Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Layers of Flavors

As I typed the title my mind wandered - why isn't it spelled "Layers of Flavers" or "Layors of Flavors"?  They rhyme perfectly but are spelled differently!  Ahhh...  back on track here!

As I peruse, wander and seek out new recipes to convert to our "lifestyle" way of eating (aka Weight Watchers) I find some recipes that make my mouth water and I just HAVE to find a way to make them within the allowances.  This was one of them!

Roasted Pear & Gorgonzola Chicken Sandwiches (serves 4)
2 pears, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 oz Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
2 giant hamburger buns
1 tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 400F.  Spray parchment lined baking sheet and place pears in a single layer on pan.  Bake until light golden and turning soft, approximately 20 min.  Turn each pear slice and bake an additional 15 min.  While pears are roasting, spray a small skillet and caramelize onions on medium heat until nice golden brown.  Brush buns very lightly with butter and place on a griddle pan or skillet.  Remove and set aside once they are nice and golden brown.  Pound chicken breasts to 1/2", season with salt and pepper.  Spray a large oven-proof skillet and sear breasts for 3 minutes on each side.  Remove from heat immediately to avoid over cooking.  Place 2-3 pear slices on each breast then sprinkle with cheese crumbles.  Add caramelized onions.  Place in the oven for 2-3 minutes to allow cheese to melt.  Place chicken breast atop toasted bun.

The crispy buttery bun, tender juicy chicken, tangy Gorgonzola, sweet pears and rich onions provide layer after layer of flavor!  Than you take another bite because you weren't sure what you just tasted and bam, it hits you again!

You may be asking "Why the bun"?  It's because the original recipe I saw was for a turkey burger and I felt it still needed the sandwich feel.  Whether it needs it or not, I will always make it with just because it adds a whole different layer!  Enjoy this open faced sandwich for a low 9 WW pts+ each and include a large helping of roasted asparagus done at the same time as the pears!

Off I go to find that motivation that I lost...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sense of Independence

The twins turned 18 which is said to be when children become adults.  Although that is yet to be seen, I'm taking that idea and running with it!  I now have a new found independence in my kitchen.  To heck with these little adults, from now on I'm going to cook what I want!  And I want seafood!

Shellfish Stew (serves 6)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large fennel bulb, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth, fat free
1 cup red wine
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
18 littleneck clams
18 medium shrimp, tails on
6 large sea scallops
2 cooked Dungeness crab, legs and flesh

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot or skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, fennel and scallops.  Cook, stirring the vegetables until they begin to soften, and turning the scallops, searing on each side.  Remove the scallops and set aside.  Add garlic, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, broth, wine and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes.  Add the clams, cover and cook until they open, about 5 minutes.  Add the shrimp, partially cover, and cook until just cooked through.  Add the crab legs, crab meat and scallops and continue to cook until thoroughly heated.  Discard any unopened clams before serving.

Have plenty of napkins available and of course a few crab crackers for those claws!  

This was a fully satisfying meal other than the desire for some nice hearty crusty bread to sop up the amazing sauce!  Since we're doing so well we kept this at the 8 WW points+ that it is and just imagined ourselves dipping the bread!

So get ready family (including you new adults), the sky's the limit and we'll be sampling some new and exciting things!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Surprises at the dinner table!

Kids...  aren't they precious!

Mine aren't really what you would call picky eaters since they have to put up with me and all my fancies in the kitchen but they do tend to push a lot of the more colorful things off to the side.  I encourage them (basically force them) to try everything just in case it tastes different than the last time and they usually indulge me.  Last night was no different!  They took one look at the red pepper and said "We only eat the inside, right"?  I informed them to try a bite with both the inside AND a piece of the pepper and guess what?


All three of them agreed it was pretty darn good!  The sweet pepper really added to the spices and flavors of the filling.  Now you try...

Sante Fe Stuffed Peppers (6 servings)

3 large red bell peppers
1 lb ground beef, 95% lean
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 (11 oz) can Steam Crisp Mexi-Corn
6 (or more) pickled Jalapeno sliced, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 tsp cilantro, dried
2 tsp cumin
1/2 cup chicken broth, fat free
1 cup colby jack cheese, 2%, shredded

Preheat oven to 350F.  Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and remove all the seeds and membrane.  The stem may be left on or removed.  Place in a deep roasting pan and set aside.  In a large skillet, begin browning the ground beef.  When partially cooked, add the onion, green bell pepper and garlic and continue to cook until ground beef is no longer pink.  Add the black beans, corn, jalapenos, tomatoes and spices.  Lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes until flavors have combined and any juices have evaporated.  Divide the cooked mixture evenly into the prepared red bell peppers.  Pour the chicken broth into the bottom of the roasting pan and cover with foil.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove the foil and divide the cheese evenly on top of each pepper.  Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the cheese is melted.  Serve piping hot!

I will definitely add these to my favorites and next time I might even spice them up a bit more!  This recipe will serve 6 people with average appetites and is only 7 WW points plus.  I'm thinking maybe some rice in there the next time to make them just a tad bit more filling and to provide those ever-loving carbs!

So what's the next surprise for the kids?  How about some seafood, that's always fun!

Monday, January 7, 2013

And Then It Hits You!

In my head:  "What's for dinner?"
Action taken:  Photograzing...  Foodgawker...  Tastespotting...
In my head:  "What's for dinner?"
Action taken:  Cookbooks, recipe collections, freezer peek-a-boo
In my head:  "What's for dinner?"

And then it hits me!!!

Sausage, Kale & Potato Casserole
5 medium potatoes, sliced thin
3 tbsp butter, unsalted
5 links Isernio Chicken Italian Sausage
1 bunch curly leafed kale, pulled off stems
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400F.  Spray a 9x13 baking dish generously and set aside.  Wash the potatoes (do not skin them) and slice thinly.  Arrange the slices in a single layer in the bottom of the baking dish.  Drop a few thin pats of butter across the top of the potatoes and bake for about 30 minutes.  While the potatoes are baking, brown the sausage (make sure you use a big skillet).  Pull the kale off the stems and tear into medium sized pieces.  Wash and dry as much as possible.  Remove the sausage from the pan to a bowl and set it aside.  Saute the kale in the same pan in the sausage drippings until wilted to about half its original size.  Remove the baking dish from the oven and layer the kale, sausage and cheddar cheese on top of the potatoes.  Return the casserole to the oven, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

This recipe will serve about 6 people if you limit them to one serving each!  Trust me, that's a tough thing to do!  I usually make up two pans just in case and that way we get plenty of leftovers.  At six servings, it's only 8 pts per serving - pretty darn good when you consider your entire meal is in front of you!

I specified the Isernio's sausage because it is the absolute best sausage I have found flavor wise.  Adding the healthy chicken bonus on top of that and it's the only Italian sausage I ever buy.  If you use another sausage the flavors may change slightly but I don't think it will affect it too much.

I'm off to buy some Kale!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sometimes You Just Have To EAT!

In the beginning, when you first start "dieting" or "eating healthy" or whatever else you call it, do you have the same issue as me?  I never feel like I get to lift my fork to my mouth enough times!  By the end of the first week, I'm ready to eat, I mean really eat!  I want to keep putting food in my mouth until my tummy says stop, not only until my teeny tiny portion runs out.

That feeling led me to the discovery of this amazing salad!  Boy oh boy did it do the trick!  I was able to lift my fork as many times as I could and when I was done, I was really done eating.  Completely satisfied all the way to my toes!

Salsa Verde Chicken & Shrimp Salad
1 tbsp cilantro, dried
1 cup sour cream, fat free
3 tbsp Salsa Verde
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt
13 oz raw chicken breast, diced
8 oz raw shrimp, small
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
6 cups Italian Lettuce mix
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (11 oz) can Green Giant Steam Crisp corn, drained

Mix the first six ingredients until well blended.  Set aside while preparing the salad in order for the flavors to blend.  Season chicken and shrimp generously with Old Bay.  Spray a medium skillet with cooking spray and cook chicken and shrimp on medium high heat until chicken is no longer pink.  Drain any liquid.  In a large bowl, combine lettuce, tomatoes, black beans and corn.  Add cooked chicken and shrimp and mix well.  Pour dressing into salad mixture and toss to completely cover every morsel!

Each serving of 2 cups is only 7 points plus on WW and will completely fill you up!  This recipe will serve at least 6 people, more if they are small eaters.

I have finally found a "diet" recipe that I can literally eat until I'm ready to stop!  Oh, by the way, I don't consider slurping soup "eating".  I want to chew, chomp, taste and savor when I get in this mood!  Now it's on to the next discovery until the urge hits again!