Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

No, not the holiday season... ASPARAGUS Season!  I LOVE asparagus!  LOVE LOVE LOVE it!  But then again, maybe I'm just a product of my environment??  It's tough to grow up somewhere that celebrates the stuff annually and not fall in love with it right?  I once took a crate of it to a co-ed bridal shower and handed bundles out like favors, believe me, it was well received.

I prepare many a dish with this lovely little veggie, so imagine my dismay when I learned that my dearest does not share my love for the little green spears.  In fact during the early stages of the relationship he stated that he didn't like it at ALL!  Oh no!  Since then he has tried it a few times, mostly a not terrible, but not good response.  The one exception being the coveted deep fried asparagus spears at the Asparagus Festival last year.  He actually really enjoyed those.  With the first batch of fresh asparagus brought to us of the year I was inspired to recreate a healthy version of those oh so good, yet oh so bad crispy asparagus spears.  End goal, a healthy treat that my dearest would like.

Hence the birth of Panko Crusted Asparagus!  Outcome... Goal achieved!  Everyone, including you-know-who went back for seconds (possibly thirds) of these little crispy deliciousness!  My toughest critic even asked to take the one lone spear left on the platter with his lunch leftovers.  Oh yes, sweet success!

These were so easy!  And rather delicious!  The panko breadcrumbs gives you the crisp you get from the deep fried asparagus, but there's no deep frying and no heavy batter.  I just threw together a little egg wash, so these amounts are approximate, but you can play with it and use what works for your tastes.  Enjoy!

Panko Crusted Asparagus
1 bundle asparagus tips (break off tough ends)

1 cup panko bread crumbs
about 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
House Seasoning (Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder)

2 egg whites
1 Tbs Dijon mustard
1 Tbs Lemon Olive Oil (or just lemon)
House Seasoning (Salt, Pepper, Garlic Powder)

Pre heat oven to 450 degrees.  Wash and dry asparagus.  Mix together bread crumbs, parm and seasoning, set aside.  Whisk together remaining ingredients.  Coat asparagus in egg mixture, then panko mixture.  Carefully lay on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 min, or until crumb coating is golden brown.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Stuffed French Toast

For Sunday brunch I was looking to do something a little different.  I found a recipe on Noble Pig that seemed to fit the bill just right.  I made a couple of ever so slight slight tweeks to the filling and was oh so pleased with the final outcome.  It was quick and easy to make.  I prepped the bread the night before, so that morning it came together in no time.  If you are looking for an addition to your brunch buffet or just something that extra tasty for breakfast, give this one a try.  Enjoy!

Stuffed French Toast

Adapted from Noble Pig via Everyday
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar plus more for dusting
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch salt

2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
12 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl mix powdered sugar, ricotta cheese, cream cheese, vanilla & salt.  (I used a hand mixer, to get it nice and smooth.) In a medium bowl, beat together 2 eggs and 1/2 cup milk.

Trim the crusts off 12 slices of sandwich bread and using a rolling pin, roll out the bread to flatten. Add 1 Tablespoon of the sweetened ricotta cheese to each slice, fold over and pinch the edges together. (The edges will seal during cooking.)

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive over medium heat. Working in 3 batches, dip the stuffed bread slices in the egg mixture and transfer to the skillet. Cook, turning once, until puffed and golden, about 3 minutes. Dust with more confectioners' sugar before serving. Syrup is good too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tortellini Spinach Soup

Once upon a time my bestie recommended a Giada de Laurentiis recipe for a Tortellini soup that looked oh so simple and tasty.  Then last week while perusing Gina's Skiny Recipies I was reminded of it and decided it was time to give it a go.  Quick, easy, tasty... can't ask for much more than that!  This soup is light yet filling and comforting at the same time.  Give it a go.  Enjoy!

Spinach Tortellini en Brodo

Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 8 • Serving Size: 1-1/2 cups • Old Points: 5 pts • Points+: 6 pts
Calories: 226.6 • Fat: 5.3 g • Carb: 33.8 g • Fiber: 0.9 g • Protein: 11.3 g

2 tsp butter
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
8 cups chicken broth
3 cups water
1 small Parmigiano Reggiano Rind (optional)
18 oz spinach cheese tortellini (Buitoni)
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 cups baby spinach
salt to taste
Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. When melted, add the celery, onion, carrot & garlic. Cover and reduce heat to low and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.

Add the chicken broth, water, rind and increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. When broth boils, add salt (to taste), pepper and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and add tortellini. Simmer until tortellini cooks to al dente.

Once cooked, remove the rind, and add the baby spinach. Stir to combine. Garnish with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano!

Makes 12 cups

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Chicken with Artichoke Hearts and Feta Cheese

So I admit, my picture kinda sucks... not kinda, it really sucks.  Especially in comparison to how great this tasted!  If you want to see a picture of this dish in all it's glorious splendor click on over to Gina's site, her pic her picture makes it look as good as it tasted!  While mine may not look as pretty, (I didn't even take the time to put it on a platter, yeah I was feeling lazy) it was OH SO WONDERFUL to taste!  To quote my dearest, "Outstanding babe!"  And I didn't even have to ask him if he liked it.  My favorite part... how quick and easy it was!  I prepped the chicken and tossed it the marinade right before we too a quick trip to my favorite Red Dot Boutique (translation, Target for those of you who aren't familiar.), when we returned dinner was on the table in about 20 min.  How great is that!?!

I just so happened to come across a fantastic Meyer Lemon Olive Oil last weekend, so I did a little drizzle of that over the chicken as well.  The lemon flavor really added to it nicely!  I served with a side of cous cous and some steamed broccoli.  You must try this dish!  Enjoy!

Chicken with Artichoke Hearts and Feta Cheese
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 6 • Size: 1 med thigh with artichokes • Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 3 pts
Calories: 107.4 Fat: 2.8 g • Carb: 4.1 g • Fiber: 1.7 g • Protein: 16.6 g

6 skinless boneless chicken thighs, excess fat removed (I used 2 breasts, sliced into thin pieces)
6 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp oregano
1/4 cup reduced fat feta cheese
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
salt and fresh pepper

Combine artichoke hearts along with liquid and chicken and let it marinade about 20 minutes or longer. After it's marinated, drain all liquid, add garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.

Broil on low about 6 inches from the flame for about 10 minutes or until golden brown, turn chicken and cook an additional 8-10 minutes and chicken is fully cooked. Top chicken with feta and broil an additional minute. Remove from oven and top with fresh oregano.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Turkey Chili Taco Soup

While clicking around in the great world of blogs I happened to find this fantastic blog for low fat, low cal recipes, Gina's Skinny Recipes.  It's the perfect site for any of you Weight Watchers folks out there as she also has all of her recipes on the points system.  If you haven't already found it, go and check out.  I was quickly inspired to choose dinners for each night of the week, make my grocery list and head to the store.

This Turkey Chili Taco Soup was on the menu for Monday.  It came together incredibly fast and it was delicious!  The only thing I did differently was add a can of S&W pinquitos beans.  I wasn't precise with the chicken stock, I just added it until I liked the consistency.  I also reduced the amount of bell pepper based on personal preference.  This chili/soup was packed with flavor!  next time your looking for something light and filling, give this one a try.  Enjoy! 

Turkey Chili Taco Soup
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 9 • Size: 1-1/4 cups • Old Points: 3 pts • Points+: 5 pts
Calories: 198.8 • Fat: 1.4 g • Carb: 29.7 g • Fiber: 7.0 g • Protein: 19.5 g

1.3 lbs 99% lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
10 oz can rotel tomatoes with green chilies
15 oz canned or frozen corn, drained
15 oz kidney beans, drained
8 oz tomato sauce
16 oz fat free refried beans
1 packet taco seasoning (you can use 40& less sodium)
2 1/2 +/- cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
In a large pot, brown turkey on medium heat, breaking up with a wooden spoon as it cooks. When cooked through, add onions and pepper and cook 2-3 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, beans, tomato sauce, refried beans, taco seasoning and chicken broth. Bring to a boil and simmer about 10-15 minutes.
Serve with a few baked tortilla chips and your favorite toppings such as low fat sour cream, jalapeños, reduced fat cheese, chopped scallions, onions, or chopped fresh cilantro. Freeze leftovers in individual portions for future meals.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Fajita Turkey Burgers

Think all turkey burgers are boring and dry??  Think again!  These were the moistest burgers EVER.  I found the recipe on the Cooking Light web site. The avocado salsa on the top is great! And the burgers are so flavorful.  If you're a fan of bell peppers, you'll love these.  If not, just cut the amount of bells back or omit all together & you'll still love these!  If you're in a hurry, buy the pre-chopped veggies and these come together on no time!
I do have a helpful tip to making your turkey burgers moist.  I ALWAYS do this whenever I'm using ground poultry for anything, since it lacks the fat content of ground beef.  Take 1/2 or 1/4 of an onion & using the fine side of a grater, grate it into your turkey meat and mix.  It's a simple extra step that will make a BIG difference.

If you're looking for a quick and healthy burger that's a little out of the ordinary, give this one a try.  Enjoy!

Fajita Turkey Burgers
from Cooking Light
1/4 cup bottled tomatillo salsa
2 tablespoons chopped avocado
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
Cooking spray
1/2 cup finely chopped onion (use the other half for the above mentioned tip)
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
2 teaspoons fajita seasoning, divided
1/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 pound ground turkey
1 egg white
4 (1 1/2-ounce) whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted

Combine tomatillo salsa, chopped avocado, and cilantro; set aside.
Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until crumbs measure 1 cup.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion and bell peppers; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon fajita seasoning (I added a splash of water). Cool.

Combine breadcrumbs, onion mixture, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons fajita seasoning, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, tomato paste, turkey, and egg white in a large bowl. Using damp hands, divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a 3/4-inch-thick patty. Heat pan over medium heat. Recoat pan with cooking spray. Add patties; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun. Top each serving with 1 1/2 tablespoons salsa mixture; top with remaining halves of buns.

Calories:349, Fat:11.5g

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Tuscan Chicken with White Beans and Spinach

While browsing through a few of my favorite blogs last week, I came across this recipe posted by For The Love of Cooking.  (If you aren't already familiar, click on over, she's got loads of yummy stuff.) She made this recipe look outstanding!  Add to that, I love pretty much everything from Cooking Light.  So I decided to give it a try.  Let me tell you we were not disappointed!  It was just what I was hoping it would be and more.  Super easy and has very few ingredients.  (The only real change I made was to use chicken breasts instead of thighs.)  Add to that, its a lighter, healthier meal.  Which I promise is something you'll be seeing more of here again.  Those of you who have been with me since the beginning may remember when this blog focused mainly on, dare I say, healthy meals.  But I digress... back to this meal. 

There's one thing that makes a "healthy" dinner a winner in my book and it's if I think it's good enough to serve to company.  This one achieved just that.  It has a rustic simplicity but at the same time is good enough to share with others.  Give it a try, see for yourself and enjoy!

Tuscan Chicken with White Beans and Spinach
Original recipe in Cooking Light ~ October 2010

4 slices of bacon, trimmed of most fat, chopped and cooked
2 tsp olive oil (divided)
2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, seasoned and pounded flat
House Seasoning
Dried basil, to taste
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 15 oz can of white beans, rinsed & drained
2 cups of baby spinach
Once the bacon is cooked, remove from pan and set aside.  Remove all but 1 tsp of bacon grease from the skillet. Add 1 tsp olive oil to the bacon grease in the skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, garlic powder, and dried basil, to taste on both sides. Once the skillet is HOT, add the seasoned chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Remove the chicken from the skillet, cover with a tin foil tent, and set aside.

Add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 4-5 minutes or until tender.  Add the minced garlic, and cook stirring continuously for 1 minute. Add the drained diced tomatoes and white beans. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add bacon back to the pan.  Add the spinach, season with sea salt, freshly cracked pepper, and dried basil, to taste. Pour the juices from the chicken into the pan and mix well. Ladle the beans and spinach onto a serving dish then top with chicken. Serve immediately. Enjoy.