Sunday, June 29, 2008

Eating clean?

This is sort of a new concept for me. I sort of get it. I might just be overthinking it. Either way, my friend, Jess, was looking for a clean way to prepare tilapia and came across this blog and recipe. Jess raved about it, and of course I was leery, because avocado is something that I'm just learning to experience, all thanks to Jess for that one. But I decided to give it a try - I figured beans and rice and sour cream make everything better.

So I did my research on how to pick an avocado, and I think I did a pretty good job. And for a first timer, I had no trouble at all extracting the avocado from the pit and the skin. And considering that the dish ended up being fresh and fabulous, I can say that my first experience with using avocado was a hit.

I made enough for 3 meals and now have enough for 2 lunches after I had it for dinner tonight. And let me tell you - this was amazingly easy and FAST to cook up.

Ingredients (estimated):
4-6 Tbsp fat-free sour cream
4-6 Tbsp salsa
1 cup black beans
3/4 - 1 cup rice (I used brown rice)
3 tilapia fillets
1/2 avocado, diced
1 small tomato, diced
salt and pepper

1. Season your fish with salt and pepper. Coat a large pan lightly with a spray of EVOO (courtesy of Misto) or whatever you have on hand (the original recipe posted uses coconut oil). Lightly brown the fish on both sides until cooked through, them with a spatula, break up the fish into bits.

2. While your fish is cooking, mix up the sour cream and salsa in a medium sized mixing bowl.

3. When fish is done, toss all ingredients into the mixing bowl with the sour cream and salsa and stir gently to mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Revisiting a childhood favorite...

As a kid, my mom would occasionally make crescent-wrapped cheese dogs. My sisters and I loved them. Even my husband loves them. After talking to my friend Jess one day about what to do about a bunch of hot sausage she had to cook up, we sort of devised this idea. It's beyond simple, and as always, versatile.

2 links of hot sausage, butterflied (optional: remove skins)
a few slices of mozzarella cheese
1 can reduced-fat crescent rolls
parmesan cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a skillet, brown the butterflied sausage links over medium heat.
3. After the sausage is done, roll out the crescent roll dough and create 2 squares by pressing or rolling the triangles together.
4. Lay mozzarella on one half of each crescent square. Top with sausage link and close by pressing edges together.
5. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.
6. Sprinkle a bit of parmesan cheese on top and bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

So for those cooks who are looking for something quick, simple and delicious for dinner, give this one a try!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My first risotto...

My friend Lindsey has been making a lot of risottos lately. And of course, being an avid watcher of Hell's Kitchen, I've noticed risotto is a sort of popular dish these days. Who knows if it was popular before Hell's Kitchen - cuz honestly, I've never even heard of it before I started watching the show.

Anyway, Lindsey posted an awesome looking Lemon Risotto with Shrimp and Peas. As soon as I saw it I knew it had to be my first try with risotto. So, I set out to find that special rice in my grocery store. Of course my lame grocery store didn't have it, but I found it at the second store I went to. I came right home and started cooking this dish up.

My personal thought on this dish is that I really loved it before I added the pecorino romano cheese. I think I'm a weirdo who doesn't like cheeses that smell like feet or something. So while I was sort of put off by the final product because of the cheese, I'm definitely going to be trying other variations of risotto in the future.

I don't know if the texture of my risotto was right either as I don't have anything to compare it to. But I'll have to make it a point to try it out - either at Lindsey's place (wink, wink), or out at a restaurant.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Chicken Calzones

On the quest to cook dinner more often, I needed to come up with some new ideas for dinner. Nobody likes the same old dinners week in and week out. We love to order calzones from our local pizza place, so why couldn't I give it a shot? Well, I'd tried it once a ball of dough and failed, miserably. So now it was time to revert back to "convenience" foods. In comes the Pillsbury pizza dough found in the refrigerator section of your supermarket. This was SO EASY! No rolling of dough required. Those close to me know that I suck at rolling out doughs and have grown to fear doughs now. So if you have a fear of rolling out pizza dough, this was a great alternative and I would encourage you to give a shot for your own baked-at-home pizzas/calzones/strombolis.

1 refrigerated Pillsbury pizza dough crust
1/2 small block of part-skim mozzarella, sliced
1/2-1 cup part-skim ricotta
2 grilled chicken breasts, sliced
parmesan cheese


1. Open up the pizza dough flat and cut in half into 2 rectangles.

2. Lay mozzarella cheese on half of each half.

3. place 1 cut up chicken breast on top of mozzarella.

4. Spread a few tablespoons of ricotta over chicken.

5. Fold dough over toppings and seal edges.

6. Lightly spray the tops with EVOO and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

7. Place on parchment lined baking sheet and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes.

The versatility of these calzones is endless - put your favorite toppings in for a simple, quick and delicious dinner!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Parmesan Pork Chops w/ Creamed Spinach

Hello! Long time no blog! It's been a whole month since my last blog post. I honestly hardly cooked at all in that time! Have you ever gotten into a total food rut? Well that's what happened to me. But I was finally able to pull myself out of it, so hopefully my blog posts will be more frequent now.

The dish to pull me out of this most recent food rut was Giada's Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops. I've only heard rave reviews over this dish, one from my friend Lindsey over at Noodle Nights and Muffin Mornings, and it did not disappoint! Seriously, when I took the leftovers into work today and heated them in the microwave - 2 people asked, "What smells so good?!" Followed by, "I'm just gonna go get my plate," and "so you'll come by my house tonight to cook dinner, right?" I think that's one of the bests compliments you can get on your cooking.

Food Network

For ingredients and directions, visit the source link as I followed it exactly.

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Now, when I was thinking of a side I knew I wanted some simple buttered noodles. I really like Ronzoni's Healthy Harvest extra wide noodles with a touch of Smart Balance and parsley. But I needed a vegetable. I thought of some creamed spinach that I recently had from a local bbq joint. I'm usually not a fan of cooked spinach, but it was so good! So I found a lightened up version from Cooking Light and gave it a test drive. I found that it was relatively simple and easily halved, however I would drastically reduce the amount of shallot. Here's the halved recipe (serves 1-2) with my recommended changes noted.

Cooking Light

1 10 oz. bag of spinach
cooking spray
1 Tbsp minced shallot (I would only use 1 tsp)
1 tsp all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg (excluded)
1/4 fat-free milk
1/4 reduced fat cream cheese


Remove large stems from spinach, and rinse with cold water; drain. Place a large Dutch oven over medium heat, and add spinach. (Spinach will need to be tightly packed into the pan to cook all of it in one batch). Cover and cook 5 minutes or until spinach wilts; stir spinach well after 2 minutes. Place spinach in a colander, and drain well, pressing spinach with the back of a spoon to remove as much moisture as possible.
Place pan coated with cooking spray over medium heat until hot. Add shallots; sauté 2 minutes. Combine flour, salt, and nutmeg; add to pan, stirring well. Cook 30 seconds. Add milk and cheese, stirring with a whisk; cook 1 minute or until thick. Add spinach; cook 30 seconds or until thoroughly heated.