to him re: the lack of turkey tacos in his future.

Luckily for him, I have many taco recipes at hand - including tonight's main event. I actually scheduled this meal for tomorrow, but I had my days totally confused (play date! basketball practice! oh my!) so I pulled a quickie (ha) switcheroo b/c this one required so little prep work and time. My kind 'o meal!

Turkey Soft Tacos
Source: Eat Better America (downloaded this 2/2/11)

  • 1/2 c. chicken broth (used no-salt)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 diced red pepper (or green - I like red)
  • 1/2 c. frozen corn
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey (used 1 pound)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped (used minced)
  • 1/2 c. salsa (used 1 c. b/c of extra turkey)
  • 1/4 c. chopped cilantro (skip)
  • Sour cream, cheese, etc. to taste
  • Tortillas (used whole wheat low-carb, low-cal tortillas)
  • Heat broth to boiling over high heat. Cook onion, bell pepper and corn in broth 2-3 mins. Reduce heat to med-high.
  • Stir in turkey and garlic. Cook 2 mins, stirring occasionally. Stir in salsa. Cook about 5 mins, until turkey is no longer pink. Add cilantro.
Yield: 4 servings (approx 1/2 c. turkey mixture and one flour tortilla and sour cream)
Per serving: 390 cals; 7g fat (2g sat, 1g trans); 40mg chols; 710mg sodium (! no way in my version, btw); 58g carbs
Remember: These nutritionals are based on the original recipe. I used low-sodium salsa, 50 cal tortillas, extra-lean turkey, etc. MV, don't fret!

Yum - good, fast and filling. The kid gave it a thumbs up. I don't like corn that much, so although I added it in and took one for the team, I picked most of it out. What I really liked about this recipe? SO quick to prepare. We had it with low-sodium refried black beans.

Three Forks

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post: Role Reversal

One of the favorite movie gimmicks is the role reversal.  Take a rich guy and a street hustler - have them switch roles and you have 1983 film classic, "Trading Places."  Eddie Murphy also was at the center of another great role reversal movie when the crown prince of Zamunda traveled to Queens, N.Y. to find his Queen in "Coming to America" and hilarity ensued.  Well, sometimes when you reverse roles you get the brilliance that was "Freaky Friday" (Lindsay Lohan - Jamie Lee Curtis remake!) and sometimes you get "The Hot Chick," ugggh...

As witnessed in earlier posts, it is sometimes necessary for Chef Hubs to take the reigns when HF is otherwise detained.  Tonight, a little evening workout with her trainer extraordinaire meant that Chef Hubs was left to prepare dinner.  Let's just say that this evening's role reversal wasn't exactly Oscar-worthy.

BBQ Salmon
Source:  Cooking Light

  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 4 6-oz salmon fillets (used 2 fillets, all that was in the bag)
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon rind (omitted)
  • 3/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (omitted)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Combine first three ingredients in a zip-top plastic bag; seal & marinate in refrigerator one hour, turning occasionally
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • Remove fish from bag, discard marinade.  Combine brown sugar and next five ingredients in a bowl.  Rub over fish, place in 11 x 17 baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 12 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.
Well, this one was doomed from the start.  The directions on the bag of frozen salmon said to thaw for 24 hours.  Instead, I used a quicker method that I've seen on other packages of frozen fish.  The one-hour marinade was going to take too long, so I ended up marinating and thawing the salmon in less than an hour total. 

After baking the fish even a little longer than suggested in the recipe, my wife looked at her piece of salmon with some trepidation.  I think she feared food poisoning was a distinct possibility.  The kid seemed to enjoy as he devoured his helping.  I thought it tasted pretty good, and the wife was kind enough to take 5-6 bites.

I also made rice to go with it, which turned out too watery.  It ended up somewhat acceptable.  HF and the kid also ate broccoli.

Two Forks

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Little Lentil Love

And we're back to Meatless Mondays. At least for this week. In my planning, I take it week-by-week, so while I can tell you exactly what we're having for dinner each night this week (and, for that matter, what I'm having for lunch and breakfast), come Friday night, my planning is complete and it's every man for himself. Meaning - leftovers or takeout.

Anyway, I digress. I've been having a thing for lentils these days. I think I've written about the benefits of these teeny little legumes before, so I won't bore you with the details. Instead, how about some fun lentil facts, courtesy of the National Lentil Festival (yes, there's a festival for everything):

  • Lentils are shaped like a contact lens. In fact, lens is the Latin word for lentil.
  • Lentils may have been used as an aphrodisiac in ancient Egypt. They also thought that the lentil enlightened the minds of children, making them more cheerful and studious.
  • The lentil is a cousin of the bean, and both are a part of the legume family. All legumes are seeds that grow within pods.
  • During World War lI, Americans were encouraged to eat lentils to help the wartime economy.
Pasta Lentil Bolognese
Source:: Clean Eating magazine, April/May 2011

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced (used shredded)
  • 1/2 c. diced celery
  • 1.5 c. diced fennel (skip)
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 c. low-sodium veg broth (used no-salt added chicken I had on hand)
  • 1 c. lentils
  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp parsley (skip)
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 8 oz pasta
  • 1/2 c. low-fat milk
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (skip)
  • In a large Dutch oven, heat oil on med-high. Add onion, carrots, celery, fennel and garlic. Cook until brown bits begin to form, approx. 15 mins. Add vinegar and scrape brown bits from bottom of pan as liquid evaporates. Stir in broth, 1 c. water, lentils, tomatoes, oregano, parsley and basil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer partially covered for 45 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • Cook pasta.
  • Add milk to bolognese and continue to simmer for an additional 10 mins. Season with salt and pepper.
Yield: 4 servings (4 oz pasta; 1.5c bolognese)
Per serving: 337 cals; 4g fat (1g sat); 68g carbs; 15g fiber; 13g protein; 484mg sodium; 1mg choles

So, the hubs took one look at the dish as I was plating it, sighed and said, "I see Meatless Monday has returned." But, he managed to eat all of his, and the kid ate about half of his. I'm not sure that the kid fully realized there was no meat in the dish, as he was way too busy telling us about secret codes he and his buddies came up with at school (did you know "JERK" is a good thing?). The dish does take a bit of advance planning because it does take a while to cook, but I think it's worth it. It's very hearty and I really don't think anyone missed the meat.

Three Forks

Portion control!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Food for Thought

Let's consider tonight's blog a lesson, thanks to our good friends at Google (i.e., I have no idea if this is accurate).

I've made this recipe before - probably last winter - and it just feels like a cool-weather dish. Nevermind that the weather here in the NEO is fabulously unseasonable (sunny and not frigid) - this meal feels right for November.

But that's not your lesson.

I made a "tagine" tonight. What in the world is tagine, you ask? Why, it's a dish from North Africa (Morocco), named after the dish in which it is cooked. Pronounced "tay-jean," it's a stew that is long and slow for braising. Now you know.

Fortunately, the foodies at Cooking Light created a variation of this recipe that incorporates what I assume to be some of the traditional flavors and methods, but without the special pot or all-day process.

Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash
Source: Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2011

  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp salt (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp pepper (skip)
  • 1-pound beef shoulder roast cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 shallots, quartered (used wedged onions, per CL's suggestion)
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth (used no-salt added)
  • 14.5oz can no-salt added diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3 c. (1-inch cubed) peeled butternut squash
  • 1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro (skip)
  • Combine first 6 ingredients in medium bowl. Add beef, toss well to coat.
  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef & shallots; cook 4 mins or until browned. Add garlic, cook 1 min, stirring frequently. Stir in broth and tomatoes, bring to a boil. Cook 5 mins. Add squash; cover, reduce heat and simmer 15 mins or until squash is tender (I went 20). Sprinkle w/ cilantro.
Yield: 4 servings (1.5c/serving)
Per serving: 283 cals; 9.5g fat (2g sat, 4.8 mono, 0.5 poly); 25.6g protein; 25.7g carbs; 67mg chol; 617mg sodium; 103mg calcium

I love this meal. Although prep took a while (I used fresh squash instead of taking the easy way out with frozen, so the chopping kind of blows), the actual cooking of the tagine is pretty easy. I like all of the flavors, and the squash was super tender. Both boys liked the beef, the hubs kind of liked the squash, and the kid - not at all.

And, to keep the lesson going - did you know butternut squash is technically a fruit because of its seeds? I sure didn't! What I did know was that it is chock full of antioxidants, fiber and carotenoids, which protect against disease. What an informative blog tonight... you are very welcome.

Three Forks

Squashy - not squishy - in the Dutch oven

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Supermom Super Fail

Sooo I was totally on top of it today. Before the hubs got home, I made sure the kid got his homework and book report done before friend time, fed the baby fish sticks AND managed to get a casserole dinner (that takes an hour+ to bake) in the oven - perfectly coordinated to coincide exactly with our family meal time.

Except for the fact that when I went to complete the last step of the dish, for some reason the oven was off. Despite my best efforts to blame the hubs, it seems that in my uber-efficiency I must have turned it off after the fish sticks were done baking.

(And the book report was not done according to the hubs' standards, btw.)

So much for supermom.

BUT, on the bright side, although this potentially had disaster written all over it, the hubs and kid were somewhat patient tonight and I was still able to get our meal on the table before midnight.

Three-Cheese Macaroni
Source: The New American Heart Association Cookbook (Seventh edition, 2004)

  • 16-oz can tomato puree (used no-salt added)
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3 minced garlic cloves (used refrigerated)
  • 24 oz. fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 large shallot, chopped (used an onion)
  • 8 oz dried elbow mac
  • 2 tbsp parm
  • 2 oz mozzarella cheese
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9-inch square dish.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the tomato puree, water, herb seasoning and 2 garlic cloves.
  • In another medium bowl, stir together cottage cheese, shallot and 1 garlic clove.
  • Spoon 1/3 of tomato mixture over the bottom of the casserole dish. In order, layer half the macaroni, all of the cottage cheese mix, 1/3 of the tomato mixture, all of the parm, the remaining mac and the remaining tomato mixture.
  • Bake, covered for an hour. Uncover and top with the mozzarella. Bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
  • Let casserole stand for 10 mins before serving.
Yield: 6 servings
Per serving: 271 calories; 23g protein; 41g carbs; 8mg chol; 1g fat (0.5g sat, 0.5g poly, 0g mono); 526mg sodium

I don't know if its because I served this so late or it was just that good, but we all were members of the clean plate club tonight. It was very, very simple to prepare and we have lots of leftovers. You may have also noticed (as in, didn't pay any attention at all) the fact that I skipped Meatless Monday this week. I did want to include one meatless dish in our meal plan, so tonight was it. No one complained - or even seemed to notice.

Three Forks

I heart broccoli!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First Time for Everything

Tonight marks a night of firsts for our family:
  • First basketball practice for the kid
  • First time the baby tore an entire page out of a lovely picture book
  • First time I made - and the boys tried unwittingly - Indian food
To be honest, I can't remember the last time I had true Indian food, so while I know I've eaten it at some point in my almost four decades (!) on this planet, it's not a regular occurrence. And while we're on the subject of "honesty" - I don't really think this recipe is comparable to the type of food one might find in an Indian restaurant. However, because the boys are probably not going to be willing to venture that way anytime soon, I won't have any point of reference on that one.

What I do have a point of reference on is the first time a sitar (popular Indian stringed instrument) was featured on a Beatles song. Song is John, but the sitar playing is all George. Yes people, this is something I know off the top of my head. My Beatles knowledge just runs that deep.

Another confession: When I'm selecting my weekly recipes, I usually don't read the instructions (especially now that I have a blender) except for maybe a quick skim. So, I kind of thought this was a super-fast recipe to whip together quickly on another busy night. Especially because it's listed in the "five-ingredient meals" section of the cookbook. Forty-five minutes later, lesson learned peeps. (To be fair, the recipe does say "45 minutes hands-on time. Doh.)

Indian Chicken & Rice
Source: Clean Eating Classic Comfort Foods (2011)

  • 3/4 c. tomato paste
  • 2 c. chicken broth (used no-salt added)
  • 1/2 c. evaporated low-fat milk (used fat free)
  • 1 lb chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger (used 1/2 - don't love ginger)
  • 1/2 tbsp garam masala (used a homemade mixture provided by CE)
  • 1/4 tsp salt (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (skip)
  • In a big saucepan, heat 1 tbsp oil on med-high. Add onion and ginger and cook until onion is lightly browned. Add in garam masala and remove from heat.
  • Put onion mixture in a blender; add tomato paste and broth and blend until smooth (20 seconds). Return mixture to saucepan and add milk. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins, stirring often. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and set aside. Rinse and dry saucepan.
  • Toss chicken with salt and pepper (skip). Heat remaining 1 tbsp oil in saucepan on medium and add chicken. Cook through. Add tomato sauce and cook until chicken is no longer pink (approx 4 mins).
  • Serve over rice.
Yield: 4 servings (1 c. chicken-sauce mix and 1/2 c. brown rice)
Per serving: 395 cals; total fat: 11g (2g sat, 6.5g mono, 1.5g poly) 40g carbs; 5g fiber; 36g protein; 319mg sodium; 71mg choles

Besides taking longer than anticipated to cook (completely my bad), it was pretty simple to put together - not a lot of chopping or preparing, which I like. It wasn't particularly spicy, but the sauce had a nice flavor. Both boys gave it a big thumbs up. The recipe did make a ton of sauce, so I used a slotted spoon to serve the chicken to avoid over sauciness (a pet peeve of the hubs).

Three Forks


Tuesday, November 1, 2011


I knew tonight was going to be a late night - between parent-teacher conferences (good report!) and the hubs' bball practice, the meal - if it was going to even happen (and it almost didn't) - needed to be super fast.

Enter Weight Watchers Five Ingredient, 15 Minute Recipes!

This is kind of an interesting title for a cookbook, btw, where many of the recipes do not have five ingredients. But I digress.

I try to switch up my proteins on a somewhat regular basis so our food doesn't get too boring. And while the kid does not like ground beef, he always has a hankering for steak. You know this because you read my blog daily. So, in honor of his good report. steak was on the menu (actually - highly coincidental planning on my end, but he doesn't need to know that).

Beef and Asparagus Stir-Fry
Source: Weight Watchers Five Ingredient, 15 Minute Recipes, Winter 2009

  • 1/2 lb lean boneless sirloin steak
  • 3/4 lb asparagus
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 3 green onions, sliced diagonally
  • 1/4 c. low-sodium teriyaki sauce
  • 1 c. cooked rice
  • 1 tsp sesame seeds
  • Trim fat from steak, cut into strips and set aside (I buy pre-cut because I'm lazy).
  • Snap off rough ends of asparagus. Cut into 1-inch pieces, set aside.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add beef, stir-fry 3 minutes or until desired doneness. Remove meat from pan and keep warm. Wipe pan clean.
  • Reheat pan over med-high heat. Recoat with cooking spray. Add asparagus, mushrooms, crushed red pepper and green onions; stir-fry 3 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Return beef to pan; ;add teriyaki sauce and heat for approx 1 min.
  • Serve over rice. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Yield: 2 servings (1/2 c. rice, 1/2 c. stir fry) - I doubled the recipe
Per serving: 322 cals; 5.7g fat (1.9g sat); 30g protein 35.2g carb; 573mg sodium

In his effort to score a Halloween candy treat, the kid shoveled in a ton of the asparagus, a few mushrooms and all of his steak (and then some). Strangely enough - his selected treat was DOTS. Really? Obviously this is not my child.  The hubs also managed to choke down his veggies and there were few complaints from anyone. My biggest gripe about this recipe? The teriyaki sauce. Too much of it - and too much sodium. Kind of my fault as I selected the recipe, but so it goes. Maybe the fresh asparagus and 'shrooms will offset it?! Kind of feeling a little salt-drunk right now.

Three Forks