Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Day Late, A Dollar Short

Not really a dollar short, but a day late nonetheless. I'm kind of flip-flopping here. I actually made dinner last night and am not cooking the next couple of nights (basketball: cue heavy sigh), but I also went out for dessert with some gfs and therefore didn't have a chance to report on last night's culinary adventures.

Because I knew it was going to be a rushed evening event, I decided to whip out the crock pot. I'm always a little challenged to find crock pot recipes that somewhat meet my eating requirements (healthy, low-sodium, blah blah blah) but I happened upon the "Diabetic Slow Cooker" book a while back and find it full of appealing recipes. PLUS it also notes portion sizes! Can I have a woot woot?

Asian Pork Sandwiches
Source: Diabetic Living Online Slow Cooker, Winter 2012

  • 1 2.5-3 pound pork shoulder roast
  • 1 c. apple juice or cider
  • 2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1.5 tsp five-spice powder
  • shredded cabbage, green onions and buns
  • Placed roast in slow cooker. Combine juice, soy sauce, hoisin sauce and five spice powder. Dump over roast. Cook on low 10-12 hours or high 5-6 hours.
  • Shred pork. Place meat on bun, top with shredded cabbage. Reserve cooking liquid from crock pot and top with chopped green onions for dipping (didn't do that).
Yield: 8 servings (one sandwich with 3oz meat and 1/4 c. cabbage topping)
Per serving: 282 cals; 7g fat (2g sat); 61mg chol; 478mg sodium; 27g carb; 26g protein

We also had:
Fried Brown Rice with Edamame
Source: The Carb Lovers Diet Cookbook (from Health magazine)

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil (used canola)
  • 2 c. cooked brown rice
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 c. coleslaw mix (just used plain cabbage from above recipe)
  • 1 c. frozen shelled edamame, thawed
  • 2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Sriracha
  • 1/4 c. cilantro (skip)
  • 1/4 c. chopped peanuts
Heart healthy ingredients: edamame, brown rice

  • Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add rice, cook until heated through, approx. 1 min. Stir eggs into rice, cook 30 sec. Stir in coleslaw mix, edamame, soy sauce and Sriracha, cook 2 mins or until eggs are cooked and edamame are heated through. Top with cilantro and peanuts.
Yield: 4 servings (1c/serving)
Per serving: 318 cals; 16.3g fat (2.1g sat, 5g mono, 6.6g poly); 93mg chol; 14g protein; 30g carb; 429mg sodium

There was so much to love about this meal. So I'll break it down for you:
  • Crock pot super simplicity
  • No chopping of anything
  • The longest prep step? Cooking the brown rice. And I could have bought pre-cooked brown rice to make it even easier.
  • One pot meals
  • And it all tasted delish
Four Forks

Monday, February 27, 2012

An Ode to Bethenny

Tough day here in the NEO. My heart breaks for all those impacted by what happened at Chardon.

But this blog is not about what's happening in the real world today. It's about what's happening in my little teeny food world. So let's get on with it. And give your families a big hug tonight.

I love celebs. And I love Bravo celebs. If you have read my blog even just a few times, you know that I have a mild obsession with Bravo Andy. I also happen to think that Bethenny Frankel is fab. I heart her personality, her business sense, her honesty - at least the edited down, made-for-TV honesty that we see. I also kind of love the way she dresses, as a side note.
Ms. Bethenny is kind of everywhere. She shows up in a bunch of my magazines with fitness and food tips. So natch I yanked this recipe a while ago to give it a whirl.

Unbelievably Delicous Low-Fat Enchilada
Source: Clean Eating, November/December 2010

  • 5 medium whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 c. shredded extra-sharp low-fat cheddar
Chicken mix:
  • 3 c. shredded or chopped cooked chicken breast
  • 4 oz chopped green chiles
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper (skip)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 15 oz tomato sauce (used no-salt added)
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1.5 tsp chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (skip)
Heart healthy ingredients: chile powder, tomato sauce

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all of the chicken mix ingredients in a large pan over med-high heat and cook until heat through, approx. mins. Remove from pan and set aside.
  • Combine all sauce ingredients in same pan used for chicken. Simmer over med heat until warm, approx 10 mins.
  • Spread a thin layer of saue on the bottom of an 8x11 pan. Divvy chicken mix up evenly among tortillas, fold over and place seam-side down in casserole dish. Top enchiladas with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 20 mins.
Yield: 5 servings (1 enchilada per serving)
Per serving: 350 cals; 7g fat (2g sat) 36g carbs; 37g protein; 561mg sodium; 76mg chol

We also had:
Spicy Black Beans

  • 1 tbsp canola
  • 3/4 c. chopped red or green pepper (used red)
  • 1 med chopped onion
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-15oz can no-salt added black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 c. frozen corn
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
Heart healthy ingredients: Black beans, red peppers, oregano

  • In a med saucepan, heat oil over med heat. Add pepper, onion and garlic, cook approx 5 mins., until tender. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer, 10 mins.
Yield: 4 servings (1/2c/serving)
Per serving: 172 cals; 4g fat (0g sat); 0mg chol; 163mg sodium; 28g carb; 7g fiber

Bethenny does not disappoint. The meal was easy to throw together and tasted great. We actually got seven enchiladas out of the deal, so we have leftovers. The side of spicy black beans was so-so. It wasn't super spicy and didn't add too much to the overall meal. The boys used chips to scoop it up. Inventive.

Enchiladas: Three forks
Black beans: Two forks

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fast, Fast, Fast

Hi! I hope you had a loverly weekend.

I'm going to move through this one quickly because I have Red Carpet fashions to watch judge. I have seen a grand total of two of the movies beings recognized tonight (Moneyball - I love Brad, and The Help - amazing book). Doesn't matter. I love watching the fashion parade and listening to the awesome commentary by Seacrest and crew and deep-thinking views from the celebs. And I really love the next-day "best" and "worst" dressed articles.

(No worries, peeps - I am probably just as shallow as at least half of the actors in Hollywood!)

Individual Salsa Meat Loaves
Source: Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast, Spring 2010
Heart healthy ingredients: Oats

Green Beans with Country Mustard and Herbs
Source: Cooking Light Fresh Food Fast, Spring 2010
(This was the suggested side. And I ALWAYS listen to suggestions.)
Heart healthy ingredients: Oregano

Plus, I had a sweet potato. Repeat after me: Heart healthy! Hubs had a regular potato. Didn't even go there with the kid.

The meal is cooking as I'm typing, so you are going to have to use your imagination. I can tell you, much like its promise, the loaves were fast to pull together.

Now on to the show!

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Whew - we're at the end - I've actually cooked five nights in a row! I haven't had the opportunity to do that for a long time. Honestly though peeps, I prefer it that way. I like having meals together. I like making sure that my family is eating healthy fare. And there's so much to be said about the family meal.

Allow me to wax poetic for a moment. According to Meals Matter (and many other sources), family meals result in healthier habits, better test scores and overall happier kids. While I can't predict the future, I am proud that we are building a solid foundation for our children. We actively and openly discuss healthy habits and making positive choices.


In other not-so-deep thoughts, I am super-behind on all of my Bravo shows. And I had the great pleasure of sampling some amazing cupcakes today from La Bella. Which also included the fun adventure of two East Siders attempting to navigate the West Side. But they were worth the trip. Yum. And NOT heart healthy.

Sally's Noodle Casserole
Source: The Healthy Heart Cookbook, by Joseph P. Piscatella

  • 1 lbs leanest ground beef
  • 3 large garlic cloves, pressed (used minced)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2-15oz cans tomato sauce (used no-salt added)
  • 1-8oz package light cream cheese (softened)
  • 1-8oz package light sour crm with chives
  • 1-12oz package rotini noodles (used whole wheat)
  • 2 tbsp nonfat shredded cheddar
  • 2 tbsp nonfat shredded jack (used mozzarella)
Heart healthy ingredients: tomato sauce (and we had broccoli as a side)

  • Saute beef and garlic 4-5 mins or until beef is browned. Add sugar (and salt/pepper to taste). Stir in tomato sauce. Simmer 20 mins.
  • Using a wire whisk or electric mixer, combine the cream cheese and sour cream.
  • Meanwhile, cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and set aside.
  • Spray an 8-inch round x 3.5-inch deep baking dish with cooking spray. Add a layer of noodles. Spread a layer of cream cheese mix, then a layer of the tomato sauce mixture. Repeat 2 more times.
  • Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30-40 mins. Top with cheddar and jack and bake uncovered for about 5 more mins.
Yield: 8 servings (not sure what a serving size is... annoying. Went with 1 cup)
Per serving: 379 cals; 15g total fat (6g sat) 101mg chol; 39g carbs; 3g fiber; 25g protein; 610mg sodium

First of all - and you know I'm going to type it - this meal took way too long for a weeknight. While prep was super-extra simple, the 20 minutes here, 30-40 mins here is a bit ridic. I MUST start reading ahead more. But alas, you know I won't.

Taste-wise, we were a little split. I'm a cheesy kind of gal, so I appreciated the creaminess of the sour cream/cream cheese mix. The boys did not. Overall, it is a very filling dish.

Two Forks - although I vote three, but I guess majority will rule tonight?

Maybe just a little extra cheese?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Hump Day!

Helllooooo Wednesday! This is one of those weeks that is just flying by, and that's both a good and a panic-inducing thing. Mostly good, seeing that my job doesn't entail anything particularly life-saving, I try not to let it get the best of me.

Tonight, howevs, it almost did. Here I was, moaning and groaning my way through the early evening hours. So, I gave the hubs a couple of options: He cook the planned meal or we order in because I. Was. Not. Going. To. Cook. Tonight.

Luckily for everyone involved - especially you, loyal readers - I managed to man up and make dinner. Luckily for me, this meal was embraced by all (except the baby, who was already snoring) and it involved very little heavy lifting for me. And for the record, the "Chef Hubs" did offer to do a little slice and dice and post a guest blog.

Beef Stroganoff
Source: American Heart Association Low-Salt Cookbook, 3rd Edition

  • 1lb beef tenderloin or sirloin
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (skip)
  • 1 tsp canola
  • 8 oz sliced mushrooms
  • 1 med onion, sliced
  • 2 c. beef broth (used no-salt added)
  • 3 tsp flour
  • 2 tbsp no-salt added tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry
  • 1/8 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp dried dillweed
  • 1/4 c. fat-free or light sour cream
Heart healthy ingredients: oregano; tomato paste

  • Cut meat into thin strips. Sprinkle with pepper.
  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Cook beef for 1 min.
  • Stir in mushrooms and onion. Cook 2-3 mins or until onion is soft.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together broth and flour. Pour into the skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 2-3 mins, or until thickened, stirring constantly.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients (except sour cream). Stir into the beef mixture. Simmer, covered for 5-10 mins or until the beef is tender.
  • Transfer about 1/4 c. sauce into a small bowl. Whisk in the sour cream. Stir back into skillet. Cook until warmed through.
Yield: 4 servings (1 c. per serving)
Per serving: 240 cals; 7g fat (2g sat; 0.5g poly; 3g mono); 55mg chol; 87mg sodium; 15g carb; 28g protein

I served the meal over whole wheat noodles and added kale as a side. I am mildly obsessed with kale right now, as an FYI.

"One of the best stroganoff dishes you have ever made." - Hubs
"15 forks!" - Kid
"No effort. And I'm still exhaust-balls." - Me

Four Forks

How ya doin', kale?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Game Changer

I did something tonight that I almost never, ever do.

I deviated from my meal game plan.

Originally, I was going to make a lovely salmon meal, but then I came across a BOGO pork cutlet deal at the local market. And I always love a BOGO! That got me thinking about said salmon, and my complete and utter lack of desire for it tonight. So I changed it up, quickly found a recipe (in the same cookbook) for pork, and away we went. The salmon has been shelved for another week.

I really don't have anything else to say. How's the weather in your neck of the woods? This song will make you feel all warm and sunny. One of the best songs ever. EVER.

Breaded Pork Chops
Source: 500 Low Sodium Recipes, by Dick Logue

  • 4 pork chops
  • 1/2 c. low-sodium bread crumbs (used whole-wheat unsalted)
  • 1 tbsp parsley (skip)
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp white pepper (skip)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
Heart healthy ingredients: cayenne, sage, thyme

  • Moisten chops with water. Combine bread crumbs and spices in a plastic bag. Add chops and shake until evenly coated. Spray a baking sheet with veggie oil spray. Place chops on sheet and spray chops with spray.
  • Bake at 350 degrees until done, approx. 20-30 mins, depending on thickness of chops.
Yield: 4 serving
Per chop: 315 cals; 20g protein; 21g fat (8g sat, 9g mono; 2g poly); 11g carb; 62mg sodium

Mushroom Rice
Source: 500 Low Sodium Recipes, by Dick Logue

  • 8oz sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp minced onion
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley (skip)
  • 1.5 c. uncooked rice (used brown)
  • 2 c. low-sodium chicken broth (used no-salt added)
  • 1-1/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. dried milk powder (WTF? Skip and added a teeny bit of 1 percent at the end)
  • In a large skillet, saute the mushrooms in butter until brown. Add the spices and rice and continue cooking until the rice begins to brown, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the chicken broth and water; cover and return to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until rice is tender and liquid absorbed, about 20 mins.
  • Stir in the milk powder (again - WTF?!).
Yield: 6 servings
Per serving: 111 cals; 4g protein; 4g fat (2g sat, 1g mono); 15g carb; 52mg sodium

We also had asparagus and the boys gnawed on some Alexia rolls.

Much like my mood tonight - the dinner was meh. Good. Not great. Not bad. Just OK. I think we all felt the same way. I added low-sodium bbq to my pork chops. I liked the rice more than the boys liked it. The overall prep was a cinch.

Of course, the more I listen to "Dear Prudence" the better I feel. Seriously - doesn't that song just put you in such a good mood? How can it not?
Two forks

Monday, February 20, 2012

I'm Not Martha Stewart

Reasons why I will never come close to Martha Stewart's fabulosity:
  • I don't garden
  • I don't craft
  • I don't sew (not even a button, peeps)
  • I don't create works of art out of nothing
  • I can't decorate baked goods to save my life
However, while I don't have much use for most of her tips, tricks and recipes, every once in a while I come across something that my simple self can at least attempt.

Today, that something was chocolate cake. I turned the "cake" into cupcakes to help with portion control. I'm warning you - it's not pretty.

Little lumps of... cupcakes?

The above is One-Bowl Chocolate Cake with homemade chocolate frosting (oh yes - I went there). Source: Martha Stewart Living, date unknown - I think late 2011. The frosting is extraordinarily sweet, so I used it very, very sparingly. The cake turned out moist and delish. Obvs. Because it's from Martha.

Don't come after me!

For dinner, I made:
Meatless Moussaka

  • 2lbs eggplant, peeled and thickly sliced
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 med garlic cloves, minced
  • 14.5oz can diced no-salt added tomatoes (used puree - thought I had diced on hand. Oops)
  • 6oz can no-salt added tomato paste
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh mint (skip)
  • 1lbs fat-free or low-fat cottage cheese
  • 2 large eggs (or egg substitute equivalent -used real eggs)
  • 2 tbsp shredded or grated parm
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • pepper to taste
1/4 c. shredded parm

Heart healthy ingredients: Tomatoes, rosemary, oregano, EVOO

  • Preheat broiler. Spray 13x9 dish with vegetable spray.
  • Put the eggplant slices on baking sheets. Lightly spray both sides of slices with veggie spray. Brown about 6 inches from the heat for about 5 mins on each side or until eggplant is tender.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large skillet, heat oil over med-high heat. Cook onion and garlic for 3 mins or until soft.
  • Stir in undrained tomatoes, water, tomato paste and rosemary. Simmer for 10 mins. Add parsley and mint, remove from heat.
  • In a medium bowl, stir together the filling ingredients.
  • Spread half the sauce in the baking dish. Add half the eggplant. Spread the filing on top. Add the remaining eggplant, sauce and parm.
  • Bake, covered for 45 mins. Uncover and bake for 10 mins or until heated through.
Yield: 8 servings
Per serving: 137 calories; 12g protein; 19g carbs; 5g fiber; 5mg chol; 2g fat (1g sat, 1g mono); 317mg sodium

This reminds me more of eggplant parm than moussaka. If you remember, I made moussaka (not meatless) a while back, and there doesn't seem to be tons of similarities between the two recipes. Oh well. Ultimately, this was easy to put together and since I pretty much am obsessed with eggplant these days, it was OK by me. A little saucy. The hubs liked it, and the kid forced in a few bites with no complaints.

Two forks - only because I thought it was going to be less parm-y, more moussaka-y.

Parm - right?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Amazing Blog Post

I am going to speed through this blog so I can tune into one of my all-time favorite (non-Bravo) shows, The Amazing Race. I LOVE this show. I have watched every single episode since it premiered and I live vicariously through the contestants. The hubs also loves it, so it has been our Sunday night TV thing for as long as its been on. Sorry Bravo Andy - I'm cheating on you tonight.

What? You watch networks other than Bravo?

This week, I am pulling recipes from all of my "healthy" living/promises cookbooks. Tonight's contender is one that I've had varying success with, and don't use often enough. Mostly because there are no pretty photographs of food, which I find kind of boring.

Crusty Oven-Fried Chicken
Source: Family Health Cookbook (from the AMA)

Heart healthy ingredients: Cayenne pepper. I also substituted the vegetable oil for canola oil. WTF? Vegetable oil?

Parsley-Parmesan Potato Cake
Source: Family Health Cookbook (from the AMA)

Heart healthy ingredients: Ummmmmm... none. BUT, I contend that potatoes, since they are loaded with potassium, aren't the worst ever.

We also had health super-star broccoli. Bam!

Repeat after me: "I DO NOT LIKE POTATOES." Yet, I continue to force these spiteful spuds upon the kid. One mouthful and he was done. The potato recipe made a lot - yet the recipe said it was just four servings. As the hubs said, it was pretty much mashed potatoes. As for the chicken, I tasted a lot of the cayenne and hot sauce, the hubs not so much, but he still deemed it worthy of consumption. Half of the "crusty" part fell off when I removed it from the baking sheet, which kind of blew. Oh well.

Three forks

Hi Phil - We've missed you and your wonky eyebrow!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Special

Here I am, cooking and typing on a Friday evening when I'm typically falling asleep before 8p. Because we haven't had tons of meals together lately, and because I had a BOGO chicken just hanging out in my freezer, I decided to make dinner tonight. Special night!
Actually - the entire day has been special and this is just a capper to it. The kid and I try to do a "mommy-kid" day every few weeks - no baby, no hubs, just us - and today we hit some of NEOs best spots. Aquarium! Happy Dog! Sweet Moses! Sweet mother of all unhealthy foods! But it was totally worth it and an amazing day. And tomorrow's long date with the gym will be equally amazing, I'm sure.

At least tonight we have some clean fare awaiting us.

Halibut & Black Bean Burrito Casserole
Source: Clean Eating, January 2011

  • 10oz boneless, skinless pacific halibut (substitued chicken, as suggested by the recipe)
  • 3 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin (used chili powder - ran out)
  • 1 c. black beans, drained/rinsed
  • 1 c. cooked brown rice
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 c. corn kernels (skip - can't eat corn)
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime zest (skip)
  • 1/4 c. diced roasted red peppers
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 whole wheat tortillas (used La Tortilla Factory)
  • 1.5oz low-fat shredded cheese
  • Sour cream/salsa for garnish (I added avocado)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray casserole dish with cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, toss protein with 1 tsp lime juice and 1/4 tsp cumin. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine remaining lime juice, cumin, beans and following six ingredients. Stir.
  • Lay tortillas out on flat surface. Mound 1/3 c. bean mixture onto center, arrange protein on top of bean mix. Roll each to enclose, keep ends open. Arrange in a single layer in dish, top with cheese.
  • Cover (I spray my foil w/ cooking spray so it doesn't stick) and bake for 10 mins. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 mins. Serve with sour cream/salsa, etc.
Heart healthy ingredients: Black beans, brown rice

Yield: 6 servings (1 burrito per serving)
Per serving: 298 cals; total fat: 6g (1g sat); 40g carbs; 6g fiber; 19g protein; 414g sodium; 19mg chol.

Dear Clean Eating: You made my Friday night prep so easy. Thank you very much! Plus, it was super tasty! My only critique? Perhaps a bit more spice factor? But, we all liked this very filling meal.

A solid three forks

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Today is Valentine's Day. My thoughts on this holiday? Meh. Not because I don't have love in my life - I have lots and lots of it - but because I don't need a special day to express this love, nor do I expect anything out of the ordinary just because it is a date on the calendar. Maybe I'm the Grinch who stole Valentine's Day?

One of the ways I try to show my family how much I care for them is by cooking healthy foods that will benefit all of us in the long run. Mostly because I want all of us to be around for a very long time to make each other crazy!

So, in the spirit of today's big love-fest (and to keep the blog entertaining), I tried to select one of the heart-healthiest meals I could find. Side note - this is from my other NEW COOKBOOK that I ordered last week. Let's all give a heartfelt (haha) woot woot!

Honey and Sesame-Glazed Salmon with Confetti Barley Salad
Source: The Carb Lovers Diet Cookbook, by Ellen Kunes and Frances Largeman-Roth (Health magazine)

  • 3/4 c. pearl barley
  • 1 (16oz) bag frozen veggies, thawed and chopped
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds (skip - ran out)
  • 4 (4oz) skinless salmon fillets
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/3 c. low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1.5 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 c. chopped scallions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Bring a large pot of (salted) water to a boil. Add barley, return to a boil and boil until tender, 30 mins. Add veggies during the last 3 mins of cooking. Drain, cool slightly and toss w/ 2 tsp sesame seeds. Set aside.
  • While barley is cooking, make salmon: Combine honey, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili flakes. Reserve 4 tbsp of mixture. Place salmon on a baking sheet and brush with soy mixture. Bake until flaky, approx. 15 mins. Place reserved sauce in a small saucepan over low heat and keep warm.
  • Divide barley mixture among 4 plates, top with 1 salmon fillet and 1 tbsp warmed sauce. Sprinkle with salmon and remaining sesame seeds.
Yield: 4 servings (1 c. barley mix, 4oz salmon and 1 tbsp additional sauce)
Per serving: 435 cals; 6.8g fat (sat: 0.5g, mono 2.2g, poly 2.9g); choles: 72mg; protein: 33g; carbs: 53g; fiber: 9g; sodium: 615mg

Heart healthy ingredients: Salmon, broccoli (in veggie mix), carrots (in veggie mix), barley; red pepper


I also decided to make my family dessert tonight. Mostly because I pulled this cute-looking recipe a couple of months ago and thought it would make the kid happy.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Source: Weight Watchers Magazine, Jan/Feb 2012

Peeps - not even going to bother typing this one it. It wasn't good. And I KNOW for a fact it was not chef error b/c while I might not be the most adept at stuff like pan-searing, I can bake without screwing it up. Blech. These had very little flavor and all I tasted was the whole-wheat flour. On the bright side, they did turn out kind of cute:

Don't let the cute little heart fool you.
(Review of main event only) I subscribe to Health magazine, and they've really been pushing this cookbook. So I decided to give in and buy it and I'm not disappointed with its first outing. The directions were easy to follow and it was perfect for a weeknight meal. I liked prepping the salmon while the barley was cooking. The dish was good - maybe a bit more crushed red pepper next time for some additional kick - and I am looking forward to using this cookbook again.

Three Forks


Monday, February 13, 2012

To Err is Human...

And yes, bloggies, I have erred. In a big-time way.

Last night, after another semi-successful dinner I was filing away my recipe and marking the date when I noticed a scrawled date in the upper corner. Which indicates that I had made the recipe once before, during the challenge. (At least I ranked the recipe the same both times!)

And with that, My Great Big Recipe Challenge comes to an end.

Or does it? In all honesty, I did not repeat the recipe on purpose. I have no clue why I didn't notice that it was already marked until long after the fact. But I can tell you it annoys me to no end. It was actually one of the first things I thought about this morning when I woke up. At the obscene hour of 3:30. And in case you are wondering, the other things I thought about were: I wonder which Buffy episode is on right now and I don't feel like working out. (As an FYI: Buffy was "Two to Go" - excellent - and yes I did go work out an hour later, per usual. Yes that is 4:30a).

Moving on.

So where does that leave this challenge and the blog? After I confessed this grievous error to my co-worker (and all-around sparklette HK), she reminded me that "to err is human." Sure. So I'm just going to keep on keeping on, and perhaps add six months of the challenge as my penance. Do you have any thoughts on this all-important matter? Obvs it is right up there with the economy and world peace...

This also takes away from my original blog post, which was going to be about a NEW COOKBOOK I received last week! Given the size of "The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook" I could probs keep the challenge going for another 10 years with recipes from this resource alone. Howevs, given the pain-in-the-ass factor of tonight's meal, that probably isn't going to happen.

Stir-Fried Pork and Edamame with Classic Brown Stir-Fry Sauce
Source: The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

Notes (I'm not typing this all out): This had too many pieces parts for my liking during the week. If I had a sous chef it would have been a snap, but such is not the case.
Heart healthy ingredients: Red bell peppers; edamame

Easy Baked Brown Rice
Source: The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook
Heart healthy ingredients: Brown rice

As noted, the stir fry had multiple steps, making it a pain to get on the table super fast. Ultimately, the dish turned out pretty tasty - a little too saucy for my liking - but overall good. It was well-received by the boys, although I don't think the kid enjoyed the edamame as much as I did. The baked brown rice received mixed reviews - I liked it although the 65-70 minute bake time was kind of ridic - the hubs did not love it. It did make a ton.

Two Forks - less for taste, more for hassle

At least I didn't forget the picture tonight!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Hi, Hi, Hi

Not only is the title of tonight's post a warm greeting from yours truly to you, since I've been gone for several days - but also a nice nod to one Sir Paul, who is performing at tonight's Grammy Awards.

Hello 1970s! 

We had a lovely week, with everything from multiple cases of the stomach flu (not cooking-induced, in case you are wondering) to work travel to basketball games, which is why you haven't heard much from me of late. But I'm back!  At least for a few days, until the winter schedule kicks in again.And, I hope you had a great week too, cyberworld friends.

On with the show! To start things off, I made:

Double Banana Bread
Kraft Foods, Holiday 2006
I added chocolate chips instead of walnuts, as the recipe calls for, and used canola oil.
Heart healthy ingredients: Canola oil (the walnuts would have been heart healthy, too, but I don't like nuts in my baked goods)

For dinner, we had:
Walnut and Rosemary Oven-Fried Chicken
Cooking Light, June 2010
Heart healthy ingredients: Walnuts, rosemary. I do like nuts in my savory dishes. 

Butternut Mash
The New American Heart Association Cookbook, 7th edition
Heart healthy ingredients: Squash, olive oil

We also had broccoli as a side. And you know broccoli is good for you!

The Butternut Mash was disgusting. It didn't even make the plate. I think the error was a combination of not enough squash, too much liquid stuff, but it just wasn't happening and even I wasn't going to torture the boys with that one.

On the other hand, both the chicken and the banana bread were great. The chicken got super-crispy - hence the "oven-fried" moniker - and the banana bread is just delish. The boys ate all of their chicken with no complaints, and we've all been noshing on the bread. The baby got into the action and ate about 3/4 of my breakfast slice.

Mash: One Fork
Chicken: Three Forks
Banana bread: Four Forks

PS: I haven't been lax in posting food pics - I just keep forgetting to take them until we're about halfway through with dinner. I know you are very disappointed!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Homer Simpson Moment

Yesterday I waxed poetic about my love for casseroles, and how I don't typically make them during the week. So enter today: A typical busy Monday (plus an atypical sick baby) and I wisely planned a casserole for dinner.

Pros: I have enough left over for lunch tomorrow; and this was a smaller casserole so it was easy to determine/control portions. Oh - and it was delish.

Cons: It took waaaay too long to prepare for a weeknight.

I still managed to get dinner on the table at a decent hour, because for once I actually read the recipe in advance of starting preparation, so I knew this was going to require some time.

Eggplant Parmesan
Source: Prevention Magazine, September 2010

  • 2-3 eggplants, cut into 1/4-inch slices
  • 1/4 c. + 1.5 tsp EVOO
  • 1 tsp salt (skip)
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced (used pre-minced)
  • 2 lb plum tomatoes or 1 can (28 oz) tomatoes, chopped (used no-salt added diced)
  • 20 fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (skip)
  • 3/4 c. freshly grated parm
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Generously oil 2 nonstick baking sheets.
  • Put eggplant slices on pans and brush tops with 1/4 c of oil. Sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Bake 30 mins or until softened.
  • Heat remaining 1.5 tsp oil in medium saucepan over med-high heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, 1 min.
  • Add tomatoes, basil, pepper and remaining salt and cook until sauce is thickened and reduced to about 2 cups, approx. 15 mins.
  • Transfer tomato mixture to food processor and puree until smooth.
  • Coat bottom of 8x8 baking dish and 1/2 c. of sauce. Add 1/3 of the baked eggplant and top with another 1/2 c. sauce and 3 tbsp parm cheese. Repeat twice (eggplant, sauce, cheese), ending with remaining 6 tbsp cheese.
  • Bake for 30 mins. Let rest 10 mins before serving. (BTW - who does that? I never do. Usually because we're all too hungry to wait and let food "rest".)
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: 300 cals; 10g protein; 24g carb; 11g fiber; 20.5g fat (5g sat); 827mg sodium (!)

Heart healthy foods: Tomatoes; fresh basil; EVOO; plus we had broccoli as a side

We had varying opinions of this. The kid wasn't the biggest fan and mustered enough bites to score an after-dinner treat. The hubs thought it was OK for a Meatless Monday dish. Me? I heart this dish. Despite my casserole-weeknight issues, it was pretty simple to prepare. I like that it required very few ingredients and almost no chopping/prep work. Plus, it was delish. To be honest, I didn't have high expectations because I was worried that with so few ingredients it was going to lack flavor. I know I don't have the world's most refined palate, but my unsophisticated taste buds thought it had plenty going on.

Three Forks - family average

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Sunday

It would have been too cliche to make New England clam chowder or New York cheesecake for Super Bowl Sunday. So I didn't. It's not because I'm anti-Super Bowl (I'm not) and anti-cliche (I'm obviously not based on previous blog posts), but mostly because I don't like either of those foods.

So, instead I went with a "man's meal" of chili. Again. With a twist, of course. Chili as a casserole! Because I love a casserole! (And yes, you read it right - I do not like cheesecake.)

I don't make tons of casseroles during the week because I don't have as much time, plus a casserole usually lends itself to over-sized portions and over-eating. But, my heart still belongs to an old-fashioned casserole.

Chili Cornbread Casserole
Source: EatingWell, Sept/Oct 2010

There are a ton of ingredients and directions to type in, and I have Super Bowl commercials to watch. Therefore, I'm instead just providing you a link.

Heart healthy ingredients: Kidney beans; tomatoes; cayenne pepper

We also had:
Garlic Roasted Kale
Source: Cooking Light, not sure of date

I also made:
Texas Sheet Cake
Source: Cooking Light, Jan/Feb 2012

This cake is one of the "All-Time Best" Cooking Light chocolate recipes I referenced in a previous post. This cake came in second place, so obvs I had to give it a whirl. I made a couple of minor adjustments (mainly no nuts because I don't like them in baked goods).

Kid: "Didn't love it." He forced himself to eat approx 10 bites so he could partake in post-dinner ice cream. He did eat all of his kale, and the hubs ate most of his kale, which is a win-win in my book. The hubs gave it a double thumbs up. I thought the chili was good, but the cornbread portion was a little bland. I also cut back on the cheese, so that kind of got lost in translation.

I don't think the cake warrants its runner-up ranking in all-time best ever chocolate recipes, but it is very rich and has an interesting flavor, thanks to the fun addition of cinnamon. And there's a TON of it, which will make my mother happy when she stops by later this week to hang with the kiddos.

Chili Casserole: Three forks - made a ton, overall pretty good
Texas Sheet Cake: Three forks

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Heart of the Matter

February is American Heart Month.

Heart disease is kind of a big deal in my family - there's a major history, which is a big part of the reason why I choose to cook heart healthy, low-sodium fare.

So, for the rest of the month, I am going to include some sort of "heart healthy" food in every meal I prepare, and highlight it for you. Now, lest you worry I'm going to get all preachy about heart health, I'm not. It's just a little challenge-inside-a-challenge for my personal challenge pleasure. Woah.. that's a whole lotta challenge.

I have pulled a list of "Top 25 Heart Healthy Foods" and "24 Foods That Can Save Your Heart" from WebMD to serve as my guide. I know that these lists aren't all-inclusive, but let's go with it.

PS - Today was National Go Red for Women Day. Heart disease is the #1 killer of of women. I dug through the depths of my wardrobe and pulled out my one and only red sweater and wore it in support. Solidarity, peeps!

Farfalle with Lamb Ragu, Ricotta & Mint
Source: Cooking Light "Our Best Pasta & Noodle Dishes" Winter 2012

  • 4 tsp EVOO
  • 8 oz lean ground lamb
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt (skip)
  • 1/2 c. chopped onion
  • 1/4 c. chopped carrot
  • 1 tsp minced fresh rosemary (didn't use fresh)
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 c. dry white wine
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper (skip)
  • 1.5 c. canned crushed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 c. low-sodium chicken broth (used no-salt added)
  • 8 oz cooked bow-tie pasta
  • 1/2 c. part-skim ricotta
  • 1/4 c. small fresh mint leaves (skip)
Heart Healthy ingredients: carrots; tomatoes; rosemary; EVOO

  • Heat 1 tsp EVOO in a large skillet over med-high heat. Add lamb; cook 5 mins, stirring to crumble. Remove lamb from pan with a slotted spoons; sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt. Discard drippings from pan. Reduce heat to med-low. Add 2 tsp EVOO, onion and carrot, cook 5 mins or until tender. Add rosemary and garlic; cook 1 min, stirring constantly.
  • Return lamb to pan; add wine. Increase heat to med-high; cook 3 mins or until liquid almost evaporates. Add remaining salt and pepper. Stir in tomatoes and broth; bring to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer 10 mins, stirring occasionally.
  • While sauce simmers, cook pasta. Drain pasta, return to pan. Stir in 1 c. sauce and remaining 1 tsp EVOO. Spoon 1 c. pasta mix onto each of four plates; top each serving with remaining 3/4 c. sauce, 2 tbsp ricotta and 3 tbsp mint.
Yield: 4 servings
Per serving: 464 cals; 16.9g fat (5.9g sat, 7.6g mono, 1.5g poly); 23.9g protein; 54.7g carb; 51mg chol; 629mg sodium

I didn't reveal the "secret" ingredient of lamb to the kid until he was done eating. He loved the dish - gave it four forks. The hubs also enjoyed his, pointing out it wasn't that different from regular meat. I disagree with the hubs - I think the lamb had quite a strong and distinct flavor, and while I thought the entire meal was good, I can't say that I'm eager to have lamb on a regular basis. I also don't know that the ricotta at the end added that much.

Three Forks

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Catching Up

If you read my post the other day, you know that our family meals this week revolved around basketball games. Here's the update: The kid's team won the first game, lost the second in the semis. The hubs' team won its game by almost 30.

And tonight, I'm the winner because I finally have everyone back for what feels like our first family dinner in ages!

There's a lot I like about Cooking Light. One of my favorite things about this resource is its variety of recipes - meaty deliciousness to vegetarian, from complex to super-simple. All accessible.

So instead of basketball, super-simple was the name of our game tonight, courtesy of Cooking Light's "The Enlightened Cook: Simple Additions" section. I don't know how enlightened I'm feeling, but I'm always down for simplifying my life during a weeknight.

Latin Baked Chicken
Source: Cooking Light, June 2010

  • 1/4 c. fresh lime juice
  • 3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp minced chipotle in adobo sauce
  • 8 (4-oz) bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (used boneless, skinless chicken)
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Combine lime juice, soy sauce, honey and chipotle in a large bowl. Add chicken and toss well to coat. Let stand for 10 mins at room temp.
  • Arrange the chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray, reserving marinade. Bake for 15 mins. Place reserved marinade in a blender, and process until smooth. Place pureed marinade in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook 3 mins.
  • Brush chicken with half of cooked sauce, return to oven and bake an additional 10 mins. Brush chicken with remaining sauce, bake an additional 10 mins.
Yield: 4 servings (2 chicken thighs per serving)
Per serving: 316 cals; 9g fat (2.3g sat, 2.8g mono, 2.2g poly); 45.3g protein; 11.9g carb; 677mg sodium

Soooo, I kind of didn't follow most of the directions. I despise chopping chipotles (my market doesn't sell them pre-minced), so I just used the sauce from the can for my marinade. This also eliminated the need to use the whole blender thing - even though I enjoy my fancy blender, it saved an extra couple of steps and clean up. PLUS I used boneless, skinless chicken and popped it in a pan to bake it. I did keep brushing the marinade on the chicken as it baked.

The boys LOVED this recipe - especially the kid, who gobbled it up (along with his steamed broccoli - boo yah!). I, on the other hand, thought it wasn't awesome. Maybe its because I barely followed the directions, but I don't think it had tons of flavor.

Two Forks. Even though the kid loved it - ask him who the ruler is... and that ruler gives all rankings.

A word about the video. I forgot to take a picture of the dinner tonight. So instead you get to listen to one of my absolute favorite Beatles songs. I can't choose just one song as my fave, but this is pretty close to top of the pops for me. Howevs, I hate this video b/c most of the images aren't even close to being from when this song was recorded. THERE. Now listen to it and love it.