Monday, August 30, 2010

When life hands you banana bread, make french toast!

Thursday night we went to the Farmers Market and tasted some amazing pumpkin cranberry bread that I just had to have.  I was so excited to have a slice of it when it got home.  I opened the pesky little plastic container, sliced off a piece and thought well this looks odd... wait!  That's not pumpkin!  That is banana bread.  Boo!  Not that I have anything against banana bread, usually... but I was a little angry at this banana bread.  See I had sampled it and it was OK, tasty but just OK in comparison to the amazing pumpkin cranberry bread.  So, instead of sitting around and being angry as a loaf of banana bread I decided to turn it into something lovely, french toast!  Who says you need to use boring ole bread for french toast??

Oh yes, weekend breakfast time, not really the time for a light and healthy meal in our house.  This one was sweet, decadent and oh so delicious!  Topped with a dash of powdered sugar, a dab of butter and some homemade syrup.  Don't forget to slice up some fresh fruit for the side so you feel like there's something healthy on the table.  Enjoy!

Fluffy French Toast
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 pinch salt
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I also added 1/2 of a vanilla bean)
1 tablespoon white sugar
12 thick slices bread (I used 6 slices of banana bread)
Measure flour into a large mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in the milk. Whisk in the salt, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla extract and sugar until smooth.

Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium heat.

Soak bread slices in mixture until saturated. Cook bread on each side until golden brown. Serve hot.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The best thing I've ever made...

Ok, well maybe not the best thing EVER, but this was an outstanding dish!  I saw a recipe in the Raley's Something Extra magazine from chef Rick Bayless and decided to put a few twists on it to make it my own and make to it more suitable to our household tastes.  We also had a little last minute dinner party and every plate on the table was cleaned.  I think we were all a bit surprised by how much we enjoyed this healthy twist on the chili relleno that ditched that greasy fried batter.  Was it the BEST thing I ever made?  hmmmm, that's a tough one, definitely the best thing I've made this week, and overall it's pretty high up there on the list!  I think it's safe to say that everyone at the table agreed this one was two thumbs up!  Enjoy!

Stuffed Chilies Grilled in Corn Husks
14 large dried corn husks
12 medium Anaheim chiles
1 medium red onion, sliced 1/2 inch thick
Vegetable oil & salt
2 cups diced rotisserie chicken
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
8 oz shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
1 tsp house seasoning or salt & pepper
Tomatillo Salsa, for serving

Soak the corn husks in hot water for one hour to soften; drain and set aside.

Roast the chiles on grill at medium-high until blackened and blistered, about 4 minutes. Collect in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel. Meanwhile, brush both sides of the onion slices with a little oil, sprinkle with salt, then lay in a single layer on the grill. Grill, turning at least once, until richly browned and soft, about 7 minutes. Scoop onto a cutting board and chop into small pieces.

When the chiles are cool enough to handle, peel off the blistered skin. Make a slit in the side of each chili and use your finger to scrape out the seeds. Rinse briefly to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin. Dry with paper towels.

In a large bowl, mix together the chopped chicken, shredded cheese, chopped grilled onion, corn & seasonings.  Stuff each chile with a portion of the cheese mixture.

Pat corn husks dry and place on a flat surface.  Place two chiles lengthwise on a corn husk and roll up.  Lay each “chile relleno roll” on another corn husk, tapered end pointing the opposite direction. Tear six 1/4-inch strips from the remaining corn husks and use them to tie around the center of each roll. Lay the rolls on the grill.

Grill them for 10 to 12 minutes, turning them regularly, until the corn husks are slightly charred, the cheese has melted and the filling is warm warm. Slide them onto plates, cut off the ties, open the husk.  Top with tomatillo salsa.

What's the best thing that you've ever made? This inquiring mind would love to know!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Southwest Skillet Steaks

In case you haven't noticed... at our house, we eat chicken, chicken, chicken, some ground turkey, and more chicken.  That's mainly due to a particularly picky boyfriend.  He's not a big fan of red meat, he won't eat any fish or most cuts of pork.  Kinda limits what I can cook up.  And for you means the majority of what you will see here will fall into the poultry category.  Once in a while however, I get brave... like tonight.  My thought process was since I know my dearest enjoys a good ole hamburger, why not try something with a cubed steak.  It's pretty close to hamburger and it will break up the chicken routine.  Cubed steaks are already tenderized before you buy them.  And they cook quickly, which makes them a great choice for meals you need to make in a hurry.

Oh and in case you are wondering... he didn't care for it, but I did, so more leftovers for me!  Enjoy!

Southwest Skillet Steaks
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp onion salt
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
4 4-oz lean beef cubed steaks, lightly seasoned with salt & pepper
Nonstick cooking spray
1 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes
1 4 1/2 oz can diced green chili peppers, drained
1/3 cup tomato paste (1/2 of a 6 oz can)
1 Tbls fresh oregano or 1 tsp dried
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

In a shallow dish stir together flour, garlic salt, cumin & ground red pepper.  Coat steaks with flour mixture, shaking off any excess.  Spray an unheated 12 inch skillet with nonstick cooking spray.  Preheat over medium-high heat.  Add steaks and cook for 8-12 minutes or until no pink remains.  (Reduce heat if necessary to prevent burning while steaks cook.)

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan combine tomatoes, chili peppers, tomato paste, oregano, sugar & salt.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat.  Simmer, uncovered about 5 minutes or until of desired consistency.  Serve tomato mixture over meat.  If desired serve with hot cooked noodles and top with sweet bell pepper strips.  (I served with black beans and a fiesta salad.) Makes 4 servings.
Calories 241, Fat 7g

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Homemade Pancake Syrup

It's Sunday morning, what's for breakfast?  Well not much in the fridge since it's grocery day.  There's pretty much always ingredients to whip up some homemade pancakes in the cupboard, but what if there's no syrup?  No worries!  If you have these few things on hand you can turn out a batch of your own syrup that will have you wondering why you ever shelled out so much money for Mrs. Buttersworth and all her mystery chemicals!  Don't worry if you don't have any maple flavoring on hand, just double the amount of vanilla and Enjoy!

Homemade Pancake Syrup
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tbls butter

In a saucepan, combine the sugars, water and corn syrup; bring to a boil over medium heat. Broil for 7 minutes or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in maple flavoring and vanilla. Stir in butter. Cool for 15 minutes. Serve over pancakes, waffles or French toast.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Southwest Stuffed Zucchini

I've been wanting to do something like these stuffed zucchinis forever but I cold never seem to find large enough zucchini at the grocery store.  I finally found these awesome ones at a fruit & veggie stand and I just knew would work out perfect.

I've used this filling recipe many times for stuffed bell peppers.  But seeing as I don't actually care for bell peppers, it wasn't quite an A+ meal.  Ditching the bell pepper and replacing it with the perfect summer ripe zucchini boat was just what it needed to take it to the top of the class!

Southwest Stuffed Zucchini
4 large zucchini
1 package ground turkey
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups prepared brown rice
1 jar pasta sauce
1 can black beans
1 1/2 cup corn (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 small can sliced black olives (optional)
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Salt & Pepper
Hot sauce* optional

Pre heat over to 350 degrees.

Split your zucchini down the center and hollow them out with a melon baller or a spoon (save the insides & chop them up).  Drizzle with a little EVOO, Salt & Pepper & place in baking dish.  Set aside. 

In large saute pan add a bit of EVOO & saute your onion then add turkey and garlic, season with salt & pepper.  Cook until turkey is almost done.  Add in your chopped zucchini centers and mushrooms.  Cook about 2 more minutes.

Add in the rest of the filling ingredients; rice, sauce, corn, beans, olives, cumin, chili powder and hot sauce if desired.  Simmer for 5 min.  Salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Generously fill your zucchini boats top with shredded cheese and bake for 20 min.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zucchini Time

No trip to the store, no recipe in hand, no clue what to make... no problem!  I threw this de-LITE-full little number together in no time with just what I had in the fridge.  I had some great fresh zucchini (who doesn't this time of year, right?) that I picked up at the corner fruit stand to started with, the rest just kinda happened from there.  Lucky for me it worked, so I thought I'd pass it on to you.

Pasta of your choice - I used whole wheat rotini
Chicken - grilled, rotisserie, or which ever method you prefer
3 Zucchini, halved lengthwise & sliced
1/2 Red Onion, thinly sliced
Can of Diced Tomatoes
2 cloves minced garlic
1 Tbls EVOO
1/4 Cup White Wine, chicken broth or water
1 - 2 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar
House Seasoning or Salt & Pepper

Prepare chicken, set aside.  (If you'd like to know how I did and usually do my chicken, see Note* below.)

Prepare pasta according to directions while you do the following.

In a large saute pan heat EVOO, add onions & salt.  Cook about 2 min.  Add zucchini, garlic, seasoning, white wine & seasoning.  Cook until zucchini is tender.  Add tomatoes (do not drain) and balsamic vinegar.  Simmer about 1 min.

Place pasta on a platter, top with zucchini mixture, chicken & a generous amount of crumbled feta.  Enjoy!

*Note: How I always prep my boneless, skinless breasts.  I split them in half as if I'm going to butterfly them, but I go all the way through turning 2 servings into 4.  (This cuts down on portion size and calories, but we eat with our eyes & since the breast LOOKS about the same our tummies don't really miss the other half.)  Don't worry if you mess up, since you aren't actually butterflying them neatness doesn't really count. 

Another easy option, keep a bag of these babies in your freezer!  You can get one at Costco for around $16 & it seriously lasts a long time.  They are the little Breast Tenderloins so they defrost in no time.  I can pull a couple out of the freezer if I don't have any full breasts on hand, run them under a little cool water & they are ready to go by the time I have the rest of my prep done. 

You don't need to spit these if you don't feel comfortable with that. Just continue on to the next step.

I season them well on each side with my "House Seasoning" and pound them flat if need.  Into a hot pan, no oil – just a little Pam sprayed in and wiped out, for a quick sear on each side until done. This takes just a few minutes since your chicken is thinner and of uniform thickness.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

An All Time Favorite!

Once upon a time, of my very first attempts at a low calorie dinner was this recipe from Food Networks Ellie Krieger.  I was a bit skeptical about how a dish with so few ingredients could taste good, but the user reviews assured me it was a winner.  We were won over instantly!  Chad took one bite & said, "Wow babe, this one is a keeper!"  It's quick, easy and impressive enough to serve to company.  I've made it many times since that first attempt and only made a few slight alterations.  Trust me with this one, you won't be disappointed!

Balsamic Chicken w/ Baby Spinach
• 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 3 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 shallot
• 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• 2 bags of baby spinach
• 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
• 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth + 1/4 cup separate
• 2 cup low-sodium canned chopped tomatoes with juice (about one can)
• 2 cups whole wheat couscous, cooked
• Salt & Pepper

Butterfly or pound your chicken breasts thin & season as desired.
Heat a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and heat.  Add the chicken and cook about 3 minutes per side, or until cooked through and juices run clear.  Remove the chicken, cover and set aside. Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth, the garlic & shallot to pan, (if you have it on hand, this is also a great time to add a splash of white wine) cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach, salt and pepper.  Cook just until wilted, less than 1 minute.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the balsamic vinegar and chicken broth to the pan and stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.  Add the tomatoes, salt & pepper to taste bring to a simmer and cook 3 to 5 minutes until slightly reduced.

Place the couscous in a serving bowl. Top with the spinach, chicken and balsamic-tomato sauce.  Enjoy!
Calories 353, Fat 6g

Pineapple-Kiwi with Lime & Coconut

So the name may need a little work, but this dessert need be called nothing other than WOW!!!  I was trying to think of something to serve as dessert for a casual dinner party last night.  This popped in my head... it used to be my go to that I would make ALL of the time, but then I forgot about one day & haven't made in about 3 years.  My gosh, I'm not sure how I could forget about such a delightful little treat like this.  It's so simple and so refreshing!  It's summer in a bowl!  I am a HUGE fan of coconut.  But fear not those of you who are not fans, I served this to at least 2 coconut dislikers who could believe how much they liked it.    The secret is the "special" cocunut.  And for those who really hate coconut, just serve it on the side and let everyone just top it themselves.  Try this one you will enjoy!

Pineapple-Kiwi with Lime & Coconut
(Serves 4)
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes  (I found it in the health food section at Raley's)
2 limes, zested and juiced
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 inch ginger root, peeled
1 pineapple, fresh, cored - available in produce department
1-4 kiwi (I love lots of kiwi, some like less)
Vanilla Ice Cream or Tropical Sorbet

Combine coconut flakes with lime zest. Toast in a small skillet until coconut is golden brown remove from heat to a plate and reserve. 

Add lime juice, water, sugar and ginger to the pan or a small sauce pot. Bring to a bubble and dissolve the sugar. Remove syrup from heat and let stand.
Cut pineapple and kiwi into bite-size chunks.

To serve:  Place a scoop of ice cream into serving dish, top with fruit, drizzle with syrup and sprinkle with coconut.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cinnamon & Sugar Grilled Peaches

Warm grilled peaches with vanilla ice cream is a favorite of mine.  This is the perfect dessert for a summer night!  There are many variations to this simple treat, here's one we tried last night.  Enjoy!

4 large peaches - cut in half, pits removed
Canola oil
1/2 cube of butter, softened
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar

Mix butter, cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl, set aside.  Brush cut side of peaches lightly with oil.  Place face down on hot grill.  Cook about 3 min or until nice grill marks are achieved.  Turn over top with cinnamon butter mixture & cook another minute.  Remove from heat let cool.  Serve with vanilla ice cream.  Garnish with fresh mint & a dash of cinnamon.