Saturday, August 30, 2008

Zucchini Bread, the Healthy Way

We're sitting here watching National Treasure 2 and all of a sudden I realized I had zucchini I needed to use. So up I go to make a zucchini bread. Why let it go to waste right? And so, I referred to my handy dandy binder where my precious healthy zucchini bread recipes lives. Given to me a few years ago by a coworker at the time, I cherish it. No butter, no egg (yolks anyway), whole wheat flour and wait... it still tastes GOOD! So, here I will share it with you. Trust me, it's good!

2 cups whole wheat flour
2-1/4 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 tsp nutmeg
1-1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup raw cane sugar or Splenda (I use the Splenda)
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce or prune puree or nonfat plain yogurt (I used the yogurt)
1 cup grated zucchini

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly coat a 9x5 inch loaf pan with cooking spray and dust with flour.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon.
In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites, Splenda, and yogurt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture stirring until well combined but do not overmix. Fold in the zucchini. Pour the batter into the loaf pan.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick comes clean. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Serves 14.

Per slice:
Cal: 110
Protein: 3g
Total fat: 0g
Saturate fat: 0g
Carbohydrates: 25g
Fiber: 3g
Cholesterol: 0mg
Sodium: 260 mg

Penne with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

I starred this recipe from Cara's Cravings blog. It looked so good and the mixture of pumpkin and spinach really intrigued me. I did make a few changes from her original recipe but it truly was delicious. The family loved it and happily, so did I.

10 oz whole wheat penne pasta (1 ladle of the cooking water reserved)
olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2-3 TBSP fresh parsley
6 links sweet turkey sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1 cup nonfat milk
asiago cheese, optional

Cook the pasta according to the box directions. Remember to save a ladle of the hot pasta water before you drain it.
Heat olive oil in a skillet, add in the sausage and cook until no longer pink, breaking up into pieces in the process. Drain the sausage and set aside.
Add onions to the skillet and cook 10 minutes, until softened. Add garlic, sage, and chicken sausage; continue to saute.
Combine pumpkin, ricotta cheese, and milk in a large bowl. Blend with an immersion blender until it is smooth.
Add to pumpkin mixture to skillet, then add in the spinach. Cook over low heat, adding in a ladle of the pasta water just before serving. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Serve with shaved asiago cheese.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Spinach and Cheese Lasagna Roll Ups

So it's been a rough week. Work has been crazy, I've been busy most every evening and so Thursday night, I just wanted to relax, make a good dinner and have some yummy red wine. So that's exactly what we did. The idea for these delicious roll ups came from a fellow blogger Lauren. I didn't really follow any recipe for these, but I'll do my best with the measurements. Dave loved them and so did I. I think our dog did too because she certainly was close by. I paired them with the ricotta turkey meatballs I made over the weekend along with my homemade sauce and a slice of garlic bread (meaning I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spread on a roll with some garlic). A very lovely dinner and exactly the night I wanted!

1 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup part skim shredded mozzarella plus 1/4 cup for topping
1 egg
1/2-3/4 cup of thawed chopped spinach
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
a little shredded asiago (I love this cheese!)
7-8 pieces of lasagna, cooked according to the box (or homemade if you dare)
1-1/2 cups of sauce, divided

Spread a 1/2 cup of the sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 baking pan. Mix together the first six ingredients in a bowl. Lay out each lasagna piece and spread a thin layer of the cheese mixture down the center. Carefully roll up and place in the pan. Do this until you've used all the cheese mixture. Cover with the remaining sauce and top with the 1/4 cup of mozzarella. I also shredded some asiago cheese on top as well. I came up with 7 but you may have enough for 8. Baked covered with aluminum foil in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 15 minutes.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Crab Rangoon

Ever since a trip to Cape Cod a few years ago where I had the most delicious crab rangoon, I've sampled it whenever I could here in NJ. Unfortunately, it's not really sold much in most Chinese restaurants and the places I have been able to find it, it really hasn't been that good. So today, I thought I would try it. I had some egg roll wrappers sitting in the fridge and they needed to be used. I went on and found this recipe. I have to say we were very pleased with the outcome, in fact, almost surprised they turned out this well. Not as good as the ones we had in Cape Cod, but better than some of the local ones I've had. It takes some effort but I think it was worth it. I did get sick of doing all the folding so made two egg rolls out of it at the end. I also steamed them in my bamboo steamer (click here to see how to work the steamer) before frying them to ensure the centers were warm and they cooked fast.

Crab Rangoon
(my changes in red)
  • 1 quart oil for deep frying (I probably used 2 cups, which still really scared me)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened (1/2 package)
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans premium lump crabmeat, drained and flaked (1 can)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (I don't measure, I just shake)
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika (ditto)
  • 2 tablespoons water chestnuts, drained and chopped
  • 1 (14 ounce) package wonton wrappers (I used not quite a half of the egg roll wraps and quartered them)
In a large, heavy sauce pan heat oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

In a medium bowl, mix cream cheese, crabmeat, garlic powder, paprika and water chestnuts.

Place approximately 1 teaspoon of the cream cheese mixture in the center of wonton wrappers.

Moisten wrapper edges with water, fold over the mixture and pinch to seal.

In small batches, steam then fry the wontons 3 to 5 minutes, or until golden brown.

Turkey Ricotta Meatballs

These are in my latest issue of Cooking Light and I couldn't wait to try them. What caught my eye was the ricotta in them! I had some ricotta to use up and these meatballs were the perfect thing. I am freezing them for Wednesday nights dinner. God I love Cooking Light!

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1/2 cup part skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 egg
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl and shape into meatballs. The recipe says to make 18, but I came out with 17 so it was close. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and bring to room temperature. To freeze, place the meatballs on a cookie sheet, not touching each other, and place them in the freezer for one hour. After the hour is up, place the hardened meatballs into an airtight container and return to the freezer.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Crispy Yogurt Chicken (PW)

This chicken dish has been making the rounds on the board I frequent and I finally got a chance to make it today. It was excellent! How can you go wrong really with this one? Yogurt-delicious. Crispy panko crust-delicious. Here's my version.

2 cups fat free plain yogurt
2 TBSP lemon juice
~ 2 TBSP lemon pepper seasoning (I didn't measure)
2 cloves minced garlic
salt & pepper
Panko bread crumbs
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts

Mix yogurt, garlic, lemon pepper seasoning and lemon juice until combined. Thoroughly rinse chicken and salt & pepper both sides. Into another bowl, pour the panko and salt those. Spray a baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. Dip each chicken breast into the yogurt mixture, then into the panko making sure to evenly coat each piece. Lay chicken in baking dish. Place a small dab of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter on top of each piece then cover with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the pieces are golden brown.

Tofu Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce

Dinner one night this week was a repeat but we love it and we had tofu to use. The peanut sauce really is one of my favorites. The original post is here.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

OK, I'll play!

I've noticed this going around in my blog world so I thought I'd give it a try too.

How the Omnivore’s 100 Works:
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating. (I can't do that in blogger, so I'll just put a NO)
4) Optional: Post a comment at Very Good Taste, linking to your results.

Omnivore’s Hundred:
1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding NO
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted Cream Tea
38. Vodka Jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects (Giant Water Bug, to be specific)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth $120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang Souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom Yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. 3 Michelin Star Tasting Menu
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

I'm surprised, I guess I haven't tasted much!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Homemade Pasta, Parm Crusted Chicken and Basil Walnut Pesto

Dinner Saturday night was one of my favorites ever. I made pasta from scratch for the first time ever and it came out great. Of course having never done it, I was nervous and had a box on standby. My stepdaughter was a great help too. She ran the crank on the pasta machine and helped me separate the pieces. Fresh pasta is amazing. Paired with the pesto and chicken, it was a meal not to be forgotten. I must also note, the chicken was sooo easy and soooo good, I don't know why I never made it before.


3-1/2 cups all purpose or bread flour
4 eggs

Combine the flour and the eggs in a food processor with the regular blade. Process until it forms a ball, adding flour if it's too sticky, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Remove and wrap the dough in plastic wrap coated with cooking spray and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Removed the dough from the fridge and divide it into fours. Roll the sections through a pasta maker, starting on 7. I ran it twice through on 7 then once or twice more on 5, then finally twice through on 3. Then run it through the fettucini attachment (or spaghetti, whatever you like!) Separate the pieces and lay them out to dry on a floured surface. Note: my pasta cooked up to be a bit thicker than I wanted so I would run it through on 2 next time.

To cook, place them in salted boiling water for 4-5 minutes. Watch carefully as homemade pasta cooks quicker than dried pasta. We cooked our after they dried for about 45 minutes.

Basil Walnut Pesto

From Cooking Light

2 (1/2-ounce) slices white bread
1/2 cup fat-free milk
2 cups loosely packed basil leaves
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese (I used parmesan cheese)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, peeled

Trim crusts from bread. Place bread in a shallow dish; pour milk over bread. Let stand 5 minutes. Place bread mixture in a food processor; add basil and next 6 ingredients (basil through garlic). Set aside without processing. Add 2 ladles of reserved cooking liquid from the pasta to basil mixture in food processor, and process until smooth. Add the pesto to pasta; toss well to coat.

Parmesan Crusted Chicken (Rachael Ray)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)
Salt & pepper

Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken breast. Put the parm cheese in a flat plate. Then firmly press both sides of each chicken breast into the cheese, making sure they are coated. Heat olive oil in a pan and place the chicken in it once it is hot. Cook on each side for 7 minutes and DO NOT TOUCH THEM until the 7 minutes are up. The cheese is melting and forming the crust.

Here's another picture... just in case you missed it in all it's glory.

Our bathroom

Yay! I'm so happy it's done. All we need is a mirror and some pictures. I have to say, painting such a small room is tough. Only one person can be in there I did rub up against the wall one or two times (whoops!). The color is Behr Windsurf Blue and we changed all the fixtures, the fan and the lighting. I'm glad this one is done. All we really have left is to paint the hallways and redo our dining room.

I have to give props to Dave (DH) who went above and beyond by taking out the sink and the vanity and painting behind it. I never would have done that!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken

I really wanted to like this recipe. It has tastes I love, honey mustard and pretzels and it's over chicken. However, I really was pretty disappointed. It lacked flavor and was pretty bland. I have heard that others like it though so I figured I'd blog about it anyway and let you decide for yourself!

1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup dijon mustard
Pretzels, smashed
3-4 chicken breasts, pounded thin

I served it with a side of sauteed broccoli and mushrooms in sesame ginger sauce. Now those I loved!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My new bar!

DH and I enjoy our alcoholic beverages and we are always looking for ways to upgrade our tastes and to try new things. Well, this definitely makes us look good! I can now store my gorgeous Waterford Mondavi wine glasses that have been in storage since we moved. And my beautiful decanter now has a home too (thanks to my Uncle and his girlfriend, I scored a gem). I'm admiring our new mini-bar as we speak. It fits right in with our furniture and in with our lifestyle. Oh and we got it at Crate & Barrel on sale. Still a splurge but very worth it.

Dinner Divas: Chicken Cobb Burger

OH MY GOD. Those are the words that you try and say when you take your first bite. Too bad your mouth is full and saying them is next to impossible. The blue cheese, the bacon, the dressing... I could go on. But try it for yourself, I promise you won't be disappointed. Here's the link . I did make some changes but they were minimal. I used turkey bacon instead of real bacon. I also did not use canola oil, just cooking spray. I reduced the amounts needed because there were only two of us eating.

I would definitely make this again and so should you!

Thanks Dinner Divas for an a excellent first recipe!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Spaghetti with Shrimp and Peas

I needed a quick and easy dinner for tonight after going to the pool with my stepdaughter because I knew we'd both be starving by the time we got home. I already had this recipe in mind from Cara's Cravings when I left work today. However, I had no basil so I had to improvise and this is what I came up with.

1/2 box Whole wheat spaghetti, cooked to package directions
1 cup frozen peas
15 cooked shrimp, tails cut off and halved (I have a bag of frozen cooked shrimp)
1 cup of marinara sauce (I used Trader Joe's)
1 cup of 1% milk
1/4 cup I Can't Believe it's Not Butter Light
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 heaping TBSP flour

While boiling the pasta water, cut up the shrimp. Then combine the marinara, milk, butter and cheese into a pot. Heat until the butter is melted. Add in the flour and whisk until the sauce is thickened. Add in the peas and heat through.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta, adding the shrimp during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. When the pasta is al dente, drain and serve the pasta topped with the sauce. Garnish with some shredded Asiago if desired. (We desired, LOL)

I must say, this was so easy and delicious it made for a wonderful weeknight meal to enjoy with my family.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Carrot Raisin Salad

My mom made this for a few of her BBQs and every time I just couldn't get enough of it. I truly thought it was more labor intensive than it really is. It's a 5 ingredient salad where the hardest part is shredding carrots. The end result is a light, delicious summer salad, great for BBQs, a side at dinner or even lunch!

2 cups shredded carrots (~ 4 medium)
1/2 cup diced celery
1/2 cup of raisins (or dried cranberries)
1/3 cup light mayonnaise
1-2 TBSP white vinegar


Blueberry Muffins by Emma

Classic blueberry muffins. My stepdaughter made these in camp this summer in her cooking class and so since today was a less than stellar pool day, we made them at home. The house smells great although my kitchen is now way too hot. Anyway, here they are!

1/2 cup butter, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup milk
2-1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray the muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs in one at a time and mix in.
Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to the wet ingredients slowly and alternating with the milk. Mix together with a spatula.
Mash a 1/2 cup of the berries and stir into the batter. Fold in the remaining 2 cups of blueberries. Fill the muffin tins (12) and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake for 30 minutes. Cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Busy week!

Between my husbands birthday (and getting ready for it), trying to squeeze in some running and exercising, and a minor league baseball game, this week was toast! We spent more time eating out than eating in, that's for sure. Hopefully August will slow down a little, but not this weekend, lots to still do. I have been reminiscing about our wedding though lately, maybe because our 1st anniversary is next month or maybe because I don't want to forget how much I loved it. Anyway, for anyone interested, here are a few of my favorite pictures.