Posted in Salads, Side Dishes

New Great experiences in DC


We are visiting Dean’s cousin in Washington DC this weekend, and had the pleasure of cooking dinner tonight using quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), a grain-like food that I have never tried or cooked with before.  It’s gluten free and high in protein and fiber.  Basically, this is healthy stuff that makes a great side dish.  Dean described it as almost having barley like qualities and could be substituted for recipes that normally call for barley.  Quinoa also cooks for only 15 minutes (instead of 45 for brown rice) which helps you save time in preparing dinner.  So go ahead, try it out, you may find a new side dish that is delicious, light and very healthy…

Unfortunately, I do not have all of my resources with me so I am unable to provide you with estimated values, but here is how we cooked quinoa this evening.

Quinoa with Vegetables and Beans

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 15 – 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups quinoa

3 cups fat free chicken broth

1 cup corn kernels (defrosted if frozen)

½ cup grape tomatoes – cut in a half

1 cup canned black beans – rinsed and drained

1 teaspoon original “Mrs. Dash” salt free seasoning

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place quinoa in a bowl and cover with water.  Rinse and drain water, then repeat several times until the water no longer has bubbles in it while rinsing.  Must rinse because the grain has a bitter coating that needs to be washed off.
  2. In a medium saucepot, bring chicken broth to a boil on high heat.  Add drained quinoa, reduce heat to medium low and allow it to simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed.
  3. While quinoa is simmering, cook corn on the stovetop or microwave with ¼ cup water for about 2 minutes until cooked.  Drain and place in a serving bowl.  Add tomatoes and black beans to corn and set aside.
  4. When quinoa is cooked, stir in seasoning, lemon juice and olive oil and then combine with vegetables and bean mixture and serve.
Posted in Poultry

Out and about


Nick and I are having sort of a busy day so I actually don’t have a recipe for tonight’s dinner.  Instead, I’ll leave you with something I’ve made that everyone liked a lot.

We’re off to DC tomorrow so I won’t be cooking for a few days.  In the meantime, try some of the recipes posted and let me know what you think. 

Enjoy and until later…!

Chicken in Thyme Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Serves 6

Ingredients:

6 split boneless/skinless chicken breasts (about 4 ounces each)

½ cup diced tomatoes from can

1 cup of juice from diced tomato can

1 teaspoon thyme

½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

½ teaspoon marjoram

½ cup white wine

¼ cup honey

1 ½ cups chicken broth

1 whole clove garlic

1 cup fat free half and half

1 tablespoon corn starch

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tablespoon reduced calorie butter spread

Directions:

  1. Heat large skillet on medium high heat and spray with cooking spray.  Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and add to skillet. 

 

  1. Sauté chicken breasts for about 5 minutes on each side until browned.

 

  1. Remove chicken breasts from pan and cover to keep warm.

 

  1. Add juice from tomatoes, thyme, poultry seasoning, marjoram, white wine, honey, chicken broth and garlic clove to skillet, bring to boil and reduce heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

 

  1. Add chicken breasts to skillet and cook another 5 minutes, turning chicken over to coat on both sides.

 

  1. Remove chicken from skillet and cover to keep warm.

 

  1. With the back of wooden spoon, mash garlic into sauce.

 

  1. Add corn starch to half and half in small bowl and stir until combined.

 

  1. Raise heat to medium high and add corn starch mixture.  Stirring constantly, cook until sauce is bubbly and thickened.  Add tomatoes and stir.  Remove skillet form heat, stir in salt, pepper and butter spread and pour over chicken breasts.

 

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 160                                              Fat = 2 grams

Posted in Pasta dish, Poultry

Simple Pasta Dish


Tonight I made a simple dish with chicken breasts, escarole and pasta.  Since Dean is way on business, I took advantage of the situation and made something with pasta (because Dean is reducing his carb intake). 

Escarole is a wonderfully flavorful vegetable that can be used in stews, soups or just sautéed.  Until I met Dean, I didn’t know what it was and tried it for the first time during a Christmas Eve dinner at his parent’s house when we were engaged.  His grandmother would prepare it with anchovies, olives and walnuts and would slow cook it over the stovetop in a Dutch oven.  I had no idea it had anchovies in it and just thought it was fantastic.  Later, when I found out what was in it, I was surprised and delighted.  Since then, I use escarole as often as I can.

If you have not yet had the pleasure of tasting escarole, try it; hopefully, you will be as delighted as I was.  If however, you know this is not a vegetable for you, you can substitute spinach in this dish for the escarole (just make sure you add it at the very end so that the spinach is not overcooked).

Enjoy and happy experimenting!

Chicken with Pasta and Escarole

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless/skinless chicken breasts – cut into 2 inch pieces

1 clove garlic – minced

1 head escarole

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 cup fat free chicken broth

½ pound (usually ½ box) pasta

¼ cup pasta water

¼ cup parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat, season chicken with salt and pepper and add to skillet.  Sauté until chicken is browned.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute.
  2. Cut escarole into pieces and add to chicken, reduce heat to medium low and sauté for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth with salt, pepper and basil, cover and cook for about 10 minutes (or until escarole is tender).
  4. While chicken and escarole is cooking, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta for about 5 – 7 minutes until slightly firm but no longer hard.
  5. Remove pasta from water, reserving ¼ cup of the water.  Add pasta water and pasta to the chicken mixture and allow to cook for an additional 2 minutes (broth will become slightly thickened).
  6. Remove skillet from heat, stir in parmesan cheese then spoon into a serving bowl.

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 300                                                                    Fat = 3 grams

Posted in Side Dishes, Vegetables

Low Carb and Low Fat


Dean informed me that he is trying to lose some weight and is now on a low fat and low carbohydrate diet.  I was originally going to make pasta primavera tonight as a side dish to our grilled turkey but had to change course as a result of his new diet limitations; so I made vegetable primavera instead.  It is basically the same recipe, I just omitted the pasta and roasted potatoes on the side for Nick and I.  If you want to try this recipe but would like the pasta included, just cook ½ pound (usually a half a box) of pasta and toss at the end with the vegetables and sauce. 

Enjoy!

Vegetable Primavera

Serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

2 ounces prosciutto

1 clove garlic – minced

1 red bell pepper – cut into 1 inch pieces

2 cups string beans – cut into 1 inch long pieces

1/3 cup water

About 15 stems asparagus – cut into 1 inch pieces

1 small zucchini – coarsely chopped

½ cup white wine

1 tablespoon fresh parsley – minced

½ teaspoon dried marjoram

½ teaspoon dried chervil

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

¾ cup fat free half and half

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon fresh chives – chopped

¼ cup parmesan cheese – grated

Directions:

  1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat and spray with cooking spray.  Add prosciutto and sauté for about 2 minutes until browned.  Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add bell pepper and string beans and sauté for about 1 – 2 minutes.  Pour water into skillet, cover, and allow the vegetables to steam for about 2 minutes or until.
  3. Uncover skillet, add asparagus and zucchini and allow the water to evaporate.
  4. Add wine, marjoram, chervil, salt and pepper and sauté until wine is absorbed completely.
  5. Remove vegetables from skillet and spoon into a serving bowl.
  6. To make the sauce: stir together half and half and cornstarch in a small bowl.  Pour into skillet and, stirring constantly, cook until mixture is thickened and bubbly.
  7. Remove skillet from heat, stir in parmesan cheese and chives and pour on top of vegetables.
  8. Gently stir sauce into vegetables until combined and serve.

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 135                                              Fat = 3 grams

Posted in Breakfast, Main Courses, Omelets

Crazy Day


It was a crazy day so the only meal we ate at home was breakfast.  On the weekends, we often make open-faced omelets for breakfast and is what we did this morning.  Since, the chives in our herb planter have sprouted I included them in the omelets today but you can have fun and use whatever herbs or seasonings you like.  To keep it low fat but still get the omelet to “puff”, I use 2 eggs with about ¾ cup of egg substitute.  This morning I made individual omelets for each person so that we can add what we like to them but you can also make one in a large oven safe skillet and cut it into wedges as well.

Open Egg Omelets

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Preheat oven 425o

Serves 3

Ingredients:

2 eggs – beaten

¾ cup egg substitute

1 tablespoon chives

Salt and pepper to taste

2 ounces farmer’s cheese – crumbled

Directions:

  1. Beat eggs, egg substitute, chives and salt and pepper in a large measuring cup.
  2. Heat 3 oven safe omelet pans (or one large oven safe skillet) on medium high heat and spray with cooking spray then pour equal amounts of egg mixture in each.
  3. Add equal amounts of farmer’s cheese on top.
  4. Nick’s omelet: cut small pieces from 1 slice of low fat American cheese and add on top.
  5. Dean’s omelet: add crumbled goat cheese on top.
  6. Dina’s omelet: spoon about 2 tablespoons of salsa on top.
  7. Allow omelets to “set” on the bottom of each pan then transfer them to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes until cheese is melted and egg mixture does not move when you shake the pan.
  8. Remove from oven, and, using a spatula, transfer onto individual plates and serve.

Estimated Values per serving:

American cheese omelet calories = 190                 Fat = 9

Goat cheese omelet calories = 220                           Fat = 11

Salsa omelet calories = 170                                          Fat = 5

Posted in Fish, Grilling, Saute`, Season, Shrimp, Spices

A new Spice of Life


We were in Costco today and I saw a new smoke flavor that looked really good so I picked it up.  I am sure you can find it in the supermarket since it’s made by McCormick.  The spice combination is called “Smokehouse Maple”.  In order to get a real taste for it, I simply sprinkled a tablespoon over 2 pounds of shrimp and grilled the shrimp on an indoor grill.  The flavor is sweet with a hint of smokiness in the background.  After tasting the shrimp, I decided that it would be a great base that can compliment BBQ grill recipes.

Spices are a great way to add a lot of flavor to your meals without adding any fat and almost no calories.  For this reason, I enjoy experimenting with spices.  In the past few years, the food companies have become really creative in introducing new spice combinations that focus on ethnic or American regional cuisine.  By combining many individual spices in one jar, the companies make flavorful cooking easier.  I usually like to further enhance specific flavors and often use the spice combinations as a beginning.

The best way for you to try a new spice combination is to cook something very plain (such as chicken breast, shrimp or steak), sprinkle a little on and grill or sauté it in a pan without adding anything else.  This way you know if you like it and what type of dish it may compliment.

So don’t be shy, go out there and try some new spice combinations; I think you’ll find that your meals come out flavorful , delicious and light.

Enjoy and happy experimenting!!

Posted in Cooking Styles/Techniques, Main Courses, Pasta dish, Poultry, Sauces, Saute`, Tips/Hints

A friend for dinner


My son had a friend over for dinner tonight.  Since I wasn’t sure what he likes to eat (he’s 5 ½), I decided to take the safe route and cook chicken cutlets with pasta and sauce.  This isn’t really what I would call a gourmet recipe but the boys ate them with pleasure and Nick’s friend even asked for a second serving.  When I met up with his parents, they seemed delighted that their son ate an entire chicken cutlet for dinner.  Because of the reaction I received from the parents, I thought it would be a good idea to post this recipe for tonight.

Chicken Cutlets with Pasta and Sauce

Serves 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Tomato Sauce Ingredients:

½ onion – chopped

1clove garlic – minced

1 can crushed tomatoes

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon pepper

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

  1. Heat sauce pan and spray generously with cooking spray.  Add onions and cook on medium low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft. 
  2. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Increase the heat to medium high and add tomatoes, salt, pepper and onion powder. 
  3. Simmer on low heat for at least 15 minutes. 

 

Chicken cutlet Ingredients:

4 split skinless/boneless chicken breasts

¼ cup flour

½ teaspoon dried basil

½ teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup egg substitute

½ – ¾ cup Panko bread crumbs

½ pound (8 ounces) penne pasta (or any shape pasta you like)

Directions:

  1. While sauce is simmering, prepare chicken cutlets.  If they are thicker pieces of chicken breasts, pound them with a rolling pin until about ¼ inches thick (the thinner they are, the quicker they cook).
  2. In a bowl, combine flour, basil, oregano, garlic powder and salt and mix until blended.  In a separate bowl, measure and pour the egg substitute and place the bread crumbs in a third bowl.
  3. Press one chicken breast at a time into the flour mixture, then dip in egg substitute and finally press into bread crumbs on both sides.  Continue for each chicken breast until all are coated. 
  4. Heat a large sauté pan on medium high heat and spray with cooking spray.  Add chicken cutlets and cook for 5 – 7 minutes on each side.
  5. While chicken cutlets are cooking, boil a large pot of water and cook pasta according to the package directions. 
  6. Drain pasta and add to tomato sauce.
  7. Place chicken cutlets on a serving platter and serve pasta in sauce in a separate serving bowl.

NOTE: You can prepare the chicken cutlets in advance, cover them and refrigerate them when about 15 minutes before you plan on serving.  The sauce can also be prepared in advance and simmering on low, covered, for several hours.

Estimated values per serving:

Calories = 510          Fat = 3 grams

Posted in Beef, Grilling

Play date for dinner


My girlfriend and her son came over for dinner tonight.  I am not too familiar with what her son eats so I asked her in advance what he likes.  After talking with her, I thought it would be best to keep things simple and decided on hamburgers for dinner.  To keep dinner low fat, I combined half the burger meat with 93% lean ground beef and half with ground turkey breast.  I use ground turkey breast because it only has 1 gram of fat per serving instead of 7 grams in ground turkey meat.  It is important to look at the packaging because the difference in fat is significant.

There isn’t much of a recipe to write of except that I added a little Worcestershire sauce and liquid smoke to add a nice grilled flavor.  If you want something easy or are not sure what your company likes, this is a simple recipe that you may like to try.

Enjoy & Happy Grilling!

Low Fat Hamburgers

Serves 6

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:

1 pound 93% lean ground beef

1 pound ground turkey breast meat

¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon liquid smoke

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients.
  2. Form ground meat into 6 indivual burgers.
  3. Grill to medium (internal temperature should reach 165o).

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 220                                              Fat = 6 grams

Posted in Eggs, Salads

All those left over Easter Eggs


There are a lot of recipes that I can alter so that they are almost completely fat free but I am no genie; fat free egg salad, using real eggs, just doesn’t exist.  However, you can cut 50% of the fat in egg salad just by using all of the egg whites and only half of the egg yolks (which is where all of the fat grams exist).  Also, a food processor purees the eggs so well that very little mayonnaise is necessary.  So if you are left with a lot of hard boiled eggs, don’t throw them away and try this instead.

Egg Salad

Serves 6

Prep time: 15 minutes

Refrigeration time: at least 1 hour

Ingredients:

12 hard-boiled egg whites

6 hard-boiled egg yolks

1 tablespoon low calorie mayonnaise

½ teaspoon salt (or more as per your liking)

¼ teaspoon pepper

¼ teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

2 celery stalks – chopped

2 scallions – whites and greens chopped

Directions:

  1. Place egg whites and yolks in a food processor and puree until smooth.  Remove from food processor and place in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add mayonnaise, salt, pepper, celery seed, sugar, celery and scallions and fold into egg mixture.
  3. Refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.

NOTE: if you like egg salad to be chunky instead of smooth, use the pulse button on the food processor and chop until desired texture.

Estimated Values per serving:

Calories = 100                                                                    Fat = 6 grams