Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Weekly Menu Change

Ever made something so good you want to have it at least once a week?  Something so warm and flavorful you know there's no way you could get tired of it?

If you answered no, then you haven't tried this recipe and I encourage you to head to the grocery store, or your freezer and pantry, and make this for dinner tonight!  I think I will!

Brazilian Shrimp Stew (Serves 6)
1 1/2 lbs raw shrimp, peeled & deveined
2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup roasted red pepper, diced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 14oz can diced tomatoes, with chilis
1 cup coconut milk
1 tbsp Sriracha hot sauce
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 cups white rice, cooked

Heat olive oil in medium sauce pan.  Once oil is hot, saute onions until translucent; add garlic and peppers and cook an additional 3-4 minutes.  Add tomatoes, shrimp and cilantro and simmer until shrimp turns opaque.  Add coconut milk and hot sauce and cook until heated through, do not boil.  Add lime juice and season with salt and pepper.  Serve with 1/2 cup of prepared white rice on the side and garnish with fresh cilantro.  

The rich sweet and spicy flavor came as quite a surprise!  Each and every bite of this stew brings more flavor and discovery.  We like to add a spoonful of rice every couple of bites to absorb even more flavor and bring a new texture.  If not rice then I highly recommend bread sticks, you'll definitely want something to sop up any leftover broth in your bowl!

Here's the great part!  It's only 7 Weight Watcher points+ per serving (9 with rice) and it's also Paleo friendly!  How can something this good be THAT good?!


Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter Warmth

There's nothing better on a cold winter night than a nice hot bowl of soup to take away the chill.  When that bowl of soup is Zuppa Toscana and it's Weight Watcher friendly you get warm all the way to your toes!

Don't let that whole "Weight Watcher" thing fool you!  This soup is loaded with flavor and is probably the best I've ever tasted.  Now granted, I haven't been to Italy yet, but it is definitely the best I've ever tasted in an American Italian restaurant!  Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Zuppa Toscana
16 oz. Isernio's Chicken Italian Sausage
1/2 large onion, diced
6 slices bacon, diced
3 gloves garlic, minced
4 medium potatoes, diced
2 cups kale, chopped
2/3 cup heavy cream
6 cups chicken broth, fat free
2 cups water

~  In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook sausage until no longer pink.  Set aside.
~  In the same skillet, over medium heat, cook onion and bacon until onions are clear.  Add minced garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft and bacon has slightly crisped.
~  In a large soup pot or dutch oven, combine chicken broth, water, potatoes and onion mixture.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes until potatoes are slightly softened.
~  Add kale, sausage and heavy cream to pot.  Continue simmering until kale has wilted and potatoes are soft.

Not only is this soup is so warm and delicious, it's very fast and easy.  Of course you can add salt and pepper and maybe even some red chili flakes to the sausage while it's cooking but none of that is really necessary.  It's got great flavor from the sausage and your still able to taste the subtle flavor of the kale.

This pot will serve 8 and each serving is 1 1/2 cups.  The best part is that it's only 7 pts - amazing!  Add a bread stick for 3 points and you'll be completely satisfied!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Some recipes are worth it!

Sometimes a recipe seems like a lot of work so I break it down into smaller segments throughout the day.  Good thing is, I have that luxury!  Although at first glance this recipe appeared to be one of those types of endeavors, it ended up being relatively simple to prepare and extremely quick to cook.

As I continue my challenge through "Cuisine At Home" magazine with yet another delightful and tasty meal, let me say that all of the pictures I post are mine.  I'm appalled by some blogs that steal photos, especially if they have to scan them from a magazine, and claim they created the dish on a whim with what they had in their pantry.  The pictures and recipes from "Cuisine At Home" are not available online so if I see one and the person doesn't give credit where credit is due I'm immediately turned off by ALL of their recipes!  Although the challenge recipes I'm posting come from the magazine (slight changes due to my pantry) I'm cooking them and taking my own pictures!

Thank you for listening!!  I'm all done ranting so on to the decadent recipe I cooked up last week!

Crab & Goat Cheese Ravioli with Spicy Snow Peas
(makes 4 servings)

8 oz goat cheese, softened
3 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1/2 tsp salt & pepper
2 cans (6.5 oz) lump crab meat
1 pkg Nasoya won ton wraps
4 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tsp fresh lemon juice
Lemon zest
12 oz fresh snow peas, trimmed & string removed
1 tbsp olive oil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1/4 cup water

~  Combine goat cheese, chives, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Stir in crabmeat with a fork, keeping lumps as large as possible.
~  If trimming or shaping won ton do so prior to filling to ensure sealing.  As shown in the picture, a round scalloped edged cookie cutter was used.
~  Lay out 16 won tons; scoop 2 tsp. crabmeat mixture into centers.  Brush top won ton with water and place wet side down over filling, pressing edges to seal.  Repeat with remaining won ton wrappers.
~  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add oil and ravioli in small batches; cook until brown on one side, 2-3 minutes.  Flip ravioli and cook an additional 2 minutes; remove to paper-towel lined plate.  Continue until all ravioli have been cooked.
~  Return ravioli to skillet and add 4 tbsp water; cover and steam until soft, 1-2 minutes.
~  For the sauce, saute garlic in butter in a small skillet, 1 minute.  Stir in cream, increase heat to high and boil until cream is reduced to 1 cup, about 5 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
~  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add olive oil, snow peas and pepper flakes, cook 1-2 minutes.  Stir in water and cook until peas are tender and water evaporates, about 3 minutes more.  Season peas with salt.
~  Spoon 2 tbsp sauce onto plate; arrange 4 ravioli on sauce.  Layer several snow peas on ravioli; add 2-3 more ravioli, more peas and one more ravioli on top.  Spoon sauce lightly over all and serve.

This dish is very "gourmet" yet has such simple ingredients.  I questioned the preparation and presentation of the peas but wow, wow, wow!  They are a perfect pairing!  There's sweet crab meat, tart lemon sauce and a spicy crunch with the peas that will keep you taking bite after bite until you realize you have to get up and get more!


Thursday, November 14, 2013

Everybody loves Taco Pie!

I'll never work through my 3 years of "Cuisine At Home" but I'm sure going to give it a valiant effort!  I had a full menu already planned and shopped for so I had to use up those items before moving on to the challenge.  Now, the next week is all planned and shopped for and is nothing but those recipes so hopefully my blog will once again be flowing!  On another note, I'm so lucky to have a husband, family and friends that go along with all my whims - they will truly understand the topsy turvy nature of my blog!

This Taco Pie is a little different than any taco pie I've tried or made.  But then it comes from the magazine "Cuisine At Home" so I expected it to be wonderfully different (even with some minor modifications).  It definitely did not let me down!  The magazine describes it like this and it hits the nail on the head:

"Tender like a tamale but filled with all the best parts of a taco, this pie will be a hit."

Taco Pie
2 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups masa harina
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp each garlic powder & ground cumin
1/4 tsp each dried oregano & ground coriander
2 tbsp olive oil
1 can refried beans
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1/4 cup onion, grated
1 lb ground beef, lean
1 large chipotle chile in adobo, minced
1 tbsp adobo sauce
2 tsp chili powder
1 avocado, pitted and peeled
1/4 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, chopped
2 tbsp mayonnaise
2 cups lettuce, shredded
1 cup cheese, grated
2 cups corn chips, broken in pieces
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream

~ Preheat oven to 350F
~ For the crust, cook water, masa harina and salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking constantly until very thick, about 6 minutes.  (Seriously THICK and seriously 6 minutes).  Spread dough onto parchment paper to speed cooling.  Once cool enough to handle, press dough into an oiled 8" cast-iron skillet with greased hands; bake until firm, 30-45 minutes.
~  For the first layer, cook garlic powder, cumin, oregano and coriander in 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add beans; cook until heated through.  Spread mixture into bottom of cooked crust.
~ For second layer, saute onion in 1 tbsp oil over high heat for 1 minute.  Add ground beef; saute until cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Drain all but 2 tbsp drippings, reduce heat to medium, stir in chipotle, adobo, and chili powder; season with salt and pepper.  Spread mixture over beans and transfer to oven to keep pie warm while preparing avocado mixture.
~  Puree avocado, cream cheese, cilantro, lime juice, garlic and mayonnaise in a food processor until smooth; season with salt and pepper.  Remove pie from oven and spread over beef mixture.
~  Garnish with remaining ingredients, slice and serve!

This will serve about 6 people depending on appetites!  Might only serve four if you've got some good eaters because trust me, they will eat this!  

The adobo gives this pie a wonderful smokey flavor and the chili powder gives it just a tiny tiny bit of heat.  Definitely add more adobo or chili powder if you like heat!  Now, remember the magazine quote I added in the beginning of the post?  The part about the tamale?  That's very important to remember because this is definitely not your traditional pie!  If you want a crunchy crust use pie crust - this is a soft, warm, tender crust that screams tamale while the top side is a wonderful laid back taco!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Personal Challenge

For the past 3 years I have subscribed to the cooking magazine "Cuisine at home".  I've enjoyed cooking many meals and desserts from the beautiful, ad free pages with every single one of them being over-the-top amazing. Unfortunately, over the past year or two, it's become much easier to find recipes on the internet through Pinterest, as well as some of my favorite blogs, and I've forgotten my stacking-up gems.  

As I've cooked through the pages I've often thought I'd like to challenge myself to cook every single recipe.  To try new things, experiment with all the new and challenging foods they tempt me with and to learn the new techniques presented in each issue.  The magazines are quite pricey so if you'd rather come over to my blog for free, here's your chance to sample some true cuisine...  right in your own home!

Butternut Squash & Sausage Cannelloni
    with Sage Bechamel Sauce

8 flat, no-boil, dry lasagna sheets 
6 oz Isernio's Italian Sausage
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 cups diced butternut squash
1/4 cup diced red onion
3 tsp fresh minced garlic
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tsp sugar
4-5 cups fresh baby spinach
1 1/2 cup Fontina cheese, shredded
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp flour
3 cups milk
1 tsp each ground sage and sage leaves
Pinch of nutmeg 

~  Cover a baking sheet with foil and coat with nonstick spray.  Blanch the sheets of lasagna in a pot of boiling salted water until pliable, 2-3 minutes.  Arrange sheets in a single layer on prepared baking sheets.
~  Brown sausage in half the oil over medium-high heat until no longer pink; transfer to a paper-towel lined plate.  Saute squash and onion in remaining olive oil in the same pan until onions soften, 2-3 minutes.  Add garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
~  Add broth and sugar; cover and steam until squash softens and liquid evaporates, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in spinach until wilted, about 2 minutes.  Add sausage and season with salt and pepper, cool briefly.
~  Combine 3/4 cup fontina, ricotta and 1/2 cup Parmesan in a bowl; stir in squash-sausage mixture.
~  Preheat oven to 425 F with rack 6 inches from element.  Coat a baking dish with nonstick spray.
~  For the sauce, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat; whisk in flour and cook 1 minute.  Gradually whisk in milk, add sage, and increase heat to medium-high.  Bring sauce to a simmer, stirring constantly, and cook until thickened, 3-5 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg (taste please).
~  Coat bottom of baking dish with about a third of the sauce.
~  Fill and roll sheets with 1/2 cup filling (place filling on one end of pasta sheet and start rolling to other end); arrange in baking dish, seam sides down.
~  Top cannelloni with remaining sauce and remaining cheeses; cover loosely with foil poked with several holes.
~  Bake cannelloni 20 minutes; uncover and broil on high until golden and bubbly, about 3 minutes.
~  Serves 3-4

As with all recipes from "Cuisine At Home", this is full of flavor and texture! The recipes usually aren't simple and the ingredient lists are generally quite lengthy but in the end, every single step and ingredient is well worth it!  (I did make some minor modifications from the original recipe but left the bulk of it intact.)

Stay tuned for more "Cuisine At Home" cooking as I attempt my long awaited personal challenge!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Snack Time

Bigger IS better!

When it comes to snacks and dieting of course!!  I find myself once again bored with the snacks (and lunches) I create while dieting - or "Changing my lifestyle" as WW puts it!  The fresh fruit is great and pea pods nice and crispy but sometimes I just want something to sink my teeth into that doesn't cost half my daily points.

I came across this idea the other day while perusing the internet and although I'm not a fan of the baked egg roll wrappers I figured I'd give it a try.  So many recipes want you to bake these papery wrappers and that's exactly what they come out like...  baked paper!  Maybe I was really hungry this time but these were really quite tasty!

Ham & Swiss Rolls
1 cup lean ham, minced
1/2 cup 2% Swiss cheese
1 green onion, minced
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
8 egg roll wrappers
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp half & half, fat free

Preheat oven to 400F.  Mix ham, cheese and green onion to combine.  Place an egg roll wrapper diagonally on work surface and spread 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard in the center.  Put two tablespoons of ham mixture on the mustard.  Fold the bottom of the wrapper over the filling and gently but firmly pull slightly towards you.  Fold the left and right sides in and roll to the tip, creating a nice firm roll.  Place on sprayed baking sheet and continue with remaining wrappers.  Lightly spray rolls with cooking spray.  Bake for 8 minutes, turn rolls over, bake for an additional 8 minutes until lightly browned.  Mix together remaining tablespoon of mustard, honey and half & half for dipping.

Eaten hot or room temperature, these little rolls do the trick!  At a mere 2 pts each they can be a quick snack or a nice filling lunch.  I'm going to experiment with some different cheeses and maybe a spinach leaf or two but other than that, I think I'll keep it simple and enjoy the flavors just like they are!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Taste Buds & Texture


I've never liked meatloaf...  never!  To me it's dry, bland and mundane no matter what sauce you add or how many eggs, bacon and Velveeta slices are put in or on it!  Even though hubby loves it, kids devour it and diners and cafes serve it for lunch and dinner, I only make it once or twice a year to spoil the family!

Not anymore!  I finally found a recipe that is called meatloaf but is so much more.  It's not only got taste, it's got texture and lots of it!

Meatloaf Cupcakes
1 egg
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, part skim
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
9 oz frozen spinach (box)
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 1/2 lb ground beef, 96%
Brown gravy mix

Mashed Potatoes
3 small potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 1/2 lb cauliflower florets
1/3 cup buttermilk, 1%
3 tbsp cream cheese, fat free

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Mix first 8 ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly mixed.  Add ground beef and mix lightly with a large fork until just combined, do not over mix or your meatloaf may end up dry.  Use aluminum muffin cups for the best results and fill them using a large ice cream scoop.  Bake approximately 30 minutes until no longer pink.  While meatloaf is baking, boil potatoes and cauliflower until soft; drain well. Transfer potatoes and cauliflower to a food processor or electric mixer bowl, add buttermilk and cream cheese.  Process/mix until smooth and creamy.  Prepare gravy mix according to package directions.  Pipe/spoon potato mixture onto tops of meatloaf muffins to resemble frosting and sprinkle with pine nuts.  Drizzle prepared gravy over the top.  Makes 12 cupcakes, 2 per serving, 10 points+ per serving.

After making these a second time, I have resolved that I will never again make ordinary meatloaf!  The taste and texture of these beautiful cupcakes is like nothing I've eaten before.  Try them and
I'm sure you'll agree!